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Accommodating Guided Reading Levels: Part 2

Guided Reading is fantastic and gets students reading… all students. With the differentiation built in to Guided Reading groups, it seems like a no brainer for special education teachers.
But in a special needs classroom, it’s important to have centers that work for all students. Centers that don’t need an adult to manage. A center that students can perform independently without prompting.
accommodating guided reading levels part twoIn Part 1 of this two-part series, we talked about using Reading A-Z in a special needs classroom setting.
I also explained and showed you how I use the leveled readers to make adapted books and really differentiate my Guided Reading Groups (GRG). If you missed Part 1, click here.

The strategy I want to show you is the independent Guided Reading “centers” I use with my students when I am working with other GRGs.

Let me just preface this by saying that I am in a self-contained Life Skills setting, and many of my students struggle to do anything unless it is highly modified and/or in a 1:1 setting with an adult presence.

In some classrooms, these are called work boxes, work bins, or work tasks.

This is what I have going on right now for both Math and Reading centers. I bought clear bins at WalMart that the lids do not come off (that way they can’t get lost!) for like $2 a piece.
Nothing super fancy.

I created the labels specifically for my students. Since my classroom is color-coded, I wanted to be able to say, “Go grab the green square and do you work” …or whichever box I wanted them to be working on. It makes it super easy and mistake-free since no two shapes or colors are the same.

Here’s a look inside what I currently have in my boxes and some work boxes I still need to switch out from Valentine’s Day (we’re still working the skills)…

Sorting different objects based solely on color. This is one of the easiest centers to set up. I found the cups at my grocery store over the summer and bought two sets.

You can grab colored sorting cups here.

Then I went through all of the manipulatives in my closets and found different objects for each of the colors.

I try to have at least one or two holiday boxes. For Valentine’s Day, I bought these mailboxes in the Target Dollar Spot. Then I created some different centers and used baggies to separate them within the work box.

There was this activity in one baggie: sorting big hearts from little hearts. Other activities included sorting words from non-words, uppercase from lowercase letters, sorting colors… and a few others.

It was a great box that was highly differentiated!

My students love working with Link-N-Learns, so this fun work box is always a hit.

Plus it gets the students working on a fine motor task with 1:1 correspondence!

Alphabet finger tracing cards for some students, matching alphabet cards for other students, alphabet puzzles … this work box is one of the most differentiated work boxes.

This word center work box is differentiated too with word work and letter puzzles, but it’s probably my favorite box.

I just LOVE this activity! My students are learning sight words, as well as spelling and matching. Best of all, it’s a skill that’s easily differentiated to meet the needs of all learners.

For a higher level activity, fold the cards back so the child can’t see the letters and have the child spell the word the picture represents.

All of my students are working on money skills, so a money work box was essential.

I like providing students with a variety of types of money… small, large, cartoon-y, real money… so they can really generalize the skill.

These two bins don’t have labels on them, but my students know what they are by their names. This work bin is the “Bead Box” … it works great for a fine motor task.

The solar beads are a great addition to this bin, too, to make it a STEM center.

The kids like to make bracelets for each other. It’s super adorable!

This is more of a sensory bin than a work box, but the students do need to find the dinosaurs mixed in with the cut up straws. A super simple box to make too!

For different holidays or for seasonal centers, I try to switch those centers out every 4-6 weeks (I know, I’m a little late on the February bins!).

Since these are independent centers, I don’t want to switch them out too often to where my students feel overwhelmed with something new every week or every other week. I also don’t want to leave the centers in each box too long because then my students will get bored and refuse to do them. No joke.

Plus, since we have a couple of boxes, they aren’t always working on the same box every day.

What types of independent centers do you have for Guided Reading Groups?


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I'm a special education teacher, presenter, curriculum writer, and educational blogger behind Mrs. D's Corner.
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