Why You Should Color Code in Your Special Education Classroom

From pens to post-its, ask most teachers and they will tell you that they love color coding – their planner, their data, and just about everything else in their classroom.

why you should color code blog header image

Not only does this help them, but when you color code a classroom, it can also help your paras and your students!  Color coding is a great organizational tool for everyone to use.

Let’s talk about some ways that color coding your classroom can help set everyone up for success.

10 Reasons Why Color Coding Works in Any Classroom

  • Studies have shown more than a causal link between color coding and memory, and there’s ample evidence that color coding can help students key into critical information. Smart use of color in an elementary classroom can help with knowledge retention and knowledge transfer as well as differentiation.  
  • Color-coding can support mathematical thinking by helping students organize their thoughts, making their thinking visible to others and making connections.
color coded student iep binders - organizing your IEPs one child at a time. blog post at mrs. ds corner
  • Color-coding a classroom can help you, as well as a student, separate and organize many things, such as different information for each day of the week, or different parts of your day and schedule.
  • Color can enhance or impair learning, morale and behaviors. Studies have shown that color affects a student’s attention span and perception of time. Visual stimulation actually rewires the brain, making stronger connections while fostering visual thinking, problem solving and creativity.
  • Colors can have a positive impact on memory and attention
  • Color coding makes it easy for everyone to locate materials.
  • When color-coding your data sheets, you could assign a specific color to a specific student (if you have a small enough group for that), this way you are not likely to leave personal and confidential information out for others to see.
Baskets with Lids in various colors from RGS
  • I like to color code by day of the week – if I have something written down in orange for example, I know I wrote that down on a Tuesday so if I am not sure when that information was written down, I can go back and look at what was worked on over the course of a few weeks to narrow down my information.
  • You can color code just about anything for students – their work stations, work bins, classroom boundaries, tables, supply buckets, folders, etc.  The more you color code for a student, the more likely they are to be able to understand what you are asking of them.  For example – have 2 folders for finished & unfinished work, maybe blue and orange.  If they don’t finish an activity, telling them to put said activity in their blue folder helps them to understand that they need to finish it at another time.  If they are told to put it in their orange folder, then they know it is done, and they can move on to the next thing. 
  • YOU ARE BUSY! I know, sounds shocking right? As special education teachers, we are busy all day, everyday – it’s just the nature of our jobs.  You are going in one million different directions, monitoring students, talking to support staff, and preparing students for what’s next.  Your mind moves quickly, unfortunately sometimes too quickly. How many times have you reached for a daily material, data sheet or student information and grabbed the wrong one.  This could create some unnecessary messy data or work.  When you color code, your brain is more likely to realize quicker in order to adapt and adjust so you can quickly switch out what you need.

All in all, color coding is one of the easiest forms of organization that can help not only the teachers and other support staff, but the students as well.  Having a somewhat organized and smooth moving classroom is going to be what helps the students be most successful.

In this blog post, I share some of the things that you can color code in your classroom. This is a great starting place for you if color coding is not something you have done yet. 

What are your favorite reasons to use a color coding system?  Let us know in the comments!




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