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These 3 independent work system hacks can solve some common problems in setting up the classroom.

3 Independent Work System Hacks For Common Problems

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Welcome to Workbasket Wednesday, where this week I will talk about independent work system hacks for setup in the classroom.  This blogger’s  linkup that is all about independent work systems.  I’m interrupting the 10 Steps to a Well-Run Special Education Classroom series to feed my (and maybe your) workbasket addiction. As we get ready for a new year, new ideas about work systems are always welcome. I love seeing all the other bloggers link up with their ideas.  If you would like to link up, check out the linky at the bottom of the post.   You can share that tasks in your room or details about how you use independent work systems, as long as their focus is on building independence in the classroom (not just putting work in baskets).  ?

Given that many of you are setting up work systems now, I thought I would share 3 hacks to some of the common problems we encounter in setting them up along with solutions I have seen work.  Some I might have shared before and others are new, or new to you.

Problem: Traveling Finished Baskets for Independent Work Systems

Have you ever tripped over a finished basket?  I have….many, many times.  Finished baskets are often laundry baskets, or copy paper boxes or other large containers that sit to the right of the students’ desks.  The students put their work, still completed, into the work systems.  And I find over time that they tend to travel and get underfoot.  Because they have to sit to the right of the students’ desk (students always work from left to right or top to bottom in systems), they just tend to get in the way.

For finished baskets that move, use zip ties to fasten them to the table or the desk to keep from tripping over them. See more hacks with workbasket Wednesday.Hack #1: Zip Ties

This is such an easy solution that I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of it before.  This idea actually originated from Heather, a teacher I worked with.  Zip tie the basket to the leg of the desk or the table and it will stay put.  Genius!  And simple.


Problem:  Lack of Tables

How many of us get our pick of furniture in the classroom?  Not many.  So, you have to make do.  I walked into one self-contained middle school classroom with 3 students to find 30 student desks and no tables or shelves.  Uh Oh!  We managed to swap some of them out and just plain got rid of some of the desks.  However, we still didn’t have tables to set up work systems.

No tables in the classroom? No problem...put two desks together to provide space for work system and students to work. See more hacks on Workbasket WednesdayHack #2:  2 Desks

So, we did what I’ve done in many classrooms and used desks.  The only problem with desks, though, is they don’t leave much room for the baskets and the students to work.  Solution?  We use two desks back to back–one holds the baskets and one allows the student to work. (This was also Heather’s classroom but I’ve used this solution many times in the past! ?)

Problem: Can’t Put Velcro on Furniture

Oh boy…this one really gets me.  I understand it from the point of view of the school, but it makes putting a special education classroom together require that much MORE creativity.  I’ve been in classes where we weren’t allowed to put Velcro on the desks or walls…so how do we post the schedule for the students in a work system?

Can't put Velcro on a table? No problem...use a cutting board. See more hacks at Workbasket Wednesday

Hack #3:  Use a Cutting Board

Cutting boards make great visual holders in general, as you can see in this post.  For work systems, you can put the visual schedule on the cutting board and prop it up against the wall or lay it to the left of the student (left to right, top to bottom, remember?).  This teacher did just that…the third visual at the right went to a bin that had the students’ reinforcers in it to serve as the “what’s next.”  When they were finished they got to make a choice.

So, what hacks have you found useful in setting up independent work systems?  Do you have work baskets you would like to share? We’d love to see them….just share them below or on social media.

Link Up for Workbasket Wednesday
Building Independence through Structured Work Systems

Have some workbasket tasks you want to share (they don’t have to be assembly tasks)?  Link up below or share them on social media with #workbasketwednesday and copy me (@reeveautism on Twitter and @autismclassroomnews on Instagram).

Looking for more ideas on work systems and how they can be used?  Check out the links below for more posts.  And, I wrote about a book about them!  Click on the book to the left for an Amazon Affiliate link (see my disclosure policy for more information about affiliate links).

Looking to set up work systems in your classroom but not sure where to start?  Check out my Structured Work Starter Kits and Bundles in my store.


Structured Work Systems Starter Kit Elementary Edition from Autism Classroom Newsstructured work system starter kit secondary from Autism Classroom News StoreStructured Work System Elementary Starter BundleSecondary Structured Work System Bundle for Life Skills --STarter Kit and TasksWorkbasket Wednesday Linkup for Structured Work Systems and Independent Work Systems
[inlinkz_linkup id=653299 mode=1]

Until next time,

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