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  • Mrs G

Community Based Instruction Ideas

Community-based instruction ideas for the classroom! Prepare your students to succeed at work, at the library, while taking the bus, or at the gym before you ever leave your classroom.


My first attempts at community-based trips were epic failures because I did not prepare my students well enough. Now, community-based trips are some of my favorite times spent with my students. The best community-based instruction ideas start in the classroom. The stakes are low and making mistakes can be encouraged. Let’s get into it!



1. Community-Based Instruction Workstations

Setting up workstations within your classroom is HUGE. You can use task boxes with visual instructions and keep them in a designated space. Students can rotate through each task box which will allow them to master and revisit each skill. Or, create a visual instruction card for designated spaces or tasks within your classroom. For example, have the student sort the bookshelf according to color. Create a step-by-step visual guide (remove books from shelves, sort books into color piles, put red books first, etc.) to support them in learning to follow instructions independently.


2. Problem-Solving Scenarios with a Community Theme

Verbally give students a quick and common problem that they will likely encounter in the community. For example, “You need to take the bus to work but realize you have forgotten your bus pass. If you go back you will be late for work. What would you do?”. This type of problem-solving forces students to consider how they would navigate a tricky situation that has many possible outcomes. It can be a quick ten-minute conversation that builds an incredibly valuable skill set. Here is a link to FREE vocational problem-solving scenarios.


3. Use a Community Outing Rubric

Of all the community-based instruction ideas, this one has had the most impact on my students. Community-based social skills are especially hard to learn because there are so many unspoken cultural and situational rules. Students who are just learning to explore independence in the community need a concrete target. You need to take data with a community-based outing rubric. Clearly state your expectations for the community-based outing. Let students review the rubric from the early stages of planning your trip and have them create their own goals. You can download my community-based outing rubric here.


4. Create Similar Tasks throughout the School

Ask the teachers in your building what weekly tasks need to be completed in their rooms. Can your students sharpen pencils, refill printer paper, or deliver mail? For each task create a set of instructions including written, photos, illustrations, verbal, or any medium that works for your students. For larger tasks, consider having students create a training video. Once students are proficient in completing the task, allow students time to “go to work” each week.

5. Use a Monetary Based Classroom Rewards System

Create a system of earning, spending, and saving within your classroom. This practice allows students to experience money principles in a safe environment. Have students track the number of times they complete a designated job or task in the classroom. Then, have a classroom payday.



Community-Based Instruction Ideas that Lead to More

Once your community-based instruction routines are established in your classroom, your students can take on their communities with confidence. Allow students to fail and learn in a safe and controlled environment. What community trips are your students loving? Share them with me!




FREE Resources for Teaching Community Based Instruction at School

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