I believe that every special education classroom should have a set of morning work binders. Adapted binders are a great way to teach students new skills, review learned skills, build independence, and give you a little bit of calm during a hectic morning.
Why Morning Work Binders?
I started using morning work binders in my classroom a few years ago. In my school, students arrive in the classroom starting at 8:05, but instruction can’t begin until the day starts at 9:00. I got tired of wasting my time at the copier each morning making copies of ‘busy work’. So, I created these morning work binders so that students could independently practice skills every day. I loved that students took pride in their work and were able to work on the skills they needed!
How to Set Up Morning Work Binders
My adapted binders come in several different options. You can get the Velcro or Dry Erase version. Each of the versions comes with a full color and line art option, as well as a digital option!
The Velcro option is your standard morning work binder. You print, laminate, cut, and Velcro each page. Students move the pieces around to complete the tasks and put the pieces back when finished each day. This is my best-seller and Velcro is a super popular choice in the special education classroom.
However, not all classrooms have the budget for Velcro or the time to prep so many Velcro pieces. So, I created the Dry Erase binder for those classrooms! Simply print the pages and slide them in sheet protectors. Students use a dry erase marker to complete each page and then are able to wipe it clean when they are finished!
How to Differentiate Morning Work Binders
My morning work binders come with three different academic levels and an about me section. The about me section is the perfect place for students to practice skills like their name, phone number, and weather. The academic sections are structured from easier to harder tasks. You can mix and match based on each students need! I have students who are working on super basic math skills from the level one section, but more advanced ELA skills from the level three section. As students master a skill, I increase their difficulty by putting in more challenging pages.
How to Teach Students to Use the Binders
Like so many things in special ed, it’s all about the practice! Students should be taught how to use the binders by only inserting a few pages at a time. For some students, I give them only one page while we are first learning. I set expectations and repeatedly model. In my room, students are expected to get out their binder, use their binder, reset their binder, and put their binder away each day. It does take a lot of work to get there, but once they do you can literally see the pride they have in being independent!
For students who need extra support, you may even want to start with pages that are partially completed. Maybe you’ll put on all of the pieces except for one or two answers. You can also try a buddy system by having students from another room come down to yours. I find this is a great job for students in other classrooms who need a little attention or confidence boost – they are always the best helpers in my room!