Community Based Instruction #4: …but data?

Community Based Instruction 4: ...but data?

This is part 4 of my Community Based Instruction Series.

For Part 1: Click here

For Part 2: Click here

For Part 3: Click here

Taking data on community based instruction is important. This allows us to determine how students are generalizing their goals from the classroom to the community, and allows you to pinpoint areas that need growth and more explicit instruction.

Your data and goals will vary significantly based on student. Review Part 1 to see some goal ideas. Here are a few pieces of information to consider.

1. You don’t need to track EVERY goal on EVERY trip.

Depending on your trip, it is natural to focus more on some goals than others. For example, if you are going to the zoo and walking around, you may take data on social greetings, appropriate behavior, etc. If you are going to the store to buy items, you may want to be sure to take data for the student’s purchasing goal.

2. Instructional Assistants can take data too

This is literally the only way it is feasible for me to truly track each of my student’s progress on trips. I match my students with IAs (and some with myself). I will communicate this information with my IAs ahead of time, go over the data sheet I would like them to fill out, and take any questions.

TIP: I ALWAYS leave a note area in my data sheets so that the IAs can write more anecdotal notes if they are unsure of how to mark a skill.

On this note, make sure you’re playing to your instructional assistants’ strengths. If they are stronger with specific students or specific skills, take that into consideration.

3. Data can be taken in many different ways

For example, you could:

  • Have a table on a clipboard for data
  • Have masking tape on your sleeve and use a pen to make tallies
  • Use Google Forms on your phone

In a real-world setting like this, what truly matters is that you know what your data means. You can make it look all pretty and make sense to others after the trip, but don’t get hung up on that during your trip! It will become frustrating and unrealistic.

Attach table to student’s shopping list. IAs can quickly write down information and we can meet later to discuss.

Using Google Forms for Community Data

4. Give yourself grace!

THE MOST IMPORTANT take-away is to be patient with yourself. It will take a few tries to find a data collection system that works for you, your staff, your students, and the setting. Reach out to your co-workers, support staff, therapists, if you need help!

Feel free to e-mail me at lovingsouls.superstargoals@gmail.com to talk through your situation as well 🙂


Community Based Instruction #3: Out and About

This is part 3 of my Community Based Instruction Series.

For Part 1: Click here

For Part 2: Click here

For Part 4: Click here

…Now what?

The tasks and skills you work on in community should be directly tied to the work you put into place in the classroom (See Part 2). Of course this will vary depending on age level, your curricular targets, IEP goals and more!

However, below are some ideas to get your gears turning!

For students with visual impairments

** Visual clutter may be quite high in a supermarket or other community environment. I always bring a black fabric or paper along. This allows me to quickly provide an uncluttered and high-contrast background for my students. I can place visuals against it or an actual object from the store.

Black background with image velcro-ed on to reduce visual clutter

** Bring models of the items on your shopping list. We often buy coffee and tea for our coffee cart program. I will save the coffee wrapper and a little bit of coffee in a ziplock, as well as a tea bag. I bring these on our trips to the grocery store and it provides students with a multi-sensory and concrete “shopping list”! Also, you can target the concepts “same” and “different” by comparing what you bought last time to what you are buying this trip!

For student with Cortical Visual Impairment. High contrast image with red glitter tape to promote visual fixation and concrete object of peanut butter to touch/see/smell

For functional reading, writing, math

When you go shopping for yourself, chances are you had a role in writing the list. You probably know what you will use the items for, why you are buying them, and a general idea of cost. In this same fashion, your students should have this opportunity as well. I usually have my shopping lists double as a space to jot down the cost of items, but you can work it however you want! See below for some ideas.

*Tip: Some grocery stores allow you to search for their items online! It isn’t always consistent with prices in the stores but it gives you/your students a general idea of costs.

For some functional FUN

So… in my opinion, all the above is super FUN 😉 but some students might need a little extra ‘oomph.’

We use these scavenger hunt sheets to work on various skills with students. They work for a chosen reinforcer.

My favorite part of these is that I can change the targeted skills based on student, trip, social skill or core word focus, etc!

For structured needs

Just because you’re outside of the classroom, doesn’t mean all structure should go away. In fact, it is often the opposite, you’ll need to put even more supports in place to promote success.

**Be sure that the incentives you have in place are able to be used in the community. For example, if your student gets 5 tokens to play on the computer and their schedule of reinforcement is every few minutes – you probably don’t want to bring a computer on your trip!! Give other reinforcers as options to work for.

**Provide a mini schedule. You know your students best, so be sure to individualize as needed. One student may be successful with a schedule that shows “bus, shop, eat, bus” and one may need the tasks more broken down “bus, find item, buy item, eat, clean up, bus” .

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Headed with our grade level peers for a day of FUN!!!!!

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Don’t worry!

Please note that you don’t always need to buy items! Students can have a super successful, fun, and challenging trip without buying anything! On one of our trips (photo below), students walked around the store and found/sorted items into food groups.