Community, Freebies, Multiple Disabilities

Community Based Instruction #1: Getting Started

This is Part 1 of a series on one of my favorite learning areas: CBI!

*For full series click here*

For Part 2 click here

For Part 3 click here

For Part 4: Click here

Community Based Instruction (CBI) has become a HUGE passion of mine over the last few years. I have seen significant growth in my students since starting to take these trips….and I want you to be able to do the same!

What is it?

Community Based Instruction “is defined as regular and systematic instruction in meaningful, functional, age-appropriate skills in integrated community settings, using naturally occurring materials and situations, designed to help the student to acquire and generalize life-skills that enhance his or her opportunities for meaningful experiences”

So basically – it is a chance for you to teach your students important and relevant skills in the setting in which these skills will be required! It also enables students to generalize skills in the most authentic way possible, and it enables use to assess how students are generalizing/acquiring skills, what we need to focus on more, what we need to challenge the students with more, etc.

We all know that student who counts nickels perfectly at the math table in class but not at the grocery store. Or the student who doesn’t yet understand that you have to PAY for food before you can open and eat it. Or, or, or, or….we could write a million stories of students who would benefit from systematic community experiences.


Step 1: Learn Best Practice for CBI

I recently read a book about how to set up your students for ultimate success in adulthood, and it detailed 4 guidelines for Community Based Instruction.

Keep these in mind as you plan and advocate for trips to admin. There is a difference between fun field trips and systematic community based instruction (though both are important and both incorporate critical life skills!).


Step 2: Incorporate Parent Input

Community Based Instruction is designed to help the student acquire and generalize life-skills that will be meaningful for them. It should occur as regular and systematic instruction within their community and the stores they frequent.

THIS MEANS— We need parent input! We don’t always know what long-term goals parents have for their child, and we most likely don’t know what stores they go to most often, or what items they help their parents buy

…and guess what? Having parents on board with your trips increases the chance that parents will assist in teaching these skills when they go out, too!

I send out this survey to parents when I start planning my trips. GRAB IT FOR FREE BY CLICKING HERE!


Step 3: Determine Goals

Now that you can:

A. Define community based instruction

B. Identify evidence-based guidelines for community based instruction

C. Describe goals your students’ families have for their child

You are ready to determine what main goals you want to track for your students in the community. More blog posts coming about how to teach, assess, and debrief with these goals–but first, let’s pick them!


Communication (greeting, requesting), functional math (paying, determining cost, number sense reading a list), functional reading (determining corresponding aisles, identifying items on list), increasing tolerance of various environments, attending to items in complex environments, safety skills, safety signs, physically reaching for items, and so much more!!!

—> Message me or comment to tell me some of your goals!



ABA, Behavior, Freebies

Planned Ignoring – Staff Freebie

[freebie download at bottom of page!]

We’ve all been there. The student with a behavior we all need to place on planned ignoring… and the kind-hearted and well-meaning staff who intervene with “Just stand up!” or “What’s going on there?”.

Remember: Each behavior serves at least one of these functions: Sensory, Escape, Tangible, Attention-Seeking. And for attention-seeking behaviors, negative attention can be just as reinforcing, if not more, than positive attention

So what do I do?

For many attention-seeking behaviors, a Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP) may ask staff to ignore the behavior. That means nada, nothing, you gotta go into “robot mode.”

But imagine this: 

My student, “Johnny” is engaging in an attention-seeking behavior.

I am at a table, student safely within my line of sight, ignoring the Johnny’s behavior.

Then, one of my IAs comes back from lunch and goes “Hey Johnny! What’s up?”   *Gives high five*

…and I start to pull my hair out……just kidding.

Now, check this out!

****In my classroom, because we have so many wonderful staff, nurses, therapists, popping in and out throughout the day, we will flash this “Ignoring” visual to each other. We are all on the same page now that this means the student is engaging in a behavior and we are not to engage. Since we started using this, thus leading the entire team to follow the BIP with fidelity, the behavior decreased. YAY!!!!!

ignoring .jpg

Download this visual here. Show it to your team, and pop it in your pocket or on your lanyard for those handy moments 🙂


End of Year Bus Gifts


school bus

It’s almost time for summer, and that means—-end of year gifts!

We have so many bus drivers and bus aides who have treated our students like family, and they deserve to be appreciated! But at the same time, with all the wonderful providers in and out of our students’ lives, we could quickly break the bank with gifts.

Download these adorable Hershey’s Chocolate Bar wrappers HERE FOR FREE.

Snag a 6 pack of Hershey’s Chocolate Bars for $4.00 and you’re set. Less than $1.00 a person!


*Also, can I tell you, I am loving the “wheelie” great year — because most of my bus riders are in wheelchairs and it’s just so darn cute!