Which Curriculum is Best for Math?
I often get asked, “What is the best math curriculum for special education students?” Having taught both elementary and high school special education for 15 years, I have learned a lot about what works best for different students. I've learned that math curriculums created by larger companies don't always have the best interest of students with disabilities in mind. I've tried using some of the level 3 tiered math from the general education curriculum with students before too. However, I found that a lot of the skills taught were not the functional skills that my students needed.
What are Functional Math Skills for Special Needs Students?
Functional skills might also be known as life skills. Functional math skills are super important in the special education world, especially for students with lower cognitive abilities. Math curriculum that works for special education tends to focus on functional math skills. Functional skills such as: counting, telling time, counting coins, sorting, and comparing just to name a few. Basically, these are essential skills that students need in the real world to get by. Check out the 5 Life Skills you Should Teach.
Best Math Curriculum for Special Ed
When researching different math curriculums, I wasn't finding the curriculum that I felt my students needed using these functional math skills. That is how the Math Task Boxes Set was born. If you have read any other posts from me, you know that I am a HUGE fan of task boxes in my classroom. It was only natural for a Functional Math Curriculum to be created around task boxes too!
Implementing Task Boxes into Your Special Ed Classroom
Task boxes are always engaging and hands-on for students, which makes them a lot better than typical worksheets. Task boxes are great because they provide proprioceptive feedback while learning new skills. I use task boxes in my special ed classroom in a variety of ways. We use them for morning work, early finishers, independent work stations, centers, and small group time. Another bonus is that they are easy to store, label and rotate out into your classroom.
Why Use the Math Task Boxes as Math Curriculum in Special Ed?
The Math Task boxes focus on the exact functional skills that students with disabilities need without teaching any unnecessary math skills. What I like to do is introduce the skill that the students will work on for the week together-let's say it's counting nickels. We will use the task boxes and other adapted math activities together during small group math time. Then, I will rotate the task boxes into their independent work stations for more practice.
The best part about these task boxes is that even though grade levels are listed on them, you can use them for any grade needed. I often use the 3rd-5th grade task boxes in my high school special ed classroom because this is a lot of the functional skills that my students are working on. Some are able to do two-digit addition with regrouping, multiplication, and even fractions. There are times in which I have even used the K-2 Task box set with high school students, depending on their ability. My students actually enjoy completing their math when it is fun and engaging!