Welcome to Tool of the Week, CEC’s special education resource destination! We want to make your work easier and support you in your practice. Subscribe today and you’ll find a FREE tool for your special education toolbox in your inbox every week.

Tool of the Week is a service of the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), the international professional membership organization supporting special educators. All Tools of the Week come from CEC’s first-rate publications and are provided for educational use only; the content may not be reproduced or resold without express permission of CEC.

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Recent Posts

Teaching Word Problems

Calling all math teachers! With this week’s FREE tool, we’re tackling word problems. The tool is a table that breaks the process for solving word problems into five problem-solving steps. Steps are matched with potential challenges and suggested supports so you can help your students better understand the process. The table comes from CEC’s “Bridging the Gap Between Arithmetic and ...

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Footsteps Toward the Future

This week’s FREE tool is a Communication Assessment Form to help you determine the communication skills needed for a student to fully participate in a particular activity. The conversational and communication skills required at different stages of a given activity can sometimes be overlooked. The form asks you to break the targeted activity into steps to help reveal these hidden ...

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Co-Teaching & Collaboration: A Collection of Articles

Co-teachers, this one’s for you! If you’ve settled into a comfortable routine over the course of the year, it’s time to change things up. This week’s FREE tool is a table with nifty visuals to help you rethink your co-teaching arrangement. Are you parallel teaching? Team teaching? This table will remind you to try something new. It comes from CEC’s ...

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A Guide to Teaching Students With Autism Spectrum Disorders

This week’s free tool is a table for teachers who are implementing peer-mediated instruction in their classroom. The table, Strategies for Initiating and Maintaining Attention, lists strategies for use by peer mediators who are helping their classmates with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) initiate and maintain attention. Strategies such as talking through play can help peer mediators model desirable behaviors during ...

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Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports

This week’s FREE tool is one for the bulletin board in the teacher’s lounge. It’s a simple diagram of the conflict cycle that illustrates how a teacher’s positive intervention can break the self-perpetuating cycle of emotional crisis. The diagram is a great reminder for all teachers of the positive role teachers can play in diminishing conflict for their students, especially ...

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Differentiating Instruction

This week’s FREE tool is a table to help you create a learning environment that is welcoming to all learners. With topics that range from clutter-free space to the problem of distracting smells and textures, this “Learning Environment Checklist” will walk you through the considerations for seating, classroom organization, and classroom climate so you can lay the groundwork for learning ...

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Leading the Co-Teaching Dance

If you’re an administrator or a co-teacher you’re going to love this week’s FREE tool. It’s a chart with guidelines for assessing co-teacher proficiency. Administrators can use it to structure co-teaching evaluations; and co-teachers can use it to set goals and self-evaluate. Everyone can aspire for the rating “DARN, THEY’RE GOOD!” The chart comes from CEC’s Leading the Co-Teaching Dance: Leadership ...

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U-STARS~PLUS: Science & Literature Connections

Got a spring in your step? Spring flowers and welcome sunshine make this a great time of year to take a “listening walk.” That’s why this week’s FREE tool is a science lesson plan for teaching the fiction book, The Listening Walk. The lesson uses this story to teach K-3 science concepts around organisms and their environments as well as ...

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7 Steps for Success

April showers bring more than May flowers. They also bring notices of admissions status from many colleges and universities. If your students are busy making tough decisions about where to go to college next year, you’ll like this week’s FREE tool. It’s a table: Commonly Requested Accommodations for higher education. You and your students can use this list to brainstorm ...

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This week’s FREE tool is a list of sample paraprofessional tasks and activities to help teachers distinguish between instruction and support in the classroom. This list will help paraprofessionals draw boundaries around what they should and shouldn’t be asked to do for students. It will also show teachers the valuable support services paraprofessionals can provide. And finally, co-teachers can refer ...

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