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

Example Task Chain for Using a System of Least Prompts

This week’s FREE tool is a sample task chain for using a system of least prompts when teaching life-skills to a student with developmental disabilities. In the system of least prompts, you begin a task with the least amount of prompting possible and increase assistance only as needed. This table provides an example of prompting for a student who is ...

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Peer-Mediated Learning Strategies Observation Form

This week’s FREE Tool is a quick and simple observation form from Friendship 101, a step-by-step guidebook for teaching social competency. The form provides a straightforward way to collect data on Peer-Mediated Learning Strategies (PMLS), evidence-based practices that teach social skills to students with disabilities through the involvement of a typically developing peer. The practice provides students with disabilities a ...

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Thinking Questions and Cognitive Thinking Guide

This week’s Tool of the Week, Thinking Questions and Cognitive Thinking Guide, comes from USTARS~PLUS Science and Nonfiction Connections, a book of lesson plans organized around Bloom’s taxonomy of cognitive thinking. In accordance with the USTARS method, the questions support a range of thinking levels to scaffold learning.  

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PROSE Checklist for Improving School-to-Home Communication

Family involvement, as facilitated by effective communication, is shown to improve student learning. But we most often reach out to families through written communication that can present challenges. This week’s tool, taken from the TEACHING Exceptional Children article, “PROSE Checklist Strategies for Improving School-to-Home Written Communication“, offers strategies for overcoming communication barriers between you and your students’ families.

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Example Curricula for Teaching Sex Education

Students with developmental disabilities or autism often have sex education excluded from their programming. This week’s Tool, from Friendship 101: Helping Students Build Social Competence, provides some sample sex education curricula IEP teams can review and evaluate to ensure they provide accurate and comprehensive information and align with other educational materials for students ages 5-18 with developmental disabilities. P.S. – Want to ...

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Writing Narratives about Student Behavior

The general education classroom teacher often completes a teacher narrative as one component of evaluating students for eligibility for special education services – and frequently provides progress monitoring as well. These documents are considered legal documents, so both teachers and specialists need to be able to clearly, objectively, and appropriately describe students’ class participation, academic progress, involvement with peers and ...

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Exploring Science: Come On, Rain!

A couple of weeks ago the Tool of the Week was a science content lesson plan about the rain cycle. The lesson plan came from the most recent publication in our U-STARS~PLUS series, Science & Nonfiction Connections. U-STARS publications provide teachers with lesson plans and strategies for presenting science content – with enrichment activities and “thinking questions” that benefit all ...

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Determining Where Real-World Instruction Should Occur

Real-world skills are critical for students’ success, and the settings in which these skills are taught are often critical to facilitate student retention and use of these skills in real situations. This week’s Tool of the Week is a decision-making process for determining the appropriate settings for teaching real-world skills. This week’s Tool comes from Footsteps Toward the Future: Implementing a Real-World Curriculum ...

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Managing and Implementing Intervention Reviews

Each school or district has its own RTI process that identifies students requiring interventions (whether academic or behavioral) and the specific nature of those interventions. Generally, however, it is the classroom teacher who identifies a struggling student and seeks assistance from the RTI team; this may be an informal or formal process. This week’s Tool of the Week provides a ...

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Exploring Science: Down Comes the Rain

This week’s tool of the week, “Down Comes the Rain,” is a lesson plan built around the book Down Comes the Rain, and will help students learn about the water cycle and how all living things depend on water. This tool comes from U-STARS ~PLUS Science & Nonfiction Connections, which includes over 30 lesson plans aligned with both Common Core and Next Generation Science ...

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