LPS Positive Behavior Interventions and Support

Structured Work Systems

Structured Work Systems Strategy Protocol

What and Why:

A structured work system refers to the physical structure of a student’s work area as well as the physical structure of the activity itself.  Both a structured work environment and a structured work task tell the student what is expected of him/her during an activity, how much is supposed to be accomplished, and what happens after the activity is completed.  The work system is also organized in such a way that the person has little or no difficulty figuring out what to do.  The goal is to teach the person to work independently.

Materials:

Materials used in structured work systems will vary.

Possible materials/furniture needed for structured work areas:

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  • Individual student desks or small tables
  • Partitions
  • Stackable work baskets
  • Plastic storage containers with drawers
  • Laminated numbers/pictures/colors with velcro to identify the order in which tasks are completed (these numbers can be placed on the student desk and/or on the work baskets or task drawers)

Possible materials needed for structured work tasks:

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  • Cardboard flats from soda cans
  • Egg cartons or ice cube trays
  • Empty plastic food containers (cool whip, butter, sour cream)
  • Manipulatives
  • Velcro
  • Laminating pouches
  • File Folders
  • Small baskets
  • Envelopes or small paper pouches

How and When to Implement:

  • When implementing a structured work system, the following student questions need to be answered:
    • What am I expected to do?
    • How much am I expected to do?
    • How will I know when I am finished?
    • Where do I put my finished work?
    • What will I get when I’m done or what do I do next?
  • Within a structured work systems, a student has identified independent work times and teacher work times.  After a teacher has introduced a new task during teacher work times and the student demonstrates mastery, that task can be moved to the independent work time.
  • Initially, a student may need guidance and teaching to navigate their structured work system, but ultimately the goal is for the student to use the system independently.

Things to Consider/Problem Solving:

  • It is imperative to keep work spaces and reward/play spaces separate.  This will help a student identify when and where work happens and when and where breaks, rewards and free time happen.
  • A student may need to build up his/her stamina for completing multiple jobs.
  • The team needs to carefully consider how and when tasks are taken apart.  Do not have the student take the task apart after he/she completes the task the teacher needs to evaluate the accuracy.  Staff should not take the task apart in front of the student.

Useful Resources to Learn More:

Tasks Galore

Autism Tasks

Structured Work Systems

 

Autism

Click to return to Best Practices for Supporting Students with Autism

Information compiled by Lincoln Public Schools Autism Team (September 2015)