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Transitional Performance Based Activities (TPBA) for the Special Education Classroom

By Barbara

Transitional Performance Based Activities (TPBA) happen naturally in special education classrooms. The problem is that without structure or intent, both teachers and students miss the opportunity to create meaningful learning opportunities during subject or period transitions in the classroom.

Creating Effective TPBAs

Typical classroom instructional periods range between 50-55 minutes per class period in middle and high school classrooms and between 40-45 minutes in elementary classrooms. Within those instructional minutes, there are a lot of transitional moments that could be transformed into productive transitional performance based activities (TPBAs) for both teacher and students.

Transitions must be structured, defined and consistent in meeting student's academic and behavioral needs in the classroom. TPBAs should include a written checklist with weekly transitional times and specific activities that will enrich the learning experience for special needs students. Typical TPBAs are included below:

Transitional Performance Based Activities (TPBAs)

  • In typical reading classes, students generally spend a defined time reading a book that they've chosen or one assigned by the teacher. TPBAs could include asking students to journal a reflection on a prompt visually displayed on the overhead or written on the board (i.e. In the book "Connections from the Heart," "What is Tahlia feeling about her parent's divorce?" or "How do you think Bobby is feeling when his best friend Max moved to Arizona?" )
  • A Math Class on Fractions could have students using a TPBA to show what they know as an individual or group assessment at the end, beginning or middle of a class. For example, the teacher could put a list of fractions on the board and either have students choose a fraction to demonstrate using manipulatives or assign a table group a specific fraction to show in a number of fraction equivalents using manipulatives (i.e. the fraction 1/2 could be shown as 5/10, 6/12, 2/4, 3/6 etc.)
  • For students studying a map of the United States in a geography class, the teacher could have students identify two western, eastern, southern or northern states and do a ten minute Internet search on two special features of the state that would interest a young child or teenager visiting the state during summer vacation. Students who choose Washington state for instance as one of their western states could list "Water Waves" or the "Seattle Aquarium" as their two favorite places for students visiting the state.

TPBAs are a great way to add additional instructional learning for special needs students and all students in the classroom. In constructing your lesson plans, add TPBAs that are fun and fulfilling for those time periods that can happen at the beginning, middle or end of a class period. Students will enjoy class transitions even more and teachers will see a higher level of student accountability and classroom engagement during the entire class session.