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Setting up a Fifth Grade Special Education Classroom

By Lisa Pulsifer

When deciding how to set up a 5th grade special education classroom, it is important to consider the individual needs of each student while developing an overall environment that is conducive to learning. Appropriate seating, work stations and daily schedules allow learning to take place.

When deciding on how to set up a 5th grade special education classroom, consideration should be given to setting up an optimal learning environment. This will be different depending on each students needs, but with careful planning, certain things such as seating, lighting and work stations can be set up in a way that provides for a variety of needs.

Work Stations

Since the majority of students in a special education classroom will have varying educational needs, small groups in work stations around the room will allow for more individualized instruction. This can be broken down by subject with students grouped by similar skill levels. If there are other staff members in the room such as teaching assistants or co-teachers, this will be easier to do. If not, it can still be done by having activities that can be completed independently for the other students while small groups are instructed.

Also, having stations set up within the room for students to independently take care of possible sensory needs can help them concentrate and in some cases control unwanted behaviors. Things like bouncing on a therapy ball, doing short quick exercises such as jumping jacks or even listening to music can give students the ability to deal with personal sensory needs without disrupting the class.


When choosing seating it is best to thing about how you plan to give instruction. Even if you are working with small groups throughout the day, it is good for students to also have individual desks. This allows them to have an area that they are responsible for and can keep personal items. Also, it gives more opportunities to move around the room and a safe place to go if they are overwhelmed by other classmates.

Adaptive seating might be helpful to students who have special sensory needs or have difficulty sitting still for long periods of time. There are many options for different types of seating depending on specific needs. Sitting on exercise balls or a T-stool might help students concentrate better by minimizing the need for other sensory seeking behaviors.

Daily Schedule

Students should be provided with a daily schedule so they are aware of the activities of the day. It not only gives them that knowledge, but will help them to become more independent by learning how to prepare for what is coming up next without being told. Daily schedules should be appropriate for each student. While one student might be able to understand a weekly schedule with activities written out for each day of the week, another one might require a simpler picture schedule that breaks down the day.


An important thing to consider when deciding how to set up a 5th grade special education classroom is to be flexible. While you may have everything planned out, things often come up that require changes. Sometimes one student will not get along or will provoke unwanted behaviors from another and need a group change. Other times, the students will turn out to be more independent than you expected and require you to make things more challenging for them to learn. Being willing to make changes when they are needed will help the classroom be more successful.