• Life Skills Support  

    Mike Castelli 



    Instruction in Life Skills Support classrooms
    CB West HS

    The instruction provided in our Life Skills Support classrooms and to students who take the PASA is focused on the PA Alternate Eligible Content for English and Math standards, at grade 8 for middle school, and grade 11 for high school.  


    Reading* Instruction

    Students will continue to work on comprehension and critical thinking skills with support from vocabulary, fluency, writing, and independent reading instruction, and apply those reading skills to practical print found in the real world.

    Students will be presented with differentiated thematic units of study across social studies* and science* content areas aligned with the alternate eligible content with multiple activities integrated within each lesson/unit for all levels of learners with interactive components for both learning and student assessment. Lesson plans address skill areas within reading, math, writing, social studies and science, with embedded transitional outcomes.

    Students will explore an integrated, standards-based, language arts curriculum, that focuses on teaching road signs and indoor signs within the story lines of books. Lessons will focus on signs for streets and roads, community places, work places, and restaurants. Additional reading skills built into the lessons will focus on concept of print, main character and character traits, setting, main idea, and cause and effect.

    Students will learn functional vocabulary targeting community signs and restaurants through repeated exposure to words with a variety of activities to engage learners. Activities will reinforce word recognition and understanding of the meaning of target words.


    Math Instruction

    The instruction provided to students at this level is research and standards based and supports learning in geometry, algebra, data analysis, and measurement concepts. The instruction is then further broken down into smaller concepts for students so they are able to build a foundation of skills that will better help them with higher level math skills. Students then have the ability to connect math concepts with their real life experiences. Practical skills include:

    • Measuring
    • Time: Expressive and receptive identification, utilizing a schedule with time, understanding length of time and how long it takes to complete activities
    • Calendar Skills: Independently navigate and use for information and planning of events
    • Money Skills: Expressive and receptive identification of coins and bills and counting mixed amounts, creating change, reading prices and calculating amounts
    • Addition and Subtraction: Basic facts and using a calculator

    The goal is for students to strengthen math skills used in the real world and apply basic skills to problem-solving situations. Students learn strategies for dealing with math problems found in day-to-day life.

    Daily Living Skills and Community Based Instruction


    • Cooking 2 Learn
    • Unique Learning System (Core Materials, Life Skills Application Lessons, Transition Passport)

    At the middle school level, students participate in cooking instruction where they follow a modified recipe (with visual supports) to prepare a meal, which typically includes an entrée and two side dishes. Students take turns working on different components of meal preparation including, getting needed food preparation items, preparing food items to cook, cooking food, setting the table and serving the food. To prepare for these lessons, students make a shopping list and then use public transportation to go into the community and purchase the items needed for meal preparation.


    Students are each assigned daily classroom chores to complete on a monthly basis. They rotate through all tasks throughout the year. These include cleaning tasks, organizational tasks, laundry, and dishes. Students are instructed on the routine for each task and are provided with visual supports if needed to complete the tasks.

    Students participate in a coffee delivery service daily. Students receive orders from teachers, make the coffee according to the order, and deliver the coffee to teachers in their classrooms. Students rotate through this task on a monthly basis.

    Social skills instruction is embedded within all classroom activities. Students work on communicating with each other, following directions from adults, and expected behavior for all tasks. Social stories are used for individual students as needed and individualized based on student need.

    Students participate in community based instruction that focuses on safety skills, making purchases, interacting with community members, following directions, and ordering and paying for meals. Students review a social story and expectations prior to going into the community and complete a review of what they did upon return. While in the community, student-specific goals are targeted as students engage in activities.

    High School Life Skills Support

    • Cooking 2 Learn
    • Unique Learning System (Core Materials, Life Skills Application Lessons)
    • News-2-You recipes
    • Domestic and daily living skills are embedded into the High School Life Skills curriculum throughout the school day. The students participate in meal preparation four days a week to make their own lunches. Students follow written, picture or verbal instructions to complete the following tasks: cleaning and drying tables; washing hands; loading and unloading the dishwasher; gathering ingredients and materials; getting out the recipe; following recipe instructions; using appliances and utensils safely and appropriately, food preparation for lunch and following recipes, safe handling of food, and proper use of cleaning supplies. There is a focus on peer cooperation while completing domestic tasks. Students work together to prepare each meal. Students also learn to set the table and properly store food items. Students apply their functional academic skills in a domestic setting by setting timers to cook food and measuring dry and liquid ingredients with measuring spoons and cups. Finally, safety rules for food preparation is an important focus of domestic and daily living skills.
    • Parents provide money for their child to be able to eat the meals prepared in class. The students help make a list for the grocery store. They shop once a week at the grocery store to gather the ingredients they need to prepare each meal. At the grocery store, students practice safety travel training within the parking lot, navigating the food store safely, using a directory to help find the correct aisles, and paying for the items and bagging the groceries.           
    • Other CBI (Community-Based Instruction) trips students participate in involve working with our community partners at Lakeview and Penn Engineering. At Lakeview, students volunteer folding napkins, assembling silverware, and assisting with social activities with residents. At Penn Engineering Manufacturing, students participate in paid, part-time employment in the housekeeping department. The students also participate in weekly business trips to SIMCO where they work as team in an assembly line to drop of completed kits and pick up new kits for the following week at the warehouse.  The students are also working on safely travel training on all these trips navigating streets, sidewalks and parking lots safely. 

    Vocational Training

    At the middle school level, students work on pre-vocational skills in the form of bin work. Students complete various tasks including rolling silverware, sorting items by size, attribute, or color, assembling items, alphabetizing, packaging, using tools, threading a nut on a bolt, and 1:1 correspondence.

    Students engage in school jobs that include delivering lunches or other items to the cafeteria that have been dropped off, filling supply orders, counting items to determine what needs to be ordered, and putting down chairs in the cafeteria to prepare for the next day.


    Vocational Training at the High School Level

    • In class, prevocational assembly tasks in workshop setting
    • In class, authentic vocational piecework from SIMCO individual and assemble line teamwork.
    • Weekly business trips to SIMCO where students work as team in an assembly line to drop of completed kits and pick up new kits for the following week at the warehouse.  
    • In class housekeeping tasks- laundry, washing and drying tables, washing and drying dishes
    • Volunteer work at Lakeview, folding napkins and assembling silverware, assistance with social activities with residents.
    • Paid, part-time employment in the housekeeping department at Penn Engineering Manufacturing
    • Housekeeping tasks in the school lobby
    • Cafeteria work training including tray collection and stacking and cleaning containers in the dish room.
    • Organizational/clerical work within the school, local community (Special Olympics) and district.
    • Delivery of daily attendance to Attendance Office
    • Delivery of lunches to others students
    • “Special Shred”, district-wide paper shredding initiative at West
    • Production and sale of buttons by the “Life Skills Buttoneers”
    • C.B. West Garden Project- watering, planting, composting, harvesting, flower cutting, weeding, raking, arranging flowers, delivering flowers, exchanging money
    • C.B. West Garden Project- building garden boxes in the woodshop with general education peers