Most of the students I work with are strong visual learners. Using this strength, I have found visual timers to be highly effective in keeping students on task for a required period of time.
The visual timer (mine is called “Time Timer”) is a way to provide a visual cue to students when they are expected to stay on a given task. When the red color marking the time is gone, they may move on from that activity. You can also use an audible tone with this timer for students who benefit from both visual and auditory cues.
I have also found that placing a picture of the activity at the beginning of the marked time, then placing a picture of what happens when they are finished at the top of the timer (end time), helps the students to stay on task. Initially, make sure the activity that occurs when the time is finished is a motivating activity for the student.
You can use photos that are taken in the classroom, which work well for students who require more concrete samples. I am usually able to find pictures of any toy, game, or general classroom activities on Google images. I also like to use pictures made with Mayer-Johnson’s Boardmaker software (this requires that you own the program) because they are easy to understand.
I often use simple, hand-drawn pictures on sticky notes. I like keeping sticky notes around because I can quickly come up with the picture I need. You don’t have to be a great artist. The kids are usually able to tell what I have drawn and are very kind about my lack of artistic ability! Hopefully, you will also be kind :).
If you have one of my students in your classroom and would like to try out a visual timer, please let me know when you are having issues with him/her staying on task and what kind of pictures you would like to use.
Link to 20 different visual timers/apps: http://www.friendshipcircle.org/blog/2012/11/06/20-visual-timers-for-children-with-special-needs/
Let me know if you tried the visual timer and if it worked or not. All comments are welcome. I’m here to help!