Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Let's Cook!

ESY has started! Our second day was spent at the grocery store following a grocery list and collecting items for our weekly cooking. Before leaving the classroom, we had the students come up with the ingredient list for tacos, grilled cheese, and s'mores. 
Then the students collected the items as we went through the store. 
The students used the self check out line to further their level of independence. We held up the line for about twenty minutes, but it was worth it!

Then we finally finished. The students will be making tacos tomorrow! 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Dog days of Summer

Sorry, yet another non-work related post but Mr. Jack is the reason! We picked this cutie up on Saturday! Using a lot of positive reinforcement and ABA strategies to teach this pup- same thing we do all year round in my classroom! ( I guess that's work-related) not looking forward to unpacking and setting up an entire new classroom. Jack is distracting me from this stress until we go back. ESY starts next week already! Ah! Then hopefully my room will be cleaned and ready to set up by mid-July. Anyway..here's Jackie boy!
So stinkin cute. Enjoy your Fourth of July!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Work un-related post

Finally on summer break! Even if its short lived until ESY starts..oh well, catching rays while I can. Happy summer!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

I scream, you scream!

We all scream for ice cream! Yay for June! Why is it that the last two months of school are the most stressful?! Between IEP meetings, progress reports, goals and objectives, and yes, packing up a huge classroom (moving down the hall, so annoying!) I am ready for some stress relief. How about some ice cream?? Lets turn it into a science project that addresses the following goals: following a recipe, social interactions and language, and a few other ice cream themed activities throughout the day. Plus we get to make and taste our very own home made ice cream. I found the recipe on Boardmaker share for Shake and Make ice cream:


Here are my students making ice cream!

The ice cream was a bit mushy.. But the kids still enjoyed it! 

I found this cute art project on Pinterest:

Our versions:

 I also found this cut, paste and matching activity on Boardmaker share,

Lastly, we played ice cream bingo! Also found on Boardmaker share.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Pool Days

Once a month we go swimming to work on social skills, gross motor, following a schedule and following directions. An occupational therapist accompanies our group on these trips, and she works with our group on these skills. Here is her schedule of water activities (It has seen better days, but it is the end of the year!)

Here are the students using the blue water weights (wings)

And throwing balls over the rope, and to a friend. 

We were able to call a gym/wellness center at the beginning of the year and schedule a monthly time slot of 30 minutes for free! Life guard included. We couldn't get a spot for ESY this summer but hopefully next year!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Life's a beach in room 107...

Yea right!! Well, at least today was. We spent the day at the beach along with our friends from our neighboring school. I thought I would do a beach scavenger hunt, and a science lesson on what we could collect, but that kind of went out the window when we got there. The kids were so excited to play in the sand, build castles, fly kites and play paddle ball with each other that I threw out the "academic" activities. Social play and expressive language can and are, just as important for some of my students anyway. Maybe tomorrow we can write about the beach and count our shells :)

Father's Day Cards

Things have been so crazy this week that I almost forgot about having my students create a father's day card. Oops! Luckily I found a quick and easy card to create, and it goes along with our beach theme this week. Here is the link for the card I found: Fish Card
We used construction paper, scrapbook paper, yarn, and glitter.

Here is how ours came out, pretty cute!

And one quick writing activity for my higher students:

Here is a link for a similar survey for students to fill out: Father survey. The answers can be pretty comical..
Happy Father's day!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Victory Garden!

For one of our monthly field trips, we were able to visit the Wayne Auto Spa. Another teacher's husband owns this car wash, but it's not just your average run of the mill car wash! This car wash runs its very own " Victory Garden" along with a chicken coop, and is home to Prim, the bunny. Crops produced from the garden help supply food and raise money to neighbors in need, such as the local flood relief centers. Veggies grown at the auto spa include peppers, lettuce, tomatoes, garlic and celery. 

The owner quizzed the students on the life cycle of a plant, then had each student plant a pepper plant. 

 Pepper planting!

 The students were also allowed to feed Miss Prim, the bunny. 

And check out the coop! They looked happy to see us...

Somehow a squishy ball that my student squeezes for sensory input ended up accidentally thrown into the chicken coop. The owner was not happy. I believe his exact words were, "Throwing an item like this into a chicken coop is NEVER a good idea". Sorry!! It was completely accidental, but apparently never a good idea. 

On another note, look how tall garlic grows! I had no idea...(front left)

Last, we got to check out the car wash in action, from start to finish. 

All in all, it was a pretty educational trip! Leave the squishy balls at home.

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Cicadas are back...!

After 17 years the Cicadas are back on the East Coast!! Now that the weather has reached above 64 degrees, these bugs are climbing out of the ground at a rapid rate, ready to crawl, lay eggs, mate and die! While outside for recess, my students have been noticing these bugs. Some students want to touch them, and the others are deathly afraid! I used this as a teaching opportunity, and we went inside and looked them up on the computer. Good old Wikipedia..

Next, I made sure to show my student that they are not harmful to humans, and that they do not bite or sting (unless they sit on human skin for an excessive amount of time and mistake the human for a tree..)

One of the first grade teachers was nice enough to share this diagram with me. It shows the cicada in the form of the nymph, and what it looks like after it sheds its skin and turns into an adult. I showed this to my students; they were initially freaked out but then after lots of reassurance that the cicada was not alive, they were able to take a look (from about three feet away!) I have to admit, this diagram is currently sitting on my desk, and every time I catch a glimpse of it, I jump a bit. I think it's time to return it to first grade...

Happy Memorial Day weekend everyone!!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Visual Learning (Part 2)

More visual cues in the classroom! My students work from a full day schedule in order to ensure that they know what is coming up in their day, and this helps to decrease anxiety and promote independence. One of my non-reading students uses a picture schedule with verbal prompts, and my other student uses a written schedule.
  Picture schedule with verbal prompts:

Written schedule with choices
We found that by giving my student a "choice" as to which program he wanted to complete, negative and non-compliant behaviors decreased greatly. Choices (even the simplest of choices) empower the student, and we make sure that we present a choice to this student in every situation possible. All of the selections on the right are programs that he is working on, so even though he is picking which activity he will do next, we have control over what activities he is doing.

He also completes an independent activity schedule, and is up to 20 activities. This schedule is an application on his ipod called Taptodo (free)
He is able to transition independently to each activity (the activity must be previously mastered so that he will not need help from an instructor or parent) and he is also able to reward himself as he completes the schedule. After he collects five checks on a check board, he is able to earn a break. The app is great, because it allows you to type in an activity, and place a check mark next to it after completion.

And lastly, my staff and I could not function without our own schedule! During one-to-one instruction, my staff and I are on a rotating schedule, and take turns completing activities and programs with our students. I made a schedule that sits in the front of my desk, and it has the day broken down into half hour increments. Each student name is on top of the schedule (not shown) and under their name tags are the names of each staff member that will be working with them, or special services that they may have that day.

Have a great night!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Visual Learning (Part 1)

Students with autism and other special needs may require lots of visual cues to help support independence throughout the day. Visual supports may supplement verbal instruction, and help to make auditory information visual. Visual supports can also help to encourage communication in the classroom and at home. In order to facilitate communication at home, one of my students fills out a daily communication sheet about what he did that day. I made the communication sheet using Boardmaker, and laminated it so that it can be used daily. He uses a dry erase marker and circles what he did that day. When he gets home, he can tell his mother what he did, using the visual cues as a prompt to help him remember.

The next morning, he fills out another communication sheet so that he can tell his teachers what he did the night before, at home.

 Over the weekend he fills out another log to let us know what he did while at home. Monday morning we have a conversation about where he went, what he did, and how his behavior was.

Another one of my students needs to be reminded that she cannot leave the classroom without an adult. We have placed a visual aide on the door (using velcro) and she has to pull the picture cue off of the door, find an instructor, hand it to the instructor and say, "Let's go".  We have started to increase the distance between the instructor and the student, and she has to seek out the instructor (from up to 12 ft away) and ask to go outside of the classroom. So far this has been successful, and she uses the visual aide for self-prompting. This has been generalized to the home setting as well, using the same visual prompt. Slowly the picture cue will be faded out, and the goal is for her to always find an adult before leaving the classroom or her home.

I have listed the "Important Times" in the classroom, because no matter how many times we remind one of my students what time lunch is, he still seems to ask each day. After putting up a visual reminder of what time lunch, recess and going home is, he now independently will get up and look at the clocks instead of asking his teachers over and over again.

Visual cues are so important! I know that I cannot function without them (calendars, schedules, to-do lists, cookbooks, maps etc). Students with autism need these visual supports; typically developing students and adults alike benefit from visuals everyday. Have a great Monday!!