Saturday, August 29, 2015

Choice Cabinet Organization (Promoting Independence)

Do you ever have that moment at the beginning of the year before students arrive when you look around your classroom and smile? Everything is put in its place, pencils are sharpened and your cabinets are organized!! I have those moments too, it makes me feel like a kid on Christmas.

But before we know it our students have entered the room and have made it their home. The pencils are now dull, nothing is put in its place and those cabinets just make you want to pull your hair out. Well friends not anymore. I have found a way to keep my choice cabinets neat and organized while still allowing the students to be independent.

I start off by organizing my cabinet how I want it. I put the math games together, I have a section for reading games, puzzles, fun stuff etc. I then start to label the shelves with different color stickers. I use yard sale stickers but anything you have multiple of will work. I then put the same color sticker on all of the games/toys in that section.

(puzzles are green)

(reading games are red)

(math games are orange)

Now when the kids take their choices out they can independently put them back in the correct spot. I love setting up my cabinets like this because it teaches my students about organization. I teach life skills so this is a perfect opportunity for my students to practice :). 

Now if you're like me you may have more sections of "stuff" than you do stickers. So I just switched the shape of the sticker. 
(green circle is Play-Doh)

Ahh! Doesn't this just make you want to smile :). Being organized not only helps my OCD but it makes for a nice calming environment.

(nice and organized...makes the teacher happy:))

How do you organize your choice cabinets? Does it promote independence? 

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Friday, August 21, 2015

Morning Meeting Activities (functional skills)

I love morning meeting because it gives me the chance to work with all of my students in a whole group. Since most of our day is filled with rigorous interventions, fluency timings, discrete trials and countless hours of data tracking I like to make our morning group a fun and predictable time! Even though I like to make it fun, morning meeting/group is a GREAT time to throw in some functional academics.

Here is a picture of our schedule. I color coordinate everything in my classroom. Everything to do with morning group is purple!

After the kids have gone to their lockers and turned in homework they start their personal information binders (you can read more about them here).  The kids are allowed into the building 15 minutes before our bell rings so I use the binders as our "morning work".

As soon as the bell rings we start our morning group. This year I am super excited to announce that I have a SMARTboard in my classroom. If you don't have a SMARTboard no worries. You can easily do the activities using our favorite tools (laminate and velcro!!).

We start off  by checking in.
I have all of my students pictures in the red and one by one I will have them come up and move their picture from red to green. Once everyone is finished we tally up how many students are in each column. Once we are able to master this, I will start to have the kids add the numbers together. And just like that we have already done a picture identification and counting activity. 

After check in we work on one of my favorite things, greetings.
Communication is a HUGE part of my classroom so it is so important to incorporate as many opportunities to socialize as possible. At the beginning of the year I greet every student using the same phrasing "Good Morning Name", I then ask them to say good morning or hello Mrs. Boysal to me. Then I ask "how are you?" and make sure they respond appropriately and then ask me how I am doing. As the year progresses I will add more phrases to the board and have students start to greet each other. I did this last year and it was so much fun to see how much growth my kiddos had with communication and interactions with each other. 

After greetings comes everyone's go to morning activity, calendar!

Calendar is a functional skill that must be done everyday. We don't do anything fancy for calendar but I do have a fun way of picking kids to put up the new date. Everyday I select an apple and a students picture will appear. That student gets to come up and add the date. To make this fun and suspenseful for the students I am going to recover the picture and rotate them every day. This is a great way for kids to practice turn taking. Sometimes kids have to wait more than a week to come up and participate.

Another portion of our calendar routine is learning about the weather. 

I am going to have the students look up the temperature ever day. I made the little thermometer a link right to (I was feeling so tech savvy when making this :)). We will also work on number writing by filing in the temperature and identifying and understanding seasons.

Our next part of morning group is practice.
I am fortunate to have ULS and love the spelling that they provide. We work on reading our words, using them in sentences, spelling them in funny voices and writing them. 

So as I said before communication is so very important. I close out our session almost the same way I start. I get the kids talking!!! During our Let's Chat session I use a number of prompts and questions to get the kids thinking and talking. (Both of these are from Sasha at The Autism Helper)

In the end, it is important to remember that when planning a morning group, or any lesson for that matter, ask yourself "what's the purpose of this?" If you can't answer that, then try rethinking what your central goal is. You want everything you do to serve a purpose. 

What activities do you do during your morning group? Do you keep it fun or do you incorporate functional skills like me?

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