Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Velcro Piece Organization

I know I am not the only one who has spent hours prepping materials. Printing, laminating, cutting and velcroing. You set everything up in your classroom so it is picture ready and then......they come!

The kids who are excited about learning and using all of the cool materials you have made. One thing I have learned about kids during all of my years of working with them is no matter how much you "train" them, there is still that possibility that not all of your little velcro pieces get put back exactly where you intended them to be. Keep reading to see how I organize all of my velcro pieces. This post will show you how I organize my awesome monthly themed binders from Melissa over at Autism Adventures!!

Step One: Prep all of your mateirals as you normally would.

Step Two: I label all of my title pages with numbers 1-12. I label mine in the bottom right corner. Here is binder #5.

Step 3: Label all of the pages of that binder using a decimal system. For example since all of the pages belong in binder number 5, they will all be labeled with 5.__. Here is an example of how I labeled page 6.

Step 4: Label all of the velcro pieces associated with that page with the same exact number.

Step 5: Do this with every binder.

Now I am not going to lie, this does add a few extra minutes onto your prep but......when this happens

You don't have to guess where the pieces go. You know exactly what binder and page they belong to.

What organizations systems do you use for your binder/velcro tasks?

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Sunday, October 16, 2016

Special Education Referral Procedures and IEP Responsibilities

The IEP process can be a very daunting task. Even though I feel very comfortable with all of the paperwork I sometimes forget the "timeline".  I have put together timelines and procedures for Initial Referrals, Annual Reviews and 3 year re-evaluations that we use in my district. These may be different than your district so be sure to double check. I just thought it would be good to share :)

Here are the PDF versions of these forms. Feel free to print and use for reference.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Structured Motor/Sensory Room Activities

Do you have access to a motor room at your school but don't know how to utilize it? Are you looking for some new ideas? Do you wish you had a routine that was easy to teach for your students and/or your paras? Keep reading to see how we manage motor room time at our school.
We start out by having each student grab their motor room visual. This allows our kids the opportunity to be "independent" in the motor room. It is also a great mini-schedule for your students who need to know exactly what is going to be done in the motor room. The kids also have access to dry erase marker to cross off the activities once they have completed them. Each group of my students spends 30 minutes of structured time in the motor room a day. 

(5 minutes) Each week our OT (occupational therapist) selects one of our gross motor activity visuals and posts it under the gross motor sign. The visual shows a picture of the object the kids will be using and a description on how to use it. Our students are not allowed to visit our motor room alone, so there is always an adult there to read it, check for understanding and possibly show the students what to do if they don't understand.

Here are the gross motor activities we have prepared for the students this year:
Yoga Ball: 
-Sit on the ball with or without support.  Bounce.
-Sit on the ball with or without support.  Lean side to side, front to back and try to keep balance.

-Sit on the ball with or without support.  Try to reach for different items on the floor and toss into a bin.
-Sit on the ball with or without support.  March legs up and down.  Tap opposite hand on knee when it is raised.
-Sit on ball with or without support. Play catch.
-Roll on belly on ball with arms extended to floor.  Walk hands forward and back trying to keep balance.  May need support.  Roll back to knees.
-Keep balance on ball on belly with arms extended on the floor.  Try to pick up items to put in a bin.
-Dribble ball.  2 hands, one hand, dribble in a pattern
-Play catch with the ball rolling or bouncing it between people

-Scatter things around swing and have child move the swing on belly to retrieve or look for certain items and throw or place in bin.
-Try to swing back and forth, side to side, diagonally

-Stand and try to rotate around hips (standard hula hooping)
-Hold hoop on side and have kids crawl through (bear or crab)
-Use hoop like a jump rope and rotate around head and step through.
-Place on floor and hop in each hoop.  Use 2 feet together or one foot.

Medicine Ball
-Hold ball and move in a circle close to body (both directions)
-Pick up ball and throw to ground

-Move on belly or seated around the room.  Go to called out items to pick up.

-Jump on 2 feet (with or without support)
-Jump on 1 foot and then the other.
-Jump with a pattern, (2 left jumps, then 2 right jumps)  
-Clap hands while jumping.
-March on tramp (high knees)
-March on tramp and touch opposite knee with each hand (crossover march)

Ribbon Sticks
-Make letters, words, names, numbers in the air (use both hands)  

-Pick up scarves off the ground and toss into air
-Pick up scarves and when they are floating down catch them on a called out body part. (Left elbow, right knee, right shoulder, left toe, head etc)

Balance Board (2 sizes, lower one is easier)
-Stand on board to balance (with or without support)
-Stand on board (with or without support) and rock side to side and balance.
-Play catch while standing on board

-Have kids hold parachute and lift and lower sitting or standing
-Put a ball on parachute and try to keep it on
-While lifting and lowering parachute as a group, have kids take turns going under it.

Half Ball balance game
-Set out half balls and have kids try to stand on them one one foot or two with or without support
-Make a line of half balls and have kids walk over them with or without support

Moon Shoes
-Put on moon shoes and walk around, with or without support.
-Put on moon shoes and bounce in place, with or without support.

Animal Walks
-Have kids try to walk like different animals (bear, elephant with arms clasped like a trunk, crab, snake, etc)  Can go on mats all the way around swing.  Can try to go backwards.

Obstacle Courses
-Line up a few activities for kids to go through. Ex: jump on tramp 10 times, walk like a bear, climb through hoop, do the “try this” activity, 10 jumping jacks, then walk over half balls, repeat...

(5 minutes) Now that the kids have warmed up their bodies it's time to have them warm up their hands. Just like the gross motor station, we have a weekly visual for our fine motor activities too. 
Here are some of the fine motor activities we have prepared for our students:

Tweezers/tongs with puff balls

-Use tweezers to pick up pom pons and place in a bucket
-Use the twisty dropper to suck up and squeeze out water
-Use the twisty dropper and have a "puff ball race". Squeeze the dropper to have it blow air

Nuts and bolts
-Screw the nuts on and off the bolts
-Match the colors of the nuts and bolts before putting them together

-Squeeze the clothespin to open and close it 10 times
-Pick up items with the clothespin and transfer them to a new place

Rubber bands
-Group spoons together and wrap a rubber band around them.
-Use rubber band to make shapes on the Geoboard
-Collate notecardsand secure with a paperclip
-Open paperclip box, dump out paperclips, put them back in the box and close it

-Smash it like a pancake
-Roll it like a snake
-Spell your name by rolling out the letters

-Build a tower
-Make uppercase and lowercase letters. (Check these visuals out for FREE)

-Deal the cards
-Flip the cards
-Hold 5 cards in your hand and spread them out so you can see them (like you're playing)

Stacking coins
-Stack coins to make a tower

-Line them up
-Stack them

Stringing Beads
-String them to make a necklace
-Pick them up with: tweezers or clothespins

-Tear it
-Hole punch it

-Make letters, numbers, shapes

(15 minutes) Now that their bodies and hands are warmed up they are ready to work. This is where the students will complete those fine motor goal work activities. We have created folders for the students that have papers to match their goals.

Here are somethings the students work on:
-Writing their name
-Writing the alphabet (upper and lowercase)
-Copying sentences
-Cutting (lines, shapes)
-We even have some students complete their writing assignments from their general education teachers.
(5 minutes) Now come on, after all that work your kids deserve to have some time to do what they choose to do. We have so many fun gadgets in our motor room that we don't utilize during our other activities and this is when the kids can choose to use them. Now, some kids do choose to pick gross/fine motor activities that we did from previous weeks....of course we allow this. 

Here are some choice time activities we have:
-Hide in the tent
-Play in the ball pit
-Crawl through the tunnel
-Play in the body sock
-Turn off the lights and plug in the disco ball
-Blow bubbles 
-Jump from the trampoline on to the crash mat
Before the kids leave they are expected to clean up the room and make sure it is set up for the next group. They also clean off their schedule cards and put them in the basket.

Grab the visuals here!

I hope I was able to give you some new ideas. What fun activities do you do in your motor room? Do you structure your motor room or is it a free for all?

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Thursday, September 22, 2016

Math Instruction for Students with Significant Disabilities

Are you looking for engaging ways to teach math concepts to students with significant needs? Are you in need of some fresh ideas? Keep reading to find out how I incorporate math into my students daily schedules.

This post is going to be geared towards students with significant needs. Students who are working on very basic math concepts and/or need a lot of support with communication (non-verbal) and routines.

I started with taking a look at my students IEP goals. I found that a lot of the students have similar goal areas. I decided that these overlapping areas would be our focus of the day. Here is what our schedule looks like:
   Monday: Numbers (1-5)
   Tuesday: Shapes
   Wednesday: Colors
   Thursday:  Days of the Week
   Friday: Months of the Year

It would be nice to be able to teach a whole group lesson but even within this group of students there are diverse needs. I find it more beneficial to teach concepts in centers. Centers allow me to teach the concepts individually or in small groups and differentiate to truly meet the needs of all the students. Here are the centers I have:
    Technology: A para shows a video that corresponds with our daily focus. They also work on  calendar daily using Star Fall.
    Teacher Time: I run this center and we work on IEP goals and objectives.
    Hands on Learning: A para works on the daily focus by using hands on materials.

Most of my students in this group are working on transitions, mobility and building routines. In order to save time I have the adults bring the centers to each group of students rather than moving the students from center to center. If you teach in a self-contained setting and have the time to move students I would strongly encourage it as it would be a great time to work on the above mentioned areas. Since I don't work in a self-contained room I simply do not have the time to do this.

Alrighty, so here is how I incorporate basic math skills into my students schedules. I have included the technology video links we use, listed some hands on activities and some sample goals I would be working on that correspond to the daily focus.

Technology: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SV6iC34a46w
Hands on Learning:
Grab these Monthly Themed Touch Dot Visuals HERE!
Using our princess manipulatives to count. 
Teacher Time: 
By (date), during math instruction, (student) will repeat numbers (parrot count) up to 20, in 3 out of 5 trials, as measured by teacher observation and anecdotal notes.

By (date), when given manipulatives, (student) will count objects to match a given number up to 5 that is stated orally and a visual cue is presented, 3/4 times in 3 trials, as measured by teacher observation and anecdotal notes.

By (date), during 1:1 math instruction, (student) will count the Touch Dots on 2 numbers (1-5) by pointing to them and identify the sum using their communication device, 3/4 times in 3 trials, as measured by teacher observation and anecdotal notes.
Technology: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WTeqUejf3D0
Hands on Learning:
 Monthly Themed Binder Sets from Autism Adventures
FREE shapes book here

Teacher Time:
By (date), when presented visuals, (student) will point (receptively answer) to shapes (circle, square, triangle, rectangle, star, heart) from a field of 3 that are said aloud, 5/6 correct in 3 out of 5 trials, as measured by teacher observation and anecdotal notes.

By (date), given pictures of shapes, (student) will match the corresponding shape words in a field of 6, answering 5/6 correctly in 3 out of 5 trials, as measured by teacher observations and anecdotal notes.

Technology: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tQASh8bbkUY
Hands on Learning:
                                      Monthly Themed Binder Sets from Autism Adventures

Teacher Time:
By (date), when presented visuals, (student) will point (receptively answer) to colors (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, pink, brown, black and white) from a field of 4 that are said aloud, 3/4 correct in 3 out of 5 trials, as measured by teacher observation and anecdotal notes.

By (date), given pictures of colors, (student)with adult support and prompting,  will match corresponding color words in a field of 6, answering 5/6 correctly in 3 out of 5 trials, as measured by teacher observations and anecdotal notes.
Technology: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3tx0rvuXIRg
Hands on Learning:

Day & Month File Folders from The Autism Helper

Teacher Time:
By (date), during calendar instruction, (student) will identify the day of the week when visuals are provided, from a field of 2 in 3/5 trials, as measured by teacher observations and anecdotal notes.

By (date), when asked a question about the date, (student), with adult support and prompting, will correctly identify the date (number) when visuals are provided, in 3 out of 5 trials, as measured by teacher observations and anecdotal notes.
Technology: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=86kYp9hpab0
Hands on Learning:
Independent Work Binder found here
Teacher Time:
By (date), during calendar instruction, (student) will identify the month when visuals are provided, from a field of 2 in 3/5 trials, as measured by teacher observations and anecdotal notes.

By (date), when asked a question about the date, (student) will correctly identify the month when visuals are provided, in 3 out of 5 trials, as measured by teacher observations and anecdotal notes.

Teaching math to students with significant needs can be tricky. As you can see I do not have a curriculum to follow (I have Unique Learning system but it doesn't work well with this group) so I base my instruction solely on their IEP goals and objectives. These kids have done an excellent job with this method and best of all, I get it all done in 30 minutes. 10 minute centers are the perfect length for this group. They don't get bored of the same person or activity and are able to stay engaged during the entire math block.

What math activities do you incorporate for your students with significant needs?