Showing posts from 2009

Wednesday's Weekly Comments

Christmas CBI on The Autism Teacher: I love the idea of going through the whole process of making cards and then sending them out through the mail.  I'm filing this idea away to use next year :).

PCI Environmental Print: My First Reactions are Positive

I have not yet had a chance to use these materials with my students but have spent a bit of time in the past week since it was delivered taking a look at it and I'm excited to try it out in our room.  I think it will work great for several of our students and also feel confident that I could use it for the whole class if that is the way I wanted to use it.  Right now I'm looking at using it with 4 students over the next year or so. 

I will know more about it as I start to use it but right now some of the things that I'm really like about it include:
Characters in the stories are teenagers or young adults (in assisted work placements).  Love this as the students I'm using it with are also teenagers or young adults.  It is hard to find print material that is this basic in content that is also age appropriate.
Non-verbal response activities: the curriculum includes a response matt (that would be easy enough to make as it just has "yes", "no"…

Wednesday's Weekly Comments

Anybody else curious? on SMD Teacher blog: I have been looking at this curriculum for a while now and am really hoping that someone who has tried it with our population will respond.

Dish drying... on Teaching Learners With Multiple Special Needs blog: Always great to see ways that other people are using switches as you can never have too many ideas for switch use :).
One of my first experiences with teaching was when I was a teenager working for the summer as a lifeguard.  I was assigned to teach swim lessons and had to figure out how to teach young children to float.  Floating is an interest "skill" to teach as it is not really a "skill" at all because a child will pretty much naturally float as soon as they become comfortable in the water.  It was the first time I came face to face with the importance of environment and approach when teaching.  I had to set up an environment where the child felt safe and encouraged and then suddenly they were floating!  Fear and negativity had no place in the world of learning to swim. I've carried this lesson with me through my years of teaching and have been amazed over and over again what students can accomplish when you assume competence and ensure feelings of belonging, love and aonfidence.  This week I stumbled upon the website "The Fun Theory" and it remind…


I have been going through a period of struggle/growth recently as it has become evident to me that it is time to make some big changes to how our classroom is run. I have really seen the need to establish more consistency in the programming of the students and therefore have made some big plans to make this happen.

In the past I have rotated our staff through all of the students and have worked myself in to this rotation to ensure that the students are pretty much working 1 to 1 all day long. It has become evident to me that I can no longer work with a student all day and coordinate everyone's program and ensure consistency in staff approach when they are rotating to new students. I have decided to take myself out of the rotation and just do "coordination" types of tasks during the day. I will still work with students as needed. The other thing that I've thought a lot about for next year is to break the students in to two groups and have staff only rotate throug…

Functional Curriculum Resources Review Document

Just wanted to share this document that I stumbled across the other day.  Its a list of a lot of different resources to develop a funcitonal curriculum broken in to the categories general texts, planning, life skills, social skills, personal care, sexuality, transition, and academics (math, science, social studies, language arts, combined academics, general academics).  One of the things that I really like about the document is that it has one section that tells you what population the resources is intended for.  I haven't gone through it in too much detail but have added it to my bookmarks for future reference.
Here is the link if you're interested in checking it out: Functional Curriculum Resources Review

Lunch Program: Ham Fried Rice Recipe

Over the next little bit I'm going to be building a recipe book for the lunch program that I mentioned below.  I thought I would start sharing the recipes that I'm using.  Note that I will print off double of the visuals so that we can use them to do things like make grocery lists and find needed items.  I will velcro a copy of each visual (for items and ingredients needed) on to the visual that is already on the page.  After a put up a few more recipes, I will include some pictures and explanations of how I'm running the program as right now its just a work in progress. Download Ham Fried Rice Recipe Note that recipe itself came from GFCF Recipe Website and the visuals used are either exact pictures of grocery items or Boardmaker symbols.

Waiting for my orders to come in...

So I just ordered a few things last week and wanted to share as I'm really excited about getting them  I will be posting more about them after I get them and start to use them.  For now I'm just going to share the goodies that I've ordered.  So here they are... 
PCI Environmental Print Curriculum: I am hoping to add this as a component to a couple of my student's language arts programs.  I like the direct connection to the communityand how I can ensure that we are looking directly at "real life" applications.  I've had making adapted books and worksheets related to envirornmental print on my "to do" list for about two years now and just have never gotten to it.  I decided to bite the bullet and use some of this year's material budget to buy this package.  I will be posting about it as we get in to it.  If you have used it, please share what has worked and what hasn't worked for you.
A Functional Curriculum (from PCI): As my …

news-2-you: Happy Birthday Canadiens (November 23-27, 2009)

I got the idea to share the plans I'm making related to news-2-you from the blog entitled Teaching Learners with Multiple Special Needs.  Each weekend I will put up a post about the current news-2-you topic and some of the extra activities we will be fitting in during the week.  Note that not all of my students will do all of the extra activities as it is depenedent on student need and the amount of time we have in a week. If you are using news-2-you and you have some ideas that I have worked for you, please post a reply so that I can use the ideas if they are applicable to my students. Note that if I make any materials with Boardmaker, I will post them here for download as well as post them in the Adapted Learning news-2-you group.

Language Arts (Vocabulary, Literacy, Communication, Composition...etc.) Matching Pictures of Hockey Symbols Composition: Things we do in the winter Switches, Computers, Adaptive Technology Switch Skills 1: Soccer Game Work on Mouse Skills - http…

Thursday Think: New Lunch Program

So I've had my new student for almost three weeks now and its time to start putting some things in motion.  One of the things that I'm most excited about with this student is that we will be starting a "lunch program" with him.  I would like to eventually do this with some of my other students but figured this was a great step in to the whole idea.  We are starting on Monday no matter if we are ready or not.  I will obviously grow the program but have already put a lot of thought in to it and thought I would share the thinking part of it in this post.  Stay tuned for future posts with more details as well as posts where I put up the Boardmaker materials that I'm currently working on making :).
General Notes This student is on a GFCF (Gluten Free Casien Free) diet so I have come up with a formula for what should be in each of his meals.  If there was no specialized diet, the formula would come from having a balanced meal including the different food …

Wednesday's Weekly Comments

I had to comment to Kate's Video Blog of the Day post on her blog (Teaching Learners with Multiple Special Needs).  I love this idea and it has really made me think about making morning gathering time more age-appropriate for my older students.  I am refocusing their time to work strictly on teen culture types of things (music, videos, movies...etc.) and communication skills (with adaptive technology obviously added in there).  I will continue to work with some of the students on the tradition morning gathering things (calendar, weather, communication books...etc.) but I'm really seeing the need for something different for several of my students.  This post gave me the boost I need so stay tuned for a post about the changes I'm making to morning meeting :).
I recently found this great blog entitled The Autism Teacher.  As I was digging through it, I found a post titled My classroom's physical set up.  What a classroom!  Some great ideas for materials and or…

Monday's Motivation: Seeing Ability in Disability

This one has a special personal meaning for me.  Just over ten years ago I adopted my son Mikey who happens to have Down syndorme.  He has been my greatest teacher through the years.  My life path has changed as a result of being his mother.  I am so blessed.  As teachers we sometimes get caught up in what we can teach others but I think its important to always stop and think about what others can teach us.  This video is a reminder of the things that I learn everyday from each of my students (weather they can voice it in a traditional way or not). 

Busy, busy, busy....

I just wanted to take a couple of minutes to post that I'm still here.  Things have been crazy the last couple of weeks and will remain so through to about the middle of November.  I will continue to try to get some posts up but it might be mid-November before I get back to posting regularly.  
Right now we are fighting off a lot of illness in our classroom and school (as I'm sure many others are as well).  I was missing half my students on Friday and our school was missing about 30%.  I am also heading in to a two week stretch of IEP meetings almost every night so that will keep me very busy.  Add to this the very real possibility that we will be transitioning a new student in to our classroom in the next couple of weeks and there is just not a lot of time left to blog.  
I wanted to post because I didn't want people to stop coming around to check out the blog after a couple of weeks  of low posts.  Once I get through the next couple of weeks, I feel confid…

Wednesday's Weekly Comments

"Song of the Day" post on Teaching Learners with Multiple Special Needs: Yet another great post related to remembering that our students are teenaged kids first and foremost :). Love it!
I started visiting a new blog called Special Classroom this week.  I always love when I find another teacher who teaches this population as sometimes its a lonely profession in regards to colaboration with others.  I responded to the great classroom pictures posted in the post titled "Classroom Pictures".

Monday's Motivation: This Is The Truth

would tend to say that my life is pretty perfect these days.  I have a great job, a wonderful son, amazingly supportive family and friends and things are just going in the right direction.  I turned 40 back in February of this year and as a result have spent some time taking stock of my life.  I have looked back to some of my darkest times in my early years of teaching.  Times when things didn't make sense and I was enveloped in depression.  In those times there, my friend's two children (who both happened to have Down syndrome) kept me going from day to day.  Surely the way that they approached life could teach me something.  Who would have known then the long-term impact they would have on my life as it is a direct result of them that I adopted my son and then later took the leap into teaching special education.

I saw this video this week on you-tube and it really made hit home with me as my life has turned around completely since those days.  I know I meant fo…

news-2-you: Wizzard of Oz Part 2 (October 13-16, 2009)

Life has been crazy in our room the past three weeks.  One of those weeks was "spirit week" and we got all caught up in the competitions to the point that it was taking up much of our programming time.  The students really had a lot of fun so I do not regret the time we used for these activities.  This past week was the week leading up to Canadian Thanksgiving and I found that we spent a lot of time doing things related to that.  In the end, our three weeks for "Wizzard of Oz" seemed to get eaten up and other than the actual news-2-you stuff we have done very few of the extras.  I have therefore decided to spend the next 4 weeks doing the extras.  We will culminate with a "Wizzard of Oz" dress up day which happens to fall on the day that we will celebrate Halloween in our classroom/school. 
So my plan now is to post my outline of what we will be doing for the four weeks here.  Note that many of these things are things that I've already…

Northern Ireland Curriculum: Severe Learning Difficulties Thematic Units

A while back, I posted about transition portfolios.  Since then I've joined forces with the other Learning Assistance Program teacher in our division (very small division) and we have started working on gathering resources and information related specifically to transitioning in our area.  This will help me narrow things down a bit more and get these transition portfolios more focused.  
As is so often the case with me, while doing research I come across so many other things that springboard a whole host of other ideas.  This is what this post is about.  While exploring the Northern Ireland Curriculum website, I came across some great thematic units that have been put together for students iwth Severe Learning Difficuluties that address topics that are important for students who are transitioning in to the community to have exposure to.  Immediately I see many ways to incorporate some of these things in to our program and I thought I would share some thoughts... 

Thursday Think: Brainstorming Vocational Opportunities for Our Students

Having students that range in age from grade 3 to 12+ (as we often keep our students one to three years after their grade 12 year) is one of the biggest challenges that I face in this job.  Its very hard to make things "age approprirate" when dealing with this age so I find that some things just need to be divided up and different groups will work on different skills.  Although I've always believed this, my first couple of years on the job were spent on just getting thing established and wrapping my own head around things.  In the last couple of years I've been able to start directing programs based on the age of my students. 
With my older students, I'm working on finding a balance between academic, life and vocational skills so have been trying to increase the vocational component of our program.  I wanted to spend a bit of time sharing some of the ideas that I've had or implemented related to hands-on vocational experiences. Dog Biscuit Busines…