Saturday, July 10, 2010

Summer To Do List

So we are now about two weeks in to the summer break here in Alberta.  I am feeling like I'm rested up a bit and am now starting to think about the things that I would like to accomplish this summer.  Its a big lit this year as I feel like I need to be over-prepared going in to next year.  I am also really excited about several of the things on the list so that is also driving me to work more this summer.  

Hopefully I will be starting my Masters program next summer which will mean three summers where I spend the whole month of July taking classes (and probably the whole month of August finishing up papers and assignments for those classes).  This is kind of my last summer that I have free for a few years to just pick and choose what I want to do so its also important to get a lot done.

Here is my ever-growing list of things to do...

Learning and Planning through Reading

I have several books that I have either started reading or I plan to read this summer.  Some of them I have already read before but feel like I want to go back and re-read so that I can be more aware (example: PECS manual and Sensory Approach to Curriculum book).  Here is my list:
Teacihng Conversation to Children with Autism: Scripts and Script Fading by Lynn E. McClannahan, Ph.D. and Patricia J. Krantz, Ph.D.:  I have already read through this book but am now re-reading it and and making notes as well as starting to put together some materials for it (audio-cards, pictures, tracking forms, learning assistant quick note pages).  I see this as a great approach for several of my students and can't wait to get in to it as we start the school year in September.

PODD: Pragmatic Organization Dynamic Display Communication Books by Gayle Porter: I do not know a lot about PODD but am interested. I have not yet decided if I'm going to implement any of the strategies or perhaps eventually try to find some training about PODD.  I figure a good starting point is to read the manual that is part of the program and then go from there. I would love to talk to anyone who uses it and particularly those who use it with "our students".

The STAR (Strategies for Teaching Based on Autism Research) Program Manuals (Level 1, 2 and 3) by Joel R. Arick, Lauren Loos, Ruth Falco and David A. King:  Wow!  I've also started reading these materials. I have some basic knowledge about ABA techniques but have never really dug deep enough into them.  With half of my class now on the spectrum I need to step up to the plate. I am really impressed with the section on Pivotal Response Training as I have always liked the concept but have never really figured out the nuts and bolts of it.  This is going to be a great program for a couple of my younger students and there are some other great concepts that can be applied to some of my others.

The Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) Trianing Manual by Lori Frost, M.S., CCC/SLP and Andy Bondy, Ph.D.: I've read this manual before and use the PECS system with a few of my students.  I'm re-reading it this summer as I wanted to go back through it and pick up the new stuff that you pick up each time you read a book when you are reading it with specific students in mind.  I will also be developing some tracking forms and more PECS while working on this.  I am also looking for ways to take some the strategies from this manual, the STAR Program and the Script and Script fading stuff and make them work together.

A Sensory Approach to the Curriculum for Pupils with Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties by Judy Davis: A book that I've had for some years.  I think I read it when I was starting this job and have not gone back to it since.  With some experience behind me I'm thinking I could probably learn a bit more from reading it again so that is what I'm planning to do :).
Material Development

Probably less to make this summer than I have in the past summer as I'm feeling like I'm starting to have the materials needed from the past summers. Now its just a matter of ensuring that things that were made are implemented properly. Still I would like to create a few materials this summer including:
Book Bags: I have made a few of these but would like to make more.  Basically they include a book and then some hands-on items and activities that can be completed related to the story or concepts in the story.  This would be one of the things that staff can work on with students when doing literacy types of activities in individual programming time.  My goal is to make 4 more during the summer break.  If I actually get them done, I will post information and pictures.  This might be one of the things on the bottom of my list though as there are other things that I just feel are more pressing right now.

Conversatoin Bins: I also started making conversation bins some time ago but have never finished.  I do have a handful of them and want to make a few more as I think they are a great tool to encourage students to interact around a certain topic.  Same comment as above... if I get any done I will post information and pictures.

Visual Reminders and Scripts: I'm planning to redo a lot of the visual reminders that I keep up around the classroom related to routines (washing hands, toileting, beginning of day, end of day, brushing teeth, lunch/snack clean up...etc.).  I'm trying to figure out a way to allow for some of the variations that are in place for each student and I'm thinking perhaps to have sequences on binder rings for each student and then they can just be grabbed off of hooks.  I can have a generic one up still.  Still need to do some more thinking on this. 

Visual Recipes: I already have several recipes up and running but am thinking that I want to change them up a bit to make them a bit more user friendly.  I'm also thinking of perhaps using a talking photoalbum for a few of them to just see if the student(s) who use them can be more independent in the process.  I'm planning to modify to make things as independent as possible. I am thinking about adding either check boxes or pull off images for the getting hte materials step out and then simplifying directions more so the student(s) can "read' the dirction him/herself.
Planning and Organizing

This is probalby my biggest job this summer. I really saw a need for a different type of organization this past year as my class evolved to serving a pretty different type of student.  So, this summer I'm revamping sutdent programming binders, schedules, and tracking forms.
Revamp Individual Programming Binders for Each Student: This is my big project as I'm looking at creating a different weekly tracking form (have posted about this) and ensuring that all materials in student's binders are up to date and ready to use on day 1.  This is my most important project for the summer as it will set the scene for the whole school year.  I have four new staff (out of nine staff) this fall so its even more important when that is factored in.

Personal Organization Binders including Personal Calendar: I have started using these last year but want to revamp it a bit.  In this binder is information about the student's day, routines and a personal calendar.  It is our version of a 'student agenda'.  I want to do a bit more work making these more functional for each individual student.

Monthly Theme Organization: I know I will not get through all my themes but I would like to have my first couple of themes in place (or at least the first one on Individuality).  I'm using my blog to organize ideas and plans so check on the above tabs often to see how things are progressing.
Adaptive and General Technology

I hate to admit it but I have some pieces of technology that I need to figure out how to use or explore some more to see if there are some uses for students in our room.
iPad Explorations: I got myself an iPad last week.  I bought it thinking of trying out some apps with my son (11 with DS+ASD) and that is exactly what I am planning to do this summer.  This, of course, will be a great experience for him and myself but I may also find some things that would work for the students in my room.

Smartboard Ideas: I think I'm getting a Smartboard this summer.  I need to find out if that is for real and if it is then I want to do some work creating and finding materials we can use on the Smartboard.

Book Worms: I have a couple of Book Worms that I haven't used very much the last couple of yeras.  I need to refamiliarize myself with them and do some recording so they are up and ready to use this fall.  I'm looking to set one of them up with teen topics drawn from teen magazines to ensure they are relevant to my students.

Intellikeys: When I came to my room this was already in the room. I  must say that I have not used it and it is way past time I figure it out and see if there are any things that I coudl use with my students.  Need to get on that this summer!

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