It has been a very busy Fall with another school added to my caseload. I am a little slow with the bulletin board. My students are young this year and I need to keep my projects simple.
The students always seem to enjoy paper-folding and I discovered these easy bat folding directions at WikiHow here. They may not look very fancy but they did serve the function of working on following directions. We also talked about what they knew about bats. This was an easy board to put up because I kept the tree from last month and just added my spider. You may recognize the spider as my pompom and pipe cleaner spider from years gone by.
During my career there have been certain students who have made a lasting impression on me and aided in my growth as a speech language pathologist. It seemed that fate crossed our paths so that we could learn from each other. I am thinking in particular of a student who I met in her Kindergarten year. Her disability prevented her from speaking or using her arms and legs effectively although eventually she learned how to use her head to control a motorized wheel chair and a laser to activate an Alpha Talker and then a Delta Talker. This is when the field of augmentation communication was beginning to blossom with more advanced electronic devices. This child did not have the outward appearance of much ability other than a beautiful smile. However with her devices her true personality could shine.
I will never forget the time I worked with her at her home during extended summer services. She would be going into first grade when school resumed. Her mother reported she had something to tell me. She proceeded to tell me she had seen the movie Pocahontas. That doesn’t seem that unusual except she used her Delta Talker to do it and she had programmed the name Pocahontas into it herself. Those of you who have worked with min speak realize this involves not only getting into the programming mode but also selecting a symbol sequence to represent the name. She did all of this using a laser attached to a head band. She had learned the programming by watching me during other sessions. I learned not to underestimate her abilities when motivated.
She would be in her twenties now. I lost track of her after her elementary years but I think of her often. She reminds me that our first impressions of a student’s capabilities are not always correct.
How does this get us to Don’t Break the Ice you ask? Well it was difficult for her to play with her peers and have normal interactions. I was always searching for games I could adapt. Don’t Break the Ice was one of the games I adapted so she could play too. I basically took the orignal game and put masking tape along two sides. I then color coded the rows. This allowed her to tell another student what block of ice she wanted to be hit out by saying two colors. Where the colors intersect is the block chosen. She used her voice output system to communicate. The set up was also useful for other students using a communication board. You can color code a dice or spinner. Students roll a dice and then say what color they have or will hit out. It is good for I want, I have, I need statements.
This was our first day back with students. We start quite a bit later than most parts of the country. Our school seems to be in a growth spurt. Additional kindergarten classes were added. We have full day kindergarten now and more students are enrolling. In the past, we often lost students to private schools. Parents needed childcare for the other half of the day and it was easier to have students stay in one place.
The building went through some renovations over the summer with new walls and doors to make enclosed classrooms. Our school was built during the time of the open classroom concept. Through the years walls have been added but not always with doors. This creates some interesting difficulties with noise, temperature control, and keeping students contained in classrooms. In the past we have actually used tape on the floor to show boundaries. I am hoping the full day kindergarten will help alleviate some of my scheduling difficulties.
This was the Welcome Back bulletin board I made to start the year. I used rolls of brown butcher paper for the trunk of the tree. I had a stencil for oak leaves. I cut toilet paper rolls and glued the edges onto yellow paper to make the hive. A teacher noticed my theme and gave me bee note paper. We have a lot of bee themed materials at this school because our mascot is a bee. It didn’t take long to put up. It is interesting how the tree has a different character each time. I like to use a tree because it is easy to continue it through the school year and change it for the seasons.
Bee lieve in Yourself, Welcome Back Stingers
Recently, I was looking for new books to add to my therapy collection and noticed that a favorite series of mine are still available. It is the Mouse Books by Monique Felix. I have 2 of them and I see there are more in the series now. I bought mine years ago so the covers have changed. They are still very reasonable in the $12 range. I originally bought mine for $3 which is very telling to how old mine are.
The books are great for getting language samples because they do not have words, only pictures. I have used them frequently for my younger students. The mice are engaging. The books are great at eliciting comparison and descriptive vocabulary. Because they tell a story in a sequence of events I can also get a variety of verb tenses. I can tell if the student recognizes there is a story sequence. This is all valuable information to get informally to compare how students do with standardized testing. Because I use them frequently, I can tell what the average student can do and when they are struggling.
Here is a bit of an inside view of The Opposites book. There is a white mouse and a dark mouse that do opposite things throughout the book until the surprise ending.
The Colors book illustrates the antics of a mouse in an art studio and explores mixing colors.
If you are looking for new books, you will not be disappointed in the number of ways you can use these.
Teachers Pay Teachers is having their Back to School Sale on Aug 4th and 5th. If you are waiting for the right time to get back to school materials, now is the time. Don’t forget to use the Promo... Read more »
I have some of my therapy games home for the summer since I had grandchildren visiting. I noticed that I missed putting this one up on the blog. Poppa’s Pizza Topple is a game I found at a garage sale a few years ago and I think it is still being sold in a few stores. It is a game my students enjoy no matter what their ability level. Pizza seems to be a favorite food of most children. I have used this game with students who are working on basic communication skills such as turn taking and making requests. It can easily be adapted for students with limited verbal abilities by adding a communication board. It also works well as a simple reinforcement for doing therapy tasks. At the most simple level, just use the pizza crust and have the student request ingredients and place them on the crust. At the most difficult level, students place the ingredients on an unsteady pizza crust propped up on Poppa’s finger. They pick up the ingredients according to what is rolled on the dice. I recommend picking this game up and adding it to your collection if you get the chance.
I had a request to show the communication board. I do not have Boardmaker available on my home computer to open this board. I ended up taking a picture of it. It will give you an idea of the symbols used.
We did it. Hopefully you have found yourself at the new web site. You may be finding yourself here because of a redirect from the old site. Please change any book marks you have to reflect the new url address.... Read more »
Summer is here. I don’t usually post much about personal happenings, but they do have an effect on my postings. There has been lot happening behind the scenes. The month of June came in with a flurry of events.... Read more »
I have always had an interest in Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC). Since I have served many students with severe communication disabilities, I have experienced using a lot of different systems over my career.... Read more »
Students are sometimes referred to Child Study Team (CST) because of difficulties relating to peers. Concerns revolve around the student saying inappropriate things, being picked on and starting fights on the playground. When you talk to the student, you may find they have limited interests and talk excessively on one topic. They have difficulties taking turns during a conversation. In their attempts to enter a conversation they say something that can be perceived as an insult or bragging. This results in a fight or peers not wanting to interact with them. The student then feels picked on or shunned.
Sometimes these students have a diagnosis of Aspergers or high functioning autism and are on our caseloads. They may need direct instruction on how to have a conversation. Learning the art of having a conversation can help alleviate some of the difficulties. However, it is a very difficult skill to teach without structure. Left to their own devices, the a session may go something like this. A student will start a topic of high interest to them. The other students interrupt to make off topic comments. One student dominates the topic with multiple comments until another student manages to derail to another topic with multiple comments. It becomes a competition to control the topic rather than enjoy an exchange of information. No one feels they have been listened to and arguments occur as they interrupt each other. Each student feels that only their topic and comments are right. I have actually had a student say they won because they had the most papers out.
How do we provide structure so it becomes a learning task? It is important to break down skills in in smaller increments so they can understand and practice. I have used colored paper shapes as visual cues to illustrate turn taking, topic changes and questions and comments.
Can you guess which conversation is interactive with multiple people talking about a topic. Which conversation is more likely people talking for themselves?
During this process I have discovered many of our students do not know how to start a conversation or recognize when another student is giving them an opening to start a conversation. They may not see the differences between a question and a comment and do not understand the hidden expectations of both. When a comment is said, they may misinterpret its intent and not respond appropriately. I made comment and reply cards so that my students could work on this directly. I made a trial set for you to try out. See if they work for you. There is a full set at the TPT store. TPT is having their back to school sale Aug 4 thru Aug 5. so come on by to get the full set.
The trial cards are here. comment cards wp The TPT sale banner is on the sidebar. You can select it to go directly to the store. Please remember to use the Promo code so you get the full discount.