A Flexible Brain

17 Apr

Today we continued to work with the social pragmatic group using the Superflex program.  The lesson of the day required the use of a flexible brain to illustrate how the brain needs to be flexible to grow and handle changes in its environment.  There is a comparison of a rigid brain with a flexible  brain. For those who do not know the program, Superflex conquers Rock Brain  who is not flexible and doesn’t adapt to change well.  He keeps getting stuck doing the same old thing.

The lesson manual suggested using a brain mold to make a jello brain.   I was in luck because I knew someone who I could get the mold from.  The manual   did not give actual directions or a recipe.   I  put this lesson off for as long as I could because  I do not have a good history with jello molds.  I have a history of  jello that sticks to the mold and never turns out looking right.  The thought of trying to work with one in the time line of classes had me worried.  I figured the jello would melt and be over the table before the session was up.

I researched jello  brain recipes on the internet.  It turns out that there are a lot of these.   Some of them are a bit on the gross side of things.  I decided to stay away from the worm and bug infested brains although I’m sure they would be attention grabbing.  I wanted something that would be close to flesh tone and stay fairly solid.  So  I  settled for the following recipe.

You need 3 boxes of jello with orange to pink colors (watermelon, peach), Evaporate milk (12 0z), green food coloring, and 2  1/2 cups  boiling water

Dissolve the gelatin in the boiling water, Spray the inside of the mold with vegetable o spray.  Add milk and cold water to the gelatin mixture and stir until smooth.  Add 2 drops green food coloring.  The mixture should look more flesh-colored.  Add a drop at a time until you get the right color.  Pour the mixture into the mold and put in the refrigerator.  This brain turned out to be quite solid and kept its form several hours.

For the lesson, slips of  paper with brain functions from the categories of  social awareness, motor,and factual/science  are inserted  into the jello brain.  The students take turns  pulling  these out and talking  about them.  I debated the best method of getting the papers in the jello.  I ended up laminating the papers and poking them in after the brain was taken out of the mold.  This way ends of the paper were left sticking out and easy to grab with tweezers.  Surprisingly, the brain is still in good shape after the papers are removed and I can use it again for another group. No one asked if they could eat it.  I took a picture of the brain so you could  have a visual.

Forms & Letters

1 Jul

TX Forms & Letters

I have forms or templates I use on a regular basis to remain organized.  Everyone seems to have their own methods of keeping data.  You may be able to adapt some of them for your use.  Sometimes it’s just nice to have a source of inspiration and see what other people are doing.  I will post the template and an explanation on how I use it.

Speech Class Rules: I had a social pragmatics group brainstorm rules for our sessions.  We tried to make them as positive as possible.  If you need to print rules out quickly, here they are.

Homework rating scale:  I put this rating scale in a notebook with a speech assignment such as a poem, joke, or riddle.  I then make a goal with the student to get a rating of 5 for so many assignments before dismissal.  I can then use this information to determine how the student is generalizing their speech outside of the therapy room.

Goal Bank:  This is a list of goals and objectives I use  in most of my IEPs.  I find it saves time if I can cut and paste them into my I.E.P program and then tweak them for individual needs.

 

Resources

26 Jun

These are sites I frequently visit and use for therapy materials.  Most were previoulsy on the Blog Roll.  However the  Blog Roll was becoming too long for the side bar and I decided to give them their own page. Click on the names it will bring you to the sites.

Video Clips

20 Jun

These are videos I have used during  therapy to illustrate various concepts.

© Social Thinking Concepts

Differences

Prediction and Sequence

  • Gopher Broke:  4 minute video clip that is great for retelling a story sequence using first, next, last, and then
  • Dog Commercial: This video is good for prediction and telling a sequence.

Conversation Skills

Conversation Skills by kimmartindean:  speak to the interest of your partner, turn taking, staying on topic.

Turn taking during a conversation from Social Skills Training. TD Social Skills channel  http://tdsocialskills.com.

Social Skills

20 Jun

These are the skills we need to interact with each other socially.  It includes nonverbal language as well as the spoken word.  Non verbal language includes things like  the expressions on our face, the tone and volume we use, and the body movements or proximity that we use when communicating.  It is the cues  we pick up from our listeners to know that they are listening  and understanding  what we say or maybe they need  a chance to talk or take a turn.   It involves  seeing the perspective of someone else and giving enough detail so that there is mutual understanding.   It’s speaking in a respectful way  or being able to repair hurt feelings if necessary.

A child can be intellectually gifted and still  have difficulties in this area.   A child that doesn’t have a good handle on these skills may have difficulty with peer interactions, be considered rude, or not communicate effectively with individuals or in a group.    They can be the most important skills needed to maintain friendships and employment later in life.

You may feel free to use any of the activities  for  children on your caseload, in your classrooms, or your individual child.  They are not meant to be  copied for commercial purposes or hijacked to another site.  I would rather you link here.

Pragmatic Language Goals and Objectives

  •  Cup pyramid:  a teamwork activity that builds communication and cooperation.                                  yarn tool
  • Who are you anyway? :  An activity that practices asking questions and using the information to draw a conclusion.

 

brain 2

  •  Flexible brain jello recipe
  •  Role playing cards:  Real life scenarios for students to discuss or use when making skits.
  •  What do you say?:  Every day student situations.
  •   Jeopardy:  I use this game with my social language groups to make  students aware of the need for providing appropriate detail.  If questions do not contain appropriate detail there may be more than one answer for items in a category.
  • Reply to a Comment Task Cards Trial Version herefree trial button
  •                                                     Click the button to see the full set.Comment cards button

 

 

  •  Conversation Scaffold: A way to teach conversation skills within the structure of an activity.              Conversation strip 1
  •  Chutes and Marbles:  A teamwork activity that promotes communication and problem solving.  It promotes math/science concepts of slope and level.
  •  Previous command: This is a good warm up activity if you are doing language groups.
  • Crocodile Pass:   This activity encourages students to learn from mistakes and to move on.  It requires them to use their short term memory and make inferences to predict a pattern.  It also encourages using observation as a learning method.
  •  This activity was updated recently and is now in TPT as Trial and Error Pass.
  • trialerrorcoverjpg
  •  Exploration of a brown bag:  An activity for exploration, problem solving, and seeing another perspective. It also forces students to think of descriptive words not connected with sight.
  •   Suction Cup Ball and Target:  This activity provides rehearsal for beginning a conversation, asking questions and answering questions on topic. It can be used as an ice breaker for a new group.
  •   Positive and Negative Statements:  Statements that can be sorted, and  used for discussion.
  •  It’s How you Say It:    I found that most of my social pragmatic cards did not have answers included.  I made these cards so that students could use them in small group activities  and would have an answer they could discuss.  Click here for 12 free cards.free trial button  Click the button for 32  cards available at  TPT    how you say it button
  •  Bad Thing, Good thing:  Cards that provide both perspectives for a given scenario.     For the 11 trial cards click here : Bad Thing Good Thing Trial free trial button
  • Click on the button to get the  32 cards  on TPT  for “Bad Thing Good Thing”
  • badthinggoodthingcoverjpg
  • The size of the problem.  12 free scenario cards,free trial button
  • For the full set of 26 “Size of the Problem” cards at TPT click on the button.button size of the problem

 

unexpected button

© Cynthia Montalbano and In Spontaneous Speech, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material for commercial purpose without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Cynthia Montalbano and In Spontaneous Speech with appropriate and specific direction to the original content

A Very Simple Spider Web

11 Oct

The school year is in full swing.  I had a bit of a shaky start and that is why it seemed like I disappeared.  We have a lot of new staff to include a new principal, new psychologist,  and Learning Resource Teacher.    The new Learning Resource Teacher just started a week ago and a substitute teachers took her place until then.  As  if that weren’t  enough, rooms had changed over the summer and the resource room  was a newly emptied room.  That doesn’t work very well for a substitute teacher and many of you may relate to when chairs, tables and desks are not in rooms they are up for grabs.   I was left with the duty of getting things found and organized so a teacher could use the room with students.  In the spirit of “Good Thing”  and “Bad Thing”; new  procedures can be put into place because there is no one  left to remember the old ways except me, but I am also the only one that  is familiar with the history of  the special education files and students.  I felt like I had to wear many hats.  We also have a new program to complete our special education paperwork.  This  is really challenging my ability to be flexible and learn something new .  It is making me go through the procedures we tell the students to do; deep breaths, count to ten.  It is not OK to scream.

This  school year.  I have pretty much the same population as last year;  2  Life skills classrooms, general education K-5th, and a charter school K-6th.  I am doing push in for two Kindergarten classes and the 2  Life skills classrooms.  The need for social pragmatics groups continues to grow.    I am team teaching  3 social pragmatic groups  with the help of the school counselor. We are implementing material from 2nd Steps, Michelle Winner’s materials, and other things we find.

So getting on  to the topic,   We have been completing spider related activities.  Many of you may be familiar with the Spider Web Activity where students form a circle and toss a ball of yarn across while continuing to hang on to the yarn with one hand.  This creates a spider web in the center of the circle.  I have used it in the past for concepts such as across, left hand, right hand, over, and under.  It also works for teaching the  social pragmatic groups  the importance of working with a group.  If a student doesn’t keep their mind and eyes with the group, they drop the yarn and the web becomes messed up.  We have been talking about how you need to keep your eyes, your ears,  your brain, your body, and your heart with the group so everyone can learn and work together.

I came across this spider and decided it would make a good bulletin board project.   http://momitforward.com/craft-toilet-paper-spider .    It met my requirements for materials that are easy to find and cheap.  I found the eyes at the dollar store and already had the paper rolls and pipe cleaners.  I bought a can of black spray paint from Wal-Mart  for a total cost of $3.

I made a spider web out of yarn. and just stapled it to the bulletin board.  It is looking like this.  I added my pom pom spider from last year.

Spider web 1

The students will make spiders that look like this and add them to the web.  I added the crumpled paper on the back for some color.

IMG293 (1)

I like  my bulletin board activities to cover as many therapy objectives as possible. I use the  free app Story Kit to make pictured directions that my older students can record.  The younger students will practice following  directions and understanding the sequence.  The spiders also provide opportunity for problem solving and telling directions.  It is easy to see how they are made by just looking at them because the parts are all visible.  The Story Kit directions are in the process of being made so the audio is not all available yet. Story Kit formulates a storyboard that can be shared.    http://iphone.childrenslibrary.org/cgi-bin/view.py?b=rpdpipex66oskuofy2ua      The app formulates a  book with pages on your device.

last web

Trial and Error Pass

8 Apr

 

trial error button

This is an activity I use with my  social pragmatic groups.   The activity requires students to use a trial and error method of problem solving.  It is a good one to use for defeating  Rock Brain because to be successful students need to be willing to try  different moves.  For students  who fall apart when they are wrong,  it provides opportunity to defeat Glass Man.  This activity can be used to reinforces the idea that mistakes are not necessarily bad and can be used for learning.  It is important to talk about this before you begin so students have the tools to work through their feelings in a constructive manner.

This activity also teaches students to work together toward a common goal.  The solution will be found by observing the mistakes of everyone and it would be very difficult to succeed individually.  Students  also need to use their short term memory and make inferences to predict the pattern.

This activity can be used with small groups of students, two competing teams, or with one or two students.  The object of the game is to cross  a   6×6 grid of steps using the correct pattern.  I lay the grid out on the floor so that students have a good view and can use motor movement.

thumbnail of grid

Pattern cards are made pattern C          A judge, who could be a student or teacher, is selected.  The judge takes one of the pattern cards that will be the solution to the stepping pattern.  A student begins the challenge by stepping on one of the stars in the first row and moves one row ahead for each step.    As the move is made the judge indicates if it is the correct one by saying right or wrong move.  A buzzer for a wrong move adds a game show feature and are available free as an app.   If it is the right step the student continues to move forward.  If it is the wrong step the person returns to the start or the end of the line and watches the attempts of others until they get to the front of the line again.  The students may notice that a pattern is developing as students discover the correct moves.  This will speed up the progress until someone finally makes it across.  Everyone that was paying attention can then make the crossing.  Students should be reinforced for working as a team and not as an individual competition to make it to the finish.

It doesn’t take much to  make pattern cards  and a  grid  on your own.  However, if you prefer to have some of the work done for you, I am putting a set up on the TPT store for download at a minimum cost.

Build a Paper Tower; A Cooperative Challenge

3 Mar

It seems  a lot of people were enthused about the rubber band and paper cup activity.  If you liked that one, you may also like the paper tower  activity.  It has been in the social pragmatics section. Sometimes when directions are just on paper you  don’t see how great an activity is.  I think the paper tower might be one of those activities.   You usually don’t have to go far for materials.  Just empty out your recycle box.

This activity works  well with  Rockbrain if you are doing the Superflex program.   A little instruction about being flexible with your thinking and allowing other people to have different ideas helps on this one.  I have used this activity with different sizes of  social pragmatic groups who were sometimes divided into competing teams.  They were given flat pieces of paper out of the recycle bin and told to build as high of a tower as they could.  No other materials were allowed.  There really isn’t a wrong way to do this.  It seems they typically divide into the cylinder group, or the fold into squares or triangle group.

Cylinder paper tower

IMG240

It really is a good activity for group participation and sharing of ideas. They have made it as high as 6 levels.  By that time a student is standing on a chair and no one is breathing.  One false move and the whole thing comes tumbling.  Hopefully no one will have a Brain Eater moment.

Just a note to let you know I updated the (Comprehension of Complex Sentences)   I am putting 3 pages for a free download here.

I have 36 cards available at the TPT store

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Cynthia-Montalbano

Working with/against the Unthinkables

18 Mar

Many of you may be familiar with the Unthinkables.  It is a name coined by Stephanie Madrigal and Michelle Garcia Winner.  They are part of the Superflex Curriculum that uses comic books and characters to teach strategies to conquer problem behaviors and gain thinking power over them.   I was able to purchase the program through the generosity of our school parent group.  This is the site for those who are interested. http://www.socialthinking.com/home

I have begun using the program with several of my students in small groups. So far I am impressed.  I have a few students who are on the higher end of the Autism Spectrum and have difficulty with social pragmatics.  They are often sensitive to anything that points out imperfections they may have.  In the past,  I’ve had difficulty getting them to participate in role playing.  Their initial reaction is to declare an activity as boring and then not participate.  Yep, my Destroyers of Fun.  On cue, that is how we started out.   The comic nature of the program roped them in and as soon as the props came out they included themselves.

The characters are a great feature of this program.  They let the students step back and talk about problem behaviors in an unthreatening way.  They actually start to recognize what they have in common with the characters. I was amazed how much information they had retained  after three sessions and sending the parent letter home.  They explained the characters and strategies to a guest therapist on the 3rd session.    It appeared they had actually talked about the characters with their parents.  I guess we all want to be super heroes deep down, and we all have those unthinkable moments we need to conquer.

I have been busy gathering materials to make the characters and props.  You don’t necessarily need a lot of props.  However they are useful in grab bags or quick role playing in limited space.  Many children respond better to manipulatives and props then paper and pencil activities.  A model of a brain is helpful to simulate the brain sensor.   I’ve found it helpful to visit craft stores and  thrift stores that have small toys,  fast food characters, and pieces  of toys.  I’ve learned that even if your children have grown you should never throw those things out.  Here is what I have gathered so far.   Can you guess the characters?

Image

     Here is a quick way to make super hero capes. I found a large men’s short sleeve sport jersey in royal blue at the thrift store for fifty cents.  I cut off the sleeves and came up to the neck and kept the neck band. The front and back gave me two capes.   I cut off the lower cuff area on the sleeves.  I then cut this circle and sewed each end to the neck band ends still attached to the cape.  It was stretchy enough it could fit over a child’s head and I didn’t need to put on fastners.  I did some hemming up the sides of the cape.  This may not be necessary since it might be material that doesn’t fray.

Circle of Friends, 4th session

22 Jan

The 4th session of Circle of Friends met today with 5 of the 6 group members.  This session is the last preparation session before we invite D to join the circle.  We had the students put themselves in D’s shoes and predict how he might feel and react to the group.  They decided D’s reactions may  be, not wanting to enter the room and hanging  out at the door.   When he becomes overwhelm he often says he wants to go home.   We then brainstormed how we could make it easier for him.  They decided to prepare  a video he could see the week before he came.   We just happened to have a flip camera available to us for just an event.      They decided a video of the group eating lunch together and saying their names and a greeting would make him feel welcome and know who is part of the group.   The students will also make a point of talking to him about their lunch group and how they would like him to join them on Friday.

We then video taped an activity they could do with D during the next session, called conversational scaffolding.  He is using this activity in his speech therapy sessions to build his conversation skills, so  it should be something he is familiar with.  It’s basically placing slips of paper down on the table to represent questions, comments, and topic changes.  When the students look back on their conversation they can see who participated and in what way.    We used the same activity with the circle of friends group to give them practice and some understanding of how they can help D.   First we talked about activities D was likely to be interested in and found some of them were similar to their interests like books and movies.   We then gave it a try.  It wasn’t long before it was going at a pretty fast rate.  We had a couple of students that needed more thinking time.  The paper trail showed a couple of students asking all the questions,  frequent topic changes, and some interruptions before questions were answered.  We talked about being  responsible listeners during a conversation, and how to include people who didn’t get a chance to enter the conversation.  We pointed out that some people need more thinking  time and may not feel comfortable talking if the topic changed too often.  We then talked about how D may particularly needed more time to respond and would get lost with too many topic changes.  They agreed it would have to go at a slower rate.  Before they left, they said the activity was a lot of fun.  This always amazes me.  Sometimes there is a lot of value in just paper.