A school year often starts by getting acquainted with new students. You may know nothing about them except for a check mark indicating special education services on the registration records. Often the record hasn’t been updated for a year and isn’t very accurate. If you hit the jackpot, you might actually get a record containing a current evaluation and the last progress report.
I love when parents have kept all the paperwork and can give you updated paperwork from the previous school. In some cases, technology has improved the ability to get current records by linking records across schools. Sometimes it takes weeks before everything comes together. Meanwhile, you need to figure out what your students need so you can form your schedule and help teachers meet the needs in their classrooms.
To start out the new year, I usually take out one of my conversation ice breakers. It gets students talking and gives you an idea of where to start with them in the coming year. One of my favorites is a suction cup ball you often find at Target, The Dollar Store, Walmart, or any party favors section of a store. You could also use a dice or spinner with numbers.
I really like the suction ball. Everyone likes to throw a ball at a target and it is quite engaging even for reluctant students.
You then have them help you write questions and number them. Here are some examples: 1. Did you take a road trip during the summer? 2. Did you learn anything fun? 3. Did you get anything new? 4. Did you eat any fun foods? 5. Did you see any movies? 6. Did you read any books?
I draw a target on a white board with an erasable marker making a few rings and target areas. I label the rings with numbers 1-6.
Students take turns throwing the ball at the target and answering the questions according to the area hit. Fellow students are then asked to think up a follow up question according to the answer and topic.
I like this activity because students of any age and ability can do it. I have plenty of opportunities to observe their speech and language skills. I can observe students in a mixed group and see how they interact. I can use this activity to see how a student answers questions, stays on topic, and contributes to a topic that has already been started. It goes fairly quickly because turns do not take long.
I hope you have a good beginning to your new school year.
Spring is for the birds. This was a “following directions activity” as well as introducing idioms for the older students. I posted this quite a few years back. Originally, I put the birds up on a bulletin board I had in the hallway. Students from all grades would pass by and comment on it. I decided to update it since the directions were a digital book and the link no longer worked.
I converted the directions to a pdf. This allows you to present the directions to your students in different ways. You can get the pdf here.
My older students had a homework component. I made flyers with idioms printed on them and they either wrote or told me the meaning after researching it. Here is the flyer. Bird phrases.
This was the look of the bulletin board at the end. The birds are suppose to be sitting on wires.
A Tangram Puzzle is an old Chinese tile game that consists of seven geometric shapes called tans. The tans usually consist of a square, 5 triangles and a parallelogram. The shapes can be used to form various shapes and designs. I used the original square but also developed a Shamrock puzzle for a lesson that was presented in March.
These puzzles work great as a cooperative activity for social skills groups. It is a good activity to work on problem solving, seeing another person’s perspective, using directive language and cooperating within a group. I recommend using the square first because the shamrock tends to be more difficult for the studernts to figure out. Hopefully you have a chance to work on social skills, observe your students in action, encourage their social development and get a break from lesson planning.
To begin the activity you need a square puzzle printed out on cardstock for each student in the group. Look at the bottom of the post for the pattern. Have them cut the square apart into individual shapes.
At its simplest level each student mixes their pieces up into a pile and then puts them back together into a square shape. The difficulty and need for interaction can be increased by having students mix their pieces of the puzzle with other students. They choose puzzle pieces from the mix and then try to put their square back together again. This forces students to look at the pieces they have and what other students have. It will require them to negotiate and trade for the pieces they need to make the original square.
There are two free downloads for this activity. One is the square pattern and the other is a shamrock pattern . I hope your students learn from and enjoy this activity.
Will you be observing Valentine’s Day with your classroom students? The Trial and Error Pass Activity is a good way to celebrate and also work on social and problem solving skills at the same time. It is presently on my Teachers Pay Teachers store and I made it a FREE download until the end of February. There is a link at the bottom of the post.
This activity requires students to use a trial and error method of problem solving. This is quite difficult for some students who want success on the first attempt and have difficulty when they fail. This activity reinforces the idea that mistakes are not necessarily bad and can be used for learning. It 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. It also requires students 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 the grid in 6 moves stepping on the correct sequence of images.
Trial and Error Grid
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 cards 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. If a buzzer is available that can be used for the wrong step. There are some buzzer sounds available on apps for electronic devices that students really enjoy using. 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 waits for another turn. Students can watch 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. The students should be reinforced for working as a team and not make it an individual competition to make it to the finish.
As we come back from holiday breaks , it’s time to bring out the winter theme items. There are a lot of wintery cold places across the United States weather map. Some places have been buried in deep snow drifts and are having difficulty digging out. Some students are experiencing snow storms for the first time. You may be exploring what a snowflake looks like.
I found a snowflake on Pinterest that was easy to make and looked impressive. It turned out so well that the students didn’t want to leave them for a bulletin board after making them. Thus I only had 3 of the large ones on my bulletin board at the end.
Following directions to make an item is a good way to engage students and introduce new vocabulary. I hope you find this activity useful for your students. You will find pictured directions within the free download.
click here for the free download
The students were able to make them within a 20 minute time period. The directions review vocabulary such as half, triangle, corner, arch, curve, middle, small, medium, large, and center. Have fun. Don’t count on having any left behind for a bulletin board.