Monday, September 28, 2015

Morning Meeting in a Middle School Autistic Support Classroom Series...



***As I got into writing this post I realized that there is way more information that I want to give then probably what you want to read in one super long post. So I have decided to create a series of posts that go through more details of each aspect of my morning meeting. This post will just serve as a preview of each part with a small description. ***


I have seen a lot of questions posted on facebook teacher pages about how to run an age appropriate morning meeting in a self contained special education classroom. I always jumped to answer these posts because I am confident that I do this successfully in my classroom. I worked my butt off the last two years perfecting different aspects of this part of the school day for my students. Now, it is definitely my favorite part of the day to teach. So check out and read as I break down different components to morning meeting in my middle school autistic support classroom.


Morning Greetings

We always start off our morning with greetings. I say hello to each of the students and expect them in any way that they can to respond back. I have students that are both verbal and non verbal so some may say, "Good Morning Mrs...." and others will use some form of AAC to greet. Then I encourage students to take turns greeting one another. In a way this builds a sense of community among my students and it helps them to be more comfortable when out in the hallway, lunch, or in their inclusion classes to respond to others. I had a student last year that got so good at great that every time someone walked through our classroom door she greeted them, even if she already did 3 times earlier that day. So, then we worked on when we need to greet but, I was still happy with her attempts!


Calendar and Weather
We move right into our calendar and weather. This is done with our morning meeting binders. I have purchased a used a few different pieces that other teachers have created. I have mostly used this from The Autism Helper. I also have used items from the Core materials of Unique Learning System. Adapted Calendar Activities


Lunch Menu
It is exactly what it sounds like. We read the lunch menu for the day and will even count how many people are having the main lunch, pizza, burgers, etc. We also talk about food grouping and what types of foods that are for lunch that day go with the different food groups to compose a healthy lunch. The reason we do this is to help our students understand what a good meal should consist of.


Asking and Answering Wh- Questions
I have altered this part of my morning meeting in many ways many times. I have used multiple resources and I'll share that as the series goes on. Right now, we use a picture and ask questions about it to create a sentence that describes the picture using Wh- questions.



News2You
Image result for news 2 you
Last and most certainly not least. I have to talk about how I added News2You into my morning meeting. Every morning we read a few pages as a class of the most current News2You. This is such a versatile part of my morning meeting because you can do so many things with it. The students each have their own paper copy at their seats while I manipulate and have the smart board pulled up with a copy that reads to them.They are in charge of listening, tracking the print as the computer reads and then answering my comprehension questions after we read a page.




Everyone always wonders if doing this is to babyish for secondary students. I always look at it this way. I am an adult and I still use a calendar everyday and I still check the weather to see what I should wear that day so why shouldn't we discuss and practice this in middle school and high school classrooms. I read menus to decide what I want to eat that day and I read the newspaper or go online to read articles. There is definitely a way of making this concept more mature and age appropriate while still helping our students understand these concepts and make them relevant to their own lives.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Target Teacher Finds

I find that as a teacher the smaller finds are what sometimes make big differences in our classroom. So that is what I am sharing with you today.

 Some of the small finds I got while at Target a few weeks ago. Targets dollar spot at any time of the year can sucker me in but, at Back to School time I am like a bee with it's honey.

I can't control myself.
I get all these ideas for decorations, storage options, and of course work boxes!

These are little connectors that will go nice in my sensory area. I have lots of students this year that love to build and create things. I got like 5 packs to make a good amount of them for my students to work with. I also thought they could be used in work boxes to sort by color or if I took pictures of built structures I could try to have the students copy and recreate them for an assembly task! 

I am in love with containers! It is a horrible addiction! Any kind of container I can find I have to have and if there are little compartments to it that is even better. I found this and bought 3 or 4. They always come in handy when I want to create a fast sorting type work box for small items like buttons, paper clips, or jewels. 

These are little foam shapes. I don't have an exact idea of what to use them for but an obvious idea is to use them for sorting in work boxes. They also would be good for counters in math lessons. 


More containers.These are pill boxes that someone would normally use to keep track of their medication. I thought that it would be a great assembly work task if I decided to have a visual to follow on where to put items into specific sections and then put to the side. I bought 8 of these so I could make an assembly task of some sort out of them! 

Yeah, you thought I was done with the containers. Ha, think again! I told you I'm addicted! These little cases are so tiny but, I love that they have screw on and off lids. It is something that my students that need fine motor work can practice with taking the lid off, putting some sort of items inside and screwing the lid back on. I got a bunch of these too! 
This was a splurge for me as you can see it was $3. I thought it would be something easy to just throw in a work box as is so it was worth paying for it. No assembly or work required!

I hope you enjoyed my finds. I will probably show you them again once I get the work boxes put together. So check in again!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Asking for Some Help...


This is not going to be any kind of fancy post.. just honest question asking hoping you'll open your heart to help my students!

I am asking you all for some help. I am working on getting a project funded through Donors Choose. I am trying to get two mini iPads for my classroom for my students to use to complete some of their academic work and to use during break time in the classroom. Let's face it, iPads are awesome for doing both!

I want to make sure my students have the materials they need to succeed, so I just created a request for my classroom at DonorsChoose.org:

iPads for Students with Autism

Give to my classroom by September 5, 2015 and your donation will be doubled thanks to DonorsChoose.org. Just enter the code SPARK on the payment page and you'll be matched dollar for dollar (up to $100).

If you chip in to help my students, you'll get awesome photos and our heartfelt thanks.

Thanks so much,

P.S. If you know anyone who may want to help my classroom, please pass this along!