Children learn best through repetition. So, it is important to offer repetitive activities for reinforcement of skills you are teaching. In younger grades and in every level of special education, a morning calendar time is important for so many areas of learning. Click here to for more on Morning Meeting – Circle Time.
In addition to morning meeting or calendar circle, there are other daily routines that students need to be taught. These include social skills and things as simple as toileting or hand washing. When students of any age or level know what is coming next or what is expected of them, they find it easier to focus on what they are doing now. Many times, student misbehavior is caused by perceptions of things to come. To alleviate negative behaviors, students need a routine in which they can relax and know their time frames and boundaries. Some example of these would be as follows:
These picture cards were created in Board Maker, but could easily be created with clip art or by taking actual photo’s of activities and locations. Each has velcro on the back so it can be removed and manipulated as needed.
Notice I didn’t say, “teacher desk“. That’s because I don’t have one. I started the 12-13 school year with a desk, in fact I finished over half of that school year with a desk, but in the Spring a new student moved into our room who liked to hide under our desks when avoiding work. Actually, this student hid under anything low enough to the ground to effectively conseal him. For some students this is a sensory issue. For example, the light in the room may be too bright for them so they want to put their face or their whole body under something. For others it may just be an avoidance mechanism. Either way, by removing the desk(s) and other items of interest from our room, I was able to assist this student with his ability to make more appropriate choices. What teacher spends much time sitting at a desk anyway? Certainly not one in a self-contained special education classroom.
I used to think of my desk as the place where I worked, but I actually work all over the room, not at a specific desk. Getting rid of my desk showed this to me very clearly. Other than the initial discomfort of finding all the things that were originally in my desk drawers that were moved to the filing cabinet, I have not missed having a desk. Honestly, I kind of enjoy not having one. It just took up space that I could better use for student needs. I have played around with different tables; straight, round, and horseshoe. When I moved to this new room, jackpot! There were two horseshoe tables which enabled me to place one in an area that is set up for language arts and one in the math-science area. Both are key spaces for working with multiple students and both areas need this kind of functional table.
There are several key items in the above photo which I would like to point out:
- Filing cabinets – there are actually two of them back to back which serve a few purposes; separating my area from students at the computer tables, providing an additional place to post items I need to have at an arms reach.
- Narrow computer table – I love this table. It just happened to be in my room when I moved to this campus last year and I brought it with me to my new room this year. It is just the right size to hold my computer, phone, binder, etc. and yet narrow enough that a student would not benefit much from crawling under it. Perfect!
- Binders for record keeping and information – I have found this to be one of the best ways to keep everything in order. I have a binder for lesson plans which includes a calendar of important dates, the curriculum map I created based on the Kindergarten curriculum posted by my District, and a print out of my actual lesson plans after I type them into our lesson planning system. This gives me a quick reference for a moment when I can’t remember what’s next, or for lesson planning the next week. (I didn’t have enough dividers in my classroom when I was setting these up so I created my own with card stock and duck tape!) The other binder at my desk is for substitute teachers. I have found great Sub Binder information, samples, and freebie’s on other teacher blogs and particularly appreciated the freebie and advice I found at http://www.kindergartenworks.com/teacher-organization/6-things-sub-substitute-teacher/. My binder covers were also a freebie from http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/FREE-2013-2014-EDITABLE-Black-and-White-Themed-Teacher-Binder-Covers-810601.
- Personal effects on the wall and not on tables and shelves – It helps to feel at home in my classroom, especially on days or weeks when I feel like I live there! I recommend putting things up high so that students do not accidentally break or misplace them. Some students would be very sad to have hurt you in that manner, and you too would be sad if you lost something of importance.
It’s important to have your own teacher area, but it’s not important that it looks the way you remember a teachers area from your own childhood. Do what’s best for your students and make it your own!
- My New Classroom (acrowdedclassroom.wordpress.com)
There are so many great skills to practice each day in a calendar and weather activity. We call it our morning meeting, but at this point we are not all meeting together in one spot. We have found that it helps to separate our students into centers allowing each to work to their strengths and learning styles. The following activity has been put into a folder or bound as a book for each student. It used to supplement and create repetition as well as offer support for other skills including data collection, graphing, writing name, writing numbers, and support many other important skills!
For some of my students, the day begins with an interactive calendar or weather app on a classroom iPad. For one, it begins with physically updating the wall calendar and weather data center. For others it begins with a self-directed slide show at a student desktop computer in my Technology Center. Click on the bolded links below for some of what goes into my students self-directed PowerPoint:
They can do this in their seat or standing up and joining the motions. My students love to be welcomed to school where they feel important.
Singing this every morning not only helps them to learn the names of the months, but teaches them in order so they can use that knowledge to decide which one comes before and which one comes after another.
Again, a catchy memorable song to learn their days in a fashion that allows them to answer yesterday, today and tomorrow questions in the future.
My students love this rap which not only covers the seasons, but what the weather feels like in each season as well as how to spell each one.
Learning colors with a song and a visual helps students to remember them more clearly. I have another color song that I used last year, but it only introduced 4 colors. For half the year, one of my students could easily identify those 4 colors, but did not know the others and had trouble learning them until we added this video.
I have a student who was non-verbal for the first 14 weeks of Kindergarten, until he started singing along with the alphabet song. By winter break he was talking to his parents by calling them Momma and Papa for the first time in his life. By the second week of first grade he was talking in full sentences saying things like, “thank you Mrs. Hardisty” and “No. You can’t do that in here.” It’s so inspiring to see them come alive and change their behavior for the better as they learn to speak and advocate for themselves.
I have students who could not count past 32 the week before we implemented this set of video’s, and two weeks later they are counting to 97! The visual and auditory delivery functions together to create a counting pattern that the students can easily remember.
Students tally each day and then count their tally marks at the end of each month with this worksheet.
Students write the month in their best handwriting and write down the number for each day of the month on this worksheet. Often my students have dysgraphia or other issues with writing so we tend to use markers with students who need more support with their writing skills.
Students see how the numbers increase as the month moves forward.
The above page can be laminated or placed in a page protector so students us the same page every day and paper can be saved.
Any time we can add graphing to our daily routine I welcome it. Students need to be able to chart and find trends in various ways to support their learning in science and math especially.
- My New Classroom (acrowdedclassroom.wordpress.com)