Saturday, May 28, 2016

Five For Fraturday Linky post



I have always liked this linky.  I have found many wonderful bloggers through here, and enjoy reading everyone's 5 things for that week. I feel like I get to know the bloggers a little better, too, as there are often personal items added in to the 5 things. As I struggle with my health issues (mono and more recently a case of the flu), and prepare for my move, I don't want to go too long before posting each time. So each Friday (or thereabouts ;) )I am going to start using this linky as a structure for my posts. Most items will be about stuff that has happened that week, but could also be stuff that has happened recently or will happen in the future.



It was recently Syttende Mai (17th of May), which is constitution day in Norway. A fellow teacher brought this Norwegian flag over to my classroom and we had someone take our photo. In Norway, there is a HUGE celebration.




I live on an island and commute by ferry every day. This was one of the sunsets as seen from the ferry this week. So beautiful!



I have been healthy my entire life. Although I am overweight, I have never had any health problems because  of it. I rarely get colds or any kind of sickness. I have weeks of accumulated sick leave from my job as a result. But in the past year, I have been diagnosed with Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, Mono, CMV, and I recently got the flu, resulting in a pretty severe case of Bronchitis. I was out for an entire week. Bleeeech, I hate being sick. My doc told me it was all related to stress from my job (and we all know it's bad right now in education) and to a leaky gut. So, I need to change what I am doing, which is hard. I am trying to eat Paleo (grain, dairy, legume, and sugar free). I use the above  shopping list from WHOLE30. I feel SO much better when I eat this way. As well, I have a Fitbit and am using that on my hikes with my little dog Murfee, trying to get my 10,000 steps in.



                                                           

                                    

I have a student obsessed with My Little Pony. He's also into rainbows, so I see the attraction. He drew this during choice time. I just love all of his drawings and wanted to feature one.


                                                             

                                                         

I tend to obsess over stuff, it's part of my work personality. You would think that being obsessed with work would make me more organized, but it doesn't.  I have been packing my classroom up and boxing stuff in cupboards ever since January. I have tossed stuff, made decisions on what to leave, and organized and labeled contents, with thanks to my wonderful Paras. I am almost all done except for the stuff we are currently using. This will allow me to start the new school year in the best organizational shape ever. I am giddy with excitement over the thought. With this thought, I put together my plan book for next year and it contains everything I will need to start the new year off with an organizational bang. More to come on this baby in a different post. But it feels good.

And that is all for this week.

Link up with Doodle Bugs Teaching here

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

New state, new position


Starting this fall, I will officially be a Colorado blogger. AND, I am moving to High School! I am pretty excited about this change. Not only will it be sunnier (that's a big deal for this Seattleite!!!), but the focus is on life skills, which to me is where the emphasis needs to be as our students approach adulthood/post secondary life.

Yesterday, I spoke to the teacher I will be collaborating with, as well as the program specialist, and got an outline of what my position entails. I am starting a brand new ILS (Intensive Learning Services) program and working with the Autism teacher. As luck would have it, there was only one ILS student this year so we are splitting the Autism caseload.

We will be going out to the community for a 2 1/2 hour block of time every day, doing a variety of different activities related to transition/vocational needs. They will have adapted PE, electives, and 2 classes where we work on IEP goals and objectives/academics. The rest of the time, I am planning/case managing.

I am so excited to be starting this new chapter of my life!





Sunday, April 24, 2016

Sensory diet

What exactly is a sensory diet? It is basically a schedule of sensory input deliberately placed into a student's day that helps them to regulate their sensory (touch, taste, smell, auditory, visual, proprioceptive, and/or vestibular input) needs. It's important to help a student find the optimum amount of input  they need in order to help them function at their best throughout their day. By scheduling the input, we are being proactive, rather than reactive.

In a school setting, the best person to assess the need and put this into place is the Occupational Therapist. They are usually the experts in sensory processing and are a font of great ideas to try.

So what does this look like in practice? It's different for each student since each has their own unique sensory needs. Typically, though, there is a break and sensory activities scheduled every 45 minutes to 2 hours, but again, this varies between students. Students can choose their activity or it can be chosen for them.

All of my students have breaks in their day where they can choose an activity, and we have an assortment of sensory aids available at all times if the student needs it or requests it. Some of these items are headphones, fidgets, weighted vests and blankets, joint compression, squeezes, rocking chair, body sock, light-up and spinning toys, etc, just to give you an idea.




I have a schedule in place for 3 of my students. One student does heavy work twice a day, and receives squeezes and tickles at least twice a day. His heavy work consists of sweeping, stacking chairs, and moving furniture. He is in love with cleaning up and stares at our custodial staff with wonder in his eyes at lunch time. He will on occasion help them after  he has eaten his lunch. He usually reorganizes our calm area where we have a sofa, a comfy chair, a rocking chair, and a thick, fold-able floor mat. Then he stacks all the chairs in our room. As a result of these activities, he has relaxed enough to spontaneously greet people, something he wasn't doing before.

Another student has many gross motor/ oral input activities built into his schedule multiple times a day. Typically, he enters the classroom, does a few minutes of work, receives a food reward, then has either a quiet time where he falls asleep, or he has a gross motor activity. He has difficulty sleeping at home and he often comes to school not having slept the night before. His gross motor consists of walks around the perimeter of our school and/or time on the trampoline in our sensory room. If he needs calming activities, we take him to the sensory room and he gets onto our crash pad and we fold him in it, or into a sleeping bag in our tent area, or he lays on a mat and we roll a ball over his body.





In the quiet area in our room, he gets his hair brushed and his joints compressed. Once he is calm, we do another work activity followed by a food reward. We repeat this throughout the day, and as needed.

A third student has silly putty at all times when his hands are not otherwise occupied with work.




He has a tendency to have meltdowns at 9:30, so we are now scheduling a sensory room break at 9:00, where he lays in the crash pad.

He also has a schedule of activities he can choose from at 11:15 when he goes to PE. Shortly after that, he goes home. These activities have helped limit some aggressive behavior.

Typically, these activities last for about 15-20 minutes but it really depends on the student.

These have all worked wonders for my students and the overall level of negative behavior has reduced tremendously as a result of these interventions. If you've never done this, I would highly recommend consulting with the OT and setting  some activities in place.



Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Update/Cool life skills website

Update-
I will be moving to Colorado at the end of June. I have applied and interviewed for several positions. I have another interview on Monday and likely a couple more in the next week or so. These are high school and middle school life skills programs.  I am pretty excited, especially at the high school opportunities as I have wanted to get back to that setting for a long time. I just love knowing that I can have the most impact on a student's adult life at this level. Stay tuned for job updates later.

As for the Mono, I am on the mend, finally and am beginning to have energy for stuff other than work.

While contemplating high school, I started a new board on my Pinterest site titled High School Life Skills. I love Pinterest as you can find all kinds of cool and interesting ideas. Check out my Pinterest site here. While following one pin, I found this awesome interactive website called GCF Learnfree.org. You can go to this site HERE.

They have tons of technology tutorials, but they also have  some  real world skills that are interactive. Here is a menu of the skills, besides the technology tutorials, that I thought were wonderful.




 The following are some of the choices you can click on. There is a screen to push that gives you a tutorial on how to play. You can replay it as many times as you want. There is also a print-out of the steps.




This is the screen for Time Sheet. There is a person that speaks. You click to open the wallet and you input the information from the ID card and the small note card onto the time sheet.

Students need to be able to read and follow simple commands in order to do this, but I have always had a few students for whom this would be totally appropriate.  This is an awesome way to practice real life skills before doing it in the real world. In any case, it's free and I will definitely be using it as a tool in my classroom.







Saturday, February 27, 2016

Long time no see

It's been awhile. It's been an exhausting year and one of the first things to go was this blog. First a Hashimoto's diagnosis and recently Eppstein Barr and Cytomegalo Virus diagnoses. What all that means is I am DOG TIRED.  You get the idea.




It's a struggle just to get out of bed in the morning and go to work. I have just enough energy to do what needs to be done and no more. On top of all that, I am planning a move to Colorado and am applying for work down there. This blog has really been the last thing on my mind as I try to scale down what I am doing outside of work and home. However, I am not quite ready to give it up yet as blogging in the past has been a great source of clarification of my day to day role as a special education teacher, as well as personal satisfaction  and a way for me to give back. So  hopefully I will post more as I find out the where and what about my next job as I am in the midst of applying right now. Wish me luck!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

New Schedules

I have 3 new students this year that have very limited academic skills, are low, or not verbal, and/or have many behavioral issues (aggression, running, screaming, yelling and growling, hitting, hair pulling, biting, pinching, kicking, spitting, masturbation, clearing surfaces, throwing things, etc).

The schedule I originally had in place was just not going to work for these three. They are unable to sit in group settings and participate, they can't read, or have low to no academic abilities, poor fine motor skills, and they have very limited abilities to communicate anything. In addition, these 3 need one to one help and I just don't have that support in place yet.

It's a fine balance in creating a schedule that works for a group of students that can read and write and need direct instruction in these content areas, as well as science and social studies, can participate in groups, and can work independently (mostly), and students that cannot do these things and need  a dedicated work space and schedule, and very simple tasks. I have had to go through several changes to my schedule to accommodate these needs and my current lack of sufficient adult support.

This is the schedule I put together before school started. The color coding is for the adults, for example, I am yellow, so that we can tell at a glance which students we are working with, what class period, and what we are doing. I do put together a more detailed schedule of exactly what the Paras are doing with these students, etc. Each column is a student. The schedule changes every 15 min or so and students use either a wall schedule or a binder schedule to transition. There are several Para run centers in this schedule (fluency, Binder, Morning meeting).




 This was my second attempt  a schedule. We got a temporary 1:1 for a student and I added her to the mix. She is the one in Pink. This lasted for 1 day.


This is the current schedule. We went through several iterations of this. But we had a few students with too many needs and not enough help to do a lot of stations. The students that are able, have to do a lot of independent work throughout the day. My students that need more support, are in designated areas and work on a first/then schedule and get frequent breaks and rewards throughout the day. 

So far, this seems to be working. I am still putting together their designated areas and more appropriate tasks, because there is limited time in a day and I am only one person. I hope to have it all up and running smoothly shortly.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Behavior + freebie

We are well into our school year  and I am just now starting to recover. It's interesting how 3 new students can totally change everything, from classroom set up, to schedules, to what I am teaching, and to how much I interact with students. I also didn't fully appreciate the last two wonderful years I had in the same classroom.

Last June, I had 3 students move onto high school. Two were very high functioning, and one was my lowest student academically at that time. All 3 had minor behaviors at best, typical of students with autism. I have 3 new students to replace them and all three are lower functioning than my previous student, plus they have other challenges such as aggressive behavior, elopement issues, and no functioning communication. Their current IEPs did not adequately share their challenges (like not having  FBAs or Behavior support plans), so I have had to scramble to put things in place.

After a disastrous first day, I had my Paras start tracking multiple behaviors for each of them, as well as doing ABC tracking, and I was able to put a few things in place. Here are pics of the forms I used.


 It's so easy to put the the letter down versus writing everything. It's just a faster way to track this. Not sure where I got this form, otherwise I would share it.


  I typically use this form for anything from 1-3 behaviors. I have another one for more behaviors than that. I write specifics down so that everyone is clear on what they are tallying. You can get a copy of this form here.

________________________________________________________________________________



I tracked the behaviors using excel, tracked all of the interventions I tried, as well as a narrative for each student, and then submitted it to the district in order to get more adult support in the classroom. I did receive one long term sub for one of my students due to aggression towards peers on multiple occasions.

 Here is one example of the behaviors I am tracking. I lumped a couple together since they occur at the same time


 Here is what this behavior looks like in graph form.


 Here are some of the interventions I have tried for this student. His main motivation is for sensory input so those are the bulk of the interventions I have tried. The list is longer than what you see here. All of them work, but only for a short amount of time. I am next going to put him on a  varied sensory diet all day long so we will see how that works.


Here is the behavior for another student. The interventions for him have been pretty successful, with the exception of when his 1:1 support person goes to lunch, so I am playing around with that. We tried putting in a male person, but the result was the same. Next up is to change the lunch time of his 1:1 from afternoon to morning, which changes all of our schedules (sigh), but he is calmer in the morning, so it makes sense that this might help.

 These interventions have worked fairly well for this student, but as in everything, we keep trying to improve.

More to come on this topic in a different post.