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Saturday, August 13, 2011

Let the Learning Begin

I spent two days last week learning techniques to use with students who have autism. The LASSO (Language and Social Skills Opportunities) classes use a variety of approaches in the classroom and I am familiar with some of them from my work with younger students. Learning what to teach older students will be my brain stretch this year. Thanks to a4cwsn (Apps for Children With Special Needs) for a weekend of sale prices on the apps for my iPod and iPad. Now all I need is some time to play with them and learn how to use them. a4cwsn has videos about each app, so I may take some time each day to watch them. For those of you with children who have special needs, Gary James does a great service by running this web presence. He also gives away free iPads to children in need.

I was stressing out on the making of TEACCH "work systems" since I have none, but I discovered in the classroom there were a few things that I didn't recognize when I was first there. I hope I will have enough to get started on Wednesday. I will be needing boxes and margarine tubs, baby jars (plastic) and applesauce/fruit cups. Luckily, I checked out my laptop when I took the training, so I have Boardmaker here at home. I have also ordered the rather expensive Tasks Galore for the Real World, by Laurie Eckenrode, and I am finishing A Land We Can Share: Teaching Literacy to Students With Autism, by Paula Kluth, this weekend.

Any tips you all wish to send me will be appreciated as I venture into this new area of education.

I am watching Harry Potter and I truly am glad I don't have to teach at Hogwarts!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Beginning My Last Year

Two good things happened to me today as I went to my new classroom to get it ready for the fall. First, I can actually raise or lower my room temperature as much as 8 degrees! This could be a first for me - a classroom that is not too hot or too cold. Second, the pencil sharpener worked! Last year the kids drove me crazy sharpening and sharpening and sharpening until there wasn't much pencil left.

This is the time of year that teachers' moods are hopeful, but sobered by unpacking materials that remind us of the specifics of our job that are so difficult. Special education teachers may have twelve students at many different levels of reading, math, social skills and daily living skills. It's so hard to walk the delicate balance between challenging them and making the learning too hard. (I don't think I've ever made it too easy, don't know why.) Hats off to Matt Damon for putting into words so much of what I believe about education.

Finally, I always try to have a theme for the year. One year, it was "Humans swim in an ocean of language," Mark C. Baker (The Atoms of Language. 2001) Please excuse the informal citation there. Last year, it was "Children of the Future". This year, because I am reading Paula Kluth's You're Gonna Love This Kid, I decided to put up "You're Gonna Love This Class!"