Have I mentioned how much I love the beginning of the school year? New markers, fresh glue sticks, and the energy to think that I will accomplish all on my to-do list! This year I have several new students. I always love the challenge of getting to know new learners and their families. Here is a peek at the way my first few weeks have looked:
This year we have been implementing visual strategies left and right! My team and I are big supporters of visual cues. Their use reaches far beyond the world of autism, where we implement them as a very successful communication strategy. We share the visuals with general education teachers to be used in so many ways…picture schedules, first/then choice boards, work stations, whole body listening, and behavior reminders. Especially for those impulsive (and young) little learners, it is helpful to use the picture instead of having to verbally repeat yourself. This is so helpful when you are in the middle of a lesson. Once the child learns what the cue means, you can continue reading/speaking/teaching while showing/tapping/giving the visual cue.
I have several students that are learning functional communication skills of requesting, commenting, choice making, and turn taking. I have found that incorporating familiar characters and songs is an easy way to increase interest and participation. I really like using the “Pete the Cat” series of books to start the year. We are able to address a lot of vocabulary and basic concepts including colors, school, food, and actions.
The lessons need to be interactive, so we used the Wheels on the Bus song board as we read “Pete the Cat, Wheels on the Bus”. As we read the story we used the choice board to identify vocabulary. You could certainly cover up some of the choices or only place a limited selection on the board if needed.
The students selected the vocabulary picture, I flipped the binder over, and we put it within the sentence to sing the song. In case you are curious, I just clipped the song board to one side of a binder and the choice board to the other. I sat the binder on the spine and we had an interactive lesson within reach! You can find this song board (along with other song and story boards) in my September packet of Functional Communication Song & Story Boards.
It is always fun to follow up with some movement by standing and singing as we listen to the song, so we ended our session with this you tube clip.
This is also the time of year where I am re-teaching skills that go into answering WH- questions. I recently purchased Speechy Musing’s WH Question – Interactive Book.
My students interacted with the pictures as we sorted who, what, where. Then I used the pictures for visual answer choices. (As you can see, I used a card holder for the cues and sentence strips instead of using velcro in the book.) As an added bonus, there is visual structure in place for students to create sentence. This helps my students working on their articulation skills as well as expanding sentence structure.
And of course we got movin’ and groovin’ with this WH song!
So that’s a little bit about the start of my school year. Up next week…Speak Like a Pirate!!!