Thursday, May 28, 2009

Mother's Day Poll

This was a segment my class at church did in honor of Mother's Day. You can maybe use it with your class at school.

My students thought of interesting questions to ask about their mothers: Can your mother sing? Is your mother afraid of dogs? Does your mother like King's Dominion? Does your mother owe you money?

Then we polled the class (not the actual mothers, although YOU can poll the mothers if you like). Then we presented our findings before the church.

It was a fun program and different from the usual - sing a song, give away flowers, read a poem - that our children often do in church.

The funniest part was to find that several mothers, according to their children, owed their kids allowance money - inlcuding one daughter who meticulously keeps a record and said her mother owed her $111.63!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Eyes Opened After Videotaping Myself

I started videotaping myself in my classroom while I'm teaching. I got the idea from the criteria for National Board Certification. I thought I would go ahead and get used to videotaping myself and answering related questions that the National Board requires you to answer when obtaining your certification.

What an eye-opening experience!

Not only did I look like I have a mustache and I looked better in that loose, brown shirt than I thought I did, but I noticed that my kids are even more talkative than I thought. I immediately came up with behavior intervention plans for them, which I implemented today.

In my guided reading group, I wrote an agenda on the board (I always have my own lesson plan)with a movable arrow beside it and put RE in charge of moving the arrow as we moved to a new task. I created this agenda with him in mind to help him stay focused and it worked today.

I also started reward systems for two different groups of kids that I work with. I noticed on the video that I don't praise enough. So, in each group, I will constantly notice on-task and productive behavior and I slip the deserving child a token (in one group it's beads and in the other group it's stars made of felt). For every five tokens the child gets a piece of gum or a mint. Maybe later I'll add a prize bag instead, and I'll up the ante from five stars to 8 or 10. When I hand them the token I tell them very succintly and specifically why they earned it. (i.e., You went right back to work after that interruption. Or, you've been working hard for five minutes.)

Today, my fourth graders showed better behavior and they got so much more work done today.

I look forward to the afternoon session with the sixth graders. Let's see how it goes.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Relief for Stutterers

If you have a student with a severe stuttering problem, you should visit the website to learn about a device that may help. Also, go to youtube to find videos about the device and see it in action. It sounds like a miracle for severly dysfluent speakers.

Behavior Therapy for My ADHD Student

One of my lovely darlings has been without his Concerta all week long. His parents wanted to see what effect it would have on him. It was interesting for me to see as well. In small group situations he was unfocused and would repeatedly say, "It's hard [to make himself work]." I would assure him that I understand but we must keep trying.

In class he was not only unfocused and not working, but he would pick with other children. On a positive note, his sense of humor and his energy and exuberance just get magnified when he is not subdued by meds. He is a really creative kid and I can see him becoming an engineer someday.

Does anyone know of effective behavior therapy resources in the Washington DC area for ADHD kids?? In class, I've started a new behavior chart this week, with a reward (a stick of gum or five minutes free time) every fifth time that I catch him being good. I also seat him away from the group to work if he talks too much and I check up on his progress a lot more often. I tell him specifically what I expect him to have finished before I circulate back around to see his work.

Maybe with effective behavioral intervention, he can get off meds and have the best of both worlds - his wonderful personality with self-regulation.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

I've got some studying to do!

Well, the Praxis I was SO EASY (I did not study for it at all) that I thought about taking the Praxis II sometime this summer instead of waiting until my graduate school studies are done next spring. A coworker let me borrow her Praxis II prep book. I took 4 of the tests in it and scored 68% on the SPED Core Principles test. (My aim was 8o%). I scored 56% on the Mental Retardation test, 40% on the School Psychologist test (taken for fun), and 84% on the Elementary Education Content Knowledge test.

I knew I would pass the content test, but I reallly thought I would do better on the SPED test and Mental Retardation tests. I've got some studying to do!

Friday, May 8, 2009

What is a Resource?

I often hear educators saying that schools need more RESOURCES to solve various problems. Oftentimes, this translates to more money, but there are many cases where money has not equalled improvement.

I began my own list of RESOURCES, and I think people should be very specific in making their needs known.

Ø More personnel (nurses, teachers, principals, assistant principals, clerical office staff, aides, counselors, librarians, security officers, technology support staff, tutors, and academic coaches).
Ø Textbooks/Workbooks
Ø Trainings on specific research-based interventions
Ø Assistive technology (i.e., calculators, word processors, computer programs)
Ø Classroom supplies (i.e., posters, dry erase markers, chart paper, alphabet charts)
Ø Student supplies (items that students would keep in their desk) (paper, pencils, notebooks, scissors)
Ø Teacher supplies (grading book, files, file cabinets)
Ø Computers
Ø Printers
Ø Xerox machines/copier paper
Ø Uninterrupted planning periods
Ø Understanding and justice??
Ø Greater security measures
Ø Reliable Internet connection
Ø Sufficient awareness of district resources (i.e., tutoring options, parent education centers)
Ø Adequate classroom space
Ø Pleasing and safe school environment (including exterior areas, playground)
Ø Sufficient parking for teachers
Ø Money for field trips
Ø Easy telephone access
Ø Classroom furniture

There are other needs that teachers have that may not qualify as "resources," but are truly necessary to maximize a child's education. They include:
Ø Fewer class interruptions (announcements, assemblies)
Ø Support from administrators when they discipline students
Ø Student motivation
Ø Parent motivation
Ø Paraprofessionals and Service Providers who work effectively with students

Friday, April 10, 2009

Ideas for Getting Assistive Technology

I attended a presentation about various assistive learning technologies such as Inspiration/Kidspiration and Kurzweil Reading Software. I really want to convince whatever school I will be teaching at next year to invest in some good assistive technology.

Here are some ideas I can try. I can get the software on a 30-day free trial, use it with several students, and document their progress diligently. Then I can show the results to my principal. Another method is to ask the presenter to come in and talk with the principal , or better - the entire staff, and get their positive (hopefully) reactions. Third, I can contact the DCPS Office of Assistive Technology and see if they have appropriate software to loan. Finally, I can just buy the software myself and be sure to show the principal the positive results.

Now, those are just ideas from someone who has not had to to convince a principal to buy expensive equipment for special education students before. Have you tried any techniques for getting principals to invest in special education?