Wednesday, December 14, 2011

oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree . . .

We've been crafty lately, with mixed success.

My guys tried to make the traditional, white paper snowflakes one morning this week. I'd been in an IEP meeting, and came in about ten minutes late and tried to do it with them. . . no go. Two problems: our imaginations aren't very big ("What do you mean, just cut out shapes? Which ones? Where? But I don't want mine to be different!") and our cutting skills just aren't too great, considering we can all kind of be perfectionists. It didn't exactly work out.

All of my morning sweethearts made Christmas trees, though, and they look amazing. I saw the idea on A Special Kind of Class and wanted to go for it. We used die-cut circles and stars, and I punched out billions of colored dots to use as ornaments. I think they turned out adorable!

The one in the middle is by one of my darlings. Mine is left, the assistant's is right.

My friends that are in my class during Literacy Block as well wrote a sentence to go with it, then typed it up. Someone is missing, BTW; I have more than two during Literacy.

They all loved it, especially the hole-punch ornaments (the custodial staff hates me.) They look so cute in the hallway, too. The only thing I was conflicted about was the typing. When one particular little darling writes, no one but me can read it. I've been letting him type after he edits any time that our work goes into the hall. I want to recognize his awesome ideas and let him put up something his classmates in his other class will oooh and ahhh over when they see it, but I don't want to send the message that his handwriting is hopeless or an unimportant skill . . . 

Anyway, I'm really glad they had an awesome time and felt successful with this. 

Saturday, December 10, 2011

stupendous snowflakes!

I feel like I've posted mostly about logistics, or little funny situations, or quotes from my class. I haven't talked much about what we're actually doing.

So. Here we go.

Normally, we have at least one activity a day that specifically targets following directions. Now, we follow directions all day at school, but I usually try to work on this behavior during a fun activity (a game, a craft, etc.) that is relatively non-threatening and doesn't really involve heavy academics. This keeps lack of academic skill and low motivation from being huge variables in the activity.

I was looking for a winter time craft that we could put up in our room when I ran across  a tutorial for snowflakes on Teaching in Flip-Flops. I immediately wanted them in my room. . . but I wasn't so sure that the activity would go that well with my guys and girl. She has third grade regular ed, while I have mostly first (and one second) graders with low tolerance of group activities, low rates of following verbal directions, etc. Also, first graders generally don't have the same fine motor skills as third graders. 

I decided we would try. And . . .

It went amazingly well! There were some hiccups:
- My guys wanted to pick their own colors, so we don't have an amazingly coordinated winter wonderland. I did not even bother to fight this battle; I only gave one prompt for how cool it would be if we had all blue/white, but they didn't bite. One even said, "Snowflakes are not blue, anyway." True that.
- They didn't have a whole lot of success with the cutting part. After we made one with them doing it all by themselves, I did all of the cutting/stapling and they did all of the folding/taping. Teamwork! I think if we ever do this again, I will get them into triangles and draw cut-lines on them prior to the activity. 
- One of my kids flat out was not interested. Could not have cared less. After the first mandatory snowflake part was done, that was it. She read a few books to herself while the boys got amazingly crafty. 
- I didn't have any fishing line or something transparent, so the black yarn is kind of a buzzkill. I'll be prepared next time.

Here are some pictures of our success!

This one was our "All By Ourselves" one, with extremely limited assistance. There were many do-overs, but they loved the finished product. They did two more mostly independently (not pictured.)

These two were our "I'll cut/staple, you fold/tape" ones. 

dear general ed teachers . . .

Do not jerk a child by the chin to get him/her to turn their face towards you under the premise of teaching eye contact. That child will then come to my room and jerk my chin in their direction when I eventually (and inevitably) speak to them without making eye contact (we're all a little autistic sometimes. . . ) Now you have that child invading people's space without permission, being rough with others. . .  And this child? Is not making eye contact with me, either, so now he/she is grabbing me by the chin while staring over my shoulder while nervously telling me, "Some teachers make you look at them. You have to."

You didn't just teach a pro-social skill. You just put me three steps backwards on the target behavior I was working on (asking for permission to touch/hug/etc.) and made both the child and I uncomfortable.