Sunday, September 29, 2013

Classroom Choreography Part 5: Table Time

My students participate in table time activities three times during the day. As I showed in my schedule, the majority of our instructional day is comprised individual teaching sessions and a variety of stations. One of our stations is table time.

During the first rotation, table time includes the completion of a short unit activity. The activity is typically a unit themed worksheet and may include sorting pictures by size, cutting pictures apart, identifying the letter of the week, coloring a picture, etc. The students complete this activity individually with a parapro or teacher education student. The other students are rotating through the computer, play, reading, work stations, or listening center with another para's supervision.

During the second rotation, table time includes the completion of a variety of work tasks. These tasks are kept on two shelves within reach of the table. There is a huge variety of tasks- from simple fine motor to color matching to sequencing. Tasks are chose for the child based on their goals and ability levels. Usually, several tasks are placed at each seat at the table and the child or children rotate around the table as they complete each task. A para supervises this while the other students are rotating through stations.

{table time rotation}

{table time storage}

{simple table time tasks}
During the third rotation, table time includes the completion of a touchmath activity. One para reviews the touchmath numbers and assists some of the students in completing a touchmath worksheet. The other students rotate through stations or work with the other para at the Alphabeats station.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Classroom Choreography Part 4: Story Time & Movement

In addition to my main circle time, we have two other times during the day that we come together for more "circle time." It is easier to call everything that we do on the rug "circle time" so that the kiddos can make that connection between our circle time visual and sitting on their spot on the rug.

At 9:30, we have our second circle time. We all sit on our spots and go over our circle time rules. Then, we read a book. On Monday, we always read our unit book from our Read It Once Again Unit (or watch a youtube video of someone else reading it!) and on Friday we read or listen to our nursery rhyme for that unit. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday we read a book related to our unit. Right now we are focusing on pets so I have a couple of books related to dogs, cats, etc. This is how story time begins every day:

(Holding up book)
Teacher: What is this?
Students (modeled by paras): a book
Teacher: (Showing sign for book) What do we do with a book?
Students: We read it.
Teacher: We read a book. We turn the pages and look at the pictures.
(Begin reading)

(Finish book)
Teacher: What do we say when we finish a book?
Students: The end.

It sounds silly to write that down but I think repetition can be so beneficial for our kids.

After reading our story we always sing the ABC song. I usually say something like "Let's sing the alphabet song. I forgot how it goes, can you sing it?"

Then we always count to 5. We'll move up to counting to 10 at some point. I usually pull some teddy bear counters out of my rainbow box- emphasizing that I am taking them "out" and putting them "on" the rug. As I pull each one out, we count it- up to 5. Then I discuss putting them back "in" the box and we count them as I drop them back in.

Because this circle time is so short, all students typically sit for the entire time. Both paras are in my room during this time and they sit on the rug and model appropriate behavior. They also model appropriate answers if my students do not immediately answer. They handle any behavior issues during this time, using visuals as needed, while I focus on reading.

At 1:45, right before dismissal, we have our final circle time. This is mainly a music & movement time in which I play youtube videos & we dance. We work on following directions, improving our gross motor skills, interacting with each other, and we have A LOT of fun. Probably the most fun of the whole day. Here are a few of the songs we love the most:

this one
this one
this one
and this one

After a song or two we have "Question time"- each student is asked one or several personal information questions-

What is your name?
How old are you?
Are you a boy or girl?
What is your teacher's name?

Then, I always end with "do you want a hug or a high five before you go home?" All of my students either say hug or go in for a hug every day. I have yet for a student to ask for a high five! Precious:)

Monday, September 2, 2013

Classroom Choreography Part 3: Circle Time

My main circle time occurs first thing in the morning, right after my kiddos finish breakfast. Upon entering the classroom, the students unpack their backpacks (with many verbal, physical, gestural, and visual prompts:)) and are told to sit on their "spot" on the rug. They are given a toy to play with while I take attendance and get the lunch count in. When I'm finished with that, toys are "finished" and circle time begins.

I have a layered circle time- an idea I was shown at my first TEACCH training many years ago. This means that my circle time is broken up into sections and that students transition to other activities throughout the circle time. The students know what to expect because of my visual circle time calendar displayed on the board. As it becomes time for a child to transition to another activity (usually because they are having difficulty focusing or sitting still), they are shown the "finished" picture and my para helps them to transition. Some days all of my students remain throughout the entire circle time- other days only one child is remaining at the end. Everyone has to sit for at least the first 3 activities.

{1}Circle time always begins with the Get Ready for Circle Time PowerPoint. This PowerPoint shows students how they are expected to behave during circle time. They love it.

{2}Second- we sing and say good morning. I change up the song everyday. Sometimes I use songs from an old CD I have and some mornings I use YouTube videos. I like to keep the activity the same- this one being "Good Morning"- while changing the actual contents of the activity. Here are some of the optional songs we sing:

this one
and this one
and this one

{By the way, I keep all of my circle time stuff in a "circle time" folder on my desktop- separated by activity- such as "good morning" or "shapes."}

After singing a good morning song, the students either say good morning to each other (sometimes using whisper phones) or-if nonverbal- wave or activate iPad button.

{3}The third thing that we do every morning is what I call "words." Last month we learned school words. This month we are first learning body words. These are our 10 vocabulary word. I alternate between showing them illustrations, real pictures, real objects, or a PowerPoint of pictures. I ask the same questions everyday- usually something like "What is it?" followed by "What do you do with it?" This is an example of last months:

(Show pic of bus)
T: What is it?
S: Bus.
T:What color is it?
S: Yellow.

(Show pic of backpack)
T:What is it?
S: Backpack
T:What do you do with it?
S:You wear it on your back (pointing to back)

These are the same questions that are asked during their unit assessment. Expressive students answer the questions verbally as stated above. For my receptive kiddos, I may say "Point to the thing you wear on your back." Or I may say "What do you do with it?" and if they can point to their back, I take that.

**FYI- Some days circle time ends here. You know those days- don't judge.**

{Optional Activities} After our words, I choose 1-4 more activities, including-but not limited to- letters, numbers, shapes, colors, game, story, nursery rhyme or song.

Letters. We learn about our letters! I usually do this one right after the words activity because most of my kids seem to like letters most of all. Here are some of the activities I choose from:

this one
or this one (they love!!)
or this one
or play with this SB activity
or play this one
or this one
or singing the good ole fashioned alphabet song
or an iPad game
or writing a letter on the whiteboard and letting them trace it with their finger
or ANY letter activity

Numbers. We have a number of the month that will come into play later but for this activity, we look at all numbers. Here are some of the activities I choose from:

this one
this one
this SB activity
or this one
or I pull out some teddy counters
or we count on the number line
or we count students
or we count teachers
or we count fingers
or we use an iPad counting app

Shapes. We have a shape of the month but here we usually talk about all basic shapes.

they love this video
this one
or this one
this SB activity
or I pass out shapes and they ID them before they put them back in the bucket- we use a carrier phrase "I seeeeeee the __" and some of my nonverbal kids approximate the tune of it.
or I pass out pieces from a shape puzzle and they ID them before they put them in

and most of the time I just draw the shapes on a whiteboard and they point to the one I say

Colors. We have a color of the month but here we look at all colors most of the time.

love this one
or this one
or this one
or this SB
or I pass out teddy bears and they have to ID color before putting it "in" the bucket- again using above carrier phrase

or I use a BM sheet and they have to point to the color requested

Nursery Rhyme. We have a nursery rhyme of the month and either say it or watch it.

Game. Sometimes we play the tickle game. They have to ask for more tickles- practicing taking turns too. Sometimes we play bingo with our unit vocab.

Story. Goes along with unit.

Song. They get to choose from communication board.

New final activity. Okay- I'm just starting this activity tomorrow. We will do it everyday to conclude circle time. I'm really excited about it. On the schedule it will be a balloon. The balloon will be the color of the month. When I blow said balloon up, it will display the shape of the month. I will have a visual that shows the countdown until the balloon is let go. The countdown will be the number of the month. This is how this month's will go:

(Show balloon)
T:What color?
T:(Blows up balloon; shows shape) What shape?
T&S:3, 2, 1, GO! (Teacher lets go & the crowd goes wild:))

We'll see. They may not be nearly as excited about it as I am.

I'll then show the finished sign and we'll transition to work time.

Okay- so that is circle time. I keep all of my circle time materials in a plastic organizer with 3 drawers and all of my visuals and communication boards in a folder divided by activity type. This makes it easier for my para or sub when I'm out. I try to not use too many videos and have a good mixture between incorporating technology and using good ole fashioned manipulative. But hey- my kids are so motivated by technology so I don't feel too bad about using it a good bit.