What's going on in Room 125?

Weekly Update: 11-29-12

on November 29, 2012

Hello Room 125 Families! I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and a great week back at school and work. Here are some highlights from the week:

Mat Man

In the past few months I have participated in several professional developments about writing. I have been engaging in a good amount of discussion, research, and reflection to brainstorm how to incorporate writing into our classroom. This includes building fine motor skills and overall writing-mechanic skills, as well as using writing to communicate a message. While continuing our frequent work to build fine motor skills, we will also take many steps towards writing to communicate a message. The first step in this developmental process is to draw a picture to tell a story. This means making meaningful decisions to draw a logical picture that can be linked to an event or idea. To start learning this process we have spent the week learning about “Mat Man” from our handwriting curriculum, Handwriting Without Tears. If you were here last year, you may remember Mat Man as we did a lot of work with him. This year we will focus even more on creating Mat Man to learn about purposeful drawing. The next step will be to change the details of Mat Man, such as making him happy or sad, adding hair or glasses, coloring clothes, or personalizing him to be a real person. From here we can start to tailor Mat Man to represent real people and events, which is a critical step in the development of writing with meaning.

You can support this by drawing Mat Man at home and using him to represented things you did as a family. Perhaps you can even draw a family portrait using the Mat Man ideas. Anything we can do to show that Mat Man and other drawings can represent real ideas and events will help communicate the purpose of writing.

Using the Handwriting Without Tears Curriculum we both build and draw Mat Man. See below:

Looking Lesson

Every year in addition to individual student goals, we set classroom goals. Our big goal this year is to set and maintain eye contact in response to your name being called. This is an important social skill for all students. The first step of this goal is to make eye contact for 1-2 seconds in response to your name being called when there is no ongoing activity present. Here are some ways you can practice at home:

1. After you say your child’s name and they make eye contact reward them with praise (“Good looking!” , “Great job looking at my eyes”, “You looked at my eyes!” etc) and perhaps a favorite toy or other special item.

2. If your child does not make eye contact when you say their name, point to your eyes and explain where they need to look. Then try again and praise.

3. If your child needs more support to make eye contact, start by holding the item they want up to your eyes when you say their name and praise when they look by giving the item. You can also place your hands on either side of their head (without touching) and move towards your eyes to serve as a guide for where to look.

4. Consistently follow through to make sure that your child looks at you everytime you say their name.

5. If your child is successful with this you can expand to they next steps: maintaining eye contact for 3-5 seconds and/or making eye contact in the presence of an ongoing activity.

Rethink Autism

I mentioned in an early weekly update that I am participating in a professional learning community with many of the other teachers of students with autism in DPS. We meet monthly in different classrooms to discuss topics relevant to teaching students with autism and to share our experiences. An important piece of this learning is a pilot program with an online program called Rethink Autism (http://www.rethinkautism.com/). At our last meeting we had a webinar about this program and this week I’ve really started to explore and utilize the site. This is an amazing resource! This site includes a training center with videos and tests about different aspects of recognizing and teaching students with autism, assessments and lesson libraries to determine appropriate standards-based lessons for students, data tracking, behavior monitoring, and more! I am still just starting to figure out the site, but very excited about it’s implications for our classroom. Having an organized way to keep and share (with the team) data about goals will help me track students’ progress and keep instruction data-driven. The training videos will allow for the whole team to continue to review important ideas and strategies, while allowing us to have common language and be on the same page about instruction. Also, student profiles will be maintained so that when they move to another teacher, that teacher will be up to date on their instruction and progress, supporting an easier transition to a new school. I believe there are some resources for parents on this site, such as webinars, but am not as familiar with this aspect. I’d love to hear about it if some of you decide to explore! Let me know!

PJ Day!

Edison’s Good Citizen club is hosting a Pajama Day tomorrow as a final push for our Penny Harvest. Send in a dollar to support our school’s service project and wear PJ’s for a fun Friday!

Location Determination Discussions

Make sure to talk with me if you haven’t already so we can touch base about the location determination process for next year. As you know, 2nd graders will graduate to a new classroom at the end of this year.

As always, please contact me with any questions or ideas about what is going on in Room 125. There are a lot of things you can extend at home, so feel free to talk with me about ideas specific to your child, and/or things that you have been doing at home.

Have a great weekend!

-Ms. Wales



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