Thursday, June 27, 2013

Calendar Time - Morning Meeting

Today I am linking up for the Summer Linky Party over at Sharing Kindergarten. This week's focus for the Linky Party is Calendar Time. I love our morning calendar time (or actually I refer to it as "morning meeting" in my classroom because we do much more than just calendar during this time). It's a favorite for my students too. It is an interactive and fun learning group where we focus on calendar skills, weather, colors and other basic concepts. We pack a lot into our morning meeting each day!  We touch on a variety of goals/objectives during our morning meeting, including choice making, activating a switch, visual tracking, responding to simple questions, name/picture recognition, following directions, reach/grasp/release of items and maintaining attention to task.  

As you read through the descriptions of our morning meeting, keep in mind that my students are non-verbal, some have physical limitations and most of my current students require moderate to maximum assistance to complete tasks.

Below is a picture of my morning meeting/calendar area.  I display everything on the white board and I love this arrangement because it's MAGNETIC! It makes it super easy to grab things on and off the board to show my students up close. I can grab the numbers from the top of the board when we are reviewing numbers or grab the colored shapes when we are reviewing colors. I can even grab the calendar right off the board to show a student up close. The weather cards on the right hand side are removable as well and they are textured so that my students can "feel" the weather.


Here are some descriptions of a few of the components I use during my morning meeting.  I hope someone finds these helpful.

Good Morning:
We start our morning meeting each day by singing a good morning song. At appropriate breaks in the song I say good morning to each student individually and wait for a response.  Students respond by waving, reaching out to shake my hand or activating a communication device to say 'good morning'. This gives the students great practice in responding appropriately to greetings.

Communication and Choice Making:
Morning meeting is the perfect time to incorporate choice making. I use a variety of assistive devices during this time, including: Big Macks, Twin Talk, and Cheap Talks (pictured below)


There are numerous ways to use these devices for communication and choice-making during morning meeting.  Some of the ways I have used them in the past include: 
 - What comes next: I program the Cheap Talk 4 with morning meeting activities to be completed that day.  Students are able to set the schedule for morning meeting by selecting and "telling" me what they want to do next during our group time.   


- Song Choices: Sometimes we sing songs related to our theme for the week.

I give the students a song choice using the devices.- Answer Questions: We use the devices to answer questions during morning meeting: such as how do you feel today, what is the weather like outside, or what day of the week is it?

Attendance/Name Recognition:After singing good morning, we always take attendance and check to see who is here for the day. I have large name cards with each of the student's names. First students select their name from a choice of 2 - 4 cards (depending on what level they are working on... some of the names are paired with pictures, others are just the letters).  Then we sing the Bingo Name Song (sung to the tune of "Bingo.") The student points to each letter of his/her name, while the other students clap the letters. I have 2 paraprofessionals in my room and they assist the other students in clapping while I assist the target student in pointing and/or attending to his/her name.

In this class we have a boy
And Caleb is his name-o
C-A-L-E-B, C-A-L-E-B, C-A-L-E-B
We're glad you're here today!

We review the calendar by first singing a song about the Days of the Week. After the song, I choose a student to recite the days of the week. The students use the I-Pad or Step-by-Step communication device to recite the days of the week. We then review, yesterday was ____, today is ____, tomorrow will be _____.  We also talk about any upcoming events happening that week (CBI trips, assemblies, specials classes, holidays, etc.) and count down the days to that event.

Color Recognition:
We review our colors every day during morning meeting. I have several different color songs that we alternate but my favorite is "Rainbow of Colors" by Greg and Steve.  For this song we use colored streamers which I made from an idea I found on Pinterest! Before the song each student chooses a colored streamer.  During the song they wait for their color to be called. When they hear their color named they hold it up for everyone to see and wave/shake it around.

Counting Poems:
For a short counting activity, I use a felt board with laminated cut-out pieces to illustrate a counting poem. The poem usually correlates to our theme for that week or the season.  Students help count during the poem by using a Step by Step communication device or the I-Pad.  We also have some counting songs that the students really enjoy that I rotate throughout the week.

As you can see our morning meeting/calendar time focuses on very basic skills, but this is what my students currently need. I hope this has helped at least a few ideas for teachers of students with disabilities. I'm looking forward to seeing other ideas shared through the linky party! Thanks for stopping by!


Thursday, June 13, 2013

Let the Summer Fun Begin!

Well... I know, I know... I have been MIA for way too long.  I love the blogging world and reading all of the many amazing educational blog posts on a day to day basis, but for some reason, I just can't keep up with mine!  I'm going to try to do better I promise! 

I am currently out on summer break and enjoying every minute.  In my free time, of course, I am searching near and far for fresh ideas to incorporate in my classroom.  There just doesn't seem to be much out there for teachers of students with severe and profound intellectual disabilities.  Any blog recommendations you have would be greatly appreciated. 

Here are a few of my favorite Special Education blogs:

Adaptations 4 Kidz
How Long is This Hall!?

What are your favorites?!