Thursday, March 29, 2012

Free Oviparous Animal "Report" Template

Hi everyone! Still on a roll doing my lesson plans! I now have another thing to share if you're interested. This is for kids to do a small "report" on oviparous animals. Its really a blank concept map. They fill in the bubbles with the information about the animal they choose, including drawing a picture of the animal and its' egg. This can be good as a complete assignment for students who don't have strong writing skills, since they only have to write a few words or a sentence in each bubble. It can also work as a graphic organizer for information that students can later turn into a short report.
If you want, pick it up through Google docs!
Okay. Now back to the old drawing board for me! 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Free Bunny Writing Promt

Hi everyone! Still working on my lesson plans! Today I wanted to share a bunny writing prompt. It begins with, "One day I woke up, and noticed I'd turned into a bunny!" Students then write a short story about what happened. Once they've finished writing, there is also a bunny picture for them to color, making this assignment worthy of hanging on the wall or including in a portfolio! 

I've also included a "cloze" version, which you may choose to use with younger students or students with cognitive impairments. I'm going to use it with Starling, Triller, and possibly Rosella. The cloze version has a short story already written, but includes blank spaces for students to personalize the story. It reads, "One day I woke up an saw that I'd turned into a bunny! I felt _________. I said, '______________.' The first thing I did was ____________. Then I went to ________. I saw _________. I ate __________. When I turned back into a kid, I felt ________." It also includes the bunny picture for them to color.

I've uploaded it at I used a special font that allows you to make your own lined paper. I embedded the font, so it should reach you the way I intended it to. If not, you may have to fix some things so that it looks right with your own fonts. 

I hope you like it! Later in the week, I'm sure I'll add some more freebies!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Free Bunny Glyph For Kids

Hi everyone! Today is the first actual day of my spring break, and so far I've spent almost all of it working on lesson plans. (I did take a break to watch SVU while I ate my lunch, I took my dogs into the backyard for a while, and I had to clean up after one of my dogs who has diarrhea and had accidents on the floor a few times.) 

I wanted to share one of the products of my genius with you. Next week we're going to be doing Easter activities. (We have to keep them secular, and concentrate on bunnies and things like that more than on the actual holiday.) One of the things I've created is a bunny coloring glyph.

I got the coloring page from a different website. I can't share the picture here, because of copyrighting, but I can share the link with you so you can go get it yourself! Here is the coloring page. 

The directions and key for the glyph are on a Google doc, here

You could either make one copy of the directions and read each direction aloud to the class, so that everyone works on it at the same time (which is good for kids who don't have strong reading skills or who need to work on following verbal directions) or you could give each student a copy of the directions and let them work at their own pace (good for kids with stronger reading skills or kids who need to practice following written directions.) Or, do both! Afterwards, staple a copy of the key to the bottom of each student's coloring page, and hang them up for all to see.

By the way, if you use this glyph with your class, you may have to change the numbers in the first direction. The kids in my class are 9, 10 and 11 years old, so those are the choices I used. You can change them to the ages of the students in your class, of course. 

I hope you like this! I love glyphs! 

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Spring Week

I am officially on Spring Break! Hooty-hoo! I wanted to share the spring Language Arts activities that I did this week! 

Lets see. On Monday, we read It's Spring, by Linda Glasser. Then the kids had to come up with a sentence about their favorite part of spring. That was the day that the fourth graders were on a field trip and Towhee  was absent, so only Kite, Starling, Triller and Rosella were there. The activity had to be pretty simple for them.

On Tuesday we read Quiet Bunny's Many Colors. I cut out flower shapes from index cards. I colored the backs of them with colors that corresponded with the colors in the book. On the front of each flower I wrote a comprehension question about the part of the story that matched the color. After I read the story, I showed the kids only the backs of the flowers. Each student had to pick a flower and answer the question. I really love this book... its very cute, and it has a good message at the end! 

On Wednesday, we read Spring Is Here, by Will Hillenbrand. This time, I tried a DRTA, or Directed Reading and Thinking Activity. Basically this just means that you keep asking them to predict what will happen next, and also keep asking them to check if their predictions were correct. Most of the kids did really well with it. Since I kept on talking to them throughout the whole book, they stayed really focused. 

On Thursday, we read Hooray For Spring, by Kazuo Iwamura. I did another very simple activity. I made a felt board by covering a piece of cardboard with black felt. I printed out some characters and items from the story, and glued them on pieces of felt. Before I read the story, I gave each student a character or prop. When the character or prop came up in the story, the student had to come and put it on the felt board. At the end, I asked for a volunteer to retell the story using the felt board as a reminder.Kite volunteered, and did the job well! 

On Friday, we did an activity that was kind of unusual. I had actually read about it in a blog. I can't remember which one, but if it was yours, feel free to let me know so I can give you credit for your idea! We read the story, When Will It Be Spring? by Catherine Walters. I covered the book with paper ahead of time so they couldn't see the illustration on the front. Before I started reading, I passed out clipboards with sheets of paper, and colored pencils. I told the students that I wasn't going to show them any pictures, and that their job was to listen and draw what they imagined when they heard the story. Most of the kids did very well with this. Want to see what they drew?

Martin drew a mama bear and a baby bear outside of a house. There are a bird, a butterfly, and a fire somewhere in the picture too. Aside from the fact that the bears were in a cave and not a house, this was a pretty good illustration for the story. 

Kite also drew a house. She had the mama bear inside the house calling the baby bear to come inside. She also drew a fire, snow, and a butterfly, which were in the story. 

Jay didn't even get to hear the whole story, because he was at some related service or another, but he still managed to draw a nice spring scene after he heard the ending of the story!

This is one of my favorites, by Towhee. On the top, he drew all of the things that the baby bear thought he was seeing, and on the bottom he drew the things that were actually happening. This was a very good illustration for the whole story! Towhee showed that he was really listening and understood the whole story. 

Here is another one of my favorites... for a different reason. Starling drew this. You probably can't tell what it is at all, because Starling just grabs colored pencils or crayons and scribbles frantically, the way a very small child would. However, when I asked her, she told me it was a picture of bears. For Starling to grasp that the story was about bears, without being able to see any pictures, was a pretty big thing! 

I think this was a really nice activity to do on the day before spring break.  We might have to do it again sometime, because the kids really liked it! 

In other news, I was observed by Professor A for the second time at this student teaching placement, the other day. She observed me doing my reading group. I was super nervous because my reading group consists of Starling, Rosella and Triller, who are on a preschool reading level or below. We use the Early Literacy Skill Builders curriculum with them. These three kids have a very hard time staying on task. In fact, they have a hard time staying in their seats instead of running around the classroom or laying on top of the table! But this ended up sort of working to my advantage. Professor A commented that my reading group was difficult to manage and that I did a great job teaching the concepts while also managing the behaviors. She said I was so patient and gentle with them, and kept the activities moving so they didn't have time to misbehave too much. In fact, she didn't have anything negative to say this time! I was so excited! 

Over spring break I need to be writing my plant unit, and also putting together a somewhat more informal Easter unit and chick and egg unit. Got any ideas? 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Do You Like Chicks?

I do! And I am so egg-cited (sorry, couldn't resist) that my classroom is going to have some!

They'll start out as eggs, of course. They'll spend a few weeks in an incubator. After about 21 days they will hatch... and then... we'll actually be able to hold and pet them! As a total animal lover, I couldn't be happier about this. I am planning to get in lots of  "chick time" when the kids are not in the room.

 (At first I was concerned about what would happen with the chicks after they left us. A few years ago I found out something terrible about the chicks born in the petting zoo area of our local zoo. You probably don't want me to tell you about it. But it made me never want to visit that petting zoo again! However, Mrs. Eagle assured me that the company that sends us the eggs also takes back the chicks, and they produce more eggs for schools. Even the ones that are born with disabilities get to be "rehabilitated" by a local 4-H boy!)

I am going to be taking over "Units," which is basically just a classroom time in which we do anything that doesn't fit into reading, Language Arts, math or handwriting. So, crafts, creative writing, games, etc. Since I've been there, Unit has almost always been some sort of writing activity, such as making a list of spring words or writing a story about what you'd do if you met a leprechaun. But other activities are acceptable too.

So... guess what I am about to ask!

I wondered if anyone out there has ideas for egg and chick themed activities! I thought the Internet would be filled with lesson plans, but there are barely any. The ones I've been able to find are sorting pictures of animals that lay eggs versus animals that don't, making a countdown poster to count the days until they hatch, and a craft that involves being able to open and close a clothespin so it looks like a chick is hatching from an egg. I'd love to hear any other ideas you may have! Bring 'em on!

And now for a funny moment... a conversation I had with Triller. One of the school nurses is retiring, and the kids were supposed to be writing about the things they remember about her. Triller cannot write, and needed one-to-one assistance. Usually a teacher will coax some words out of him, put them into sentences, and write them out on the paper in light colored marker. Then, Triller can trace them. So here is what Triller came up with.
Me: "What does the nurse do for you?"
Triller: "Hammer!"
Me: "No, I don't think she uses a hammer! Lets see. She puts a thermometer in your ear to check your..."
Triller: "Lights!"
Towhee (evesdropping): "She doesn't work for the electric company, Triller!"
Me: "Hmmm. How about, if you fall and hurt your knee and you're bleeding, what does the nurse put on it?"
Triller: "Knife!"
I never met the nurse who is retiring, but she must be a very violent nurse, to be treating children with hammers and knives!

Thanks for reading, everyone! Please let me know about your egg and chick ideas!

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Kids

I have gotten to know most of the kids in my student teaching class really well. Jay is the one who follows me around the most. Whenever the students ask me questions, I try to take them seriously and either answer or help them find out with the Internet, a book, or whatever. However, if you have ever met a kid with autism, you know that when they get a topic stuck in their head they will never stop questioning you about it! In Jay's case, he'll ask the same questions over and over again. A few weeks ago his topic of interest was the movie Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs, and he was forever asking questions like, "Why was the sky red?" and "Why did the mayor keep eating and eating?" and "How come it rained food?" 
Now he is fascinated by outer space, especially the Earth's revolution. Every time I turn around, Jay is standing one inch away from me asking, "Is the Earth moving right now? Is it moving slow or fast? How come I can't feel it? Does it ever stop? What does the sun look like from Neptune?" At first I took time out to help him look it up online and we found animations of the Earth rotating around the sun. I also tried to show him, with the globe, how the Earth spins. But since he asks many of the same questions, over and over and over and over and over, I sometimes want to yell, "YOU ALREADY KNOW THE ANSWER!" I think he just wants reassurance that the answer hasn't changed... the Earth is still rotating and revolving, just like it was twenty minutes ago. 
One day someone told him that the sun is going to explode millions of years from now, and Jay talked about this all day. He kept telling me, "Pretty soon our sun will explode." I explained to him that millions of years from now is not "pretty soon," that it is very far in the future. In fact, I told him, by that time we might have a new planet to move to! This fascinated Jay, and he wanted to know what the new planet would look like, and what it would be called. 
I told him I didn't know. "What would you name a new planet?" I asked him.
In complete seriousness, and without missing a beat, he replied, "Jay."

Martin is a kid who cracks me up. He also has autism but is very verbal, and you never know what will pop out of his mouth. The other day he asked me, "Miss Read, do you want to see horrible movies? I want to see horrible movies." (I think he meant horror movies. I told him to ask his mom." Another day, while I was helping him with his reading assignment, he suddenly asked me, "Is Abraham Lincoln going to be okay?" 
"Well, Abraham Lincoln died a long, long time ago," I told him. I think he was remembering our unit on Abraham Lincoln last month, in which we learned that Honest Abe was shot. 
Martin kept asking, "But is he going to be okay?" 
I kept telling him, "He died many years ago."
Finally Martin asked, "Is he in there?" I finally realized he was remembering the statue at the Lincoln Memorial. He thought Abraham Lincoln was inside the statue, frozen, alive and miserable! I tried to explain to him that the statue was just art work, similar to something he might draw. I don't think he completely believed me. 
And then, today, the class was busy making birthday class for Mrs. M, a teacher's aide whose birthday is tomorrow. Towhee wanted to write "Feliz cumpleanos" on his card, which prompted Martin to ask me how to write "Happy Birthday" in French. I told him I'd look it up on the computer and write it down for him. But as soon as I was on the computer, Martin said, "No! No! No! Not French! I want to say 'Happy Birthday' in Polish! No, Greek! No, Albanian! No, Russian-Russian-Russian!"
I looked it up but found that, since Russian involves some different symbols than our alphabet, it would be pretty hard for Martin to write and pronounce. I convinced him to just write it in French, and I wrote the words out for him.
A few minutes later, I checked on Martin's progress. Sure enough, he'd written, "Joyeux anniversaire," across the top of the card. Beneath that, he'd drawn a picture of a large cross, with grass growing underneath it. "What's that?" I asked him. 
"A grave!" he replied happily. 
I tried to explain to him why Mrs. M might not like getting a birthday card with a picture of a grave on it. "A grave is sort of a sad thing, and birthdays are supposed to be happy," I said. Not to mention that she might think he was hinting that she was old! 
Martin agreed to make a new card, but first he wanted to show the other teacher's aides his picture of the grave. He ran up to one aide, holding the card in front of him, and yelled, "The power repels you!" 
Finally he settled down with his new piece of paper, and asked, "Would flowers be okay to draw?"
"Yes, flowers would be wonderful," I told him.
He drew a flower on the new card, followed by a list of Spanish words that include an ñ. I'm sure Mrs. M will enjoy it!
I'm really enjoying student teaching. There's no such thing as an ordinary day! 

Friday, March 16, 2012

Saint Patrick's Day Language Arts

Hi everyone! I just finished my second week of teaching Language Arts! I think it is going really well. I try to help the kids get into the books and really enjoy the lessons. Sometimes it works. My Skippyjon unit is still considered a big success, in their eyes! This week the kids went to the school library, and they all begged the librarian for Skippyjon books! The school library only had two, and Rosella and Kite were the ones to check them out. Kite was also heard asking the music teacher to buy her a Skippyjon book! LOL! I guess that just proves my theory that Skippyjon encourages kids to read! 

This week I did a Saint Patrick's Day unit, for obvious reasons. Here's what we did. 

Day 1... I read them St. Patrick's Day, by Gail Gibbons, and we made a KWL chart on it. The kids were very interested in the KWL chart. They came up with lots of contributions for the K and W sections. For the L section, after reading the story, I usually let them look through the book to help jog their memory. (On the chart, the clover and rainbow are disguising the name of the teacher's aide whose birthday is St. Patrick's Day!) You may notice that someone asked "Why is he green?" in the W section, referring to St. Patrick. Most of the kids had this misconception that St. Patrick is actually a leprechaun. I tried to explain to them that he was actually a person who lived long, long ago. I showed them the illustrations of St. Patrick, and talked about the parts that discussed his life, to make sure they understood. Then at the end, after we completed the chart, I went over what we had learned. I asked, "So, who was St. Patrick?" And about four kids chorused, "A leprechaun!" Sigh. At least I tried! 

Day 2...We read both Jack and the Leprechaun, by Ivan Robertson, and The Leprechaun's Big Pot Of Gold, by Patricia Reeder Pubank. The Leprechaun's Big Pot Of Gold is actually a board book. When I bought it I thought it might be too simple for the kids. However, there aren't that many St. Patrick's Day books in existence, and I needed enough for five days! So I bought this one. And actually, the kids liked it better than the other book! I think because the cover is shiny, and there are a cute dog and cat in the story. We did another Venn diagram comparing and contrasting the two books. I want to do a Venn diagram every few weeks so that it sticks in their head!

Day 3... I read The Last Snake In Ireland, by Sheilla MacGill Callahan. Its basically a retelling of the legend of how Saint Patrick got rid of all the snakes... but there's a twist at the end!  Before reading it, I explained that a legend is a story that is about a real person, but the story itself has been passed down throughout the years and nobody knows for sure if it is true. I asked them again, "Was St. Patrick a real person?" and, thankfully, they replied, "Yes!" My plan was to read the story and then have them all tell whether they felt the story was true or made up, and give a reason. However, towards the end of the story, five of the eight kids got pulled out to go to Social Skills. (Social Skills wasn't scheduled for that time, but the social worker had some spare time and wanted to make up minutes the kids missed during ISAT week.) The kids that were left were Rosella, Starling, Triller and Jay. Rosella, Starling and Triller are the kids with the most cognitive impairments, and Jay has mild autism and was probably busy daydreaming about outers space when I read the story, so the activity sort of fell to pieces. I showed my power of flexibility and dismissed them to free time!

Day 4... We read St. Patrick's Day Alphabet, by Beverly Barras Vidrine. I had printed out a small picture to represent the word for each letter of the alphabet in the book. Each kid got three or four pictures to hang onto. I brought in a poster board. As I read about each letter, the kid holding the matching picture had to come and stick his picture onto the poster board. At the end, I gave them sheets of St. Patrick's Day stickers and let them decorate it. They loved this! The picture of the poster is at an odd angle, because the only place we could find to hang it was up above the bulletin board, and I had to look up with my camera! 

Day 5... We read The Night Before St. Patrick's Day, by Natasha Wing. We did a simple story map on it, which I didn't take a picture of because you probably know what a story map looks like. The kids were pretty good at identifying the characters, setting, beginning, middle and end. They also really liked the story, and Towhee even noticed it's similarity to The Night Before Christmas. After reading it, I made a pie chart with a "slice" for each person in the room. I asked each student if they thought leprechauns were real, or made up. For the students and teachers who thought leprechauns were real, I colored a slice green. For the students and teachers who thought leprechauns were made up, I colored a slice blue. Want to see the results?

Happy Saint Patrick's Day, everyone! Come back next Friday to hear about my Spring unit! 

Friday, March 9, 2012

My Skippyjon Jones Week!

Hi everyone! I told you I'd tell you more about my Skippyjon Jones language arts unit at the end of the week. It went really well! Personally, I think the Skippyjon Jones books can be a little hard to follow. For instance, I am still not really sure what was going on in Skippyjon Jones In The Dog House... a bobblehead was involved, and a very old chihuahua spitting beans out a window... hmm. But I do also think Skippyjon Jones is a very loveable character. And the kids love the rhythm of the stories. In each of the Skippyjon books there are parts where Skippyjon or his friends, the Chimichangos, burst into song. I always sang these parts, putting the words to simple tunes that I thought were kind of Mexican sounding. The kid loved this, and they'd all laugh in delight and try to sing along! They also loved that Spanish words were involved. Rosella and Kite both speak Spanish as their first language, so they were able to translate the Spanish words for the other kids... and many of the other kids just love hearing Spanish words even if they don't understand them. (They are constantly telling each other, "Sientate ahora!" and "Escuchando!" because they've heard one of the teacher's aides, who also speaks Spanish, saying these phrases to Rosella a hundred times.) By the end of the week, almost all of the kids were able to tell me that the Skippyjon Jones books are about a cat who thinks he's a chihuahua, who goes into his closet and has adventures, and who has chihuahua friends called the Chimichangos. The fact that they could tell me that shows comprehension skills that they don't very easily show!

Here are the language arts activities we did for the week. On Monday we did the context clues activity that I told you about the other day. Tuesday we used the reading comprehension spinners. Wednesday we made a character map describing Skippyjon Jones, which unfortunately one of the kids erased before I could take a picture. 

On Thursday I introduced them to Venn diagrams. We read Skippyjon Jones And The Big Bones, and then we compared and contrasted it with the book Skippyjon Jones In Mummy Trouble that we'd read the day before. I was kind of excited that almost every single kid... including Starling, the student who is the most severely cognitively impaired... was able to come up with either a similarity or a difference. 

Today, we read our final book, Skippyjon Jones Lost In Spice. This time we did a sequencing activity. I made eight sequencing cards. It was a little complicated. I picked eight important events in the book, scanned those entire pages, cropped them and shrunk them down to small pictures, typed a simple sentence underneath each picture, printed them, cut them out, glued them onto index cards, laminated them, and added Velcro circles. I numbered a poster board one through eight, and put the other sides of the Velcro circles under the numbers. After we read the book, each student had to come up, find the sequencing card that happened next in the story, and put it in the right spot on the board. When all eight cards were on the board, one of the students volunteered to "retell" the story in the correct order. Here's our "story board!"

As our final activity, the kids and teachers in the classroom voted on their favorite Skippyjon stories. I made a chart ahead of time, with a picture of each book. I gave everyone one of those little round price stickers, and they had to stick it next to their favorite book. It sort of made a bar graph! Then we figured out which book was the most popular book in the class. 

So that was my Skippyjon week! 
Afterwards, I set out all of the books on a table and told the kids they could read them during free time or Silent Reading. They were all so excited! They all wanted to flip through the books, look for the singing parts. Its kind of crazy when you have eight different kids begging you to read them five different books, all at once, during free time! I think that, for eight kids with special needs, whose abilities range from below preschool to about second grade level, to be excited about the same series of books, says a lot about that series!
So, thanks, Skippyjon! 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A Successful Observation!!!

Hi everyone! I told you earlier that I was planning a Skippyjon Jones week for my first week of teaching Language Arts. Little did I know that my professor, Professor A, would decide to schedule her first observation on my very first day of teaching something! I was so, so nervous... especially considering the fact that my last observation at the preschool didn't go so well.

I talked to Mrs. Eagle about how nervous I was, and about some of the things that Professor A criticized me about at my last observation. She suggested some ways that I could make sure to manage certain kids' troublesome behavior... :;cough cough Rosella cough cough:: and gave me some last minute hints. She also suggested that we would talk ahead of time about what the kids should do afterwards, so I could successfully transition them to their next activity at the end of the lesson. And finally, I decided to bring stickers. These kids are suckers for stickers!

Professor A showed up, and the kids greeted her exuberantly. There were only six kids, because Jay is still sick from when he went home early the day of our field trip, and Martin went home early today after ralphing in the garbage can in front of the whole class. (Of course the kids told Professor A that story right after they told her their names!)

I asked them all to go to the carpet for Language Arts. Rosella started acting up and refusing to sit down, but I took Mrs. Eagle's advice and started praising all the kids who were sitting down, and Rosella took her spot! I introduced Skippyjon Jones. I read it to the kids with as much feeling as I could muster. When I came to the Spanish words, I stopped and asked the Spanish speakers in the room (Rosella and Kite) what the words meant, and they were proud to translate.

My lesson plan was on using context clues. So I had used highlighter tape to mark some of the tougher words in the book, and I had made corresponding word cards. Throughout the book, when I got to a hard word, I would stop and ask the kids what it meant. I tried to model using context clues to figure out what a word meant. For instance I would say, "Skippyjon is wearing a mask because he wants to be incognito. What does that mean? If you're wearing a mask, do you want people to know who you are?"

After finishing the book, I had the kids take turns picking a word card. We would then find the word in the book, I would reread the passage, and they were supposed to figure out what the word meant. This was extremely hard for them, even though we had already talked about the meanings of every word. I had thought looking at the pictures might jog their memories. But it was very tough. For instance Oriole thought "enraged" meant "beans," just because he saw the word "beans" on the same page. I tried to give them multiple choices, such as, "If someone has stolen your beans, how do you feel? Glad, or angry?"

Finally, I transitioned them by showing them the mini-book they were supposed to make, giving them their stickers, and sending them to their desks.

By that time, my mind had gone blank! I was just surviving minute by minute! But Professor A was smiling as she asked me to go to the teacher's lounge with her.

There, she actually complimented me! She said that she loved my lesson plan. She said she loved the way I read the book, and that my love for the story really came through... that even Mrs. Eagle and the aides were leaning forward in their seats and listening to the story! She said, "You must have a really strong background in children's literature!" (Uh,,, I took the one children's literature class the university requires, just like everyone else... but thanks!) She said that I seemed very happy and that the children seemed happy too. She said, "I think you're really coming into your own here!"

This from the lady who, three weeks ago, said that my chances of ever getting a job interview were slim and that I might do better as an aide.

I'm reading all five of the picture book Skippyjon books this week. Next week I'm doing St. Patrick's books. The week after that I am doing books that were made into movies... I found out that Shrek, Night At The Museum, and Mars Needs Moms were all originally picture books, as well as the obligatory Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs and Where The Wild Things Are. One thing I wanted to ask you guys is for language arts activities that can be done while kids are sitting down, like during a story time. We have comprehension spinners, which I've used a few times already. I've also planned in  two Venn Diagrams, a character mind map, a story map, some sequencing cards, a KWL chart, and a discussion on whether a legend about St. Patrick is true or false. Are there other activities you can do that don't involve worksheets? We don't have a smart board. I do have a small white board to use by the story area, and I can make some things as well. Any suggestions? I need to plan five more weeks of Language Arts activities!

I look forward to hearing from you! You all always have great ideas!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Kind Of A Nice Day

Hi everyone! I had kind of a nice day today. The local special recreation organization takes the special ed students from all the area schools on monthly "Leisure Education" field trips. Today we got to go glow-in-the-dark mini-golfing!
The kids were split into groups of three. Mrs. Eagle and I both had a group together, since technically I am not supposed to be alone with students while student teaching. (Its a liability issue.) Our group consisted of Triller, Jay, and Rosella. It was a lot of fun... even though Triller (who has a cognitive impairment and has a lot of trouble focusing) kept swinging his club so high I was afraid it would take Jay's head off about five times, Rosella kept running off into oblivion (now that I know her better, her behavior issues are starting to surface) and Jay got sick half way through. Poor Jay had to go to the nurse as soon as we got back to school, and she ended up sending him home. I sat with him on the bus on the ride home... he kept asking me to sit with him, even though the bus was big enough that everyone could have their own seat. I couldn't exactly say no to him! But now I feel really germy. 

Funniest moment of the day... Since it is Read Across America week, Mrs. Eagle had printed out some Dr. Seuss themed activity pages for the kids to do during down time. One of them was a word search. I was in charge of the four more "high functioning" kids in the class... Martin, Oriole, Towhee, and Kite... Mrs. Eagle worked on Alternative Assessments with individual kids and the aides worked one-on-one with the "lower" kids. 
The word search had some really long, difficult words in it. You know how some of Dr. Seuss's books get really creative with the wording! I had a feeling that it was going to be sort of difficult for some of the kids, particularly Oriole, who has a lot of trouble reading. The person I thought would have the most trouble of all is Martin. He has autism, and also some mild cognitive impairment. However, Martin surprised me by whipping through the word search! Since I doubted Martin could actually read most of the words on the list, so I thought perhaps his very visual mind might be picking out the words more quickly than the other kids. I was pretty impressed, and told him so. "Good job, Martin, you're pretty good at word searches!" 
It was taking Towhee, Oriole and Kite a little longer to finish their word searches, but they were also doing it a little more quickly than I would have expected. Maybe I had underestimated them!
Then I noticed that Oriole seemed to be circling strings of letters that were right above, below, or next to, the actual words he should have been finding. I thought maybe he was copying off of one of the others, so I asked him, "Where are you getting your answers from?" 
"Right here." Oriole pointed to the bottom corner of the page. There, in lightened ink, was an answer key! 
"The answers are right there on the page?" I asked incredulously.
Oriole nodded. 
"Is that where you're all getting your answers?" I asked Kite and Towhee. They nodded, without even looked up from their work.
I looked at Martin. "Martin, did you copy your answers from the answer key?"
"Yes," he said matter-of-factly. 
I guess he isn't a secret word search wiz, after all!
Later I clued Mrs. Eagle in. "Did you know the answers were on the bottom of the worksheet? I thought they were doing such a great job, but they were all just looking at the answer key!"
Mrs. Eagle chuckled and replied, "Well, at least they used their problem solving skills!" 
I guess she's right... the fact that they all noticed the answer key and used it, is probably good news... on some level! 

Have a good weekend, everyone!