Age Appropriate Materials

Discussion in 'Special Education' started by SpecialTeacher, Aug 2, 2007.

  1. SpecialTeacher

    SpecialTeacher Rookie

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    Aug 2, 2007

    Hello all. I'm going to be a first-year teacher (we start on the 20th). I'm teaching a Jr. High-ish class (ages 13-15) in a center-based special education school. My students are all severely disabled, none of them has any functional language and only one walks at all. My question is, how do I develop some lessons and obtain materials that are age-appropriate? These guys aren't little kids and I don't want to treat them like they are! The problem is that stuff that's on their learning level is so little kid-ish. Help please!
     
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  3. bcblue

    bcblue Comrade

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    Aug 2, 2007

    Unfortunately, it seems like working with this population we are left to develop our own stuff alot of the time.

    Boardmaker is VERY helpful. Does your school have it?

    One thing I do, for ELA type stuff, is I take grade/age-appropriate books and break down each chapter into 2-5 "events" and use picture symbols for each event. So when we read each chapter, I use picture supports to make that accessible. And my students are very low also. It's mostly receptive, but you're addressing attention, can be working on developing picture vocabulary, and are in the context of age-appropriate.

    Cooking is always age-appropriate, and addresses skills at all types of communication and motor levels.

    You can develop themes around functional vocabulary using picture and object supports--community places, places in the school (office, gym, cafeteria, etc), safety words (stop signs, police, etc). For a science unit I like to do adjective picture vocabulary, and comparisons: big/little, hot/cold, heavy/light, empty/full. You can do very simple comparisons, and push it farther for the students who can go farther.

    I don't know--those are some brainstorms--I've been teaching life skills (severe) for 3 years now, so not forever but I'm happy to brainstorm more if you have specifics. And there are a lot of people with fabulous ideas floating around these forums.
     
  4. Chokita

    Chokita Comrade

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    Aug 2, 2007

    Think about what general ed kids of age 13-15 like and bring that to the classroom! It could be magazines for teenagers, comic books, books about Harry Potter, CDs with modern music (what you hear on the radio, not that childish stuff). Books about motorcycles, cars. Treat your students as regular teenagers.
    And of course, modify your instruction according to their needs.
     
  5. bcblue

    bcblue Comrade

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    Aug 2, 2007

    Right, b/c you can incorporate items like Chokita mentions into choice-making goals, communication goals, social goals. . .
     
  6. SpecialTeacher

    SpecialTeacher Rookie

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    Aug 3, 2007

    Thanks so much for your help! I know this is a big deal to my new principal so I'm extra nervous about it.
     
  7. AspieTeacher

    AspieTeacher Comrade

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    Aug 17, 2007

    I started at a high school with severe to profoundly disabled students. The room was totally unequipped to work with this population. The parents were blaming me for lack of equipment and materials. The highest functioning student in the room was 14 years old and functioning at 2.5 years a the most. He was a very violent Down's Syndrome kid. He had a 1:1 aide and I almost quit because I didn't expect this. The parents were "angry" their children weren't being taught? I was given the California Teaching Standards and I was "told" I need to adapt the academic standards for high school students to the level of severe-profound students. I had six wheelchairs and 2 paraprofessionals. The female only changed the girls or escorted them to the restroom. I assisted with lifting them onto a changing table. The aide was in her mid 70's for crying out loud. I had to do most of the lifting (I had severe back problems). I'm just being realistic about this population. When they are little, they are cute. When they get past middle school, reality sets in. They are still babies in the body of a teenager or adult. I'm sorry, but I worked with this population for two years and that was ENOUGH! Try going out on community trips with just 3 adults and 9 students? I didn't like it at all. I did my best just to survive, it wasn't teaching it was glorified older aged day care.

    AspieTeacher
     
  8. crazypineapple

    crazypineapple Rookie

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    Aug 17, 2007

    I can really relate to your concern: A self contained SID unit in a general education middle/high school can feel very isolating at times. Bcblue and chokita have excellent recommendations to which I would like to add.
    * Your first week of school, get to know your students and get their feeding, toileting, medication routines set. Determine what each of their "yes/no" responses are as this will be very helpful in finding out their likes and dislikes, figuring out what is bothering them if they are "acting up", as well as moving on to more academic areas.
    *You will probably have a variety of specialists popping in and out of your classroom trying to set up schedules. Try to schedule your Speech Language Pathologist during your class "morning group/morning meeting"
    * When you schedule community skills, I would recommend Tuesdays because they are least likely to be cancelled due to government/religeous holidays.
    * Use some of your community skills days to shop for ingredients for cooking activity. You can tie the cooking activity to the season or a literacy activity in your classroom. Also, if any of your students receive vision support or occupational therapy, try to schedule them during cooking because it can be a great multisensory activity for these therapists to work with your students.
    * You can use the local newspaper in plannng your "morning meeting" with your students. Read a news story, but you can also read the movie reviews for "High School Musical 2" and the like.

    One student can use a communication device to give the "meteorologist" report. Another can water the classroom plant and give the "horticulturalist" report. Another can feed the fish or other classroom critter(s) and give the "vetrinarian" report. Another can take an envelope of papers that need to be delivered (such as attendance, lunch count, etc.) to the front office and be the "mail carrier". Yet another can describe the schedule for the day and perhaps say the pledge of allegiance with AAC to be the classroom "secretary".
    * the classroom "librarian" can be in charge of using a cause/effect switch to play a book on tape during lunch/leisure time. Lemony Snickett is often available in our public libraries and isn't too terribly young for your group.

    Sorry for going on and on....try googling "jessie moreau"....She is an outstanding teacher who now works for our state in devising age and cognitive level appropriate materials. This year, I hope to get her power point activity on the Odyssey (Odysius, get thee to Penelope!)

    Good luck!!
     
  9. Chokita

    Chokita Comrade

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    Aug 17, 2007

    Was it at a special ed center? Which one if you don't mind me asking?
    I understand that we all have to use CA content standards, but for severely handicapped kids there is an alternative curriculum, SEACO, which is really good and realistic! A lot of these kind of classrooms just use life-skills curriculum or it could be CBI classroom which makes more sense for this population.
     
  10. AspieTeacher

    AspieTeacher Comrade

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    Aug 17, 2007

    Chokita,

    This was way before they implemented SEACO. It was at a high school campus, Montebello High School. I work for the county. So you can see what I meant by they have unions to protect them too.
     
  11. fratbrats

    fratbrats Comrade

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    Aug 17, 2007

    Was it in Ventura? I used to live there and loved it!:wub:
     
  12. crazypineapple

    crazypineapple Rookie

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    Aug 18, 2007

    I have taught in Georgia for six years. I was in a self-contained SID/PID classroom in a typical public high school for my first two years. For the past four years, I have taught in a center-based special education school. Because we are accredited as a "school" and not a "center", we have to use the Georgia Alternate Assessment (GAA) as our standardized testing (we still use the Fredericks, Vulpe, Syracuse, etc. for assessment).

    Under NCLB, our kids still have to participate in standardized assessments. The whole process has been ...ahem.... challenging:eek:

    We incorporate their iep goals into the standards and strands of the GAA. Even so, one can find herself staying up late nights because she has six students in four different grades and therefore has to adopt all six strands of each grade into the classroom and then modify the corresponding twenty four lesson plans such that the students can truly participate.

    That said, I am really proud of the portfolios I submitted on my students. Are my students with IQ's below 25 understanding concepts of astrophysics? No. Are they being exposed to fun activities that explain how the earth, moon and sun rotate around each other? Yes.

    How does CA work with NCLB and IDEA?
     
  13. Chokita

    Chokita Comrade

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    Aug 18, 2007

    My understanding is that in California if a child's IEP says that he can follow an alternative curriculum (if he is severely handicapped), then you use special alternative curriculum called SEACO and don't have to follow grade's level standards. You can pick and choose appropriate standards from the whole K-12 span standards. So if you have a span of different ages in your classroom and you are on a special ed campus, you don't have to choose a grade-level standard for each student.
    There is also an alternative testing for severely disabled students.

    People for CA, please correct me if I'm wrong.
     
  14. SpecialTeacher

    SpecialTeacher Rookie

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    Aug 18, 2007

    I use SEACO with my kids. My district just adopted a set of pacing charts that all Mod/Severe folks are using with their kids using the SEACO standards. At first, I was really freaked out but now that I'm settling in to it I'm liking it. It really helps a new teacher like me focus my lessons. Is anyone else doing something like that?
     
  15. Chokita

    Chokita Comrade

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    Sep 16, 2007

    SpecialTeacher,
    Believe it or not, but I just got a job at a special ed center in Los Angeles, also Jr.High class, very low-functioning kids, multiple disabilities (severe). I start on Tuesday. This Monday I'm planning to go into the classroom at look at my students and meet my assistants. I already saw the classroom yesterday, and there are very few materials!!! Oh my God! Does it always happen to new teachers? It looks like I'm going to have to spend a lot of my own money this year!

    I would like to keep in touch with you, Special Teacher, so we can share our ideas, since we have similar classrooms!
     
  16. crazypineapple

    crazypineapple Rookie

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    Sep 16, 2007

    Absolutely! I would love to help! Talk to your new principal or lead teacher about what classroom funds are available to you. You may have a school purchase card or some such that you can use to spend on classroom materials.

    Also, talk to the students' speech teacher about ordering communication devices or other assistive technology if necessary. He/she would at least be familiar with the process of how to do so if not able to "take the healm" on that one!

    If you do spend your own money on materials (which to some degree is always inevitable), SAVE your receipts for tax purposes. You can at least deduct all that. You can deduct up to $200 without receipts, I believe.

    I don't know if I'm telling you stuff you already know or if I'm making your stomach churn!

    Breathe deep...this will work out!

    Let me know what type of materials you are looking for. For lesson plan ideas (to modify, of course!), check out enchantedlearning.com. That can at least get you going while you get familiar with your students' health/medical needs and schedule figured out.

    Remember: when we accomplish the impossible, the boss says it's our job from now on!

    Keep in touch!
     
  17. crazypineapple

    crazypineapple Rookie

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    Sep 16, 2007

    Chokita,
    Sorry, I was only half awake when I was checking email. I now see that you weren't addressing me actually (I got a notice that there was a response on the discussion thread on my personal email and just started typing away). I still would like to help if I can. Good luck!
     
  18. fratbrats

    fratbrats Comrade

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    Sep 16, 2007

    That makes me feel good, that I'm not the only one staying up late, trying to find materials that 5 students at five different levels can do, matching the curriculum for their 2 grade levels, and addressing the IEP goals. May I also add, no conference period nor a lunch break without students. And, 32 hours of inservice since school began 3 weeks ago, 3 young children of my own, and my husband's in the military (out of town). So, I'm very overwhelmed!:confused:
     
  19. crazypineapple

    crazypineapple Rookie

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    Sep 16, 2007

    Oh my goodness! My husband is in the military, too (often out of town). We don't have children, but I joke that the hours my work requires doesn't exactly facilitate that situation changing.

    I've reached a point where I accept that there are only so many hours in a day and that there is only a finite number of things I can do. I try to prioritize the time/crisis management at work in order of juristiction: fed, state, county, local school. It is unfortunate that the very things we might enjoy about classroom teaching (perhaps making an eye catching bulletin board, or planning a truly fun and enriching field trip) are the very things that get pushed to the bottom the priority list.

    Here's one "trick" that helps me sometimes: When I find myself in a particularly useless inservice, I take out my calendar/notebook and start writing my grocery list or lesson plans or some such. I look up at the speaker very pensively and nod periodically and resume writing. It looks so much like I'm paying attention that I've had a colleague look over my shoulder to see what she "should" be writing!

    (Arugula?!)

    I know this doesn't put more time in your day or rest on your body, but it is one technique that helps keep me from cooking my body in my own hyper-tension juices.

    Keep in touch!
     
  20. fratbrats

    fratbrats Comrade

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    Sep 16, 2007

    I did that the other day when I had an inservice that lasted 5 hours, that she could have taught in 2. We had computer access, so I was able to get some emails answered, order an organizer from Lakeshore, and change my billing for before/after school childcare. So, I try to take advantage of every moment, except for yesterday when I was the "walking dead" and stayed home, accomplishing nothing! That's how most of my Saturday's have been thus far. Take care!
     
  21. Chokita

    Chokita Comrade

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    Sep 16, 2007


    crazypinapple, oh, of course, I would love to hear from all of the special ed teachers, from you too! I think I'm going to need a lot of support the first year of teaching! Thank you for your message! It was very helpful! :)
     
  22. Chokita

    Chokita Comrade

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    Sep 29, 2007

    Does anybody know of any CDs/websites with "Good morning" songs that are appropriate for middle-school/high-school kids (special ed)? All of the morning songs that I could find are too childish (preschool stuff). I've heard that there are some Morning songs that are more like rap/hip-hop style, but where do I find them? I would really appreciate any advice.
     
  23. crazypineapple

    crazypineapple Rookie

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    Sep 30, 2007

    Not sure...I would love to know too!
    I combine a couple of "Greg and Steve" with a sound effects CD. ("Revilree", "Charge", "Applause", etc.) for attendance and completion of morning jobs. Wacky, perhaps, but it keeps the morning lively and relatively age appropriate.
     
  24. SpecialTeacher

    SpecialTeacher Rookie

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    Oct 4, 2007

    I just attended a training for Handwriting Without Tears and they had a pretty good "Good Morning" song with the curriculum. It was to teach shaking hands and right hand from left hand. I'm pretty sure you can get the CD on their website and it's not too babyish at all. I use Greg and Steve in my room (8-11 grades, severely disabled). I know it's not age appropriate but my kids love it and they love the sign language that I do with it.
     
  25. inhisgrip20

    inhisgrip20 Comrade

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    Nov 1, 2007

    Hey Crazy,

    Where are you in Georgia? How's the GAA going this year? :) I'm staying up late nights with you! :)
     

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