Circle Time and other group activities

Discussion in 'Special Education' started by inhisgrip20, Aug 17, 2008.

  1. inhisgrip20

    inhisgrip20 Comrade

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    Aug 17, 2008

    Just looking for some fresh ideas to use with my crew during Circle and other group times. If you have a daily Circle Time with your students with significant disabilities, would you share how you run your circle, ways you incorporate assistive technology and promote interaction from your students who are non-verbal or have multiple physical disabilities. Thanks in advance. :)
     
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  3. teachersk

    teachersk Connoisseur

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    Aug 17, 2008

    In the severe/profound cross-categorical classroom that I worked in last year, we had a morning circle time.

    We had a big mack switch (the single switch) that was programmed with "Good morning!" and each student hit the switch and shook the teacher's hand.

    We put the number on the calendar to show what day it was. We had another big mack switch that was used to say the full date for students who are non-verbal. Verbal students were prompted to say the date while pointing to the parts (today is MONDAY, JUNE 3, 2008..) etc.

    We sang a song about colors... "If you are wearing blue... touch your toes! IF you are wearing blue... touch your toes! If you are wearing black do jumping jacks!..." etc.

    We sang "Texas Our Texas" (state song for us in TX... I've moved to NJ now) --- each child has an adapted version of the song (picture cues) on laminated cardstock... paras point to the different parts of the song... students with more complex AAC devices have different lines of the song programmed into their devices...

    We do the alphabet, days of the week, months of the year, and numbers 1-20. (Using various songs, multi-sensory techniques, adapted song-lyrics pages, etc.) Students with AAC devices have these songs and portions of these songs programmed into their devices - along with options to answer questions when asked (What day of the week is it? What number comes after 7? etc.)


    On another note:
    In my Moderate/Severe classroom - we also did "sounds" songs --- such as "bobby baker's band" -- there are parts where the song focuses on the B sound and goes "bah bah bah" and my non-verbal and limited verbal students can participate in this type of song by making the beginning sounds. (Cathy Bollinger's music - "Singing Sounds")
     
  4. teachersk

    teachersk Connoisseur

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    Aug 17, 2008

    A group literacy activity that I found to be very engaging and appropriate for my classroom:

    Choosing various storybooks to read to the group and creating flash cards with words and pictures on them that relate to the story. (Three little pigs --- cards would be: wolf, pig, house, brick, straw, etc.)

    Then, while reading the story, I can hold the cards up to make the words become more noticeable and expose the kids to the words and their meaning. For simple comprehension, you can say "who blew the house down??" -- lower functioning kids, you just put the wolf card in front of them and they have to point to it (or hit a switch to say the word) -- higher functioning kids you can give them 2 or 3 choices and they have to choose who blew the house down.... etc.
     
  5. inhisgrip20

    inhisgrip20 Comrade

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    Aug 17, 2008

    I love the group literacy activity teachersk, thanks! That would be very appropriate for my group.

    I forgot to mention of my 5 students, ALL are non-verbal, some know 2-5 simple signs, and all use simple AAC devices (no more complex than 4 choice buttons at this time) to communicate and make choices. Some of the activities I currently do during circle are:

    -Big Mac switch programmed to say "Hi"

    - We sing days of the week song, and students velcro the date to the calender, also have a Big Mac switch programmed to say the day of the week

    - Textured weater symbol cards... one student goes to the window and reports the weather, chooses the appropriate weather symbol and then all students are shown the card and asked to "look at" and "touch" the card (cotton balls for cloudy, puff paint for rainy, yarn hanging from tree for windy, and gold glitter for sunny)

    - We sing directional songs such as "Clap your Hands" song that goes through lots of hand motions for students to imitate... clap hands, roll hands, wiggle fingers, rub hands, etc.

    - Felt board counting stories that usually go along with our theme for the week. Students help count using a Step-By-Step device.

    - Lots of other songs that we have programmed into their device, or give choices for on their device, or use props for them to hold.

    I like the color song you mentioned too TeacherSK, was that on a CD or did you guys just sing it?

    I'm definitely going to incorporate the literacy activity. I usually print pictures and display on a felt board as I read, but I like how you take it a step further and have the kids answer questions and stuff.

    Any other ideas would be greatly appreciated. Sometimes I feel like I get stuck in a rut and I love to have fresh ideas. :)
     
  6. Ghost

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    Aug 17, 2008

    I have the community signs (stop, don't walk, etc.). The kids either "read" them or do the sign for them. They take turns doing the weather reporting, again verbally or by picking out the right icon and sticking it on the chart.

    For counting activities, I downloaded Hip Hop for Students (or something like that) and the kids sing with it or take turns using the pointer to point to the numbers. We sign a couple different songs about the days of the week. I really need to incorporate some of those physical motion activities. We do lunch choices with pictures and they choose or put their name on their choice. Calendar is the same as everyone else.

    A bit later in the year, instead of getting their name tags or saying their own name, I'll have them read/get a peer's name tag. Then a bit later in the year we'll add last names to the mix. I don't have any devices :( My student who uses them is in the hospital and his is with him (imagine that!).

    We have the hard of hearing unit in our school, so I try to incorporate a lot of signs along with verbal directions and icons.

    We finish with a read aloud....and I've been doing predictable books that the kids know and follow up with activities that go with it for craft time, like for Chicka Chicka Boom Boom last week..I read the book to them and later, we colored a coconut tree and put letter stickers of our names on the tree. Very cute!

    I haven't decided if we will do our student of the month activities during circle this year or not. I'm leaning toward it.
     
  7. inhisgrip20

    inhisgrip20 Comrade

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    Aug 17, 2008

    Someone else mentioned Hip Hop for learning in another post. I'll have to check that out, thanks. I'm always looking for new music that'll keep my students interested. I have the same kids for years at a time so I know they get bored with the same songs. What type of activities do you do for student of the month? You sparked my curiosity. :)
     
  8. teachersk

    teachersk Connoisseur

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    Aug 17, 2008

  9. Ghost

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    Aug 18, 2008

    The student of the month gets to help pick our discussion questions (what is your favorite color, etc._) They can bring a family member in for lunch one day. On Fridays, they get to bring in something for show 'n tell. Sometimes we'll let the student pick the song to sing or which story to read. They get to have their picture taken with a crown and we post all the goodies on a special "Star Student" bulletin board. We make a small book for them to take home at the end of the month to share with their families. That's most of it.
     
  10. positiveautism

    positiveautism Comrade

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    Aug 18, 2008

    What great ideas! Have any of you had difficulties with getting students to sit in circle time and participate? How did you work with that situation?

    Thanks!

    Nicole
     
  11. inhisgrip20

    inhisgrip20 Comrade

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    Aug 18, 2008

    Honestly I haven't had an issue with getting students to sit for circle. All the kids seems to really enjoy it because it's so interactive, they want to stay. Imagine that! lol Now, I do have one student who can get a little disruptive at times during circle. I remove him from the circle for a few minutes until he can calm down and then he comes back.

    I recently learned of the TEACCH "group time" approach called "The Layered Group." Basically group time would have 3 layers... the first layer would be interactive, lively songs, and very concrete activities... the second layer would add more concepts and language based activities... and finally the thrid layer would be more advanced, conversational language type activities. After each layer you would dismiss students who have shorter attention spans or become disruptive to proceed to the next activity on their schedule, while the remainder of the group continues. After the second layer you would do the same. The goal would be for them to leave circle on a good note rather than after they've already gotten disruptive or upset. It's a very interesting article...

    http://www.psychiatry.unc.edu/teacch/structuresuccess.html
     
  12. teachersk

    teachersk Connoisseur

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    Aug 18, 2008

    The Layered Group works VERY well! We utilized all of the TEACCH strategies in my old Structured Teaching classroom. It's great to "build up" the success of each child, because they eventually stay longer and longer. We didn't ever have a specific "okay now you are dismissed" time - it was more of a feel it out each time type deal. If we saw a kid getting ancy, we'd have him answer one more question and then quietly have a para move him to another area. So kids were coming and going all of the time and it wasn't a set "LAYER 1: COMPLETE" type thing. We eventually got all of the kids to stay the entire time - and be completely engaged! We just built up to it.
     
  13. inhisgrip20

    inhisgrip20 Comrade

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    Aug 18, 2008

    Teachersk, I really wanted to try this with my group this year, especially for my one student who can become disruptive. Sometimes I know it's because he's been sitting in one place for too long. But here's the problem. He's so easily distracted. I know if he were dismissed to another activity he would be so worried about what everyone else was still doing in circle, he couldn't focus on his new independent task. Did you ever have that problem?
     
  14. teachersk

    teachersk Connoisseur

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    Aug 18, 2008

    Do you use any of the other TEACCH methods in your classroom? If you are familiar with the transition cues that TEACCH uses - this is something that is VERY effective for exactly what you're explaining. In case you're not familiar, I will explain it. A transition cue is something that is given to the child that either A) tells them to go check their schedule to see what their next activity is... or B) the cue is the actual transition itself (such as, a picture of the leisure area, or work area). Since I'm pretty sure you have a lower-functioning group, the cue would likely be the next activity itself. If you were having him go to the leisure area, he would have a picture of the leisure area given to him. When he got to the leisure area, there would be the same picture, posted on the wall, or area boundaries (in a spot that makes it obvious that this is the leisure area) and the child would place his card either directly on top (with a velcro piece), in a pocket directly below, or some other way to show that he's "matching" his card to the leisure area card. This works INCREDIBLY well in getting kids to become independent. You can do this for all of the areas of your room. The child can be given the cue and then know "I am supposed to go HERE." If they don't know exactly what "here" is... they at least know they're supposed to match the picture. If he/she has a hard time matching digital photos, you can do a thick colored border to help with the matching. Have the one he matches it to also with the same color thick border. Now, in your kid's case, I would have him go to an area where he would not be able to SEE circle time - because it's obviously a distraction for him. If you have an independent work station that he could go to and begin work, this would be optimal, preferably one that is facing the wall and has some boundaries around another side so he can't see what's happening. You could have 2-3 work boxes in his area. Are you familiar with the TEACCH work systems? You can have a work system (which shows him what work he is supposed to be doing and what he gets when he's done). This is another factor of the "independence" that TEACCH works towards. Ideally, he would be given the cue, go to his desk, match the cue card to the one on his work station desk, and begin work. The cue card would be right by the new "work system" showing him what to do. This may be totally confusing in an e-mail - but if you're familiar with a little bit of TEACCH you may understand what I'm saying.

    An example of a work system would be... say the kid really likes Spiderman. You could have three work bins. Each one of them would have a different color index card with spiderman on it. (say a red outline, blue outline, and yellow outline). On his actual work system chart on his desk, there would be a red square, a blue square, and a yellow square (same colors as on spiderman cards, if he's not very good at matching colors, perhaps the same spiderman cards with outlines). He would then have to pull down the bin with the red spiderman on it, place the red spiderman on the square. He completes the work, puts it on the floor (in a finished bucket, or sometimes back on the shelf). Then he knows by looking at his chart that blue is next. He pulls the blue bucket. Does the blue activity, matches the blue card to the blue card, sees yellow is next. The buckets should all be in order and easily accesible to him. You can even start out with just one work bucket and move up to two and then three. If a para or yourself is there to guide him on what to do next... you can do physical prompting and verbal prompting (sometimes minimal physical or visual cue such as tapping the blue card to remind him that it's next... etc.). Honestly, the system works. If the colors and matching is way out of his league, you can step it back a bit and just hand him different work boxes and SHOW him the system (you or your para pulls the card off and matches it. To him it may not even be matching which tells you what's next, it might just be top to bottom or left to right (however they are placed on the shelf). Does this make the slightest bit of sense?? I can e-mail you pictures if you want to PM me for more info. My whole classroom was set up on this structure based system because I was in a TEACCH setting. My severe kiddos went from completely dependent to mostly independent. They learn the system and they become so independent with the visual cues. It's SO wonderful.

    To answer your question, if you implement something like this (or something similar) your kiddo wouldn't really have a chance to become distracted... because the last part of the work system is that he EARNS something. So it might be those three colored squares up on his work system and then a picture of goldfish crackers. Or toy cars. or computer. Or whatever he likes A LOT. A very reinforcing reward. He then begins to understand ... if I do this... I get this. I better not get distracted or I wont get this.... Does that make sense? Again, if you need to scale it back, you can start out with one activity, totally teacher/para directed, and then reward him for completing the activity by giving him the reinforcer directly afterwards. He then learns that if he "follows the schedule" he will earn his preferred activity.

    He would end circle time on a good note, be visually cued (physically prompted in the beginning) to transition to his work station, be visually cued to check his work system and follow it (start out easy - 1 or 2 bins) and then complete the work and earn the reward. There's no time to be worried what others are doing!

    Hope this made an ounce of sense and was a tiny bit helpful????
     
  15. inhisgrip20

    inhisgrip20 Comrade

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    Aug 18, 2008

    It makes perfect sense. :) I am familiar with TEACCH (although I've never actually taken a workshop or anything, I've just learned through other's experiences and researching online and so forth). Anyway, I actually started using the work box system with this particular student last year. This student (one of my 3rd graders) is my highest functioning student.

    Here's the problem... he has SO MANY negative behaviors I don't even know where to begin to explain them to you. He constantly craves attention... negative attention that is. He could care less about positive attention (I have tried in so many different ways). He is SO capable of doing many of these work tasks independently, but he does them wrong on purpose so that you have to correct him. He throws his work or just refuses to do it sometimes. He screams to get attention and kicks the table. He will close his eyes and refuse to open them. It seems like, once we get a handle on one behavior, something else starts. It is so difficult to find things that he will actually work for. I can't find what reinforces him. And when I finally think I've found it, it doesn't last long. It's like he catches on to what you're doing and doesn't "play your game" if that makes sense.

    I have had this student for 3 years and he has come SUCH a long way in terms of academics and independence but I feel like his behaviors hold him back so much. Sometimes I feel like I'm failing him and his mom because I can't get the behaviors under control. He knows what he is doing when he does it... knows it is wrong. He thinks it's funny and if you try to correct him he will scream over you and laugh. He will listen to me and one of my parapros if we get firm enough. But he will NOT listen to anyone else (he runs all over my other parapro and his after school teacher). If I leave the room he gets really bad for my parapro, but as soon as the door opens and he knows it's me, he straightens up real fast! Everyone that comes in our room notices how his behavior changes depending on who is in the room. That means HE KNOWS what he is doing.

    Deep breath... lol Sorry for that rant. I got a little off on a tangent there. lol I'm just so at a loss as to what step to take next with him. I really want to see him progress. He is HORRIBLE for his mother and when she comes to the school she is amazed at what he can do, but I know he is capable of so much more. I just have to get through his behaviors somehow.

    Thanks for your post above, by the way. It really does make perfect sense. It's just how do I make it work for him? *sigh*
     
  16. inhisgrip20

    inhisgrip20 Comrade

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    Aug 18, 2008

    Oh, and I meant to mention... he does use a picture schedule.
     
  17. teachersk

    teachersk Connoisseur

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    Aug 20, 2008

    What type of visual schedule does he use? Digital pictures? Does he understand where he's supposed to be when he checks his schedule, or does he more so memorize the routine of pulling the card off and is then teacher directed?

    I would put him on STRICT structure. I don't know what your classroom is like, but I would even break his day down so that he only sees three or four picture cards at a time (for his schedule). When he gets to where he's supposed to be and drops the picture card in the bucket, or velcros it to the wall, or whatever he's supposed to do.... he should immediately be prompted with another visual and very minor verbal instructions of where to go from there. For example, if the card on his schedule directs him to "free time" -- you should have an activity schedule for him there when he gets there. The more you tie up HIS schedule, the less time he'll have to act out...?? So you can put digital pictures on the outside of your bins of everything you have in free time. You may pick 3-4 of the things he likes the most. If he usually plays iwth something quickly and then gets the next thing, you won't need a timer. If he sticks to the same thing for a while, you can have a timer. He has to pull the card off the bin and match it to his activity schedule, or vice versa.... complete the activity OR wait for the timer to buzz, then move on to the next thing. When he completes the activity schedule - he gets verbal praise or a reinforcer..... then checks his main schedule, to see what's next, moves to the next activity. If it is something where you're doing something at a group... when he gets to the group he can have a visual of the expectations... "Quiet hands, quiet mouth, listen to teacher." Or something similar. Keep the activities short and sweet, just like TEACCH says, allow him to be successful there and get him out of there before he has a bad moment. Gradually increase this time.... does this make sense??
     
  18. teachersk

    teachersk Connoisseur

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    Lots of electrical tape (easy to pull off tables, etc.) to give boundaries, show him his space, lots of visuals (boardmaker cards if he understands them, digital pics work well too), behavior praise... maybe even some sort of behavior chart if he has the capability to work on a system where he earns things, even if it's immediately....

    Let me know if you are interested in any suggestions for how to set up behavior charts, work systems, visuals, etc.
     
  19. inhisgrip20

    inhisgrip20 Comrade

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    Aug 20, 2008

    He has a visual schedule on the wall with boardmaker pictures. He knows to go in order and pull the picture, but I'm not confident he understands the symbols. He does usually go to where he's supposed to but I think it's more that he has memorized his routine and we usually do pair it with a verbal direction too. I do use regular pictures for his choice boards (and it's clear that he understands them) so maybe I need to back up and use regular pics for the schedule board too.

    It's the smaller "activity" schedules I don't have for him, except during the work boxes. I don't have a "schedule" for his leisure, rather just pictures on his choice board that he chooses to do during that time. He doesn't really "play" with anything. He prefers physical activity (jumping on the trampoline, riding the scooter board, bouncing on the therapy ball, anything with motion.) One of his rewards for work time currently is the rolly office chair... lol, I know, weird, but he loves it. We make him push us up and down the little hallway a few times and then he gets to sit in it and spin. He loves it, but like I said it won't last very long. In a week's time he won't be interested in working for it anymore.

    My next step when I get back to work is to try using a token chart. Something like this: http://www.abaresources.com/pdf/Iamworkingfor.pdf
    I'll start with the one square and have him earn a coin for good behavior, eventually working up to five squares. I'm thinking of doing it on intervals during work time. Set the timer for a minute and if he works for one minute without disruption he earns a coin. When he fills the squares he gets whatever he is working for. This is one thing I haven't tried, which I know I should have already. *sigh* With this though, should I focus on the actual behavior to earn the coin during the interval or if he is working. Like, should I give him the coin if he works for the whole minute, or should I give him the coin if he doesn't scream during that minute? Should I start it during just one specific time of the day or use it across the day.

    I know I should know all this. *sigh* I really should but I guess I've just been at a loss with this one particular student and what to try next. Like I said, he has come a LONG way from when he started kindergarten but I feel like we have come to a road block. The things that used to work just aren't anymore. Thanks for your suggestions. I'd love to hear any others you have. :)
     

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