HELP!! In need of Self Contained Life Skills Class Ideas and Actvities

Discussion in 'Special Education' started by stillearning, Aug 25, 2010.

  1. stillearning

    stillearning Rookie

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    Aug 25, 2010

    Hi All!
    I really need some assistance. This school year I am teaching a self contained/ life skills class at a junior high (6-8). School just started Mon. and I am still reading IEPs and feeling out the students. Nothing was left by the prior teacher and I am used to teaching on an elementary level. Ironically I have a closet of junk, but very little direction. When I ask what reading/ math programs are we using I get the strangest look. I understand to teach according to IEP, but I want some age appropriate ideas and activities. I need a routine that works. Maybe a behavior idea too. Again, I have taught elementary for 10 years, I don't want to make the class "kiddy".

    Here's my schedule:
    1st- ELA(Whole group, 3 students- I am using my old SRA reading material. Again, school just started and it is a great way to assess the students.

    2nd- Vocational Life Skills- what a joke, I don't know where to start, so I use this time as a center- one on one math and reading.
    HELPP!!!!!

    3rd- Science- again, I try to find something low enough for my students, but not too low. So I have decided to follow the science curriculum and modify it accordingly.

    4th- Social Studies- Same as above- then I found a great book with monthly themes... may use that.

    5th- PE

    6th- Conference

    7th- Math- Again, I have nothing. I used games the past few days to assess.

    Overall, my problem is simple... I don't know what to do! Where do I start?

    Ideas and Suggestions welcomed!! :dizzy:
     
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  3. RJN

    RJN Rookie

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    Aug 26, 2010

    I teach middle school Life Skills and my best advice to you is to make everything as functional as you possibly can. By that I mean that most everything should apply to their daily lives and working towards being independent. Here are some examples.

    Math: Money and time are the main focus. Add in basic computation skills, SIMPLE measurement, cooking measurement, budgeting if you have students that high, counting, sorting, etc. if they are that low. I use grocery ads, menus, shopping lists, anything from daily life.

    Reading: All functional, with some sight words. Safety words and signs, survival words (!!) cooking vocab, environmental print (labels, boxes and packaging) community words from businesses and stores. I focus on what they need to read to be functionally independent. Forget spelling and large words lists, only focus on a few at a time.

    Daily Living skills: cooking, cleaning, laundry, dishes, safety, weeding our flower gardens, volunteer at the soup kitchen and walking dogs. Pay attention to what you do in a day and go from there. I also focus on hygiene.

    Community: shopping, volunteer, looking for safety signs, riding public transportation if you have it, safety, environmental print

    Social skills: manners, behavior, friendships, etc. I usually deal with this area as they arise or an opportunity presents itself.

    I usually have a theme going, which could be a holiday or event, or tie it to something from above.

    I don't use any curriculum, but there are materials and programs I use. I make most of my own materials. Do have Boardmaker? It makes very nice materials. I make my own BINGO cards since my kids could play it daily. So I have a wide variety, especially using environmental print.

    That should give you something to think about. Let me know if you need more specific info. Good luck!
     
  4. stillearning

    stillearning Rookie

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    Aug 26, 2010

    Thanks, that is a HUGE help and great start. I was also having trouble finding material that are age appropiate. Most activites are kiddy. I am truly going to follow your advice and model my class accordingly. I guess I'm still caught up on academics, but functional academics should be in my vocabulary. Thanks again!!
     
  5. teacher12345

    teacher12345 Cohort

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    Aug 26, 2010

  6. stillearning

    stillearning Rookie

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    Thanks teach1234! This helps alot!! Never thought middle school Life Skills would be so challenging, I rocked at elementary, lol!! This position is humbling me.
     
  7. ZoomZoomZOOM

    ZoomZoomZOOM Devotee

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    Aug 27, 2010

    Teaching life skills with little or no curriculum is very difficult. It's taken me three years to get ahold of some curriculum and like you, I started out with SRA and some old math workbooks.

    I'm on the fence with life skills reading programs. Yes, they should keep learning new words but I think those words should be functional. I.E. community, school, household words. So I stopped using SRA. Now I use a mix of functional vocabulary words, and Edmark's functional word series. I just started using both of these programs and they're not cheap. But if you wanted to do functional vocab - just make a list of words from the above categories, try finding pictures of them (for example, our word today was "student." I showed them a picture of a student. Then I said the definition. Then I asked them what made a "good student." Then they had to say a sentence using the word, etc.) You could also make a word wall with your new words on it and review them each week.

    For math, I'm lucky enough to pilot a couple of money math kits this year. We'll concentrate on money, time, simple addition and subtraction.

    For your vocational time, google "special ed job task bins" and get ready to hit the dollar stores. You can buy plastic shoe boxes with lids for $1.00 and then start gathering things for jobs like assembly, matching, sorting, stuffing, folding, etc. We also do housekeeping where we do different cleaning tasks within the room and in the morning they wash off the tables in the cafeteria.

    I do a mini-classroom economy system where I have a wheel with different preferred behaviors on it and the students each get a bank. We spin the wheel and whatever it lands on, "clean desk," "showing respect," - even "FREE MONEY!" they get paid real coins to add to their bank. I also assigned classroom jobs via a small classroom newsletter classifieds section and they get paid for doing those jobs each week. On "pay day Fridays" they get to use that money to buy things in our classroom store - - thus filling up my bank again.

    In the mornings, (and I just got this idea from teachersk who is AWESOME) we do Morning Focus binders. Each kiddo has a binder with laminated pages in it where we practice writing personal information (name, address, phone number, etc.), labeling continents, counting and writing the amount of money in our banks, etc. This is awesome and can be modified heavily for each student. At the end of week one, I already have two kiddos that have memorized most of their phone numbers!!

    I also teach modified health, social skills, cooking (every Thursday), some science, and art.

    Hope this gives you some ideas. Good luck! :)
     
  8. stillearning

    stillearning Rookie

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    Aug 28, 2010

    Thanks ZZZ, this is alot of help. It's a start. I am looking forward to an exciting school year and I'm working on Morning Focus Binders this weekend.
     
  9. teachersk

    teachersk Connoisseur

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    Aug 28, 2010

    Still learning- pm me your email and I'll send you some morning focus materials.
    Still in Hawaii, with limited internet access, but have those files
    On my phone that I can email. Will give you more ideas when I return!
     
  10. anewstart101

    anewstart101 Cohort

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    Aug 28, 2010

    Morning focus material: is there anyway I can get that????

    I am teachng an autism/life skills high school class my kiddos or young adults need it
     
  11. mom2mikey

    mom2mikey Cohort

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    Hey Zoom... do you have a template for your newspaper with job postings? That idea sounds so neat!
     
  12. anewstart101

    anewstart101 Cohort

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    I do a mini-classroom economy system where I have a wheel with different preferred behaviors on it and the students each get a bank. We spin the wheel and whatever it lands on, "clean desk," "showing respect," - even "FREE MONEY!" they get paid real coins to add to their bank. I also assigned classroom jobs via a small classroom newsletter classifieds section and they get paid for doing those jobs each week. On "pay day Fridays" they get to use that money to buy things in our classroom store - - thus filling up my bank againat kids .

    Oh tell me more --- what do you have in your classroom store. What kinds of job? The classroom newletter??? What does it look like?????
     
  13. stillearning

    stillearning Rookie

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    Aug 31, 2010

    Thanks ladies! Yall have been a BIG help!!
     
  14. ZoomZoomZOOM

    ZoomZoomZOOM Devotee

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    Sep 1, 2010

    I'd be happy to email you a copy of the classifieds newsletter -it's in word format. Just PM me your email addresses. :)

    My classroom store has really evolved over the last three years. I started with a large, painted shoe box that was filled with small dollar store goodies like fun pencils, erasers, small notebooks, buttons, etc. - anything I could find that had lots of things for $1 - even candy. Last year, I had so much stuff that I separated it all in to ziplock bags and made price tags. The store manager would have to set up the store on our small group work table. It looked like this:

    [​IMG]

    The bags got kind of ratty though, and there were too many of them. So this year, I went to Walmart and bought 4 different size plastic containers with lids, separated the store stuff into four different price ranges: .10, .25, .50, and $1.00. Then I used some extra cardboard/paper money that I had and actually made tags for each bin. So now the stuff that is $1.00 actually has "$1.00" and a dollar bill taped to it. It's a lot easier to store and set up too!

    Popular classroom store items: Hannah Montana stickers, pencils, candy, and old beanie babies. You can use anything appropriate though - think small garage sale things. I've put old jewelry in there - my girls love it! (If I could just keep my aid from buying it before the kids can. :rolleyes:)
     
  15. LaursAngel

    LaursAngel New Member

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    Aug 18, 2013

    morning focus materials

    Hi! I just got a job teaching life skills k-6, and I was wondering if you still have the morning focus materials. they sound great!





     
  16. Dr Kevlar

    Dr Kevlar Rookie

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    Aug 19, 2013

    I would be interested in this as well. Just some really terrific ideas here that are really conducive to helping the kids with real-world transition goals.
     
  17. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Maven

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    Boardmaker is awesome. I use it for almost everything.
    I didn't see the middle school science curriculum on the link you gave since the site doesn't seem to be working.
    Someone on another thread mentioned the News2You program that you can buy. I have used their free samples and it seems great for social skills and social studies themes.
     
  18. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Maven

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    Can you send to me also? I will PM you.
     
  19. SpecialPreskoo

    SpecialPreskoo Moderator

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    Aug 19, 2013

    OK, what is morning focus material? Sounds like something I could use!
     
  20. Mstar31

    Mstar31 New Member

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    I taught teenagers with autism (low functioning) for 4 years and was the job sampling coordinator, so hopefully I can help here.

    Depending on the functioning level of your students, you should start teaching job skills NOW. Because it could take years to really learn the skill. Go to places where you think they could work and watch what it takes. You would be surprised how complicated being a stock person at Marshall's really is when you start breaking down the steps. Get real materials, it's great to make your own BUT if student only learn to use "made up" materials they will not generalize the skill to the "real" world.

    I agree with the other suggestions listed here about money skills. In addition to being a teacher I am also a BCBA candidate so I do a lot of ABA in my room. Once they are older their motivational systems (both for academics and behavior plans) use money (coins are usually real but bills are realistic looking fakes). So I can incorporate money skills all day long. Example, "Great, job following your rules this morning Bobby! You can take 75 cents!" or "Nice job, you earned time on the computer! That will be $3."

    I like the Edmark functional words series and do use it. I do go off the curriculum though and add components. For example, after the students have learned some functional words I will place them on mock grocery lists and mock groceries to make sure they can read the words in "real life" situations. Often, my kids will learn the word in the curriculum but can't generalize so I started adding activities like this to really make sure they were getting it.

    Other life skills that are super important are safety signs, telling the difference between men's and women's bathrooms, social skills, and being able to report personal information (if they are lost or need help).

    Hope this helps! This year I am back in Elementary for the first time in years so I am on the opposite end of the spectrum! Don't know what I am going to do with little kids!!!
     
  21. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Maven

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    There was a site that had examples of work task boxes that you could make but I forgot where I saw it. Does anyone know what I'm talking about? My students are seriously on a pre-k level and have JUST begun matching words not even reading them. Also, they are mostly non-verbal so I'm hoping to find a lot of hands on activities.
     
  22. Dr Kevlar

    Dr Kevlar Rookie

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    Thanks Mstar! I did an ESY program this summer for autistic students. It was the first time that I was in that intense an environment and I was surprised at how low-functioning insofar as job skills some of these students were. While a few really didn't have the capability to learn, there were a number that did (including many of our non-verbal students) who obviously had not received the instruction/repetition necessary to master certain skills. The shame of it is that these students could get employment and some level of independence if someone had just started with them sooner.
     
  23. deefreddy

    deefreddy Companion

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    For math I use Attainment's Math Works: http://www.attainmentcompany.com/sites/default/files/pdf/standards/TSMpdfs/TSM_MathWork.pdf
    and my class started a recycling club on campus for our vocational period (I teach HS life skills) The club is open to gen ed students also. We collect paper, bottles, and cans, and then budget our earnings-- 1/3 to my classroom, 1/3 to new recycling supplies and campus beautification, and 1/3 to a charity that is voted on by club members. It has been a great, inclusive, learning experience for all members.
     
  24. teachersk

    teachersk Connoisseur

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    Check out Hands on Tasks and Shoebox Tasks. Both are pricy but the sites give great ideas on things you can make on your own.

    If you do have money to make purchases, Hands on Tasks are very flimsy and low quality. Shoebox Tasks actually employs adults with autism to assemble the task boxes. They are pricy but of high quality. I've had a set of 16 boxes for 6 years. Just this year a few of my bins started to crack but you can replace the pieces individually through the company, another total bonus.
     
  25. ketchum

    ketchum New Member

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    Jan 13, 2015

    Help and Thanks

    Is there any chance that you could send me some of the focus materials too? I am starting a new functional classroom next year and trying to get prepared. Thanks so much
     
  26. New2EBD

    New2EBD Rookie

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    Jan 17, 2015

    Morning Focus?


    What is Morning Focus? I am thinking it is like the bell ringers we used to use in the classroom. Anyway, I teach in a self-contained high school social skills classroom and I am always looking for ideas. If you still have the info available, would you be willing to share? :thanks:
     
  27. MrShiva

    MrShiva Rookie

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    Lots of great ideas here! Thanks to all of you, guys! :D
     

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