sk- q's about Morning Focus that I think others might benefit from

Discussion in 'Special Education' started by ZoomZoomZOOM, Sep 4, 2010.

  1. ZoomZoomZOOM

    ZoomZoomZOOM Devotee

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    Like ALL of sk's work, the morning focus binders took a lot of prep time to get ready. But we've only been working on them for about 8 days, and already two of my students have memorized their phone numbers and two others are really close.

    I just have a few questions - and thought if anyone else were doing these, you could share your insight as well.

    1) Do you do morning focus as whole group or small group? I'm doing them whole group but I'm finding that some of my kids are whipping through stuff while others need more time - especially for the personal info sheet.

    2) How much time are you spending per day on Morning Focus? My goal was 30 minutes, but most days it takes a lot longer or I have to stop so we can move on to math. :unsure:

    3) Are you taking data on morning focus or is it strictly observational?

    4) This kind of ties in with no. 1, but are all of your kids doing the same sheets in MF or do they have different activities? For example, my lowest gal almost just needs to write her name and phone number and not worry so much about the rest right now. Also, when we do continents (which my kids are also making a ton of progress on, by the way :thumb:) it seems over the top to expect her to think about such a broad concept and I'm wondering if I should just give her a map of the US and ask her to find her state. ?

    What would sk do? Hmm... :whistle:
     
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  3. mom2mikey

    mom2mikey Cohort

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    I have such a range in abilities. I have always done morning focus binders individually and wanted to try to move to whole group this year. I'm already seeing that this is not going to work every day so am moving to doing 2 morning focus groups per week and the other ones in small groups or individually - dependent on the students. Most of them are still with at least a small group at this point.

    We do morning focus for about 25 minutes.

    I'm going to continue with data one time a week where learning assistants record where students are at in regards to independence and understanding.

    And just another note: For my lowest kids rather than writing their address I have them find a picture of their home with the address on the bottom of it.
     
  4. ZoomZoomZOOM

    ZoomZoomZOOM Devotee

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    Hey, that's not a bad idea. Thanks, m2m. :) I'm also thinking I should split my morning focus groups up... It just doesn't make sense to make one group wait while the others are still working. Hate to waste that time. :love:
     
  5. mom2mikey

    mom2mikey Cohort

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    I have several students that require time to do eye gaze to pictures or go through partner assisted scanning to answer questions and this makes it difficult to keep the flow and keep everyone engaged. My age range is also grade 1 through 12 so there are just things that are more relevant to some of them than others. I find one the assistants know how it works they can run a small group. I wanted to still keep a couple of days that they were all together though.
     
  6. ZoomZoomZOOM

    ZoomZoomZOOM Devotee

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    Exaclty, just to give them all the general idea of what we're trying to accomplish. I still can't believe you have that wide of a spectrum. But hey, that's the trade off you get for having SUCH AN AWESOME ROOM! :p :)
     
  7. mom2mikey

    mom2mikey Cohort

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    And because of the wide range I also get 1-on-1 support for all my students. If there wasn't such a wide range I'm sure they would be saying I could cluster them :). There is good and bad. I love my group and my classroom and my learning assistants so its all good!
     
  8. teachersk

    teachersk Connoisseur

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    Sep 4, 2010

    Zoom-
    I do exactly what M2M said for kids that are a little lower. It's errorless. They have a picture that they match to the address question, with their address on the bottom. This is in the hopes that it would transfer to a PECS book or device in the future (answering the question, "What is your address?")

    I do this as whole group. This is the one lesson that I can modify and differentiate to such a degree that everyone can participate.

    The continents are new for us this year. I usually have one "random" skill that I throw in at the end. It's more of a social thing for my lower kids, and it's an actual skill for my higher kids.

    For my lower kids, I usually record the names of the continents (planets/states/anything you choose for your random skill) onto a big mack switch. Then I will say, "Can anyone name the continents?" The aide will prompt my kid to raise their hand, I will call on the student, I will say, "Go ahead and tell us, ___!" Kid hits switch, aide prompts kid to point to each one as switch says names out, etc.

    You'd be surprised how much the kids have "grown" in the area of group skills, attending, participation, etc. I had a hard time with this when I first began teaching, but this is one thing that my mentor teacher really got across to me - that including kids in groups that are too hard for them is actually a great challenge for the teacher. How can I make this worth his/her time? How can I make him/her participate?

    My principal came in this year, only to see my lowest student answering with the big mack switch "Barack Obama" to the question, "and who is our president?" He was very impressed. Even these communicative attempts are big steps for these kids to take. Obviously, I'm always pushing them forward, then there might be two big mack switches, one with an apple and one with Barack Obama, then they can learn to choose Obama, etc.

    I really love having the opportunity to include ALL of the kids in the class during morning focus (I know that this just isn't an option for everyone, but for me, it works well). I also make sure to save the "tough stuff" til the end, so that if my lower students need to move on after our "core" lesson, they can.

    Also, with the continents - I made color coded pieces. So, one of my lowest students is learning to match colors. Who cares what the colors are of (the continents- how age appropriate!) but he is matching the colors. Also, it is a feeling of belonging (i know people say, they have autism, how could they care?) But deep down inside I know that my little guys feel good to be a part of the group and doing what their friends are doing. And who knows, maybe my little color matcher is taking in all of those continents and when he starts talking, he'll know them all. :cool:

    We spend 8:30-9:00 doing Morning Focus. They go to electives at 9:00. There are days that we don't get through everything, but that's okay. There are also days that I switch the the pages around :)lol:) because that throws my little autism classroom off (in a good way).

    I also have a "Speed Morning Focus" that I do with them if we're running late or need to leave for electives early. I go through every page really fast. Haha. They get SUCH a kick out of this. Great for fluency!!! They think it's so funny. So, When I feel we are running out of time, sometimes I'll say, "OK It's time for SPEED MORNING FOCUS!!! LETS GO!!!" And they all speed through real quickly, then I say "Check your schedules! Fast! Line up! Go!" They think this is HILARIOUS.

    Anyway... hope that answers your questions.
     
  9. Dthig65

    Dthig65 Rookie

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    Teachers, I would love, love, love to know what you include in your morning focus binders :):thanks:
     
  10. mom2mikey

    mom2mikey Cohort

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    I do prayer, attendance, what we did last night (they either have step-by-steps or visual communicatoin books or tell us - not everybody goes every day), calendar (how long until important events as each person has an individual calendar and we do a card making/mailing project each week), date, weather, personal information, current events (generally related to news-2-you). We also assign classroom jobs and vote and plan for our weekly group lunch as well as planning related to our classroom businesses (dog biscuits and snack/drink baskets that go in the staff room).

    I have switched back to doing only 2 large group meetings a week and doing the other ones in smaller groups to allow for the skill levels of my students and that we are focusing in on skills that will challenge all of them and meet them at their levels (age and ability as I split them differently on different days and do the cute singing stuff with my younger kids and voting on teen trends with my older ones).

    I really like doing voting/opinion types of things during my morning focus as I have a few students who are still at the eye gaze to pictures for choices.
     
  11. teachersk

    teachersk Connoisseur

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    Last year we had:
    Days of the week
    Months of the year
    Current year
    Who is our president
    Who is our governor
    Planets of the solar system

    This year, we have graduated and will move on to:
    Calendar
    Weather
    Important people (includes teachers, therapists, president, governor, mayor)
    Continents
    Time (1:00-12:00 they have to match times)
    Money (identify coins and bills)
     
  12. ZoomZoomZOOM

    ZoomZoomZOOM Devotee

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    This is my first year with this and it's such an awesome program. In fact, I was telling a friend of mine who teaches self contained 3rd-5th and she now wants to come and observe me teach this. But - the fact that it's my first year makes it a total experiment. I'm sure I'll adapt, add, and modify until I get it right! :D

    We're doing:
    Personal Info (Right now every kiddo is doing the same stuff and has their personal info typed up next to them and they're copying it)
    Date (Day, Month, #, Year, then write out the entire thing)
    Last night I... (some have pics to choose from and others don't) and I also added at the bottom, "It was ______ (boring, cool, AWESOME)"
    Continents (my kids are really getting this - it's amazing. There are GEN ED kids that don't know this information)
    and Bank "How much $ do you have in your bank?" Where they get paid, add it to their bank, count the money, and write out the amount.

    I plan on adding the lunch key pad this week.

    Okay sk so basically you think I should keep all the kids together and just modify those kiddos' who need a lot more time so that they're all going at about the same speed?
     
  13. mom2mikey

    mom2mikey Cohort

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    Zoom - do you have students who are still working on switch access or all of them proficient with switches?
     
  14. sammyrams

    sammyrams Companion

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    Sep 5, 2010

    I have morning meeting each morning for about 30 minutes. We do a large group where I go through the calendar, weather and appropriate clothes to wear for the day. This includes finding today, yesterday, and tomorrow. Then we break up into groups of two and go through the morning meeting binders. I have the following sections that we work through: All About Me, Important People, Calendar, Weather.

    I made the whole binder in Boardmaker and each students has two or three choices to choose from for each question. We also do pictures of their houses. I am just awaiting photos of their houses and neighbor houses. Once I get those, the students start working on the houses. I still have some pics from last year for 3 of my kiddos.

    I feel that 30 minutes is not enough time, but I need to get our large and small group reading in as well before snack. My schedule is super tight this year and hectic to say the least with 8 kids in my class and only 3 aides.
     
  15. ZoomZoomZOOM

    ZoomZoomZOOM Devotee

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    My students can all speak except one gal who uses sign and PECS. I don't have any switches.
     
  16. teachersk

    teachersk Connoisseur

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    Zoom, is your one gal able to grasp the concepts, if you teach her this is the answer, will she consistently repeat it? Or is she more at an access/exposure level?

    Is she the one that's kind of "holding everyone back?" As far as speed of lesson, etc?

    I know you don't have much of a budget, but there are some ways that you can make your own switches, if you don't have $149 for a single big mack switch :lol:

    Attainment company sells a $59 device called a Talker-6. It has six squares. That's the one that I've used successfully with Morning Focus. I put pictures on the top of the page to match to the device, so when we are on that page, the child just has to match the picture. The hope is that we can fade out the pictures (smaller and smaller) and eventually she'll be able to make the right choice from a field of 6 on the Talker6.

    There are other ways to do it, too, if you are able to get your hands on some re-recordable devices. Even if you just get one, or two, to have her answer single questions. I really do like to make this time functional for my kids - so although I know the continents aren't the most important thing, I have one kid who is from Africa. For this student, when we do the continents, the question is, "and what continent are you from?" The switch says "Africa!" This student gets a big kick out of being able to participate, etc. The mother is thrilled that we are able to include a little culture in there, even though we're not sure how much is actually understood. It's just a neat time to be able to include all of the kids in a large group (really large this year, 8!!!!!)

    Re-recordable greeting cards are also a cheap way to do this. You can get them usually for like $4 at Hallmark. You can put a picture of the kid on the inside, maybe with a boardmaker "Name" icon, etc. Then when you're doing personal info, you can say, "And what's your name?" Etc. No, the child isn't going to have a recordable greeting card in her pocket at all times, but it's kind of the exposure of hearing the answer to the question, making the communicative intent, participating with the group, feeling like the others, etc.

    Lots of options here!! I love communication and the director of sped for our district calls my classroom a "total communication" environment, because I pull from a lot of different directions (sign with edmark, devices ALL OVER THE PLACE, PECS, visuals everywhere, verbal behavior techniques, phonetic prompting, kids using multiple systems, kids using what works best for them...) I love that it's considered total communication. Because that's what life is!

    I'm sure that with some trial and error, you'll come up with the perfect morning focus routine for your group. I think I'm lucky that we have electives right at 9, or I could do Morning Focus all day. :rolleyes:
     
  17. teachersk

    teachersk Connoisseur

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    Sep 5, 2010

  18. lucylucy

    lucylucy Rookie

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    would anyone be willing to post photos of their morning focus binders? I have 14 kids and 10 of them are able to participate and access our morning calendar routine but am looking for a way to help my other kiddos participate.
     
  19. ZoomZoomZOOM

    ZoomZoomZOOM Devotee

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    She grasps most of the concepts. Instead of talking out loud, she'll point a lot or sign her name. "xxx, what is your name?" And she'll sign, "xxx." To me, that's communicating. ?? If we're on the continents page, I'll ask her to point to the continent she lives on and she'll point to it and I'll say, "That's right, North America." So what you guys are saying is that I should have switches that say "xxx" and "North America?" I guess I could invest in a couple of those single Go Talk buttons. Aren't they like $12/ea or something like that?

    Dang. Wish I would have known ahead of time that I was going to have a non-verbal gal in my class. I could have used some of my school money for boardmaker and switches. GRRR.

    By the way, having non-verbal kiddos in a gen ed school like mine is very rare. Typically if they're non-verbal they go to a different school (my son goes there) where it's like a 50/50 mix of gen ed to sped students. So that's why I haven't had the need for switches or boardmaker too much.
     
  20. teachersk

    teachersk Connoisseur

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    Yeah you could get the GoTalk buttons, they're $12 each. If you wait for a 25% off sale, you could get them a little cheaper. Mayer Johnson has sales like that fairly frequently so if you just wait for the right time, you could get a little discount on them.

    I think if you do it, you should still expect the same responses she's giving now, so for the name question, she could sign her name then hit the switch. Give her a new sequence to learn. This way, she has some verbal output. Can she talk at all (make sounds, verbalizations, etc.?) She could also do that, as the switch says it (if she DOES have verbalizations, hearing the verbal model every time she's asked the question is great for her!)

    But yeah, I'm in the boat that thinks that the switches can be nothing but helpful to a kid, especially for self-esteem, verbal models, participation, peers hearing her "respond," etc.

    Just me, though!

    I feel SO LUCKY that we got the ARRA Grant Money. Last year, I was able to get 3 big mack switches, one which is the step by step (sequences the steps, so you press it and it says something, press it again and it says the next thing, etc.) -- and I also got SIXTY of the MiniMe Voice Recorders. I use those ALL over my room. I even use them for functional communication training for my verbal kids (i.e. "That made me really upset.") so the kids just press the button instead of hitting me (lol) because in the moment they "lose their words" and become essentially non-verbal. So many neat opportunities with the switches in the room, even for verbal kids!
     
  21. teachersk

    teachersk Connoisseur

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    Lucy Lucy,
    I include all of my kids in morning focus and really have a fun time doing so!

    Here is a student using a Big Mack switch to lead the group in the pledge of allegiance.
    [​IMG]

    Here is a student using a Big Mack switch to name the planets in order from the sun, as the aide prompts her to point to each planet.
    [​IMG]

    Here's a device called the Attainment Talker6 that I have posted about in so many posts (it's so awesome and so cheap for a communication device!!!) and it is being used as a way for my lowest students to participate in morning message. I match the exact picture that I put on the device on the top of the page in the morning focus binder. This way, the student just has to match picture to picture to answer the question correctly. It's awesome!
    [​IMG]

    You can also use cheaper devices, like recordable greeting cards found at Hallmark, to answer simple questions. It's fun to get creative!!
     

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