What would you do?

Discussion in 'Special Education' started by ZoomZoomZOOM, Jun 11, 2009.

  1. ZoomZoomZOOM

    ZoomZoomZOOM Devotee

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    Jun 11, 2009

    Last year was my first year teaching. I taught eleven 6-8 graders in a self-contained classroom and had them all day. Like most self-contained classroom that I've seen, there was no curriculum. When I asked supervisors, they would only say "stick with the standards." I taught "life skills" so to me that meant that the kids needed to have responsibility, work jobs, cooking, social skills, etc. So I scheduled whole group lessons in the afternoon that included these basics. I taught monthly units on things like personal hygiene, table manners, listening, etc. I would also supplement with social studies lessons that included "what to do if you get lost" and science lessons like the rainforest (just because I like teaching that unit - not that it had any significant impact on my kids' lives here in central Illinois.)

    So here's my really stupid question:

    What the heck to do I teach NEXT year to those same kids?

    Would you just dream up some more units... expand on what you've already taught them... or start grabbing 6th-8th grade text books for every subject and just modifying the crap out of them?

    I'm sure I'll come up with a solution this summer but I just wondered if anyone else worked in this same type of situation. Where you have the same kids for three years and have to teach three years worth of content. Even then, you've got 8th graders that leave and new 6th graders that come in and then the 6th graders are getting the more advanced lesson... it's just so confusing.

    :help:
     
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  3. iheartsped

    iheartsped Rookie

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    Jun 11, 2009

    Hmmm, how about giving them all new assessments to see where they are. I would use most of what you taught before, but let their IEPs guide instruction.

    For example, in the manners unit, the kids are at different levels? Get them to the next level.

    I would also work in some new and fun relevant material. I used to teach a similar class and it was frustrating. I felt that admin. really didn't care, so long as the parents were happy and I didn't bother them.

    Good luck. :)
     
  4. ZoomZoomZOOM

    ZoomZoomZOOM Devotee

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    Jun 11, 2009

    Boy, you hit the nail on the head there... It's really frustrating, especially teaching the only life skills class in a sea of gen ed students. I don't know about my new principal yet (just accepted a new position) but my last P was horrible about that. I seriously believe that he would have hired a babysitter if he could have. Sometimes I wish I worked at a school with a higher number of special needs students, or that the P had experience teaching special ed. I bet we'd be treated with more respect. *sigh* I digress...
     
  5. kidatheart

    kidatheart Habitué

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    Jun 14, 2009

    I don't know how low they are, but here are a couple of ideas. How about teaching them things like going out to a restaurant? Task analyze it and teach the skills they are missing.
    Or teach them about having a checking account/MAC card and paying bills. Grocery shopping...
     
  6. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Jun 14, 2009

    I've never taught Special Ed, so forgive me if some of these suggestions are totally unrealistic.

    Let's assume you asses them, and find that they really do know all you've taught them this year. Where do you go from here?

    Your kids can survive in a social situation, so now it's time to teach them to get into some.

    I agree with kidatheart: do money. Talk about savings, checking, balancing a checkbook, interest. You can include some middle school math-- the formula for determining simple interest and so on.

    You can talk about shopping-- the difference between $10 off and 10% off, and why it's important to keep your receipt.

    You could work with them on getting an apartment-- talk about paying your rent every month, what rent typically covers, about utilities and what they cost, even have them come up with a checklist for potential roommates.

    They can buy a car with a limited budget. Saturn publishes a price list of each option they offer on their cars; it's a good starting place.

    You can talk about getting a job. Collect applications from some local places and have the kids fill them out as samples. Talk about what you wear to apply for a job-- even one at McDonalds-- and how you deal with the public (even when the public is very annoying!) You can come up with a list of potential employers for teens.

    You can talk about travel-- have each plan an imaginary vacation with a limited budget. Talk about how to get from point A to point B, how to research flights and hotels and how to find what to do.

    You can talk about keeping safe-- internet safety, travel safety, what to do if you suspect someone is following you, how and when to call for help.
     
  7. kidatheart

    kidatheart Habitué

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    Jun 14, 2009

    All great ideas! Might steal a few of them for my resource room kids!
     
  8. ZoomZoomZOOM

    ZoomZoomZOOM Devotee

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    Jun 15, 2009

    All good unit ideas, thank you Ladies - I appreciate it. And Alice, you made a pretty good list there for a gen ed gal! ;) Thank you. I will add all those things to my ever-growing unit list!

    My job situation is interesting because even though I'll have a new job at a new school in the fall, I'll have a few kids that I know from my old school. (Long story but the school I will be at never had a life skills classroom before and it should have been these kiddo's home school all along so some of them will be switching.) Anyway, KAH, you mentioned grocery shopping. Which got me thinking. I had written a grant to take my kids grocery shopping every week last year. And even though they did get better at store navigation and understood the basic concept, they still weren't very independent at it. So if I were at that same school and had those same kids, I might separate them this year into teams of "newbies" and "experienced kids." The newbies could shop with a para who now has the experience to show them the basics. While the more experienced kids would come with me and practice independence.

    :D Yay! A plan.
     
  9. lucylucy

    lucylucy Rookie

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    Jun 15, 2009

    Are you familiar with TouchMath? I'm not sure how low your kids are, but my low 2-3 graders struggled with money SO bad until I got this kit and introduced this strategy for counting money. I don't remember how much it was, but I bought it myself and I'm definitely on a budget! :)

    I'll be in a similar situation next year, but with first graders... no curriculum!
     
  10. lucylucy

    lucylucy Rookie

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    Jun 15, 2009

    I meant TouchMoney, it's made by Touchmath!
     
  11. teachersk

    teachersk Connoisseur

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    Jun 15, 2009

    Check out Unique Learning System - it has some pretty neat age-appropriate themes that you could focus your units on... it is standards based... and it comes with ALL of the materials including differentiated lesson plans (to include a very low level ["access skills"], a medium level [can answer questions but maybe need picture supports, fewer choices] and a "high" level [mostly words with some picture supports, more answer choices.]

    It really is a dream for a classroom that has varying abilities like the one you're in. It is also a great chance to give the kids access to the typical curriculum (learning about the government, president, science skills, etc.)

    It includes a lot with telling time, buying groceries, using a calculator, etc. It has a lot of functional skills that they sneak into a fun and exciting curriculum.

    They have a free trial for the Summer, if you wanted to check out your grade band! Check it out:

    http://www.uniquelearningsystem.com/Default.aspx

    I swear I don't work for them :) I just really love all of the News-2-You stuff (made by that company) --- News-2-You is another something to consider... just doesn't encompass an entire curriculum. My kids loooove the news stories each week. It's so great that WE TOO can do current events!
     
  12. teachersk

    teachersk Connoisseur

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    Jun 15, 2009

    Oh- one more thing that goes along with what you're saying... the curriculum changes from year to year! The themes are different but obviously the underlying skills are the same.
     
  13. teachersk

    teachersk Connoisseur

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    Jun 15, 2009

    OK one more suggestion. If you have readers in your class, or even kids with pre-reading skills, Reading A-Z has some really great age appropriate books for low level readers. I saw in your other post that your kids are pretty low. But you seem like the kind of person that really is trying to expose them to different things. Reading A-Z has readers and activities that tailor to kids like yours (upper level content but lower level reading). They have activities, worksheets, etc.


    Perhaps you could also start some sort of program (vocational) at your school. This is a great way to get the kids "out" into the open. I think I read in one of your posts that the specials teachers didn't want the kids and your admin was OK with that. When you have them out in the open doing productive things, it is great for both YOUR Kids (self esteem) - THE OTHER KIDS (to see your kids doing things outside of the classroom) and the TEACHERS.

    At my last school, we started a recycling program. I did a little research and came up with as many state standards as I could that had to do with recycling. It really was a stretch for many of them, but the more creative I got, the more standards I could relate to the program.

    For example:
    counting, sorting, making a graph of which class recycles the most, matching, following directions, communication (social/emotional, "hello," "Goodbye," "We are here to pick up your recycling," etc.), social studies (why do we recycle, what happens when we recycle), science (water cycle, etc.)

    I am sure you could come up with a similar program for your kids! We collected cans and paper from around the school building (teachers were assigned "days" that we would come pick up their recycling). It really was a great program. It took up about a half hour at the end of the day but I felt that it was useful. The kids were usually restless at that time anyways, and they loved doing recycling.
     
  14. ZoomZoomZOOM

    ZoomZoomZOOM Devotee

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    Jun 16, 2009

    Wow you guys ROCK!! Thank you so much for all the great ideas! I really do apprecitate your help, wow. :woot::thanks:

    Lucy - funny you mention touch math. My last classroom didn't have much - but that's one of the few bits of curriculum they did have. You don't know how much I wanted to accidently "drop" that in one of my bins when I was packing! :whistle: But alas, I'm too dang honest. Great program though. And I do utilize the touch math and money systems already, but thank you for the suggestion. :)

    SK, thanks for the tips - all good ones. I think I've checked out ULS before but I'll take another look. As I recall it was pretty costly. Not sure how I'd get funding for it (or Reading A-Z) unless I bought them myself. My district did have a News-2-You account and we read the "newspaper" weekly and you're right, it is a great program that I hope to utilize next year.

    Our middle schools already have a recycling program... but I liked your explanation of how you got a vocational program like that started and how you tied in the standards. I need to come up with something for my kiddos along these lines so I really appreciated hearing about your own experience with it. It would be awesome if we could come up with some sort of money-making scheme so we could purchase some of those curriculum programs you mentioned. But that would take some time and may not be feasable for this year - but would be something we could utilize next year. I had a parapro at my old school that owned a popcorn machine. She would sell popcorn at .50/bag during lunch shifts and make a profit. She said she would use the profits to buy things for the classroom but I rarely saw this money. Instead she donated it to school-wide programs. :| Alas. I digress again. (mental note: new aides this year... new aides this year.... new aides this year...) Phew, alright. I'm okay again. :D

    If you ladies think of any other ideas - please do pass them on!
     
  15. teachersk

    teachersk Connoisseur

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    Jun 16, 2009

    Zoom,

    I would keep your eyes out on the Unique Learning System website, because they periodically give out scholarships to "classrooms in need" (which would be any classroom that didn't have a district who'd support funding ULS :))

    It's $399 - which is over the top for paying yourself. I bought a News-2-You subscription my first year of teaching and it was worth every penny (we used all of the stories, worksheets, etc.)

    My current school has a "Lunch cart" (for the teachers) - and the kids (from the secondary classes) push it around the teachers lounge and through the classrooms during the lunch hour (When kids aren't in there) and sell things to the teachers. It's been a huge hit. Maybe this is something you could look into. It'd be very easy to tie standards into this type of thing (math, social studies [goods, production, jobs, etc.] and communication/oral language/etc.)

    With my recycling program, I had all of the standards printed up for each grade level (a counting/adding goal for K, 1, 2, 3, a science/recycling goal for K,1,2,3 etc.) and had them laminated and on display on the front of our cart. This was JUST IN CASE anyone ever questioned us spending 2-2.5 hrs a week doing it (30 mins a day).

    Good luck!
     
  16. ZoomZoomZOOM

    ZoomZoomZOOM Devotee

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    Jun 16, 2009

    What kinds of things are on the cart and how much do they sell them for, if you don't mind me asking?
     
  17. teachersk

    teachersk Connoisseur

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    Jun 16, 2009

    Candy bars (.50), healthy choice meals (1.50-3.00), pop tarts (.50), nutra grain bars (.50), homemade things that the kids make (brownies, rice krispy treats, cupcakes, pound cake, etc. Usually .35 or .50).

    They have little cue cards to help the kids know what to say (I.e. "would you like to buy something" "that will be fifty cents" etc)

    The teachers practically rely on it now! I don't know what kind of profit they make but they have to at least break even! The kids get great exposure to money , customer service etc.
     
  18. teachersk

    teachersk Connoisseur

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    Jun 16, 2009

    They also have "fresh fruit days!" (for the healthy people :))
     
  19. ZoomZoomZOOM

    ZoomZoomZOOM Devotee

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    Jun 17, 2009

    Wow! What an interesting idea! I'm tyring to think how I might make something like that work in my school... I bet admin would eat it up. HA! "EAT IT UP!" :D Just curious - is this one classroom or a group of classrooms that share the responsibility - or do you know? Also, how high are they congnitively? Are they pre-school level, 2nd grade level, etc.?

    By the way - - any lurkers aka gen edders out there that have any information about other programs like this ran in your school by the special ed dept. - PLEASE share! No idea is stupid, seriously. I could use the help. :help:
     
  20. karebear76

    karebear76 Habitué

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    Jun 17, 2009

    I don't have any personal experience in this, but I think it is an absolutely fabulous idea!! I think you could make it work for all of your students, no matter the level. I had a college prof. who had been in charge of occupational education for high school spec ed students. I think he said he had a similar program, but it was in public with an area shopping mall. So, if his HS students could be successful in public, why couldn't yours be in your school setting?? I think it would be awesome! I have students that are very low level, but it is still very much an academic setting...I have very few opportunities to incorporate life skills, which are so desperately needed.

    I bet you could hit so many standards with an activity such as this. Think of the ones already mentioned, as well as some of the National Standards for Arts Education (advertising signs, anyone?) It would be fantastic!! I'm excited for you and I don't even know you! :D

    Could you start your proposal with the standards it would address, IEP goals, etc. so that you would get admin approval. Then spend the first part of the year (maybe till Christmas) working on the planning & set up: teaching students procedures, securing supply, advertising/marketing, scheduling, etc. Then implement after Christmas break? Just thinking....Best of luck to you!
     
  21. ZoomZoomZOOM

    ZoomZoomZOOM Devotee

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    Jun 18, 2009

    Yeah, that's a good implementation plan. Since it's a new concept for me, it would have to be something I worked my way up to. Meanwhile I'll talk to the cafeteria staff about letting my kiddos clean the cafeteria after breakfast or lunch as a mini work program. There's no classroom profit in it, but it's beginning vocational. If my kids are high enough, maybe they can help me brainstorm other ideas. :D
     
  22. spedtchr

    spedtchr Rookie

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    Jun 27, 2009

    I realize this is an older thread, but I thought I'd add... :)

    I have seen life skills classes do a mail delivery system in a school before, where they pick up mail in the office and deliver it to different teachers who sign up for it. It depends on your school's size... this was in a high school, and I think they only delivered to Special Ed teachers. But the skills involved were reading names on a list, finding the mail box, they had a push file cart, so they had to match the name to the name on a file folder... then they had to find the room number and deliver the mail (social skills). They did this toward the end of the day, I believe, and I think they rotated students so that there were only two doing it at a time. It seemed to work well :)

    Also, it is worth asking if you can get a student a "job" helping in the library or office during the year if you have any higher functioning students. They might be able to deliver notes or move books, who knows.

    I work primarily with life skills, and I know how hard it is not to have a set curriculum. I will probably use some of these ideas this year, so thanks for making the thread! :)
     
  23. ZoomZoomZOOM

    ZoomZoomZOOM Devotee

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    Jun 28, 2009

    Oh no, thank YOU for contributing! :) Another great idea - mail distribution. Sometimes it just takes a different set of eyeballs to point out everyday tasks that my kids could do. It's easy to get stuck in a rut and automatically think "clean the cafeteria tables."

    I love all of these ideas and please do keep them coming! I've got another couple of months before school starts!
     
  24. ahsila

    ahsila Companion

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    Jun 29, 2009

    Something we have done that the kids loved was a school messenger service. A couple of days a week, we took class time to run errands for teachers. Forget to plan for dinner? My kids took care of it. Need dry cleaning dropped off/picked up? My kids took care of it. Bills need paid but no stamps at home? My kids took care of it.
    We had a $1 per errand fee to cover gas for the vehicle (but gas was higher when we did this) and teachers paid any cost for the errand, but I had teachers almost in tears when we quit doing the program (school-wide scheduling changed and there was not enough time for it any longer) because so many depended on having that extra help! It was a great way for the kids to get daily living skills and social skills because they had to do all the talking.
    The teacher before me had one day a week that the students sold lunches to the teachers. A typical meal would be baked chicken, a roll, steamed broccoli with cheese sauce, sweet corn, and a piece of cake or pie. The meal was always healthy and if there was any concern about food allergies (nuts, red dye, etc.) there was an alternative choice. The students learned cooking skills (from what I'm told a few of the older students had quite a culinary gift), teachers had something better than cafeteria food to eat, and the modest fee they charged for meals covered food costs and even provided enough for an end of the year field trip (usually to a local zoo and out for lunch - they even toured a "professional" kitchen while at lunch one year).
     
  25. ZoomZoomZOOM

    ZoomZoomZOOM Devotee

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    Jun 30, 2009

    Thanks for the great ideas, ahsila! Can you explain a few of the logistics for me though? Like when you guys ran errands for teachers, how many kids did you have? I'll have 6-8 kids and one aide. Too many to fit in my van... hmm. Did you have a long-standing field trip form that parents signed off on? Didn't you ever worry about taking the kids out in your personal vehicle each week? I'm not a paranoid person, but for some reason, pushing fate like that worries me. I haven't gotten into an accident for a really long time but if I ever did and one of my students was seriously injured or killed, I would be a goner. I don't mind doing it once a month but once a week would be a little scary. You weren't scared about that at all?

    With the lunches - did you guys have a kitchen in your room? Oven, fridge, sink? Or did the kids work in the cafeteria or something? I wish I had a kitchen in my room. Our district even recently made a rule where mini-fridges and microwaves were no longer allowed in the classrooms. :(
     
  26. SpecEdTeacher

    SpecEdTeacher Companion

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    Jun 30, 2009

    i dont know if anyone mentioned this...and since there are current 3 pages of responses (and im feeling lazy this morning) i just thought id add this.

    in my life skills class is ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS include reading recipies.

    There is a 3 part series called "Cooking to Learn" which is amazing. it comes with a bunch of easy to make recipies that the kids love (french toast, pancakes, shakes, rice krispies, etc etc etc) and it comes with different modifications already done. non-readers have picture recipies to follow. semi readers and readers also have modified recipies. this includes the supplies and ingredients list, the recipies, and the follow up questions.

    amazing series. my students love it. i love it. my coworkers "borrow" it all the time!!!

    great investment!
     
  27. ahsila

    ahsila Companion

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    Jun 30, 2009

    We had a release that parents signed granting permission to travel within the community as part of the service project part of the the class. I had anywhere from 7-10 kids in the class, but our district has a 12 passenger van that we took - and policy is that vehicles are always returned with a full tank, so I would just fill up before we went back to school (another life skill no one teaches our kids - how do the pumps work? what if I don't have money to fill up and need to turn the pump off early? where do I find the pump number so I can tell them when I go in to pay?) and if I didn't get it with a full tank, the school has a gas card that works the same way as a credit card, so the kids occasionally got "pay at the pump" experience as well. I never took kids out in my personal vehicle. I think I'm a lot like you in that regard - not typically paranoid, but there was always that nagging "what if" that worried me.

    We actually have a fabulous FACS/Home economics teacher who was out of the cooking lab at the time they needed it and she let them use the cooking lab - multiple stoves, sinks, fridges, etc. Sorry I can't tell you much more than that... it was before my time at the school.
     
  28. ZoomZoomZOOM

    ZoomZoomZOOM Devotee

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    Jul 1, 2009

    Well I'm kicking myself right now 'cause I had that series in my classroom and never used it. I think I glanced through it at the begining of the year and it was full of overheads and kind of a mess and hard to follow. So I just used a mailbox supplement recipe book the entire year. It came with little recipe booklets for simple snacks. Then we would graph everyone's favorite ingredient on the board. I still think I met my goal though. At the end of the year, kids knew how to shop, how to pay, how to store food, how to follow a simple recipe, and how to clean up. They were really simple snacks though.

    Ahsila - - you've got me wishing I could write some sort of grant to get a 12 passenger van for our school. WOW that would be awesome!!! My van only holds 8. :( I wonder if they have grants like that and how much one would cost. But then who would take care of the maintenance, storage, etc.

    Last year my kids took four field trips by bus. The buses are $$. I've been told at my new school that those trips will be even less this year. So I'm going to have to come up with something. There are a few things within walking distance, but not much. And it's a good jaunt. Walking is something we would have to do early and late in the year since our winters are pretty bad here.

    Sorry, just thinking to myself. Although if you wanna throw any ideas at me, I'd welcome them. :)
     

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