April 23, 2012

Navigating the Transition to Middle School Videos #18, #19, & #20

Whew! Finally...the last three installments of the Navigating the Transition to Middle School video series. I hope you are finding these useful in your work with students who are moving on from elementary school. Please make sure to join the blog or follow by email so that you don't miss any other transition tips and tools.  Here's to successful transitions! ~ Kelley

Video #18        Social Media

Video #19        How to Talk to a Girl

Video #20     How to Avoid Trouble

April 20, 2012

Navigating the Transition to Middle School Videos #15, #16, & # 17

We're back again with a three more episodes in the Navigating the Transition to Middle School series.

Please make sure that you've subscribed to this blog or are following us by email so you don't miss the last 3 episodes. You can always find the videos on the Transition page on the right sidebar. So, on with the show... ~ Kelley

Video #15  How To Handle Having Your Sibling At School

Video #16  What To Do If Someone Wants To Copy Your Work

Video #17   What To Do If You Feel A Teacher is Being Unfair

April 18, 2012

Navigating the Transition to Middle School Videos #12, #13, #14

Here are videos #12, 13, & 14 in the Navigating the Transition to Middle School video series. If you've missed any of the other segments, you can find them on the Transition Tools page on the right sidebar.

As you use these with your students, I would love to have you comment and share student feedback. Are there questions they have that we have not yet addressed? Do they think these will be useful as they get ready to move on? My goal is to create more videos of students talking to students about hidden rules and social secrets for elementary and secondary students. If you have input on topics you would like to see addressed, please leave a comment!

The last 6 videos will be posted over the next week. Please make sure that you have subscribed to the blog or are following us by email so you don't miss any episodes.
Cheers ~ Kelley

Video #12    Where to Sit in the Cafeteria

Video #13     What if Someone Sits in My Spot?

Video #14      How to Join in a Conversation

April 16, 2012

Navigating the Transition to Middle School Videos #9, #10, #11

Thanks for joining us for a few more Middle School Transition videos. I've heard from so many people who are using these and I love hearing that they are useful for your students!  I will be posting the remaining videos over the next week, so make sure to subscribe to the blog or follow us by email so you don't miss any!  If you've missed any of the first 8 videos, you can find them on the Transition Tools page on the right sidebar.  Enjoy! ~ Kelley

Video #9     Is Middle School Safe?

Video #10   How to Change Clothes in the Locker Room

Video #11  How to Find Your Bus

April 13, 2012

Navigating the Transition to Middle School - Videos #7 & #8

In case you're just joining in this series, we are in the process of publishing a total of 20 short video segments narrated by middle school students for the elementary student who are preparing to transition to middle school. I have recently gone back and added youtube links to each of the already published videos to make it easier to download and save to your computer or iPad. You can find videos #1 & #2 here, videos #3 & #4 here, and videos #5 & #6 here.

Here are today's installments...
#7   Tips on Handling the Homework Load
youtube link: http://youtu.be/B1-v07zWE9c

#8 How to Get Help On Schoolwork
youtube link: http://youtu.be/reyyqJIep7I

April 8, 2012

Climbing Steps Toward Independence

At this point in the semester, much of my time is being spent working on transition-related issues for my 5th grade students. They are definitely feeling that 5th grade itch and are ready to fly out of this elementary school nest!

One issue that has been coming up a lot lately is the kids wanting adults to back off and give them more independence. I love it when the drive toward independence kicks in, but this can be tricky for some students because of the intensity of their executive functioning deficits. They want adults to stop prompting them (which is fantastic!), but often when the teachers or paraprofessionals try to back off they end up stuck in distractable-land like Doug the Dog. I love Doug the Dog - just not in math class.
I had a conversation recently with a student who was complaining that adults give him too many reminders. As a result of that conversation, I created this visual to show him that in order for adults to back off he has to complete more tasks on his own. I have been using this visual to drive home the point that if he uses the tools in place (sticky notes, checklists, his homework agenda, etc.) he can do more tasks with fewer adult reminders. As adults see that he is taking steps toward independence, then they will back off and give him more freedom.


Using this visual model, we identified the things he does completely on his own at this point and wrote them on a sticky note and placed them on the lower 1/3 of the staircase. We then identified all the things an adult does on their own, listed those on another sticky and put it on the very top of the staircase. Finally, we identified 1 or 2 things that he thinks he can work on doing more on his own now and placed it a step or so above his current position. This allows us to reflect upon what independence level he is showing from day to day.  As he can complete more tasks we can add those "up the stairs" giving him a visual measuring stick of the payoff for persisting through tasks that he used to need help to complete.

Using this visual has helped my older students set small goals for themselves and increase their ability to self-monitor whether they are gaining independence.

Feel free to use this visual with your students as well! ~ Kelley

April 6, 2012

Navigating the Transition to Middle School ~ Videos #5 & #6

Here is the next installment of the Tips & Tricks for Middle School videos. We are using these to help prepare our 5th grade students to transition from elementary to middle school. You can find videos #1 & #2 here and videos #3 & #4 here.

Video #5 - How to Deal with Crowded Locker Areas

youtube link for download: http://youtu.be/GEiraQe6b4M

Video #6 - How to Remember Your Locker Combination

youtube link for download: http://youtu.be/Im__hwQ_eMQ

April 4, 2012

Navigating the Transition to Middle School ~ Videos #3 & #4

Here's the second installment in the Tips & Tricks for Middle School videos. In case you are just joining us, check out the first two videos to aid students in making the transition to middle school by clicking here.

Video #3 - How to Find Your Classes

youtube link for download: http://youtu.be/PjTynh9gtyk

Video #4 - Getting to Class On Time

youtube link for download: http://youtu.be/U-jUQFnBvTw

The next set of videos will be ready in a day or so! Enjoy ~ Kelley

April 2, 2012

Navigating the Transition to Middle School ~ Videos #1 & #2

In recognition that April is Autism Awareness Month, Orlanda and I plan to dedicate our posts this month to tools, techniques, and lessons geared for kids on the Autism Spectrum.

Hey everybody! It's transition time! Yes, this is the time of year when I'm focusing heavily on middle school specific skills and hidden rules for my 5th graders who are graduating from elementary and heading to middle school as well as conducting all those super-fun transition ARD meetings!

 I've been working on a series of videos to use with my 5th grade students with Asperger's Syndrome as they prepare to transition to middle school. I find that I have more success when they listen to "social secrets" from other teens instead of from me - you know, they've hit the age when I've become ancient and clueless! 
How one of my 5th graders sees me when I try to explain hidden rules for middle school!

So... I brainstormed with a couple of 8th grade neurotypical boys about what "tips" they think are most important for the kids to know going into middle school. Over the next few weeks, I'll publish 20 clips on various topics. I hope that you are able to use them with your transitioning students.  Enjoy! ~ Kelley

Video #1 - Reputation Begins on Day 1 ~ Tips & Tricks for Middle School

youtube link for download purposes: http://youtu.be/h9HedWAN-7U

Video #2 - What if I Don't Get the Classes I Want?

youtube link for download purposes: http://youtu.be/fhkNLdZcVrg

April 1, 2012

How to Build a Therapy Ball Rack (and a Bonus Project!)

As promised, here is the tutorial for building a cheap-o therapy ball rack for your Sensory Break Center. I use mine to store two different size therapy balls and two different size hippity hops (only one is pictured because I'm currently patching a leak!). You can use this basic format to make your rack whatever size you need to accommodate your therapy balls.

Materials you'll need:
3/4" PVC pipe
8 - 3 way connectors
4 - "T" connectors
8 - threaded connectors (optional depending on your 3 way connectors)
4 - caps
PVC pipe cutter

Basic Directions: 
1.  Decide how many balls you want to store on each level of the rack. Measure the diameter of the balls. You will want to plan to create your racks about 2-4" narrower than the diameter of the balls.

2.   Use the PVC cutter to cut 4 pieces of pipe to the desired length and 4 pieces to the desired width of the top rack. Trust me... buying a PVC cutter is worth it! I've cut PVC with a saw before and you end up with really jagged edges. I think I spent about $10 on mine at Home Depot.  This is what you are looking for...

3.  Connect 2 longs and 2 shorts with the 3 way connectors (see #1 in the picture). This will form the  "frame" for the top rack.
3 way connector

4. Take the remaining 2 long pieces and cut them about 2" from the ends. You will connect the small piece that you just cut off into the 3 way connector and then join the remaining long piece with the "T" connector (see #3 in the picture). This allows you to add feet if you wish for the rack to stand off the ground.
T connector

5. My 3 way connectors were threaded on one end so I had to purchase the male adapters (see #2 in the picture). If your 3 way connectors are not threaded then you can skip this step.

Male adapter

6.  With your handy dandy PVC cutter, cut 4 pieces of pipe to the desired height of the bottom rack. Connect the top rack to the bottom rack.

7. Cut 4 pieces of pipe 3" long (see #4 in the picture). Connect them to the "T" connectors on the bottom rack and finish off with 4 caps (see #5 in the picture).
Caps for bottom of the feet

8. Once you know that you have all your parts cut correctly and fitting nicely, pull them apart and apply epoxy. Once it dries you will have a sturdy, inexpensive ball rack for your Sensory Break Center!

As a little bonus, I thought I'd show you my first PVC project. When I was working out of a crowded portable, I found it necessary to find a way to visually block off distractions in the room when working with students. I created screens from PVC and fabric and have been using them for years. They are great because they are lightweight and easy to store when not needed. At the end of the year when we have to pack up our classrooms for summer they are easy to take apart and store until the following year.

Materials needed:
3/4" PVC pipe
2 - "L" connectors
4 - "T" connectors
4 - caps
fabric the length and width of the screen plus 6" in width for seam allowances

1. Cut 2 pieces of pipe for the width of the screen.
2. Cut 2 pieces of pipe for the height minus 8-10" for the legs
3. Cut 2 pieces of pipe for the legs (8-10")
4. Cut 4 pieces of pipe for the feet (4-5")
5. Connect the side pieces to the bottom cross pieces using two of the "T" connectors.
6. Connect the lower legs to the bottom cross pieces at the "T".
7. Add two more "T" connectors and add the feet with caps.
8. Measure your frame and lay out your fabric. You want to sew two channels down the sides of the fabric about 1/2" wider than the diameter of the pipe. You want these channels to fit very snugly around the pipe. Once you have sewn the channels, slide it down over the side pipes and connect your top cross pieces with the two "L" connectors.

I use several of the screens in my room for various purposes. They block the Sensory Center when it is "closed", they screen students during work times who need to block out visual distractions, we can also move them into the bathroom for older students who are toilet training and need some privacy.

I hope these ideas help! ~Kelley