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

No comments:

Post a Comment

We love to hear your comments!