September 21, 2013

Check Out Our Sensory Break Space!

I'm doing my happy special ed teacher dance! You know....the one that goes like this?

Elaine Dance photo ElaineDance.gif
Yes, I'm a Seinfeld fan. I mean, seriously, how many moments in our lives are identified with Seinfeld references?! Low talkers, close talkers, fat free yogurt, "No soup for you!", Mulva, puffy shirt, Festivus for the rest of us, Junior Mints. In fact, when I searched for this image I started laughing so hard my TA thought I had lost my mind! I know, I know...Topic Twister invaded my brain for a minute. Sorry about that! Back to the topic ~ Our New Sensory Break Room!

This year our school had a classroom that was being used for other purposes. My brilliant and fantastic principal gave us permission to expand our sensory break space into this room since our space was so limited in our tiny little classroom. I'm counting my lucky stars to have it for as long as I get it. I know it is HIGHLY unlikely we will have it next year. So, we are enjoying it while we do!

Check out our Gross Motor Center (complete with racetrack!)....

Our Fine Motor Center....

And our Calm Body Center...

I change out the activity offerings in each center (except the gross motor center which remains the same) on a weekly basis so it can stay interesting to the kids.

The kids check in at the Learning Zone poster when they enter the room.

They then choose a center that will help get their bodies into the green learning zone.

We are also working with Leah Kuyper's Zones of Regulation curriculum to help us identify "tools" for our ready to learn toolbox.

This week, we will be working to identify the effect various "tools" have on our emotions. Each child will have his own "toolbox" available.  Click here to download a copy of the toolbox.

This space has been such a blessing! We are able to start our days feeling good, conduct periodic sensory breaks as needed (or as scheduled!) during the day, and end our day in the room while we wait out the noisy chaos of dismissal. This has helped us start and end our days feeling calm!

I know that it is unlikely that we will have this space every year, but even if we don't I can use the same centers model with smaller and easier to store activities.

Thanks for checking our our Sensory Break Space!

September 4, 2013

Wow Us Wednesday ~ Lesson Plan Link Party!

We have a brilliant idea if we do say so ourselves....

Well, it will only be brilliant if YOU join in! There are so may smart therapists and teachers out there that work so hard to create purposeful and engaging lesson plans for students. I know I am guilty of re-inventing the wheel too many times instead of reaching out to ask for and share ideas with my fellow teachers.

So, let's change that!

On the first Wednesday of each month, we will open up our Wow Us Wednesday Lesson Plan Link Party. We will keep the links open from Wednesday-Tuesday, so check back several times over the course of the week to catch all the great ideas. Feel free to link up any great lesson plans that you would like to share and make sure to "like" the ideas that you really enjoy. We will feature the top three "liked" lessons in a follow-up post.

What's a link party you say? It is a great way to be linked up to other blogs and share information in one easy stop. But Kelley & Orlanda, what if I want to share and I don't have a blog? Never fear ~ the Dynamic Duo is here! There is a way you can share your idea. Just follow the instructions here.

I'll start the party off with a lesson plan that I find to be incredibly useful with my 5th grade social groups. I think it would be a fantastic lesson to use with middle and high school as well.

One of my tried-and-true activities that I do yearly with my 5th grade social group students is designing our own vision boards. A vision board is a tool that helps students identify what they want various aspects of their life to "look like" in the future.

If we already have rapport established in a group that has been together for a while, then we do this activity at the beginning of the school year. If the group is composed of students who do not know each other well, then we do this activity after we've had time to do some team building.

The first step is to create a web that describes the important components of a balanced life. Here is an example of our web.

The kids then cut out pictures of magazines or find images on the computer to represent their short term and long term goals for each of the areas on the web. This really opens up a lot of discussion and even helps some members find commonalities between each other.

They create their own vision boards and present it to the group. Here are a couple of examples of finished vision boards by 5th graders.

We use these vision boards all year as anchors for discussions about how our social behavioral choices either support or harm our ability to reach our goals.

I hope this activity will be good to add for your beginning of the year planning!   ~Kelley

Here are the friendly guidelines for our get-together:
  • When you link up, please grab our button and include it somewhere in your post. You can find it on the sidebar. Or you can simply link to this post on your blog. Thanks!
  • Please visit the other great bloggers that link up to check out their ideas and leave some comment love.
  • Please consider joining the Dynamic Duo as a blog friend. Follow us by email (on the sidebar) or through your blog reader. That way you can make sure to get the most up-to-date posts.
So, get an awesome lesson plan ready to post and join the party!