Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Memorable Moment #4: "Bad" Behavior/Communication Tool

We all know that behavior communicates something. The trick is to figure out what the "something" is and then react in a way that does not reward the "bad" behavior but honors what the child needs/wants. Let me tell you...that's a great trick!!!

Behavior analysts will tell you that every behavior supports a person's needs/wants (not just a child, not just a student....adults, too.) Behaviors are exhibited to get us what we need/want. Most of the time we identify the four reasons (functions) for behavior as: to get attention, to escape a demand or task, to get something..tangible, to stimulate our senses...sensory.

My teaching partners and I found the following "bad" behavior to be quite humorous. Of course, we have to deal with the behavior and why the student was doing it, but.....the process of that can be quite funny. (Note: Make sure when "bad" behavior is funny, you don't let your student know that it's funny because they could get conflicting messages. Chances are it's only funny the first or second time....after that it's just "bad.")

See if you can figure out what the following student is telling us.... :-)

Libby is a three year old student with Down's Syndrome. On Tuesdays and Thursdays we set up a 6 center rotation where children travel from center to center according to a timer. We organize this within two classrooms that are connected by a middle door. This can be quite demanding for some students.

Libby reached her 4th or 5th center for the day which happened to be her Language Therapy lesson. In the middle of the lesson she decided she was done!

Libby hopped off of her chair and ran from the Language Therapy room to my classroom. (The speech/language pathologist (SLP) was right on her heels.) She tried to shut the door on the speech pathologist! keep in mind...a 3 yr old, shutting the door on the speech path!

Well, the SLP and I happen to be good friends, so when we saw a 3 year old attempting to shut the door in her face, we both wanted to laugh. :-) Fortunately for us, we had our wits about us. Libby was redirected back to her group with a firm voice and reminded that group was finished when the timer "beeped." (by the way....we laughed later!!!!)

What was Libby telling us through her behavior? What was the reason/function for her behavior?

If you guessed "escape," then your hypothesis matched ours. We suspect that she was telling us that she needed to get away from work at that point.

What did we do? We try to get Libby's group within the first few rotations before she gets fatigued. This way we can ensure that her time at language therapy is time well spent. We follow up her groups with gross motor or low demand activites that support her need/want for escape. In short, we go straight back to the "Pre-mack principle." (see previous post: http://michellespecialeducation.blogspot.com/2008/04/benefits-of-daily-routine.html ).

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Social Stories Made Easy

Several of my students have made gains through the use of Social Stories. A social story is designed to teach a student specific details about a social situation so that when the situation naturally occurs, he/she has some strategies and vocabulary to deal with it. For more information on social stories check out wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_stories

Another special education blog recently posted an article about using comic book formats to create social stories. What a great idea!

The site that I particularly like from this post was: http://www.pikikids.com/ps/home

I was playing with it earlier this week. I already have some digital photos on my computer and just followed the instructions to upload some for a social story on task support. I used pictures of a particular student working with me hand over hand on a fine motor task, working next to my assistant and working in a center by himself. Then there is a place to click on speech bubbles to add text. I just added one sentence to each picture about the work task.

It's relatively easy and only took about 15 minutes to complete. The thing I spent the most time on was trying to figure out how to print it.
scroll on the right and there is a print menu box
click "download"
it will open a jpeg image and then print.

Also...IMPORTANT...when you finish the social story sequence, there is a link that toggles between "make my comic public" and "make my comic private." You most likely want to click the private one.

Monday, April 21, 2008

New Feature! Favorite Lessons!

Sometimes when you finish a lesson, you reflect and say "Wow! That was really successful. The kids really learned what I wanted them to." A favorite lesson feeds the passion of the craft of teaching. A favorite lessons often teaches the teacher as much as it teaches the students.

I'd like to create a new feature that will highlight favorite lessons. If you would like to share an idea, the lesson should be structured in the format of a formal lesson plan. This will enable other teachers and parents to review the plan and apply it to their learning environment.

Please share favorite lessons in the comments section.

Here is a favorite lesson of mine that may be useful to others as the summer months approach!

Unit: Marine Life Age/Grade Level: PreK

Lines of inquiry:
~An inquiry into bodies of water
~An inquiry into marine animals
~An inquiry into how water affects life

Lesson time frame:
The completion of this lesson will take at least 1 week. (Other lessons that support the established lines of inquiry will take 4-6 weeks.)

Students will need many daily opportunities to actively explore centers, songs, books and fingerplays to become familiar and fluent with vocabulary words.

It will take approximately 15 minutes to complete the prediction chart. (What do you think we will see at Mote Marine?)

The field trip to Mote Marine will take 1 full school day.

The final writing project will take 2 hours of center time. Students will work one-on-one or in a very small group with the teacher to complete their writing task. Each student will need 5-15 minutes to complete their writing project.

Objective 1: Students will use targeted vocabulary.
fish shark stingray urchin sea anenome
manatee octopus crab lobster swim
float crawl splash hide jump
dive snorkel mask goggles flippers

Objective 2: Students will write and illustrate about what they saw at Mote Marine (your local aquarium), what (a sea creature) did, and what was their favorite.

Materials: laptop, projection screen, crayons, markers, paper, letter strip with visual cues, ABCteach.com sea life word strips, Mote Marine magazine (any aquarium magazine with photos), various books on sea life with real photos, mask, goggles, fins, snorkel, straws,

Lesson Procedure:
Prior to using this book with students, read the story to yourself and think about how you will tell the story for each page. There is too much text for pre-k, but the story line and the supporting pictures are great.
1) Introduce book "Snorkeling on a Coral Reef"
· Show the front cover
· What do you see
· Who is this
· Do you think it is cold or hot?
· What makes you think that?
2) Tell (don’t read) the story. Stop at each page and allow student sufficient time to see the details in the pictures. Discuss sea life in the pictures, the actions of the snorkeler and the actions of the sea creatures.

3) Show students the mask, snorkel and flippers. Discuss why each one is used. (mask to protect your eyes under water, snorkel to help you breathe under water, flippers to help you swim). Show students the goggles. Explain the difference between the mask and the goggles.

4) Introduce snorkeling center. Show students the bendable straws. Have them practice breathing in and out. Tell them after they are finished snorkeing with (my assistant) they will come to my table and draw a picture and tell me about what they saw.

Other centers for sea life exploration:
1) Water table with sea creatures and tongs (“safely move sea creatures to a new home). This center provides sensory input and allows practice of the tripod grasp needed for writing.
2) Book exploration. This center will include many books of sea creatures.
3) Puzzles. Puzzles of sea creatures and recreation or transportation related to water.
4) Math: Fish bowl shaped math mats with sea creatures and a die with numbers 0-5. Students practice numeral recognition and number concepts.
5) Art: Several painting projects and cut and paste projects to develop visual spatial skills and tripod grasp.

The day before the field trip:
During circle time, connect laptop to projection screen and ask students to predict what we might see at Mote Marine (your local aquarium). As students make predictions, record predictions on a 2x2 Boardmaker template.

During the field trip to local aquarium:
Give students a copy of the prediction chart and a crayon. As students are exploring the aquarium tell them to circle any sea creatures on our prediction chart that they find. Ask chaperones and staff to assist.

The day after the field trip:
In a one-on-one situation or very small group, pass out individual prediction charts that were used the previous day. Show students the three sentences starters: “I saw, The___did___, and My favorite___.” Students are to draw a picture about their experience at Mote Marine (substitute your local aquarium). They will be encouraged to write words or sounds. Those who have not yet developed letter sound correspondence will dictate to the teacher.

Strategies used to address diverse learners:
Visual cues
Total Physical Response

Rubric score of 3:
Writing includes temporary spelling of words and phrases.
Writing demonstrates and awareness of beginning capitalization and ending punctuation.
Writing is on topic.
Writing clarification may be dictated and includes 5 or more vocabulary words.
Illustration is on topic.
Illustration includes specific details.

Rubric score of 2:
Writing includes an attempt a beginning or ending sounds, but words or phrases are not evident.
Beginning capitalization and ending punctuation are not evident.
Writing is on topic.
Writing clarification may be dictated and includes at 2-4 vocabulary words.
Illustration is on topic.

Rubric score of 1:
Letter strings are evident or no writing is attempted.
Writing is dictated and includes 1 vocabulary word.
Illustration is attempted but not clearly on topic.

State Standards (Florida):
2.3 Develop vocabulary skills to support reading.
3.4 Respond to literature in a variety of ways.

Web Resources:

What will we see at Mote Marine (substitute the name of your local aquarium)?
(In this section a Boardmaker 2x2 board organizes student predictions. If Boardmaker is not available, a list with line drawings or pre-printed graphics is sufficient. To make the lesson truly successful, the prediction chart is transferred to an 8.5x11 "worksheet" so that children can circle correct predictions when they visit the local aquarium.)

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Memorable Moment #3

My pre-k class and I are very fortunate to be included within our school community. Sometimes pre-k classes are physically located within a school, but function as an independent unit (not wholly integrated into school activities).

At the pre-k level, one of our most important areas of skill development occurs within the social/emotional domain. Positive experiences within the social/emotional domain prepare children to be more successful in learning activities in later years.

One afternoon in January, we went to the cafeteria to participate in the Jog-a-Thon Kick-Off Assembly. One of my students who has autism (Andy), was completely overwhelmed with all of the sensory input, and we needed to leave the assembly. This really bothered me because I thought about how much of his elementary school experience he would miss if he couldn’t enjoy an assembly, school play, guest speaker, performance or concert.

What could I do, as his teacher, to help him organize an overwhelming amount of sensory input?

Throughout the next year, each time there was a class assembly or a grade level assembly, Andy and I would go to the cafeteria early (we were the first to arrive) and wave to our friends as they entered the cafeteria. I would point out people we knew and say "Hi, book buddies. Look, Andy, there's Mrs. Smith. Hi, Mrs. Smith. " We went to everything! We would also sit near the side of the cafeteria, close to a door (just in case we had to make a quick exit.) The idea was to try to point out the things and people that were familiar to him before it was a huge crush. I was hoping that once he realized that in that mess of kids and noise, there were students he knew, teachers he knew, cheers he knew, songs he knew and that he was safe.

As the noise level started to increase, he would sit with me with headphones on and watch the performance. We gradually started to attend bigger and louder assemblies and tried small moments of time without the headphones.

The following year, we had a test. It was time for the school's Winter Concert. Andy and his parents came really early so they would be the first to arrive in the cafeteria. I asked his mom to point out all the people she and Andy knew. Andy stood on the stage with his class, in front of a packed cafeteria and sang Jingle Bells! Smiling and shaking the jingle bells the whole time!

Andy is now in kindergarten and participates in school-wide assemblies without support. We recently had our noisy, stimulating jog-a-thon assembly and Andy sat in the middle of his class participating, smiling and cheering throughout the assembly

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Easy Summer Activities for Families

Summer Time is quickly approaching! Whether your child will participate in a camp, go to summer school, go on a familiy vacation, spend more time at home or a combination of all of the above; families may want to have some ideas of easy, fun activities that will keep children engaged.

Here's a list of some cheap and easy ones I have gathered!

Please share your ideas in the comments section!

1) Shaving cream bags Put a small amount of shaving cream in a gallon size ziploc bag, squeeze out all of the air, seal the top, use packing tape to tape it to an old or inexpensive cookie sheet. Have your child use the shaving cream bag as a "magic slate." Write his/her name. write numbers, draw shapes, practice math facts, doodle! You can change it out by adding a little bit of food coloring or using instant pudding.

2) Shaving cream on sliding glass doors (outside!) Messy, messy, messy! Put some shaving cream on the outside side of your sliding glass doors. Use the shaving cream to write or draw. Occupational Therapists (OTs) will love you! Writing and drawing on a vertical plane, crossing the midline...all kinds of good stuff built in. When you are finished, hose down your child and the door.

3) Go for a walk (make a list of all of the things you see, hear, smell, etc.)

4) Check out the Parent Page at Summer Bridge Activities http://www.summerbridgeactivities.com/sb_parents.htm They have free resources online and a book/computer game package that can be purchased. The book/cd, organizes the summer calendar according to grade level and one activity per day. Students of mine from previous classes have purchased this and found it beneficial.

5) Cook with your child Cooking involves so much authentic reading, math and science....and it's fun! Start with some simple recipes and build up. One recipe my class (3-5 year olds) loves to make is what I call a "dump and stir" recipe. Hawaiian salad: 1 can of mandarin oranges, one can of crushed pineapple, 1 cup of mini-marshmallows, one small container of sour cream....dump, stir, refrigerate. They love it when we use "big" vocabulary words too. Check the "recipe," do we have all of the "ingredients," what's the first step in the "procedure."

6) Make a book list Write down a list of books you want to read. Highlight the titles each time you read one. Read every day!

7) Observe ladybugs Go to your local nursery and ask them if you can have some ladybugs. Use an old fish tank, or large mayonaise jar and create a ladybug habitat. Observe them for a few days and then release them in your garden.

8) Go to the library Take a trip to the library with your child. My local library has videos, DVDs, CDs, book kits with puppets, as well as books!

9) Let your child take photos Help him/her make a photo album with them writing or telling what the picture is about.

10) Play! Play! Play! Make a tent with a sheet over furniture, build with legos, kick and chase with soccer balls, play hairdresser and make special hair-do's, play board games, play card games. Think about play activities.....I bet when you stop to think about the skills a child needs to play successfully, you will be able to come up with several pre-academic or academic skills that are embedded in the play!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Entrance Routines and Procedures

I'm a procedural person. I like having a procedure set with the over-riding goal understood by all classroom staff. This helps me when I'm lesson planning.....I can quickly figure out if new ideas will work with the structure of a procedure or if they need modifying to be successful.

Teachers and/or parents sometimes fear that creating a routine will stifle creativity or limit a child's imagination. While that fear is understandable, my experience is quite the opposite! I see children becoming more creative and more willing to take risks because they have a safe and familiar way to access materials and interact with peers. Exploration, discovery, risk-taking, problem solving, inquiry....all can be embedded into a routine. (Check out an earlier post about daily routines: http://michellespecialeducation.blogspot.com/search/label/daily%20routine)

A natural place to start with classroom procedures is an Entrance Routine or Procedure. At every level of education students have to enter the classroom. The beginning of your lesson will be more effective if you SET and then TEACH your students an Entrance Routine or Procedure.

I have observed quite a few master teachers at work in their classrooms. I have seen a number of ideas for Entrance Routines, however, they all have certain characteristics that are similar. Things to think about before determining your personal entrance routine.

1) What are staff assignments? (bus, parent drop off, classroom)
2) Have a consistent routine in place. (the option or activity may change as the student's skills increase)
3) Can EVERY child participate in the routine? (Is staff support available for those who need it?)
4) Have I set the tone for the day/lesson? (SMILE :-), staff greets student, student greets staff)

I first observed how effective an entrance routine was in my Level 2 internship. (Thanks, Heather, for teaching me such a valuable lesson!) I was interning at a middle school. The teacher I was assigned with taught several different levels of math throughout the day, however at the beginning of each class all of her students did the following:

First: "Do Nows" (board work, usually review problems)
Second: "Mad Minute" (precision teaching based, math fact drills, http://www.fldoe.org/ese/doc/ndexlist.doc)
Third: Homework Review

Heather posted her routine and every class period completed this routine when they entered her class. She varied the assignments according to the class and student needs, however, everyone was able to participate successfully. Inevitably, a smooth entrance and preparation for learning made her instructional time much more effective also!

Ideas for Entrance Routines (Please share your entrance routines in the comments section!)

Idea #1: Journals:
The teacher assigns an option based on student's skill set:

Option 1:
Student draws a picture in journal
*tell an adult about the picture, adult writes dictation
*write beginning sounds to match picture, adult writes dictation
*write a sentence about picture (adult only re-writes sentence if it is not easily decoded)

Option 2:
Student writes sentences only
*student reads journal entry to adult

When daily journal entry is finished:
*student moves journal to corner of desk to "cue" adult they are finished and ready to talk
*adult listens and draws "star" or "smiley" at top of page
*student returns journal into his/her desk until the following day

Completed journal (last journal entry finished) goes home

New journals
*pre-made new journals are stored in a tray on a bookshelf or counter for easy student access
*students independently get a new journal from the tray when needed
(Journals I have used in the past are pages of developmentally appropriate writing paper, stapled together with a construction paper cover. Easy and cheap!)

Idea #2: Visual Entrance Chart
*Create or purchase a poster large enough to accomodate all student pictures or names (leave room for new students/growth). Laminate poster. Stick loops (soft) velcro squares or dots on poster. (We started with a school house poster purchased from a teacher supply store....easy and got us going! Since then we have created posters to match theme units or skills: shapes, colors, numbers, harvest, insects, sea animals, etc.....more work but helps to develop skills and vocabulary.)
*Write students' names on poster board/tagboard. Laminate or cover with sealing tape. Stick hooks (hard/rough) velcro on back of name.
*Stick loops velcro (soft) velcro dots on cubbies or below backpack hooks.
*Place student name on velcro in cubby or below hook.
*When students hang up back pack, they take their name and place it on the chart

Idea #3: Independent Work Folders
*Create a file folder for each student. Fill file folder with individual worksheets based on IEP goals. (I used these a lot with math goals. i.e. Adding to 10 with blocks. Adding double digits with re-grouping. Multiplying single digit by double digits.)
*Work must be able to be completed WITHOUT adult assistance.
*Post goal and mastery chart on or in file folder. (I used a small strip of paper and wrote the goal and mastery level on it. i.e. I can add to 10 with blocks 80% or better. Then I drew a quick and easy chart with 10 small squares.)
*Put sticker or star on chart towards mastery.
*10 stickers = mastery
*Change goal when mastery achieved.

Note: This is a great way to collect data towards goal mastery for progress reports. The students are empowered by helping to collect their data and they have "proof" of their progress. My K-2 class got so excited by mastering their goals, we some-how morphed into having a "goal dance" when they reached their goal.... 10 seconds of a dance with the staff and kids saying "Go Jason! It's your goal dance!" Cheesy but effective (with that group!) :-)

Remember: When creating independent work folders, you should be choosing activities that will move the student towards independently demonstrating IEP goal/objective mastery.

Idea #4: Earn Time
Student Must:
*turn in signed daily report and agenda
*turn in completed homework
*hang up backpack
*say good morning/ greet staff

If all are completed then:
*student may choose a center for play
*clean up cue is the bell for school news

If all are not completed then:
*student completes homework at desk
*student may draw at desk

Idea #5: Table Work / Desk Work / Bell Work
*Teacher chooses an activity that is placed on students tables/desks as they arrive
*Student completes work/activity
*Pre-K example: choice of puzzles, book exploration, choice of selected manipulatives (I choose the type of activity. The child chooses which specific item he/she wants.)
*K-2 example: math pages, Explode the Code, individual whiteboards/chalkboards
*3-5 example: calendar work, cursive handwriting, Explode the Code (check out link) http://www.epsbooks.com/dynamic/catalog/series.asp?subject=02S&subjectdesc=Phonics%2FDecoding++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++&series=1460M

Entrance routines allow students and staff to start the day on a positive note. Entrance routines establish a framework teaching students HOW to enter the classroom and prepare themselves to learn! There are limitless ways to incorporate this into your day. I love learning successful strategies from other teachers and parents!

I invite you to share your successful entrance routines in the comments section!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Tips for Reducing Teacher Burnout

I read somewhere that the lifespan of a typical special education teacher is 4 years. How do you get beyond the 4 year burnout? Here are a few tips that helped me! Please share what strategies help you in the comments section.

1) File your positive notes (Every now and again you will receive a really nice note, e-mail or card from a parent, an administrator or another staff member. Create a file! If you need a "pick-me-up" or a reminder of why you do what you do, go to your file and read a few notes.)

2) Find a mentor (Actually, my mentor and I refer to him as my "Tor-Mentor." He doesn't really mentor me, he torments me. :-) Primarily because he won't "yes, ma'am" me. He will tell me honestly what he thinks, challenge my mind set, kick me in the tush when it's needed or point me in a new direction. This is precisely what makes him a good mentor....he encourages me to continually think and grow.)

3) Make friends with your bookkeeper and custodian (I was well into my third year of teaching before I knew that I had a classroom budget for construction paper, glitter, paint, etc. I was into my fourth or fifth year before I realized money could be "found" if you really needed something. I was happy as a clam when the custodian reached my classroom quickly when a child threw up...ughhh!.... and pleased as punch when they figured how to get approval for the anti-bacterial spray I wanted for my pre-k room. They know secrets! Let them help!)

4) Beg, borrow and steal (Okay, don't steal, but definitely beg and borrow. Take time to find out what other teachers are doing and how they do it. Most teachers are willing to share ideas, tips, copies, patterns, etc. After you find out what they are doing, figure out how to apply it to your teaching situation. After you apply it.....share an idea back with them!)

5) Identify your favorite stress management technique (working out? going for coffee? reading a book? going for an adult beverage? What helps you unwind and put school behind you? Figure it out and then apply it! Enjoy your time away from school....it helps you to stay refreshed and be a better teacher.)

6) Laugh and enjoy your students! Teaching is fun! Enjoy it!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Memorable Moment #2

I was particularly pleased one day when I saw one of my second grade students laughing while reading his Amelia Bedelia book. In this particular passage, Amelia Bedelia was supposed to take attendance at a school, or “call the roll.” If you are familiar with Amelia Bedelia books, you know that Amelia Bedelia frequently gets confused. Rather than “calling the roll,” Amelia Bedelia “called the roll.” She set a dinner roll on the ground and called to it. I asked him what he was laughing at he replied with, “This is so funny, she called the roll” and he pretended to call a dog. I asked him what she should have done and he said she was supposed to call the kids’ names.

Through this qualitative, narrative experience, I learned several things about this child that I may not have learned with a typical reading test. I know that Ky not only was able to effectively decode the words on the page, but he also comprehended the text. Moreover, he applied his comprehension to what he knew about school and understood the joke!

I love to see children enjoying books and literature. When I see children responding emotionally to books, I am hopeful that the personal, emotional connection they are developing will encourage them to be lifelong readers.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

The Benefits of a Daily Routine

Have you ever watched John and Kate Plus 8? It's a TV show on Discovery Channel about a married couple who has two sets of multiples (twins and sextuplets). The twins are in elementary school and Kate is a stay at home mom with the sextuplets. Well, in one episode (I'm paraphrasing because I can't remember the exact quote) Kate says that her days with the sextuplets are.....vastly different yet shockingly the same. I laughed out loud when she said that because it completely mirrors what I do as a special education teacher. The framework is the same every single day, but the conversations and lessons are so very different. The method to ensure that each day is the same is by scheduling the day according to a routine.

Why would I bother with a routine? As an adult, think about your comfort level related to activities/events where you are familiar with and know what to expect. Think about knowing expectations.

Each morning I drive to school. I know that I need 17 minutes to drive to school, park and enter my classroom by 8:00am. I also know that students begin arriving at 8:10. I know that my plan book is on my desk, my assistant will have read what I want for table work and will have it placed on the tables. That gives me 10 minutes each morning to touch base with my assistant.

Having my routine set when I get to work REALLY helps me. Knowing how much time I need to get to school, what I will be doing and what my assistant will be doing helps me get through my grouchy morning self (also the perfect cup of coffee: just the right temperature with just the right amount of creamer hand delivered to me by my husband...that helps me get through my grouchy morning self, too.) :-)

Setting classroom and home routines helps children understand expectations and boundaries. It helps them to become familiar and comfortable within the day. A routine (as illustrated in my personal anecdote) also becomes a strategy to use during moments of stress or emotion. We tend to revert back to what is familiar and comfortable. Knowing this, it is important to create an effective routine that becomes comfortable. When scheduling an effective routine there are several things that must be kept in mind.

1) Developmentally Appropriate Practice (Ask yourself, what should my students/children be learning? What must be included? reading? centers? math?)
2) Natural times for specific activities (Children get hungry in the middle of the day. If your lunch time is not determined by the school, plan an appropriate time. Young children typically learn best in the morning block and often become tired by the afternoon. Plan academics or pre-academics in the morning and quiet or less demanding activities in the afternoon.)
3) Use the Premack principle! (The Premack principle states that students will generally perform a less desirable task to get to a more desirable task. Check out this wikipedia link for more info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Premack I have a friend who calls this "Grandma's rule." I also use the Pink Floyd song lyrics: "If you don't eat yer meat, you can't have any pudding. How can you have any pudding if you don't eat yer meat?" to explain this principle to my college students. One example of applying the Premack principle in my classroom practice is clean up and snack. When we clean up centers then we go to the table and have a snack.
4) For teachers: check school policies/routines! (Many schools have school routines in place for entrance/dismissal, recess, lunch, specials, reading blocks, computer labs, etc. Your classroom schedule may have some flexibility in some areas but limited flexibility in others. Check first!)
5) Post your routine (Once you have scheduled your routine, post it in your home or classroom. In moments of stress, you can point out where you are in the routine and remind your student/child what comes next. It helps children conceptualize the idea that this activity will not last forever and a more desired activity will follow. Think of you posted routine as if it were an agenda for a staff meeting. When you have a printed agenda in front of you, you can check your progress throughout the meeting.)

Following are three examples of a daily schedule. One is designed for students with special needs in pre-kindergarten, the next is for students with special needs kindergarten-second grade and the final schedule is for third-fifth graders with special needs. You will notice that more specific classroom routines are embedded within the daily schedule. In his book The First Days of School, Harry Wong discusses and stresses the importance of classroom procedures. http://www.harrywong.com/

(I will discuss other specific classroom procedures in later posts.)

Entrance Routine (hang up backpack, put folder in tray, put name on chart, choose table work)
Table Work
School News
Morning Circle
Centers (discovery play, small group work)
Clean Up
Gross Motor Activity
Video/Interactive Stories online on the projection screen
Closing Circle (Tuesdays: computer buddies, Thursdays: book buddies)
Gross Motor Activity

Kindergarten-2nd grade
Entrance Routine (hangup backpack, put folder in tray, choose bell work)
Bell Work (calendar work, journal writing)
Morning Circle
Reading Groups
Math Groups
Language Arts
Specials (art, music, pe)
Affective lesson
Developmental centers
Pack Up and Dismissal

Third Grade to Fifth Grade
Entrance Routine (hang up backpack, folder in tray, choose bell work)
Bell Work (calendar work, cursive handwriting practice)
School News
Math Groups
Class Meeting
Writers Workshop and Language Arts
Reading Groups
Computer Lab (individual reading and math practice on computer)