Thursday, September 17, 2015

Top 3 Back to School Wins!

This year, I am teaching an all special needs learning strategies class at my middle school.  I have 17 students each with their own specific needs and my job on paper is to teach them various skills like communication skills, executive functioning, and self-determination.  Translated, that means teaching organization to the students who are typically the most disorganized!

So I tried some new things this year for back to school and decided to share the top 3 things that worked the best for me!

Have you ever heard of or read this book?   It's the story of how soldiers convinced the townspeople to help them make "stone soup".  Everyone contributed a little something and the final product was a feast!

My students had not heard of this book and even though they were off kilter from learning new schedules, they were silent as I read this book.  Not just silent - they were into it!  This was perfect because of the message we were able to glean from the book - that we all have something to contribute and if we work together, we can make something great!  We put what we have to share on interactive notebook foldables and then I put them up on our "expert wall":

These activities and more were part of my new Back to School pack:

The first topic that we are exploring in class is growth mindset.  I wanted students to think about how they communicate to themselves before we begin to work on communicating with others.   So, after learning about not giving up when things were hard, we played this "cups" game.

Each group of students was given one "tool" - a rubber band with four pieces of yarn tied to it.  Using only the tool, the students had to work together to move the cups into pyramids and then stack the cups all into one sleeve.

They loved this game!  They cooperated, participated appropriately and did not give up!  This was a major win because up until this point all the change of a new year definitely had my students acting out.

Part of teaching organization is requiring the students to fill in their planner in all their classes.  As many of my students are 6th graders this year, they eat the earliest lunch.  They were coming to me the last period of the day and they were hungry!  

So I told them that if they had their planner filled out for every class, that they would earn a snack.  So, as I check planners, I pass out small dixie cups to those who have their planners filled in.  While the bell work is being completed, I fill the cups.  This week it was goldfish crackers.  You would think they were made of real gold the way the kids are working for them!  Almost all planners are now filled in and you won't hear a word during bell work as they are all munching away!

It's not all sunshine and roses, but I think we are off to a good start and I thank you for joining me to celebrate our success!  

Leave a comment to tell all about your back to school wins!


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