Schoolroom Swag

Elementary Teacher

Having fun in the classroom and "balancing" life!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Community: a Social Studies theme can be fun???

Did anyone else fall asleep on the living room floor at 8:30 tonight???!!!! How sad. 

Does anyone teach a Community theme for Social Studies? I do, and I have a hard time making it fun and exciting. I wanted to go beyond the basic "community helpers" that the kids have been learning about since preschool. Our community theme includes places to live, work, and solve problems. I really want them to learn that being a part of a community means helping others and solving problems together. Along with being a good citizen, and learning to be responsible with their resources. We just started touching on places to live and work, and are heading toward problem- solving with others around us. Here's the best thing we've done so far:

 We made a community using Legos, blocks, and anything else the kids brought in or I had. Here are some boys making a street cleaner. A for originality! We turned this into a discussion of weather differences in the South vs. the North. Living in IL for 4 years, we saw many street cleaners. Here in AZ, not so much. (Too much dust to make it cost effective.) So we talked about the reasons we wouldn't use street cleaners in the dusty weather.

 Above are my girls working on a hotel, a house, a skyscraper with apartments on the top floors (and some really cool  architectural features!) and a church, complete with rows of seats!

Our focus this week was problems in the community. The problem we discussed was how houses could get wrecked. This came up because one little girls' house was wrecked after it got stepped on because it was in the wrong place. So that led to a whole discussion on zoning, and why we don't have McDonald's right next to our houses. It was a great discussion. So then we wrote different ideas about how buildings can get wrecked on the "windows" of the sky scraper. Then we discussed how townspeople work together to rebuild, and we all rebuilt together. It was really fun.

 My kids LOVE working on their community and have always been completely engaged in all the discussions we've had. Yes, even the zoning! In a couple weeks we're heading to a fire station and the city hall, and I'm actually super excited about it!

Next week we'll be discussing government workers to get ready for our field trip. We're having an election of a community mayor, and getting into "town councils" for problem solving meetings. I have a community unit for sale for $1 with these activities in it, if you want to take a look.

 Thanks for reading! Have a great weekend!!

  Glitter Words
[ - *Glitter Words*]

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Asperger's Syndrome

 Asperger's Syndrome
I have a child in my room that has been diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome. I have only dealt with one other AS student in my career that has actually been diagnosed. I've had many others that were ADHD, and some that possibly were, but weren't diagnosed. I'm not a special ed teacher, and I have almost no training with students on either ends of the spectrum as far as special needs or  "giftedness". But I'm learning. Like I've said before, I teach in a small, private school and we are blessed to have a reference person (many other Christian schools don't) but she's only there ONE day a week for only a few hours. I'm sure there are many of you in my shoes whether you teach in public or private schools.

Here are some things I've tried this year. 
-at the beginning of the school day, my AS child goes to a quiet place with his book box to read by himself
-I allow him to sit on my lap during whole group discussions when we are at one of the whole group rugs (he is outside the box on this, as he likes physical contact, unlike most AS kids)
-he holds something for me during discussions
-he is my modeler for many modeling sessions
 -I set a timer for his homework and tell him he needs to get a certain amount of work done before the timer goes off
-he has a finger puppet in his desk that he can whisper to when he needs to say something
-I have a rice-filled sock puppet that puts weight on his legs at his desk or at the circle

I have read some great articles that were full of information:
"Teaching and Learning Approaches for Children with Asperger's Syndrome" by Francine Falk-Ross, Mary Iverson and Carol Gilbert from the Council for Exceptional Children

This is from the Council for Exceptional Children website. It has a LOT of good articles on it.

There is also a book that is strictly fiction, but about a teenager with AS that gives insight into the mind of an AS child. It's called "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime." by Mark Haddon.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (Today Show Book Club #13) 

I know we don't have time to read. These articles, and even the book, are short and easy to read and make use of their ideas. And I'm reading them over time. 

 Clearly, I am no expert on this subject and am only BEGINNING to learn. But I thought maybe some of you are in the same boat. We need all the tools we can find. If anyone else has ideas, I'd LOVE to hear them! 

 Glitter Words
[ - *Glitter Words*]