Monday, November 16, 2009

Switch Painting

Here is one of my students using a toy car to do some painting.  This is one of my favorite ways to paint with my switch users, as it creates a great cause/effect activity and makes some really neat artwork.  This car was purchased last year at Target, and you have to push down the back of the car to get it to run.  I adapted it with a battery interrupter, and taped the car top down with some black tape.  My student uses a toggle switch that we have mounted to a plastic picture frame (you can kind of see this in the picture), as this is the best way for him to access his switch.  The toggle switch is plugged into the switch interrupter.  When painting, we let my students pick out which type of paint they want using eye gaze, then we run the wheels of the car into a paper plate of paint.  We set it down on the paper, and let him go to town!   I love the effect of the painted tracks on paper.  We were actually painting this page as part of a turkey activity.  All of my students have been working in art on painting pages with a combination of red, orange, and yellow.  When we are finished, we will be cutting the full pages into feathers and attaching a turkey to the front.  We use many other paint methods, such as marble/ping pong ball painting, attaching paintbrushes to a switch activated cow, fingerpainting, etc., but I would definitely say this is one of the class favorites!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Math Curriculum

This is my first year teaching a pull-out math class, and I started the year just working on the student's IEP goals and very functional math: money, time, measurement.  This was going well, but after a month or two I started to feel like we were just working on the same things every week, and I wasn't actually teaching them new concepts or terms.  I started to look into some different math programs to see what was available.  I found a program I like at Ablenet, but it was way too expensive for my budget.  I found lots of different programs based around just money or just time, but we were already working on that and I wanted something that covered more concepts.  I came across a program from Attainment Company called Teaching to Standards: MATH.  This program caught my eye for a few reasons:
1.  I've gone to a training by one of the authors a few years ago (Diane Browder), and really liked her viewpoint of standards based instruction for students at a lower level.
2.  It teaches advanced concepts that other middle schoolers are learning (geometry, algebra, data analysis)
3.  It teaches using story problems with picture support (similar to News-2-You).
4.  It uses lifeskills based situations to teach complex skills.

I ordered the program and finally received it last week.  So far, it is a hit in my classroom.  My kids are currently learning about points, line segments, and planes by using a map of a grocery store, drawing points for each aisle we need to stop in, line segments to draw our route, and the entire route forms a plane.  My only complaint so far is that my math students like homework, so I'm having to create my own to send home every night because there is nothing that comes with the program I could send.

Is anyone else using a program for their math class, or are you just coming up with things from scratch?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Extension Activities

Have you checked out the News-2-You extension activities that are posted every week?  I feel that these are a hidden gem on some on the website.  In the past, they only posted activities once every few weeks, but lately they have been getting better about posting them weekly and right at the beginning of the week. 
Most of the activities are science labs, which is great for my class because we love to experiment! What I love about the science activites are the handouts that come with them.  My readers will read the hypothesis for the lab, and will then circle whether the hypothesis came true or not, make comments on the lab, etc.  My non-readers/writers will use eye gaze to look at a picture symbol for whether or not the hypothesis was true, and then will mark it using a bingo marker.  I urge you to check out these activities if you haven't yet; some of them are a lot of fun!

P.S. sorry for my absence lately, between school, lesson planning, and some commitees I'm on, I'm having trouble keeping up with my posts!  More to come soon!