Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Around Town Round Up-- Calendar & Circle Time

A staple in many classrooms is morning Calendar & Circle Time. This is a great daily activity to work on important life skills vocabulary like the months, weather, seasons, and days of the week. It also provides tons of opportunities for practicing math skills like counting, patterns, and temperature. The possibilities are endless for structuring this important learning time so we have found some of our favorites across the Miami Valley to share in today's Around Town Round Up.

This calendar display incorporates 3D shapes, place value, tens frams, time, number writing/sequencing, tallies, and graphing. What a great way to get daily practice of all of these skills in a busy 1st grade classroom!
Megan Kelly
Beavertown Elementary, Kettering

We love all of the skills covered on this calendar display including dates, days of the week, months, graphing, communication skills of answering questions and greetings, seasons and weather, and attendance. What a great interactive display!
Sara Moore
Warder Park Wayne, Springfield

This display is one of our favorites because it is on a portable divider which can be moved or turned around so that the visuals are not distracting throughout the day.
Ramel Mitchell
Kyle Elementary, Troy

We love how this calendar practices patterns using buildings.
Brittany Sword
Valley Elementary, Beavercreek

For older students, we love these age-appropriate displays.

Carrie Prickett
Jane Chance Elementary, Miamisburg

Robbie Whorton
Trotwood Madison High School, Trotwood

Sometimes, students struggle to remain on task during Circle Time. They may need visual supports to take turns or for following along. 
Tabitha Eaton
Main Elementary, Beavercreek
Amy Beanblossom
Arcanum-Butler Elementary, Arcanum

Anne Rosenbaum
Orchard Park Elementary, Kettering

We love these interactive boards for choosing exercises and songs during Circle Time.
Brittany Bush
Spinning Hills Middle School, Mad River Local Schools

This interactive Morning Message is a great way to practice close reading and writing while priming students on the date, learning theme, group activity, and lunch for the day.
Taylor Ruef
Stevenson Elementary, Mad River Local Schools

This student has an independent task of recording the weather and temperature for each day of the school week. This is a great independent living skill to practice.
Jennifer Jette
Vandalia-Butler High School, Vandalia

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Regulation Rendezvous-- Calming Sensory Rooms featuring Bell Haven PreK-6 School and Rosa Parks ELC, Dayton

We recently had the pleasure of seeing the Calming Sensory Rooms at Bell Haven PreK-6 School and Rosa Parks Early Learning Center in Dayton Public Schools. It is fantastic to see these buildings prioritize these sensory supports for their students and dedicate space and funds for the equipment.

On today's Regulation Rendezvous we will share some pictures of each building's Calming Sensory Room as well as some tips from our OT, Lynn DeMange, on setting up a calming sensory room.

Most of the equipment featured is from the local manufacturer of sensory integration equipment, Southpaw. Visit their website at for more information and ordering.

First up is the room at Bell Haven PreK-6 School.

Zones of Regulation visual on door

marble panel 
sensory rocker

cloud nine

Fiber Optic Tunnel

bubble tube with platform

fiber optic tunnel, bean bag chair, and stereo rover with projector

steamroller and bubble mirror

Next is the Calming Sensory Room at Rosa Parks Early Learning Center:

ball pit and bubble tube

bean bag with fiber optic strands, cloud nine, and color panel

activity panel

sensory rocker, marble panel, stereo rover with projector, and bubble tube with platform

bubble tube with platform

fiber optic strands with platform

If you are thinking about creating a Calming Sensory Space for your school, Lynn has the following recommendations:

Top 10 Tips for Creating a Calming Sensory Space

  1. Cut down on visual and auditory clutter with clearly defined areas. Larger rooms sometimes benefit from the use of dividers to separate spaces. 
  2. Be careful not to schedule too many students in the sensory room at once. This can lead to a calming break actually being too alerting!
  3. Music should be instrumental and played softly.
  4. Use dim lighting to reduce visual overstimulation. 
  5. Students with ASD sometimes struggle with unstructured sensory breaks. Use visual supports and schedules in the sensory room to provide structure and reduce the need for auditory cues.
  6. The calming sensory space can be used as a proactive support through embedding breaks into the student's schedule. Frequency varies depending on a student's individual sensory needs, however one break in the morning and one break in the afternoon is a great place to start. 
  7. Additional breaks can be recommended by staff or initiated by the student.
  8. Use calming seating options such as a rocking chair, vibrating chair pad, or 2-point suspension swing for vestibular input or a bean bag chair or cloud nine for proprioceptive input. 
  9. Weighted items such as a heavy stuffed animal, lap pad, or weighted blanket are also calming. 
  10. Going to a calming sensory space should be viewed in a positive way and not associated with punishment or "time out".

Friday, April 13, 2018

ALIST Spotlight-- Jennifer McGowan, Smith Middle School, Vandalia

This month's ALIST (Autism and Low-Incidence Support Team) Spotlight shines bright on Jennifer McGowan at Smith Middle School in Vandalia. 

When we first started coaching Jennifer she piloting a new unit in a new building and was working a student who had not previously attended a traditional public school program. Jennifer took these challenges in stride and blew us away with her thorough implementation of evidence-based practices and continual reflection and adapting to meet the needs of her students. 

When first entering Jennifer's classroom, you can see she makes great use of physical boundaries to clearly designate specific areas for each classroom activity. 
kitchen station

blue work station 
green work station

iPad station

structured work system station

finished bins for work stations

Jennifer uses location based schedules to help students navigate throughout the classroom and school environment with independence. Students remove the icon from their schedule and match it to the pocket at the corresponding location. We love this use of visual supports!
vertical folder schedule

horizontal clipboard schedule

location-based schedule pockets
Jennifer keeps her visual schedule icons organized using this great tool box.

Other visual supports Jennifer uses help to communicate expectations, 

visual countdown for transitions

line leader job display

stop sign visual cues in kitchen station
rules visuals

 illustrate instructional concepts,

support functional expressive communication,

and display student work.

Jennifer also proactively addresses her students' sensory needs through the evidence-based practices of exercise and self-management supports.
stationary bike

calming sensory space

heavy work pusher

ruler fidget

We love this innovative way to decrease auditory clutter in the classroom restroom using quilted moving pads. 

Jennifer also uses the evidence-based practice of reinforcement to motivate her students. 
reinforcement choice board

reinforcement system incorporating student's flag special interest

earning smiley faces reinforcement system

"working for" reinforcement system
A huge THANK YOU to Jennifer for welcoming us into her classroom and for being an outstanding model for other teachers in the area.