Thursday, September 29, 2016

A-LIST Spotlight: Kendall Koehler, Centerville City Schools

Recently, we visited another one of our fabulous A-LIST members, Kendall Koehler, at Normandy Elementary in Centerville City Schools.

It was great to observe Kendall's routine, watch a lesson, and snap some pictures of the great ways she is incorporating evidence-based practices in her classroom.

The first thing you will notice upon entering Kendall's room is how she has provided the sensory modulation support of reducing visual clutter. Rather than using all of the overhead fluorescent bulbs in her classroom which can cause students with autism to be overstimulated auditorily and visually, Kendall uses natural light from her windows and soft lighting from lamps. This makes the room feel warm and inviting.

Kendall also uses cool, calming colors to reduce visual clutter. Additionally, she has made some lightweight portable dividers that staff can move throughout the classroom as needed to limit student distractions. She uses solid fabric in a cool color and PVC piping to construct these awesome tools!

Another way Kendall helps her students stay calm and assist them with self-management is through providing a calming space or homebase within her classroom where they can go between activities, after stressful times during the day, or when needing a break. Incorporating a space like this into the classroom is wonderful for times when additional staff may not be available to take students to a larger, dedicated sensory calming room.

Kendall also understands the importance of incorporating exercise into her students day by allowing students to take turns leading a yoga sequence upon returning from their inclusion times in order to ready their bodies for more learning. Pictured below are examples from the FitDeck Yoga Exercise Playing Cards.

Organization is also evident in Kendall's classroom through the use of labeled bins for lesson materials and designated drawers for each student to keep their materials. Organizing materials in this way helps increase student engagement because less time is spent locating and gathering what is needed throughout the day. Directly teaching the routines of where materials are kept helps increase independence. When working with paraprofessionals this system can also be helpful in limiting auditory clutter in the classroom because less discussion needs to occur to explain where materials are located.

Another routine Kendall uses is a transition chair for students to sit in while waiting for another activity or when lining up at the door. Standing still is often very difficult for our students with autism so giving them a designated location to wait by the door provides this expectation and can limit how many redirections are needed while they are waiting.

Kendall communicates some routines to her students through the use of visual supports. Pictured is a mini-schedule or routine schedule she uses to communicate to students what the sequence of reading a story during reading groups will be. Communicating expectations promotes a greater understanding for our students with autism. It also helps them understand what will have to occur before the task is considered finished. This is a great portable resource that students can use as a list to check off with a dry erase marker to show they have completed it. Additionally, Kendall shared that her students could take this visual with them when they go to inclusion in the general education classroom for reading groups as well. 

Kendall also uses visual supports to help illustrate higher-level vocabulary concepts in her classroom. This is an excellent example of using visual reading supports through pairing vocabulary words with a picture. She has displayed the vocabulary that is relevant to the lesson on the board so students are able to retrieve these new words while reading. writing, and discussing the concepts. 
The ACT team wants to extend a big THANK YOU to Kendall Koehler for allowing us to observe these great evidence-based practices in action and for being a valuable resource to fellow educators in the Miami Valley!

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