Monday, October 31, 2016

A-LIST SPOTLIGHT: Jody Chick, Yellow Spring H.S.

The Miami Valley ACT team is proud to spotlight A-LISTer Jody Chick's High School classroom in Yellow Springs, Ohio.

Jody shared some great examples of evidence-based practices while we were visiting including Visual Supports including group and individual routine mini-schedules to communicate expectations to students and increase independence.

Many classrooms have a class-wide or individual daily schedule that helps students to navigate their environment and better understand the routine of the school day. However, they sometimes need the additional support of a mini-schedule so they better understand the expectations within a designated location.

Additionally, the visual presentation of expectations helps communicate them as a "rule" or something concrete and often this prevents students from trying to negotiate about what is expected.

Jody also uses another evidence-based practice of teaching Self-Management through one of our favorite curriculums, The Zones of Regulation written and created by Leah Kuypers. Jody uses the concept of "expected" and "unexpected" behaviors to help students better understand how their behavior influences others. This is am important concept to directly teach since many students with ASD struggle with theory of mind.

Additionally, Jody has an area of her classroom designated to regular Zones Check-Ins so she can gauge where her students are when starting the day or an activity. Once students have checked in, Jody can use this information to help them use their self-management strategies as needed.

Another great EBP found in Jody's classroom is the use of Structured Work Systems. 

Jody has individualized these stations to communicate expectations in a way that each student understands. We love her use of mini cork boards to hold visual tools such as the visual contract which is another great example of an evidence-based practice of Reinforcement!

Finally, we noticed that Jody is also using reinforcement through incorporating interests during leisure time through the use of high-interest magazines. What a great way to keep kids interested in an age-appropriate way!

Thank you Jody for allowing us to visit your room and for being such a wonderful example of evidence-based practices for area teachers! 

Monday, October 17, 2016

Around Town Roundup--Interactive Visual Schedules

One of the best aspects of being a part of the Miami Valley Autism Coaching Team is that we get to spend tons of time in a variety of classroom settings. Many times we see awesome evidence-based practices already in place before we even start coaching! We wanted to feature these teachers and strategies in our new blog series "Around Town Roundup"! 

The ACT Team is a BIG fan of the evidence-based practice of using visual supports in the classroom. And one of our favorites is the use of interactive, visual schedules. 

Interactive schedules provide students with clear expectations and a structure that allows the student to anticipate what will happen next, reduce anxiety by providing the student with a vision of his/her day and promote calmness between transitions. Even if you feel like the student knows the routine, it is a tool that the student can fall back on during times of confusion or anxiety.

An interactive schedule can look very different depending on the needs of the student and the classroom. Regardless of the style of the schedule, it is important that the student is interacting with the schedule.  If it is just posted on the wall or lost in a desk, the student may not connect with it.  Encourage the student to interact with the schedule regularly by having them move each picture into a “finished” area, take the schedule card to the designated location, or put a check next to each event as it is completed.

Sometimes, especially in classrooms of younger students or in self-contained resource rooms, the whole class may follow a consistent schedule and therefore a class-wide schedule can be used. 
Becki Schwab, Eastmont Elementary in Dayton

Brittany Bush, Spinning Hills Middle School in Mad River Local Schools
 In these two examples, the teachers use a pocket chart. One way to increase student interaction with a class-wide schedule in a pocket chart would be to assign a helper to take out or flip over the schedule strip after completion. This helps students see the passing of time throughout the day. 

Another way to increase student interaction with a class-wide schedule is having students take turns removing the schedule cards and placing them in a finished pocket seen here under the door handle.
Emily Ottmar, Stevenson Elementary in Mad River Local Schools 
Sometimes when a whole group schedule is used for a majority of the day, it may be necessary to have individual schedules only for a centers block when individual schedules can vary.
Brian Frimel, Bradford Elementary, Bradford
For students just learning the concept of a visual schedule or who are beginning to transition to their own individual schedules, a First/Then board may be the first step. Many times this will also act as a Work/Break sequence as well for students who need a high level of reinforcement.
Anne Rosenbaum, Orchard Park Elementary in Kettering
Laura Brown, Perrin Woods Elementary in Springfield
Jennifer McGowan, Smith Middle School in Vandalia
Once a First/Then board is mastered, many times teaches will gradually begin adding more schedule icons to build independence and help students get a better sense of the extended schedule:
Rebecca Lemons, Miamisburg Middle School in Miamisburg

Some other examples of individual schedules are below:
Rebecca Lemons, Miamisburg Middle School in Miamisburg

Anne Rosenbaum, Orchard Park Elementary in Kettering

An interactive schedule is a visual communication tool that clarifies where the student should be.  Using a location-based schedule is a great way to help students with transitions because they take the schedule card off of their schedule and take it to the designated location which is marked by a corresponding picture and has somewhere for the card to be placed. 
Emily Ottmar, Stevenson Elementary in Mad River Local Schools
Kate Tipple, Helke Elementary in Vandalia
Jennifer McGowan, Smith Middle School in Vandalia

Taylor Ruef, Stevenson Elementary in Mad River Local Schools
Sometimes a location-based schedule is not necessary because the student is able to transition independently. In these cases, a designated "finished" location for schedule cards should be used so students are still able to interact with the schedule and so they can see the passing of time/completion of scheduled activities. Many times our students are very motivated by getting closer to that bus or car icon to signal it is time to go home!
Kate Tipple, Helke Elementary in Vandalia
Emily Ottmar, Stevenson Elementary in Mad River Local Schools
Laura Brown, Perrin Woods Elementary in Springfield
Other times, transitioning to the schedule in order to check whats next can be a concern. To increase independence in her classroom, Laura Brown uses color-coded name strips which she hands to students so they can take it to their schedule and place it in the library pocket on their schedule. 
Laura Brown, Perrin Woods Elementary in Springfield

A common concern for teachers is how to manage and organize all of the schedule cards needed for schedules. Look at these great organizational ideas!
Brian Frimel, Bradford Elementary in Bradford

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

A-LIST Spotlight, Leslie Mann, Vandalia-Butler City Schools

Recently, the ACT team visited the classroom of A-LISTer Leslie Mann at Smith Middle School in Vandalia to see all of the great supports she had in place and to observe a lesson. Leslie works closely with fellow A-LISTers and paraprofessionals Kelsey Biggar and Butch Wise.

Upon entering the room, it is evident that Leslie uses the evidence-based practice of Self-Management direct instruction to help her students identify how they are feeling, recognize obstacles, and develop self-management techniques.

The Smith team uses several ACT team favorite curriculums including The Incredible 5 Point Scale,  Zones of Regulation and Superflex.

Within her classroom Leslie has an area for students to do a zones check-in which aligns with the Zones of Regulation curriculum.

Additionally there is a Strategy wall for students to reference including The Incredible 5 Point Scale and Whole Body Listening which can be built upon throughout the year.

The Smith team also has a wall of "Unthinkables" where students can review different behaviors and challenges that may prevent them from demonstrating self-regulation which they have learned through the Superflex curriculum.

We had the opportunity to observe Leslie teaching a Superflex lesson. During the lesson she used a variety of Multi-Sensory Teaching Strategies to keep students engaged in learning. The lesson began with a focusing activity at the whiteboard using MeMoves. Leslie reviewed previously taught Unthinkables and then introduced Rock Brain using a variety of activities. The students used these paddles to determine if scenarios were thinking of themselves or others. Students also had the opportunity to work in groups to complete a puzzle about Rock Brain and other previously taught Unthinkables. She also reviewed some Social Skills Training to help students participate appropriately with their groups.


In addition to great Self-Management tools, they also had several Visual Supports to help students with transitions such as the Visual Countdown and with voice volume.

Another great evidence-based strategy in Leslie's classroom was the use of Reinforcement. Students had punch cards for demonstrating targeted behaviors.

Students also had the opportunity to earn various reinforcing items which were visually presented.

Finally, Leslie finished her lesson with a reinforcing leisure activity time.