Monday, April 24, 2017

Spectra Gymnastics

Last week we took a wonderful trip to Spectra Gymnastics. Spectra is a gymnastics studio that was specially designed for children with Autism and other disabilities. The instructors at Spectra have a background in gymnastics, of course, but a background in Autism as well--making it a great place for us to visit.

The owner and I corresponded in advance about the specific plans that would benefit our students. She designed the perfect plan for both our class and Miss Amanda's class to get the best experience that we could. She used visual schedules to show the kids what we'd be doing, pre-taught the activities, and used differentiated instruction techniques tailored to each class. We oriented to spots on the floor, just like we practice in APE, to have a "home base" between activities to receive specific instruction for what we were about to do next. The kids had the opportunities to try lots of new activities to challenge them physically and socially. They handled the new sensory challenges and demands so well! I am so proud of them!

In addition to the excitement of Spectra itself, we also took advantage of the life skills opportunity of travel training! We took two tri-met buses each way! This meant lots of walking and LOTS of waiting. We had to check our travel plans and observe stop numbers and bus numbers. We had to be kind and courteous to strangers on the bus, and practice greeting the bus driver. We had to walk and wait in the pouring rain and use some situational observation skills to find an awning to stay dry! We also practiced being really close to our friends safely so we could share the dry space!

What a day of excitement and learning! I am so impressed with how well they did, and so excited to see what new challenges they can handle in the future! As one kindergartener commented when we got back to school, "Wow, that was such a wonderful adventure!"

For more information about Spectra's classes and camps, visit their website here:

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Walking in a line

Big things are happening here at Sexton Mountain!

I've been a little slower to post on the blog, partly because we've had a lot of meetings after school lately, and partly because we've just been SO BUSY! Now that we're finally through the snow day struggles and back from spring break, we have a lots of consistent five day weeks to work hard on some new skills. Our new class goal this month is to walk through the halls in a quiet, straight line. In the beginning of the year, we were focusing on walking safely and staying with teachers, but now that we have that mastered, we're upping the expectations!

This month we're also talking about varying modes of transportation (which the kids LOVE) so we're talking about walking in a line like train cars on a track. The engine is the line leader, and the line leader sets the pace of the line. The caboose is at the end of the line, and makes sure our line is straight. We stay directly behind the friend in front of us, because train cars stay in a line on the track.

This is a really tough skill that lots of classes struggle with, and we're making great progress! Check out this great line!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

A visit from some special community helpers

In February we studied community helpers, to help our students understand how to identify members of their community that they could talk to in case of an emergency. In this unit we we talked about police officers, what their vehicles and badges look like, and how we can ask them for help if we need it. The Beaverton Police Department does an amazing amount of outreach in the Beaverton School District already, but today we got a special opportunity to talk to some officers in our classrooms. 

We practiced quietly following directions when police officers asked us to do things. This is an incredibly important skill. The recent tragedy in California reminds us that unexpected things can happen at anytime. School staff have special training to help keep kids safe. But if something did happen where we had to quickly follow the directions of officers in our school or community, we wanted to make sure our kids had some calm practice. Everyone did a nice job calmly following directions. 

We also got to look at the police supply truck and a police car. The officer showed us the lights and sirens, which can be exciting, but also a little overwhelming. He talked about asking teachers or family for help if we feel overwhelmed. We talked about good guys and bad guys and how police officers are good guys that help us (other good guys) stay safe! An all around awesome and educational time--huge thanks to the police officers who helped us today!

Thursday, March 2, 2017


Today is a day to celebrate!

Today was the 100th day of school!
With all the snow days and schedule changes, it's been tough to keep track, but we've made it to this very exciting milestone! It's incredible to pause and observe in the SRC Primary classroom these days--the kids are moving so independently through their schedules, interacting with their friends and teachers and working hard in their sessions. It is clear how much more confident they feel, and the love of learning is growing by the day. We're over half way through this exciting school year, and have so much further to go!


Above are some shots of us dancing and counting to 100 with gonoodle!

Today is also Dr. Seuss's birthday!
We focus on literacy throughout each and every day, but every year on this day it's nice to pause and reflect on the important authors that have helped shape children's literature. Today we celebrated by reading lots of Dr. Seuss books aloud, and making special Cat in the Hat hats! Last year on this day, I wrote a blog with some tips to encourage reading, if you would like to check it out, the link is below:

Oh the places you'll go!
Our amazing Special Education Program Assistant, Kerri, surprised the kids with her Cat the Hat costume!
Below are some samples of our writing today! We read some of our favorite Dr. Seuss books and wrote about them! I am so impressed by our details and careful handwriting!

Community Helpers
This is also a time to celebrate all of the exciting learning we have done this month! We have talked quite a bit about community helpers this month. We have read stories, colored pictures, matched supplies, counted helpers and generally familiarized ourselves with some people in the community that are safe and helpful to talk to. We hope that our students are never in a position to need to find a police officer or fire fighter, but with this unit we have aimed to help them understand how and when these people can help us. After spring break, some of our wonderful resource officers are going to come to Sexton Mountain to do a presentation with us about their jobs. Stay tuned for more information about that!

As many of you saw, we did an AMAZING job performing on stage at our SRC musical! Our hard work over the previous several weeks paid off to have a confident and exciting performance! Many of you were there to video the performance live, but if you would like a copy of our videos, please send in a burnable disc and I can make you a copy!
(The videos are too large to post here)

Time for IEP meetings
As you all know, now is the time of the year when we start to have lots of annual IEP meetings. This is a really exciting time for the specialists and me! We love to talk with you about your kids and the progress they've made! Please also keep in mind that this is a very BUSY time. With all of the additional paperwork, and the revised calendar (loosing all of our work days because of the snow days), our time is very limited. Most of my day is spent directly teaching children--my favorite part of the job! The very little time I have away from kids is divided between meetings, lesson planning, paperwork and communication. With the increase in meetings and paperwork, my time to communicate is a bit crunched. I will continue to do my best to reply promptly, thanks for your understanding! :)

Monday, February 6, 2017

Reading, Writing and learning galore!

Now that we've all settled into our classroom routines, we're really rolling up our sleeves for intensive learning. As we talked about at curriculum night in the fall, we use a TON of great resources each and every day the SRC classrooms. You're probably more familiar with the STAR program, and might recognize some things we work on from when your student was in early intervention, but there is so much more your student is working hard on every day! Below are some highlights of some curriculums and assessments we're using:

Independent Reading Level Assessment Framework
The Independent Reading Level Assessment Framework, or IRLA for short, is a way for teachers to assess reading, set goals and provide instruction. The IRLA is aligned to the common core state standards, and while we use our own SRC Learning Targets in our classroom, the IRLA is still a great way to get an idea of each student's skill set. We are always working towards our targets and the common core standards. One of the really great things about the IRLA is that it covers lots of elements of reading, and helps teachers meet the student exactly where he/she is. In your student's folders you'll find IRLA Skills Cards. These cards have specific goals highlighted for your student! This way you can see what we're working on here at school, and it gives you an idea of what you can do to help them improve their holistic reading skills!

Handwriting Without Tears
This year, the Beaverton School District adopted the Handwriting without Tears curriculum to help students in primary with handwriting skills. This fabulous program has been used in special education for years, so we are so excited to be working with new materials this year. Below are some comments from Marcia, our OT, about the curriculum:

Handwriting Without Tears is a program that was designed by an occupational therapist to teach children how to write using hands-on, multisensory materials. It was designed in such a way that it introduces shapes, numbers, and letters in an order that matches the progression of children’s developmental abilities so that it is easier for them to practice, learn, and remember.  This matches with your child's Occupational Therapy treatment and the progression of skills needed for success.  I am so thrilled that this program is adopted by the district and used in our classrooms!

Marcia Loggins, OTR/L
Occupational Therapist

Exposure to a library!
One of the most important ways to encourage reading is to make sure kids have access to a library of diverse books! 

Pssstt.....I updated our wishlist! Check out the wishlist page on the side bar!