Friday, October 6, 2017

"That's money in the bank"

Have you been hearing about money at home? I would guess that many of you have! Last week we introduced the concept of banks and the student store--our own little classroom token economy. The kids were interested in the idea, since money is super cool, but this week when we actually started earning money, the true excitement came through!

The kids are earning coins throughout their day for engaging in target behaviors. Those behaviors may look different in each session, and the adults are giving very specific verbal praise along with money, so that the kids know exactly what they did to earn that coin. For example, in a structured play session, a student may earn money for sharing toys, whereas in writing, they may earn money for holding a pencil the way an adult asks.

The engagement with coins themselves have been wonderful! We've been talking about money for awhile, but this gives it practical application in their world, which is of course a skill they will need for the rest of their lives. The title of this post, "That's money in the bank!" is something one of our students is adorably saying every time they put money in their bank. Another student was given a nickel, and tried to negotiate for a quarter! Wow! Really understanding the difference of these objects, and that they represent something bigger!

We finished off this week the way we will every Friday, by counting all the money in our banks and buying a prize from the student store. The excitement of this event was just amazing :) 

For more information on token economies, check out these resources:

Friday, September 29, 2017

There's so much going on!

Fun stuff we from September...

Spirit assembly-This morning we attended our first assembly of the year! Assemblies are full of enthusiasm, so they can sometimes be a bit loud for our kids. I am so proud of how well each of our students did today! Some stayed for the whole time, and others asked to leave, but everyone stayed for at least a few minutes! Nice job friends!

Inclusion-This week we started our inclusion in general education classrooms during our school wide morning meeting. This is something that ALL of our general education teachers and peers were absolutely thrilled about! Our students did wonderful, and I'm looking forward to continuing to practice this throughout the year!

Fun stuff coming up in October...

Banks-Next week we will be starting our classroom banking system! Each student personalized their own bank this week, and next Monday, we will start earning money for hard work and targeted behavior skills. At the end of each week, students will count their money and cash it in at our student store! Stay tuned for more exciting stories about this in October!

Gardening-In October, we will work on getting our SRC garden ready for fall planting. Sexton Mountain has graciously given us garden space in one of our beautiful atriums, so we will clean it up for some fall planting. 

Picture Day-Friday, October 13th will be picture day! Our amazing school has scheduled us first thing in the morning, so we'll try to keep as neat and tidy as possible to get some great pictures! Information from the photography studio coming soon, make sure you get your order returned on or before the 13th!

Field trip-Our first field trip of the year will be on Wednesday, October 18th to Plumper Pumpkin Patch! We will get to go on a hayride, meet farm animals, hear about harvest from a farmer and pick a pumpkin! The cost for this field trip will be $7. Please return the permission slip sent home on Thursday and $7 at your earliest convenience.

Conferences-Fall conferences are on Thursday, October 19th and Friday, October 20th. Please indicate your 1st, 2nd, and 3rd choices on the form sent home on Thursday. We will do our best to accommodate everyone's schedules.

This year is off to an AMAZING start! Thank you all for your love and support! :)

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Buddy Classes

Exciting times in the Sexton Mountain SRC! Next week we will be starting buddy classes!

Here at Sexton, every class in the school starts the same way--with a morning meeting to check in. Classes sit together and talk about what is going on in our lives, work on some projects as a team, and work on starting the day as happy and calm as possible.

Starting next week, our friends will have the opportunity to visit their buddy classes for morning meeting at least once a week! They will walk down with a buddy from our class and a teacher, and will participate in the activity of the day. There are social stories in your child's folders about their specific buddy class, and we're talking about the rules and expectations of kindergarten and first grade here in our class.

This week we have been preparing our kids in the SRC for their new adventure, but we've also been preparing the kids in the general education classes. I have been in each class to speak about Autism, communication, special skills and needs and the ways that first graders and kindergarteners can be great friends. We talked about being role models and also some nonverbal ways to encourage and communicate without being too overwhelming at first. These kids are awesome! We are already getting tons of thumbs up and quiet waves and smiles in the hallways. Each class has been abuzz with ways to include our friends. We are so excited!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Welcome to the 2017-2018 school year!

Hello everyone!

Welcome back to school! I hope you had a restful and fun summer with your amazing children! We are off to an exciting start already this school year. As you know, each year looks a little different the SRC and this year is no exception. Last year we had a very large class, with lots of new faces and lots of friends new to the program and school in general. That gave us lots of big excitement and learning from day one. This year, we have more familiar faces, and many of our friends have been with us a while. The friends that are new have lots of built in models to help make the transition to school even easier. This familiarity gives us the great opportunity to hit the ground running! We're excited for big challenges and some changes this year.

Early Release Wednesdays
Yesterday was our first early release Wednesday of the school year! As you know, school will dismiss every Wednesday at 1:35 this year. This gives teachers incredibly valuable time to collaborate and attend trainings. This means our schedules will vary a little bit day to day, but the kids are coping with this change really well so far. Nice job friends!

Specials Rotations
We have always had specials here at Sexton Mountain, but now we'll be in the full time specials rotation! This means that our specials time will be a little bit longer each day, and it also means we'll have different teachers and rotating specials days. This will be a little confusing (for all of us) but I know we'll get used to it. We will be sending home calendars each month, so be sure to have our library books ready to return on library days (Day 2) and good sturdy tennis shoes for PE days (Days 1, 4, 7). Just for your reference:

Day 1-PE with Mr. Blake
Day 2-Library with Mrs. Kimball
Day3-Music with Mrs. Galante
Day 4-PE with Mr. Miller
Day 5-Technology with Mrs. Kramer
Day 6-Music with Mrs. Risser
Day 7-PE with Mr. Miller
Day 8-Music with Mrs. Galante

Unique Learning System
This year we have a new curriculum that we are introducing called unique. It is an interactive, online, standards-based curriculum designed specifically for kids with with special needs. We used a simplified version of this in the past for current events with our news-to-you. The program is designed to draw from our visual strengths to help kids learn to read and access math curriculum across settings. We will use the curriculum in groups, and kids have their own individual sign ins to practice skills I have specifically chose for each student! We've just started it, and the kids are LOVING it so far!

The sign in encourages great skills! Finding your name and picture, and entering a password

Units are thematic--this month we're learning about school rules
With individual logins, we can work on different things at the same time, on the same topic
Monthly activities in reading, math, social studies and science!

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!