Thursday, September 6, 2012

September Newsletter

Welcome to Sexton!
We are so excited to start another fun-filled year of learning here in the SRC! I look forward to working with you and your child to create a learning environment that fosters growth in the areas of social communication and interactions, life skills and academics.

SMART board technology
Last year our fantastic SLP, Jessi Lynch, wrote a grant that provided our classroom with a SMART board. This innovative piece of technology enables children to receive multi-modal input with each action they perform on the board. Pulling all this sensory feedback to a single source is a powerful tool with children with Autism, and helps them attend to instruction. Last year we collected pre and post data and found that with the SMART board in place, more kids were attending more of the time, maladaptive behaviors decreased and kids responded faster. At curriculum night, I will model for parents some of the activities that we do on the SMART board.

Arrival Routine
As you know, our classroom focuses on functional, structured routines throughout our day. One of those routines is our arrival routine. Since some parents drop off their student, I want to outline that routine here, so that you know how to facilitate your child’s success with that routine:

            -walk to classroom
                  -wait in line outside door
                  -say “Good morning” to teacher
                  -find name in box
                  -write (or trace) name
                  -place name in finished box
                  -say “Goodbye” to parent
                  -enter classroom, and begin unpacking

Signing in and saying goodbye outside the door helps orient your student to their school day, and having a consistent and familiar routine first thing in the morning helps them start their day in a predictable manner.

Specials and Specialist Services
Here at Sexton Mountain, we are on an 8 day specials rotation, so the “special” your child attends will be different each day. Our special will be posted outside our classroom door, and will be discussed at school each day. Our first graders will attend music once every 8 days, and each library and technology twice every 8 days.

The first week our occupational therapist, Marcia Loggins, our speech and language pathologist, Jessi Lynch, and our adaptive PE teacher, Stephanie Gacinya, have been in to observe our students. The week of the 10th they will start their services with your student as directed by their IEP. Stay tuned for exciting stories from these services.

Field trips
As a teacher, I am a BIG fan of field trips. I feel that the social and life skills gained from these trips are essential in the lives of children with Autism and fully support the district’s learning targets and our students’ IEP goals. That being said, having a split class can make this somewhat difficult. In order for us to take a field trip more than an hour or so, we would need all kindergarten parents to be in support and/or participation. So we would need PM kinders to be able to be dropped off, and AM kinders to be picked up at different times. I understand that this may not be feasible, but I wanted to check in at the beginning of the year, to see if we could make some trips work out. On the form attached you will see a question about field trips. Thanks!

Thematic units
Throughout the year we will always work on our math facts, reading goals, writing, life skills and of course social skills and communication.  The difference in a “thematic unit” is that we will also be looking at one core theme in every subject for a whole month. 
For example, since we have just started school again, we are talking about school as our thematic unit for this month.  We are reading stories about school, working on school themed math problems and practicing some good social skills that we need at school.  We also plan on taking a tour of our Sexton Mountain, and interviewing some important people, like our principal, Ms. Clemens-Brower.  We will learn more about Sexton Mountain and our mascot, Sparky. 

The thematic units for the school year are as follows:

September: School
October: Colors and Shapes
November: Food
December: Giving
January: Transportation
February: Friends
March: Animals
April: Weather
May: Bugs
June: Camping

Scholastic Book Club

Scholastic offers many books for purchase through catalogs I will send home as well as online. Additionally, they also provide helpful information on reading levels and special interests in reading topics. To make ordering books easier for families and beneficial for classrooms, they have created online book clubs for classrooms. When you create an account and use our class activation code and order books for your student, not only will books be shipped to school quickly for your student (which I will send home in your child’s backpack), our classroom will receive vouchers for free books for our classroom library. If you have any questions, please let me know.

Class activation code: HCM7Y

Due Date for September: 09/28/2012

Jessi’s Speech Corner
Choosing the right time and place

Greetings from the Speech Corner!  We have had a fabulous first week of school and it has been so much fun to get to know our new students.  With this addition to the monthly newsletter, I hope to be able to describe some communication tips and techniques to help facilitate and/or expand your child’s communication at home.

To work on communication, it is important to work in as ideal a situation as possible.  As lives and schedules are hectic at home, it is helpful to choose one or two times in the day to focus on communication, both for your sanity and your child’s frustration level.  These times should be low stress and only last for short durations (e.g. 5-15 minutes).  Play times that are for you and your student alone (no siblings), during bedtime routines, or snack times, tend to be easier and more productive than during morning routines, while in the car or during play groups.  The key is to make it a time for you and your child to connect and communicate distraction and stress free.

If you ever have questions or concerns, please feel free to call or email me at

Have a great September! Jessi

Important Dates to Remember

First Day of School                :                       September 5
PTC meeting                         :                       September 7
Curriculum Night                   :                       September 13 (6:30 pm)
Picture Day                            :                       September 25