Monday, February 4, 2013

February Newsletter

Structured Routine Center
Primary Classroom
February Newsletter

Getting from here to there

I’m sure that this past month many of you heard all about transportation from your students. This is because transportation was our thematic unit for January! As I mentioned at the beginning of the year, here in the SRC primary classroom we address a monthly thematic unit in addition to our core curriculum. This thematic unit gives students an understanding of a concept they will likely encounter in the real world using familiar methods of the classroom.

Transportation was a hit! The kids loved talking about different modes of transportation, sorting it into the places they could travel, making art projects and displays that showcase appropriate travel, and in some cases, even making predictions about the modes you should use to travel a variety of places!

Learning about each other

Our next thematic unit is “friends”. With February’s seasonal emphasis on Valentine’s Day, we’re going to focus on exploring this holiday in a way that may make more sense to our students, and that is to learn more about each other. Our students will learn about a peer in their class, by asking them social questions and recording their answers. Some students will take this a step further by writing pieces about their peers or graphing their results. This month, our goal is to help our already social bunch learn a bit more about one another.

Extended School Year

In the Beaverton School District we offer Extended School Year (ESY) services for special education students who qualify.  The purpose of ESY is to help students maintain progress over summer break who would typically loose a significant level of mastered skills. ESY services are approximately 1/3 of the service time of what your child receives during the school year, and this year will be held from July 8th to August 1st.
Within the Beaverton School district, the only way to qualify for ESY services is to demonstrate significant regression of mastered skills (as described in the IEP) after extended breaks from school, and also demonstrate a lack of recoupment of  said skills after a few weeks of instruction.

Teachers and service providers take continual data on students’ progress towards IEP goals throughout the year.  For ESY eligibility, we look at data points right before the 3 breaks, immediately following, and after a few weeks of instruction. At your child’s IEP meeting in the spring, we will discuss these data points and talk about whether ESY services will be offered.

Jessi’s Speech Corner
The many functions of communication – Part 2

Greetings from the Speech Corner! In our classroom, we are continuing to work on expanding the language functions that the students use and hear in the classroom.

Last month, we explored protesting as a different function of communication.  Another function of communication is commenting.  Commenting is used in our interactions with others to bring another’s focus to what we are focused on.  Through commenting we encourage a shared experience and create new topics and contexts through which to interact with others. 

Commenting can be a difficult thing to work on with your child.  Sometimes it is hard to know what your child is thinking of or experiencing and thus difficult to give them the words that appropriately express what they are experiencing.  However, you can give your child many examples of comments from what you see and think and feel.  Some examples are comments on actions of objects (“bubbles go up” or just "up"), share/show (“look,” “see the ____”), relate events (“jumping is fun,” “Dora all done”), similar and different (“two blue fish”), and future/past events (“go to the store,” “saw birds”).  There is so much more to communication than just requesting.  Enjoy the end of winter, engage with each other and experience the world!

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

Have a great February! J

Marcia’s OT Edge
Crossing the Midline and Bilateral Coordination

Crossing midline refers to the ability to reach across the middle of the body with the arms and legs crossing over to the opposite side.  Examples include being able to draw a horizontal line across a page without having to switch hands in the middle or sitting cross-legged on the floor.  Being able to cross the midline is an important developmental skill.  It is needed for reading and writing, for being able to reach toward your foot to put on a shoe and sock with both hands, or participating in many sport activities.

Activities to encourage crossing midline:
-       Play catch and throw games- Ping-Pong, bean bag toss with the containers on the sides, throw or roll balls to the right or left of center.
-       Push toys trucks and cars while crawling on the floor along a path made with tape, create lots of turns and waves.
-       Play sorting games: place objects to sort on the left side and containers to place them in on the right side.
-       Scoop sand into a bucket using one hand to hold the bucket.
-       Play flashlight tag in a darkened room on the ceiling and walls while lying on your back.
-       Play body awareness games like the Hokey Pokey and Simon Says. 
-       Draw a large circle, oval, horizontal line across a large piece of paper with just their dominant hand .  Have them place stickers along the lines of the picture also with the dominant hand.

Bilateral Coordination is the ability to use both sides of the body at the same time in a controlled and organized manner.  This can mean using both sides to do the same thing like rolling with a rolling pin, or using alternating movements such as walking, or different movements on each side like when cutting.  Being able to coordinate both sides of the body is an indication that both sides of the brain are communicating and sharing information with each other.  This is important for accomplishing many daily activities such as walking, climbing stairs, playing musical instruments, stirring food in a bowl, using tools that require two hands and having full visual awareness of the environment.

Activities to encourage bilateral coordination:
            -  Tear strips of paper, paste on paper to make a collage.
            -   Squeeze, pull, pull and roll out play dough or clay.
            -   Pull apart Legos, Duplo’s with both hands
            -   Percussion toys: symbols, drums
            -   Throw and catch a ball with both hands together.
            -   Finger painting.
-   Cut out all types of things with scissors:  straws, play dough, cards,
            stryrofoam, bubble wrap.
-       Spread jam, butter or peanut butter on bread or crackers.
-       String beads to make a necklace.
-       Trace around stencils:  the helper hand holds down the stencil while the other hand traces around or inside stencil.

Important Dates to Remember

Staff Development-No School                        :           February 1
Valentine’s Day parties                                    :           February 14
Family Dance                                                    :           February 15 (6:30-8:30)
Holiday-No School                                            :           February 18

Thank you for all that you continue to do for your students. I look forward to speaking with each of you in greater depth about your student’s progress over the course of the year at the upcoming IEP meeting. As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Ashlee Yokom
Primary Classroom Teacher
Structured Routine Center
Sexton Mountain Elementary
(503) 672 3560