Monday, August 25, 2008

The Scott Method of Organizing Your Desk

Here are the first four steps for students when organizing their desks: (Note: Students may practice with adult supervision at first, and later use a notebook with step-by-step instructions and photos for independent organizing. Many teachers have found that desk organization works best when it is introduced as a large group activity.)

1. Take EVERYTHING out of your desk. You might want to use your chair as an extra "table."

2. Bring a trashcan over to your desk.

3. Wipe out the inside of the desk with a damp paper towel, then dry it with a dry paper towel.

4. Inside the desk, stack textbooks, workbooks and folders on just one side.

--Make sure the most often-used things are on top of the stack.

--Put things away so you can read the covers without having to turn them around.
More steps coming in the next post.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Woe The Desk

Woe the desk. It can be a dark cave of unknown dangers, or a treasure of easily found books and folders. Many of our students start off the school year with good intentions to keep their desks organized, but poor spatial skills, difficulties with planning and recurrent distractibility make the best intentions go by the wayside in the rush of daily life in the classroom.

Many students benefit from a regular cleaning of their desks and visual reminders about "where things go." Try this "social" story/agreement with a target student this fall and see how it works:

"My desk looks neat and organized. In the morning I make sure I have everything in the right place. I look at the tiny signs in my desk to make sure I have put everything in the correct spot.

In the morning I make sure I have two pencils which are sharpened and ready to write. I don't want to get up and sharpen pencils during class because it's nosiy and takes away from my work time.
When I keep my desk neat and organized then I know I wlll be able to find my folders and papers quickly, and I will know where everything is. When I keep my things organized, I will have more time to finish my work at school.


Student's name and date"

In later posts you'll find more details and photos on the "Scott Method of Organizing Your Desk."

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Where Is My Pencil???

Have students who spend precious minutes searching for a sharpened pencil? Try this idea for a pencil parking spot.

Put a hook Velcro strip inside the top of the student's pencil box and a collar of loop Velcro around the eraser end of a pencil. Now your student will always have a handy place to keep one or two sharpened pencil(s).

Remember, it's much easier to find that fat crayon box than it is to find the lonely pencil in a crowded desk.

Fidget Ideas for Middle Schoolers

Here are some purposeful fidget ideas we used for several middle-schoolers enrolled in a class for students with high-functioning autism:

Some of these items can be used during academic work and some can be used for brief breaks in the routine. Hopefully, using typical care routines (washing hands, filing nails, using lotion) will provide helpful sensory input and diminish the distractions of rough nails, snaggy cuticles, built-up dirt or other matter on the hands.

"Chinese" finger puzzle (braided cylinder that both index fingers are inserted into and can only be removed by relaxing the hands)
Tanglo connecting toy that twists into lots of shapes
Spirograph activities (will probably need to get a second spirograph for the classroom)
Crunchy foods available between meals
Ready made inexpensive dough with lots of seasonings added--bag for each student.
Frequent handwashing with soap & water kept in the classroom
Rubbing pleasant-smelling lotion on hands and forearms
Keep kit for each student with emery board, nail clippers, comb and have them use with supervision (file nails out of doors if possible!) Note: be aware that some schools have policies regarding using nail clippers in school buildings; by students using the tool independently or even when adults use the tool. Your school nurse might provided insight into the school policy.
Scent containers--Save plastic spice containers and place small amounts of strong-smelling spices/extracts in the different containers. Have students sniff the container, then match the container with a card bearing the name or picture of the spice. (Thanks to Thelma White of Amelia Street School for this activity.) Select a variety of twist open and pop open containers for good IP joint stabilization exercises.

Heavy Work Activities: (Some therapists have reported that incorporating heavy work activities into the school routine several times a day often reduces a student's frequency of fidgeting during academic tasks).

Chair push-ups (hold both sides of chair and try to raise body off chair seat)
Theraband exercises, lifting water weights
Dig up ground outside school building to plant seeds or annuals--measure height of plants receiving weekly fertilizer vs. plants with only water. Use gallon milk cartons to carry water from building to garden, varying amount of water and hopefully increasing volume as the weeks pass.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Race Has Almost Started

Next Monday, August 25th, is the beginning of the school year for staff in our county. I'm pretty nervous about it since I haven't worked full-time with a caseload for several years and the last few years were spent as an assistive technology consultant. But, I'm going back to working with friends and a great OT/PT bunch so perhaps it won't be as worrisome as I anticipate.

I've posted a photo of a fun activity a student loved several years ago. He had pretty low muscle tone and we used those wonderful Wikki Stix to reach up against gravity and make 3-D doodles on a painted cinderblock wall. No mess to clean up--I promise!