Inspiration

I don’t present the text of each book to you here, for brevity’s sake, but for students with autism it is essential to teach the meaning behind social events (Even if it may seem like a superficial topic or a superfluous allotment of time on the subject, it’s not.)

Lastly, this was a super fun unit. The students loved it. And, because their other teachers were also teaching party planning, many students were immediately able to apply and generalize the information we covered in planning real parties in their other classrooms.

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This screen shot above is from the medium-level interactive book. In it, students can look to a picture-cue on each page to help them uncover an answer to the question. On this level, I generally expect (with some exceptions) that the student will type the word or phrase shown, rather than a full, independent sentence.

This level can be further differentiated by requiring a sentence instead.

The more simplified of the three interactive books, shown above, has a couple of major differences. First, the text of the book is automatically presented in audio when the student turns the page. Also, each page displays both a picture-cue and a text-cue. I expect the student to both match the picture AND type the word or phrase (in all caps to facilitate emergent typing).

In my computer classes, I expect any student who can use a mouse can begin to use a keyboard, even if they are still working on alphabet recognition. In fact, this type of copy-the-letter strategy is a way to sneak alphabet-recognition, word formation (you can set up the text options in Classroom Suite to automatically read a word after you type it), and text familiarity (such as the concept of reading left to right) into the activity.

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This screen shot above is from the medium-level interactive book. In it, students can look to a picture-cue on each page to help them uncover an answer to the question. On this level, I generally expect (with some exceptions) that the student will type the word or phrase shown, rather than a full, independent sentence.

This level can be further differentiated by requiring a sentence instead.

Lesson Plans

Above is a screen shot from the highest level of activity. In it, students who can read and write are asked to read the question about what to do before a party and answer with a full sentence. he picture-word toolbars help students interact with the text visually by finding the picture that makes the most sense. It also gives the student a clue when answering the question, promoting independent, in-assignment prompting, rather than verbal help from me or other staff.

This level can be further differentiated by allowing emerging readers to listen to the text as they read along, and/or by asking emerging writers to type the word or phrase rather than a full-sentence.

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All of the activities I created in Classroom Suite. Not that I want to repeatedly promote one piece of software. BUT, if you have limited resources – as we do in schools – AND you want a multi-purpose piece of software that is highly customizable, this is the best software to use (that I know of). Rather than uploading the activities here, I will upload them to Classroom Suite’s Activity Exchange site. It is free to register; free to download activities. Also, you can search it – and there are more party-related activities there than just mine.

We divided each week’s topic into three differentiated activities. As an example, I will describe the differentiated levels in the “Party Planning – What We do Before a Party” activity.

Kidspiration Activity: Drawing Traffic Safety Signs

I viewed this party planning unit as a great opportunity to enforce reading or listening comprehension, writing response skills, and social understanding. So, I broke the topic down into 5 areas: why we have parties; who we invite to parties; when we have parties; where we have parties; and what we do to prepare for parties. We covered one topic a week.

To ensure that students were thinking critically about what they saw in the videos, I embedded the videos into an interactive book. Students watched the videos, looked at stills, and then answered questions about what they saw. (Through matching or typing, depending on the student’s skill level.)

There is no real substitute for learning through real-world experience. Ideally, all students — most especially students with autism — should have many, many structured, safe, real-world learning activities. Learning traffic safety is an excellent example of why this is. What possible substitute can there be?

Researchers have explored using virtual reality to teach students with autism to generalize traffic safety skills. I look forward to the time when this technology is more widely available!

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