Interesting Article: Using Video Games to Train Brains

This is my last month in a classroom full-time (at least for now). Soon, I will be joining our district’s Office of Autism as an autism coach. My responsibilities will be different, more teacher-training focused. I tell you this because it means I won’t be posting activities within the context of big unit plans. I will, hopefully, be sharing tips and information from a much larger autism perspective, including a wider age range. One of my first assignments is to attend a week’s worth of TEACCH training in North Carolina. I’m very excited about this!

Crossing the Street: Learning and Practicing through Videos

Party Planning Unit
As our last full unit plan, my students and I explored different aspects of planning and preparing for a party. This unit followed our school’s autism pacing calendar, and it wrapped up several themes of the year nicely.

(Our school, by the way, has an outstanding team of teachers who create a very appropriate, logical, and useful pacing calendar each year. In following it, all 6:1:1 teachers – homeroom and cluster teachers alike – end up teaching and reinforcing similar content from different angles and perspectives. This pacing calendar approach goes a long way in helping students retain and generalize information. It also facilitates teacher-to-teacher collaboration. I strongly recommend it.)

Until then, to try to make up for our computer lab’s impediments to real-world, or near-real-world learning, the culminating activity for our recent traffic safety unit incorporated videos of streets and intersections in New York City. Now, these aren’t great videos — I shot them — but they present the student with different situations: when and when not to cross the street; the steps to follow when crossing the street; signs to look for when crossing the street; etc. The videos sum up all that we had covered in the preceding month.

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.)

Crossing the Street Video Review

Students watch videos and look at images of urban (New York City) traffic signs and signals and answer fill-in-the-blank questions through identifying a variety of signs, signals, and steps to follow when crossing the street.

Because of the size of these files, uploading them is impractical! I am working on uploading them to the to the Classroom Suite Activity Exchange site (also difficult because of their size). I will update this post if that is successful. In the meantime, please check out Intellitools Activity Exchange. It is free to register and download activities, plus you can find so many wonderful activities — on all subjects — there.

Adapted Stories for Students with Autism

Yesterday, Office of Autism director Stephanie McCaskill and I hosted a workshop on ways to integrate technology into middle school/high school Autism classrooms. We focused on using technology to address universal, major skill areas in Autism education (see visual beloTo demonstrate, we discussed and shared sample projects, including digital photograph collections, community skills practice, digital movies, interactive social stories, and digital resumes.

Workshop Documents: Integrating Technology

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!

Until then, to try to make up for our computer lab’s impediments to real-world, or near-real-world learning, the culminating activity for our recent traffic safety unit incorporated videos of streets and intersections in New York City. Now, these aren’t great videos — I shot them — but they present the student with different situations: when and when not to cross the street; the steps to follow when crossing the street; signs to look for when crossing the street; etc. The videos sum up all that we had covered in the preceding month.

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.

Page 48 of 49