Special needs observation
Thirdgrade? Observation of Special Needs Classroom SPE/300 June 16, 2013 Leigh Anne Guminger Observation of Special Needs Classroom On June 26th and 27th, I observed in a special education classroom in Lathrop Elementary School. The head teacher was Janelle McQuerry. Mrs. McQuerry has 9 years of teaching experience. All of her nine years have been spent in special education programs. This was a summer program, so it was not the same as the program during the regular year.
During the two days of my observation, there was one eight year old boy going into first grade, two 8 year old boys going into 2nd grade, one 9 year old boy going into 3rd grade and one 11 year old boy going into 5th grade. One of the boys going into 2nd grade has the diagnosis of autism, but the other boys all fall under “other health impairments” paired with ADHD. The other 2nd grader has had multiple surgeries to enlarge his skull and also has a feeding tube in his stomach. The three youngest boys each have a para-professional with them at all times.
When I first came into the classroom, the teacher was reading to the boy going into first grade, Trevor. The teacher later explained that this young man had been in nine school districts and had not progressed out of kindergarten in that time frame. He had severe behavioral issues in his past schools and had been expelled from two of them. On this morning, he was sitting in his para’s lap while the main teacher read a social story to him. The two boys going into second grade, AJ and Jacob, were also listening to the story. They each had a para with them also.
The teacher was reading in an engaging way, changing voices for different characters. After each page, she would ask questions to gauge their understanding and would clarify if they did not respond. The book was about making ice cream, which was the project they were going to do later in the morning. After reading the book, the teacher asked all of the children to go to the table to draw a picture. She asked them to draw a picture of their favorite kind of ice cream. She talked to them during the lesson about different types and colors of ice cream. She referenced the book that she had just read several times.
The little boy that is autistic, AJ, kept repeating one line out of the book, over and over. His para would repeat the line with him, but try to distract him into drawing his picture. The teacher led right into explaining that they were going to make their own ice cream. She explained that they would have to follow directions. She laid out laminated cards that had simple directions as well as pictures of each step they needed to take. AJ read each card on his own, with no assistance. Jacob, the little boy with the major health issues, read a few of the simple words with the help of his para.
She would help him look at the begging letters, make the sound and then help him phonetically say the word. Trevor’s para was helping him look at the pictures and understand what was happening in the picture. Each student got their own supplies from a picture and word supply list. The teacher sat at a half circle table, so that she could reach each child. She would help each student dump in their ingredients. When it was time to put in the ice, AJ, got upset. He did not want to touch the ice. He said emphatically “No, ice is cold. ” His para did not push him, but went ahead and put the ice in for him.
She did encourage him to touch it with a finger. Before the project was done, he did touch the ice with the tip of his finger. When he touched it, he pulled his hand away quickly, but then giggled. Once they had the ingrdients all together, they put the bags in a pillow case and were encouraged to shake the bag with all their mite. Trevor refused to shake it at all. AJ shook it in very small wiggles, while Jacob took the bag and shook it with his whole body, giggling all the time. When they had finally made the ice cream, Trevor and Jacob ate all of theirs, while AJ refused to taste it.
I was very impressed with the way that each para was working with their student individually, but still working on the lesson as a group. Each para worked with her own student, but they all talked to each student and encouraged them to converse with each other also. The main teacher directed the group, but then worked with each individual as they needed also. She was very thorough in her explanations and always told them what to expect next. She used time cues with them, “In five minutes, we will start to make our ice cream. ” I took away several ideas that I will use in regular education classrooms, as well as special education classrooms.