Journals for the Week of March 14th - 18th

Today was my first day in my second placement. I am in a K-1 autism
support classroom at Fort Allen. There are five boys who are in and out the
room throughout the day and one girl who is completely mainstreamed and
mainly only takes tests in our room. With the students moving in and out
throughout the day, I quickly realized that understanding their schedules
fully would take some time. I also got to see the various programs used as a
part of the student's curriculum, such as the "Equals" math program, "Read
Well," and the "Language for Learning" program. Becoming familiar with
these programs will be important for when I am writing my lesson plans.
At the end of the day, Mr. Helfrich told me that this is the beginning of
IEP revision season for the students, as most of their IEPs need revising
sometime in April. He walked me through the IEPWriter program that the
school uses. In addition, we determined potential IEP meeting dates for the
students. Using IEPWriter, Mr. H. and I filled in and printed out the meeting
invitations to be sent home to the student's parents. I found seeing this to
be especially helpful as it helped me to see more of the IEP process.
Later in the evening, I attended the first part of the school board
meeting where the special education teachers throughout the district gave a
presentation to the school board. This presentation was about what the
autism support program does from kindergarten through high school. The
teachers explained the programs and curriculums used in the classroom, as
well as other aspects of the autism support program. I found attending this
presentation to be very helpful, as it allowed me to see how the autism
support program progresses as students get older. Meeting the other special
education teachers from other schools in the district was a good experience
as well.
Mr. Helfrich had mentioned to me that often times the schedule in their
classroom is at the will of the services students receive (OT, PT, Speech). In
addition, he said sometimes what the teachers are doing in the regular
education classroom (such as a test or a schedule change) affects if students
will go down to the regular education classroom or not. Today, I really got to
see what Mr. H. meant when he told me this.
In the morning, students had OT in the classroom. Due to this, the
small group reading lessons with the students did not happen as planned.
Also, students in the regular education classrooms were taking a reading
test. Therefore, the students who would normally go into the first-grade
classrooms for part of the morning stayed in the Mr. H.'s room instead and
worked on other skills. The first grader who is fully mainstreamed came
down to take her test in Mr. H.'s room. I got to see Mr. H. give her this test,

which I thought was a good experience. He read the questions aloud to her
and the answer choices, and she then chose her answer.

I completed my first observation of another classroom for this
placement in Miss Bruckner's first-grade classroom during their calendar and
language arts time. Three of the students in the autism support classroom
come to this room for this part of the day. I think following my students to
their reading class was a good experience because it enabled me to see how
the students act in a regular education classroom, how the PCAs interact
with them, and how Miss Bruckner adapts to meet their needs. It allowed me
to see how everyone works together and collaborates in the world of special
In addition, I also got to see what a first-grade classroom is like and
compare it to my experience in kindergarten. Seeing the difference between
these two grades allowed me to see how much students learned in a year
and how they mature as people. I was surprised to see how much of a
difference there was in the curriculum and how much more independent the
first-graders were in comparison to my kindergarten students.
After school, there was a parent meeting about OT and PT for any
parent of a student in the autism support program at Fort Allen. I attended
this meeting as well and found that it really helped me to understand the OT
and PT services that students are receiving in the classroom. The
occupational therapist and physical therapist each explained the services
they give to students and ways parents can help their child at home. They
also answered any specific questions the parents might have had about their
child. Hearing the ideas the OT and PT talked about gave me further insight
about what I might incorporate into my lessons in the classroom.
Today, one of the students who receives his reading instruction in the
autism support classroom took the test for the week. Seeing this was helpful
because it was different than the multiple choice test I had seen being
administered on Tuesday. This test was a spelling test and a reading fluency
test. The student took the spelling test on adapted paper, where there were
yellow lines highlighting the space between the midline and the baseline. At
the bottom, the student had to fill in sentences with the missing vocabulary
word. Mr. H. gave him two choices as versus simply having him look at the
entire list. Next, the student read the story passage where his words per
minute were measured. Seeing this test given showed me more adaptations
that might be made for a student when they are tested.

Today, I taught student's opening/calendar time for the first time. All
five students in the room participate in this together in a small group
setting. Overall, I thought it went fairly well, even though there are
definitely areas where I can improve. Keeping the students focused and on
task is one of the areas I will need to work on in future lessons, and it was
something I found challenging at times. In addition, I found that I need to
make sure my questioning fits my student's needs. I realized quickly that I
need to break much of what we do down step by step. My questioning needs
to match this so they are not too broad for students to answer. Lastly,
managing student's behaviors during the lesson and keeping them from
agitating each other is another area in which I can improve. As I go on, I
hope to be able to find ways to improve these areas of my lesson.