Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Teaching the Tasks (part 2)

This Tasks GalorePublishing blog entry continues addressing the questions we ask when designing tasks:

  •  Does the task address the student’s educational goals?
  •  Is the task multi-modal?
  •  Does the task incorporate student’s interests and strengths?
  •  Is the task created using visual cues that will be meaningful to the individual student?
  •  Are pieces of the task organized systematically?
  •  Is the task designed so that the student can manage it independently?
  •   Has the student mastered the task?  
We addressed the first question in the blog entry on July 13, 2016.  This entry will discuss the second question: 

Is the task multi-modal?

Our Tasks Galore publications all demonstrate how utilizing students’ multiple senses makes a task more appealing, captures students’ attention, and enables them to remain focused until the task is complete.  Think of ways you can include movement and visual, auditory, and tactile sensations into your task designs.  

This student’s short term objective is to sort two different objects.  We often begin teaching an objective in an error-free manner – the car cannot go around the tube and the heart bracelet cannot go into the tube.  Hearing the noises, moving the objects, and watching them go in or around the tube engages several senses and make working on the objective appealing. 

We often take worksheets and turn them into more interesting multi-modal tasks.  These math worksheets were put into a loose leaf binder.  Children see the colors and shapes, feel the textured toy spiders, and move the materials about as they work on their counting skills.

Many of our students enjoy tasks they can do away from a desk.  This multi-modal task has students matching cut-out pictures to color + clothing words.  To work on this goal, they get to stand up, move about, and manipulate the clip.

This student is learning to spell words.  She chooses the container with the matching picture.  Inside, she finds the letters that will spell that word.  Next she attaches the letters in the correct order on the card.  We find designing multi-modal tasks leads to the students’ using many senses.  This type of involvement with the materials increases students’ engagement; thereby, enhancing learning.  As you begin to think about the upcoming school year be sure to consider how you may make student learning tasks multi-modal.  Challenge yourself and your staff to be creative and we promise you will see huge improvements in student learning!

Monday, August 1, 2016

August 2016 Task of the Month

Many of you are now thinking of setting up your classrooms for the first time or welcoming new students who have autism spectrum disorders or other learning challenges into your existing classes.

In our recent Tasks Galore Publishing blog on June 22, 2016 we described Listen & Collaborate, an excellent tool for interviewing families and care providers, so that we may learn all the wonderful information they have to share about their learner. We use this information to begin to set up our classrooms.

A valuable part of the discussion with families will be the importance of visual cues and in particular visual schedules. Our TasksGalore Publishing blog on March 27, 2016 described the benefits of implementing schedules for our students to aid in their understanding of the environment. Schedules also make transitions predictable for the learner thus eliminating confusion and the behaviors that may often go along with unpredictability. As always it is extremely important to align these visual cues to the learner’s developmental level just as we do our tasks. What is the child using at home, objects, sign, photos etc. to understand expectations? Our Tasks Galore Publishing blog on March 27, 2016 described the importance of using a visual schedule.

It is no doubt that this time of year our teachers are feeling overwhelmed! So along with our fabulous task ideas, classroom strategies, learning centers, etc. we have now developed ReadymadeVisual Schedules which meet a variety of differing comprehension levels. These schedules are printed on heavy cardstock and laminated for durability.

Using all of the valuable information gathered we will begin to set up our classrooms in preparation for the school year and then restructure as the year goes on. Once we meet our students in this beginning of the year situation, we must begin to teach and/or assess their approach to learning.

We notice
  •  whether our new students understand that they are to engage in a task of someone else’s choosing;
  •  whether they can sustain their attention to complete such a task;
  • whether they recognize when they are finished with a task; and
  •  how many tasks they can do in a sequence before becoming inattentive or restless.
It is important to have this information before expecting the students to learn new skills.

For students to be quickly successful with an activity, we design first tasks to capture their attention by including materials of interest. We create these tasks with “disappearing” materials so that the work is not taken apart once completed and the ending point of the task is clear.

This task has students dropping chips into water. Watching the chips float down is interesting to many of our students. This task does require that the chip be lined up properly to fit through the slit. If our students do not yet have this ability, we would restructure the task by using some other object with a lid opening that makes for an easier fit.