Sunday, January 15, 2017

Teaching the Tasks (part 5)

This Tasks Galore Publishing 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 , the second question in the blog entry on August 9, 2016, the third in the entry on September 18, 2016, the fourth in the entry on October 23, 2016.  This entry will discuss the fifth question: 

Are pieces of the task organized systematically?

It is so helpful to the students if they can look at a task and know where to begin and when finished.  Many students need stabilized or segmented pieces that are easy to manipulate and do not fall apart.  Determine how you can make your tasks organized with pieces separated for easy pick-up and parts affixed so they will not drop or disassemble when the students handle them.  With systematic organization, you can incorporate left-to-right and top-to-bottom routines to define the sequence.

To help students sustain attention throughout “This Little Piggy Went to Market” rhyme, they remove a cut-out pig following a left-to-right pattern. A picture, representing each verse of the rhyme, is placed in front of each piggy. Students remove the first piggy, listen to or say the verse represented by the picture, and then place that piggy in the “finish container.” Students enjoy the game because the order is predictable and, thus, understandable.

The pieces of the task are systematically contained within a shoe box with the “finish container” nearby. Moving the pigs becomes a simple process without distractions from items being hard to handle. To complete a collating assignment, students choose one paper from each tray by following a left-to-right routine. They staple the pages together and place these in the clearly marked “finish box.” Segmenting the pages by providing spaces between them as they are positioned upright in the trays allows for easier manipulation. Such thoughtful and systematic organization of a task encourages independence and competence.

This task address the issue of quality control, an important job skill. Students choose a fork and examine it to determine whether it is “ok” or “broken.” They then place the items as the labels direct. See how all the pieces of this task are contained inside the box and how forks are segmented for easy manipulation. Students, therefore, do not need to address how to handle the pieces and can instead focus on the concept being taught.

Monday, January 2, 2017

January 2017 Task of the Month

Happy New Year from all of us at Tasks Galore Publishing! We thank you for joining us on our journey as we enter our 14th year of serving and donating to people with autism and their families. We won’t even mention how many years we have been working in the field!!

Our Task of the Month for January 2017, designed by early learning teacher Megan Bruce, is one that we love. As everyone knows it is extremely important that we read to our children every single day. We teach them to “read” and comprehend things in their environment through whatever means is the most meaningful whether it is an object, picture or word. We also must teach our children to answer questions or interact with what it is that they read. We want to create more than labeling of pictures or spewing of words. From the time children are born they hear the rhythm and intonation in our voices as we read to them. Reading in turn is equally important to language development.

Our students with autism often learn best through routines. In this task Ms. Bruce creates a routine question and response for each book the child or teacher reads. It is important to work on the skill of using a book for information as well as teaching our students to improve their sentence building. Students will demonstrate a multitude of skills including comprehension, matching, counting, and so on. By making the task multi-modal we include fine motor skills.

While teaching this task as the pages are turned the teacher will point to and read each section of the question. The student then pulls the appropriate card to answer the question and will in turn point to each section and read the answer. This is great for our nonverbal students too as they can still place the appropriate answer card and point to the words in a left to right sequence as they “read”.

As with all skills it is important to generalize them. A helpful hint would be for the teacher to use these question and answer cards during story time and to make copies for families to use at home.

For great examples of how to tie simple reading to literally ALL aspects of curriculum through task-making you will enjoy Tasks Galore Literature-BasedThematic Units. This book was several years in the making with immense insights into curriculum for preschool and elementary learners. A copy of the fun board book I’m Hungry, I’m HungryWhat Shall I Do? comes along with this book. I’m Hungry, I’m Hungry WhatShall I Do? is also sold in sets of 5 for classroom guided reading. This fun color-filled board book emphasizes rhythmic and repetitive reading for student success. Check it out at

As we enter 2017 don’t forget to check us out for fun ideas and promotions on FacebookPinterest, and Twitter!