During this time of uncertainty it is difficult to find an effective, confidential way to communicate with the students on your caseload. I will outline the method I have used for contacting my 6th-8th grade students during e-learning. Please share any other ideas you have been found effective in the comment section.
using google tools
Unfortunately, google classroom is not a confidential tool for communication. When you add all of your students to a google classroom, every individual with access can see every student within that class. The solution to the problem is to create a google classroom for every individual student or group you service. Another solution is to utilize google websites & google drive.
I have personally found using individual homework folders in google drive to be the most effective tool for my students and have been using it for a few years now. It is pretty time consuming to set up, but helps you to keep every student's progress & work completion organized in the long run. I used this very helpful tutorial from Autumn Bryant:
Once my google folders were created, I added the homework folder link to our resource, instructional math & ELA google classrooms. I was able to select which students I wanted to assign "speech homework" to (mostly all of the students in those classes receive services).
I also send out a weekly e-mail to students & parents with a reminder of how to access their homework folder and to e-mail me if they need me to add more assignments to their folder. I include a link to the homework folder and a link to my website.
here is a preview of my website. It was very simple to set up and you can create a website from your google e-mail account.
In addition to sending out an e-mail with my students' homework folder, I also include a link to join my REMIND text group to receive text updates and to encourage families to communicate with me through text since many do not have internet access at home. REMIND is simple to set up- just make sure to check your group settings so that members cannot see who else is in the group.
Our district requires us to keep a running log of communication and attempts of communication with our students. Here is the format I have been using- feel free to use the same!
What have you found to be effective when communicating with your students? To be honest, I have not heard back from 85% of my caseload so am open to new suggestions!
The school district I work for promotes the importance of providing our students with the tools to be successful for life. So, how can we help to carry over skills learned in therapy to real-life settings? How do we encourage our students to interact with individuals in the community or those outside of their comfort zone?
I am very lucky to have an incredibly supportive administrative and student services team. They are more than willing to provide these opportunities for my students and help out in any way possible. I also am grateful to have free district transportation to take us on these wonderful trips!
I will outline the trips I have taken with my students over the past 5 years and the activities/goals we have implemented for each one.
JEWEL-OSCO grocery store field trip
You can find a more detailed explanation of this specific trip in my blog post.
The goal for this field trip was for my students to be able to independently navigate around a grocery store while following a shopping list. I also wanted them to be able to interact with grocery store employees and purchase something with their own money.
I created a master "shopping list" in a scavenger hunt format based on the menu and shopping lists developed in therapy. Each student received the same list, but were each given a different "starting point," so that they were not working as a large group, rather groups of two. Each time they encountered an item on their shopping list they were to write down the price on their shopping list. If they were unable to locate an item, they were encouraged to ask a store employee. At the end of the "scavenger hunt" the students were allowed to pick a snack and go check out.
DOLLAR TREE Holiday Shopping
We have gone to dollar tree on a few occasions. We went once around the winter holiday and again around Valentine's Day. We spent our time at the dollar tree problem solving various gift giving situations. Prior to the trip we discussed the importance of considering individual family members/friends likes and problems to come up with gift ideas that each person would like and appreciate. Students were encouraged to purchase a Valentine’s gift for a loved one or someone special before buying items for themselves. My students were to complete the following activity before searching for gifts for loved ones.
This field trip is a huge hit with the staff in my building! I start out by sending a survey to all staff to see who would be interested in having a coffee/sweet treat delivered to them on a specific date (usually choose Fridays). I also have the teachers fill out a good time for a student to come by to take their order. I usually have 20-30 staff members who are interested in participating!
I will admit the preparation for this field trip is pretty timely, but the outcome is so worth it. Once I establish staff interest, I then have my students practice their script for taking a coffee/donut order. Each student is assigned a teacher and they go collect the order & funds from their designated staff member using the script and order form. Each teacher has their own envelope which includes their order form and funds so that we can easily keep track of everyone's money and that the student can be fully responsible for putting change back into the envelope.
On the day of the field trip my students not only order for their assigned teacher but they also have the opportunity to enjoy a treat of their choosing. Upon re-arrival to school, students hand deliver their staff members order to their classroom/office. We like to take this field trip in the early fall since we are within walking distance of the dunkin' donuts.
We took a walking field trip to McDonalds as an end of school year celebration. We did not have an activity to complete at McDonalds but we did go through a social story and discuss appropriate ways to act/communicate with employees.
Here are some of the things we discussed prior to the trip:
I also take all of my 8th graders on an end of year walking field trip to Subway. We do not have an activity to complete while at Subway but we do discuss vocabulary/expectations prior to the trip and they are encouraged to have a conversation with someone they do not know well while eating their lunch.
What field trips have you taken your students on? Do you have any fundraising ideas? What other questions do you have after reading this?