So the one thing we did accomplish in this whirlwind of summer school was learning our new journal pages that we will be using next year. I’m really excited about them and my kids were doing great working on them independently.
How I typically run the start of my morning is by doing two morning groups (or circle times) divided by level (one for lower functioning students with more matching and manipulatives and one for higher functioning students with more reading/writing). It works great but you have to make sure to have some beneficial and meaningful independent work for the other kids to do while you are running one of the groups. It can’t just be busy work but also can’t be too hard that you need to keep running over and helping them. Last year we started independent journal pages and it went really well. For next year we added a few more components.
I copy these pages double sided and make enough copies for a month or two so you don’t need to worry about refilling them each week. These go in the kids’ binders behind their schedule and calendar.
- So the top part is pretty basic. Write the date, weather forecast, temperature, what’s for lunch (my kids check the lunch calendar that is posted in the room), and the special (art, music, gym, etc.). I added the homework part since that is something that can become part a troublesome part of our morning. The expectation for some of my students is that they turn in their homework on their own and get a new homework packet for the next day. However this doesn’t always go perfectly as planned… So I added this little visual reminder so they can physically check each item off the list. This is a great and easy intervention for kids with autism.
- The next part is the daily sentence. I write a sentence with several spelling and grammar mistakes and the students need to fix them. I’ll explain my funky grading system below and why there is line for correct and incorrect.
- Our new addition to the journal sheet is the 5 questions. Answering questions can be very challenging for children with autism so the extra practice is always needed! I posted the pocket chart with questions. I made a TON of questions – all different kinds – so I could switch them up each day.
- Next is the journal topic. I post a new picture each day and the students need to write 3 sentences. Right now I’m use a box of journal prompts from lakeshore. But I’ll probably start using photos of the kids and pictures that are going with unit themes during the year. You could use any picture really!
- Last is the word sort! My school using the Words Their Way curriculum for spelling and phonics. I put the previously mastered word sorts in a hanging file folder and switch them up a few times a week. The kids do the word sort and then write it.
So that’s it! This takes my kids about 30 minutes and I feel like it is well-used time! My guys did really great with all the updates and I think they will be completely independent in the fall.
So… my crazy grading system! My kids had a really hard time understanding grades and correct/incorrect and how that related. We need a way to talk about getting things right and wrong in a concrete way. So we keep track of ‘correct points’ and ‘mistake points.’ After the kids do the journal page independently, we correct it together at morning group. If they get something right they mark a tally next to correct point and if they get something wrong they mark a tally next to mistake point. This gives a real visual to understand how your mistakes effect your grade. We keep a conversion table up front to transfer the points to a grade. This works out great for us and I think my kids definitely understand it.
Here is download of the front and back of my journal page in case you want to use it with your kids!: