Professor: Sharon Porter
December 4, 2010
Observation date: October 26, 2010
Observer: Lynette Williams
Course# and Section: Educ 152-060
PS.K 369 – Coy L. Cox
383 State Street
The school`s mission is that all students will bring to their home and community the values they have been exposed to and learned while they were at P. 369K. All students will be considered for inclusion placement if it will benefit their need for more independent functioning.
My visit to P. 369K was a pleasant experience. Upon my arrival, I received a warm welcome from the Assistant Principal and other staff members. My colleagues and I later met with the principal Mr. Julani and Professor Charles Ray. The Principal of sixteen years gave us a brief overview of the school.
P.369K is a Special Education School, which consists of a diverse culture of student as well as teachers .The school has seventy four (74) classes in grades K-12 and serves students who are classified as Autistic, Severely Emotionally Disturbed and Mentally Retarded. All students are considered for an inclusion placement if it will benefit their need for more independent function.
P.369K students are in full time general education classes from K-12 grades at five (5) different sites. Students that demonstrate appropriate social behavior will be considered for a transitional placement to pave the way towards the Least Restrictive Environment (L.R.E) Placement.
This school consists of one self-contained building, and ten (10) sites, there are self-contained classes in community, elementary, junior high schools and four (4) high schools, where there are Intervention Services. Support services include counseling, speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, toilet training, vision and hearing services and crisis management. The bilingual needs of students are met with monolingual classes staffed with alternate placement, paraprofessionals, as well as two E.S.L teachers. There are several assessment and academic information programs, Yoga, Touch Math, Achieve 3000 and Glencoe Math. Provision is also made for before and after school programs, serving emotionally disturbed students, assisting them with home work, test prep and building social skills and sports. Provisions and resources are also available for parents through P.T.A meetings and workshops to educate them on services that are available from government agencies, non –profit organizations, and the private sector. This was some of the information that was shared by the Principal of P.369 K in his preliminary overview.
It was almost the end of October and we were greeted by the Principal and given a tour of the school. While walking down the hallways posters were displayed depicting Halloween and fall scenes were evident everywhere. Students’ art works were also on display. My colleague and I were escorted to a Kindergarten class Y19 on the first floor. Ms .L`s classroom had a welcoming atmosphere, which created a conducive child friendly learning environment. The classroom accommodates five (5) students’ ages 5-6 years old, and all boys of different ethnic background. The class community also had one group teacher and two paraprofessionals also of different ethnicities. The small rectangular room in dimension measured approximately 12 by 24 was cool, the off white painted walls were decorated with colorful, visual, age appropriate teaching aids, and evidence of students` work were also displayed. There was adequate lighting and an air conditioner. The semi-circular table and chairs accommodated five (5) students. Cubbies were labeled with students` names and photographs were accessible for them to store their belongings. Next to the cubbies is a locked door which appeared to be a room where teachers store their materials and personal belongings. Above the cubbies, were alphabet puppets that were used to teach phonics? Chairs were available for teachers to sit, a play area was located at the back of class, there were puzzles blocks and logos, two computers were available, one for teachers and the other for the students. Students also use their computer to do phonics, type names and do other activities. The floor was covered with foam like material. There was limited space available but the teachers helped to create space by moving table and chairs to facilitate an activity if needed.
Upon entering the class community I was introduced to the staff and students. I observed Ms. L and the paraprofessionals preparing for Yoga. The teachers arranged the setting to accommodate this activity. Ms L and her Team were encouraging the students to take out their mats and remove their shoes. This all seemed like an everyday routine for both teachers and students. All students except one had difficulty with the tasks, and had to be encouraged to attempt the exercises. Students had to be attentive because this activity was featured on the computer; therefore student had to pay close attention. I observed teacher and students transitioning smoothly into their routines. Students seemed happy doing all the exercises. After Yoga, students routinely packed away their mats and put on their shoes with assistance from the teacher. Without prompting students went to the meeting area for a story.
They listened to story “The Cow Says Boo” by Judy Hindley most of the students were engaged during story time. The group teacher Ms. L made the sounds of the animals in the story, after she was finished the students were encouraged to make to the sounds of an animal. All listened attentively and at the end of the story, Teacher asked questions about the animals, and students were able to identify animals from the story and their sounds. Students and teachers transitioned smoothly to Circle Time by singing song. At this session they sang their good morning, days of the week and months of the year song. I liked the way how students were involved, they were allowed to touch. One student went around with the name of the day or month for others to touch. Teacher praised students for their effort.
Effective teaching and learning strategies were used by all teachers. There were two students which she had to give commands. I observed the teacher using Differentiated Instruction for her Autistic students by encouraging them to make the sound of the animals when they couldn’t call the name of these animals. After the story, Ms L used the Mayer Johnson Symbols Card, this a set of cards with pictures and commands for students to follow, she also used sign language. The Autistic students were given mostly the picture cards to help them communicate. Example of this would be a picture of a chair this would mean that the teacher wanted them to sit. Color coded symbols with facial expressions and the colors of the traffic lights were used to modify students’ behavior. I observed all of them were on green which meant good behavior with a happy face, red meant sad not good behavior with a sad face, and the yellow showed a regular face which meant a little bit trouble.
Ms L tried her best to keep her students engaged, and I observed three students completing task given. However two were out of control, and started screaming and pushing chairs. These were quickly apprehended by the paraprofessional, who used sign language, The Mayer Johnson Symbol cards, the weighting vest, and soothing methods to calm them down. During sessions teachers’ tones were moderate, and explanations of lessons were clear. I noticed that sometimes teachers had to raise their voices on several occasions to calm the two disruptive students who were out of control. One student lost his status from green and went to red; I noticed he remained there for the duration of the day even though his behavior improved. Lessons were presented in a timely manner; there was also good teacher and student interaction, and teacher to teacher interaction.
After that session, students were involved in other activities. Students routinely went from one activity to the next. One teacher facilitated students using play dough to enhance for fine muscle development, another teacher assisted students to write their names, the other teacher assisted with left to right progressions and colored pictures. Students were kept busy and utterly engaged in each activity for short periods of 10 to 15 minutes .Group teacher then did a reading; she used flash cards and called the words for students to match. Students then completed activities by matching according to color shape and sizes, they did rhyming words, match, cut and paste pictures in the correct categories. Students had to be prompted at times by teacher. Most of them were able to complete their tasks. I observed one student was out of control, and Ms L told us that he was hungry and wanted his lunch. All these activities were completed before lunch. Students washed hands before lunch with Paraprofessional supervision.
Students were happy to go to lunch which was facilitated in a lunch area. Lunch was provided for all but one student who bought his own lunch. I observed all feeding themselves, with strict commands from their teachers of cleaning up after themselves. Ms L’s students interacted with the students from other classes during lunch. After lunch it was back to the class where they did Math and Art. In Math students made a Halloween counting book reinforcing numbers 1-5. I observed students constantly being encouraged and praised for their efforts, and the students seemed comfortable. In Art students were given brown paper bags to make Halloween pumpkins. Students were instructed to paint these bags in orange, and teacher reminded students to bags on their work space. Students seemed comfortable using paintbrushes, and some came over to me showing the bag they painted. They were also given a sheet of green construction paper and a stick of chalk to draw a spider`s web. After Art, all students except one went on the playground with the paraprofessional. After they returned they were escorted to the restroom by a paraprofessional, from there they went to Art they were left there with the art teacher. It was time to leave a few waved good byes to me. The one student that stayed behind had a session with the speech pathologist.
This was a hectic day; I think there was too much information to absorb at one time because one student began to lose focus. One student was out of control, had to wear the weighting vest to help him to settle down. From my observation the students were accustomed to the routines, they were meaningfully occupied at all times.
Since there not many students, I only observed three students involved in conversation with each other, they were engaged most of the time with paraprofessionals. Modified instructions were used for students; each student is allocated a binder where teachers record their progress. Teachers tailored instructions to meet the needs of each student. The accommodative requirements are age appropriate and tailored the needs of each student. The specialized equipments used were the weighting vest. This piece of equipment was used by the teachers to calm a restless or disruptive student. From my observation it worked. I observed teacher interacting well together and all knew what was required of them.
The teachers followed a well organized schedule; the time allocated to each lesson was used effectively. At the end of the activities teachers sang a song which transitioned smoothly into the next lesson. The Mayer Johnson Symbols were used for behavior management. This teaching tool is used throughout the day to monitor and modify unacceptable behavior. This is a card with the colors of the traffic lights, and has three different colors and facial expressions. Red is outrageous behavior with a sad face, the yellow is with a normal face and the green is good behavior with a smiley face. This tool is worn by all teachers in the school, and I`ve seen it worked.
I thoroughly enjoyed my six hours visit to PS 369K, and learned a lot form this experience. I observed many methods that I can put into practice, and seen how teacher react to special needs students. I was amazed at how the teachers pushed the students to be self sufficient and encouraged them to complete different skills. At times I thought they were harsh, but a close look showed me that students are capable and can function in an inclusive setting.