Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Co-Teaching in an Autism Classroom: Grouping Students

Well…it is almost the New Year and I want to get back on the blogging bandwagon.  I fell off the wagon when I moved to a new city, started a new job, got a puppy, and started house-hunting.  Although I ‘d like to say I was extremely busy, I’ve actually been having a lot of fun relaxing at home with my husband and puppy, reconnecting with old friends, making new friends, and spending more time with my family. However, I have missed blogging and creating for TPT and am excited to be back.  I have been gathering blogging ideas and have a nice long list of topics to share with you!

Before moving onto new topics, I need to wrap up my Co-Teaching miniseries from the fall…

 Throughout this miniseries of posts, I really wanted to share with you one of the best things I ever did as a teacher: Co-Teaching.  Co-Teaching with one of my colleagues best friends was almost always the highlight of my day.  I learned so much from her, and I truly believe that the two of us working together helped our kids make more progress than either one of us could have done alone.

Co-teaching is not something I started with in my first year of teaching...I waited until I was a few years in before taking on this project.  Since our co-teaching set-up is quite complex and involves a decent amount of prep work, I am going to take the next few days to bring you through the nitty gritty of co-teaching in an autism classroom.

We will cover:
5.  Grouping in Co-Teaching
6.  How to Schedule Co-Teaching
7.  How to Plan for Co-Teaching

Today I’ll cover how we grouped students when co-teaching.

When we created our student groups, we took into consideration their age, academic skills, and social skills. The largest focus was on academic skills.

The first thing we did was write all of the kids’ initials on the white board.  We eliminated the kiddos who we thought were not ready for a daily group time (only about 4 or 5 kids out of 26).  The kids not included didn’t have the pre-requisite skills for a group such as being able to sit for at least 15 minutes, work independently for short periods of time, follow simple directions (with or without visuals), and have beginning imitation skills.  Don’t let this fool you…we still had a lot of very difficult kids included in the group activities.  We had kids with zero receptive skills, kids who were aggressive, kids who were non-verbal, kids who were visually impaired, etc. Group teaching in an autism classroom is not easy.  All of the skills targeted are some of the most challenging ones our kids face: interacting with others, turn taking, sharing attention, working on developing verbal skills (expressive and receptive), etc.

Next up, we put kids into a general group of high, mid, and low.  Then within those groups, we split the kids again into a high and low group.  This was done mostly based on academic skills.  For instance in our mid group, we had kids that already knew how to add 0, 1s, and 2s and kids who were just starting addition (or needed to review these math facts another time).  So we split their high/low group based on this. 

We now had established our 3 main groups and 2 sub groups within each.  We did this because sometimes the two teachers taught the whole group of 6-8 students. Other days, we broke them into their sub groups and each taught a smaller group of kids.  This will hopefully make more sense when I talk about scheduling and planning in my next couple posts.

Make sure to check out my other posts on Co-Teaching in an Autism Classroom!

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