Saturday, October 19, 2013

October Shenanigans

It is no big surprise that I am a huge lover of holidays. My holiday season starts in October and isn't through until mid-January. I'm all over any opportunity that allows me to dress up, decorate, and otherwise make a drab day at school something spectacular and fun. 

My classroom staff and I have been busy preparing for this month's Halloween. I retrieved my Halloween decorations from storage and have been spending my afternoons adorning my classroom with all sorts of spook-tacular decorations and embellishments. 

My students got so excited when they came in and saw the decorations - they have been talking about Halloween non-stop! Some teachers I know do not like to get caught up in the holiday whirlwind because they think it will somehow detract from the learning that goes on in the classroom. And - to some degree - I could see where they're coming from.
However, for my students with special needs, I want them to get excited, to get (and stay) actively engaged. Thematic units (involving holiday studies) is one way to accomplish this. Students with learning disabilities get bored, disengaged, and exhibit difficulties focusing. If I can provide something that will spark their interest - while also providing authentic learning experiences in the process - then I think I have done my job as their teacher.

This past week we learned about Christopher Columbus and completed a circle map along with a craft that my students really enjoyed.

We are also doing a unit on pumpkins in science right now which my students are absolutely LOVING! We've done several activities in the past week (all whole group which is amazing for my current group of students) that have kept them interested and on-task. We've completed a KWL chart, a circle map using an accompanying reading passage, cut and paste a hands-on pumpkin life cycle activity, watched a video about the life cycle and learned a new song (about the seven stages of pumpkin life), completed a flow map based on the life cycle - and that's just been in the last four days! Not one of my students has complained during our science activities - which I love!

I get that some teachers don't want to take the time to focus on the "fun" stuff because they're trying to keep up with the demands of CCSS, new standards and protocols, district-wide programs - whatever. But for my students, the fun stuff is where the learning happens. And that's alright by me. 

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