Archive of ‘Commitment to Students and Student Learning’ category

Structured Teaching for Autism

I attended a professional development workshop on Structured Teaching for students with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Here are my notes.

Structured Teaching Part 1-November 27, 2014

  • approach created in the 1960’s by TEACCH
  • considered student learnings environments, schedules, work systems, and visual structure.
  • important to focus on meaningfulness  of situation and activities than reinforcement
  • increase independence

Structure teaching addresses:

  • being engaged
  • initiating tasks
  • processing information verbally
  • understanding when something is done

All student benefit but those without below listed items really do:

  • theory of mind (trouble with the ability to recognize others perceptive/feelings)
  • weak central coherence (trouble with the ability to draw to info and make connections)
  • display poor executive function (trouble with the ability to link past life lessons to present and making good decisions)

Executive Functioning Strategies for teachers to use:

  • task sequence (winter dressing)
  • Activity bins (one per bin)
  • First, then
  • IMG_5191
  • visual schedule
  • highlight what needs to be cut
  • choice boards
  • expected/unexpected behaviours
  • social stories
  • visual timers

Components of Structured Teaching

  1. Physical Environment
  2. Daily Schedules
  3. Work Systems
  4. Visual Structures

Physical Environment:

  • space visually distracting
  • quiet areas
  • light options
  • safety options(can safely walk to the carpet)
  • proximity to adult/peer support
  • good to identify areas and have well defined areas (section off areas)

Structured Teaching Part 2 – December 4th, 2014

Goal of Structures Teaching = Independence

Need to set up Picture cues for morning schedule/end of day schedule

  • dressing pictures
  • Take pics of all parts (Boots, hang up clothes, Clothes pin, agenda, Check circle board, read, or calendar, reading.
  • agendas, cleaning, chairs, pencil box with students pics,
  • get undressed, eat, clean up your desk (over and under), Pack your lunch box, put it in your bag
  • put schedule at student level

Visual supports support:

  • transitions
  • organization
  • independence
  • self regulation
  • behaviour
  • communication needs
  • routine establishment
  • reduce anxiety
  • understanding transitions
  • increasing flexibility

Daily Schedule

  • need a class schedule and one that they can manipulate
  • turn the card around, move it around


Work System:

  • point is to develop independence
  • has to have activities that they have already mastered



Questions to ask while setting it up:

  1. What am I supposed to do?
  2. How much do I have to do?
  3. How do I know when I’m done
  4. What comes next?

Prompt (stand behind student) (we want to fade all prompts)

  1. material #1
  2. Gesture non verbal prompt
  3. Verbal prompt
  4. physical prompt

-Work system should be focused on IEP goals

Structured Teaching Part 3 – December 11th, 2014

Examples of visual structure in the classroom

  • first/then boards
  • task cards
  • anchor charts
  • graphic organizers
  • task sequencing(dress/undressing)
  • reinforcement

Great Websites/Resources:

Google and Read and Write

Blogging as a Teaching Portfolio

I was so lucky to be able to attend the first Bilingual and the biggest ever GAFE Summit in Ottawa this past weekend. I got to hear the incredible George Couros deliver an emotional keynote and see him present a session about blogging as a teaching portfolio.


He talked about having a blog as a teacher to show your learning that happens day to day and to showcase your talents. In order to blog, you need to really think what you are writing about, interact with it and therefore thoroughly understand the subject. A blog as a teacher is a great way to ask questions, brainstorm, and try out new ideas.

The new trend in education is to get students to blog about their learning. I’m trying it out this year for the 1st time with my first and second graders. In order for us to get students to blog, you need to learn to do it yourself. You are their role model and you can’t ask them to do something that you aren’t willing to try out yourself. Learning to write is really important but there are so many other ways for students to demonstrate their learning. They can make videos, take pictures, or make podcasts. All of these are ways to document their learning and are so powerful when the student sees how they have improved.

Tips for Blogging as a Teaching Portfolio:

  • Images are more powerful that words
  • Tag your posts using your Standards of Practice
  • Include your name in the post or tag it to increase SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
  • Gather kind tweets, emails, notes… for your blog

Amy Bowker, Teacher

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