The Meat and Potatoes of Communication: How we are using core vocabulary to build language across our daily routines!

Here at The League School of Greater Boston, we have so many awesome students using augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) strategies to communicate. One of the methods we use to assist our students in developing the language and skills necessary to utilize their respective devices is known as core vocabulary. Core vocabulary is a small set of words that make up 80% of our daily communication. This fact stands true for all individuals regardless of communication method (e.g., using verbal speech, picture exchange, high-technology devices, etc.), age, or gender. Core vocabulary words apply across virtually all environments and contexts. Examples of core words include “go”, “stop”, “in”, “I”, “different”, and so many more. Core vocabulary truly is the “meat” of our daily communication because these words carry the most “weight”! Which words make up the “potatoes” of our daily communication, then? Fringe vocabulary words! Fringe vocabulary refers to words that are highly specified to certain topics or contexts. Typically, these words are nouns (e.g., “witch”, “cheeseburger”, “hygiene”, etc.) and make up thematic categories (e.g., holidays, seasonal activities, etc.). For students using AAC strategies, we have started a Core Word of the Week in some of our classrooms. Each week we introduce a new core word in a structured teaching activity and then move to modeling this core word within natural language and contexts. Our first week we learned about the word “go” during gross motor movement (“go on swing”, “go fast!”), social interactions (“I go”, “you make go”), structured play, shared reading (Go, Dog, Go!), and even during transitions (e.g., “go on bus”, “go outside”)! The following week we...

LEAGUE SCHOOL SUMMER FUN DAY 2016

This year our Summer Fun Day scheduled for August 12th, has an Olympic theme, which mirrors our summer Physical Education program. On Summer Fun Day, we will have an Equestrian Area (pony rides), Dunk Tank, Aquatics Center (various water games), Art center, Field Events, and Gymnasium (volleyball and obstacle course). There will be free hot dogs and ice cream for all. Various other activities include tattoos, a fire engine, a police car and a sensory center for a quiet space. All the staff, children and families have a fantastic time. We preview and practice some of the events beforehand in Physical Education classes, so that the students know the expectations of each activity, and can help their families. Some of the activities we are doing are shot put (8 lb. ball), hurdles, long jump, broad jump and various relay race distances. We are also incorporating backyard games such as volleyball, badminton, croquet, bocce, Frisbee Kan Jam, and beanbag toss into the program. We use our school Nature Trail on a daily basis during good weather. It is a very peaceful environment with the two bridges passing over streams and providing glimpses of wildlife.   The Nature Trail walk also encourages students to talk about Science, along with our fitness and yoga routines. This summer, we have had wonderful weather and have been able to use the new athletic field almost every day. The students are looking forward to demonstrating and sharing their skills with their families on Summer Fun...

Adaptive Physical Education and Our New Gym and Field

I have the great pleasure of teaching every student from 6 to 22 years old and with a wide range of skills and abilities. The Adapted Physical Education program consists of sport specific and lifetime fitness activities, both adapted to the individual needs of the students.   I work with the classroom teachers to integrate academics, health, nutrition and social skills into the physical activity in hopes of generalizing skills. I am also now collaborating with the Occupational Therapy Department to incorporate a school wide yoga program into the daily activities of the students.   Another exciting improvement has been the renovations to the school.   We now have a large flat fenced in field, separate from the playground, which allows the students to better focus, have access to more equipment, and have a more appropriate size area to utilize sports skills. This year we will be playing baseball, soccer, flag football tennis, ultimate Frisbee and have a track unit.  We will also be playing tag and backyard type games tht the students may be playing with friends and families. The new gym has been divided into two parts. The sports activity area has been reduced in size and has a lower ceiling to lessen sensory over-stimulation.  It has a calming color scheme with autism blue floors and walls.  It is here that we play badminton, volleyball, kickball and have obstacle courses along with other activities. Connected to the gym is a new fitness center with a rower, treadmill, bike and elliptical for cardiovascular fitness and a universal and TRX for strengthening exercises. The fitness center mimics a standard gym so...

LEAGUE SCHOOL SPRING MUSICAL CONCERTS

  The music department at League School is proud to share details for our three spring musical concerts. The dates of these concerts are March 31, April 28, and May 24, 2016. Parents are invited to all of these concerts, however the concerts are not open to the general public. All concerts take place in the Vetstein Auditorium at League School. On March 31, our first-ever musical recital featured solo performances by ten students, who have been taking lessons with their music teacher. Students played piano, snare drum and cymbal, djembe, electric guitar, and alto recorder. They prepared for the performing environment by having their lessons in the auditorium instead of the music room for the last two weeks. In that way they would be acclimated to the larger, open area, the ambience, and the differing acoustics. On Thursday, April 28, our next concert will take place from 12:30 to 2:15. This concert includes the League School Chorus and the two groups from our residences: the Rock Street Band and the Educational Learning Center (ELC) Band. The performances are for parents and League School students to attend. Chorus will sing eight songs, mostly by the Beatles. The Rock Street Band students have also chosen to sing. The E.L.C. Band members have chosen to play a variety of instruments. Our spring finale is the All-School Concert, which will take place on Tuesday, May 24 from 12:30 to 2:15. The theme of this concert is “Songs of the Sea and Ocean.” Each classroom has chosen a song related in some way to that theme. Our talented students will sing, play instruments...

Time Outside

Kids and adults alike are spending more and more time stuck in stale offices and classrooms, trying to keep up with a fast paced, technology driven lifestyle.  In the past 20 years, the average amount of time spent in the classroom and office has increased by 2 hours per day.  This isn’t helping our overall health and well-being.  Research shows that children who spend more time in green spaces have lower stress levels and fewer attention deficit symptoms.  Exposure to nature offers exercise and socialization opportunities that cannot be replicated inside and for individuals with autism spectrum disorders, this is extremely beneficial.  What are some other benefits of outside time? Improved digestion Improved mood and mental alertness Immunity strengthening Cleansing of the lungs Improved blood pressure and heart rate Head outside and soak in some fresh, clean oxygen as we head into spring and warmer summer weather.  Here are a few ideas: Hit up the local farmers’ market Look for outdoor concerts or live music in your town Local parks often offer structured hiking or nature exploration opportunities Find a restaurant that offers al fresco dining or take your home cooked meal outside Set up a family space outside that offers your whole family a little retreat: comfy chairs, shade, good books and music Take family movie night outside: head to the drive-in or take your iPad out to the deck to enjoy a flick under the stars   Enter a local walk or run for charity.  Consider the League School’s Walk/Run for Autism on April 9!Time   ...

Help students find their voice

Honoring a student’s voice is an integral part of being a teacher. In Classroom 155 we are working hard to help students find their voice and share their wants and needs with staff. The students are exposed to as many different experiences as possible, which is one of the many the strengths of the League School. Securing student feedback based on their experiences helps us to develop their long-term plans by making appropriate accommodates and individualizing their educational programs. Most of the students in our classroom are non- verbal so we use visuals, choice boards and other Augmentative and Alternative Communication strategies to encourage them to express what they think or how they feel. We continue to develop ways to help our students have a voice to assure that they remain active participants in their education and school experiences.   Josh Johnson M.Ed. Room...