A Meaningful Lesson From A Bar Of Soap In An After – School Program


An exerpt from my after – school program experience  I planned to execute a creative learning lesson for my school age program. (Fun after school time)  Lessons must be learned. Lessons must be executed in a fun way. My students spend all day in school sitting at a desk learning academics. My role is to present a constructive learning format. One stipulation is that a high fun factor is present. This task can be formidable to say the least. How can a lesson in science be hidden in play?  How can theories of magnetism or math be taught in a form that gifts the children with new information, but does not threaten student burnout? This is a challenge I am worthy of accepting.

I presented a lesson on soap sculptures. The children believed they were experiencing a mere arts and craft project. The hidden content was learned. The craft was fun but structured. Harmless melted soap chips turned into a math lesson, science lesson, and exuded a large curiosity factor. With out curiosity the children would rebel my efforts to implement this lesson. Solid soap chips of varied colors were melted together into a soppy mix. Before hand, the weight of the soap slivers was examined. My young charges placed a small mountain of soap on a scale. The weight was recorded. The soap was prepared for liquefying in the microwave.

Before transforming the soap into a liquid form we examined the solid consistency. I placed the slivers in the microwave. When the soap was removed, we compared the liquid form to it’s solid past. We talked about temperature changes. We poured the soapy liquid into measuring cups. A lesson in weighing liquid versus solid masses was learned. What had weighed 5 ounces in solid form had been transformed into liquid measurement. The children were in awe of the fact that microwaves could alter the composition of the mass.

We than proceeded to pour the liquid soap into molds intended for use in our play dough projects.  The amount of ounces needed for various molds was measured and noted. The soap was set aside and transformed into a solid mass. Upon observing our finished project, we weighed our creations. Children estimated beforehand what the weights would be upon the soaps return to a solid form. They were shocked that the creations weights were now varied. I explained that we had used various size molds to complete this project. This obviously affected the weight. A lesson was learned. The children left my classroom with a prize (their soap), and a new idea to ponder.  Objects in our world can be manipulated and structurally changed. Much like the children’s young sponge like minds.

One child looked concerned and lost in thought. I asked what the problem might be. My five-year old charge asked if he could turn into something else like the soap did. I responded by stating that his body was not capable of melting like soap. He is made of skin and bones, which hold him together. (Simplified for the child’s purpose). I told him that the only change his body would ever make is to get larger, stronger, and smarter.  An Aha moment has occurred. Perhaps one lesson will overlap into another based on these questions. Perhaps I shall have a lesson on the human body. Stay tuned for updates.

Mari Nosal  M.Ed. CECE

Mari Nosal : Please stop by my site at Amazon Books and check out my published books on autism aspergers special needs and more   http://tinyurl.com/kdspqy9

 

 

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How I will Be Giving Back to the Community


As many of you know, I have recently published a book “Ten Commandments Of Interacting With Kids On The Autism Spectrum”. This book is the completion of a dream born long ago. This book is written with the passion of a mom with a son who has Aspergers syndrome. It is also written from my alter persona as an education and human services professional who has spent many years in the classroom, group homes, and society attempting to advocate and assist special needs kids and adults through awareness, education, and integration into society.

My son was diagnosed with A.D.D. in second grade. I noticed more issues then professionals agreed were present. His gifted rote memory assisted him in memorizing multiplication facts, spelling words, etc. However, he had great difficulty with word problems, summarizing paragraphs, etc..

I saw these issues as a red flag for processing issues; others merely accused him of being smart but lazy. He also had  great difficulty interacting with his peers, would not use direct eye contact, had melt downs due to stressors. (I was told the meltdowns were nothing more than a boy exhibiting “spoiled behavior” due to his mother reinforcing said behavior.)  He was bullied due to inappropriate behavioral issues. I was told “he asked for. YES YOU HEARD THAT RIGHT!

 I was told “if he would stop acting inappropriately that the bullying would subside” The long-term outcome of our struggles was a boy with an unidentified learning disability who struggled from long term self esteem issues due to being labeled nothing more than lazy for many years. There were other challenges resultant from his late diagnosis but I will refrain from mentioning them through a public venue.

A decade ago, when my son was a child, the term Aspergers was not a household word. Supports, social groups and therapeutic assistance were sparse as apposed to now. I would not give up on my son and refused to listen to the naysayers say that he merely had lazyitis. I could wallow in anger regarding educators, other parents and society at large regarding their lack of understanding and support for my queries regarding other challenges being at the brunt of my son’s challenges.

I chose to react reflectively. These individuals were not as educated in Aspergers as in the present. Even people who had good intentions did not have access to many training and education materials back then. So, rather than look back, I chose to look forward. Anger at society and playing the blame game will merely fester within my soul like a wound on a lepers body. Positive,proactive, planning breeds positive results. I will place a link at the bottom of this article so you can read about our journey if you choose to do so.

I decided that our challenges could become a gift. Challenges can be harnessed into great lessons that can become a teaching tool for others. Being the introspective soul that I made a vow to myself. That vow was that I would do my part to make sure no parent has to walk in the dark. I want parents who now walk the path that we trodded on a decade ago to realize they do not walk alone and there is light at the end of the tunnel.

I went back to college receiving my B.A. in psychology in 2005, and my Masters degree in education in December 2009 with a driving force akin to a tsunami pushing me to achieve my ultimate goal. To help special needs families with a strong affinity towards kids on the autism spectrum. I recently published Ten Commandments with a dream to not only educate, but give back to society. 10percent of my profits from my book will be split into to distinct arenas. I am going to help my local autism community with various donations from 5 percent of profits from my book. i.e. adopting a local low income special needs family during the holidays, etc. Another 5 percent of profit will be donated to local homeless shelter projects. i.e. school supplies, socks, toys, etc. This will be a year round project not temporary. In my view, needy individuals need assistance all year round. Their needs do not dissipate when the XMAS tree is put away. We are blessed. My family has a roof over their head, food on the table, and our health. What more could one ask for you may wonder?? Well, to put it in a nutshell, we must do our part to make sure others are blessed with those basic needs. What will you do for your part?   Thanks for reading this and stay well.

Please check out the link to my book and our journey with aspergers on this page if you wish to do so.

Author@amazon.com … Aspergers Mom , blogger, Aspergers spec. ,M.Ed.,CECE, 30 years experience in human services & edu. ..Massachusetts · amazon.com/dp/1492229946

Asperger’s Syndrome A Parent’s Journey w Her Son, From Childhood To Young Adulthood

Mari Nosal : Please stop by my site at Amazon Books and check out my published books on autism aspergers special needs and more   http://tinyurl.com/kdspqy9

 

Mari Nosal  M.Ed., CECE

Asperger’s Syndrome – A Parent’s Journey With Her Son, From Childhood To Young Adulthood


Hello……..I would like to reprint and share a letter that I wrote to my son a while back when he graduated from college earning his bachelors degree. This is personal our story. I hope it inspires others to never give up hope Many parents, special needs teens and young adults will feel stress and anxiety as they transition into the next step to independence. Whether this involves entering the adult world of employment, going off to college, or starting to live independently, this is a scary time for all families–but even more so for families that have children with special needs.

I have written a story below which includes the challenges that my family has endured from my son’s childhood to young adulthood. I have included comments regarding my fears while attempting to jettison him out into college life and onto the road to independence. Living with a child that has Asperger’s or any diagnosis is not easy. My goal in writing our story is to let parents know that they are not alone. Our family has, and is, walking that path that many others struggle with today. I am here to tell you that the challenges are worth it. It is not all darkness and gloom. Your children will make it with a little help from their family, friends, teachers, and the community. If you are a reader who has a child graduating from high school or college, allow me to extend my congratulations to you.

A Letter To My Young Adult Son

My son, you are now an adult.  23 years ago, you entered this world one month early. You made your entrance into this world with a loud wail that no one could ignore. You were an awesome baby, sleeping through the night at the ripe old age of seven weeks old. Your first year was fraught with constant infections. Fortunately these would respond to antibiotics. Although you were ill a lot, you managed to have a constant smile upon your face. You sang your way through ear infections, strep, and other maladies baby babble style. You were extremely alert. People would remark on the fact that your expressions did not resemble that of an infant. It was noted by many that you seemed to have an elder’s wisdom in your eyes.I recall your first word. You were standing in your crib at the age of 10 months smiling, with your arms in the air saying “uppy,uppy”. We were so excited to hear the clarity in your first word. Many other words would soon follow. By the age of 2 years, you would talk in full grammatically correct sentences.You shocked us after toilet training experiences with your brother who is 22 months your senior. We thought he would go to college in diapers. You on the other hand went in the bathroom at age two of your own accord, pulled the tape off your disposable diaper and used the toilet independently.By the age of three, you were reading letters of cereal boxes. At age four you were reading and sounding out words. Your favorite game at age four was checkers! Embarrassing as it was, you could actually beat me at that game. Your father and I thought you were a prodigy! We would soon realize that although you were bright, issues were present that would need to be addressed. You would get frustrated when other four year olds did not understand the concept of checkers. Upon picking you up at the age of four from preschool, I was met by your teacher. Apparently, you had problems cutting with scissors. The teacher remarked how impressed she was with your inventive persistence. Rather than ask for help, she found you with a piece of construction paper hanging half-way off the table, weighed down with a pencil sharpener. You figured out that weighing down the paper would free up your hands so you could manipulate the scissors with two hands instead of one. The teacher recommended testing by a local occupational therapist. I sat in the hall and could hear your comments in the testing room. The therapist had you stack blocks. You not only stacked twelve blocks in a row, but color coded those using only green blocks. The therapist asked you if you would like to move on to another test. You response to the therapist at the ripe old age of four, “oh no, I want to stack the blocks again instead.” I doubled over in laughter out in the hall. I admired your strong will. I did not know at the time that the strong will you possessed would get you through some challenging times.The occupational therapist diagnosed you as having a weak grip, low upper body strength, and fine motor skill delays. She recommended activities for us to do at home to help you hone your skills. We played scatch ball since pulling the ball off of the Velcro paddle increased your grip. We pulled out the old shape sorter that you outgrew at an early age. The intent was to improve your hand-eye coordination. I blew bubbles and you popped them as another hand-eye coordination activity. I was told to practice the rule that if you could not manage a task on your own, to stand back and let you struggle a bit. It pained me to hear your pleas of help when you wanted to climb the jungle gym, or use your arms to hoist your body up on a low tree branch. I wanted to swoop you up and accomplish the task for you. I knew you would not master the skill if I did so however. Stand back I did, and with practice you persevered and experienced success. With each attempt you got stronger and more adept. We attempted to perceive you and your brother as separate individuals with separate talents and characteristics. Your brother played soccer, which you had no interest in. Group competitive sports were difficult for you.That was when we decided to let you join a bowling league. The league turned out to be a great choice, for it challenged your motor skill issues. Bowling was a great first sport at age eight, because it matched your personality perfectly. You were within a team but actually only competed against yourself. You amazed us with your fortitude and growth during your six year bowling league stint. The little boy, who couldn’t candlepin bowling at age eight with one hand, became the preteen who was bowling triple 115 scores! You struggled until third grade to coordinate the pincer grip and tie your shoes. We bought you Velcro sneakers until you were ready. You know what? You learned how to tie!  Merely on your own schedule, not ours. At this point in life, you were diagnosed with A.D.D. Your father and I attempted to cheer both you and your brother on equally in all your endeavors. That was difficult. Learning disabilities can prove challenging and necessitate investing more energy into the child with challenges than the sibling who does not have any. There was so much guilt. When we were cheering you on and helping you with your challenges we worried that we were ignoring your brother. When we supported your brother, and cheered him on, we felt as though we might be ignoring you. It is a tough balancing act supporting both children and making sure their needs are both being met. Your brother reminded me of this while driving in the car alone. He said, “Mom, do you realize that you and dad talk about my brother alot? Can we talk about something else for a change? My response to your brother was, “I am so sorry. Sometimes mom and dad worry about your brother’s future. We know that you will be OK. But that is no excuse; we love you both and are proud of the talents and wonderful character that you both possess. Son, do me a favor please. If I start babbling about your brother, will you please remind me so I stop?” Your brother was satisfied with this answer and I kept my promise.This reminded me of the delicate tightrope of uncertainty and guilt that parents with both learning disabled and non-learning disabled children grapple with everyday. Middle school would prove to open up a Pandora’s box of new challenges. In elementary school, your strong memory and verbal skills had proved sufficient for the rote learning that took place. The demands of algebra and higher math would prove difficult for you. I attempted to convince educators that you were skipping steps in math calculations due to processing issues. They felt that you merely had A.D.D. and were lazy.We must be forgiving as not much was known about Asperger’s syndrome at this point and your expressive verbal skills hid your deficits with receptive language from most individuals.Never look back; only forward. I would advocate for you on this issue until it was finally recognized in high school. Bullying issues increased in middle school as the peer pressure increased. You were considered “quirky,” yet “sweet, and shy.” As difficult as it was, I heeded the therapist’s advice. I was to be a coach and observer when it came to bullying. If the kids were not drawing blood and the issues were not incessant I was to stand in the background and use my judgment on this issue. I wanted to protect you always. Unfortunately, as the therapist pointed out, I must guide you in how to deal with people on your own as you entered your teen years. I shed some tears for you but you did learn to to self advocate. You continued playing drums in the band as you entered your high school years. This proved to be a positive choice. You see, the band created a group for you to belong to. You were bullied for the last time in ninth grade. Another freshman was challenging you and a senior from the band stepped in and stuck up for you. The bully, who was a freshman like you, took off. Band was included in your I.E.P. as important. Band was where you had a chance to socialize with others.When I finally got new testing done for you at the high school, they were so helpful and it was refreshing to have a group of educators finally listen. You would now be diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, as well as A.D.D. You stuck with the high school band through your high school career, and we were so proud of your musical progression. We bragged about both you and your brother to anyone that would listen. Upon graduation we decided to have you go to a two year college and live at home. We felt that transitioning into adulthood and independence was best done in baby steps. By not pushing you, we felt as though it would give you a chance to work towards success instead of failure, thus giving you the incentive to keep growing. You graduated from community college with much improved grades. You than entered a local four year college as a junior. The first semester was spent living at home and driving with your new driver’s license. You attempted the drivers exam three times but never gave up and finally did it! Second semester we decided to have you live in the dorm. It was hard to let you out from under our watchful eye but we knew we had to continue helping you achieve your goals on the road to independence. It was too easy at home for you to isolate yourself from people. You were only 45 minutes away and close enough for us to visit. At first you were allowed to come home every weekend. Gradually we spaced out home visits to once a month. We would come and take you out to dinner once a week but then take you back to your dorm. We also purchased a web cam and set up times to chat with you from your dorm room so you were not too homesick.Not too long ago, you acquired your bachelor’s degree. You are now back home, holding a full time job after a couple of failed attempts at employment in the past. Son, as you start working with your job counselor to get more training so you will not be underemployed, and as you use the college degree that you worked so hard to earn, I leave you with one comment. You have surpassed all of society’s expectations for you. You have met and conquered many challenges. I know that you will continue to do so, and will succeed in all your future endeavors as you have in the past. Please know that your mom and dad love you very much. We are so proud of you and wouldn’t have wanted you to be any different than you are. You inspire us, teach us, humble us, and make us proud. Go forth into the world, my son, and fly like an eagle. Look out world, here comes my youngest son!

Mari Nosal : Please stop by my site at Amazon Books and check out my published books on autism aspergers special needs and more   http://tinyurl.com/kdspqy9

 

Time to Sail

The news arrived via mail

The college awaits you

You won’t fail

Spread your wings

It’s time to grow

Experience new things

Or you’ll not know

The limitless talents you possess

The goals you can achieve

New challenges you’ll address

In yourself please do believe

Venture out, don’t isolate

Yourself from society anymore

Ask a girl out on a date

You’re walking out the door

-Mari

Aspergers Syndrome The Hidden Disorder


 

Lately, I haven been observing comments regarding what Aspergers is, how it effects the lives and family of individuals living with this syndrome , their family, and individuals whom they have daily interaction with. My experiences and opinions conveyed in this article are not internet and research related. They are resultant from bringing up a son who lives with Aspergers daily.

Aspergers is not outgrown, nor curable. Individuals with Aspergers merely learn compensatory strategies as they grow and silently struggle daily with their difficulty communicating, working with, and living with the neurotypical population. Aspergerers is a neurological disorder which effects many aspects of their daily lives. Because they tend to have normal to above normal I.Q.s, society perceives them as merely quirky loners.

The old phrase, “One cannot tell a book by it”s cover” is an appropriate analogy here. Ican equate their issues with a cast. When one sees an individual with a cast, they know that individual has a broken bone. In regards TO Aspergers, these individuals look like functioning neurotypicals on the exterior. I will now explain that is not the case.

Aspergians have issues impairments with communication, appropriate behavior, and socialization, or assimilation in the neurotypical society if you will. Children with Asperger’s have excellent and advanced expressive language skills. (speaking to people) Aspergians have large vocabularies and are excellent at conveying data, information, what happened on a T.V. show, etc. i.e. factual information. They often have difficulty in reciprocal conversations.

Their difficulty conversing in social situations goes beyond a lack of interest. On the contraire, they silently wish that they could socialize better. I recall my son calling from college. He attempted to join groups because he wanted to fit in with other students. He attempted to join the Frisbee club, but impaired motor skills hampered that effort. He attempted to join in at parties but difficulties with reciprocal conversation squelched that effort.

My son called me at home making me aware of his efforts to fit in, have a girlfriend and more. He informed me of his efforts to make friends and socialize. My heart broke silently when he said, “Mom I try and try to fit in but it is not working, can you teach me?” I suggested he join the computer club and he responded by saying, I only like computers because I have nothing else. My computer is my only entertainment.

Aspergers creates havoc in terms of the individual’s ability to process information, strategize, and receive information. Hence, their difficulty with receptive language. (Processing and absorbing information)  Reading body language and knowing how to respond when someone is sad, despondent, or distressed is difficult for Aspergians. I recall a gentleman telling me that he wished he new what to say or do when his wife was upset.

The man told me that it hurt him greatly because he wanted to say and do the right thing in such situations but did not know how.

Individuals with Aspergers are prone to sensory overload when presented with loud noises, strong odors, office environments where several conversations are going on simultaneously, and parties where background music is playing while people attempt to converse with them. It is not uncommon for Aspergians to have tertiary anxiety disorder which rear their ugly face in situations mentioned in the latter paragraph. Aspergers is a neurological condition.

On the surface they tend to be academic prodigiesin certain areas of academia.  Hence their nickname as children of the little professor.  In reference to language skills, many aspergians speak in a concrete format and upon further review in a reciprocal conversation their sentences may be out of context.  Due to receptive processing language deficits, many individuals have difficulty with being given more than several steps through the auditory modality at one time.

It is a misnomer that Aspergians do not warrant speech therapy. On the contrary, speech therapy can assist children in honing expressive language skills i.e. using descriptors, expressing emotions verbally, describing an experience like a trip to the zoo in more than rote terminology. Speech therapy can also assist children with deficits in sequencing. An example of sequencing would be verbally summarizing a story in sequential order.

Aspergians tend to struggle with fine and gross motor skill impairment as well due to neurological impairment. Pincer grip issues can cause issues with difficulty in cutting with scissors, tying shoes, and other fine motor skill tasks. Tasks such as bowling with one hand, midline issues, riding a bike, and climbing trees can prove difficult as well. Hand grip is generally weak and hampers ability in hanging on to jungle gym rungs, etc. Hence they tend to be ostracized by their peers not only for their social deficits, but lack of athletic prowess as well. Thus, they may benefit from physical therapy.

Aspergians may commonly present with A.D.H.D., Non Verbal processing disorder, and other maladies. They may not appear to stim. Upon further observation however on will notice that many aspergians run their hands up and down a drinking cup, have feet or legs that are in constant motion, stretch arms bent at elbows while turning wrists, tap tables and feet, and whistle, to name a few. These may be used forms of mild stimming to release anxiety.

Aspergians tend to prefer simple foods void of mixed flavors when young. This is due to sensory overload from heightened taste buds. Simplified, a spaghetti sauce can put their taste buds into sensory overload. It is extremely common for Aspergians to have tactile sensitivities. As children, a scratchy tag or rough texture shirt can drive them to the point of sensory overload, which is resultant in an emotional meltdown. A rough shirt may feel like someone is scratching their back with fingernails.

Due to mind blindness and neurological delays in development that normally place them approximately four years behind their peers, children with Aspergers are prone to being bullied. Cognitive behavior therapy may be productive in assisting children with developing emotional skills.

Please attempt to understand these children. Do not minimize nor assume that they go on to lead independent fulfilling lives. Many of these children grow up to be underemployed due to inept social skills. A college degree does not guarantee a decent due to neurologically based social, and processing difficulties. Due to popular belief not every aspergian becomes an engineer or scientist. They are as diverse as you and I. In my sons case, he is advanced in English but struggles with math and he is an Aspergian.

The divorce rate is extremely high for Aspergians in relation to neurotypical couples. Some go through life having no romantic relationship or friends due to struggling with navigating the social maze. Without society’s assistance and a nationwide education program these children will not hone their wonderful talents.

Society owes these children AND adults a fighting chance. They cannot always control their behavior and depend on us (society) to equip them with the skills, guidance, and positive support network that they need to thrive as adults. Believe in children and they will believe in themselves.

In closing, I leave you with this food for thought. Not all disabilities are as apparent as a blind individual with a cane, an individual in a wheel chair, etc. Please attempt to look below the surface and understand. Thanks and stay well.

I am a published author and focus on books pertaining to autism and Aspergers Syndrome. I have had special needs articles published in several magazines. I have been interviewed several times in print, on pod casts, and internet T.V. regarding the autism spectrum. I have presented autism workshops to staff, management teams, and parent groups. I offer tips on curriculum development and behavior modification within the classroom and through in-services. I am certified by the Department of Early Childhood Education as a lead preschool teacher, an infant and toddler teacher, and site coordinator qualified to manage school age programs. I have recently ventured into public speaking engagements to educate both parents and educators on autism and Aspergers Syndrome
I want my experiences and challenges to be used productively as a learning tool for other parents and for educators as well. When my son was diagnosed with Asperger’s a decade ago it was a foreign word among many parents and professionals alike. I fought for help never giving up. Through my books I wish to help parents feel like they do not walk in the dark, that they are not alone, empower them and that there is light at the end of the tunnel. I also want to educate society at large on the topic of the autism spectrum. I believe all parties involved need to work as a collaborative team in order to insure a special needs child’s success.If you like my articles, aside from being the parent of an adult with Aspergers Syndrome/ A.D.D and an educational professional, I am also a published author of many special needs and autism related books written to inspire and support parents, families, educators and society at large as well. Please stop by and check out my books on Amazon.com at Mari Nosal : Please stop by my site at Amazon Books and check out my published books on autism aspergers special needs and more http://tinyurl.com/kdspqy9

Mari Nosal M.Ed., CECE
 

Pumpkins Are A Useful Learning Tool To Teach Math Science Concepts


 

The school age children had the day off from school. I worked a nine-hour day. My kindergarten charges joined me for the day as the kindergarten room follows the public school schedule. It was a test of my patience and energy as the curriculum was non academic for the day. I had forgotten Friday was a school holiday. I perused my curriculum and realized I would need to restructure it to keep the children engaged. I had thirty minutes before I was due to leave for work. I searched around my house for supplies I could bring in for added activities. I resigned myself to the fact that I would leave early and grab supplies from the local convenience store. As I prepared to leave, I spied a huge pumpkin on my deck.

My family used it for mere decoration I rationalized. My kids are young adults, they wouldn’t miss it. I grabbed the pumpkin and threw it in my car. Several activities could be had from this one pumpkin. I ran back in the house and found shaving cream. Another Aha moment, shaving cream puffy paint would be enjoyed by everyone. Sometimes I amaze myself at how quickly I can develop a project out of desperation and common household products. Flexibility is a major component in being a successful teacher. Successful adaptation to any situation ensures a lack of chaos in the classroom.

I dropped the pumpkin in my class and scurried down the hall to retrieve my charges that had been dropped off at an earlier time. We sat and broached the day’s activities as a team, killing time until the rest of the class came in. thirty minutes later we had a full house. We went to circle time and I pulled out a book that was on my curriculum. As soon as the children saw it they begged for me to read a book from a series we had used the past week. I took a vote. The Magic School Bus Scours the Ocean Floor Was retired in lieu of a book about children who couldn’t find their shoes and designed footwear out of the likes of meatloaf and bologna!

It was a vacation day for the kids so I decided to let them have a part in the curriculum and go light on them. After reading the book we observed and talked about the pumpkin. The children were enamored by the pumpkin carving kit I brought in. It was safe for children and I believe in a format that allows for independent exploration. In order to teach team work the children were broken into teams and I instructed them to draw four different faces that they would carve. I injected humor by stating that with four different faces we could turn the pumpkin around when we got bored with one face. After drawing their mark, we headed outside with the pumpkin and started carving. The children were extremely excited with the experience of using carving tools. After carving was done we proceeded to dig out the guts. Some children were apprehensive about sticking their hands in the guts so I offered gloves. They dug out and placed the flesh in one pan. The seeds were placed in another.

At this point the children were ready for free time and the pumpkin was temporarily laid to rest. Some children wanted to ask questions about the seeds and flesh. A mini science class ensued for the children who wished to continue our pumpkin adventure. I held the tiny seed next to the pumpkin for comparison. I explained how the pumpkin we cut open grew from a seed just like the one we held in our hand. This went on for thirty minutes or so. I was shocked at the interest. After lunch, I took the class on a field trip to the kitchen. We rinsed the seeds and flesh. The children remarked on the slimy feeling. I explained how the texture would change upon baking the treat. Cinnamon was sprinkled on our treat. We than baked these items.

At snack time I presented the items for exploration to the children. The pumpkin seeds were popular. I assume the children had eaten them in the past. The pumpkin flesh was viewed with a degree of trepidation. I inquired as to who liked pumpkin pie. The majority of the children did. When I explained that what they were looking at was the main ingredient in the pie they looked at me with confusion. I believe in exploration of the unknown, so I pushed the issue. I asked my little pessimistic friends to take one small taste. If it was not palatable they were welcome to spit it out. Most children were pleasantly surprised. A simple pumpkin had afforded the children a new experience.

Mari Nosal M.Ed., CECE

 

About these adsMari Nosal : Please stop by my site at Amazon Books and check out my published books on autism aspergers special needs and more   http://tinyurl.com/kdspqy9

 

Research In The Classroom: A Cooperative Effort


The term research practitioner cooperation evokes a specific type of relationship between the practitioner and researcher. That is a team who learn from one another. Cooperation would emphasize the need to respect one another’s input. Interaction is two-way.  A domino effect can develop from a reciprocal relationship between the researcher and educator. Working relationships develop out of trust. Trust develops from feeling valued in a team. If trust is developed, a symbiotic flow of input and cooperation will result. If the educator feels like a mere number in a research project, an apprehensive, cold perception of the researcher will be the end result. Lack of trust will result in evasiveness.

     Teachers are with the students on a constant basis. Their input is invaluable when developing new educational programs. A researcher is a temporary fixture at a school. Although co learning agreements allow the researcher a chance to observe and work with students on a daily basis their time at a school is limited to the time frame of the research. The writer does not wish to imply that research has no place in the school. However, the knowledge and experience of the educator must be taken into account. The educator is a valuable informational resource for the researcher.  An educational plan cannot be implemented by relying on data as the sole measurement tool. Nor can one educational model become a cookie cutter plan to resolve issues in schools around the nation.

     Research is like raw cake dough. The ingredients are measured and mixed. If the ingredients are not measured correctly the cake will not bake to the proper consistency. If the cake is taste tested and deemed inedible it is thrown away. Research does not result in a successful program until all the ingredients have been mixed and measured correctly. One wrong measurement and the recipe is ruined. As with the cake mix, the baker (researcher) and taste tester (teacher) can have a mutual final opinion on the development of a project.

      Some factors that must be taken into account when conducting research are demographic, ethnographic, and economic factors. Adaptations to research will result from the latter factors. Teachers, students, and researchers are people with individual needs. A level of cohesion and respect for individuality between all involved will increase the chance that data is not confounded. All three types of research have a place in researching educational programs. Data extraction can assist the researcher in finding the demographic, economic, and ethnographic variables within a particular school system. This could be a stepping-stone in how to conduct the remainder of the research design. Caution should be used in using data extraction to assess school success without other forms of research such as co learning agreements. A plethora of factors could result in low test scores. These factors would become obvious during long-term observation and interaction with students in the classroom.

     For example, a school with a large immigrant population could have low test scores. Upon further observation a number on a data sheet becomes a population of students who have limited comprehension of English language. In a co learning agreement teachers feel like they have a say in the research. The educators have a part in developing the data that the researcher analyzes. The educator is also involved in looking at the results. In a co learning agreement the teachers don’t feel like they are being ordered about. The researchers work in partnership with them.

     Research design can be developed so teachers do not feel like mere recipients of the researcher’s educational models. Include them and the students in every facet of development. Every moment of observation can be an ‘aha” moment.  Educators need to feel like they are participants. Informational opportunities for educators should be available. Perhaps a round table discussion could be developed where teachers and researchers can share their visions and inspirations. Research in the world of education is different from biological research. Human beings are the subjects. They are not a cell that is observed under a microscope. If errors are made in education, the errors are permanent. A cell under a microscope can be replicated for future research, a human being cannot.

This is merely my opinion

Mari Nosal M.Ed.

Mari Nosal : Please stop by my site at Amazon Books and check out my published books on autism aspergers special needs and more   http://tinyurl.com/kdspqy9

 

Book……Ten Commandments For Interacting With Kids On The Autism Spectrum And Related Commandments


Ten Commandments For Interacting With Kids On The Autism Spectrum And Related Commandments

Mari Nosal : Please stop by my site at Amazon Books and check out my published books on autism aspergers special needs and more   http://tinyurl.com/kdspqy9

 

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