Strategy of the Week

Autism Spectrum Disorders and The Secret To Preventing Meltdowns by Understanding Triggers

Autism Spectrum Disorders and Meltdowns

Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can pose a special challenge for teachers trying to maintain an effective classroom learning environment. Students with ASD may react or behave differently from others in the class, which can cause disruptions and reduce valuable learning time. This is particularly evident when a child with ASD has a meltdown.

Thankfully, these meltdowns can be mitigated—or avoided entirely. It has to do with triggers.

According to Danny Raede and Hayden Mears, the “Asperger Experts,” meltdowns tend to occur when a student with ASD feels overwhelmed. Frequently this is caused by sensory overload, in which sights, sounds, smells, or other stimuli become too much for the child to deal with.

The best way to handle a meltdown is to get the child away from the triggering environment and then give him or her time to calm down. Many adults don’t understand that using reasoning and logic to calm a child during a meltdown is actually far less effective.

When meltdown triggers are identified and understood, it becomes a much simpler matter to avoid them—and thus prevent meltdowns altogether. A routinized schedule can also help children with ASD stay focused and avoid precipitous situations. For parents and caregivers, a sample schedule for the home can be very helpful.

Watch: Understanding Meltdowns

See this week’s Edivate content, which addresses ASD-related meltdowns. Watch and learn how triggers can lead to meltdowns, and what you can do to address and avoid them. This video is part of an 18-part series on Edivate aimed at helping students with ASD thrive amidst their unique challenges.

The video is produced by Asperger Experts, founded by Danny Raede and Hayden Mears. Both were diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome (now categorized within ASD) at age 12, and today they help people affected by ASD to understand themselves and find useful strategies for resolving the conflicts, pain, and loneliness they encounter at school and throughout life.

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Asperger’s Syndrome and Bullying

Asperger’s Syndrome and Bullying: Teaching children how to understand—and react—to bullying

It’s an unfortunate fact that students who bully others commonly target children with Asperger’s Syndrome (AS). As educators, we can provide tools that empower our students with strong boundaries, resilience, and even empathy in dealing with being bullied.

Watch: Teach children how to understand—and react—to bullying

This week’s content on Edivate shares a strategy for helping children respond effectively to bullying—and potentially decrease their antagonizer’s bullying behaviors. This is the first in an 18-part series of video segments aimed at helping students with AS thrive.

The video is produced by Asperger Experts, founded byDanny Raede & Hayden Mears. Both were diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome at age 12, and today they help people with AS understand themselves and share useful strategies for resolving the conflicts, pain, and loneliness they often encounter at school and throughout life.

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Cross-Curricular STEM Teaching And Learning

Cross-Curricular STEM Teaching And Learning

Some of the most effective teaching combines cross-curricular activities for engaging students and helping them to learn. When a lesson involves interdisciplinary principles, students are more likely to learn and retain the information while building their individual skills.

This week we share an example of a lesson that does just that. It’s a STEM lesson that involves measuring and graphing the length of blue whales. This short video segment features Ms. Lori Barker and her first grade class at Green Acres Elementary in North Ogden, Utah. Watch as she engages her students and reinforces content knowledge through visualization, imaginative movement, differentiated reading, and a reflective writing exercise.

The standards-based lesson addresses the following standards:

  • Compare the lengths of two objects indirectly by using a third object.
  • Express the length of an object as a whole number of length units.

You can replicate all or part of this lesson using the included lesson plan. There are also links to additional resources supporting these STEM concepts.

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Engaging Students Through Differentiation

Engaging Students Through Differentiation

One of the most crucial challenges any teacher can face is making sure that each student receives experiences that are on par with his or her level of learning.

Effective teachers will differentiate their instruction to provide appropriate rigor to all students, thus accommodating all levels of academic ability. The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, Inc. ( published an article, Differentiating the Curriculum for Elementary Gifted Mathematics Students, which explores in depth how to create activities that meet the academic needs of accelerated math students. The article outlines 10 attributes of effective differentiated activities:

  1. The activity is investigative and will require some initiative and discovery on the student’s part. Recipe-like activities in which the students are walked through the steps of one solution are to be specifically avoided.
  2. The activity can be approached in different ways. There may be more than one pathway to the solution or more than one solution.
  3. The activity is complex and will require a variety of mathematical skills to solve. The activity may or may not be solvable in one mathematics period, allowing students to learn to cope with frustration and develop perseverance.
  4. The activity is structured so that gifted students of a variety of abilities can begin the problem at their own level. However, the activity is not designed to be simple enough that the lowest-achieving student can succeed without assistance.
  5. The activity will provide practice or fresh insight into the skills being presented in the regular mathematics unit.
  6. The activity is engaging for elementary school students.
  7. The activity is structured so that it can be worked on individually or in small groups, thus providing opportunities to discuss mathematical ideas.
  8. The activity is structured to encourage reflection and communication about mathematical ideas.
  9. For each unit, attention will be given to different learning styles. For example, some of the nine activities will be geared toward kinesthetic learners, others to visual learners, and so on.
  10. For each unit, attention will be given to Bloom’s taxonomy. For example, some of the nine activities will be designed to promoted analysis, synthesis, or evaluation. Comprehension is a prerequisite, not a goal, of all activities.

Source: Teaching Children Mathematics / August 2006

See how one teacher differentiates math in her classroom

This short video on Edivate demonstrates math differentiation in an elementary classroom. See how Teressa Paepke, first grade teacher at Sage Hills Elementary in Saratoga Springs, Utah, adjusts her learning activities to meet the needs of all her students. “It honestly does not take time, but the rewards and the benefits are so valuable and it’s an amazing thing that I love doing,” says Ms. Paepke.

This content includes a study guide with summaries and links to additional resources about differentiation and classroom management.

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Establishing Hallway Procedures

Establishing Hallway Procedures

It’s one of the most basic school activities—and if executed correctly, it can help students and teachers save instructional time and maintain their focus on learning. Some simple hallway procedures can help a class more easily transition between locations.

There’s no single “correct” hallway procedure, but if the routine is going to be effective and enduring, it must be taught and reinforced just like any other knowledge and skill. A 30-minute lesson plan on hallway procedures is offered by Lewiston Public Schools in Lewiston, Maine.

Watch how these teachers in Texas establish hallway procedures

This week, Edivate highlights a short video featuring elementary classes in Houston, Texas, and New Orleans, Louisiana. As you watch, you’ll notice that while different classes may use different techniques in establishing hallway procedures, the same general principles apply. This video includes a downloadable study guide and written transcript.

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How Furniture Affects A Classroom Learning Environment

Can the Right Furniture Improve Classroom Learning?

Since the 1600s, classroom seating has been static—arranged in rows for the benefit and convenience of the teacher. For many students (particularly those with a lot of energy), sitting still for an extended period isn’t just uncomfortable, it’s punishment.

An active learning classroom solves this problem with dynamic, movement-based seating that promotes concentration, increases student engagement (or participation), and empowers greater learning.

The positive effect is even greater when students are involved in selecting, procuring, and establishing rules for using their active seating.

See an active learning classroom in action

This week’s Edivate video spotlights the first fully active learning classroom in South Carolina. It features a classroom equipped with mobile seating, built-in exercise equipment, and desks of varying heights. Watch the video to see how the teacher furnished and implemented an active learning classroom, as well as the positive effect it’s had on her students. You can also download the study guide for additional insights and links to related resources on classroom management.

This video comes with a downloadable guidebook.

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Establishing Classroom Procedures and Expectations

First Things First: Establishing Classroom Procedures and Expectations

Most educators understand that the first week or two of school will set the stage for the rest of the year. That’s why it’s critical during this early period to give adequate attention to helping students establish classroom routines and expectations.

When children understand the routines and expectations early on, teachers can spend more time teaching and less time focused on managing their classroom.

There are plenty of things to remember when establishing expectations with your class. Whether you’re a new teacher or a veteran educator, a comprehensive checklist can be invaluable, such as this one at [].

Three Keys to Setting Expectations

Regardless of what procedures and expectations you have for your new classes, applying three key elements will help your students remember them.

  • State expectations clearly and frequently
  • Have expectations posted in the learning space
  • Classroom expectations should align with school-wide expectations

Doing this will not only result in fewer student infractions, but also empower your students to monitor their own behavior, freeing you up for additional valuable instruction time.

This week’s video on Edivate demonstrates how some teachers in Detroit, Michigan, set expectations for their students at the beginning of the school year. Watch the video, then download the study guide for summaries, reflection questions, and links to additional classroom management resources.

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Three Steps to Teaching Students Active Listening Skills

Three Steps to Teaching Students Active Listening Skills

One of the most important things that students can learn isn’t typically taught in a textbook. Yet it’s a skill that will serve them not just throughout the school year, but for their entire lives.

That skill is listening.

The vital role of listening in learning isn’t just common sense. Even standards-based curricula stress its importance. So how do we go about teaching and promoting listening in the classroom?

Rebecca Alber at lists five strategies for encouraging students to listen. It’s definitely worth a read.

Three Steps for Actively Listening

Edivate offers an entire classroom series on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS), which includes a unit on listening skills. In this week’s featured video, we watch educators at Beaumont Unified School District in Beaumont, California, teach their students three basic steps to active listening:

  • Look at the person talking.
  • Wait until he or she is done before they speak.
  • Respond with words or gestures that show they heard what the speaker said.

Watch the video (it’s under three minutes) to see how these teachers are implementing active listening in their classrooms. You can also download the study guide for additional insights and resources for using PBIS in your own classroom.

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Classroom Tech: 3rd Grade Reading Via Video Chat

Classroom Tech: 3rd Grade Reading Via Skype

It seems like every day we hear about the innovative ways teachers are using technology to facilitate classroom learning and collaboration. These practices were beyond the reach of many schools just a few years ago.

In some cases, entire classrooms are sharing and collaborating with other classes around the country using video chat applications such as Skype. This is one aim of STEM education: connecting students with their local and global communities through the use of technology.

Take, for example, Ms. Robin Farnsworth’s 3rd grade class at Neil Armstrong Academy in West Valley City, Utah. Through Skype, Ms. Farnsworth’s students read A Bad Case of the Stripes to another class and then listen as the other class reads their storybook, The Book with No Pictures.

This simple 30-minute activity provides an engaging, meaningful context for the students to practice reading fluency and comprehension. It also addresses two state standards:

  • Read grade-level text with purpose and understanding
  • Use telecommunications to communicate with others

Watch this lesson in action above to see how Ms. Farnsworth facilitates these classroom readings and subsequent discussions. You can also download the lesson guidebook for additional insights, as well as step-by-step instructions for creating this activity in your own classroom.

The guidebook also provides links to additional resources for effective teaching of STEM concepts.

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How To Give The Ultimate STEM Lesson

What does a truly comprehensive STEM lesson look like?

Cross-curricular activities can increase the relevance and engagement of STEM lessons.

This week’s strategy features students in Ms. Monica Marsing’s 6th grade class tracking food waste in their school cafeteria in order to create solutions for reducing the waste and reusing the rest as compost.

This lesson is exceptionally appropriate because it hits on so many concepts: statistics, problem solving, ecosystems, resource management, and more. In short, the lesson covers every aspect of STEM—Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.

This lesson is also standards based, addressing the following standards:

  • Use ratios to explore and solve real-world problems.
  • Find the mean of a data set, describe overall patterns, and identify deviations from the overall pattern.
  • Analyze and interpret data.

Watch the video to see how Ms. Marsing executes this lesson, then download the lesson guidebook for everything you need to adapt this lesson in your own classroom. The guidebook also links to additional resources for effective teaching of STEM concepts.

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