There are so many amazing ideas out there in the world. When you go to search for resources or strategies relating to autism education, the internet responds with such a huge catalogue of responses that it is nearly impossible to know how to filter out the best, most relevant, evidence-informed results.

The staff at the school I work for are constantly connecting both locally and globally with other educators working across a range of settings, from autism education through to engineering and design and music through to just about whatever you can imagine. We gain so much for these connections, and we want to make sure that the fruits of our research always connect with our students, families and local professionals.

This year, in 2017, I am launching a new school based initiative, the Autism Pedagogy Sandpit, to help connect local members of our school community to the global reach of autism education and research. This is how it's going to work:

  • Every Sunday evening during the term, I'm going to launch a new chat topic on Twitter, using the hashtag #apSandpit. This hashtag will go out from my account (@wrenasmir) and our Aspect Hunter School account (@aspecthuntersch). This will be a slow chat topic, meaning that educators, parents and other professionals can log on to Twitter at any time across the week and post a response to the topic.

 

  • Across the week the resources shared on Twitter in response to the #apSandpit hashtag will be collected and hosted on this website. 

 

  • On a Friday morning at 10am, parents of the Aspect Hunter School will be invited to pop in to our Thornton Base School where I will host a one hour 'Sandpit' session where the topic of the week will be discussed, and resources will be shared and talked about. Parents can set goals based on how they might like to implement some of the resources and strategies talked about. 

 

  • The Sandpit session will be live streamed on Periscope through Twitter, for our school parents who cannot be present for the session, as well as for other parents, educators and professionals from around the world to listen in on what is discussed. The video from the event will then be hosted on this website alongside the resources discussed. This stream will go live at 10am each Friday morning from my Twitter account (@wrenasmir) and our school account (@aspecthuntersch).

 

This will all be trialled during Term 1 of 2017, with modifications to the process made to improve the impact and accessibility of the sandpit across the year. The key idea here is that through regular, low pressure opportunities to pop in to the school and have a chat about the most recent and effective autism education strategies, and to regularly set simple goals based on these strategies, we will be able to better connect what happens at school, what happens in the home, and what is happening on the global autism education stage. 

If you have any questions about the Autism Pedagogy Sandpit and how you can connect, even if you are not currently part of our school community, send me a message on Twitter and through my e-mail and let me know. 


Week of 29th January

More information on this topic here: UX and U.

Responses to our #apSandpit prompt this week include:

  • Improve student's experience by letting them see you take risks with learning. It will inspire them & give confidence to do same
  • Find or create an outdoor learning space. Make use of it throughout the school week
  • Consider support for parents re: separation routines at drop off. Working together to foster resilience and a positive arrival
  • Looking for any opportunity in which learning activities can be facilitated by students and not teacher driven
  • In morning circle, don't rely on using videos for your days of the week / weather songs - rather, sing and model the joy of making music!

This link was shared in support of the idea on how to design outdoor learning experiences for students via MindShift: 

https://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2017/02/02/how-small-steps-can-create-outdoors-experiences-in-schools/


Week of 5th February

Responses to our #apSandpit prompt this week include:

  • The best strategy in getting to know students is to get involved in what they are interested in. Join them in their play
  • The tool that changed my philosophy of teaching, approach to learning, & how I build relationships w/ all students is Minecraft
  • Quality time informally - actively listen. Tap into their interests and preferred learning styles. High expectations
  • Collect student profile info from carers and use special interests to motivate them out of their comfort zone

You can watch a video of our parent #apSandpit catch-up on Vimeo here:


Week of 12th February

Responses to our #apSandpit prompt this week include:

  • Opportunities to ask a colleague to observe your session and coach you re: engagement, structure, session goal, new possibilities
  • Considerations here with regards to sessions where only two or three students engage and keep the lesson moving forward = #a11y?
  • Self reflection upon own teaching style would be beneficial in determining ways to improve connection & communication w students
  • Sentence stems/prompts for verbal & written responses, visual supports, chunk instructions & tasks and specific praise
  • tap into student interests and different learning styles, hands on tasks, open ended questioning & group work

Week of 19th February


Week of 26th February

Responses to our #apSandpit prompt this week include:

  • Play games such as 'go fish' starting with images of high interest subject matter then gradually add new content
  • Prior developed memory catchphrase, visual or verbal prompts are best to support
  • Scaffold visual work strips for older students and together plan steps towards completing tasks
  • For students struggling with cognitive flexibility i.e. transitioning between tasks, consistency of visual/verbal cues to signal end of activity

Week of 5th March