Earlier this week, I wrote about the two sessions of professional development on ASD and bullet pointed the general characteristics, common issues, and tips for teachers.
I also mentioned that I had one student in mind that I would try some of these tips with. Although this student does not sit on the spectrum at all, he struggles with being easily distracted and distracting others during learning time. This is not reflected by his great achievement levels and the great conversations I have with him. He often shares ideas that are original and thoughtful, but I just wanted to improve his general attention to his learning task and his task completion rate as well as limit his level of distraction for others.
So, following some of the tips and tricks from our session and from the Sue Larkey website, I introduced this student to the Goo Timer. The goo timer, similar to the one pictured below is a ten minute timer. We made the deal that he would focus for 10 minutes (the time it takes for the goo to go from the top to the bottom) and then would be allowed a 2 minute break.
At first, he wanted to stare at the goo - fair enough, it does look pretty cool - after a minute of staring, I told him to get on with it. He remained focused for the next 9 minutes. When it was break time, I said "You have two minutes."
"To do what, Miss?"
"Whatever you like - this is your break time."
He walked around the class a bit awkwardly, smiling at his friends and staring out the windows.
"Right, two minutes up! Come back!" I called. He returned and I told him, he could turn the timer over himself. Again, 10 minutes of full focus - he finished his first task.
During this time, also, another student who is known for his charming ways, approached us and asked if he could join us with the timer. I said yes and he was excited to get his work and bring it over to where we were sitting. VERY EXCITING MOMENT FOR A TEACHER, AM I RIGHT?!
At the next two minute break, they asked "Miss, can we play cards?"
"You can do whatever you like, but can you play a whole game in two minutes?"
"We can, Miss! Please?"
"Go for it."
They jumped up and went and got a pack of cards. They finished a game of last card in two minutes!
When returning to the next 10 minute block, they said:
"Miss, this is fun. It's making learning easier for me."
"Yeah, this helps me with distraction."
"Can we do this always, Miss?"
Later, when on patrols duty, the two students approached me as they were crossing the pedestrian, telling me of how they told Mr Wong about their new timer. I was blown away by one of the students who said, "Miss, __ told Mr Wong that we had to do this, but I said, no - we WANT to do this." (Sigh!)
So, what can work for students with ASD can also benefit other students! Give it a go. Today, the last day of term, they are still using the timer between clean up tasks. I hope this lasts a while!