Students learn skills for independence while planning and cooking together
As a component of our integrated life skills programme, our intermediate students have started working on making warm and hearty meals in a slow cooker. Their first project has been to develop a stew recipe they liked and the whole class could share in the making of. After reviewing a basic recipe and talking about the steps involved in cooking it, the class made shopping lists of the ingredients they would prefer to use and then participated in a negotiation process to decide what ingredients would go into their collaborative stew recipe. Beginning with a recipe that called for potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, mushrooms, canned kidney beans, frozen peas, and frozen corn, it was agreed the classroom batch would include a vegetable stock for the vegetarians in the group. All students helped to chop the vegetables and reference the recipe, adding ingredients when it was time. The stew has been a popular classroom lunch choice especially after a morning spent skating followed by a brisk walk back to school. When asked to rate and give an opinion about the stew most students said they thought it was delicious. Some students said they would like to try other ingredients, such as different spices, other types of vegetables, and some suggested adding meat. We look forward to making more one pot wonders and sharing our creations!
Virginia Trott - Room 3 teacher
Earning BCBA certification shows commitment and competence in special education
Kohai Educational Centre's educators are a team of talented individuals, passionate about teaching our students. Virginia Trott, a teacher to our teenaged group, recently earned her accreditation as a Board Certified Behaviour Analyst (BCBA). Below, Virginia describes the process leading up to her certification and why it’s been a valuable step for her:
There are three components involved in becoming a BCBA. The first step is to earn a Masters degree in behaviour analysis or other natural science, education, human services, engineering, medicine or a field related to behaviour analysis. The next step is to acquire 1,500 supervision hours under a BCBA where you practise implementing applied behavior analysis (ABA) concepts. Once these two elements have been achieved you must write a 4-hour exam and upon passing the exam you have earned the designation Board Certified Behaviour Analyst.
As a BCBA I have undergone extensive training to ensure I am an ethical and knowledgeable practitioner in the field of ABA. Much like belonging to the Canadian Medical Association, Canadian Psychological Association and other professional associations, having the designation of BCBA provides a confidence and the knowledge this is a field with standards and ethics overseen by peers to ensure the best practices and highest standards are being adhered to by each BCBA. There are set standards, expectations to stay current in research and evidence-based practises and there is a process to challenge the practices of a BCBA in the event their behaviour or skills come into question.
The BCBA certification is a benefit to both the practitioner and the employer (agency, school or individual consumer) in that it provides structure and concrete information regarding the practice of ABA. In addition, it provides the BCBA with a network of peers around the world to share information and gain more experience while honing their expertise.
As a professional practicing in the field of special education for more than 14 years, adding the BCBA certification is one more way to demonstrate my commitment and competence in working with and educating students who require a more specialized approach to their learning. The three and half year journey to completing my full certification was educational, as well as professionally and personally gratifying. I have enhanced my knowledge and skills in the area of ABA and teaching and I have forged rewarding relationships with colleagues in my field.
Virginia Trott - Room 3 teacher
Toronto Special Needs School Trip
As a teacher at Kohai, as school for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, I am always looking for teachable moments. A few weeks ago one of these moments occurred during snack time. While we were eating, one of my students held up his apple.
“What is this part for?” he asked, pointing to the apple stem.
“Well,” I replied, “Where do apples grow?”
“The grocery store!” He answered enthusiastically.
As usual, my students always let me know when there is something that they could benefit from learning. In this case, it was learning about where food comes from. We began a unit on farming, livestock, and crops. An enriching unit learning about these topics culminated in a trip to the Royal Winter Fair.
While at the Royal, students benefitted from hands on interactive demonstrations about growing crops. We saw an enormous pumpkin and got a chance to visit with an apple farmer. He reminded us that apples grow on trees, not at the store! At the petting farm, students had an opportunity to feed and pet cows, goats, and even llamas. At the animal theatre, we saw horses do tricks and goats jump through hoops. While the horses and goats put on a show, we cheered and danced in the bleachers. One of the students volunteered to ask the riders a question. (He decided to ask if the horses enjoyed the pop songs as much as we did).
On top of all of the excitement at the Royal Winter Fair, a highlight of the trip was getting a chance to take the TTC. Although some students ride the subway to school, it is always a thrill to get a chance to take public transit with their friends. Students practised paying for their fare at the collector booth and transferring from the subway to the streetcar.
Outings like this one enhance what students learn in the classroom, putting into context information taught through speech, text, pictures and video. Kohai has always put a strong focus on building skills for independent living. Experiences like these are especially valuable for developing skills in our unique population.
Jessica Wesley, Room One teacher
Pizza, pop, pyjamas and dancing! What more can a teenager ask for on a Friday evening? Well, that’s exactly what students from Kohai, Greenwood, and The French School of Toronto got when they congregated at The French School of Toronto on Friday, January 16, 2015.
The Best Buddies program hosted a teen dance with a pyjama theme, for students who are part of this group, which include Kohai students from Room 3.
Students attended in their pyjamas and ate, danced and socialized for the duration of the 2-hour dance. The Kohai students seemed to enjoy meeting students from other schools.
All students also had their names entered into a draw for a variety of prizes, such as Best Buddies t-shirts and scarves and even some movie tickets. Whether they won a prize or not all the students had a great time. Many room 3 students were still talking about the dance when school started again on Monday morning.
Events like this one help to integrate our students into the community. The opportunity to participate in teenaged-appropriate extracurricular activities with friends from school is an exciting break from a regular routine. It’s also a chance to develop social skills in a new setting. As a teacher at Kohai, I’m really pleased with the positive outcome of the Best Buddies dance and what other skills and experiences the programme events can offer to my students.
Virginia - Room 3 teacher
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