Teaching students with Asperger’s Syndrome

have-fun-teachingBy Paul Silli

According to OAR (Organization for Autism Research), there are many strategies a teacher can use to be successful when working with students who have asperger’s.

First, allow “extra-time” for your kids to complete assignments. Don’t rush your class and establish an easy-going pace. Try to minimize class changes because students who have asperger’s favor set routines within their academic and social engagements.

It also is essential to know that students who have asperger’s are prone to be “visual learners.” Offer many “hands-on” activities with pictures/graphics and show them what they need to learn. Kinesthetic learning is vital for understanding.

You should keep your language simple… Avoid complex dialog – unless learning a new term is the objective. To introduce new words use visual aids and examples.

If there is a need to change your class — tell your kids why things are changing. Take the time to explain why you are going in a different direction and review any new goals. This will ease tension.

With any successful teaching approach — be sure to offer a lot of positive feedback and reassurance to your students. All kids need consistent monitoring to stay focused and on track.

Actively keep your students parents informed about their child’s progress. If you have parental support your students will do great. To create a comfortable class environment you could have items placed around your room that represent a topic or display characteristics that are interesting to you. Kids love getting to know their teacher — so share things about yourself that make you approachable and friendly.

Additionally, collaborate with your peers. You will learn a lot by asking what your fellow teachers are doing in their classrooms.

Finally, try to prevent behavior outbursts or “meltdowns” by creating a stress-free class. Prevention through the use of appropriate academic, environmental, social and sensory support systems are effective. Be aware that you will have behavior issues; but if you are calm and fair your problems will be minimal. 🙂


Teacher Technology Survey

 By Paul Silli

We really need your opinion. The below survey link is being conducted to gain important information about your experiences as a teacher. You are asked to kindly provide your “perceptions” about technology and how you use it with your students (14 questions). The responses to this survey will be analyzed by our IT-Staff to improve the quality of learning for our school. Your responses are confidential. Big thanks for participating. 

How can Parents help their kids with Homework?

Back to School Already

By Paul Silli


After reading an article from the National Education Association (NEA), there are several ways a parent can help with homework:

  • First, send your children to school each day, well-rested, fed and with a positive outlook. This is a home-practice that really makes a major difference in the way children perform in school.  
  • Take an active interest in your children’s schooling. Ask direct, “specific questions” about what happens at school each day, and how your child may feel about it.
  • Avoid letting your own negative experiences keep you from supporting and encouraging your children’s learning. For example, telling them you were bad at math when you were a kid… Let them know how much you care about education by continuing your own efforts in learning to impress its importance upon them.
  • If possible, set up a quiet, comfortable study area at home (away from the TV) with good lighting and the school supplies your child may need. Hopefully, this area will be cool in temperature because heat causes fatigue (that’s why libraries are often cold).
  • Set a family “quiet time” where you and your children can work together on homework, reading, writing and playing interactive games; (Try to relate subjects matters to your real life situations for understanding).
  • Allow your child to study in a way that he or she learns best. For example, some children work well when they’re lying on the floor with background music playing, while others need silence etc. 

For more info visit: Homework TIPS.


Should kids be allowed to bring Cell Phones to School?

By Paul Silli

It’s a real debate among students, teachers, administrators, and many parents…


Some say YES!

What if there’s an emergency? A child could easily use one of the office phones, but still! What if the student forgot that he/she had an after-school program to attend, and the offices were closed or the phone was occupied? Most students have trouble contacting their parent(s). Parents often get worried, and the school phone maybe unavailable. Then what do ya do?


Some say NO!

If a child has a cell phone they should be allowed to take it to school but then when they get there it could be collected, and when they leave it would be returned to them. Many teachers and faculty don’t agree with this system. It could cause a big mess… For example, what if the phone gets damaged, lost or stolen? Would the school district have to pay for the phone? Ouch! That could get costly! School Offices can be contacted if you need to get hold of your child urgently, or if your child needs to contact you. Unfortunately, you only have to look at websites like You-Tube.com to see what kids are actually doing with their mobile phones while at school (and they ain’t calling their parents). Students use their cell phones to play games, listen to MP3 music, text message each other (a big one), and even access the Internet, among other things. Keep in mind that our kids are supposed to be learning at school. Right? Can cell phones somehow be used as a learning-tool for teachers? Hm…  


Also, sadly there is a new source of bullying, in that if a student does not have the “popular type” of cell phone or one of the fancy features, he or she can can often be looked down on by their peers. Mobile phones have definitely become a status symbol for young people.


What do you think? Please add your comments.

Students learn more from “Clubs” then what we teach

By Paul Silli

281405sdc1.jpg     According to Frank Smith, author of “The Book of learning and Forgetting,” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Smith_%28psycholinguist%29, teachers are often wasting their time in class teaching repetitive, mundane things that only promote short-term memory with their students. Smith believes, and supports his work with research that children, especially under seven years of age, learn more from the people & associations that they are surrounded with, then the Traditional View methods of teaching and learning. He argues that the Classical View of teaching and learning — is the best overall method for promoting long-term memory, and creating “real” learning outcomes. What he calls the “clubs” that we associate with, for example, the people we see day-to-day, the activities we participate in such as going to the gym, or hanging out at a local library, are more influential to our learning experiences, then sitting in a traditional classroom, and being “told” how to think, and what to memorize.

When he mentions the term “clubs” he is referring to the people, direct-interactions, or books that we encounter everyday. He includes books because he believes that a learner can relate or associate with the author of a book that he or she is interested in… So “clubs” does not have to be a physical interaction.

If you think about it, he has a point! When we are infants we can and do learn many languages without any formal training or cognitive development. We “mimic” the people we are around, and over time, we learn the language that is in our environment.

Smith believes the best learning is through cooperative, active interactive engagements. Now, I know this is not a new concept — however he takes the idea of shared or grouped learning to a new level. For example, following the extreme-Classical View of learning (You learn from the company you keep), he believes teachers should not offer formal test assessments, and that “most” of the learning should be based on a child’s “social development.” Meaning, there would be no defined grade levels, and students would be encouraged to learn by the association of their peers. Group participation would account for the majority of the class work. (Kind of a Confucius learning style). 😉  f00164211.jpg

As I’m sure you are aware, we do learn and are influenced by the people or “clubs” that we associate with. What do you think? Are you more of a Traditional or Classical type of educator?

Trends in Discipline & Classroom Management

u160317961.jpgBy Paul Silli

What are your thoughts about discipline in the classroom? I use humor to keep my kids on task. If you can make them laugh, you will manage their behavior well. But using a sense of humor is not for everyone. So, how do you keep your kids behaved and learning? It seems today a teacher’s discipline skills have become almost more important then actual teaching. If you don’t have classroom management abilities, things are going to be difficult.  For my students I created what I call the “Five BE’s” of discipline. 

1) BE consistent with your class rules. This means DON’T BLUFF if you are going to discipline or reward your students. Stand by your word and establish credibility!  

2) BE firm, but fair. Firmness shows you care about your students; and often being fair deals with you treating “all” of your students equally. For example, if you have a deadline for a project – stick to it (unless a student is sick). Teaching kids the importance of a deadline is a life skill they need to learn.

3) BE flexible with your lessons. Students need to know if you create an activity, and it is not turning out the way you expected, you will change the work to meet their best interest. In other words, do what is necessary to make things work. Your students will respect your decisions which will lead to positive behavior.  ks142201.jpg

4) BE considerate to your students. Never argue or yell at them! Confrontations and class disruptions waste time and energy. Try to minimize outburst by reducing there importance. Students are very sensitive if you tease or argue with them –especially in front of their peers. If a class “issue” occurs, separate the child and address him or her on a one-to-one basis. This will create a respectful, calm atmosphere. 


5) BE organized with your class. Yes, organized! Often students (especially young ones) will take advantage of a situation if you are poorly prepared. It is just their nature. When students see that you have your act together — respect and good behavior will occur. Plan well, and stay on top of your game!


Visit “Top 10 Tips for Classroom Discipline & Management” for more info:  http://712educators.about.com/od/discipline/tp/disciplinetips.htm


Frontiers Symposium, Education & Learning

portrait-of-young-boy-at-a-home-computer-bcp022-261.jpgBy Paul Silli

Last weekend I attended a Frontiers of Education Symposium. The purpose of the symposium was to discuss and determine various trends in teaching & learning that should be practiced in the K-12 classroom. Some of the ideas mentioned are not new to the field but are beneficial.  

Here are a few things that were talked about:

  • Class time should be devoted to discovery (inquiry and project-based) learning over traditional lecture /take-notes methods. Teachers should move away from just having students memorize facts  toward gathering, evaluating, and applying new information.

  • Teaching and learning should go beyond the classroom to involvement in campus activities and  performing community service.

  • A teacher is perceived as a leader in a learning community who actively collaborates with colleagues, parents, administrators, and other academic partners.

  • Student work has expanded from the “individual instructor” to include group or team work where peer-feedback and exchange of ideas occurs.

  • Assessments should be multi-level and complex incorporating both formative/summative evaluations: http://jan.ucc.nau.edu/edtech/etc667/proposal/evaluation/summative_vs._formative.htm

Kids today have grown up with technology, and are comfortable using multi-media. Employers want transferable skills from the classroom to the workplace where problem solving, creativity, and social abilities have been learned. It is essential we teach our students “skills” they can use in the real world.

What trends do you see in education? What lies ahead?