A reader named Hilary commented last week on the post My Home Away From Home. She asked about how I use the pocket charts with the students’ objectives. These pocket charts were born out of necessity. At the beginning of the school year, my principal told me that I needed to come up with some way to post the kids’ objectives before each lesson. It’s an expectation in every classroom in my school and I am no exception to that rule. My first thought was, “How in the world am I going to work that into my already time-crunched schedule?” My second thought was, “How am I going to post objectives when there may be 4 different kids working on 10 different targets?” After thinking it through and taking a few deep breaths, I realized that most of my kids have similar objectives. By nature, language disordered kids in younger elementary grades are typically working on the same types of things. So – would I make a poster and use clothespins? Would I put them on magnet strips to post on the board? Lo and behold, the Target dollar section saved the day! I found pocket charts there at the beginning of the school year. I think I bought 6 or 7 of them. I printed the general objectives that I tend to target on cardstock and had them laminated. I chose to use red for receptive, green for expressive and yellow for pragmatic, but any color combinations would work. I like that they are color-coded so I don’t spend so much time searching for the ones I need.
When the kids came in for their first session of the year, I snapped their pictures and then printed those very small (maybe 1″ tall at the most). I laminated those onto strips of cardstock that are about 1.5″ x 2.5″ and sorted them by teacher. When the kids come into the room, they get their squirt of Germ-x and then go straight to the pocket charts that hold the pictures. They take their pictures to the table. When everyone has made it to the table, I take the pictures and tell the kids what we’re working on while putting the pictures in the pocket charts on the correct objectives. My artic kids have learned that they can put theirs on the chart themselves because we’re always working on the same thing! We even put an “I love Speech” sticker on that one so that it’s easy to spot.
Hilary asked specifically about confidentiality. I don’t feel like it’s a big issue with this because the pictures never leave my room. They are small enough that a visitor to the room would really have to strain to see the kids’ faces when they are on the pocket chart. The only visitors my room ever has are IEP committee members for conferences and most of them have their backs to that side of the room. I suppose if you felt uncomfortable using photos, you could have the kids draw a picture of themselves, decorate a popsicle stick, or just write initials or assigned numbers on cards or sticks. (Come to think of it, the decorated popsicle sticks would be really fun! What a great get-to-know-you activity for the beginning of the year!)