Sensory Smarts.

Sensory Smart Classroom.

team pic

 (Whitney Bennett-Clear, Mathew Bruno, Sara Thompson & Kathy Roberts)

red desk fidgetIt is not uncommon to hear someone talk about being overstimulated. Have you ever considered that there may be an amount of stimulation that is just right? The team at Lincoln Middle School did just that. School social worker, Whitney Bennett-Clear saw a sensory need that was not being met, so she and Integrated Service teachers Sara Thompson and Mathew Bruno took on the challenge. Their goal was the integration of sensory tools within their classroom and out in student’s general education classrooms.

To make their dream a reality the team applied for a Supporting Partnerships in Innovative Education or SPIE Grant. SPIE Grants are designed for teachers to include innovative teaching materials for creative and inventive learning. The process was a true collaboration. Parent Stephanie Haynes worked closely with grant coordinator Stacy Poncelow to compose the grant with the Lincoln Middle School staffers. The group was awarded $2,346.92 with which they were able to purchase standing work desks, rocking chairs, balance stools, fidgets, light minimizing tools, scented oils, weighted blankets and more.

bracletThe philosophy behind the sensory smart classroom incorporates our need for sensory stimulation and depression. Think about it, there are times that we may be sluggish and think to have a cup of coffee or bounce a foot while concentrating. The purpose of these aids are to ramp-up energy or decrease sensory stimulation in order to focus. A target group of students, are working toward being able to identify and facilitate these needs. Mr. Bruno, Mrs. Thompson and Mrs. Bennett-Clear have streamlined the use of socially appropriate tools for students. The goal is for students to identify what they need to be successful and access it independently. Does someone feel that rocking would allow them to focus on the task at hand? Grab a rocking chair. Does someone feel that holding and manipulating something pliable would help them relax? Grab a fidget. The only way this is possible is if they are available. That was the vision for the Lincoln Middle School staff.

By providing tools, students are able to accommodate their sensory needs, in return the student agrees to a contract of sorts in which they agree to use them appropriately and responsibly. So what are their favorite sensory tools? Mr. Bruno likes the standing desk, Mrs. Bennett-Clear likes the rocking chairs, as do the students and Mrs. Thompson likes a firm desk top fidget.

Congratulations Sara Thompson, Mathew Bruno and Whitney Bennet-Clear on your 2014 SPIE Grant.

balance stool    rocking chair standing desk

weighted blanketPoudre School District Integrated Services                                                                 Director: Sarah Belleau                                                                                                                    2407 Laporte Avenue, Fort Collins, CO 80521

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Coffee Roasting– 2014 SPIE Grant

“The most important thing people did for me was to expose me to new things.”                                                                                                        – Temple Grandin

ACE Supported Employment Program

The goal of any educational institution is to prepare students for post high school Michael Woodruffalso known as “the real world”.  Here is the thing, the real world looks different for different people. Sometimes it leads to continued education, sometimes vocational work, other times it can be entrepreneurial work. As educators it is our responsibility to help guide students to where they can be most successful.

Michael Woodruff, the coordinator for the Alternative Cooperative Education Supported Employment program for Integrated Services in Poudre School District, supports students in developing employment skills. The students he works with have a disability and are served through the Integrated Services program with a high level of special education supports. The wonderful part of this ACE Supported Employment program is that it provides students with opportunities to learn job skills while in school instead of waiting until they have finished! Together students and coordinators work to find the best fit by providing job trials in various places.

coffee bagThe ACE Supported Employment program has wonderful success stories of students finding, keeping and loving employment positions.  Often, these positions continue after the students formal education with Poudre School District has concluded. Even with great success stories, there was a piece of the puzzle missing. There needed to be a place for students who were not emotionally prepared for work in the community.  Sarah Belleau, Director of Integrated Services, challenged Mr. Woodruff and his team to create an environment within the safety of Poudre School District where students could explore what it is like to be self-employed, with a real monetary product. This environment would allow students with more significant needs to be in charge of all of the ins and outs of running a business including time and money management, ordering, roasting, grinding, bagging, labeling and distributing an end product – coffee!

The 2014 SPIE Grant Mr. Woodruff received granted $3,755 toward a Coffee Roaster, Baratza Encore Coffee Mill, Jenning CJ-4000 Scale, 1 lb. Kraft Tin-Tie bags, 20 + pounds of coffee beans, and a switch Relay Device to operate the roaster and grinder.

The coffee roasting entrepreneurial option creates an environment for students who may have job placement difficulty otherwise. In addition it creates a partnership between a few student run enterprises in Poudre School District including Poudre High School’s Poudre ACE Sign Shop.  The Poudre ACE Sign Shop creates the labels for the coffee packaging.

Mr. Woodruff is in the process of setting up production materials and soon the roasting will begin. Keep an eye out for more information on our Facebook page and Twitter. It may be your new, favorite place to buy coffee.raw coffee beans

Poudre School District Integrated Services                                                                 Director: Sarah Belleau                                                                                                                     2407 Laporte Avenue, Fort Collins, CO 80521

Smart Board SPIE Grant 2013

“If you want something you’ve never had, then you’ve got to do something you’ve never done.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         – Thomas Jefferson

Jennifer, Jessica, LisaO’Dea Core Knowledge, like most schools, is a school full of smart boards. However there were a few classrooms who were hanging out in the dark ages of 1990 with chalkboard, whiteboards and books.
When Jennifer Rosen and Jessica Smeins decided they wanted a part of 2015, they enlisted the help of Lead Board Certified Behavior Analyst, Autism Coach, Speech and Language Pathologist and friend Lisa Hernandez. These motivated ladies applied for a Supporting Partnerships in Innovative Education or SPIE Grants. SPIE grants allow teachers the opportunity to apply for innovative teaching materials for creative and inventive learning. Jennifer Rosen, Jessica Smeins and Lisa Hernandez won a 2013 SPIE Grant for their smart boards. Lisa credits Grants Coordinator, Stacy Poncelow with being invaluable to their grant writing and said she made the process so easy and wonderful.

Jennifer and Jessica are teachers within the center based program for students with autism at O’Dea Core Knowledge, here in Fort Collins, CO. Their students spend time in their classrooms as well as general education classrooms. While in their general education rooms, the students had access to smart boards, but not in Jennifer and Jessica’s classrooms. Now that the two rooms are equipped with the latest smart boards, their students have more access to them. It has been highly motivating for them. In particular, students are learning valuable soft skills such as waiting and taking turns as well as writing and working collaboratively in a community. As teachers, they are enjoying the ability to share multiple visuals without relying on passing books and printed material around. It has allowed for better visual comprehension of the topics they are working on.

Once Jennifer and Jessica learned they had received the grant, they immediately signed up for the informational class on how to operate their smart boards. Unsure of how long it would take until they were delivered and installed, Jennifer and Jessica were pleasantly surprised when they arrived back from winter break to find them up and ready.

The team was awarded a 2013 SPIE Grant for $5,000 to include 2 Smart Boards jenniferEpson- M600, 2 projection units and installation. The interactive whiteboards are light sensory vs touch sensory which allows for accessibility for those with decreased fine motor skill strength. It is a multi-touch unit which can accommodate two users simultaneously.

Jennifer and Jessica are excited to explore and experiment with their new technology.

Poudre School District Integrated Services                                                                 Director: Sarah Belleau                                                                                                                     2407 Laporte Avenue, Fort Collins, CO 80521