> Ok, I have a 6th grade art class at the end of the day that is pretty
> big - 30 kids. Out of those 30, I think (I have to double check
> paperwork to be certain) there are 5 or 6 life skills kids in there.<snip>
I'm sorry your teacher(s) aren't planning better. In my experience, the
SpEd teachers all scheduled their students separately, apart from the
counselors who scheduled the other students. My class lists would look
reasonable until the SpEd department sent me the lists of THEIR students
who would be in my class. To get everyone on the same page before
scheduling began for the next semester/school year, I would get a list
of the SpEd students scheduled into my classes, then take that to the
counselors so they could see how many students were already enrolled in
my classes before they started scheduling the rest of the school.
> What do you guys do with very low level students? Do you create an
> entirely different lesson for them, or do you let them just do their
> own thing? <snip> I'm not exactly sure what the aides' roles are. Do
> I just give the project and then let the aides help them implement it?
I worked with a wonderful self-contained teacher at the HS. He planned
which kids would be in my class each semester, no more than 2- 3 so it
wouldn't be like replicating their self-contained class. I took them in
without an accompanying aide (who tend to do too much for the
students). It was always a rewarding experience; I was lucky the other
students were so accepting. I NEVER wrote separate lesson plans for
those students. They had to follow the same curric as everyone else,
with adaptations as needed. For example: The CP student with
extremely limited mobility still had to wedge her own clay and learn to
operate the slab roller. She could roll coils with hand-over-hand
assistance (me or another student who was willing to help). When the
rest of the students were weaving on cardboard looms, she would push a
needle threaded with yarn through a piece of burlap stretched on a hoop,
which I or another student held for her. Her teacher said she would be
exhausted after my class and often fell asleep, but she was always eager
to come the next day.
Since you're working with younger students, aides might be helpful as
long as they're not doing the work for the students (a real problem).
In MS I had an autistic boy with a very low threshold of frustration.
The aide that came with him hovered over and prompted him too much, I
felt. I did ask her to back off some and let him work through the steps
himself; she did, and later told me she'd noticed an improvement in
him. His work was certainly excellent, and he took to hugging me a
lot. She was most helpful in letting ME know when to back off and allow
him to do things his way. I felt we worked as a team and we maintained
a friendly relationship.
I could tell you some horror stories about emotionally disturbed
students I've dealt with, but most were able to hold themselves in check
for periods of time once they understood my expectations. My favorite
resource for the lowest SpEd students is the book called Exceptional
Children, Exceptional Art, by David Henley, published by Davis. It does
not provide specific lessons, but gives you a lot of insight into the
physical and emotional issues SpEd children deal with when making art.