What happens in the computer lab during the session

This system evolved after years of struggle with rolling enrollment, kids of varying ages and abilities, and autism itself. In addition, we cycle (cuurrently) over 20 kids in 1.5 hours. So we rotate 7 students for 30 minutes each. (The summer camp is 3 hours, and a different schedule.)

I made this video to review, again, the best way to watch a video tutorial while doing a lesson. This is as of 11/13 – I have some new tweaks I’ll implement in the winter term.

1. Students enter lab to find a piece of paper on their keyboard. It tells them to open a browser and visit a website

2. On that website is a chart with their name on a list. Next to their name is a personalized note about where they left off on their project and what to do today. It gives them a video link to click, and a link to their project. (logins are above workstation – see post about workstation).

3. The video tutorial plays the lesson for the week. (A video often takes them more than 1 week to complete). They pause the video and do the action in the software they’re learning.

4. Two teachers (the assistant teacher and I) stand behind them and help them as questions arise.

That’s the basic system for the screen itself & these blog posts explain the other elements: the messages above the workstation, the badge system, my binder, the coins and the breaks, the Google doc, the lesson webpages, headphone splitters (Sarah’s system), and cat toys. I also explain and how we allow flexibility and creativity within the tutorials that are made. The videos are 5-10 min long and have three tracks: beginning, intermediate and advanced.

Again, this evolved due to our students walking into the lab, not knowing what was expected of them, and immediately just jumping on a computer and doing whatever they wanted – and absolutely resisting any kind of structure. The other pattern they fell into was working on projects of their own design – although a lot of great stuff came out of it, but it’s typical for kids to want to do projects that are way beyond their abilities. They had a habit of expecting the teachers to drop everything and give them a private lesson on the topic of their choosing.

Our lab ultimately needed a fairly strict set of rules that were non-negotiable. . At this projects, In some cases, I make a custom video for them to help them with their topic.

Most of the students welcomed the structure of having a particular lesson plan to follow. A few fought (bitterly) for a few weeks, but eventually relented and are doing well in the new system. To this day, some kids are have an off-day and can’t pull it together to do a lesson. If they’ve generally been doing lessons and working hard, we’ll let it pass, and they can do the minimum and take the rest of the lab session as a break. (see future post called “challenges” once its written.)