My name is Conley Cummings. I grew up in the small town of Simsbury, Connecticut. I moved on from Simsbury to attend Endicott College where I studied elementary education and also obtained my initial licensure in moderate disabilities. After completing my undergraduate I began working at Hopeful Journeys Educational Center in Beverly where I learned a great deal about the principles of ABA therapy and began working toward my Masters in Education, focused on severe disabilities, returning to Endicott to do so. I finished my masters from Endicott the summer of 2018 and began teaching at CCCBSD in September of 2018. It has been a pleasure getting to know the students and staff of the school so far. I love working to help our students gain independence and abilities to express their wants, needs, and emotions more freely through the day. I am excited to continue on with my own personal growth as a teacher alongside our students as they build independence.
Our class consists of four 9th grade students who are between the ages of 14 and 15 years old. We all love to dance, be silly, do cooking projects, work on skills out in the community, and learn new things! We also have 2 classroom paraprofessionals, Miss Kim who has been working at CCCBSD for about 3 years. Miss Kim loves to travel and has been helping our class to learn and advance our sign skills, among all of her help through each day. Our second classroom paraprofessional is Miss Mia. She recently graduated from UMass Amherst where she studied speech. Miss Mia has brought lots of positivity and excitement for learning into our days.
Our class has already covered a ton of curriculum through the course of this year and we continue to grow and develop in this curriculum with personal growth and independence. The year began with a focus on ourselves in an “All About Me” unit where we examined the autobiography of legendary Boston hockey player, Bobby Orr. Through this we learned about autobiographies and developed our own identifying members of our family and many of our favorite things, as well as things that we are grateful for. We advanced in our units to look beyond ourselves into the community and spent some time studying the U.S. Constitution and the importance of rules and laws in our homes, schools, and community. Now we are expanding our scope even broader to look at how we can effect things more globally. We have spent time learning about recycling and plants. Students have been growing their own plants in pots they have created from recyclable materials. Some students have used water bottles, others milk cartons, others plastic cups. We have worked on measuring skills to make comparisons between plants growing in the sun vs. plants growing in the shade.
Our class also works daily to increase our functional and independent living skills. We work on money skills, reading signs within the environment, and social interactions with peers and adults. We do all of this through our day in the classroom then work to take these skills out of the classroom through trips that take place around the community twice a week.
We have been expanding our social skills through the use of the Circles curriculum, which helps to understand and explain the various relationships we have in our world, beginning with ourselves and expanding out to strangers.
Our class participates in a weekly specials rotation:
Most weeks we also participate in a community outings that tie into our unit plans and help build community skills on Wednesday morning and Thursday afternoon. We also complete weekly cooking group activities on Wednesdays.
Please reach out if you have any questions about resources we are using in the classroom! We currently make use of some reading applications such as lalilo.com which customizes its learning to our students needs and progress and during independent work times allows the students to build on some of their basic reading and letter principles. We also make use of applications called Epicreading and Readingaz that give students access to a variety of leveled reading books. We have begun expanding our discussion of social circles through the “circles” curriculum, which does have an app for purchase for those interested. I am always happy to create extra copies of school material at parents request to work on at home!
Our class has been deep in our work around recycling and plant growth. We have been growing plants of our own in recycled, repurposed materials. We went on an exciting trip to the Lyman Estate Botanical Gardens and have made some community purposed trips to recycle cans and bottles, as well as collect cans to purchase re-usable shopping bags for upcoming shopping trips.
We are excited for our potential next earned activity through class dojo. Our class all voted and have decided they would like to earn a classroom party at the end of March. They do so by demonstrating skills such as, “practicing independence,” “being a good listener,” and “helping friends” to earn class points throughout the course of the day. As a a school we are also excited for the upcoming Transition Soiree on March 30th!