Sunday, June 28, 2015

SPED Summer Blog Hop Kick Off {Scheduling}

 Today a group of special education bloggers and I are kicking off a five week long summer blog hop to share our expertise with you! Thank you "Kinder Sped Adventures" for organizing and hosting this hop!! Here is the weekly schedule that you can look forward to! 

So this week, we'll talk about scheduling! In case you're wondering what type of class this is, I teach 1st-5th, have 9 students, and students with Autism, Downs, ED, OHI, and SLD. 

This is posted to your left as soon as you enter my room. We are required in my district to have our schedule posted by our doors. So I have my class schedule and a breakdown of my center rotations.

Here is a closer look at my schedule. 
D.E.A.R. is Drop Everything And Read. Board review is our whole group instruction and is just like what most know as morning meeting. Life skills is where I also incorporate science, health, social studies, and crafts.

My scheduling is all done through my lesson plans. It's where my para's schedules are as well. The page below is the first page of my lesson plan and an overview of our entire day. If you'll look at the last two columns, they are for the two paras I have in my room. They can look at the lesson plan at any time and see exactly what they are supposed to be doing. It is always printed and laying by my projector.
I prefer this method over charts on the wall for a couple of reasons. For one, I think it is more professional. Putting visual charts/schedules up on the wall for my para's like my students, makes me feel like I'm treating them like a child. Plus, it's just not necessary. Their schedule rarely changes and they're so awesome, they know what to do. It's also cleaner and doesn't clutter my walls. It's also very easy for me to edit, right at home when I'm doing my planning. Plus, I have to turn in a lesson plan anyway, why do twice the work. 

Here is how I schedule our day. I don't want to get too much into paras as that is our week 4 topic for this hop, but you will see that each para has their own page so they know what to do with each color coded group. This year I had four groups and four rotations. There is a teacher/para in three of the four and the fourth center is or reading/book center. You can read more about how I run my centers {here}. I try to keep these pages fairly generic so that I'm not killing myself and spending ridiculous hours lesson planning every weekend!

This is my ELA schedule. This schedule is used all week.

Para 1 ELA Schedule

Para 2 ELA Schedule

My Math Schedule

Para 1 Math Schedule

Para 2 Math Schedule

This is the schedule for the rest of our day. Since the remainder of the day is whole group, I have one page like this for each day of the week. My paras can refer to page one again if they need to know what they are to do during this time. 
If you're wondering about the standards I have on each page....they are our teaching professional standards and I use these weekly plans as part of my evidence for my teacher evaluations.

This is the visual schedule my student's use for  rotations. 
I've never been a fan of Boardmaker pictures, so a couple of years ago I began using real life photos with my students. The last couple of years, all of my students have been high functioning so I have not needed visual schedules for other aspects of their day. I have used many types of individualized visual schedules in the past, but this year didn't need them. Routines alone work and after the first few days of school, they've learned the routine. I also like to change up the routine occasionally and unexpectedly for my students that don't desire it in an effort to teach them how to deal with sudden changes that they are going to have to deal with for the rest of their lives. We don't live in a predictable environment and they need to be taught strategies for dealing with change. I believe it is crucial that when you do use visual schedules they should be used only when necessary and eliminated as soon as the child no longer shows a need for it. Don't just feel like because you're teaching in a self-contained class that everyone must have a visual schedule up.

Since our topic this week is "scheduling," one last thing I'd like to talk about is scheduling conflicts with IEP meetings and team meetings. I know this is a question that is frequently asked, especially about finding the time to meet with your team.

My biggest scheduling conflict with IEPs is the challenge of scheduling around the general Ed teacher's schedule. For this reason, I make an attempt to schedule my meetings before school. After school does not work very well at my school, because most of the teachers I work with do not want to stay after their contracted hours and we can not require them to. Before school always works for the GE teacher, but if it doesn't work for the parent, I make an attempt to schedule it during my prep, 2:20 this year, and our instructional coach goes into the GE teacher's classroom so he/she can attend. Our LEA is our facilitator and is always available unless in another meeting. My sped team uses a digital master calendar in our Interact to note our meetings, so we all know when/if who is available.

As for scheduling time to for team meetings....our team meets the last Wednesday of every month before school. IEPs are not to be used as an excuse not to attend, because we simply aren't allowed to schedule any IEPs on that day. It has worked out well. Our principal has worked with us to ensure that no one on the Sped team is scheduled for morning duties on this Wednesday.

I'm going into my eighth year of teaching and have experienced much trial and error, but these scheduling methods have been very successful for me. I hope sharing my scheduling with you will assist you as you begin to schedule for your new year. 

Enter my giveaway and then hop over to "My Special Learners"  by clicking on her button below for some more scheduling tips! 
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Saturday, June 27, 2015

1000 Followers Giveaway Celebration

It's finally here! 1,000 followers on TpT and you know what that calls for.....a celebration!!! Woohoo! I never thought when I started my store two years ago that I'd be seeing a four digit number there by that star! 

I'm so humbled by it that I can't stop staring at! I would love to thank everyone for your support and for buying and using my resources in your classrooms! It warms my heart to know that the resources I create for my students are being used to help other students like mine!

To show my appreciation I'm having a huge giveaway that includes goodies from not only me, but also from 16 of my bestest blogging buddies! These gals were so generous to donate to my celebration!! There are two giveaways to enter. This is what winner 1 will win! 

This is what winner 2 will win! 
Enter one or enter both!!

I'm also having a sale! Everything in my store will be 20% off all weekend long! You can visit my store here.

Good luck and thanks again for your support!!! :)

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Self-contained & Resource Co-teaching...huh?

I'm linking up with "Teach Talk Inspire" and a "My Day in K" to share my teacher bucket list! Warning....this one might get deep! But if you've thought about co-teaching, you'll want to read about my wild and crazy proposal!

Am I crazy or what?! I already have grades 1st-5th and I want to extend my grades through 8th! Yikes! However, next year I am going to be teaching only 3rd-5th. And I have taught five grade levels for so long, it is going to be weird only having 3, so I thought this was a great opportunity for me to tackle this and proceed with this proposal. 

You see, it has always bothered me sending my 5th graders off to middle school for a couple of reasons. Once my students go off to middle school they seem to backslide and even drop out. They're not happy, they don't make progress! One of the reasons this is happening is there has been nothing but long term subs in the middle school self-contained classroom (6-8) on and off for the last few years that I know of. Another reason is that I feel my kiddos are just too young mentally to go on to middle school. Some of my 5th graders have the mentality of a 1st grader, yet I'm sending them off to middle school??? It just doesn't seem right! Not to mention the fact that once we send them there, we are failing them! I run into parents all the time of my former students, and the parents have nothing good to say about the new placement. They often request that their child come back to my class. Just recently, one of my former student's mothers was so disgusted that she has pulled him out and is going to attempt to homeschool him. :( This child is Autistic! Hello! He is not going to benefit from homeschool. He needs to be in a social environment! It just breaks my heart to see this happening to my students that I've worked so hard with over a five year period!

So anyway, when I found out that I was losing two grade levels next year, I decided to make the proposal to my principal, to extend through 8th grade....and guess what? She loved the idea! And the great part of it is that she is the principal for both schools! My classroom is actually used to be two I have the space. The only thing we thought that may be an issue is "typical peers." If these 6th, 7th, and 8th graders are at a K-5 school, they wouldn't be with their typical peers. Well when I told her about the next part of my proposal, she had a solution. 

Since this would be 6 grade levels, one more than I had before, I thought, "Hey, what about a co-teaching model?" The sub/teacher in the middle school classroom and I could co-teach. Hmmm. Well, she loved that idea too! And suggested that if there were two teachers in the room, one teacher could use the school van and take the 6th, 7th, and 8th graders to the middle school.....the schools are less than a mile participate in electives and extracurricular activities.  

Then she asked me if I wanted to pilot the co-teaching next year with our resource room teacher. Wha What? That's unheard of....self-contained and resource together? But hey, I'm game for anything! After speaking with him, he is totally on board with it and his caseload is projected at only 10 students next I think we could manage it. Especially since his resource students come and go throughout the day. Plus another advantage of co-teaching with the RR teacher is that it would be like mainstreaming my students. 

So I wrote up the formal proposal she requested and presented it to her a few days before summer break. She is going to present it to her boss for approval. In the meantime, it looks like I'm going to be piloting co-teaching next year with the RR teacher! Imagine that....Resource and self-contained students in the same class and two teachers! While I'm excited for this exciting new adventure, I also hope I'm not making a mistake....opening my classroom up to another teacher and giving ownership. We have a great rapport, so I'm not worried about that....but what if it gets approved formally and I clash with the sub/teacher from the middle school??? So I have lots of thoughts running through my head, but for now I'm super excited about this change!!! :) 

And now that you've read all of this, if indeed you made it this far, you've probably forgotten about my last bucket list wish and that is to maybe oneday in the FAR future becoming a behavior mentor/consultant. 

Thanks for reading about my exciting, yet crazy and wild bucket list wish! I'll keep you posted on how it turns out!

Two for Tuesday through Wednesday!

It's time for Two for Tuesday! But since I'm getting this post up so late, I'll run this sale through Wednesday! I'm marking two of my best-selling items down 50%.
You can check out my "Cook to Learn" here and my "Let's Write" here

Head over to "Chalk One Up For The Teacher" to see other Two for Tuesday deals from other great sellers!

Monday, June 15, 2015

TPT Seller Challenge: Week One

Here goes the first challenge of week one for the big "TPT Seller Challenge!" It's MAKEOVER MADNESS where TPT sellers will give one of their products a makeover to make it better! One of the products I've needed to revamp is my "Ten Frame Addition & Subtraction." So thanks to this challenge it got done today! 

I absolutely love the new cover! Much more catchy and clean....what do you think?? 

Other changes I made are I added numbers to each problem on the pages. This is one thing I felt it was missing while using them with my kiddos. I also changed the directions to be more specific and to contain the vocabulary terms "sum" and "difference." I added bold lines around the problems, so as you can see, they stand out better and don't blend in with the ten frames like before. I updated the credits page to add my TOU, which I was not including in my first TpT creations. And last, I had no preview on this product. So not only did I add a preview, I added a GIF preview which I just learned how to do last week! Obsessed with these new previews!!!

 If you're interested in checking out this newly revamped product, click on the picture to visit my store!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

TPT Storefront GIF

Hey, check out my new GIF on my storefront....if it works that is!! I have to publish it somewhere to get a URL before I can install, so I'm publishing it here! The tutorial said to publish it on Pinterest, but that did. not. work! I even took out my fourth slide thinking maybe my GIF was so large for TpT. That did. not. work either! So let's give this a try. Maybe it's a Pinterest thing! If it doesn't work I'll probably literally pull my hair out! 

Curious to see if it worked??? Head over to my store to see! If you have a solution, PLEASE share!!!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Technology Thursday {Symbaloo}

I'm linking up today with the gals at "Teaching Trio" for Technology Thursday to tell you about Symbaloo! If you haven't heard of it, it's awesome! 

With Symbaloo you can bookmark and manage all of the websites you want your students to use on one page and your students will have access in a simple click!! 

This is my class Symbaloo page. You can access it here if you want to check out how it works. It is also set as the homepage on all of my student computers. Every time my students go on the Internet, this page opens and they click on one of the icons to go to that website. No more stress or time wasted trying to get on websites!

I also love how Symbaloo allows me to manage what sites my students are using. My students are only allowed to go to the sites that are on our Symbaloo page. However, I do allow my students to suggest sites to me and then I will add them once viewed and approved. In fact, the sites you see at the bottom are all of my students' requests! 

I also love that I can monitor their use during computer lab time. That's why you see the cute little number guys designed by Maureen Kinney. One day a week my class goes to the computer lab for an hour. They must spend 25 minutes on a site in number 1, 20 minutes on a site in number 2, and then they get 15 minutes to spend on a site of their choice in number 3. 

You can also change the background colors of the tiles giving you the option to even color code sites if you choose to do that! You can insert your own images as I did with the numbers and easily drag tiles anywhere you'd like. Super user-friendly and simple! 

I'm even planning to create a personal one this summer and during this post the thought dawned on me of creating one with special Ed sites to share with all of you!! Hmmmm!

If you're not set up with Symbaloo, head over to their site and get started {here}! It's super easy. Just sign up with a username and password and start creating your personalized tiles! 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Tell All Tuesday: Two Truths and a Lie!

Want to get to know some of your favorite bloggers? Today I'm linking up for a fun weekly summer linky party hosted by "Teach.Talk.Inspire" and "My Day in K." And it lasts all summer long! Every Tuesday there will be a new theme!! This week's theme sounds super fun! 

I'm going to give you three facts about myself and you will try to guess which one of the three is a fib! In three days, I'll reveal the fact that is a fib here, in the comments. Can you guess my fib? There may be some prizes involved {hint hint}. :) 

1. I was a cocktail server in a casino in Nevada.
2. I joined the Air Force right out of high school and served 4 years at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in Goldsboro, North Carolina.
3. My daughter's KG teacher inspired me to become a teacher. 

Check back this weekend for the reveal! If you blog, head over to the party and link up your two truths and one lie! 

My lie is number 2. Only two guessed it correctly, Markers and Mascara, and Kathy! The two of you may choose an item you'd like from my tpt store! Thanks for playing!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Reflect & Refresh {Part 1}

I have been jonesing to dive back into some steady blogging and join all the fun linky parties happening now that I am officially on summer break, but the unexpected arrival of my new nephew three weeks early has not allowed that to happen. He is doing good, a little jaundice, but other than that....I finally have some time to sit at my computer this evening to join a linky party!! 

I'm joining Mrs. D's Corner for "Reflect & Refresh." I'm always reflecting, but as soon as school is out I begin reflecting back on the year as a whole and at what went well, what didn't, and what I'd like to do differently next year. Generally, the moment something isn't working in my class, I change it up immediately if I can. Some things can't be changed on a whim though. So that's why I am thankful for summer breaks. I also know that through trial and error and all of the awesome collaboration I get through the blogging community, I become a stronger teacher each year and my summer to do lists aren't as long as they used to be!  
I feel this area has grown over the last few years and I feel is a strength for me. For the last 3-5 years, I have sent home a daily behavior report and a monthly newsletter. Last year I started a classroom website (that I carried on this year) and this year I also began using Scholastic's Messenger to communicate with parents. I also did a parent survey this year that was successful and I plan to do this again each year. 

One of my goals for next year is to send home an academic progress report. While my students receive special Ed progress reports on their IEP goals quarterly, I want to provide parents with an overview of their child's daily grades and overall academic progress in the classroom. 

I am extremely organized and have pretty good classroom management skills, but I have yet to master my data system. Now when it comes to behavior data, I refer to myself and my aides as the queens of behavior data....we've got this down! Everyone is always amazed with our behavior documentation. However, I continue to struggle with keeping data on IEP goals and other academic progress. EVERY year, I reflect on this, and EVERY year I try a new method and have yet to find the perfect solution! I plan to try again this summer to work on a solution. I'll get it right eventually! :)

My content is forever changing due to the dynamics changing in my class drastically from year to year. But two things on my mind for next year are writing and News-2-You. I really want to place more focus on writing structure next year. I'm also concerned about how I will use New2Y next year. This year I used New2Y with only two students and one of those students transitioned to the middle school. So I am wondering how that is going to work, trying to use it with only one student when these girls made up a rotation group during our centers and worked as partners. 

Big Summer Project
As you can see, I have a few summer projects from every reflection above, but I have two BIG summer projects I'm really excited about! A dear friend (that I met through blogging) and I have been working on a Year Long Interactive Notebook Reading Curriculum for Special Education Students!! We are super excited! We have been working on the project for over a month and hope to kick it off for BTS!!! I won't mention her name yet, as this is the first time I've mentioned our project and I want to get her permission first!!! It's going to be awesome!

I also have plans for the "Ultimate Behavior Kit!" The kit will have everything you need to manage disruptive behaviors in your classroom and will include forms for charting and documenting, behavior plan samples, daily reports, clip charts, token boards, and more! Super excited to put this together as there is such a need and especially for general Ed teachers. 

I'm glad you stopped by! Thanks a bunch...