Saturday, September 26, 2015

Never Lose Another USB Drive Again & Giveaway!!!

Look what arrived this week! I'm going to be prepared for Vegas early this year with these USB bracelets from USB Memory Direct. And what teacher can't use a flash drive, right?
I am so in love with these bracelets and I'll never have to worry about losing or misplacing another flash drive again! The quality is A+ and the fit is extremely tight so that it is impossible for them to come loose and fall off! Such a clever idea and a great marketing tool! In three days of wearing my bracelet to school, my logo received attention from 6 different teachers!! USB Memory Direct definitely had teachers in mind when they created these. 

Ordering was super easy and the staff at USB Memory Direct is super friendly! Just pick your style and attach your logo and you will literally receive your quote in less than 15 minutes if it's during their normal business hours.

Originally, I sent my blog button, but found out that the bracelets can only be printed in one color. I wanted these bracelets sooooo bad, so they were able to accommodate me by using my blog watermark instead! If you want a more colorful logo, there are many other styles you can choose from. You can also choose from many different memory capacities. Mine are 8GB. 
You can visit their site here and check out all of the options. 

 I'm also giving three of these away RIGHT NOW, loaded with any five products of your choice from my store! That's right!!! Three lucky winners will receive one of these bracelet flash drives pre-loaded with the five products you choose from my store! No items are excluded!
Visit The Bender Bunch Store and then enter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Thanks a Bunch....and good luck!

Monday, September 21, 2015

A Solution For Your Fidgety Student & Win a Set!!!

I am big on sitting skills along with other learner behaviors! I feel that being able to sit properly and maintain a calm body is critical to learning. When students can't sit properly in a chair and are constantly fidgeting around everywhere, little learning occurs. I dedicate time to teaching appropriate sitting skills for my students that need it. Once I can teach my students to sit appropriately, it is then that I can engage them in learning. 

I have one student that I have been teaching sitting skills to since the end of last school year. He is all over the place, and frequently raring on two chair legs. We have tried a smaller chair, a desk, a smaller desk, and even a step below his feet. Nothing has worked. This year I started a token system for his "cool" sitting and we are making progress.......but not as much progress as I had with "Bouncy Bands" today! Just amazing! I am so impressed!

These are some snapshots I took of my fidgety, all-over-the-place student this morning! 

He is literally all over the place! It is so out of control that I even have a frequency chart that he marks everytime his chair legs are caught off the floor! I wish I would have remembered to take a picture of the chart so you could see the chart he marks and the frequency!

Then, this afternoon we installed "Bouncy Bands" on his chair.  

The results were really amazing! This is him during whole group instruction!

Still sitting appropriately! Look...even during an activity on the right, feet are still where they should be! WoW! This doesn't happen with this kid!

15 minutes later....still sitting appropriately....AND Learning!
If you knew this student, you would know that this is really just amazing for this child! 

Here's what's interesting though, is that "Bouncy Bands" come in two sizes/styles. 

Large, taller ones that are designed and intended for use with desks....smaller, shorter ones that are designed and intended for chairs.
However, you can see from my pictures and results from my fidgety student that it was just the opposite! I don't use desks in my classroom, so I tried both sizes out on my chairs. The smaller, shorter ones designed for the chair didn't seem to help him and his feet barely reached the band. The larger, longer band was a perfect fit for his chair even though designed for a desk. I can see though where the larger ones would be great for desks!

I'm excited to see if his appropriate sitting skills continue using the "Bouncy Bands," because today the results were absolutely amazing! 

The other great thing is, is that "Bouncy Bands" are super affordable. And if you're looking to buy a class set or looking to write your first Donor's Choose Grant, "Bouncy Bands" has done it for you. They have a link {here} where you can access a sample Donors Choose Application to get your own "Bouncy Bands." 

If you'd like to try one out for yourself before deciding or don't want to wait, you can save 15% for a limited time! Just enter the code "15off" at checkout! 

And better yet, I'm giving away a set!!! Enter below to win a bouncy band to try out in your classroom!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Read {here} to see what others are saying about "Bouncy Bands!"

Purchase your "Bouncy Bands" now and save 15% with the code "15off." 

Good Luck, and as always....thanks a Bunch!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Check Out The Bender Bunch Classroom for 2015-2016

When I said the day before school started this year that my classroom was not ready, it wasn't! My classroom is always evolving throughout the year! Maybe I'm just a very indecisive person, and yes I admit I am, but I also, believe it or not, love change! I like to change things up and keep things fresh! I also have a tendency of putting up decor and then not liking it and taking it down days later, rearranging furniture that isn't working for me, or finding new things on TpT or in Blogland that I want to do!! The Bender Bunch Autism students definitely learn to deal with change in my classroom, and it's not always pretty, but has transferred into positive learning experiences for them and their parents!  

My classroom dynamics can also change drastically from year to year, and throughout the year, making it difficult for me to always pre- plan and organize my room! So finally, after four weeks, I finally have my room ready, for now at least, and am ready to show it to all of you!

I LOVE the size of The Bender Bunch room (it used to be two classrooms), but so dislike that I have NO windows! Our classrooms are also outdoor rooms, not inside hallways which I miss! This makes it difficult to decorate doors and outside displays due to the wind and harsh weather we get here in the desert! The Bender Bunch room is one simple long rectangle with no creative architecture and cinderblock walls.....and we know how much teachers hate cinderblock walls!! :) I mean who would put cinderblock walls in a classroom, right?!

So with that being said, here is The Bender Bunch Classroom!!!

This is the front entrance and what you will see when you enter my classroom. The Bender Bunch kiddos place their school agenda, homework, and daily behavior log into the appropriate tray and then hang their backpacks on their hook that is located on the other side of the brown cabinet you see. 

This is the whole group area of my room and where students sit and store their belongings. This is where we hold our morning meeting, review rules, goals, and do group activities. They had already stacked their chairs for the day when I took this photo, but they all sit around these two tables. 

A view from the back of the room.

A peek at The Bender Bunch job chart, behavior clip chart, daily schedule, and treasure tree. I love The Bender Bunch treasure tree rather than a treasure box. It entices students to work harder for something they can see all day long, and eliminates the time spent digging through a box to decide while often damaging other treats in the box. I also love that my students can relate to the behavior clip chart since it displays expressive faces rather than colors. This helps them to understand better and coincides with the report they take home each day. You can get the visual daily schedule here and my visual behavior clip chart here

This is the new Bender Bunch writing area!! One of my goals this year was to place a stronger focus on writing. It's funny because I absolutely LOVE writing and it was my most favorite subject to teach when I was teaching Resource and when I was in GE student teaching. But then, I got students that couldn't really write and my writing materials were packed away. Now, I have students that have great writing potential and so my goal for this year is to incorporate writing into our daily instruction. We're starting simple, but The Bender Bunch is already seeing progress. Pencil is from "The Teacher Wife," writing anchor chart is from "Sweet Sound of Kindergarten," and writing prompt cards are from "Teaching with Love & Laughter." 

During morning meeting, we review The Bender Bunch rules every single day! These rules are from Kristen Smith's Back to School Procedures Pack!

Then we review our morning meeting board! Some of this review is on our smartboard.

I've already changed up this board since I took the above picture five days ago with my new magnetic hundred's chart to 120 from Lakeshore and I love it!!! See what I mean!? Still evolving!

These are my student's individualized IEP tubs in the Rubbermaid containers and the bins are for them to store their materials in. I had thought about making the bins book boxes individualized for each student, but that is still evolving! All of my labels are available in my "Mega Editable Labels" set here

This is The Bender Bunch Number Work Center. Students go here for 20 minutes each day during our center rotations. Materials are at our fingertips on these shelves, and the activities students are to complete each day are organized in the blue, green, and pink trays you see according to their assigned group color. 

This is The Bender Bunch Independent Reading Center. Students can also read books on the iPad in the tent using the "Epic" app. This tent has really enticed my students to read, and it has become their favorite place to be in the classroom. :) I only have 3-4 students at a time in this center, so it works perfectly. They spend 20 minutes a day in this center and can also choose it during free choice and social time.

This idea came from "The Resourceful Room." Due to the cinderblock walls and having such a difficult time hanging things, she created bulletin boards using foam poster board and you can staple right into it just like a bulletin board. Just brilliant! Student goals are to the right that each student states following our class rules each day. In the middle is our "Word Collector." I am loving this so far and got the idea from the Daily Five or Cafe Book. I've always had word walls every year. I've tried many different kinds and styles, but they've never been effective for my students. I've noticed that often throughout the year my students will say during reading or a conversation, "What does _______ mean?" I decided to use this word collector as a place that we can collect all of these words that we learn about and discuss in the classroom!  

This is The Bender Bunch Word Work Center. 

Again, resources are at our fingertips and daily designated activities for each group are located in the color coded trays to the right.

Left side of the Word Work Center and Rotation Chart. Students spend 20 minutes a day in this center.

Teacher Table Center Rotation with board divided for my three rotations (last year I had 4). Students get small group direct instruction here each day in reading and math for 20 minutes each day. 

The Bender Bunch Tech Center. 
We are fortunate to have 6 computers, 3 that are touch screens.....

....and 7 iPads that are kept here with headphones attached!

Our Safe Spot/Break Area...I'd like to make this area a little more cozy in the future, but it works for now!

Below is our Cool Down Area for students that are harming themselves/others or causing severe property damage. And yes, this bulletin board has already been revamped since this pic was taken. The green tub you see hanging to the right is where my aide places all of my parent's notes or important paperwork that comes back each day in their backpacks.

Some views of my desk area.

Because this used to be two classrooms, there is another sink and water fountain station in the other back corner of the room as well. This one is off limits to my students and is only for teacher use. It is where we keep our microwave, Keurig, and other goodies. Unfortunately, I also have my colored printer there, which is probably not the best spot, but is the only spot I can put it since it is networked. 

Above that is our "Snapshots of our Year Together." I have had this for 3 years now and just love it! You can get it from "That's So Second Grade" here. By the end of the year, it is completely covered in our photos. I place the photos on the posters at the end of each month. 

Here is a closer look at my birthday board and my sight word board that is not only my most favorite thing in my room this year, but the biggest timesaver and most effective assessment tool I've created. You can read more about it here.

And this is my one thing that hangs outside my class with industrial strength velcro to withstand the high desert valley winds...The Bender Bunch line up chart! It allows me to keep students separated that should not be paired together. And yes, the different fonts are driving me crazy....yet another thing that is evolving in my classroom! :)

I hope you took away some inspiration from The Bender Bunch Classroom and hope you're having a great year! :)

Thanks a Bunch,

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Simple, Personalized, Digital, Printed....All with Book Creator

Have you heard of "Book Creator?" If not, it is amazing! Creating stories has never been easier! Create personalized social stories for any student in 15 minutes or less! 

"Book Creator" is an iPad app that allows you to create custom digital/printable books with recordings of your voice, if you choose, for your students. 

Here's a sample of a book I created in about 10 minutes!! 

You can also create your books without voice recording too!

Let your students create their own personalized books and record their own voices too!! 

And you can print your books!!! Even if you don't have a wireless printer, you can save your books as a PDF and print them when you have access to a printer! Amazing right!? Here is the same digital book you watched in the video above in printed format. 

Here's just how easy it is!!
Open the book creator app. Choose a book shape! I always choose landscape to make the double sided book like above.

A tutorial automatically comes up to assist you if you still need assistance after you see how easy it is! 

Your chosen cover will display.

Click on the + sign and choose your task. Typically you'll be adding a photo or text. Choose camera to take a current photo for your book, and later you will choose "add sound" to add your voice recording if you choose. I generally choose photo to start. 
 Prior to creating my book, I go to google images and locate all of the images I need and save them to my iPad. That way I can insert them quickly as I add the text to each page. 

Give your book a title and author.

Now click the + again and add "text." Click on the "i" icon beside the + sign to change your font size, color, alignment, and more. Drag the text box to position and enlarge you text. 

Navigate to each page using the arrows and the + and i icons to the top right to add text and pictures to each page.

Once you are done with your book, now you can add your voice to each page, if you would like it to be read to your students. Just click on the + sign again, but this time choose, "add sound," tap the red button, record your voice, and tap the red button again to stop your recording. 
Your book will automatically be saved in Book Creator for your students to retrieve at any time from the app. Your students will tap the speaker on each page to have the text read to them, or choose to read it themselves. Because your students can edit the book within the Book Creator app, I highly recommend saving it elsewhere. I save mine in iBooks. 
To save in iBooks and do many other things with the book, choose the third icon up top. Here you can send your book to iBooks, pinterest, dropbox, email your book, print your book with a wireless printer, and much more!

If you don't have a wireless printer or need to save and print on a different printer location, you can do that too!!

Go to your book collection using the "my books" tab on the top left. Click on the third icon as you see above, but underneath your cover this time, and choose "export as PDF." Save it to where you can access it to print it. You can also click on "export as video" which is how I was able to insert the video of my birthday book in this post.

Here are a few more samples of some of my student favorites I've created on Book Creator. 

It seriously takes me around 10 minutes to do one book. After you make a couple, you'll whip right through it.  

The Book Creator App is $4.99, but well worth it as you can see! They do offer a free version, but I don't think it has very many features! You will get more than your money's worth with the paid app!! 

Have fun creating awesome books for your special learners! Personalize them any way you'd like to meet your students' needs!