Monday, February 27, 2017

How to Differentiate Your Centers Easily

I've written about my center rotation system a couple of times, but never in isolation or with details of how I often have to differentiate my centers within one group to meet my already differentiated groups and all of my students' needs. 

To start with the basics....and I must add, at this time, I am working with moderate to high functioning students. I teach grades 3-5, but do have a 2nd grader this year. I have students with Autism, Downs, MI, HI, and am mostly consumed with EBD students this year and this is how I differentiate centers in our classroom. 

Back to the basics. With three grade levels, I find that I can easily break my students into 3 to 4 groups that fit nicely. One group is my very low-non-readers/non-verbal students that are on more of a functional curriculum, one group is my beginning readers, one group is my students that are reading but are 2-4 years below their grade level, and one group is my high functioning group that are at or near grade level, but are in my room due to severe and extreme behaviors. 

I color code my groups into 3-4 colors; so I have a pink, blue, green, and yellow group and these colors remain consistent throughout my centers. This is ONE center in my reading rotations; the "Word Work Center." 

One of my aides works this center and knows exactly what to to with each group of students depending on what I have placed in that groups' basket. 

I also use this same system for my Math Centers. When I took these photos last week, I only had 3 groups for math, but that has since changed with our school-wide schedule change and I now have a "yellow" group included here too. This is my "Number Work" Center that one of my aides also runs.

These colors also correspond with the same colors at the "Teacher Table" center. Reading is kept in their color-coded basket, while math is kept under their basket keeping it easy for them to manage during reading and math centers.

Again, my groups are organized based on the criteria I mentioned above and here is my visual center rotation chart. I always have my students rotate counter-clockwise so this is easy for them to learn and follow. My centers are on the walls around the room, so they are not bouncy back and forth. Having them rotate counter-clockwise provides a nice, easy rotation flow for them that they can easily follow after a few days of practice. 
This year, I have only one student that requires an individualized step-by-step schedule, and this is his schedule. 
Note that his daily schedule matches the pictures on the class rotation schedule. 

Each time the timer goes off and it is time to rotate, he checks his schedule by grabbing his next visual and then matches it to the corresponding visual located in his next center.

Like this! 
This is his number work station, so he matches the visual from his schedule to the corner of this poster and knows he is in this center until the timer goes off again! 

Here is an example of his Word Work Station Visual that he will independently rotate to.

This looks like our Whole Group Station, but it is actually a picture of whole group posted on our whole group board where he will match this visual to. 

Here he will match his technology visual schedule piece when he rotates to computers. 

Here he will match his "At Your Seat" visual schedule icon when it is time for him to rotate to this center. This is taped at his seat and where we do IEP Tubs. Some of these are a little worn, but it just shows how much they are being used and what it really looks like.

Although my centers are pretty differentiated in themselves with my four groups, I still find that I still sometimes need to differentiate even further within each center. Here are some ways I differentiated Math in my classroom last week in each center. 

This is such an easy one to differentiate! On this game in my "Number Work" station, students typically would roll two die, make an addition problem, solve it, and then remove that heart. For my lower functioning students I use it as counting practice for them. They simply count the dots on each die and remove that number. Students on different levels can still play together. :)

Here we were working on "10 more, 10 less" and "1 more, 1 less." Some students needed a hundreds chart while some students didn't. 

By the way, this little guy aced this activity with his hundreds chart. I was so proud of him!

I love these math fact task cards from TouchMath! Some of my students will complete these using touchpoints, while some of my students don't need them. Some of my students may need a numberline or manipulatives to complete these. It's all about differentiating for what EACH of your students need!

I love this math curriculum from Angie Neal! I differentiate it by using my flair pen to make touchpoints on the numbers for this student. 

I created these Money Mats to be differentiated for 3 levels in my classroom (Level One not shown). Students just learning money and to count by 5's can complete Level 2, while more advanced students can complete Level 3 where they actually count out the coins.  

This is another center I differentiated last week in my centers. Some students were required to simply add the next sequence to the pattern, while higher functioning students were required to add the next 3 sequences without a box, plus discriminate between big, small, and medium. 

Yes, my students are doing this! Some do only ones, some do tens and ones, and some can do hundreds, tens, and ones. I actually have a new student that can do thousands! :) Again, I differentiate depending upon student needs and levels.

Differentiating money is super easy! Who doesn't love money! Some of my students can tell me the name of the coin, while some can tell me the value of the coin, some may tell me how many quarters make up a dollar, and then I have a couple that can actually count dimes and nickels.

Another easy one to differentiate! TIME! All of my students can tell time to the hour, so this is what they practice. Some can tell time to the hour and some can tell time the quarter hour, and I'm even teaching my high group to tell time to the minute. These clock matching puzzles and other clock activities are so easy to differentiate with all of these unique learners. 

When it comes to reading and phonics, look how easy this activity was to differentiate. Four students working on four different skills. One student was working middle sounds, one on ending sounds, one on building the whole word and one was learning to write the whole word. Differentiation at its best!

My students ALL love these, and while they are perfect for my beginning readers, my readers want to play them too! So how I differentiate for them while still letting them participate and play these games is I challenge them to give me the long vowel word for the short vowel word, give me a rhyming word for each word, or for higher functioning students, they have to write a sentence with their word. 

Writing is probably the most needed differentiated task in my classroom! While we all write on the same topic, I have students that write on this paper and copy modeled sentences and some that write paragraphs in regular lined papered journals.

I have students that write in beginner writer journals, and some that write on raised line paper to practice letter formation and staying on the baseline. 

This is another BIG part of differentiating in my classroom! My IEP Tubs! One of my popular posts to can read it here....and one of my most favorite centers in my classroom that is always differentiation at its best! I won't go into detail here, but you can certainly learn more about my IEP Tubs here

I really hope you take away some ideas for how to better set up and differentiate centers in your classroom to better meet your students' needs! You can read more details about my center setup and how I manage them and my paras' time here. Feel free to post questions if you have them and I will be happy to answer!

Sunday, February 26, 2017

SPEDtacular Sunday Freebies!

Welcome to SPEDtacular Sunday Freebies!! Every Sunday I host this freebie link up here on my blog for Special Education Teachers! Visit every week to download free resources for your classroom! If this is your first time visiting, you can access all of the freebies from previous link ups by clicking on "SPEDtacular Sunday Freebies" under "My Files" on my right sidebar. >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

If you're a TPT seller, blogger, or resource creator, I invite you to link up and share your own freebie using the link up tool below! 

Link Up Rules

1. All resources must be FREE! It can be free for the day, but please delete your link once you mark it back to paid.
2. Your freebie may link to your blog or store.
3. Freebie does not have to be related specifically to SPED, but should be practical for SPED.
4. If you are linking up from your blog, using this image in your post and linking back to my blog is not required, but is greatly appreciated! Be sure to share this image on your social media so others can see your freebie!

*I recommend using an image of your freebie & not your button when linking up. 

 Feel free to share the image above all over your social media to let other teachers know about these freebies! 

The link up tool will close on Saturday each week, but "forever" freebies will remain accessible! Come back every Sunday to link up or download new freebies!

Monday, February 20, 2017

20 FREE Classroom Websites!

There are so many classroom websites out there that can be such beneficial resources for our students. Yet, many of them can be pricey and many of us do not have the funds to purchase these websites. Today I'm here to share a list of great websites with you that are completely FREE to use in your classroom! Click on each laptop below to visit each one. 

I love Xtramath and use it every day in my classroom. This is a math fact fluency website that allows students to practice their math facts each day. You can set it up for addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, or mixed. It's very easy to use and I love how it progresses with my students, repeating the math facts that they get wrong until they master them.

This is a great site that my students love! It is an online library with popular book titles that are read to the students by popular role-models.

Front Row is a K-8 standards-based site that targets Math, ELA, and Social Studies. I cannot believe it is free! Students take a diagnostic test and are given assignments based on their levels. Teachers can also assign specific assignments to their students. Reports are also available for free and they even email them to you each week.

Khan Academy is another wonderful standards-based site where students can learn at their own pace and teachers can personalize assignments as well. Reports are also available for free to monitor student progress.

Moby Max is a K-8 curriculum for Math, ELA, Social Studies, and Science. They offer both a free and paid subscription. I love the free Moby Max version, but their paid version offers so many awesome features. The free version provides students access to all of the lessons, so it's great for free practice, but with the paid version, you get access to the reports, diagnostic testing, progress monitoring tools, and even an IEP goal section which is a wonderful tool for monitoring and tracking IEP goals. I highly recommend trying this site.  

If you haven't tried Go Noodle, you are missing out! My students beg for it! If you need to add some brain breaks into your classroom and get your students moving, this is your go-to!

Many people do not know that abcmouse is FREE for teachers! It is an award-winning curriculum for children 2-8 years old and students just love it. You can also customize each child's lessons and view reports to monitor their progress. I love that it goes back to age 2 and provides life skills lessons for my lower functioning students. I actually wrote a blog post last month about this site alone that you can read here.  

Sheppard Software is another site my students enjoy and is very appealing for children. They have hundreds of educational games and activities for every subject area. 

I love this site!! It is a jackpot of free websites for K-5 that someone has compiled into subject areas into this one site! Here you will find something for everyone. 

Starfall is a fun site and a great tool for students working at a KG to first grade level and just learning to read. It features lots of basic skills activities, phonics, holiday themed activities, and lots of songs. It also has a great calendar section that can be used for teaching morning calendar. 

Another favorite of my students! Abcya is geared for K-5 and provides a wealth of educational games in ELA and Math that are very engaging for students.

Spelling City allows you to create and save word lists for your students, as well as allows them to take their spelling test online. Another awesome perk is that they provide a variety of word lists/vocabulary banks for you to choose your words from based on the skill you are teaching. 

Reading Bear is a fun and engaging site for students just learning basic phonics sounds and learning how to read. It is easy to navigate and very student-friendly. 

Help Kidz Learn is an online learning site designed specifically for Special Education students. Their learning activities cater to a wide range of students with complex and severe needs and are you ready for this....the activities are also accessible using adaptive switches, touch, or even eye gaze. Love this!

This is a cute site that offers games, videos, books, and songs that primarily focus on teaching children life lessons, and how to feel good about themselves. It is a great site for building character and classroom community, or even for a specific behavior you might be teaching a student.

Math Playground is a great and easy to navigate site for providing students in grades 1-6 math skills practice in a fun way. It is very inviting and engaging for students and another one that my students love!

This site is alot like Sheppard Software. Kids love it! It offers tons of games, activities, coloring pages, clipart for students to use, puzzles, and themed activities for every holiday!

Fun Brain is another popular site with my students and is geared for students in K-8. This site offers educational videos and games in reading and math, a math arcade, and a playground students can just have fun in. You might also like Fun Brain Jr

This is a fabulous site and allows young adventurers to explore the world and learn how it works. They can watch videos and read all about the earth, planets, plants, animals, and more. Wonderful resource!

Kahoot! This last one is the only one listed that I have not actually used, but I have heard some pretty amazing things about it. I haven't had the chance to try it out with my students yet, so maybe you can! If you do, or if you already use it, I'd love to hear your thoughts about it. 

Hopefully you learned about some great websites that you didn't already know about and hope your students love them too! Don't forget you can click on each website above to be taken directly to each site. Also, be sure to share these sites with your students' parents too, so they can get even more practice at home!