Thursday, August 21, 2014

Teacher Week: When

Happy Thursday!

I'm linking up with Blog Hoppin' for Teacher Week

Today I'm sharing my schedule for 1st Grade Special Education.

Are. You . Ready?!?

Is your head spinning? ;)

Here's a key for the color-coding:

GREEN -  I will be pulling small groups to focus on IEP goals/objectives (this year concentrating on language skills the most!) and providing small group testing accommodations

RED - I will be in this classroom most of the day providing support with the general education curriculum

BLUE - I will be pushing in (inclusion) up to one hour per day. The general educator and I will keep this flexible with the intent on providing 30 min intervention for literacy and 30 min math. 

YELLOW - I receive one planning period per day (woohoo!) I usually have Classroom Consult meetings during this time. I'm also a Teacher Development Leader (TDL), so I use this time to observe and support other teachers.

It looks fairly organized, but may all go out the window at any given time!

Have a fabulous Thursday!!

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Teacher Week: Organization

Happy Wednesday!

Today is Day 3 of Blog Hoppin' Teacher Week!

This will mostly be a "throwback" post because I've written about organization many times (27!) before. I absolutely ♥ sharing and learning organizational tips. I think because my position (special education) feels so "out of my control" at times, organization is the one thing I can get a handle on. I also don't feel comfortable turning my back for too long with my firsties ;)

I use the huge Rubbermaid shelving units from Home Depot in my intervention/office space:

I use the clear bins that come in three sizes from Ikea. I spent A LOT of time researching bins a few years ago and these were the most economical set I found. The lids are interchangeable for the medium and large bins. The quality is also the best I found for the low price.

For my own planning, I mostly rely on my Outlook appointments from my iphone (our school uses them, so all I do is accept the appointments). For the written/brainstorming list, I'm trying to remember to use my new Erin Condren planner. So far, so good!

For data tracking, I have my students doing the heavy lifting :)

Oh my decision I ever made!

As far as organizing daily student support materials and traveling between my intervention space and two general education classrooms...I'm really looking for some new ideas! My caseload this year is 100% awesome AND totally turning my teaching organization on it's head. I'm really going to learn a lot from this group...more to come!

There's a terrific "BOOST" sale going on at TPT!

Have a fantastic day!

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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Teacher Week: Where the Magic Happens!

Happy Tuesday!

This is Week Two with our students and it's been wonderful so far. My caseload is so awesome this year and I feel like I'm gaining clarity and/or learning some new about my students with every passing hour. 

I'm linking up with Blog Hoppin' for Teacher Week:

I'm psyched to share where I teach with you. As a special educator, I've taught in closets, cafeterias, and hallways. This year we adjusted our structure and set-up and I feel like I won the GRAND prize! 

I teach in an intervention space (my office, a.k.a.: an empty classroom)  for 1.5 hours per day and the rest of the day I'm teaching inclusion in two general education classrooms:

This is also where I pull my Power Hour (Guided Reading) groups. We have one kidney table and dry erase easel (woohoo!!) on the other side of the room. SO thankful to have this space!

I have a mini-library this year! Previously, these books lived in my basement and I would pack what I needed on a weekly basis. I'm so excited about having these accessible this year!

I  have a small table with 6 chairs (again, woohoo!) in both classrooms I push into. I store a few key items there:

I also have a 3-drawer cart with lined paper, more supplies, and behavior brain breaks. Here's a peek at the magic that occurs there:

I will be back tomorrow for Organization Tips (my fave!)

Have a terrific Tuesday!

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Monday, August 18, 2014

Monday: Who Am I?

Happy Monday!

I'm linking up with Blog Hoppin' for Teacher Week!

Today is...

 I had to switch it to 6 things about me because I'm just not that interesting :)

Have a great day!

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Sunday, August 17, 2014

Meet My Teaching BFF!

Happy Sunday!

Quick post to share my FAVORITE teaching tool...
my BFF, my one-and-only, you get the idea:

I only have wonderful things to say about this miracle machine.

Yesterday, I posted this on Instagram:

I received questions from Johanna and thought it may be easier to answer in a blogpost :)

I purchased this laminator a few years ago from Amazon. I know Walmart and Target has also sold the same model. Important note: according to Amazon, I purchased this in February 2011... which means I've probably laminated more than 1000+ pages! It's still working perfectly! If it were ever to quit on me, I would immediately purchase the exact same model again.

I just noticed the Scotch brand is now $42.18.
I still think it's 100% worth it!

I've tried ALL sorts of laminating pouches (only the 8.5 x 11" size) and I've never had any problems. I've also never read any directions, so they are very easy to use!

I've purchased laminating pages in bulk from Sam's Club (Royal Sovereign) and Amazon. In a pinch, I'll purchase the Scotch brand from Target, but they are much more expensive.

One of the reasons I really love using my own laminator (besides ultimate convenience), is the quality. I've never experienced the "peeling" or completely destroying wrinkling the huge lamination machine at school produces. The at-home pouches also seem thicker. My little friends sometimes struggle with emotions and the thin school-lamination quality is no match.

Now I'm looking for a paper-cutter...any suggestions?

I cannot use the large scary slicer kind. No matter how carefully I try to line it up, I always cut right through the most important parts. I'd love to purchase something to easily use at home to cut out the millions of task cards I use!
Thank you for any suggestions!

Enjoy your day!

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Friday, August 15, 2014

Five for Friday: Gratitude


This Friday is especially sweet because we are wrapping up our first full week of students!

I've literally fallen asleep while there's still daylight every day this week. It's been a week of laughs, sighs, and tears (both the good and the not-so-good kind).

I'm linking up with Kacey to share more:

5. Our students came back this week!!!
That is a very GOOD thing. I've been knee-deep in PD since July 22nd and was missing the energy our 800 students bring. This year's firsties are the sweetest! It's going to be a fantastic year :)

4. It's like Christmas around here! I have two funded Donor Choose projects currently in route. I. CAN'T. WAIT! These shipments include supplies for my students focusing on sight words and sensory tools for the caseload of students I'm working with now. I also just posted a new project AND there's an "INSPIRE" match-me campaign underway for the next week. Here's my project page link.  Donor Choose has literally changed my life (& more importantly, my students). 

I'm SO thankful for them and all the generous donors.

3. Teacher Survival Kits! I laugh at these pictures now:

I'm laughing because I made these gift bags last weekend and now that seems like an eternity ago! This weekend's workload looks completely different now that the students have arrived.  Please click here to pick up a freebie to make these adorable (& easy!!) bags for your teammates! This freebie is linked up with:

Freebie Fridays

2. Today is the day! I've had this date highlighted in my new Erin Condren planner :) I'm participating again in Get Your Pretty On's style challenge. Today the shopping list is released which means I can go get some retail therapy! I participated in both spring and fun and really helped me put together outfits. Many of the outfits came straight from my closets, while others were helped along by Ann Taylor ;)

PS: Alison Lumbatis is not only uber-talented when helping us out with our style needs, she also took the time to personally write me the sweetest note of support for my teaching. A class act indeed!

1. Sooooo...I can't reveal too much about my new students because a) I want to respect their privacy and b) I have so much more to learn about them!

But I can say this has been a week full of:

Laughs (both students & I)
Tears (ditto)
Pencils Breaking (while writing)
Tipping Chairs
More Tears
Eloping (running away - them, not me!)
Exploring Body Parts (belly buttons, among others...yikes!)
Behavior Charts
Planned Ignoring
High Fives

And I'm exhausted! I've had the kind of week where I've felt completely unqualified to be doing what I'm doing :(. Through asking questions, reflecting, and GOOGLE, I've learned more about special education this week than in the previous 20 years. I'm not kidding. And I've always knows that we learn better through struggles than when it comes easy.
I should be learning A LOT this year :)

I have to thank the previous general educator and special educator who worked with these awesome friends last year. They have been a ROCK and have both personally reached out to support me through this week. It's hard not to feel insecure and/or judged when your small caseload of students is disrupting everyone's learning. It's hard when people are staring. I imagine someone may even be thinking that these students may not belong in our school. 

They do.

And they are awesome. And they will be successful.
Here's a glimpse of their awesomeness:

More to come!

Have a fantastic Friday!

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

TBT: Superhero Behavior

Happy Throwback Thursday!


Behavior Management Linky ~ Superhero Style

This linky party has PERFECT timing!
Thank you What the Teacher Wants!!

As our students are growing more "comfortable" with their new classrooms and teachers, we're having plenty of opportunites to learn all about what makes each & every student special and unique :)
I have a student who has a "big" personality & also just happens to LOVE superheroes. He responds to positive reinforcement (most of the time!), so I have been using this personalized behavior chart featuring his favorite heroes:

When I create a behavior tracker, I do my best to state expectations into positive, student-friendly language. My intention is to have my students eventually gain skills in monitoring their own behavior and taking responsibility for their actions.
For the above example, the expectations are stated in the same language used throughout the school and classrooms:
Use materials appropriately (i.e.: keeping all 4 legs of the chair on the floor, not grabbing materials out of others' hands, and keeping things out of our mouth).
Staying in assigned area (i.e.: do not leave carpet area, table, or classroom without permission; staying in line when moving as a class throughout the school)
Participating (i.e.: not laying down during instruction; listening and raising a quiet hand)
This student has the opportunity to color in 6 superheroes. A superhero is earned during 6 content areas, but are not necessarily tied into an assigned time period. I feel this allows for "fresh starts"in case we wander off track. As we "check in" on our behavior throughout the day, we discuss the choices we've been making and what these expectations look like in the classroom. At this time, we allow up  to three reminders before "losing" a superhero. This number is tracked simply by tally marks and can be adjusted as the school year progresses.
At the end of the day, we complete the chart together and then we both sign our autographs. There's no tangible prize tied in to earning the superheroes at this time. On the occasion my student colored in all 6 (!!!), he did receive a surprise sticker.
Do any of your students have their own behavior chart? If they do, is it similar to this? I'm always looking for new ideas to help my students regulate their behavior!
Click here to download two formats of the superhero chart - 1 is blank to customize for your own students:

The adorable superheroes are from Melonheadz Illustrating.

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