Coding, Stem

How Hop-Scotch Coding Made All My Learners Get Involved!

I teach in a “coding” school. This means all students in our school are expected to code. All students means my students too. I am always passionate about making sure my kids try and do what everyone else does. How can I fight for my students to be included if I’m not including them myself?

I have worked to bring different modalities of coding into my classroom. I’ve looked a lot into paperless coding and breaking down the steps to more simple tasks. I wanted to get my kids involved in coding while still working to hit their individual, specialized needs. When I saw Brook Brown from Teach Outside The Box post Hop-Scotch Coding, I felt like it was the solution I didn’t know I needed.

My school help an Epic Build day at the end of first quarter. I KNEW I had to get my kids ready, so we prepped Hop-Scotch code and practiced. Many times. When our Epic Build day came, my kids were ready and I am so excited to share some photos from our awesome project.

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4 of my students had to work together to determine what the “special steps” of their code would be. If they disagreed, they needed to use their words to work it out. It was really fun to watch them work together and watch one boy (for the first time) take on a leadership role!

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Getting the code from the table to the floor was the next tricky part. In this picture, she did not set the next piece the correct way. My little boy was able to walk over and tell her how to fix it. For a class that struggles with communication, this was HUGE!! Next came the fun part, going through the code. My kids got great practice with counting, and for students who didn’t understand the picture they had to decode to figure out what was expected at each square.

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I was able to get my Speech Therapist and Occupational Therapist involved as well, which was exciting! The opportunities to use core vocabulary during a coding activity are endless. This was the perfect chance to get more practice in with using communication devices.

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For some of my kids, it was difficult to physically navigate the code. This was a great challenge for them! We got great gross motor practice in and we targeted some of the same concepts that my class is learning during Adaptive PE.

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This sweet boy LOVED the hop-scotch code. He even spontaneously requested to go through it again!

 

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This activity has been such a success that my speech therapist and I are actually creating a coding corner in my classroom. Hop-Scotch Code is about to become a regular part of my classroom. Here’s to coding for all!

Holidays, Special Education Classroom

Halloween Party in a Self-Contained Classroom!

I have always struggled with parties. My class needs structure and hands on activities. Who else can relate? I worked hard to plan my class’ halloween party this past Friday and it actually went really well! Most of the activities we did came from my Halloween Weekly Pack.

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The first activity we did was Halloween Bingo. Students had to fill up the entire board to win. We had been reading the books included in the weekly pack all week to get my class familiar with the different halloween costumes.

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The second activity was a fun activity my Occupational Therapist left for us. It was super simple. The kids thread orange pony beads onto green pipe cleaners. We tied them off and made a knot at the top to make it look like a pumpkin. It was an awesome fine motor task!

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We moved onto a cool ghost balloon experiment. I am terrified of balloons so this was a hard one for me to lead, but it was worth it to see the kids reactions!

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Making witches brew foam was next on this list. This one was messy but so much fun! A mix of shaving creme, baking soda, contact solution, glue and purple food coloring made a weird but fun consistency. Now if only I had plastic spiders to throw in!

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We put the mix in plastic baggies. Not only did it allow students to play without getting even more messy, we were able to send it home too!

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The last thing was the candy corn fruit cups. You can cut up fresh fruit, or use Dole fruit cups. Either works! It is a healthier snack but still yummy with dollops of whipped cream on top.

 

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It took us about 90 minutes to get through all of the activities. It was a very successful party! You can grab my halloween pack HERE. Not only do you get the visual directions and bingo cards in the pack, you get reading, math, language arts, gross motor activities, task cards and more!

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music, Special Education Classroom

Tambourine Visual Directions!

I decided to conquer an adapted music class this year! I consulted with my music teacher and bought Mrs. D’s Corner Music Adapted Work Binder. We have been working on percussion instruments during the first two months of school. After spending several weeks studying the names and sounds of percussion instruments, we decided to conquer making our own!

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The supplies were so simple! You need a plate, string and jingle bells. I used these jingle bells from Amazon. I recommend giving students 3-4 bells. One bag of 18 bells would work to make these instruments with up to 6 students.

First we used markers to color our paper plates. This was a great way to let the students get creative with their tambourine! Afterwards, we folded the tambourine in half and used a stapler to close it. We also used a hole punch to punch holes in the edge of the plates.Screen Shot 2017-10-20 at 11.43.58 PM.png

We used strings to attach the jingle bells to the plates. This was a great fine motor task, and some of my students needed help tying the string. We used that opportunity to encourage them to ask for help!

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Afterwards, the kids had a blast shaking their tambourines! It was a super easy and fun project to bring some hands on experience into our music class.

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Click the image below to grab your free copy of the visual directions!

 

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organization, Paperwork, Special Education Classroom, Tips

Your Organization Doesn’t Need to Be Pretty, It Just Needs to Work!

After drooling over Aly from Just a Primary Girl’s classroom, I impulsively bought the Trofast from Ikea. I had no idea what I was going to do with it, but I just needed to have one.

Cue 6 weeks later. The storage system is sitting in the front of my classroom, begging to be used. When I was trying to figure out how to store all the different pretty workbooks my kids have, it clicked! There are 9 drawers on the Trofast. I have 8 students. I assigned one student to a bin and now we store their workbooks and any other uncompleted work in their drawer.IMG_3019.JPG

I use Aly’s Spelling Activities for Any List, so we pop those workbooks in the drawers. I also put my Fall Writing Journals in the bins, and Delightfully Dedicated Special Education workbooks. Some of the bins have leftover work in them as well. I had a student out for a week, so all the work he missed is in his bin.

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Everyone in my classroom is color coded. I bought a roll of duct tape in each color (such a great investment). Instead of trying to make pretty labels and printing them in color and finding a way to attach them, I stuck a piece of colored duct tape on each bin. Not the prettiest, but everyone knows which bin is theirs and staff can easily pull work.

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Look how easy this is! When my paraprofessional has an extra 10 minutes with a student because his inclusion ended early, she can pull out his orange bin and have work appropriate for him at her fingertips. The silver drawer is filled with generic extras (basic math, cut and paste worksheets, writing journals) that work for several students. If a student bin is empty, my para will know to go to the silver bin to find work.

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Your color coding or labeling does not have to be pretty-it just has to work! How else do you use a Trofast bin in your classroom?

organization, Special Education Classroom, sub plans, Tips

Sub Plans in a Self-Contained Classroom

We all want our classrooms to run smoothly, but it becomes even more important to me when I am not there. It is always hard when you a missing a team member, so I try and do a lot before hand to ensure everything runs well.

The first thing I do is write a schedule. When I’m out, I don’t usually have my sub do my job in it’s entirety. There are some things that are easier to have one of my paraprofessionals do. For example, I opted to have my sub take two students to Adaptive PE on Thursday and I had my paraprofessional run my reading group instead.

Once I have the schedule written out, I create sub plans for each person. Even though my paraprofessionals know the routine, I write out what they are doing that day specifically just to help them

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I did something new this time around. I pulled together all the materials needed and left them in bins. I didn’t want them running around trying to find the materials needed for math. Each bin was labeled with the student names during that group, which day the materials were for (Thursday, Friday or both days) and the time. For example, a bin might say “Nicole Math Thursday and Friday 8:30 am). This was they could just walk over, grab the bin and be ready for that lesson.

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Once I had the bins set up, I printed off a copy of the sub plans. I read through each sub plan to ensure they had all they needed. Once I confirmed a box was done (i.e. all the materials for music class were in the bin) I crossed it off. If I found something I had forgotten (like printing the cut and paste books) I highlighted it. This helped me make sure everything was accounted for.

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I stocked up on some independent work to do during some of the centers. I prepped the Fall Cut and Paste books from Especially Education and the Camping Math and Camping ELA books from Delightfully Dedicated Special Education. I also left copies of the Fall Sentences with Visuals and Fall Comprehension Sheets from School Bells N Whistles and Phonics Based Writing Journal from Teaching is a Royal Adventure.

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I also always leave a fun activity for the substitute to do with my class. This time I left a moon sand experiment. The visual directions came from Mrs. D’s Corner Visual Sensory Experiments. I got pictures of my class completing the activity, it looks like they had a lot of fun!

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It takes a while to get sub plans like this set up, but it was completely worth it to me. I was able to relax on my vacation because I knew everyone knew what to do and where to find the materials to do it. Here’s to taking back our personal days, using them and enjoying every second that we have!

Monthly Plans, organization, Personal, Tips, Work Life Balance

Keeping that Home Work Balance with a Journal

I hesitate to call this a bullet journal, because bullet journal uses some features (like an index) that I don’t use. Instead, I just call it journaling. The key to journaling is making it functional for you. I change up layouts, themes and spreads every month. I’m not a good artist. I have horrible hand-writing. I just use bright flair pens for design and you know what? I love it. As long as your journal meets your needs, you are good to go.

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There are 2 basic supplies you need: something to write with and something to write in. i do suggest sketching out what you want on a page before you select a journal. I find that some standard journals are too small to fit everything I wanted on a page. I also don’t like when pages have a design on them that cuts into space. I found the perfect journal for my needs at Target. Its 10.5 inch by 8inch and gives me a lot of room to write. I use flair pens in mine, but any writing tool is fine!

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This is the left side of my monthly spread. This lists my October goals. As you can see, not everything is lined up. I don’t really care about that! Again, you do you. Rotating colors is about as fancy as I get. My goal here is to make sure I’m staying on pace for everything I have planned. You will see one part covered up; I’ll mention that below.

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This portion is a mix of personal and work/life goals. I want to read 6 books or magazines (I have a thing for food magazines and currently get Food Network, Rachael Ray and The Pioneer Woman but I am bad about sitting down and reading them). This is so I can stay on track with the overall goal to read more. The category refers to meeting one of the categories in my 2017 reading challenge.

Posting 5 new TPT products is to help encourage me to finally finish some of those things sitting in my “work in progress” folder, as well as bringing you a halloween themed weekly pack. MSB is magic school bus. I want to add 10 episode worksheets to the pack this month.

 

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This next section is my main personal section. I want to return to reading every night, but I know that’s not realistic. The nights that I have night class, for example, I tend to fall asleep as soon as I get home. So, out of 31 days, I want to carve out time to read on 20 of those days. I’ll monitor that here. I love to cook (hence the cooking magazines) so I want to make sure I try 10 new recipes. I’ll log those here.

It is also super important to me to “Date Your Spouse”. Dates can be anything. It can be going out to dinner or for a glass of wine. It can be walking the dog for an hour together. It can be putting our laptops away and enjoying the SNL we DVRed (because we can’t stay up past midnight on Saturdays, haha!)

It’s a reminder that 10 different times throughout the month, Corey and I need to find a way to put each other first. It is one of the best things we have ever done in our relationship, and I highly suggest trying it. I would recommend this method to everyone, regardless of relationship status! Maybe see or talk to a friend 10 times this month. Run 10 times. Take 10 bubble baths. Whatever! Find something important to you, do it 10 times and make that commitment to yourself.

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The last 2 monthly goals are more of a work/life basis. I have so many ideas for blog posts, so I an going to try and commit to getting 4 to you this month (this is number 1!). The last thing is a financial goal. I didn’t want to share this part, but I wanted you to get an idea. I LOVE coloring in blocks. Whether you are saving up for something, or chiseling away at some debt, I find it super motivating to pick a dollar amount, break it into smaller chunks and color it in as I make progress.

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On the right side of my notebook is my monthly outlook. It’s hard to balance a small business with a full time job, so I keep my TPT goals up here to remember them. This section could be for anything! If you are a student, maybe break a big end of semester project into chunks here. Maybe you are doing a deep clean/organization of your house and want to break it into sections here. Again, journals are versatile! Do whatever works for you.

I have an important dates to remember section too. I list any IEPs, trainings, due dates for grad school papers and the like here. It helps me quickly look and remember. The monthly chart below gives me more detail. I also put social engagements on here. Again, I want to be able to flip to this page and quickly see what is going on for the month.

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I absolutely love using my journal. It has helped me become so much more organized and productive. If you have seen those beautiful journals on Pinterest but you have been too overwhelmed to start one yourself, I hope this gives you some inspiration/ It doesn’t have to be pretty. It just has to work!

Sped Prep, Teachers Pay Teachers, Tips

3 Tips to Prep the Big Items

How many of you have at least one BIG product sitting in your purchases on TPT because you are too overwhelmed to download it and start working? I have been there and I’m still there! I’m bad about buying too many things on sales and then getting overwhelmed by how much there is to prep.

I’ve made it my mission this year to start utilizing more of the resources I have purchased. Here are three simple tips to help you get started, too!

Just print what you need right now

Go in and download just the pieces you need right now. I use this trick for Stephanie from Mrs. D’s Corner‘s Adapted Work Binders. I have a mini obsession with her work binders and I tend to buy pretty much each one she posts. I still have a bunch sitting in my purchases unopened because I can’t find the time to prep the whole thing. Instead of picking one binder and doing all of it, I decide to look through them all and choose certain activities.

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I have her Adapted Music Binder, but I’m not going to be teaching all of the concepts in the binder right away. We are starting with our percussion unit, so I just went in and printed the materials that align to that concept. When I change topics, I’ll go in and print the next set.

 

Create a prep flow that works for you

I use this trick when prepping Michaela from Especially Education‘s task boxes. (Okay, I’ll confess, my husband came up with this work flow). For this one, I do print off everything in the file and laminate it right away. I take one “task box” material at a time and cut it on my paper-cutter, then I organize it in a tub. I keep cutting one box worth of items at a time and adding it to the tub.

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Once everything is cut, I put away the laminator and paper-cutter and move on to Velcro. Again, I just pull out one box of material at a time, Velcro it, and add it to a beautiful rainbow container. This method is not always going to work for you or for the product you are prepping. Especially if you buy any sort of growing bundle, figure out the prep routine that works best for that product and stick to it!

 

 Make a running list

It can be really hard to prep when you don’t even know what is in your purchases. I keep a running Google Doc that lists the product name, seller, and how many pages are in the document. I don’t necessarily print all the pages. For example, I am only going to print one level of the “-wh” question flip books from Simply Special Ed, so I won’t be prepping all 177 pages. I still list 177 pages because it will take me time to go through and pin down what I need.

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I do this to use my time more effectively. When I have six hours and a great Netflix lined up on Friday night? I want to use that time to tackle a big project like the Pumpkin Independent Work Binder System from Autism Adventures. If I pop a lasagna in the oven and have just an hour until it’s ready? Maybe I’ll choose a smaller project like the Sight Word Laminate Velcro and Go tasks from You Aut-A-Know to get started.

I hope these three tips help you start to conquer some of those big items sitting in your purchases! What other tips do you have?