Special Education Classroom

And you thought it was just a bag of cookies.

I’m lucky to work at an amazing school with a staff that cares deeply about my students. When I first came around and pitched the idea of a treat cart to them, they didn’t hesitate to jump in. Over the course of a year, I had over 60 different staff members participate! That’s unbelievable to me!

I don’t always explain the background of my classroom initiatives well. In my self-contained program, we participate in Community Based Instruction (CBI). This allows my students to take the skills they are learning in the classroom and apply them in a hand-on skills. In my four years of teaching, the treat cart was hands down the best project I ever implemented.

It’s one thing for my students to role play in my classroom. It’s a complete different story when they get to run a snack shop themselves. It wasn’t boring Ms. Morris who wanted the fake cookies. It was the real music teacher who wanted a ginger ale and their beloved 5th grade general education teacher who asked for cookies each week. My kids had the food, and everyone wanted it. They became the suppliers and everything became real.

As the person buying from the treat cart, you see a cute kid offering you cookies. I see so much more. I watched children who couldn’t count mixed coins count more than $100 in bills. I watched children who couldn’t use one-to-one correspondence count 20 bags of chips to put on the cart. I watched children go from one word phrases to asking a question in a complete sentence.  I watched the confidence grow and shine through each of the students. And you thought it was just a bag of cookies 🙂

If you don’t know what a treat cart is, check back next week. I’ll post a lot of pictures to show it in action. If you work at a school where a special needs class runs any sort of store, just know they aren’t looking to make money. They are looking for so much more.

 

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organization, Special Education Classroom

Color Coding Independent Tasks in a Self Contained Classroom!

If you have been around my Instagram this summer, then you know that both of my paraprofessionals have left my classroom and I have been really stressed about training new staff. One huge benefit, however, is that I know all of my students. The new challenge was helping my paraprofessionals get to know them as well. My solution? Color coding!

I found these color coding stickers on Amazon. The pack had all 8 colors I am using in my classroom. I loved that the company supports Ability First, which employs adults with disabilities and special needs. Win-Win!

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The first thing I decided to use this color-coding set with was Especially Education‘s Language Arts Task Boxes. I keep Level 1 in the Iris Photo Boxes, and Level 2 in Sterlite containers. I made a template in Powerpoint that listed all of her task boxes on the left and had space on the right. Each child is assigned a color. If the task is appropriate for the child, I out a sticker with his or her color next to the task

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I did this with file folders as well. I used the Adhesive Label Squares from the Target Dollar Spot and place one on the back of each file folder. I slipped a small square of cardstock with the corresponding stickers into the pocket.

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What I love about these pockets is that I can easily switch out the slips each year to update with each new group of students!FullSizeRender-7.jpg

I am so excited about this new color coding system. Now my paraprofessionals will know which tasks are appropriate for which students, which will help them be successful in the classroom from day 1!

This post contains affiliate links for Amazon. By purchasing an item on the Amazon site using these links, I will receive a small commission on your purchase, at no cost to you!

organization, Special Education Classroom

Back to School Finds at Walmart

I love Target as much as the next teacher, but sometimes Walmart does not get the credit it deserves. I found some incredible deals when I went shopping today, and I wanted to share!

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Seriously, I’m loving the mint green theme Walmart has going on this year!

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The first thing I found were these mainstay latch lid boxes. Let me start by saying I LOVE Sterlite (clearly, majority of my purchases were Sterlite brand) but I know that sometimes we need cheaper options. The mainstay bins were roughly $3.50 in store, which was $1.50 less then Sterlite. They seemed to be sturdy and will be perfect for sensory bins. FullSizeRender-4.jpg

I also got rainbow book bins similar to these. The ones I found in the store were about $10 for a set of 5. I will be using these to organize file folders on my bookshelf.

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I love these Sterlite shoe boxes with the colorful lids. I found these value packs of 10 for $7.98 at my Walmart! Cheaper than anywhere else I saw. I will be using these to set up my new work task system, store task cards, hold toys and more. In fact, I might go buy some more tomorrow!

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I bought one of these mini crates from Sterlite because it was cute and cheap (under $1). I ended up loving it and getting 2 more. I grabbed 4 additional mini crates today. I got rid of my teacher desk so these will be perfect for storing supplies on a table in the back of my classroom.

Don’t be afraid to shop around! Pinterest pretty classroom are fun to look at, but it’s okay to save money and get other materials. Whatever helps you stay organized!

Monthly Plans, Teachers Pay Teachers

Weekly Thematic Packs

What started as a mini project to help me power through the first week of ESY ended up evolving into a huge project, and I’m loving every second of it!

If you have been hanging around my Facebook or Instagram then you know about my thematic packs and everything that is included! If you are not familiar, look below for an idea of what you get! The theme featured in this blog is the zoo theme, but a huge variety of themes is available in my store as well!

 

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The first set I wanted to show you were the adapted materials. These are for my lower students who are still working on a lot of pre-academic skills. The adapted materials include an adapted book, a tracing book and task boxes. These are perfect for my friends who are using a lot of adapted materials.

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The bulk of the reading and language arts work is leveled into 3 levels. You get 3 levels of emergent readers and 3 levels of a weekly journal book. Look below for an idea of what each level is for the reading and writing:

  • Level A: The emergent reader names the vocabulary for the week. The journal has sentence frameworks for students to copy, to get used to writing descriptive sentences.
  • Level B: The emergent reader includes the color of the item (I.e. the tiger is orange) in additional to the vocabulary words. The journal provides the topic and some facts, but the students need to create their own sentence using the content given.
  • Level C: The emergent reader includes a fact in addition to the vocabulary word. The journal provides just a topic, and allows students to generate their own ideas about the topic.

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There are also 3 levels of comprehension worksheets, with differentiation built into each level. Although I have leveled them according to the emergent readers, feel free to mix and match. For one of my students, his best match was 3 worksheets from level B and 2 from level C. It is totally customizable, do what works for you!

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You also get 3 sets of sight word packs and an alphabet pack to add to a work work center. The sight words and letters are rotated through the different packs, but it will always be 6 different words or 6 different letters featured in one pack.

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The math portion of this pack has a huge range of skills, because my classroom has a huge range of skills! In this pack you get addition, subtraction, multiplication and division worksheets. You also get telling time, 3 levels of graphing worksheets, basic number sense, patterning and a money board.

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The visual directions are perfect for whole group activities. A scientific experiment, an edible recipe, a sensory recipe and a craft are always included.

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Additional materials include a set of gross motor movement cards, suggested supplemental books, songs and apps and 10 bingo boards!

I realize that this pack might be overwhelming when you first open it, which is why I created a suggested weekly lay out. You, by no means, need to follow this. Maybe your kids are not ready for telling time! Maybe you want to do the craft over two days! Maybe you want to play bingo every day. Whatever works with your class, go for it. This is just to give you an idea of how to use the pack.

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This weekly guide will be included in all of the units. Click here to go to the bundle on TPT. Each theme is listed within this page, or grab the whole bundle to get you through the tough spots of the year!

Uncategorized

Prime Day is Coming!

Prime Day is almost here and it is a great opportunity to grab some deals for the classroom! Follow these easy steps to track some amazing deals:

  1. Sign up for Amazon Prime. If you don’t have an Amazon Prime membership yet, you can sign up for a free 30-day trial. Amazon Prime costs $99 for the year, so be sure to manage your account at the end of the 30 days if you are not interested in maintaining Amazon Prime.
  2. Create a Wish List. Follow the steps below to create your list:

Search the item you are interested in on Amazon

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Scroll below the “purchase” button and click “add to list”

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Once you click “add to list,” the list will be accessible from your account!

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Click on “Your Lists” to access your wish list

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2. Download the App. This will allow you to quickly access your Wish List from your mobile device.

3. Allow push notifications on your app. This will give you an alert if an item on your Wish List goes on sale during Prime Day.  Follow these steps:

This is what the homepage of the app looks like:

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Click on the three horizontal bars on the top left corner to open up your “Account Options” and scroll to the bottom to click on “Settings.” Under “Settings,” click on “Notifications.”

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The app will prompt you to allow notification. Click accept, then switch the toggle next to “Your Watched and Waitlisted Deals” to turn it orange. This will allow you to get a push notification if one of the items on your list becomes a Lightning Deal.

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If you see the deal pop up, buy it ASAP. Once the merchandise runs out, the deal goes away!

Good luck shopping! Here is a link to my public Wish List so you can get an idea of some great things to watch for your special education classroom!

Paperwork, Tips, Work Life Balance

What To Do When You Make a Mistake

We have all been there. You misplace a document, you miss a deadline, you completely forget about something. It just happened to me this week. A colleague gave me something to give a parent, and I totally forgot to pass it along! My instinct was to panic but I had to take a deep breath and remind myself of 5 important steps.

Own the Mistake

The worst thing you can do in this situation is pretend like the mistake didn’t happen. Even if you make the mistake go away for the time being, there is a very high chance it will rear its’ ugly head at a later date. You don’t want to be in that situation.

Tell the People Who Need to Know

Immediately disclose the mistake to your supervisor or another individual who oversees the area. In my instance, I reported the mistake to the coordinator who gave me the paper in the first place. If you tell them before it gets to them some other way, it will help you in the long run.

Offer a Remedy

If your mistake causes someone else more work, it can quickly become a source of frustration. When you suggest  a solution to a problem or offer to assist in any way needed, you can help alleviate some of the tension. Show the person impacted that you are willing to go the extra mile to help!

Learn From the Mistake 

If the mistake occurred due to your lack of organization, revisit the method you use to keep track of things! If the mistake occurred because you are unsure of how to do something, ask for clarification or additional training. For example, it would be easy to make mistake using an online system if you had no idea how to do certain operations within the system!

Move On

Am I the only one who lies in bed and thinks about that mistake I made 4 months ago? This isn’t healthy and it doesn’t help! Once you fix the mistake and learn from it, move on! Don’t beat yourself up; we are all human!

crafts, Uncategorized

“Oh The Places You’ll Go” Balloon Template

I am super fortunate to have an extremely creative para in my classroom-she always comes up with the cutest craft ideas for my classroom. As someone with limited creativity and no art skills, I depend on her to make my classroom look cute. Tomorrow is Dr. Suess’ Read Across America Day and we made these adorable and easy balloon crafts for our bulletin board.

Every student was given the balloon template and a baggie of squares cut from construction paper. Next time I will have the kids cut the pieces themselves, but to save time this round we did it.

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The kids used a glue stick to adhere all of the pieces to the balloon template. The kids really enjoyed mixing up the colors and we had a variety of construction paper sizes for different needs. Each kid also got a pre-sized piece of brown construction paper to fill in the basket portion of the balloon. When the balloon was finished, we went over the top with a glue stick just to help the pieces stick more.

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At the end we wrote “Oh, The Places You’ll Go” around the balloon. You could also have the kids do this piece. It is a super simple craft to pull together and super cute!

 

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Here is the balloon if you want to do this craft in your classroom. Thanks to my para for hand-drawing this for us! If you use this in your classroom, please tag your photos with #adaptationstation so we can see them!