Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Implementing Hygiene Routines at School

For many students with special needs, working on functional skills can be just as important, if not more important, than academic skills.  When I spoke with parents of my students, I often found that they were struggling with getting their child to complete hygiene routines independently at home. Many of my students' parents admitted that they completed most of these tasks for their child because either their child didn't know how to complete the routine, didn't want to complete it, or it was faster for the parents to just do it for their child. That is what inspired me to to add hygiene to our daily schedule back in my first year of teaching. I wanted to ease the workload of the parents at home and also wanted to encourage promoting independence for all of my student to the maximum extent possible.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

So This Happened...

On September 16th, we welcomed Colby into our family.  He is sweet and snuggly and way more work than I was anticipating...hence the reason I haven't posted in a couple months.  Being able to be home with this cutie for 12 weeks of maternity leave has been a real blessing and full of new experiences.  I have joined a new mom's group and gotten to know 8 other amazing new moms, enjoyed the most beautiful fall I can ever remember by going on daily walks outside with Colby, and drank more coffee than I did while going to grad school while working full time. 

Here are some of my favorite photos (I can't believe I narrowed it down to only three, because I probably take at least 15 pictures of him each day)

Colby and his namesake...good thing we didn't go with Jack as the middle name or he definitely would have been made fun of during his school age years!

Colby snuggling with his big fur-sister...I was a bit worried about how my dog would react to the new arrival, but these two are best buds already...and Colby hasn't even started throwing her treats from his high chair yet!

Colby in his Halloween costume...handmade by a friend, a knit burrito costume...due to our love of Mexican food, we called Colby a "baby burrito" throughout my pregnancy, so this costume was very fitting.

That's it for today...my little guy is up and ready to eat!  Hopefully I will get to some special ed content in my next post!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

New Product: Writing Fluency Timings

Do you have students who struggle to write or generate ideas when given a topic?  Students who are slow writers or dislike writing?   Looking for a warm up activity to last you the entire school year? Then this is the perfect product for you!


This writing fluency activity allows students to work on writing in a fun and competitive way.  I like to use it as a warm up activity at the beginning of my literacy groups.  Once your students get the hang of the routine, this activity takes 5-10 minutes and is a great, structured way to keep kids busy with independent work while you set up/gather your materials for that day's lesson.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

New Product: Fall Unit

Back to school means times for new products!  This week I am going to share my 2 newest products with you!  The first unit is perfect for back to school as it is a unit all about Fall!  It has a similar format to my "Summer Unit" and covers 15 vocabulary words related to fall (look for a winter and spring unit in the same format coming soon!)

Included are:
-Vocabulary Overview Page
-Vocabulary Assessments for words or pictures (receptive or expressive identification) to be used as pre/post tests.
-Flash cards (words)
-Flash cards (pictures)
-23 Worksheets
-1 Adapted Book
-I Have, Who Has? Card Game

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Mini Series: Small Group Instruction Data Collection and Role of Support Staff

In my self contained (Federal Setting 3) classroom, I like to include a variety of learning opportunities for students throughout the day.  Students work independently, 1:1 or 1:2 with an adult, in small groups with 3-8 students, or together as a whole class (13 students).  When I first started teaching, I didn't dare to have any small groups regularly scheduled into my day because my students didn't seem I wasn't ready.  My students didn't have the skills to sit together without fighting or jumping up and running away from the table...and in the beginning, I didn't realize this was something I could teach them.  Small groups can be difficult to implement in a special education classroom without clear planning and prioritizing of your goals...you have students of varying abilities, students who don't get along socially, not to mention students who don't have pre-requisite functional skills for participating in a group.

Throughout this mini series, I wanted to focus on how to set up/plan for small group instruction. As you start to create your vision of what you want your small groups to look like and what your goals for your students are, I think it is important to make sure you relay this information to your paraprofessionals so they can help you in carrying out your vision whether they are supporting a small group you are leading or running one that you have set up for them.

1.  Establishing Big Picture Goals and Grouping Students 
2.  Establishing Rules/Routines/Norms for the Group 
3.  Student Engagement/Teaching Techniques 
4.  Curriculum and Planning
5.  Data Collection and Role of Support Staff

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Mini Series: Small Group Instruction Curriculum and Planning

In my self contained (Federal Setting 3) classroom, I like to include a variety of learning opportunities for students throughout the day.  Students work independently, 1:1 or 1:2 with an adult, in small groups with 3-8 students, or together as a whole class (13 students).  When I first started teaching, I didn't dare to have any small groups regularly scheduled into my day because my students didn't seem I wasn't ready.  My students didn't have the skills to sit together without fighting or jumping up and running away from the table...and in the beginning, I didn't realize this was something I could teach them.  Small groups can be difficult to implement in a special education classroom without clear planning and prioritizing of your goals...you have students of varying abilities, students who don't get along socially, not to mention students who don't have pre-requisite functional skills for participating in a group.

Throughout this mini series, I wanted to focus on how to set up/plan for small group instruction. As you start to create your vision of what you want your small groups to look like and what your goals for your students are, I think it is important to make sure you relay this information to your paraprofessionals so they can help you in carrying out your vision whether they are supporting a small group you are leading or running one that you have set up for them.

1.  Establishing Big Picture Goals and Grouping Students 
2.  Establishing Rules/Routines/Norms for the Group 
3.  Student Engagement/Teaching Techniques 
4.  Curriculum and Planning
5.  Data Collection and Role of Support Staff

Monday, September 5, 2016

Mini Series: Small Group Instruction and Student Engagement/Teaching Techniques

In my self contained (Federal Setting 3) classroom, I like to include a variety of learning opportunities for students throughout the day.  Students work independently, 1:1 or 1:2 with an adult, in small groups with 3-8 students, or together as a whole class (13 students).  When I first started teaching, I didn't dare to have any small groups regularly scheduled into my day because my students didn't seem I wasn't ready.  My students didn't have the skills to sit together without fighting or jumping up and running away from the table...and in the beginning, I didn't realize this was something I could teach them.  Small groups can be difficult to implement in a special education classroom without clear planning and prioritizing of your goals...you have students of varying abilities, students who don't get along socially, not to mention students who don't have pre-requisite functional skills for participating in a group.

Throughout this mini series, I wanted to focus on how to set up/plan for small group instruction. As you start to create your vision of what you want your small groups to look like and what your goals for your students are, I think it is important to make sure you relay this information to your paraprofessionals so they can help you in carrying out your vision whether they are supporting a small group you are leading or running one that you have set up for them.

1.  Establishing Big Picture Goals and Grouping Students 
2.  Establishing Rules/Routines/Norms for the Group 
3.  Student Engagement/Teaching Techniques 
4.  Curriculum and Planning
5.  Data Collection and Role of Support Staff