Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Math Drama Games

This month, we are working on incorporating Math into our drama time (for more info on What drama time is, see these posts #1, #2, #3).  I know it sounds strange...but since most of my kids dislike math, we decided, why not try and make math more fun?!  WE are having a special guest (Mr. John from Red Kite!) come to help us this month.  My students love it when he comes because he brings his guitar and has lots of fun new ideas to spice up our regular drama time!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Flash Card Fluency Timings

Earlier in the school year, I posted about my language station.  Now that it is fully up and running, I wanted to show you more details in how I utilize it.  This is a station ran by an assistant.  It is used as a station for extra practice on concepts that are previously mastered when working with me.  At the language station, the focus is on getting fluent (fast and accurate) at these important skills.  It is great if you know your letters, but if it takes you 10 seconds to label a letter, the skill is not functional.  All the kids have a data binder stored inside a milk crate on the Language Table.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Science Tests

Last week, I posted a little about our science unit on the solar system.  Over the last year, I introduced "science tests" to my monthly science units.  My kids take the same test once at the beginning of the month (as a pre-assessment) and again at the end of the month (as a post-assessment).  I was shocked the first time we took the test as a group at how many of my kids were cheating (although secretly, I was kind of proud of how smart they were to think of cheating!).  We had to have a conversation about cheating, put up some dividers while we take tests, and move our desks apart from one another to deter cheating!  But then, we were good to go for test-taking behavior....until it came time to grading our tests.  I seriously think I made half the kids cry because they were sad they didn't get 100% (again...kind of proud that getting a good score is important to them!).  So needless to say, I am a little reluctant to give our science test on the solar system this week!  What do our science tests look like?  Well, see the picture below to find out!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

All That Paperwork!

Back in college, I remember always hearing about all the paper work involved in special education...from IEPs and assessments, to data collection.  Not only were they right (although technology has made all that easier), but we are also supposed to keep track of our collaboration minutes, our communication with parents, and how much help our assistants are providing students in the general and special education classrooms (see this post).  Although keeping track of this information can be somewhat useful for tracking conversations, mostly it is meant for keeping a paper record of how we are spending our time.  I would so rather be taking data on my students skills (I LOVE tracking progress!).  But since these other types of data are a necessary part of the job, I figured I needed to make myself the most user friendly data sheet if I was ever going to actually take data.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Counting with Non-Verbal Learners

The other day I was trying to figure out the best way to assess one of my non-verbal student's counting skills.  I am pretty pleased with this super easy way that I stumbled across as we were working together this week!  First, I wrote out the numbers 1-5 on a piece of notebook paper.  I said the different number names, and waited to see if my student could point to the correct number.  She could, so we moved on to the next skill!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Calendar Worksheets

Today was a great (but exhausting) day!  We went to Special Olympics with our kids...and they did great!  Lots of gold, silver, and bronze medals were awarded and watching how proud the kids were of their medals was awesome!  

One thing I like to do to help my kids prepare for field trips, special events, holidays, or days off are calendar worksheets.  Since they can't yet answer questions about the calendar, we work together on answering them multiple times throughout the month on these worksheets.  The kids love these because they are another opportunity to talk about some the things they are most excited about in the month.  

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Some Basic Reading/Math Ideas

When I posted a couple of my products on Teachers Pay Teachers this summer, I had not yet used them myself.  I had brainstormed the ideas over the summer for my new kiddos!  I knew that I would be receiving more kids than any other year (and no additional adults) and I needed more ways to incorporate independent work for my students to keep them busy and learning all day (which prevents boredom and temper tantrums!).  For my students with higher academic and social skills, I was not too worried...I have plenty of stuff to keep them busy and they are great at adapting to new activities (check out this post for what my higher academic students do at Reading/Math Centers).  However, for some of my lower functioning students independent work is harder to come up with and new activities do not go over very well (this group of students in my class struggles a lot with any sort of change).  As you probably know if you have read my blog, I love using work in binders for my students.   It keeps the work predictable and lets students know exactly how much work they have to complete.  It also allows for switching different work in and out without the student feeling like too much has changed.  I store these binders in a little plastic bin.  I put a piece of velcro on the side of the binders....that way when a student is bringing their schedule picture to the station, they attach it right to the binder they are responsible for completing.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Martin Luther King Comprehension FREEBIE

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day!  I am so happy to have today off and finally have a chance to check some things off my wedding to-do list!  We have been talking about Martin Luther King a little bit in my class, because all of the kids wanted to know why we didn't have school today.  Also, we have it on our calendar as "MLK Day" so all the kids have been referring to it as that.  

I know I probably should have done more on MLK last week, but we just didn't get to it...so I'm thinking about finishing it up tomorrow when we are back in school.  I have some books to read as well as a little one-page write up on Martin Luther King that I got from New-2-You.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Sorting Materials From Lakeshore

My students know it....my family knows it...and my fiancĂ© knows it...Lakeshore is one of my FAVORITE places to shop!  My students see the word "Lakeshore" on so many materials that they have asked me where the store is so they can bring their parents.  Now, Lakeshore is not necessarily the cheapest place to shop, but their materials are high quality and so many are hands-on!  I also don't usually buy these materials myself...I use www.donorschoose.org to write grants for the materials!  Donorschoose is a classroom saver!  Without them, my classroom shelves would be completely bare!  But anyways, enough on that for today...on to this great sorting resource!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Cranium: Cariboo Game

Do you have any of those great games or materials that you store away and forget about?  This week, I was going through some of my games in one of my closets and re-discovered this fun game!  I was looking for it online today and couldn't find it sold new...looks like they stopped making it so it is only available used now.  But, now that most of my kids are identifying letters and numbers, we were ready to play...and they are in love.  Now they keep asking to play it during free time!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Things That are White FREEBIE

Today was "one of those days"...one temper tantrum after another coming at me from all sides.  So in honor of that, I am posting some FREEBIES today.  Sorry for the lack of substance, but hopefully the freebies make up for that!  CLICK HERE for the PDF.

For this worksheet, I have students circle the things that are white. and put an "X" on things that are NOT white.  This is best for some of my beginners who are working on learning colors.

 For this worksheet, I have students write a list of white things on their own.  

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Science Unit: Solar System

This month's science topic is the solar system.  This is one of my students' favorite units!  We blow up a ball for the sun and each planet (I forget where I got these, but they are awesome!) and hang them up in the correct order.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Monday, January 14, 2013

Spelling in the Classroom

Some of my new spelling worksheets are still a little too complicated for my kids...so we will be using those in our classroom at our reading station (the easier worksheets, featured in yesterday's post, are being utilized as daily homework).   I fit all of our spelling materials into this binder, so it won't take up too much room.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Spelling Worksheets

I have been terrible at staying on top of my spelling lists this year!  Even though we have a longer school day, I still feel like I don't have enough minutes in the day to do everything I want!  So, I decided this year, I would start using some of my spelling worksheets for homework.  I just started using these last week as homework and so far, so good.  My kids are really doing great with them!  Here is a preview of the worksheets.  I also just posted them on TPT this morning.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Question Marks vs. Periods

I created this resource over the summer, but have yet to use it in my classroom until this past week!  In our reading groups this month, we decided to focus on Questions vs. Sentences for some of our kiddos.  I was so pumped I had these worksheets ready to go! We started by sorting pre-made Sentences and Questions on the worksheet below.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Teaching Colors

One of my students is just beginning to work on identifying colors.  We are targeting only 2 colors to begin with (red and blue).  I chose these colors because they are pretty different from one another (starting with blue/purple or orange/red could be make it harder for him to discriminate between the two).  This task is super easy (and cheap) to put together! 


Thursday, January 10, 2013

Community Trip of the Month: Subway!

This month, we are headed to Subway for our community trip.  I like this trip, because ordering becomes a little more complex.  Unlike McDonald's where the kids just order a Happy Meal, at Subway, they really need to specify a lot of details in their ordering.  It is great trip for working on "yes" and "no" questions as well.  

My coworker and I developed this little book to help our students prepare for all the options that awaited them at Subway.  We practice pretty much every day this week in preparation!  

Choose your bread.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Fun Holiday File Folder

Today's blog post is going to be very short and sweet, since I have a pile of over 100 wedding invites that need to be packed into envelopes, addressed, and stamped tonight!  We were hoping to get these invites out the first week of December, but unfortunately we had a few invite mishaps with the printing company.  Anyway, on to school-related materials...

This file-folder is one of my students' favorite one to do!  I just took a picture of each month and glued them to the file folder.  Then, I ran it through the laminator and put some hard velcro beneath the months in the file folder.   

Monday, January 7, 2013

New Binder Pages on TPT

I have had several requests to upload more binder work to TPT....so I did!  Only one additional product so far, but I will be slowly adding more over the next couple weeks.  I use these worksheets in my morning group binders (see this post) as well as in my students' homework binders (see this post).   Click here to check out my TPT store to get your copy!

This product has 4 interactive, re-usable worksheets.  Here are pics of the actual products as used in my classroom.

First off, we have a page for identifying the current season.  The student removes the correct picture from the top of the page and places it in the empty box at the bottom of the page.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

A New Assistant!

About a month ago, I got an additional aid to help out in my classroom in the mornings with one of my students with higher needs.  I love the extra help, but always forget that also means training a new person during the hustle and bustle of my day!  I didn't want to overwhelm this new girl  by explaining everything to her in one moment either, so I decided to gradually introduce her to the aspects of my classroom she would be encountering.

First, I explained our schedule  (as you probably know from this post, this is SUPER important to me!).  Next, I showed her how the student she would be working with utilizes his individual schedule.  He uses a color-coded picture schedule on the wall (seen below).  

I even added this handy little key for setting up his schedule each day.  The colors correspond to the colors of his picture schedule.  This makes setting up his schedule so quick and easy!  And if he tries to change his schedule (sneaky, sneaky), it makes it easier to catch.  Next up, I will be teaching her how to take data on his schedule...see this post).

The main reason I needed this extra help, was because this student needs a one-on-one to do academic work.  He struggles to do any work without tangible reinforcers (mostly food) delivered constantly throughout the task.  Otherwise he runs away, hits, pinches, etc.  He works extremely well when given the reinforcement schedule he needs (about every 2-3 minutes).  So, I created this cheat sheet for my new assistant (who has no previous experience with kids with autism), as well as for me and my other aids so we would all be on the same page.  There are kind of a lot of components to this, but I figured it would be a helpful reference to have posted in the classroom.   I left some blanks so that we can make the reinforcement schedule less dense over time.  I also did some "dos" and "don'ts" for working with this student.

I "do" want the assistants to say "good job" while delivering the tangible reinforcer.  This is done so that the phrase "good job" hopefully becomes paired with the tangible reinforcer...that way, hopefully some day, the tangible reinforcers can be faded out and hearing "good job" will act as a reinforcer.

I "don't" want the reinforcer to be delivered when the student reaches out his hand.  He will be working just great and reach out his hand for a reinforcer...I don't want this to be the behavior that is reinforced, or he will start reaching out his hand more (and working less).  Instead, the reinforcer is supposed to be delivered as he is working appropriately (if he reaches to grab it as it is being delivered, that is fine).

I also included a list of his preferred items.  See this post to learn how to deliver a preference assessment (which may be some items you can use as reinforcers in your classroom).  One other note about these edible reinforcers...when my student receives them, he is not getting a whole bag of skittles, he is getting one skittle or half a gummy bear, or a mini marshmallow)...and believe me, if there is a toy or something healthy that is reinforcing, we use that first!  The last thing I want to do, is make these little kiddos fat or unhealthy!  

Any other tips you have for helping a new assistant adjust in the classroom??

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Functional Reading Assessments

So I have been on a major Teachers Pay Teachers drought over the last couple months...I haven't been posting any new products.  All of a sudden this week, I got a major boost of energy and am now kind of addicted to posting new products again.  Yesterday, I posted a fun movement book for kids with autism.  Today, I am posting about a new assessment I have added to my store (Click here to go to my TPT store).

Friday, January 4, 2013

A Book to Use for Movement!

Last week, I shared with you how I work on drama with Kids with Autism.  When I first started out, if I were to say, "act like a frog," none of my kids would have known what to do.  My kids had very few imagination skills.   I decided to teach them, through a very visual book, how to "act like" a variety of animals.  This seemed to work because after doing this book every week in drama time or in the classroom, my kids were able to not only "act like" all the animals in the book, but they were also able to generalize these skills and "act like" animals that were not in the book!

So...hot off the presses, I introduce to you the newest member of my TPT store! I know it has been awhile since I posted anything new to my store, so here you go!  Click here to get your copy.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Clean Clothes vs. Dirty Clothes

I still laugh every time I look at this adapted book/work task.  I had a student a couple years ago who had to get himself ready in the morning (his parents were at work and he was only home with a brother or another relative).  He would constantly come to school with dirty clothes.  I talked to his parents, and his mom said she would leave out clothes for him to wear each day (but he would choose dirty ones to wear instead).  Like most of our kids with autism, they are very rigid and routine.  These behaviors can be hard to break.  Luckily, when we can find a way to create and teach "new" rules for our kids to follow (and reinforce their behavior when they follow the new rules), we are able to change behavior.  Also, teaching kids to discriminate between example (the "right" way) and non-example (the "wrong" way) is important in truly teaching rules. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

File Folder Heaven

Well, it's officially my last day of winter break...what a bummer!  At least I still have a little time before grad school starts up again!  I really wanted to share this resource today...File Folder Heaven.  They have some printables available for purchase, but they also have a section of FREEBIES.  And, let's face it...who doesn't like a good FREEBIE? (Click here to get to the FREEBIE section of the website).  I am pretty sure I have downloaded all of their available Freebies....haha.  My favorites are the file folders (they are great for work station tasks) and adapted books (great for beginning readers at a quiet reading station).