Monday, December 30, 2013

Creating Sentences

I don't know about you, but getting my students to use sentences is quite difficult.  For our state testing, there are multiple tasks that require my students to "generate a sentence".  Yikes!  I know my kiddos get the concept and I can get them to show me this in multiple ways, but generating a sentence is not currently one of them!
We have been working on this skill in multiple ways.  The most successful one I've had is to use a sentence creation graphic organizer.
We began with one that was filled in with a word bank that I knew included the words needed for the pictures or situations we were addressing.
The student would look at a picture and then follow the sentence graphic organizer (with my prompts).  They would end up with a sentence such as "the girl is running in the park", or "the man is cooking in the kitchen".  Using pictures and these words, we created multiple sentences!  It was so easy and the kiddos really enjoyed the activity!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Daily Schedule - update

I guess I jinxed myself with the daily schedule post yesterday.  Today, while I was out at a training, I got a call from one of my paras.  While in the gym 5th period (when we've been going for the past three weeks per my AP's instructions), one of the coach's brought in their class and informed my staff that they would no longer be allowed in the gym that period.
I called after my meeting and apparently at some point in the last couple of days they changed around some staff schedules and didn't bother to tell me!!!
Soo, now I have to create draft #10 of the schedule, which I am positive will then have to lead to drafts 11, 12, and 13 before it all works out again.  I am struggling to wrap my head around this right now.
GRRRR, back to the drawing board.


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Daily Schedules - top priority

Wow, it has been a tough two and a half weeks.  My kiddos are VERY BUSY!!!  With new kiddos and new staff, I feel like my head is spinning with just teaching procedures.  I'm finding that now I have to write out specific step by step instructions for my para's on how to deal with student behavior, how to implement reinforcement systems, etc.  I guess I took for granted how knowledgeable my staff was last year!!
Anyway, my top priority has been setting schedules, both for students and staff.
To ensure schedules are most effective, here are the steps I take:
1.  Set up a excel document with 15 minute segments down and each student's name across the top. (once I get some things set up, I change the times to match things like bells, etc)
2.  Fill in the non-negotiables (lunch, gened, etc).
3.  Set up group times
4.  Fill in rotations
5.  Assign staff to specific rotations and students

To make it all work correctly, this year I had to do NINE drafts of this!!  I kept having to rework groups, ensure that kids who needed extra assistance were assigned 1 staff who supervised others while at independent.
Here are three versions of the schedule, just so you can see the progression.  I know that there will still be a few changes, and I still have a couple of spots that need to be filled, but at day 13, I'm feeling pretty confident!

Version 1:  Made before I actually knew my students and staff very well.  In this one, I set non-negotiables and groups and then just blindly filled in students based on that information I had. . . We used this for 2 whole days!

Here is version 4. . . I had already made multiple changes.  In this schedule, I created a couple of new stations, took out some stations, and began to assign staff more appropriately. . .

This is the current schedule. . . In this one, every student is accounted for with staff members.  Students are either working with staff directly or supervised (when in parenthesis).  Yellow table is where I work with students, at the blue table my stronger para works on reading, fluency, and the red table is where students play a game of some sort and work on turn taking and social skills.  I am really enjoying this schedule so far, but you can see that there are still a couple of ??.  These are times that are not filled completely with meaningful activities so I am still determining what to do.  If you have any suggestions, I'm more than open!!
Key:  MM-morning meeting; cards/Ipad-language master, then Ipad activity;  I-independent; WD-work drawers (set of 6 drawers that target IEP objectives in the generalization phase); WB-work boxes (pre-vocational tasks); TT-another time I work with students. . . 

So. . . that's the way I make schedules.  How are you doing with your schedules??  Anything you think I should try??

Monday, September 2, 2013

I'm Back. . .

Hello friends!
So, I fell off the blogging worlds edge.  I envy my favorite bloggers who are able to post daily or even weekly.  It seems when things get busy, the blog is the first thing to go!  I am making a pledge to blog at least 1x per week, hopefully more.

I have just finished my first week of school.  It was possibly the hardest first week I've ever had!  I have 8 kiddos with severe autism.  Four are returning to me and have done well remembering how to follow classroom procedures.  Four are brand new middle schoolers and have a ton to learn.  They have difficulty just sitting in their seats right now!
I also lost both my fabulous parapros from last school year.  One left to go to an elementary campus to work with the itty-bitties.  The other followed some of our most difficult students to high school.  I was blessed with two new great people, but neither have ever worked in a classroom for students with autism.  It has been a little overwhelming trying to train the staff AND students at the same time!

Anyway, for my first post back, I'm joining in with a "Currently".  If you want to join, run over to Oh' Boy 4th Grade and link up!  

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Giveaway from Montessori Print Shop!!!

Check out this give away!  1290 items FREE to print and use with kiddos.  I've seen quite a bit of their things in use in classrooms and love the things they make.
Click the link to enter

Monday, May 13, 2013

Pats on the back sure do feel good!!!

So, today my co-teacher and I were called in to our supervisors office for a meeting.  It began as one of those "I just want to make sure we are all on the same page regarding. . . " sorts of meetings where you wonder why it's so important to be away from your kiddos for something like this.  Well. . . it ended up being a guise.  About 3 minutes into the meeting, the door burst open and in walks my principal, superintendent, sped director and all the coordinators in the program to announce that we (Sam and I) had been named the "employees of the month" for the district!!!  I haven't been more surprised ever in my life.  If you are a teacher, you know how special this is.  To say I am honored is an understatement.  It's rare we get pats on the back in this profession.  We get lots of great moments to hold onto, but it's a lonely field where often our job is misunderstood (all you do is babysit, right?).  It sure does feel good to be recognized!!!!!
 How cute is this cake??  Made by parent volunteers in our school parent center.
Anyway, just wanted to share this honor with you guys.  :)  I am on cloud 9 right now!!!!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

New Adapted Books

You all know one of my main obsessions - making work boxes.  A second obsession I have is adapted books!!  I love Adapted books!  I use them in teacher time, for independent activities, to have students interact with each other, and in many other ways!
On my campus, the life skills teacher resigned back in February to take a job closer to her home.  With her resignation, my co-teacher and I have had to take in her kiddos!  It has been quite a challenge.  It's been a few years since I've worked with kiddos with disabilities other than Autism, and it has been interesting.  In ways, it has made me up my game!  In other ways, it's just made me tired!!!
Anyway, in taking on the life skills kiddos, I have been reintroduced to the Edmark Reading Series.  These students are on this series and I am falling back in love!  I created a few books for them to use to practice some of the words we are targeting at this time.
These are up for sale at my TpT store.
In the Box 

What's That?  level 1

What's That?  level 2

I can't get my computer to upload any pictures right now. . . I think I need to have tech services look at it!  I'll try to add pictures tomorrow!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Work Box Addict: Intervention Needed!!!

Hello, My name is Erin, and I'm an addict. . . I just can not STOP obsessing over and creating new work boxes!!!!!  Here is what $65 at the Dollar Tree will buy you:

In case you are wondering, this is enough to make approximately 10 boxes!!!

Here are a few of the boxes I made today(Didn't take pics of entire job, hopefully these pics will give a good enough idea of the purpose):

Easter Egg package: (comes with enough eggs/cartons to make 10 packages)

Frog Hop Game (enough frogs/ponds to make 10 packages; Students have to choose the correct colors and then put all into a baggie)

Candle Package (enough to make 8 different colored packs)

Baby Ring Assembly: (Enough to make 10 rings; Students must first get correct colors then put together)

Toothbrush Pack: (Enough to make 5)

Food Package:  (Students must look at the written list and then find the food items and put into a bag)

Screwdriver Package: (Color coded screwdrivers; put into container; enough to make 10)

I got so carried away making things that I forgot to take pictures of the rest.  Seriously guys, INTERVENTION needed!!!!!  :)

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Where do you come up with your work box ideas??

Today I met with a friend and we worked all day making new materials for her classroom.  During our time together, she said "where do you come up with all these ideas" more than once.  I figured maybe I should share where I get some of my best ideas.  Hint. . . I steal them!!
Below is an extensive list of sites where I have gone to get ideas for new work boxes.  I kind of have an obsession for making them and I am always looking for something new to make.  If you have other places you go to, please let me know!

Websites (some commercial, some blogs, some random)

Pinterest boards:

Preposition Practice

I have multiple students who are working on prepositions.  I search for ways that the students can practice their newly learned prepositions independently.  To do so, I have created a few very simple tasks where they can follow the written preposition directions.  You can grab these for free here:
Over, Under, On
Above, Below, On
Between, Left of, Right of
Print out each page, laminate and add velcro.  I bind the pages into a book so that students can practice a set of prepositions at one time and then it can be checked.

In addition, here are some additional resources I have found that I use:
Source Unknown:
Fat cat flies
Where is Fat Cat?

*Free on Chapel Hill Snippets
angry birds over and between printable
the lonely reindeer printable

 *Free on Boardmaker Share

Polar Animals Preposition Interactive Activity

*Purchase on Teachers Pay Teachers

Do you have any favorite preposition practice activities?

Sunday, March 3, 2013

STAAR-ALT antonym and homophone activities

I have been swamped at work.  The life skills teacher quit 4 weeks ago and they are unable to find a replacement.  This means that I have had to take over her kiddos for ELA and Social Studies.  It has been wonderful and difficult all at the same time.  My caseload has doubled and I have had to learn all new levels of students.  In addition, I've gotten to do twice the state testing!
Anyway, I am finally trying to share some of the activities that I have created.  I am attempting to share PDF's of activities created for the first time, so I hope it works.  Let me know if any of my links do not work and I'll try again.
ELA6.2 (a)

Level 3
The student will be presented and read a teacher-generated paragraph that includes an unfamiliar multi-meaning word used in two different ways. The student will locate the multi-meaning word each time it is used in the paragraph. Using a reference material, the student will locate the definition for each way the multi-meaning word is used in the paragraph. The definitions will be read. The student will generate two sentences each using one of the meanings of the multi-meaning word.
Predetermined Criteria
1.The student will locate the multi-meaning word each time it is used in the paragraph.
2.The student will locate the definition for each way the multi-meaning word is used in the paragraph.
3.The student will generate two sentences each using one of the meanings of the multi-meaning word.
For this task, I had the student a picture dictionary for multi meaning words.  The student highlighted the multimeaning word in different paragraphs.  She then found the word in the dictionary, then created her own sentences.  Hope this is helpful:
A-Z dictionary - multi meaning version

ELA 7.2 (a)
Level 2
The student will be presented and read one unfamiliar word and three known words, one of which is an antonym to the unfamiliar word. Using a reference material, the student will identify the meaning of the unfamiliar word. The student will identify the antonym for the unfamiliar word. When presented with three sentences, the student will identify the sentence that uses the pair of antonyms correctly.
Predetermined Criteria
1.The student will identify the meaning of the unfamiliar word.
2.The student will identify the antonym for the unfamiliar word.
3.The student will identify the sentence that uses the pair of antonyms correctly.

For this standard, I created an antonym dictionary and several sentence strips using words sets of antonyms. Students learned to first locate the word in the dictionary.  They then practiced identifying the antonyms.  Last, I taught them to be able to identify the correct use of antonyms through matching the pictures from the dictionary to those in the sentence strips.
Here is the dictionary:
A-Z Dictionary antonym edition
Here are two sentence strips (I seem to have lost the others created, but will upload when I locate them)
Sentence strips - female and boy
Sentence Strips - mopey and happy

Now for homophones:
ELA 8.2
Level 2
The student will be presented three sentences. Each sentence will include a pair of homophones. As the sentences are read, the student will identify the two homophones in each sentence. The student will be presented six cards each representing the meaning of one homophone. Using the context of the three sentences, the student will match the cards to the homophones. The student will be presented a fourth sentence with two blanks that can be completed with two of the six existing homophones. The student will complete this sentence using any two of the six homophones.
Predetermined Criteria
1.The student will identify the homophones.
2.The student will match the cards to the homophones.
3.The student will complete this sentence using any two of the six homophones.

In this task, I used the picture dictionary, a homophone list, picture definition pieces and sentence strips.  I printed out the dictionary and stapled it together.  I printed out each sentence strip and put it onto tagboard.  I then affixed a strip of scratchy velcro across the bottom of the entire sentence.  After that, I put soft velcro on the arrow/box combo and on the back of each picture icon.
To identify the homophones the student had to place the box/arrow under the homophones.  They then had to choose the correct pictures to match the homophone meanings.
I have not taken a picture of the task in action, but will try to do so tomorrow.  Here is a link to the task:
Homophone Activity

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Different uses for adapted books

As many of you know, I love adapted books.  I was lucky enough to have a donors choose project funded that purchased 24 different interactive books for my students.  Each came already assembled and ready to use!  The books are great for multiple levels of students for multiple types of tasks.
Here is a picture of one set of books I recieved:

Using this set of books, I can serve three different levels of students easily.  My highest functioning student can use the books to actually read and find correct answers:
This particular book gives a statement that she must read, and then she must put a picture to represent the sentence onto the page.  

The second level of student can use a lower level book that requires them to read specific words and match them to their picture

For the lower level student, I use these books as simple picture matching tasks.  He takes the books that the other students have put together and removes the icons and place them back onto their original pages.  This just has the student match picture to picture.

What a GREAT resource these books have turned out to be.  Useful for all students in my classroom and once they have had a few rounds of instruction with the books, they can use these as independent stations!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Rough Days

Today was a ROUGH one.  It began with a student throwing a 4 hour tantrum in which I got head butted, kicked, punched in the face, scratched, and bitten.  It ended with a visit to the doctor for a refresher tetanus shot, antibiotics and an antibiotic cream.  In between these things was a lot of time where I supervised the student having difficulty and very little time where I worked with other kiddos.  I hate this type of day.  I feel terrible for the student who had the episode.  When a tantrum of this magnitude happens, you know there must be an underlying issue other than just not wanting to perform a task.  I feel terrible for the other students who did not get to follow any of their typical schedule or receive their typical daily instruction.  I feel terrible for my support staff that had to give up their breaks and lunches and instead had to run around finding ways to keep students who are supposed to be at teacher time busy with other activities.  I feel terrible for myself and my co-teacher for not being able to prevent the event and for feeling like we failed all the students in one day.

Anyway, as special education teachers, we all have these types of days.  In the end, the episode subsided and the student continued on with his day.  In the end, I typed up all the reports, doctored up all the injuries, and tried to salvage any instruction I could for the day.  In the end, I came home, had an adult beverage, a hot shower and cried.  At the end of the day, I am going to bed exhausted but knowing that tomorrow will be better.

Peace out. . .

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Price of Teaching Giveaway!

Check out Brianna's blog for her halfway to 100 giveaway!! Click on her link above and fill out the information required to enter her giveaway. You could when ten free items from her TPT store, now that's a great prize!!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Liebster Award!

I was nominated for the Liebster Award :) I feel soooo excited and honored.  This award is given to new bloggers with 200 followers or less (that's definitely me - thank you my 8 followers!!!). I was nominated by Rae at Mindful Rambles.  Go check her out, tons of great stuff!  
And the rules are:

1. Post 11 random things about yourself
2. Answer the questions the nominator set for you
3. Create 11 questions for your nominees.
4. Choose 11 other blogs with fewer than 200 followers to nominate and link them to your post.
5. Leave a comment on this post if you were nominated so I can learn more about you and see who you nominate

My 11 randoms:

1. I have 4 cats (Snack, Scout, Thomas, and Munchkin) and 2 dogs (Simon and BB).  
2. These animals almost caused my husband to dump me when we were dating!  (I had two more dogs at the time - I must admit, it was a bit of a zoo)
3. I grew up in Gray Georgia, which at the time was a 1 red light tiny town.  It is now a metropolis.
4. I started working with kids with disabilities when I was in 7th grade.  My mom made me volunteer at Special Olympics and I was hooked.
5. I have run 3 half marathons.  I LOVE to run and would run more, but I fractured my femur while training a year ago and am still in recovery.
6. My favorite animal is the Hippopotamus.
7. I am deathly afraid of moths and butterflies - they are just so darn unpredictable and could fly into my ear!!!
8. I collect folk art, especially metal fish.  I have multiple pieces by R.A. Miller and am always on the lookout for something cool.
9. I drive a Subaru Outback.  Just bought it a couple of months ago and I feel like I belong in a commercial.  It's that cool.
10. When I was 12 years old, my dad told me that if I wanted a car when I was 16, I had to help build one myself.  He and I rebuilt a 1937 Dodge Pickup Truck and I drove it all throughout highschool.  It still sits in their garage waiting for me to figure out how to get it to Texas.
11. My mom and dad are currently living at my house while my dad recovers from a stroke.  I am enjoying having them here way more than I should!

Now, for my nominations: (though I must admit, I'm pretty sure all of them have been nominated already!)

1. The Autism Tank
2. The Autism Helper
3. Breezy Special Ed
4. Chapel Hill Snippets (ok, she has 215 followers, but I still LOVE her)
5. Mrs. H's Resource Room
6. A Special Kind of Place
7. The Puzzling World of Autism
8. Resource Room Rules
9. A Special Teacher for Special Kids
10. Talk It Up
11. Special Smart Special Hearts

Make sure you jump over and check out these guys.  Each of them provides so many resources, tidbits, stories, and just plain good ideas!!!

Ok, here are the questions I was given to answer:

1. If you could have any super power, what would it be and why?
Hmmm, ability to transport.  I miss my friends/family in Georgia so much and would love to be able to get there and back quickly! 
2. If you weren't a teacher/educator/your current occupation, what would you be?  I wonder this all the time!  I'm not skilled to do ANYTHING else!  I think if possible, I'd love to work with the animals at a zoo 
3. You had to choose: sense of smell or sense of taste. Smell, definitely (as long as it doesn't affect my taste!)
4. What is your favorite genre of book?Trashy mystery whodunits!
5. What is your favorite genre of music?Folk 
6. If you could visit any place in the world, and money was no object, where would it be? Egypt!! (if it were safe as well)
7. What was your favorite subject in school? What was your least favorite? Favorite - Language Arts/Drama; Least favorite - Math
8. What is one way that you do to ensure a healthy lifestyle? Until I was injured, I ran on a daily basis.  Now, I try to drink water and eat healthy
9. How many hours of sleep do you get a night? at least 8, 10 if possible!  I need my sleep!
10. What is your favorite drink, alcoholic or not? Changes on a frequent basis.  I am addicted to Diet Cherry Coke, but I have quit drinking those!  I do love a good glass of wine.
11. Do you have any hidden talents? If so, what? Not sure I would call it a talent, but I can type out words with my toes (using only my big toes)

Ok, here are the questions for my nominees:

1.  What made you decide to work in the field of Special Education?
2.  What is your favorite animal and why?
3.  How do you like your eggs cooked?
4.  What is your favorite childhood memory?
5. What was your favorite subject in school?
6.  What is your favorite drink?
7.  What genre of book do you like most?
8.  If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
9.  If you were able to travel anywhere in the world, money and safety are guaranteed, where would it be?
10.  Where is the furthest you've traveled from home?
11.  Sweet or Salty?  

For all my nominees, copy and paste the above instructions, questions, and such to your blog. And don't forget to comment on my post when you are done, so I can check out some new interesting info about you :)

State Testing - STAAR-ALT (Texas alternative testing)

It's that time of year - Alternative state testing windows have opened!  If you are like me, this has consumed your life for the past couple of months.
I have now administered alternative tests in two states (Georgia and Texas).  Both have had their issues and both have had their perks.
In Texas, our assessment is called the STAAR-ALT.  The test includes a series of standardized tasks that you must perform with students and then evaluate their responses. Tasks come in 3 levels - Level 1 is for your very low functioning students.  It mostly requires experiences with test materials and simple responses to stimuli.  Level 2 is for your students who can make choices but require more extensive supports.  Level 3 is for higher functioning students who can generate their own responses and choose from an array of items.
Each task requires the teacher to make their own materials.  Some are simple, others require HOURS of work!  I have found that there are very limited places to find and share the materials that people make.

Here is a list of the locations I have found that do share materials and resources:
Boardmaker share has quite a few groups created to share STAAR alt materials. . . here are the ones I have joined:
Boardmaker Share Staar-Alt Administrators
Boardmaker Share Staar-Alt
Boardmaker Share Staar-Alt Admin

Region 14 ESC - this is a board that has "stickies" to some websites that provide activities you can perform to practice the STAAR concepts

STAAR-ALT Wikispaces - Has examples of filled out reporting documents.  No pre-made materials but does have ideas of the materials that other people have made

VI TechShare - NOT Staar-alt specific, but tons of links to places you can find accessible books, adapted materials, etc that you can use to create your own materials.

Tar Heel Reader - Again, Not staar-alt specific, but does have teacher and student created stories (can be printed in powerpoint or PDF) that you can use for informational texts, biographies, and other ELA tasks.

Chapel Hill Snippets - Not Staar-alt specific, but many adapted books you can print and use for informational texts, writing, and other tasks.

Sadly, this is it as far as I've found.   If you have any other sites (even for other state testing), please share!!!

I'm back - at least for a little while

So I kind of disappeared from the blogging world for a while.  Things have just been too crazy!  I don't know how those of you who post almost daily do it!  With IEP instruction, state testing, meetings, working after school and doing In Home Training with students, I just cannot find the time/energy to post!  I'm going to try hard to get back into the habit and make time for it.  I may go a little crazy this weekend and post bunches of stuff!!!

For my first post back, I want to share information about Donor's Choose.  This is a website/program that allows you to post a shopping list of classroom items you need and have donor's buy them for you!!!  I have now had three projects funded and I feel like I have hit the jackpot.  
It is so easy to use.  You just sign up for an account, create your personal classroom profile and then add the things you want.  Once you have done that, sit back and wait for your project to get funded and your materials to arrive!  
I have received three sets of books on CD for student use.  These cost over $800 and I never could have gotten them without the support of donors choose.  I also got all four sets of "School Specialty Interactive Reading Books". These books allow my students to interact with text in so many different ways.  

If these items do not seem of interest to you, there are tons of other items you can get for your classroom.  The sky is the limit.  My co-teacher purchased math and science kits for his classroom.  Our art teacher got sharpies, scrapbook paper, and notebooks.  

If you haven't checked into this yet, go do it!  It's an amazing resource and I can't wait to put up my next project!

Sampling of items I've received: