Sunday, June 28, 2015

Special Ed. Summer Blog Hop: Week 1 Scheduling

I am honored to be a part of the Special Ed. Summer Blog Hop hosted by KinderSpedAdventures.  My blogging buddies and I will be sharing posts with all of you wonderful readers for the next five weeks.  You can find the schedule below:

This week's post is all about SCHEDULING!

 Ok...I've got to come out right here and tell you that scheduling is my nemesis...and it becomes even more difficult when you are a Type B kind of person!  I am Kim Hinton and I do not love making schedules!  Whew!  Now with that off my chest, I can get on with it! :)

No matter how hard it is for me to make a schedule, it must get accomplished.  So, to begin making my schedule and my paraprofessional's schedule, I gather together the essentials:
1.  School Master Schedule (You gotta know when specials, lunch, recess, and all of the academics are taught)
2.  Grade Level Schedules
3.  Student IEPs to ensure all minutes are met

First, I begin making my schedule by checking the IEP minutes for all of my students.  I write down the student's name, resource minutes and subject for resource, coteaching minutes and subject for coteaching.

Next, I ensure that I am able to get in the regular ed classroom for coteaching during (at least part of) reading and math.  *Note: I teach special education for 3 grade levels.  Thankfully, my colleagues have been good about staggering start times of math and reading so that I can get to each grade level. Be a team player, people, it will make your life easier!!*  In my school district, it is considered best practice that if a student has resource  (reading, for example) that they also receive coteaching minutes in the regular classroom.  Makes sense, right?  How can we expect a student that needs additional support (resource support) in an academic area to be able to "survive" in the classroom without supports?  Also, in my district, the students must have access to the general curriculum.  The students must attend general ed. reading/math/writing and resource has to be at a different time and "extra" instruction on top of the general instruction.

Then, I begin fitting my schedule around the master schedule and teacher's daily schedules.  This is the hardest part!  It's like a 1000 piece puzzle and at times I am trying to "bang" one piece of the puzzle into the next, but at the end it all just fits so perfectly.  (Well, until someone moves in and I have to redo the whole darn thing!)

Here is what my schedule looks like (with student names removed of course):

I like to have the time, place/teacher, and student's needs listed on my schedule. On my paraprofessional's schedule I like to include the same 3 columns in addition to a final column outlining the task I expect the to be completed during this time.  I keep this very general so that the schedule can be used throughout the year and not changed every week.

This is an example of my paraprofessional's schedule from last year:

Finally, everyone's schedules are complete and ready to put into use.  Flexibility is the key word, however, because there is always going to be something that needs to be tweaked a little or changed.

Next week, I will be back with this Summer Sped Blog Hop with all you need to know about Classroom Setup!

Hop on over to Ms. P's Specialties for some more advice about scheduling!

Mrs. P's Specialties

Monday, June 22, 2015

TPT Seller Challenge: Week 2 Dare to Dream

This week for the #tptsellerchallenge the instructions are to Dare to Dream!  Although I am not one of the big time sellers on TPT I have seen my profit grow over the last year and that definitely excites me.  I have also connected with a great group of special education bloggers/sellers and they inspire me to be better and in turn create better products to share with all of you.  When I was thinking of my dream and how they are related to TPT, I can say that TPT (and blogging) have helped my dreams come true!  Here are some of the dreams that I am still making happen (or would like to see happen):

1. Vacation:  The profit from TPT has allowed me to pay for some great vacations including a fun Bahama cruise with some of my girlfriends!  I am thankful for that and for the little bit extra money it gives me to take my family on vacations.  I would love to treat my family to a vacation, completely paid for by TPT!  

2.  Pay Off Debt:   My husband and I are proud graduates of Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace, but we still have some debt that we would like to get rid of, including a car and my hub's student loans.  

3.  Inspire Others:  One of my favorite parts of blogging and selling is the reach that I have to other teachers, especially special ed teachers.  It truly makes me feel so special that a teacher all of the way across the country wants my advice on reading or math or behavior.  The emails I receive from others confirms to me that blogging and selling on TPT is the right thing to do.  I know I have blogged before about the opportunities blogging has awarded me.  As long as I can continue to inspire others, I will continue creating and dreaming big. 

4.  Consult:  One of my biggest dreams, professionally, is to become a special education consult.  I have been lucky enough to do this on a small scale within my school district by presenting PD, being on our autism cadre, and assisting others with evaluations.  I am thankful that my products are able to give other special education teachers out there a way to reach their students or organize their special ed forms.  Maybe one day, when TPT can truly supplement my salary, I can become a full time consultant.  That is my BIG dream!!! :)

Now it's your turn!   What are your dreams?  What do you want to make happen through TPT?  


Giveaway: Gumdrop Cases Donating 10,000 Tablet Cases to Special Needs Classrooms

Hello, friends! Gumdrop Cases is donating 10,000 of their DropTech cases to special needs classrooms across America. The program provides special needs classrooms with up to 20 free protective cases for their tablets - and up to 60 cases per school district.

Gumdrop will be giving away all kinds of cases - iPad, Kindle Fire, Dell Venue, Nexus and more. The deadline for Gumdrop Gives Back is July 31st, 2015, so enter as soon as you can!
Follow this link to enter the giveaway and learn more: Good luck!

Friday, June 19, 2015

TPT Seller Challenge Week 1: Makeover Madness

I am excited to be a part of the TPT Seller Challenge this summer.  I chose to revamp my Role Play Scripts and they got a makeover from top to bottom!  The scripts were one of the very first items I posted on TPT and it is also one of the most downloaded items.  The comments for the product are always positive and about needing and looking for scripts for social skill groups.  I love the makeover for this product and I already have scripts for other social skills in the works!  

Check out these Role Play Scripts for Conflict Resolution and Anger Management here!  This item will be on sale throughout the weekend! :)

Don't forget to head over to Third in Hollywood, Sparkling in Second, Peppy, Zesty Teacherista or Teach, Create, Motivate to find all sorts of wonderful (makeovers) resources!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Summer 2015...Reflecting and Rejuvenating

It's finally here!!  Summer 2015 is here!!  The end of the school year is always a bit emotional for me and this year is no different.  I miss my school kids, my friends, and having a schedule.  I had big blogging plans this school year, but my real job took precedent and blogging often got put on the back burner!  Good news though...I "plan" to share some of the fun I had this school year with you this summer.

This summer I'll be reflecting on some great strategies and teaching practices I've used.  I'll also get rejuvenated with my loose summer schedule and get prepared for next school year!

I can't wait to share with you all what this summer holds!!!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Happy Memorial Day!

Happy Memorial Day!

Please take time today to remember those we have loved and lost over the years.  

Image result for memorial day images

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Special Education Featured Teacher {April}

I would like to welcome Caitlin from Learning Ahoy! as my Special Education Featured Teacher for the month of April!  I know you are going to love her post about adapted books and how you can make your own.  She also is sharing something special with us all!  Thanks, Caitlin!!

Hello everyone!  My name is Caitlin and I am the author of the blog Learning Ahoy!!  I have been teaching special education for 10 years and have taught kiddos ages 2 – 12.   I have been married to my husband for almost 8 years and I am mom to 3 little boys (although they are going really fast).   My passion is the students who need the most help.  The ones who do not have a traditional communication system, who have medical needs, who may need help learning to navigate in their wheel chair and everything else that comes naturally to so many. 

In trying to help my students learn (and be engaged in what they are learning) I have found that the more hands on I make something, the better they grasp it.  For this reason, I try to make books as interactive as possible.   I do this in a number of ways. One way is,  I adapt book is by using board books (more durable) and making pictures (I usually use boardmaker) to go along with them.   I look for board books when I am at garage sales and thrift stores that was I can get them for 25¢ each (sometimes even free when I mention what I am using them for).  Once I have a stack of a few books, I sit down and make all of the pictures at once.  I go through the book and find words or pictures that I can use to help build vocabulary and keep my students engaged.  I print the pictures out and laminate using 5mil film (again, durability).  I then cut them out and use Velcro to attach them to each page.  When we read the book, I like to start by putting all of the picture on a vellum board I made and talking about what each picture is.  We then read the book and add the pictures when needed.  The Velcro on the pages are my cues that we need to add something.   This has worked great with my students this year!  They have more involved when we do read alouds and are demonstrating higher rates of comprehension.

 Another way is that I often write my own interactive books or use ones that have been written by other special education teachers.  Some examples of these are Shamrock, Shamrock, What are you hiding? (A freebie in my TpT store!) and Where is the Turkey? .  Just last weekend I wrote a book called Plants Need because I could not find anything simple enough (and still age appropriate) for my students .  I used it this week with my class and it was a hit.  My students blew me away with how they retained the information throughout the week.

Well, if you made it this far, I have a surprise for you!  I have a new interactive book that I am posting just for this guest post. And guess what?!? It is free until Saturday!  It is called “Where is themonkey?”.  I have read it with my students multiple times and the cute monkey is a huge hit.  You can get it by going to this link

I hope this post helped you see how to make your students more engaged in reading and learning.  I would love if you would hop on board the Learning Ahoy ship by following me on Facebook, Pinterest, TpT (lots of free stuff) and subscribing to email posts.  You can read more about the happenings in my classroom by sailing over to Learning Ahoy!!

Also I just wanted to thank Kim for having me as a guest blogger.  I love sharing and collaborating with other special education teachers.

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Thursday, March 5, 2015

Special Education Featured Teacher {March 2015}

I am excited to start my Special Education Featured Teacher series with one of my favorite special ed teacher/bloggers.  I hope you enjoy this amazing post from Gabrielle Dixon from Teaching Special Thinkers. 

Each month a new Special Education Teacher/Blogger will be featured on my blog on the first Thursday of each month!  Click on the Featured Teacher tab above for more information!  

Hi everyone! Gabrielle here from Teaching Special Thinkers! Today I want to share with you about my “color-coding” classroom organizational system. Although it sounds silly, assigning my students a color at the beginning of the school year is my go-to for organization. It has saved my sanity. With 3 instructional assistants, a lead teacher, and a student teacher, keeping data and student materials organized and easy to access can be quite a challenge in a busy classroom! 

With 8 students, I basically use the colors of the rainbow: red, pink, orange, yellow, light blue, dark blue, and green. I bought packs of colored paper at Office Max 2 years ago and I am STILL using the same packs – quite the bargain! Since I do not put the students' names on anything and just use their colors, I can re-use EVERYTHING each year. Oh yea, and if I have a student move and get a new student, no need to fret, they just move right in the "vacant" color. It's like magic to a busy teacher!!

Here are a few different ways I use the color-coded system in my classroom:

Adult Schedules

When I created our master zone schedule, the student colors come in handy. In our “adult” schedule,  I use time intervals and student colors to show adults where they need to be throughout the day and WHO they are working with.

In our classroom, each student has a schedule for the day. At the beginning of the year, all of my students usually start on a picture schedule or words with pictures that are Velcroed onto a large strip in their cubbies. Their cubby, and schedule cards are both in their “color” so that it’s super easy for them to locate their schedule at the beginning of the year, AND it’s a piece of cake for the adults to reorganize all the schedule cards at the end of the day when we are redoing schedules for the next day.


As a special educator, DATA has become my middle name. In order to keep up with all the data collected in our classroom, I created data binders and data clipboards for each student in our classroom. The clipboards are hung in a central location in our classroom so when an adult knows they are working with a certain student, they can quickly grab their clipboard to take data. I keep all the data we collect throughout the year in the data binders, which are kept on the top of the student’s cubbies.

Station Materials

In stations where each student has specific items they are working on, such as our language station, I use the color-coding system as well. In the picture before, the boxes are coded with the student’s colors, along with the binders that we use to collect data on discrete trial training and fluency of mastered skills.

I prepare student reading and math binders at the beginning of the year with all the “copied” workbook materials we use. For example, in a student’s reading binder, I have tabs for writing, Word’s Their Way, phonics, handwriting, etc. Of course, the student’s binders are covered with their color paper and either “reading” or “math” for easy access for the adults and the students.

A Little Bit About Me:

I am currently an autism classroom teacher of students in grades kindergarten through 2nd grade. My passion for providing children with Autism high quality instruction as well as a safe and nurturing learning environment that fosters independence and growth has granted me the opportunity to develop my blog where I strive to empower others who support individuals with Autism and developmental disabilities. Through a desire to engage each and every learner in my own classroom, my passion for creating interactive and appropriately leveled resources has grown and developed over the past three years. My goal, through my profession as a teacher and as a member of the online teacher blogger community, is to advocate awareness and acceptance of individuals with Autism, as well as help others who work with these individuals meet their maximum potential in and out of the classroom. 

I am also a dog momma to a wonderful rescue puppy, Koda, wife to my wonderful husband of almost 3 years, AND I am a Jamberry consultant! Basically, I like to stay busy, busy!! :)

I am so excited to be featured on Kim's blog for March! Thanks so much for letting me "take over" for the day, Kim!! You're the best! <3

To contact me, you can e-mail me here!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Dr. Seuss Inspired IEP Poem :)

Just a little fun poem that I posted a long time ago and dressed up by one of my favorite blogging buddies, Angelia from Extra Special Teaching!  In honor of the Dr. Seuss' birthday...this is what happens when the famous Dr. and Special Education merge! :)

Sunday, March 1, 2015

March Currently

Linking up tonight with Farley!  Goodbye cold, snowy winter!!  Hello Spring!!!

Listening:  My kids love the Food Network.  They would rather watch cooking shows over cartoons any day.  This mama is OK with that!! We have Guy's Grocery Games, Cupcake Wars and Chopped DVRed weekly!  

Loving:  I love Sundays!  I love our church and getting filled up for the week!  Today's sermon was about being happy in your life (marriage, single life, work, health, etc, etc).  It was a great reminder to be happy and present in this season of life.  

Thinking:  I have something exciting in the works.  Actually...a couple somethings!  I can't wait to share with you all, but not quite yet!

Wanting:  Starbucks!  I think I say this every month, but I love, love skinny vanilla lattes!

Needing:  Laundry!  Boooooo!! Why are those laundry piles non-stop?  

Spring Break Plans:  We are contemplating doing an in-state stay-cation.  Kentucky has some awesome places to visit and I can't wait for my kids to see the beautiful nature of the Bluegrass!

Happy March!!!