Monday, July 21, 2014

Setting Up the Resource Classroom: Small Group Area

Today's Setup: The Small Group Area

The Small Group Area may be one of the easiest places to get setup.  In my room this consists of a kidney shaped tables and chairs. 

Told you it was easy!

Okay, okay…I know what you are thinking!  It really isn’t that simple—well it sort of is—but I know you didn’t come here just to read get a table and chairs!  Honestly, yes the majority of my small group teaching is done at the kidney table.  Last year, I didn’t get the kidney table until the end of the year and I am so thankful to start this year out with one.  Most of last year, I used tables grouped in fours, but that took up so much room in my small space and I also didn’t like that I could be with all of my kids at once.  I felt like I spent a lot of time standing in front of them teaching instead of being “right in there with them.”  Hence the reason I love a kidney or U-shaped table.  I can be within arms reach of all of my kids at one time and feel like I am right in the middle of their learning (and well literally I am!) J  Many times at the small group area, I am teaching some sort of scripted intervention, leading a guided reading group or leading a math intervention group and for these reasons there are certain tools I like to have very near to me.

Here is a picture of the table.  Please keep in mind I just got back in my room today, so what you are seeing is a work in progress.  

The table is only one area of small group learning in my small space.  I also like to have another space used to small group instruction.  This gives my kids an opportunity for movement, allows for natural transition from one part of a lesson to another, and helps with engagement.  My second small group area centers around the pocket chart/stand.  This is where our vocabulary instruction takes place.  I haven't decided on whether or not to move this stand to another spot in the room yet.  I would like to have it near some carpet for some comfy seating, but the room size doesn't really allow for that at this point.  

Speaking of where things go, here's a tip! I like to use PowerPoint to come up with a model of my room and the furniture in my room.  I can manipulate and move the pieces around without actually lifting any furniture!  So perfect! :)

Blue: Permanent/Cannot be Moved
Gray:  Desks or shelves that can be moved

I hope you find something here that inspires you or you get a good idea!
Tomorrow I will be back with more classroom setup idea!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

2014 Classroom Setup: Setting Up The Resource Classroom (A Series)

This week is the week I move back into my classroom. If you have been following my blog very long, you know that I moved to a new school last year. It is a beautiful school, a brand new building, but it wasn’t complete at the beginning of last year. Our school was built in two phases. Each phase of the building has classroom (communities) for grades K-5. Phase one was completed last year and our school district went through a redistricting process to direct students to our building. Students and teachers filled up Phase 1 and throughout the course of the year Phase 2 was completed. The school district redistricted students again to fill up our school for the coming year. The end of our school year brought new excitement as we watched the new phase undergo the transformation from nothing to amazing! It also brought a lot of questions. Everyone wondered if they would be the one to move from Phase 1 to Phase 2. Recently, after hiring several new teachers, we found out who gets to move. Guess who is moving?! That’s right! This girl! I am excited about heading to the new phase. It is just like Phase 1, so my classroom is practically the same as the one I was in, but how many teachers can say that they have moved into a brand new classroom two years in a row? Before last year, I never had a classroom of my very own, so although I had a great time planning and decorating my previous room, I have a better idea of space planning and organization. (Or at least I think I do!)  Here is last year's classroom:

So, as this coming week goes I will be sharing with you how I am setting up my resource classroom. I will be focusing on five separate areas (perfect for Monday-Friday blog planning) ;)! Read this week to find out all about the 5 areas I think make a special education/resource room work!  I even made a new bloggy button, just for fun, and so you can Pin/Share and follow my process.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Special Ed Blog Hop! :)

I am linking up with Jamie from Tales of a Carolina Girl for her Special Education Blog Hop!  Head over to her blog to check out some great special education bloggers and welcome Jaime to the field of special ed.  I love finding other special ed. bloggers and creating a community to share ideas!

Kim :)

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

July Currently

Hello Bloggy Friends!

I figured there is no time better to get back into regular blogging than starting off July 1 with the new Currently from Farley at Oh Boy 4th Grade!

Listening:  I have a love/hate relationship with the local news!  I love to watch the news so I feel like I am in the know, but I hate to watch the news because it is always bad news.  I can't even watch it when the kids are in the room, because some of the things reported on are inappropriate for little ears.  I think this love/hate thing stems from my childhood. :)  My dad had to watch the news every night...I mean every episode of the news...5:00 Local News, World News at 5:30, 6:00 Local News, and 10:00 Local News.  It's a habit, I guess, that can't be broken.  Plus...I only really get to watch the news in the summer...I don't have time for it during the school year.  :)  I digress...

Loving:  I love summer!  I love the pool, vacations, hanging out with my kids, exercising, blogging and creating on my schedule.  It is a wonderful time of year!!  BTW...speaking of creating...I have bundled all of my special education related products together in my TPT store.  ($15 value for $10!!!)  

Thinking: I should be cleaning or working on something.  It's hard to sit still and relax!  Do you have that problem?  The kids have their "creations" all over the place and there are piles of laundry to fold and put away, but here I am blogging to you! :)  Blogging is work...right? :)

Wanting:  Did you know that McDonald's ice coffees are only $1 right now?  I love the iced caramel mocha!  I want one so bad...but I know better!  I'm trying hard to resist temptation.  I'll have to wait until "cheat day!"

Needing:  Lunch: I'm hungry!  Lunchtime right after this post!

4th of July Plans:  We don't really go all out for the 4th.  We will probably grill some burgers, watch some fireworks, and maybe make these adorable cookies I found here:

Easy American Flag Cookies from Our Best Bitess
Source: Our Best Bites

Wednesday, June 18, 2014


It's summer!  Yay!

I just want you to know that I am still alive. :)  Life, school, paperwork, etc, etc, had taken over, but now school is out, my vacation is over, and my plan is to get back to regular blogging.  (I hope!)

Thanks for continuing to read my little blog even while I was on hiatus.  I am excited to share things I have learned over the past few months and to share with you some new ideas for next school year! :)

For now is good to "see" you again!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

What They Have Taught Me

I was asked my to share about how I got my start in special education and how I decided that I wanted to teach students with special needs, specifically those with autism.

Brought to you by

I did not come from a line of teachers (I’m the only teacher in my immediate family), I did not have any family members with disabilities when I was deciding what I wanted to be, but I did have a group of kids that changed my image of students with special needs.   When I was a senior in high school, my mom took a job as paraprofessional in the self-contained special education classroom at my high school.  During that time, I rode with my mom to school every day.  Some mornings I would stay in the classroom as the students came in or I would go in at the end of school.  The kids in that class made an impact on my heart.  They were so loving and loved having me around to help them.  Their teacher was always more than willing to show me strategies that worked with kids and would let me play educational games with some of them, to cook with them, and to just have a conversation. It was then I knew that there had been a special calling put on my life to help students with disabilities.  I wanted badly for those students to learn and love.  I wanted to advocate for them and teach them everything from academics to social skills.  I knew when I chose my major the next year in college that special education was what I was meant to do. 
Over the years, students with special needs have taught me so much! Here are the 3 things that I learned that cannot be learned in a college classroom.
1.  Each student has a unique story.  I have never met two students that are alike, even if they are diagnosed with the same disabilities.  There are so many factors that make each child special. 

2.  Kids just want to be heard.  I’ve heard over and over that behavior is communication.  I’ve learned through trials and celebrations that each child has a different way to communicate.  Some kids can use their words, others signs and gestures, and still others behavior (sometimes undesirable behaviors).  This is why a relationship with my kiddos has been so important to me over the years.  If I want a student to communicate in whatever way works for them, then I need to build the relationship of trust first so that they will communicate wants and needs in a way that is effective and appropriate.

3.  All emotions with a special needs student are strong, but especially love.  I love my kids…that is why I do my job.  When I get bogged down in meetings, paperwork, behavior plans, IEPS, I have to regroup and remember the love.  I think it is incredibly important to show each student love.  I make it a point to get to know each student as an individual.  I want to know their strengths, their weaknesses, what their hobbies are, about their families, what makes them tick, what makes them cry, and what makes them smile.  At the end of a school year, what I what to do the most is that I have touched  a kid’s heart, even more so than reading, math and writing scores!

I’m still learning everyday and appreciating each child that I have the privilege to teach and hopefully leave a lasting and positive impression on their life.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Tech on Tuesday: Autism Apps

In honor of Autism Awareness Month I want to share with you some of my favorite apps that I use for kids with autism.  This is a list of some of my favorites :)  

Graphics by 3AM Teacher

Social Skills:
iModeling App-a favorite to use for video modeling!

Too Noisy-This app tracks noise and gives visual cues showing when it is too noisy in the room.  Sensitivity can be set depending on the student.
Brain Works App-Great for sensory breaks!

AAC & Communication


Touch Autism has great apps that include social narratives, timers, and assessments.

And for fun :)  These are a couple of my favorite special education/autism TPT stores that I've purchased so many great resources from!

Do you have favorite apps that you use with students with special needs and autism?  I would love to hear about your favorites!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

April Currently

So I lied yesterday!  I feel compelled to blog April's Currently before I leave for the mountains with the family.  Everyone here is still asleep, so I was just having a little quiet time when I saw the new Currently by Farley being posted on some of my favorite blogs! A girl can't miss this! :)

Listening:  I love days when I get to watch the Today Show.  During the school year, I rarely get to see the Today Show unless it is a snow day.  Well, thankfully there is no snow on the ground anymore and it is Spring Break!  This has been a long awaited spring here in the Bluegrass!  

Loving:  Two words:  Spring Break!  No explanation needed here!

Thinking:  Sticking with the Spring Break theme...we are headed to the Smokies!  I can't wait to spend time with the husband, kids, and no agenda!

Wanting:  I am craving some Starbucks this morning!!

Needing:  I need to pack :)  Nothing like waiting until the day of, right?

Hours and Days:  Our school day is from 7:40-2:55.  It usually is only until 2:35, but starting on March 24 we have added 20 minutes to the day to help make up the 19 snow days we missed this year!!  We will get out of school on June 6!  

Have a happy April!!! :)

Monday, March 31, 2014

Spring Break!

I'll be taking a little break from blogging this week!  It's time to enjoy Spring Break with my family! :)

Friday, March 28, 2014

Five for Friday: March 28

This is it!  The last day and Spring Break is here!  I am so excited!!  This has been a crazy, busy, blessed week!

Here's my 5 for this Friday!

1.  Sometimes just a little email from a parent can really make your week.  I received a sweet email from a parent this week just to say thanks! It honestly made me cry!

2.  My sweet girl wore a University of Louisville shirt for me today.  If you are following the NCAA tournament you know that UK versus U of L tonight and this is a huge in state battle!  This is a hard game for me to choose between.  We live very close to Lexington, but I went to school at U of L!  House divided!  My kids at school know my love for UofL and this sweetie wore her shirt to support my team today!  Love her!  We had to take a selfie! :)

 3.  Kasey's last day! :(  Kasey has been my student teacher since January and her last day was Wednesday.  I miss her like crazy!! She is an amazing teacher and is going to be wonderful teaching LBD!

3.  Another of my sweeties made me a birthday card. :)  It's not my birthday! :)  Made my heart skip a beat, nonetheless!

4.  I've been busy in preparation for Autism Awareness Month in April.  Here is a little screenshot of the work in progress:
A kid friendly Autism Awareness Brochure :)  If you want a copy, head over to my TPT store.

5.  And finally, it's Spring Break!  It is sooooo time for some rest and relaxation!  We're headed to the Smokies this coming week.  The Smoky Mountains are one of my favorite places to visit!  Can't wait to eat at the Old Mill and Apple Barn, do some shopping at the outlets, and enjoy the beauty of the mountains.  I'm praying for warmer weather so we can be out and exploring!

Happy Spring Friends!!!