Sunday, September 16, 2012

Dog-gone Lazy Sunday Afternoon

We have a new addition to our family!  He is the most precious thing you have ever seen...really!!!

Let the cuteness commence..............................

Skipper...shortened to Skippy!  We picked him up at the Humane Society!  He is 3 years old and a Papillon Mix.  

My three babies!!  He fits right in.
Time for a Sunday nap!
We are so happy to have little Skippy living with us!  He is a great dog.  Skippy is very obedient and friendly.  He is crate trained and house trained.  He follows us where ever we go and rarely ever barks.  He does let out little growls to let you know that he is happy.  Such a sweetheart!!!

Now...on to some school-y stuff.

Last week I spent a majority of my week in professional development/training.  On Tuesday, I went to the Autism Cadre.  Today I thought I would share with you about the Cadre and what we are hoping to accomplish.

The cadre has been together now for four years and this is my third year as a member.  I joined the cadre when I moved to my new school district.  The grant and initiative that pays for the cadre to be a together is (in part) through the University of Louisville and the Kentucky Autism Training Center.  We have been studying various modules and strategies for educating students diagnosed with ASD over the past few years.  Some of the modules we have studied include: Discreet Trial Training, Pivotal Response Training, Social Skills Groups, Sensory Differences, Time Delay and many more.

Our district's goal is to educate the community about autism and help make correct diagnosis of autism.  We have several students in our building diagnosed with autism and we feel like it is important to educate them in the best way possible as well as educating the professionals and parents involved in the student's education and care.  

If you would like to learn more about the modules go here.  There are videos and handouts for 38 different modules.  You will have to register within the website to have access to all of modules.

If you work with students with autism or you are a caretaker or parent of someone with autism, then this is a must see website!


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Someone has an iPad :D

Tonight's blog post is thanks in part to a special special Ed director!! Somebody gave me a present today!;). I have a new iPad!!!!!!!

I am so excited!  I have been downloading free apps all evening.

Some of my faces so far are:

Kiddie Countdown-this is a great visual timer!
All of the Collins Big Cats books. They are free and will read to you. The best part, though, is the story creator.  You use the scenes from the books and the characters to make your own stories.
Math vs Zombies- Fun, fast paced addition, subtraction, and multiplication app. You must solve the equations before the zombies attack!  Kid tested and approved!!
The Opposites-fun game where you must match opposites before the screen fills up.
Sight Words from 22learn-Great little games to help with sight word recognition.

I could spend all night on here, for real!!!

What are your favorite apps??  Share below in the comments!!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Get 'Er Done! :)

It's a rainy Saturday morning here in the Bluegrass.  I think that means it is a perfect morning to start the dishwasher and laundry, sit on my couch while they hum in the background, and catch up on some blog reading!  Perfect way to begin a weekend!  Don't ya think?!?!

Here are some great ideas I found while browsing the WWW.  I (of course) pinned these on my Pinterest boards, but sometimes I pin some really great ideas and then forget about them or I do something else and never get around to the great idea I had before.  Here's to putting the great ideas "out there" and maybe I'll get one completed!  I am thinking about printing out some of my pins, putting them in a binder, and checking them off as I complete them.  A little Pinterest manual/to do list, if you will!

Please click on each picture to take you to the original source!  The following are my top 3 pins to accomplish THIS weekend! (I'm being a realist here, start small...3 is doable).

1.  Sight Word Practice Box-It's like a personal Daily 5 box for each kiddo!  I even have the perfect boxes for this at school.  In fact, I have been packing one of those perfect boxes around in the back of my car for about 2 weeks (when I pinned this) thinking I would work on it that night.  Yeah, right!  :)
Teacher Mama: Sight Word Practice Box

2.  I thought this would be so fun and creative to do as a writing entry.  My kids are not avid writers, in fact meltdowns often occur when it is time to write.  This would keep the writing to a minimum, have a purpose, an audience, and be so fun!  I can't wait to try it!
Have kids tell a short story this way.  Tell them how many pictures they can have (min/max) and let them tell a story. - I love this idea so much!!! We all know how much kids like taking pictures of themselves :D

3.  Telling time folder.  Telling time is almost always a benchmark on my IEPs.  I have everything to make these darling where did I place that motivation?! :)

Telling time activity- so smart!

Here's to getting things accomplished!!! 

What about you?  Do you pin things you never complete?  How do you go about getting all of your great ideas accomplished?

Let me know! This girl needs some tips! ;)


Friday, September 7, 2012

Welcome to my Classroom!

It's been a looooooooooooooooooooong time coming and you will only see pieces of the whole thing, but here are some new pictures of my classroom!!

My storage drawers next to my small group table. The white drawers hold all of my most commonly use math manipulatives and the black drawers hold supplies such as dry erase boards, rulers, scissors, paper, etc.

Sensory Break/Cool Down Area  My fellow sped teacher and roommate found that chair at a yard sale for $1!!!!!! 

Desk island!  You are looking at my desk and my roommates across from me.

This is where the magic happens!

I think this is self-explanatory! :)

This bulletin board is part of my classroom management system.  Inside the pockets (that I made with scrapbook paper & laminated---you can find the template here) are strips of five frames.  When a student clips up during my class (see below) the student earns a stamp.  When the five frame is full the student earns a small prize.  This little technique is two fold----one-classroom management and two-math.  I question my students about the five frame every time I put a new stamp on their frame.  They usually are telling me how many more they need to get to five before I even have a chance to ask!

Here is my behavior clip chart.  Learn more about it here where I explained how and why I use it.

The room is much larger than what is showing in these pictures.  Remember, I share this room with a lot of people! ;)  However, not all of the areas are ready for a 'close-up.'  Next time I will show you pictures of the library and reading areas! 

Hope you enjoyed this 'mini-tour'!!!!!

PS---You can also find all of my virtual/dream classroom ideas @ my Resource Room Pinterest Board!


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Letter/Number Reversal Activity! Update

I have a student that has major difficulties with letter and number reversals.  I am talking MAJOR here!  The student sees the mirror image of most numbers and consistently with the numerals in the teens and those mirror images (21, 31, 41, etc).  She has also difficulty with the most common letter reversals of b, d, p, and q.

I sought advice from a math interventionist to see if she had an prior experience with this level of difficulty with number reversals.  She had not, but she did lead me to Good Sensory Learning by Dr. Erica Warren.  The books Reversing Reversals and Reversing Reversals 2 have helped to address the issues my students have with reversing letters, numbers, and text.  I have recommended this book to my fellow special ed. teachers and occupational therapists, because I have seen the success with it.  Links are connected to the pictures below to help you find these amazingly helpful books.

The books offer activities that help a child visually process what they are seeing on paper and allows their brain to practice the cognitive skills they need to learn to read.  

My experience with using the activities in this book has led to my students having fewer b/d reversals and their tracking of text has improved.  Students I use these activities with are tracking from left to right to read.  They use these skills when they come to words they do not know to break down the word from left to right, instead of starting at the last sound (which is common for a few of my friends) and segmenting the phonemes to read the word correctly.


I have used the books several times now, but at the time of this lesson, I needed something to work for today.  My student had expressed to me that she always sees the one first in the numbers I mentioned above (12, 21, 17, 71, and so on).  My idea (I'm sure this is not original, but it did work on the fly :) ) was to highlight the one in the number so she can see the placement of it compared to the other digit.  To my delight...this worked!!!

On numeral cards, I had my student highlight (with highlighter tape) the ones in the numerals.  The student then read the number aloud to me.  She read the numbers correctly 100% of the time this time (as compared to 50% the first time-without tape).  Secondly, I spread the cards out across the table and gave her a sticky frog.  This is where the fun starts!!!  I would call a number and she would fling the sticky frog and aim for the card I was calling out.  We had a lot of fun and most importantly, out of the 10 trials, she correctly identified 80% of the numbers.  She consistently had difficulty with 18 and 81.  I call this success!!! Not tooting my own horn here (well, maybe a little),  but I LOVE when something so simple works!  Check out our pics below!

Highlighting the number one!

And again...

Time for sticky frog action!

So fun!

 What do you do to help this issue???  I would love to hear your ideas.


Monday, September 3, 2012

Open House Week~Meet the Teacher Monday

Teaching Blog Addict is hosting an Open House this week!   I have already started reading some of my favorite bloggers Open House posts.  I love getting to know the person behind the blog!

So, yes, this will make the second post today, but it is well worth it! :)

Open House Week
Monday's task is to Meet the Teacher!
My name is Kim.  I am a special education teacher from Kentucky and this will be my eighth year teaching.  I have 10 students on my caseload this year in grades 3-5.  The students I teach this year (and in the past) have various disabilities, including Specific Learning Disabilities, Autism, Mild Mental Disabilities, Deaf/Blind, Physical Disabilities, Other Health Impaired (ADD/ADHD), and Emotional Behavior Disorders.  I teach pretty much every type of child that walks through our doors!  I love the challenge of special education (most days...I mean let's be real here...some days suck).  However, I do love finding the "just right" strategy or teaching method to help my students be successful.  Teaching students with so many different abilities makes my exciting and definitely NOT boring!!  
Some of my teaching occurs in the regular education classroom and I do some pull-out/resource throughout the day.  This year my schedule is CrAzY!!!  I am always on the go!!  I am responsible for collaborating with my regular education colleagues to modify and adapt their plans to meet the needs of my students.  If you walked into one of our classes you would see us doing a variety of collaborative models.  Our hope is for an on-looker to not be able to pick out the "special kids."  We treat everyone with fairness and respect.  You know...all kids are really special anyway and each lesson planned could be tweaked and modified 30 different ways for each student in a classroom.  
As far as resource classes go, I teach small groups in my room for reading, math, and writing.  I focus on their IEP goals and use research based programs to help them meet their goals.  Some grade levels I can mix together (when the master schedule allows), but other times I will only have one grade level at a time.  I also teach social skills groups.  This year I am doing more of a check-in/check-out system with my students identified as EBD, but in the past I have had 30 minute social skills instruction.  I implemented these groups when I have students with ASD or EBD students that need extra support with behavior and social skills.  
I hope this gives you a little more insight into the day in the life!  I look forward to sharing more with you this week!!



Happy Labor Day, friends!!  Today, I am linking up with Oh' Boy 4th Grade for her September Currently!

Listening-We have a lot of laundry to catch up on today!  I have been putting if off all weekend, because I knew there was this extra day and it was going to be a perfect day to do nothing!

Loving-Labor Day!  Hello, four day week!!

Thinking-Maybe you are catching on that I am a bit of a procrastinator :), but again, I thought knew the rain was on its way and we wouldn't be able to be out doing planning also waited until today.

Wanting-A wee bit more procrastinating!! We have hit the unpacking plateau around here.  Many of the boxes that are still not empty are full of things we don't use daily, so there they sit all taped up and waiting for the turn to be put away.  Any volunteers on helping out with those?!?!

Needing-Starbucks!  Need I say more??

Favorite things-There is nothing better to me than a clean house (and it is besides the boxes that are unpacked and out of view), a rainy day, coffee, and reading.  So peaceful!! :)  Awwww!!!


Sunday, September 2, 2012

A Good Week :)

Wow!  I have missed blogging!!  An unexpected outage from our internet provider left me unable to blog for the past couple of days.  I didn't realized just how addicted I had become and I couldn't wait to get back on here to share with you some wonderful happenings from this week.

Today, I was reflecting on my week and realized I had some very big AHA moments.  If someone had told me when I began my degree for special education how much these children would have an impact on my life I probably would have just thought, "Okay.  I'm sure that is what you tell all teachers."  However, I can not begin to explain what my students mean to me.  Some days are frustrating and some are joyous, but in the end I have realized that it all comes down to the relationship you have with the little people you are teaching.  Just this week, three cases of relationship building, compassion, and care have really stuck out to me.  Continue heart:

1.  One of my students filled out his time capsule that all of the fourth graders complete in guidance and he put me as his favorite adult at school.  So sweet (and unexpected).  He happens to be a kiddo I love dearly, but he has some major behavioral problems and I am usually the one that gets to handle him in the throws of a meltdown.  I am so glad that we have a relationship that he can still call me his favorite even when I am sure there are times I am not the favorite!

2.  We had a fire drill this week which resulted in a mini therapy session.  I have two students with physical disabilities.  One student is a third grader and the other is in fifth grade.  Well, I am often tipped off about fire drills, so I can assist my students that have extra special needs down the steps and outside.  A few minutes before the fire alarm rang, I went to pick up these two kiddos and as we were walking outside, one of them started asking the other about her physical disabilities.  (These two are typically never together, so they don't know much about each other.)  So when the one kiddo struck up the conversation, I was honestly a little nervous.  To my astonishment and delight, kiddo two started telling kiddo one about her disability and how it came to be.  She was extremely open and honest and I think it gave kiddo one a different outlook on his own abilities!  Kiddo two has more obvious physical disabilities and kiddo two does not, but he listened to her and emphasized with her.  Kiddo one then shared his own struggles and things he has to go through to be able to be at school.  Kiddo two summed it all up rather nicely, "I am just like everyone else and I can do what everyone else does, but I just do some stuff a little different."  YES, YOU CAN GIRLIE!!!  Really makes you reconsider what is important in school and life when you are face to face with two young, brave people!  These kids are my heroes!

3.  I have one student with some challenging behaviors.  This week he was upset about something.  (I am trying to be very vague here to protect the innocent).  He told me that someone had hurt his feelings and he was mad about what this person had done.  I asked him why he didn't just tell the other person that his feelings were hurt.  He has told me (using the words) "You hurt my feelings." that I have upset him in some way and I wondered why he couldn't tell someone else the same thing.  He just simply said, "Because it's you."  Wow!  These kids have a way of pulling on my heart strings!  We went on to talk about how I have known him for a couple of years now and he said that he feels okay with telling me that I hurt his feelings, because he knows I would tell him the same thing and I wouldn't get mad at him for being honest with me.  And...on Friday he earned all of his points on his behavior chart!  I was so proud and he was too!

If tallying up a great week means realizing how much you mean to someone then I guess this week I went 3 for 3!  

Special education is not an easy job and every week is definitely not like this one, but it sure helps to have weeks when you realize that you DO make a difference.  Writing this blog post is two fold for sure---1.  I want to encourage all my fellow special educators that you are called to your position and the kids you work with love you and need you.  Build a relationship with them.
2.  And....when I am having a "not so hot week" I want to be able to look back this and get a gentle reminder, that I too was called to be where I am today, and make the very best of it, because there ARE kids out there that need me!

And one last thing...some very special people in my life used to say this little quote to me all of the time.  It was kind of a motto in the school I was in previously:
Do bloom where you are planted.  There is a time and purpose for you to be there.  Take the time to look for it and experience all that God has for you there!!!