Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sunday Share

Sundays are typically the day that I get to sit around after church, listen to the radio or the television and prepare for the week to come at school.  This Sunday is no different, however, I was thinking about my readers this morning and some of the posts have written and it occurred to me that many of us don't really know the person behind these blogs.  Last week, I posted about my family and what we had spent time doing over the holidays and I as was thinking about what to write about today I thought I would share some more of my personal life with you guys.  I think it is important to create relationships with people and it doesn't matter that some of you I will never meet in face to face and some of you I see every single day.  So, on Sundays I have decided to share a little of myself with you!

Last week, I shared with you this picture of my two kiddos helping mommy build some shelves and I promised to show you the after pictures.  Well, wait no longer!  Here is our reorganized playroom!

These are my kids.  Ready to help make the playroom look like a million bucks!  Of course the little one had to dress up for the occasion.  Safety First!! :)

This is the before picture of the playroom.  We have moved into our new house 5 months ago and I have been putting off unpacking these boxes!  I was tempted many times to just tape the boxes up and throw the away.  I know...Mom of the Year material!  So, I didn't.  The kids helped go through each box and we separated the toys into keep, trash, store and donate.  

We organized the toys.  These are my daughters Barbies neatly placed into a shoe organizer and then hung in the closet.  All of the big toys are put into the closet.

Next, the kids wanted an art area.  These are the Closet Maid shelves that were purchased at Lowes.   I laid the shelves on their sides, instead of sitting them on the ends like they usually are.  The shelves have the canvas drawers inside to hold all of their art supplies.  The kids pushed the shelves back to back to create a little table so they could create some artwork.  They hung wire underneath their painting to displays some of their creations.

Another shot of their art area.
These are $1 frames from the Dollar Tree and some  decorative clips also found at the Dollar Tree.  We super glued the clips to the picture frames to have more places to hang artwork
Here is the finished bookshelf.  The shelf and the baskets all   came from Lowe's.  On either side of the shelf are large baskets (from Walmart) to hold dress up clothes and stuffed animals!

My kids spend so much time in here!  They love to draw and color and the artwork in that room changes daily.  There are still some finishing touches I would like to add to this room, but for now it is cute and functional!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Oh yeah...Snow Day! & Friday Five

I love snow days!  Unfortunately the snow is actually just messy ice that make travel miserable.  There are have been tons of wrecks across Central KY today and I more than thankful that I didn't have to get out this morning and drive in it!
 For a little snow day excitement, I am linking up with the 3AM Teacher for some Five For Friday fun!

1.  FREEBIE:  Hibernation is the theme for this week in my resource reading class.  The books that the students use is available through Reading A-Z.  If you have a subscription you can access the Hibernation books (they are multi-level)!  The word work for this unit includes recognizing nouns...hence...Hibernating Nouns!  Students sort the words into nouns and other words (some are verbs and some adjectives).  Students place the nouns next to the sleeping bear.  Click on the picture or link to get this freebie!

2.  FIND:  The thing I love finding most of all is new special education blogs.  I love it so much that I added a page to this blog!  Click in the header above to be directed to some of my favorite special education blogs.  PS-You don't have to be a special education teacher to love these blogs, because their ideas are great for any teacher!  You can also find my favorite sped blogs on Pinterest!

3. FUNNY (&TRUE):  I love snow days!!!!

Please Snow Teacher Plaque lol too funny

4.  FRAZZLE:   We were a little frazzled this morning!  Our dog has been sick this past week.  We thought he had eaten something that lodged in his belly, but turns out he just pulled something in his back.  He is on light duty for the next two weeks! :)  So glad our little buddy is going to be just fine! Here's our little Skipper:

5.  FEATURE:  Here are some more great places to find out about me, how I teach, and what I like:


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

What to Say When Parents Ask--What Did I Do Wrong?

Over the last month I have had two separate ARC meetings that were to discuss a referral for special education and to get permission for evaluation.  On both occasions, both sets of parents knew something was "not quite right" with their child and that there was something that "wasn't clicking."  As the meeting progressed the parents opened up more to our team and began to discuss their feelings about their child and how they really feel about their child possibly having a disability.  On both occasions the parents became very emotional and really put their heart and their feelings on the line.  They blamed themselves and asked, "What did I do to cause my son/daughter to be this way?"  This is an extremely hard question and maybe it doesn't have a right answer, but I felt like I owed it to the parents of these kids and all others that I may have contact with an answer.

I have been teaching for 8 1/2 years now and this month I just really realized the extreme impact that learning that your child has a disability has on the parent.  I teach intermediate level students and usually by this time in school many of the students I work with are already identified and have been for several years.  However, because of Response to Intervention some students are being identified farther into their school years.  (Or at least that seems to be the case in my experience.)

I began to look for information online that would help explain to parents the affects of having a student with disabilities.  I read somewhere, but know can't find the article, that learning that your child has a disability is a bit like going through the grieving process.  One of the parents I spoke with actually echoed this to be true.  He said that he had expectations of his son playing sports and interacting with other kids on a team, but his son has no desire for those things.  The parent said that he has had to come to terms with the facts that what he expected is not happening, so he began to look for the good things in his son and be thankful for all that he can do.  He had to let those expectations "die," and come to terms with a new reality and how wonderful this can actually be, too.  Below is some of the most helpful information I found:

And here are some suggestions from me:

  • Learn about your child's disability.  The more you know and research about your child's disability the better advocate you can be for your child.  Talk to the special education teacher (believe me, I am here to talk and answer questions, but often parents don't seek me out), ask questions, join with others that have children with the same challenges, and participate in all meetings about your child.
  • Accept you child.  Like the parent said to me, "I know he is not going to do something things I expected, but be proud of the things he can do."  You need to get to know your child and find out what he/she is good at and build on those strengths.  Love your child for who they are and don't spend time comparing your child to someone else's child.  We are all fearfully and wonderfully made.  Each of us serves a purpose.  Your child has a purpose!  
  • Speak positive words into your child.  Your child can be whatever they want to be in life and just because they may have a disability this does not mean they have to be limited or pigeon-holed into a certain way of life.  Tell your child they are special, unique, and that you love them unconditionally!
  • Celebrate success!  If your child has difficulty reading, celebrate a good grade on a reading test or remember 5 new sight words or whatever they accomplish.  It makes people feel good to be rewarded...reward your child with praise and love.  Build their confidence!  Accept and celebrate their differences and achievements!

I would love to hear how you talk to parents when they are first learning about their child's disability!  Leave me a comment and tell me your strategies or stories about how to help parents cope.


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Rewards that Don't Cost a Dime!

I was inspired by a poster on Pinterest of 50 Classrooms Reward Ideas.  I began to think about what I use in my classroom and with my students that motivates them to do complete work, stay on task, or when a student is "caught being good."

 (FREE) Classroom Rewards!

1.  Use the teacher's chair
2.  Work at the teacher's desk
3.  Visit another teacher's classroom (to work with someone younger or run an errand for that teacher)
4.  Run a errand
5.  Help stock books in the library
6.  Work with the PE coach to set up the gym for classes in the morning
7.  Sweep the halls with the big push broom with the custodians
8.  Use the smelly markers
9.  Write a special note to student's parent & mail it home (Kids love getting "real" mail)
10.  Call the student's parent to tell them that they have a great kid

11.  Be first in line
12.  Share a story with the teacher or class
13.  Use the iPad
14.  Eat lunch in the room (with a friend)
15.  Use a special ink pen or pencil
16.  Keep a special toy, animal, trinket at your desk
17.  Sit in the special chairs (I have rocking video chairs in my room that they love to sit in)
18.  Go to the principal's office for a good visit
19.  Do the afternoon announcement
20.  Get a hug from your favorite adult in the building

21.  Choose a game to play
22.  Use the puppet theater
23.  Use stamps and ink
24.  Get a sticker
25.  Clean the classroom pet cage
26.  Be first in line for lunch
27.  Homework pass
28.  Complete part of an assignment
29.  Listen to CDs
30.  Free choice computer time

31.  Use play-doh
32.  Put together a puzzle
33.  Be recognized in front of the class for a job well done
34.  Free water fountain pass
35.  Sharpen all of the pencils
36.  Free time to play with a toy that you bring from home
37.  Grade papers
38.  Read aloud for the class your book of choice or the class read-aloud book
39.  Listen to books on CD
40.  Invite a parent to lunch

41.  Use the marker board and dry erase markers
42.  Draw a picture
43.  Use the light box
44.  Use the sensory table/box
45.  Take a break
46.  Invite a friend from another class to lunch
47.  Wear special beads, necklace, button that designates that you were caught being good
48.  Use art supplies
49.  Choose your seat for the day
50.  Punch or stamp a punch card that will eventually tally up to a treat

I hope you are able to find some new ideas!

What free ideas to you have for classroom rewards!  Leave a comment and let us know!


Freebie Fridays

Monday, January 21, 2013

MLK & Lesson on Fairness

It's Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and schools across the country are out today to celebrate this important day.  Dr. King was a inspirational leader of our time and civic leader for all time.  We all should heed the lessons in his "I Have A Dream" speech.  

Today, I want to share with you some MLK Jr. graphics that spoke to me and also below the graphics is a lesson on differentiation and fairness.  Enjoy!~

As a special education teacher, I have many students ask me why certain students come to my room to work, why some students use a calculator in math class, or ask about specific technology or tools some of my students use.  I teach mostly students with learning or behavior disabilities, so their differences are not as obvious as some students with disabilities.  I have discovered over the years that children are incredibly perceptive, yet they have little understanding of why things are the way they are and like for everything to be "fair."  Sometimes it can be tough to explain to a students why another student is allowed to work in a certain way or use a certain tool, but some cannot.

There have been instances when my collaborating teachers and I have given everyone the manipulative/tool to use and you will notice that the ones that don't really need eventually will just stop using the tool and carry on about their work in the way they would have in the first place.  Kids just want to be treated fairly, but I also think there is a time when we need to make students aware that fair doesn't always mean equal.

I am sure that you have seen or heard of the band-aid lesson (here is where I first read it) around the blogosphere somewhere, but last year I used this lesson with a group of fourth graders.  It was successful and met the objective I was trying to convey to this class.  I thought I would share that with you today, as we remember to treat others the way we want to be treated.  (Thank you Dr. King!)


At the beginning of the school year, I had a class meeting with my collaborating teacher's class.   I told each student to come up with a pretend injury.  I called one student up to tell me where his injury was and I placed the band-aid exactly where he noted.  (It was on his arm).  I then proceed to call up each student one at a time and have them point out their injury, but I always placed the band-aid where the first student's injury was located.  Quickly students began to respond with, "That's not where I'm hurt." I reply with, "I know, but so and so was hurt there, so it is only fair that you get a band-aid in the same place."  There was grumbling, misunderstanding, and a little arguing, but even with the grumbles I continue to put the band-aid on the same place on each student  Each student tried to get me to put it in the right place, but I kept a straight face and continued with my objective of being fair.

Once all students are bandaged, I took time to discuss that fair doesn't mean the equal.  I explain that there are students in the class that have differences, in fact each person has differences.  That is what makes us unique and because of this each person's needs will be addressed accordingly.  I explain that they may see someone leave the room, or use a calculator or manipulatives, or work in a quiet area of the room.  I gave them the word differentiation to add to their vocabulary. I explained to them that differentiation means to give a student exactly what they need based on their strengths and weakness.  I also explained that this is how teachers actually design lessons.  Teachers look at the needs of their students and plan accordingly so that each person gets what they need to be successful. The students will soon see that some students require more differentiation, but this does not make them "less" of a person, just someone that succeeds in a different way.  I explained the importance of not making fun of people or talking about people that receive help, because at some point everyone will need help and no one wants to made to feel like they are not as good as someone else.  I drove home the metaphor of the band-aid and the injury, by pointing out the fact that if I treated each of them the exact same way that the only person that benefits is the first person and everyone else is made to feel as if their need doesn't matter.  There were quite a few aha moments happening during our little class meeting!

During the school year when someone says, "That isn't fair." I gently remind them of the band-aid lesson.  I think this lesson helped bring awareness to our unique qualities and the idea that not everyone is the same, but everyone deserves to be treated kindly.  The students in this class seemed to understand the students that had differences and helped make these students comfortable.  Often times the students in this class would help the students they knew needed extra attention even when I was not in their rooms.  They also would stop me and tell me when someone was mistreating certain individuals (not in a tattling way, but a caring way).  

I believe that we need to be in tune with our students' needs and give them exactly what they need to be successful! 


Sunday, January 20, 2013

Two Are Better Than One

Have you ever had one of those days when every person you come in contact with has left a blessing on your heart?  Well, today was one of those days happened for me.  

I am thankful for relationships and the people that God puts into my life on a daily basis.  As I am sure I have said on here before we have only lived in the town we live in for about two and a half years, yet God has blessed our lives abundantly with people and experiences in our short time here.  

Today these people/experiences blessed me:
Working in the infant room.  The precious babies just warmed my heart.  I think I smiled the whole time I was in there and the company of the other adult was nice as well.

Our pastor.  Our sermon today was about being committed-to God and to each other.  The scripture below was a large part of today's lesson.  (In particular Ecc. 4:10)  How wonderful is it to do life with others.  I appreciate my church family and especially my small group.

Working with my KTIP intern.  I love our conversations.  It could be about school, kids, God, silly videos, or just life in general and I always feel so good about sharing life with her.  I cannot emphasize enough the importance of having people in your life that are like minded and have the same beliefs and values as you do.

Supper with friends.  I love our friends and their kids.  I love hanging out with them, whether it be on vacation, at one of our homes, playing games, eating out, anything!  I enjoy spending time with them and their family and growing our relationship.  We can talk about something or nothing at all and have a good time!

Conversations with my sister.  We didn't even actually hear each other's voices today, as a matter of fact we just commented on each other's Facebook statuses, but it still makes me feel close to her.  We live over four hours from each other and just our daily quips to each helps me to feel like she is totally involved in my life!

Several people from home have been on my heart lately.  I miss them like crazy, but just thinking of them and saying a little prayer for them gives me peace.

Spending time with my husband and kids.  They bless me everyday.  So many of our days are spent in school and work and then running errands and cooking supper after school.  I love days when we just get to enjoy each other's company and grow our family.  

I feel incredibly lucky that God has placed people in my life that are my companions.  I know that these people (along with others) are there to pick me up in a fall and I would do the same for each of them.  Sometimes I think we should take a moment to remember those that are close to us.  I know I take each person on this list for granted at some time or another and I wish that wasn't so.  I am thankful that God set on my heart today to be thankful for the companions in my life.

I hope your day has been blessed, too!  Everyone needs someone to pick them back up and sometime or another!


Saturday, January 19, 2013

Making Memories

It's been a while since a quality post and maybe this makes me a rotten blogger, but sometimes a break is the right thing to do when you just need to do life.

Our family has been blessed time and time over since I last blogged and I thought I would share with you all what I have been up to during my little hiatus!

This is what we do at Thanksgiving!  :)  Just a little quality time with my great nephew taking funny pictures.  This kid is a hoot!!

Christmas is my favorite time of year!  I had my tree up well before Thanksgiving! (Maybe this picture should be first in the line up!)

Here are my sweeties at their Nana's house looking like they really love each other.  Just kidding, they do love each other, but to get them to take a picture together is usually a fight.  This one turned out great.  One of my favorites from the holidays this year.  This was also Bear's favorite Christmas tree.

This is our church and this year's Christmas musical.  My Chloe had a lead role this year as the storyteller.  It was a precious musical about Sherlock Watson investigating the birth of Christ.  Our church is full of talented children.  A big thanks goes out to Mrs. Krystal for putting on this touching and adorable play, and for helping my Chloe find the actress inside of her!

We are so fortunate to live in the hometown of the Kentucky Horse Park and we get to enjoy their beautiful light display every year.  This year we went with some close friends and their kiddos.  We had a wonderful night.  The picture above is from that night.  You can't have Christmas lights in the BIG BLUE NATION without the Kentucky Wildcat!  This is my favorite display from the entire night!

Here's my smart 4th grader!  She earned two distinguished on her 3rd grade state test (K-PREP)!  She was one of three 3rd graders to score straight distinguished!  This smartie pants makes me so proud to be her mommy!

This is Chloe and Dobby.  If you are a Harry Potter fan then I didn't have to tell you who that cute little house elf is.  Chloe is MAJOR Harry Potter fan.  Check out her Christmas present:

10 bags of Lego pieces and 4 hours later and Hogwarts comes to life in our dining room!

Family Game Night...Doggie Doo!! Hilariously disgusting!!

What's a January without a little organization?  These are the junk drawers.  How do these come to be?  It's like all of the little knick-knacks in the house gather together for a party or something, so frustrating.  So, with a cheap trip to the Dollar Tree my drawers now look nice and tidy:

And finally...two precious and adorable elves are seen here helping me put together bookshelves.  We also have a newly organized playroom that I will be sharing with you soon!  (I don't want to give away all of my good material!  You are going to love it!)

As for now, this weekend is promising to be filled with some more family time, lesson planning, and a little KTIP resource teacher and intern work sessions.  

I will be back to blogging regularly, but it was definitely the right time for me to take a little break.  I love blogging, teaching, and my family and finding the right balance between all aspects of my life makes things run much more smoothly!  Check back soon!