Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Oh "Appy" Day: Christmas Edition -- Christmas Book Apps

I'm excited to bring you some more great Christmas apps for Oh "Appy" Day: Tech on Tuesday!  This week's apps are actually all books.  They are everyone beloved favorites.  Each book ranges from $1.99-$5.99.  Click the pictures below to link directly to each app in the App Store.

The Berenstain Bears Christmas Tree is about the hunt for the perfect Christmas tree.  The bears soon realize that the trees are home for forest animals.  Will the Bears show compassion for the forest animals by saving the trees?

A Charlie Brown Christmas
This book is a Christmas classic!    Help the Peanuts gang find the true meaning of Christmas.  This book is full of interactive features, such as playing Linus' piano, finger painting, and caroling with the Peanut's gang.  If you love the Charlie Brown Christmas movie, you are sure to love this interactive book!

How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Another classic!  We all know the Grinch's heart changes from bitter and grouchy to a big heart full of love for the Whos.  Follow along while the narrator reads this edition or record your own narration!

Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer
Help Rudolf use his big red nose to help save Christmas.  The app uses authentic video clips from the original movie, as well as, other interactive features such as recording your own narration.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Reading in the Resource Room: Version 2014

Reading resource has changed for me this year.  Change just comes with the territory!  Last year my resource reading students had different needs than the kids I have in resource this year.  If you've been reading my blog very long you know that I used a Daily 5 approach in the resource room.  I used Reading A-Z to help guide my lesson plans and most of my resources came from there.  While I still use Reading A-Z and RAZ-Kids, I have had to switch up the structure of the way I teach reading.

This year I have 2 distinct groups of readers in my resource reading group.
1.  Low basic reading skills.  A younger group of students (grades 1-3) working below grade level on identifying letters, sounds, blends, and sight words.
2.  An older group of kids (grades 3-5) that are near grade level, but have difficulty with decoding and comprehension.

I have both groups at the same time.  This is a total of 7 students.

Up until this point, I have been working with the older kid group most of the period using Corrective Reading while the younger students work to complete independent work (box) tasks.  This was working for me.  (PS-I have direct instruction time earlier in the day, so the younger kids are also getting direct instruction, just at a different time of day).

As I was saying, this was working for me, until...cue new student.  New student fits in skill wise with the younger students, but age and grade wise she is an older student.  Insert restructuring of the time...

*Sidebar*  I have not started this new plan yet.  New student came this week and MAP testing began this week, schedules for me and the students has been turned upside down.  So, this blog has been two things for me...one...a way to plan all of the thoughts racing through my mind and two...cathartic, because I needed some time to write this down, develop new resources and get ready for my new plan!  Okay, back to the task at hand. :)

I will now have three groups:
1.  2 students -- working on basic reading skills
2.  2 students -- Basic Reading Skills and Comprehension
3.  3 students -- "Advanced" Basic Reading Skills (is that a thing?) :) and Comprehension

Students rotate in 15 minute intervals through out the 45 minute period.  I will use 3 different evidence based practices or strategies during this time to teach reading.
1.  Direct Instruction: Corrective Reading, Time Delay
2.  Technology Based Instruction
3.  Structured Work Task System

Here is an example of my lesson plan for a week.  It is basically the same every week, but I have left space to fill in extra information, such as the lesson we are on in our program or to write down a special activity or game.  This is my visual and it keeps me organized!  The initials under each group label are the initials of the students in that group.  I changed all of the initials, these are not my real students :)

Now to keep the kids on track; they will have the schedules below to follow as well as a visual timer on the interactive white board.  I use www.online-stopwatch.com for my timer.

Schedule for Group 3:  This schedule will be programmed with the Lesson the student will expect to be on at direct instruction time, a goal for how many activities to complete on Lexia or number of quizzes to take on RAZ-Kids, and the work box task schedule programmed on their card.  (More to come on work box/structured independent work stations in a later post)

Schedule for Group 2:  This schedule is set up the same way as the one above, but these student will need more support visually and less words.  I programmed this schedule with the pictures of the apps so the students can know what to look for on the iPads.

Schedule for Group 1:  This group needs the most support and they are not working out of the SRA kit yet. I am using time delay with this group to teach letter sounds, blending and beginning sight words.  This schedule uses the most visual support paired with words.

So, now to give it all a try in the classroom.  I can't wait to get started and update all of you on how this works out and bring back pictures of this in action!
Let me know what you think in the comments.  I would love to have your input on this plan and tell me if you can see any problems that may need to be worked out before I begin!

PS...If you would like these visual schedules, I have updated my Guided Reading in the Resource Classroom on TPT to include my schedule and the student schedules as well.  The student schedules are made just like I have above and another set that just has an iPad or computer icon and not specific programs to help fit the needs in your classroom.

Click the image to purchase and download!  If you've already purchased this product, please return to TPT to download the revisions!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Oh "Appy" Day: Tech on Tuesday -- Christmas Edition

This month's Oh "Appy" Day is being brought to you by the jolly, ol' elf himself!  Each Tuesday this month I will be sharing the Christmas Edition of some my favorite holiday apps for kids.  This week's apps are fun for kids (and adults)!  Take a look at some of my favorite Christmas games!

Starting us off this month, we all know that is time for everyone's favorite elf to begin making his appearance in homes around the globe.  Our elf, Rocky, returned on Monday morning. :)
Here is an official Elf on the Shelf app:

This  is a FREE app!  Have a great time with a snowball fight with other elves!  This is sure to excite your little ones!
For more information click the link:  Elf on the Shelf App

My kids love any of the Toca apps and this one is one of their favorites!  Another free app!  You can style Santa or a Christmas tree for their big holiday debut.  Everybody needs a little cut, color and shave...even Santa Claus!
Toca Hair Salon-Christmas Gift

Christmas Fun - All in One Holiday Spirit
This app contains fun holiday songs, games, and interactive activities!  This is a one stop Christmas game shop and the best part is that it is also FREE!

I hope you find that these apps bring a little Christmas cheer to you and your students!

Monday, December 1, 2014

December Currently

December's Currently with Farley is here!  The best part is that I am actually do it on December 1!  What?! It's a Christmas miracle!

Listening:  The kids are in the living room with me watching the Disney Channel.  It's not my pick of shows to watch, but I guess it is better than Spongebob!

Loving:  We have had our Christmas trees up for about 2 weeks now.  I absolutely love this time of year and sitting in the dark and just admiring the Christmas tree.  So beautiful!

Thinking:  I have a lot on my mind.  School, Christmas shopping, a packed holiday schedule,  a sick kiddo, several meetings before Christmas break...it's hard to shut my mind down right now.

Wanting:  You know that peaceful feeling of sitting and looking at the Christmas tree I mentioned earlier?  Now would be a good time for that!

Needing:  I need to get the move on with some Christmas shopping!  Nothing like waiting around!

Giving:  Just because we all need a laugh this time of year ;)

Friday, November 28, 2014

Thankful for Special Educators Blog Hop: 25 Special Ed. Bloggers Tips and Freebies

The turkey is eaten and the leftovers are put away, but it is your lucky day!  25 of your (and my) favorite Special Education bloggers have put together a fun blog hop just in time for this wonderful holiday weekend.  We just wanted to give you a little more to be thankful for.  I know I am thankful for so many of these bloggers myself and am honored to be part of this group of people to share some tips, tricks and freebies with all of you!

TIP:  Take time for yourself.  I am most thankful for this Thanksgiving holiday.  I started the week at the KY Council for Exceptional Children's Conference and am ending the week on break, to say the least it has been amazing and just what I needed.  The conference gave me some new and wonderful ideas that I can't wait to share with my school and with you.  Even more than that, this week has given me some time for myself.  The long hours, piles of paperwork, and the stress of dealing with different behaviors sure leaves a girl drained.  Although special education is a challenging career, it is also so rewarding.  When I see a breakthrough with a difficult behavior or finally find that one strategy that helps a student learn math or reading, I am reminded why I chose special education in the first place.  It is so important to keep your priorities straight as an educator, yes, school is incredibly important, but so is your family, your health and your life.  Take time to prioritize your to do list, find something to do outside of school that you love (like zumba, running or crafting...just my faves).  Remember to be your best in the classroom, you need to remember all of the things that you make you your best!   

FREEBIE:  A fun Christmas Planner to help you stress less and get ready for the holiday season!

No stressing about a Christmas work station, because I've got you covered!created a fun little Christmas freebie, just in time for December!  This can be used in centers or work box stations.  
Christmas Vocabulary: Say and Spell
Students use letter tiles to say and then spell Christmas words.  

And lastly,  Cyber Monday sales start on December 1!!

Head on over to the next blog!!

Thanks for checking in!  For more freebies and tips, continue the trip through the blog hop by checking out A Special Ed Connection...just click the button below.

A Special Ed Connection

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Thankful For Special Educators Blog Hop Coming Soon!

I have so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving season, but one way I continue to be blessed is through this blog.  I have met wonderful special educators from across the country and have had many wonderful opportunities opened before me from blogging.  This is yet another one of those amazing opportunities, not just for me, but for you as well.  Beginning on Friday, November 28, join 24 special education bloggers plus myself for some tips and freebies that you will be thankful for!  That's 25 tips, tricks, strategies, freebies, and maybe even some giveaways from some of the best special education teachers from across the US!  You will not want to miss this!

Head back here on Friday and get ready to hop through and collect some outstanding resources!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

November Currently!

Look at me!  It's the 2nd of November and I am actually already posting my Currently with Farley!

Listening:  I am listening to the Bengals and Jaguars football game.  I'm sitting on the couch and my guys are sitting in Paul Brown Stadium.  Jealous?  Maybe a little! ;)  I am excited for Barrett, though.  This is his first NFL game!  He is such a huge football fan and he was over the top about going to this game.  He swears he will be a NFL player one day!  Hopefully he will and then he can take care of his mommy!!  He also says he is going to get black tattoos up and down both arms, because that is what famous football players do...oh geez...mom isn't ready for that!  Go Bengals!!

Loving:  My sister was here for the weekend!  She came to visit and took Chloe to the high school state band finals in Richmond at EKU.  Chloe plays the trombone in her middle school band and she was so excited to go see the big high school bands play.  (My kids are soooo different, huh?  One is a football nut and the other is all about band and academics!  Both are great kids!!)  

Thinking:  I have apple dumplings baking in the oven for small group tonight!  They are the Pioneer Woman recipe...you know the kind with lots of butter and Mountain Dew!! Oh geez...clog my arteries, please!!  So delish!!

Wanting:  I have new November centers to laminate and cut.  Ugh!! I also have $20 bucks for someone to do it for me!  No takers?  Well...I guess it is a date with the laminator and The Walking Dead later!

Needing:  Washed?  Check!  Dry?  Check!  Folded and put away?  Can't they make a machine for that?

A great book about saying yes to what is important from all of life's demands.  We all tend to say yes, because we feel that is the right thing to do, but actually we just stress ourselves out and we are not our best self.  This book is helping me think about my priorities and what my "best yes" really is.  

Saturday, October 18, 2014

My Letter to Raz-Kids!

This time last year, I was asked to try out Raz-Kids (a leveled reading program available through Learning A-Z) and I must say I am so happy that I accepted the trial!

As my year trial period comes to a close, I thought I would share with my readers my favorite parts of Raz-Kids.

1.  Highly motivating!  My kids love Raz-Kids!  The students I have in reading resource ask to get on Raz-Kids and you will hear no moaning and groaning when I ask them to use the program.  Sometimes, computer based interventions are not that exciting and don't hold a student's attention.  There could be various reasons for this ranging from the program being not interesting to students finding a program too difficult.  (Which leads to #2)  Oh...wait!  Don't forget that cute little robot you can dress up as your earn points for reading the books and passing quizzes! :)

2.  Leveled reading.  Raz-Kids is never too easy or too difficult for my students.  Using the assessment provided with Raz-Kids or available on Reading A-Z, I know exactly the level in which each of my students are working.  Each student has a program individualized just for him or her.

3.  Immediate feedback.  I can track progress immediately and so can the students.  The students immediate see how they are progressing through the books.  The students earn stars and coins that they can use to build and decorate their virtual robot.  I can also send messages of encouragement and bonus stars to my students to let them know I can see how hard they are working, motivate them to keep going, and reward bonus stars to reward them for their efforts.  The data that the teacher sees is also invaluable information!  From sound assessments, to running records, to comprehension scores, I can see exactly how my students are performing and which standards students are hitting or missing.  Guys! This program is aligned to Common Core! You can look right at the quiz skills report and see exactly what standards your student is mastering.

4.  Students make growth!  The teachers can see it, the students can feel it, and the parents can watch as their child's reading ability improves.  I have had parents tell me how much their child love Raz-Kids and that they ask to get on and use it.  One of my tutoring students was so excited about all of the stars he had earned by reading his books and passing a level.  He saved all of his stars to buy something for his robot until the day I tutored him so that he could show me what he was going to buy with the stars earned from his hard work!  Raz-Kids really does make learning fun and the kids are making growth in such a motivating way that reading doesn't even feel like work to even the most struggling student.

5.  Support and training!  Training on how to use all of what is offered on Raz-Kids is right there for you.  If you have a question, there is a probably a video that can teach you exactly what you need to know.  Also, the people working at Learning A-Z have been amazing about answering my questions and incredibly friendly.  They really take pride it what is produced through Learning A-Z and they make quality products that ensure student growth.

6.  Wide range of subjects and interests! There really is something for every student on here!  Fiction and non-fiction, every subject under the sun, Raz-Kids has it all and in every level.  There is no reason for a student to be bored.  There are so many books that even the most reluctant reader is sure to find something they will love.

Raz-Kids: The kids view

7.  Mobile app.  Hello!  We are all using a tablet or a phone these days and Raz-Kids is ready for that, too.  Mobile apps are available for Apple, Amazon, and Android products.  My kids in resource love to use the iPad to access Raz-Kids.  One of my sweets created a recording corner/sound booth to have a private spot to record her readings.  They love wearing the headphone/microphone combination (think Britney Spears headphones) to read and record themselves.
8.  Combine with Reading A-Z for a beautifully blended reading solution!  Reading A-Z is a CODiE Award winning website for teachers with an amazing amount of resources for reading.  Lesson plans, printable and projectable books, quizzes, and Common Core aligned resources make Reading A-Z my go to spot for all things reading in my resource classroom.  Raz-Kids then joins in to deliver hundreds of ebooks with 24 hours access to provide practice to make students better readers!

I really cannot say enough good things about Raz-Kids and Reading A-Z!  If you are looking for a reading solution...look no more!  This is your solution!
Finally, to sum all of my feeling about Raz-Kids, here is a copy of the letter I sent thanking them for their trial of Raz-Kids:

Hi Jan,
I just wanted to let you know as this year's subscription to Raz-Kids comes to a close how much I have appreciated this program over the past year.  I am so grateful that the people at Learning A-Z found my blog and asked me to use their product.  I love Raz-Kids and believe in the program wholeheartedly.  Most importantly though is that my student are making tremendous growth and they love to use the program.  They ask to use Raz Kids.  Parents love it, too!  I have had several parents tell me that since using Raz-Kids that their child is actually interested in reading and motivated to use the program.  The kids even get on the app without having to be told to do so!  Raz-Kids is such a confident boost to so many of my struggling readers!  
Thank you for creating such a wonderful program and choosing me to use the program!  I truly appreciate it!
Kim H.

Friday, October 10, 2014

October Currently

Don't judge...but I may be 9 days late to Farley's Currently this month...
Better late than never, right?  I have been enjoying Fall Break this week.  It has been a week full of relaxing and doing nothing.  Sometimes you just need a week like that!

Here is October's Currently:

Listening:  I love all things Halloween!  This is my favorite time of year!  Halloween Wars on Food Network is something we can all watch together here and everyone loves it.  I am amazed by the food artists that make the amazing and scary sculptures out of pumpkins, sugar, and cake!  So awesome!!

Loving:  Fall Break!  This week always comes at the perfect time.  We are far enough into school now to feel the stress of the daily grind and everyone is in need of some refreshing time.  I love my job, but I needed this week just to be able to get back to being relaxed and let go of the burnout that comes at the beginning of the year! 

Thinking:  I "need" to make a Costco run.  Well, actually the hubby is telling me that he wants to, so how can I say no to that?!  

Wanting:  It is cold...I need coffee. Period! :)

Needing:  I need to prepare for next week back to school.  Hmmm...maybe later!

Fall Skip Counting Puzzles are now FREE!  
Click the pic to go to my TPT store

Happy October!!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Fall Break

It's Fall Break here in Kentucky!  Yipee!  This week I hope to get caught up on some things, but not before taking time to relax and hanging out with my own kiddos!  I hope you are enjoying fall wherever you are as well!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Oh "Appy" Day-Tech on Tuesday: Virtual Manipulatives

Raise your hand if you hate pulling out manipulatives, because a.) The kids want to play with them, b.) the manipulatives fall in the floor and make lots of noise and inevitably one, two or ten of them get lost, or c.) it just takes so long to pull everything out!

Well, fret no more friends!  This app/website will be a lifesaver for many of you!  Virtual Manipulatives through ABCya.com has your answer to your manipulative woes when it comes to fraction bars, decimals and percents!  And the best part...it's FREE!

Available here through ABCya is a great tool to use when teaching students about equivalent fractions, comparing fractions, and converting fractions to decimals and percents.  You  can use it as a teacher to demonstrate any of these concepts using the fraction tiles we all have in our classroom, but ABCya has made the fraction tiles more engaging and easier to manage by making them high tech!  Another beauty of these virtual manipulatives are that the students can use them too.  Instead of students pulling out the "real" fraction tiles, you can have the app on an iPad ready for the student to use and manipulate right at their desks.

Click the picture above to check out the Virtual Manipulatives

A quick user guide is included to teach you and your students how to use the fraction tiles!

Click the image above for the iPad app!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Oh "Appy" Day: Tech on Tuesday-Calm Counter App

I am constantly on the look out for calming tools.  I have stress balls and sensory bins galore in my room, but this app adds a unique and engaging piece to my collection of calming tools that may just help the kids that love technology.  It is motivating and easy to use, even for the youngest student!
Calm Counter is an app that is used as a visual to teach students how to regain their composure and to become calm again.  (PS...this works great as a technique/strategy to use with the Zones of Regulation curriculum that I love so much)
When a student becomes upset, we often use the strategy of counting to ten and taking deep breaths to help a student become calm.  However, some students need help doing this.  Some students just count and really do not connect the counting or deep breathing as a way to become calm.  This app helps to teach this concept.  The student keeps an iPad, iTouch, or other app enabled device at his/her desk.  When the student becomes upset, the student touches the screen that says, "I need a break."  The app begins counting down from 10.  The student touches the app each time he/she is ready to count down to the next number.  The face changes from red and upset on number 10 to a smiling face and a calmer color on face 1.  The final step is a deep breath and one more touch brings you to "All Done."   Visual and verbal cues are used on each screen, but verbal cues can be turned off in the app settings.  The app also includes a social narrative about anger and how to handle anger.
Screenshot of the changing faces in the app
Credit: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/calm-counter-social-story/id470369893?mt=8
The app costs $2.99 and is made by Touch Autism.

Monday, September 1, 2014

September Currently

It's September...already!  Labor Day is here, we've already been in school for 3 weeks, and routines are almost established.  Wow!  Where did August go?

I'm joining Farley from Oh Boy 3rd Grade for the monthly Currently! :)

Listening:  Any moment that I get to have the TV remote to myself, you can guarantee that I will be watching the Today Show (if it is morning) or HGTV.  I love having a weekday off so I can watch the Today Show.  My favorite part is Kathie Lee and Hoda, so I better hurry and post this so I don't miss any of their segment! :)

Loving:  I love my kids and I also love that they are old enough to take care of themselves.  I enjoy that they both can get up and fix their own breakfast, find something to do to stay entertained for a while, and get themselves up and ready to go in the mornings.  Sure,  I sometimes miss their baby days and there are times (everyday) when they need their mom, but I am thankful that they can be independent and not need me every second of the day.  I am blessed with great kids!

Thinking:  You know that routine I mentioned at the beginning of this post?  Well, it is slowly starting to get back together.  The beginning of a school year is tough around this house as I learn my new schedule at school all while learning my kids new schedules too.  Football, band, running, church, academic team, doctors appointments all have to be scheduled in the after school hours again and sometimes fitting everything in after 3:00 can be tough!  So, that sort of explains why blogging takes a back burner for me.  I really do want to stay on a blogging schedule and now that after school activities are beginning to have a regular time and day, then (hopefully) blogging will too!  How do some people do it all and stay sane?  If I figure that out...I'll let you know! :)

Wanting: Coffee!  I need coffee! :)  I'm in love with McDonald's Iced Caramel Mocha right now.  They are not good for any type of diet, but they are amazing! 

Needing:  I need this weekend to not end.  Three day weekends always come at the most perfect time.  The stress of the beginning of the year really gets to me some days and I needed this weekend to unwind and get my mind back on track.  Now...do you think we can make it last for just one more day? :)

3 Trips:
1.  Smoky Mountains:  I love visiting the Smokies!  The fog rolling in over the mountains is one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen.  I enjoy going to the mountains more than the beach and since we moved to Central KY we are closer than we ever have been before.  It is a short 3(ish) hour drive to the Smokies from here and long weekend visits are my favorite.  

2.  Disney:  During Fall Break last year, I visited Disney World for the first time.  It was iconic.  It was one of my favorite vacations and those memories will last a lifetime!

3.  Home:  My "home" is in Western Kentucky and all of my family still lives there.  I miss my parents, sister, brother, nieces and nephews.  I don't get to go home as often as I would like (partly due to that busy schedule mentioned earlier and partly because it takes 4 and a half hours to get there).  It's not just a quick trip there and back...it is a trip that has to be planned.  Maybe they will read this and come to see me ;)

Happy September, friends!!!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

We Love Special Education Teachers-Bloghop!! Freebies and Giveaways!

Did we mention how much we love special educators??! 
Well just to show you how much, 24 of us have joined together to help you start your new year out with a BOOM! 
We are beyond excited and even more excited for you! Ok, maybe even just a wee bit jealous! :)
These 24 awesome special educators, including me, have put together 5 fabulous giveaways and a freebie hop with over 20 freebies just for you!! 
Shall we get this party going!!? 
Are you ready?
The first 3 giveaways are split into 3 categories; early childhood, primary, and intermediate! So be sure to enter the one for your grade level! You can click on any of the pictures to view the product in their store or to wishlist it in case you don't win!!{wink}
Here's a look at everything one teacher will win in the Early Childhood Pack!
Here's a look at everything one teacher will win in the Primary Pack!
Seriously!!!!?? Are you feeling the Love?!
Here's a look at everything one teacher will win in the Intermediate Pack! As you know, it can be a challenge finding resources on TpT for this level, but we did manage to put a few things together that we think you'll love!
a Rafflecopter giveaway But wait! There's MORE! David at "Attainment Company" was generous enough to give two lucky teachers a copy of this e-Book for their iPad. (This e-Book is compatible ONLY for iPad, so if you do not have an iPad do not enter!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway How many of you have seen this book, or are even using it in your classroom to assess and determine presents levels?? Brigance CIBS

Last year a new and improved updated version was released...... Brigance CIBS II

and we're super excited that Robin at "Curriculum Associates" has generously donated it for us to give to one of you!! Folks, this is a $339.00 value!! Now this one definitely makes us just a wee bit jealous!  (Our apologies, but this one is for U.S. residents only) a Rafflecopter giveaway And now it's time for a............... FREEBIE HOP!