Thursday, January 30, 2014

Week 4: Special Education...Reader Survey

The new monthly series of posts continues!  Week 4:  Special Education
In this series I hope to share anything YOU have ever wanted to know about special education!  In efforts to help me write a better blog about information that you want and need, I have created a survey.  Please take some time to help me help you.  The survey is a quick, 5 question survey that will allow me to get to know you better.  There is space provided on the survey for you to ask me any questions you may have or to give me ideas of topics that YOU would like to read about.  This series is all about YOU!!    Below the new Special Education button you will find a link for my survey!  I can't wait to read the results and provide the resources and specific information that you are looking for!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Oh "Appy" Day: Tech on Tuesday: Letter Reflex App

Letter Reflex-This app is used to help students overcome letter reversal issues.  

This app is made with the early childhood student in mind, but it perfect for students that are older and still struggle with letter reversal.  I have (and have had) students that really struggle with reading, because of letter reversal with the letter d,b, p, and q.  This app is engaging and interactive.  It is fast pace enough to keep a student entertained with the game with component of getting the ball in the right hole, while being difficult enough for the students that really need this intervention.  It is right on the learning edge for my students.  It is just difficult enough keep them challenged, but engaging enough to keep them playing.
I played the game and had my app testers (my personal children) play this app and we all found it enjoyable and somewhat addicting! :)

I say it is a must download and a great tool to put in your arsenal of activities to work on b/d reversals.
To read about some more ways that I deal with letter reversals...go to this past post-Letter/Number Reversal Activity! Update

Mommy and Me Creations  I'm linking up today for a fun new Linky! :)

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Guest Blogging Today @ Autism Classroom News

You won't find me here today, but you can read all about READING over at Autism Classroom News!
I'm a guest blogger for Dr. Reeve today!  Here's a little sneak peek at what today's guest post is all about:

Click the picture to link to Autism Classroom News and my guest post!

And...don't forget to follow Chris Reeve at Autism Classroom News!  She has a wonderful wealth of knowledge and resources that have helped me tremendously!

Autism Classroom News

Friday, January 24, 2014

Five For Friday-January 24 Edition

What a crazy week it has been here in Kentucky!  We have been out of school since LAST THURSDAY, because of the snow and frigid temperatures.  While I love a snow day...this is getting crazy!  I understand that we can't go back and that the roads are not safe, but whew...I'm getting school-sick!  You know, like homesick, but I miss school instead of home! :)  Here are my top five from this frigid and snowy week!

Snow day!  The kids improvised and made a sled out of a tote lid and did a little sledding in the backyard.  Soooooo cold!!  So fun!!!

I went to school yesterday and did a little reorganizing and rearranging.  Desk clean...check, group lesson plan baskets...check (if we ever make it back they are ready for class)!

Rearranged reading area and CAFE wall! :)

If you read yesterday's post about The Zones of Regulation, here are the zone posters!


No picture for this one, but I hit a personal blogging goal this week.  I have had over 100,000 pageviews. When I started this blog, it was my goal to get 10,000 views and then every 10,000 more I get so excited!  I am so thankful for my readers.  I love that you keep coming back and reading about what is going on in my classroom!  I have met some wonderful people through this blogging experience and I am so grateful for the support of family, friends and strangers.  Here's to 100,000 more! :)


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Get in the ZONE

I know the SuperBowl is quickly approaching, but I'm not talking about the Red Zone here, guys!  I'm talking about emotional zones!  I am currently reading and implementing the Zones of Regulation curriculum in my resource classroom.  This is the best resource to come into my class since, well, EVER!

This is the first post for my new series of weekly posts.  You've seen Week 1: Reading, Week 2: Math and now Week 3:  Social Skills

Every morning, I teach a resource group for students that have difficulty with social skills, emotional/self regulation, and anger management issues.  Some of these students have been diagnosed with autism, ADHD, developmental delays and emotional/behavioral disorders, but the key piece that links them all together is their difficulty with managing social and emotional situations.  I am all about teaching reading, writing, and math, but one of my ultimate goals for my students is for them to be successful in the community outside of the school setting.  I want them to be independent and to pursue their goals with success.  I believe that is my duty (and honor) to help these students accomplish these goals.  To meet this goal, I have researched, used, and even developed my own social skill lesson plans, but the Zones of Regulation has honestly been a lifesaver.

I first heard of the book at the Autism Cadre that I attend through our Educational Cooperative.  One of our very own Occupational Therapists in my school district implements the strategies and lessons in this book.  It only took her describing one lesson and giving her testimonial of how it works with her most difficult students to convince me that I needed a copy right away.

Check out Zones of Regulation to get an overview of the book and program.

I began implementing the "Z of R" (that's what I'll call Zones of Regulation from now...that's a lot to type, friends) after Christmas/Winter break.  I have to be honest has taken me this long to get through Lesson 1.  I know!!  We have only been to school for 8 days since Christmas break!!  Thanks to that darn Polar Vortex and mounting snow days, we may not see much more of January in school.  Anyway...I have my kids for 15-20 minutes every morning and we began Lesson 1 in the book.  Lesson 1 is about introducing the Zones and labeling emotions and placing them in the correct "Zone."
Check it out!

Pictures from my classroom to come!  My plan was to go up to the school today to take pictures, but instead the snow returned.  It is officially a week since I've been to school!  Someday, when I finally get to return to school, I will update with my personal pictures.

Here are some pictures from online resources to give you an idea of the first lesson.

My students and I made posters for each color/zone.  We discussed what each zone means and labeled emotions (all pictures are available in the book) according to the zone it belongs to.  The goal is to be and work in the GREEN zone,  we want to be ready for learning.  However, it is normal for all of us to experience emotions in the blue, yellow and red zone.  The goal of lesson one is recognize the zone and to begin to see why it is important that GREEN is the optimal zone. My students and I had discussed about each emotion and there were times that certain emotions could go into more than one zone.  This is true!  You want the Zones to be personal to each student.  You want the student to be able to recognize his/her personal feelings and understand where that is compared to being "green" or ready to learn.  There were times that a student would say, "I can feel silly, but still be ready to learn."  I acknowledged this observation and we discussed how you can very quickly go from one zone to the next, without really thinking about it.  You want to be able to "be silly" or have fun, but still be able to pull yourself together to work and feel calm and ready to learn.  I explained that continuing to "be silly" would keep them in the yellow zone and potentially could send them on to the red if they couldn't control the sillies.  

Z of R also suggests that each student has their own notebook.  In the notebooks, the students will keep handouts from the program, individual schedules and social stories, and drawing or journaling that is kept throughout the program.  As we add to the notebooks, I will share what all is put into it.

This is really just a quick synopsis of the first lesson and a tiny peek into the conversations that we have, but it is so powerful!  The moment I realized that this program really works is when my student's teacher asked me, "What are zones?"  My student had began to discuss, in class, the zones with his teacher and what zone he was in.  I loved that!  I am slowly bringing my teachers into this, because it can be a lot to take in if you are not engrossed in the lessons.  I will be sending my teachers updates of what we are learning about the zones.  The book does come with a letter for parents and teachers to explain the process of the program.

One more thing...I have a Pinterest board dedicated to Social Skills.  There are some amazing resources on there, including other teachers/counselors ideas for using Zones of Regulation.  Check it out and follow me there!


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Oh "Appy" Day: Tech on Tuesday

We all know that I love teaching and blogging, but the one other (educational) thing that ranks right up at the top is technology.  Blogging has given me the chance to really apply my love for technology through the writing, developing banners and buttons, creating TpT products, and developing HTML code (well, just a little bit of that).  I think my love for technology really came into full force several years ago when I completed my master's degree in special education with emphasis in assistive technology.  Since completing that degree, I am constantly on the lookout for new and interesting technology.  I am most interested in technology that helps to "level the playing field" among those with disabilities, but really I love all technology.  So...I tell you all of this to let you in on my next adventure!  Tuesdays are now an "Appy Day!"   Every Tuesday, I plan on posting an app review (not paid...just what I like) or some other tech savvy tutorial or interesting tidbit!  Here is a fun little button to commemorate this epic event! :)

This week, I do have an app to share with you.  Panasonic Doki Doki Tangram

This is a fun app that helps develop geometrical sense.  We all remember using the tangrams to create puzzles on our desks when we were in elementary school, but now it is more high tech!  There are a variety of silhouette puzzles to choose from and you must maneuver the tangrams to fit in puzzle!  Here's the has a time limit!  I recommend this app for its fun factor, as well as its educational factor.  My (personal) kids and I have had a great time trying to beat the time to finish these puzzles.  *Fun times for another snow day!*  FYI-My eleven year old beats my time every time!

This app meets these Common Core Standards:
CCSS.Math.Content.1.G.A.1 Distinguish between defining attributes (e.g., triangles are closed and three-sided) versus non-defining attributes (e.g., color, orientation, overall size); build and draw shapes to possess defining attributes

CCSS.Math.Content.2.G.A.1 Recognize and draw shapes having specified attributes, such as a given number of angles or a given number of equal faces.1 Identify triangles, quadrilaterals, pentagons, hexagons, and cubes

CCSS.Math.Content.3.G.A.1 Understand that shapes in different categories (e.g., rhombuses, rectangles, and others) may share attributes (e.g., having four sides), and that the shared attributes can define a larger category (e.g., quadrilaterals). Recognize rhombuses, rectangles, and squares as examples of quadrilaterals, and draw examples of quadrilaterals that do not belong to any of these subcategories

CCSS.Math.Content.4.G.A.1 Draw points, lines, line segments, rays, angles (right, acute, obtuse), and perpendicular and parallel lines. Identify these in two-dimensional figures.
CCSS.Math.Content.4.G.A.2 Classify two-dimensional figures based on the presence or absence of parallel or perpendicular lines, or the presence or absence of angles of a specified size. Recognize right triangles as a category, and identify right triangles.
CCSS.Math.Content.4.G.A.3 Recognize a line of symmetry for a two-dimensional figure as a line across the figure such that the figure can be folded along the line into matching parts. Identify line-symmetric figures and draw lines of symmetry

CCSS.Math.Content.5.G.B.3 Understand that attributes belonging to a category of two-dimensional figures also belong to all subcategories of that category. For example, all rectangles have four right angles and squares are rectangles, so all squares have four right angles

Enjoy!! Let me know what you think!

Plus...I'm linking up for Tried It Tuesday...trying out a new series here folks!  Let me know if you like it.  Want to see it continue?  Feedback would be great!
Are there any apps you would like me to try?
Technology questions?
Comment below!

Friday, January 17, 2014

What About Math? 3 Great Math Resources You Can Use TODAY!

I have posted several blog posts about Reading and it's time for Math to get its fair shake! ;)

I have a math resource group in the afternoon consisting of one third grader, two fourth graders, and two fifth graders...all boys!  These guys have IEP goals in either math computation, math reasoning or math fluency (or some combination of the three).  I have found that the best way to accommodate the various needs and levels of the students in this group is to divide the 45 minutes I have with them into center type activities, with each "center" focused on what is on the students' IEPs.  Today I just want to share with you some great activities that I have found that meet the needs of my students and that you can get and put into practice immediately.

1.  Math Duel

A great app, Math Duel, is perfect for practicing math fluency.  This app is split screen app that pits one player against another (or can be played as a single player) to answer math fact questions.  You can customize the game to play any of the four mathematical operations.  In the picture above, you see two of my guys working on their multiplication facts.  I also allowed them to use a multiplication chart, but you can't see that in this picture, as they are just beginning to be fluent with multiplication facts beyond 2, 3, 5, and 10.  This app is available on the iTunes app store for $2.99.  I was lucky enough to download this for FREE during a promotion for the app.  Keep your eyes on it, because it may go free again.  I would still recommend it for the $2.99 price tag...totally worth it!  Especially for my guys that are obsessed with anything technology or iPad related!

2.  Money Essentials Bundle from Christine Reeve

If you are familiar with, Christine Reeves from Autism Classroom News, then you may already be familiar with this product.  I have a student really struggling with money and this pack is engaging and perfect for my student.  This activity uses tasks cards with coin values on one card and then a picture of something found in the grocery labeled with a price tag on another card.  The student counts the change, matches it with the food card, and then records the task card number on the tracking sheet.  This is giving my student great practice with a real world task, counting money amounts, and meeting the math reasoning goals on the IEP.  Perfect combination!!  I bought the bundle available at Christine's TPT store.  It includes this activity along with another Grocery Money Task Card activity and 3 more activities for the next dollar up activities!
Money Essentials Bundle for Special Education [Task Cards,

3.  Math Challenge Task Cards from Rachel Lynette

These amazing task cards are from the Task Card Queen, Rachel Lynette!  Each card has a challenging multi-step word problem.  For most of my centers, the students work alone or with a partner, but for this activity, I lead the activity.  These task cards are made for fourth, fifth and sixth grade, but they work well for my students when they are guided through the problem solving process (which all of my students have as a goal).  The problems are challenging and they are real world!  Perfect!  I have my students look for key words in the problems and use strategies, such as drawing a picture or diagram to solve the problems.  As a group of two, the students and I work completely through one problem during this activity.  These cards are great, because they are stretching my students to think mathematically to set up and solve the problem.  They are also great practice for the types of problems they will see on state testing.  No surprises when the end of the year comes and they have those incredibly hard math problems with five different steps...these guys will be prepared!  You  can get yours HERE or by clicking the photo below!
Math Word Problem Task Cards: 32 Multi-Step Story Problem Cards

Go try one of these resources today!  They are great products!!
What are your favorite math products?  Share with me in the comments!  I would love to hear about the things you can't live without!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Reading 2014 Style

If you've been reading this blog long then you'll remember my series about my resource reading class.  You can find it HERE.

As a teacher, and like many of you, I like to read about new strategies to use with my class and incorporate these new ideas.  If this wasn't true there wouldn't be Pinterest and so many wonderful teacher blogs out there, right?

Before Christmas/winter break, I incorporated some new strategies with my resource reading class. Several of my ideas came from the books Reading Without Limits and Word Nerds.

1.  Intensive Vocabulary Instruction:  I use the vocabulary from our weekly store to expand the vocabulary of my students.  If you'll remember, I use Reading A-Z to find my weekly stories and they have rigorous and engaging vocabulary for each story.  One idea I picked up from reading Word Nerds is how to introduce and teach vocabulary to my students.

  I follow this plan for vocabulary instruction:

1.  Introduce words in pocket chart (if our story has six words for the week, I will do 3 the first day and 3 the next day.  I never introduce more than 3 or 4 words a day)

  • My turn, Your turn:  I say the word and the student repeats me
  • Count syllables:  We all say the word while clapping the syllables.  The students hold up fingers to match the number of syllables in the word.

2.  Using cloze reading procedures, the cards and sentences are displayed in the pocket chart.  Students try using the words in the sentence.  They use context clues and process of elimination (if they do not know the words) to best complete each sentence.  There is only one best answer for each sentence.  The student tells me the word that goes in the blank and then gives me reasons why that word is the best fit.

3.  After all words are included in a sentence we check the sentences to see if they make sense.  This is when I give the definition on the words, that are printed on the back on the word cards.  Students then confirm or correct their word predictions.

 Students use the iPad to find definitions and synonyms for the vocabulary words.  They also search for images of the words to help them draw an illustration.

4.  Using the vocabulary journal (below) students complete a graphic organizer to define the word clearly.  The organizer contains the word, an illustration, the definition, synonyms and antonyms of the word.  All of which we discussed during the vocabulary lesson.

Want a vocabulary notebook for your students?  You're in luck!  These are available now at my TPT store.

2.  Buddy Fluency:  When my students come into my classroom, they know that first thing they need to do is grab their buddy, their fluency passage for the week, and an iPad, go to the computer to use an online timer (HERE is a good online timer), and a digital timer.  Students use the first 5-7 minutes of our group time to do timed readings.  Each day that they read they are trying to beat the previous day's time.  They really get into this!  So simple, but they love it.  The are so excited for themselves and each other when someone beats their previous time.

3.  Raz-Kids:  Each of my students has a RAZ-Kids login.  The students use RAZ during read to self time or during a center rotation.  RAZ kids teacher interface allows me to differentiate for each student.  I can assign reading assignments or assessments (including running records) to each student.  My kids enjoy using RAZ Kids on the iPad and working at their own pace.  It is rewarding to them to see the stars they earn for reading books and taking quizzes and the teacher portion of the program lets me see what my students are struggling with and what I need to work with them on individually.

On a personal note:
As one of my New Year Resolutions, I mentioned wanting to get on a regular blogging schedule.  I have assigned each month of the week a different topic.
Week 1:  Reading
Week 2:  Math
Week 3:  Social Skills/Emotional/Behavior Topics
Week 4:  Special Education Related

You have just read Week 1 (and let's be honest---I didn't post this in the first week of January, so this week you'll get reading and math!)  And here is a little bloggy button to commemorate this event!

Stay tuned for be posted on Thursday!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

What I Learned During Christmas Break

We are going on day 5 of our extended Christmas break.  I have not been to school since December 18.  I love snow days.  I am going stir crazy!

Okay, the first two days we were out of school were a Thursday and Friday, as we were scheduled to go back to school on January 2.  I was so excited about the snow days!  Who wants to go back to school for two days?!  I had a sneaking suspicion though that those two days were only the beginning of an extended Christmas break...I was not wrong!  Snow and then a predicted polar vertex, meaning frigid temps and deathly cold days means no school in Kentucky!  I know those of you that live farther north think we are nuts for being out for an inch of snow and below zero temps, but when you are not used to it, then it is all just relative to where you live and what you are used to.  KY is not used to this mess! Here is what I've learned during the time we've been out of school:

1.  What the heck is a "polar vortex?"  This is a two word phrase that will be on next year's end of the year new words to add to the dictionary list!  Two words that can freeze up and die!!  I live in Kentucky.  I'm used to cold weather in the winter.  0 degree days and -24 wind chill is ridiculous!
What the polar vortex looks like (scientifically speaking)
"The polar vortex, as it sounds, is circulation of strong, upper-level winds that normally surround the northern pole in a counterclockwise direction -- a polar low-pressure system.  These winds tend to keep the bitter cold air locked in the Arctic regions of the Northern Hemisphere. It is not a single storm. On occasion, this vortex can become distorted and dip much farther south than you would normally find it, allowing cold air to spill southward." -CNN weather

What the polar vortex looks and feels like:
2.  My kids have played every game in our house and messed up every room accordingly.  Teachers love breaks.  We have summer off, right?  (PS-this is a pet peeve of mine.  When people say, "You are so lucky to be a teacher.  You have all summer off!"  GRRR!  Yes, it is nice to have summer off, but I can guarantee that I am doing other school related things, not just sipping margaritas and bathing in the sun.  Anyway...I digress.)  This "winter" break is getting crazy!  The difference between summer and winter break?  I can't send the kids outside to play, instead they mess up the inside of my house and then grumble about cleaning up their mess.  My husband's "man cave" has turned into the toy zone!

3.  Seriously, though, some good things have come from this break:
  • I found the floor of my laundry room!  My laundry is all finished and put away!
  • All of the kids Christmas toys received plenty of play time.
  • I read books, real books, unrelated to school books!
  • I also read school books!  Ready to try new things...if we ever make it back to school!
  • I spent (a lot) of quality time with my kids! :)
  • I spent a lot of time and money at TPT! 
  • I am off to a great start on my New Year's Resolutions.  I have had time to think and plan and make lots and lots of lists!  (My favorite pasttime!!)
  • I did a little shopping.  I had to get rid of the cabin fever somehow!  In between snow and the frigid temperature over the weekend I had some time to escape, just me and my Chloe, mom/daughter bonding time.  Target and Barnes and Noble...our two favorite stores!
I have had a great winter break, but I'm ready to go see my "other" kids!  I'm ready to get back into a routine.  I'm ready to say farewell to winter!  Bring on spring!!!


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

January Currently :: 2014

January is upon us!! Happy New Year!  Here is the first Currently of 2014!

Listening ::  Full House.  I love that my kids love Full House and that Nickelodeon plays reruns at night.  It is just a "good ole show."  I can remember waiting for it to come on on ABC's TGIF on Friday nights.  It was my favorite show as a little girl.  I used to pretend that Uncle Jesse was my boyfriend! :)

Loving :: We are expecting some wintery weather tonight here in Kentucky and my school district has already called off school for tomorrow!  Tomorrow was supposed to be our first day back after Christmas break, but now it is extended!  Yay!! I {puffy heart} a snow day!  I know that we have to make them up and sometimes the first week of June means we are still in school, but nothing makes me smile more than a day of snow!

Thinking :: One part of my New Years resolution is to get organized.  I'm great at this at school, but home gets out of hand.  I really want to work on the stack of paper and mail that we have taking over the counter!

Wanting :: I want nothing! I have had an amazing Christmas and I couldn't want for anything more! :)

Needing :: I am ready for this week,  but now we are out of school tomorrow! :)  I would like to get several weeks ahead!  We shall see how that goes!

Memory/Tradition ::  On January 1 of last year, my family and I started writing down special events or something that meant something to us that day on a small pieces of paper and placing them in a jar.  Today we took out those slips of paper and read them outloud.  It was heartwarming and a great time to remember all of the wonderful things that has happened to our family this year.  We are going to do this again this year!  We didn't do it everyday and definitely slacked as the year went on, but I really want to keep it going this year.  We all said that we may not do every day, but if something really great happens that we are going to write that down.  I can't wait to see what happens in 2014!