Monday, February 4, 2013

Trying to get back on the posting wagon!

Alright, so I'm going to use this post to catch up on things a bit including February Currently, my Liebster Nomination, and some happenings in my classroom.

Listening: My husband is watching It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia on Netflix while I am spending some time blogging.
Loving:  While I love my students, it has been very busy since we got back from Winter break and I can't wait for mid-winter break!!
Thinking: This one is obvious...
Wanting: It to stop snowing- It's been snowing on and off here in Michigan for days now and I'm ready for it to stop!
Needing: A haircut- I keep procrastinating making an appointment but I need to get on it.
Pet Peeve: This was something that happened today. I quickly asked a teacher a yes/no questions and in front of other students the teacher gave a very offensive response.  I understand if not all teachers fully understand my students but regardless of their understanding they should be considerate of the affect that their words might have on their students.

Here is a peek at our winter wonderland.  We had a door decorating contest in our building.  Ours didn't win but I'm enjoying leaving it up until Spring:)  The idea is of course from Pinterest and my students helped with painting the snowman and they made the snowflakes. 

I decorated my tree this year with books and wrote on the star "Reading- a gift to treasure forever."  I used a color copier and minimized the size of the books, laminated them then hot glued a hook into them.  I also added these Peppermint lights that I got at Target last year.

And this is our bulletin board.  I've put our tree away and sent the snow globes home but I keep switching out what is in the snow.

And now for the Liebster Award!  I am very excited and I hope it will help keep me blogging!  I was nominated by Erin over at Autism and Awesomeness. Erin is another newer blogger and fellow teacher of kiddos with Autism.  

The Rules:1. Post 11 random things about yourself.
2. Answer the questions the nominator set for you.
3. Create 11 questions for your nominees.
4. Choose 11 other blogs with fewer than 200 followers to nominate and link them to your post.
5. Leave a comment on this post if you were nominated so I can learn more about you and see who you nominate.
11 Random Things about Me:
1. My husband and I just went on an amazing trip to Hawaii for our honeymoon over Christmas break.  We went on a doors off helicopter ride and took surfing lessons!!
2. My friend Katie and I are training for our 1st 1/2 marathon .  I never thought I would be saying that because just 2 years ago I was afraid of running a 5k.
3. I am a vegetarian.
4. I have 1 brother and 1 sister.
5. I taught 1st grade for one very challenging year in Detroit at a poorly organized Charter before receiving my position that I currently have teaching students with Autism.
6. Every year my friend and I plan a Double Dare themed party.  This years will be the 5th annual.  
7. I am taking my students on an awesome field trip this month to Weinberg Village.  It's a community center's basement that has been renovated to look just like a real town.  The kids get to go through the town and purchase items at a drugstore, see a movie, ride a bike, get their nails painted, and so many other fun things. 
8. I eat out way too much.  I love cooking but always make excuses for why not to cook.
9. I have been to 4 European countries: Sweden, Germany, France, & Spain!
10. I'm a night owl.
11.  I decided to get my Special Ed Master's after doing a long term in a resource room and loving it!

Nominators Questions:
1.  What made you decide to work in the field of Special Education? While working a 6 month long term subbing position in a Resource room I fell in love with the Special Ed world and immediately changed Master's programs.
2.  What is your favorite animal and why? I always find favorite questions to be really hard to answer because I usually don't have a favorite.  I do like cats though and I have two.
3.  How do you like your eggs cooked? Over medium
4.  What is your favorite childhood memory? Another hard one...I used to enjoy being silly with my friends, dancing, and making home videos.
5. What was your favorite subject in school? English
6.  What is your favorite drink? Red wine
7.  What genre of book do you like most? I like a lot of genres but lately I've been reading a lot of historical fiction.
8.  If you could have any superpower, what would it be? Freezing time
9.  If you were able to travel anywhere in the world, money and safety are guaranteed, where would it be? I would love to visit New Zealand and Australia.
10.  Where is the furthest you've traveled from home? Hawaii
11.  Sweet or Salty?  Sweet

This is really hard to do!  I searched and searched and almost every blog I clicked on did not fit the rules.  I even tried just googling it!  Here's who I found but I could not find 11 (if I come across more I will nominate them but I want to post and it's time to get to bed).

1. Why did you decide to become a teacher?
2. Why did you decide to start blogging?
3. Do you find it hard to keep up your blog?  Any tips and trick that are helping you keep with it?
4. If you could travel anywhere in the world where would it be?
5. What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
6. What is a funny story you will always remember from your teaching career?
7. Teaching tool you cannot live without?
8. Name one thing that is on your 'bucket list' and why?
9. Are you teaching in your dream grade?  If no where would you like to end up?
10. What do you like about Valentine's Day?
11. Favorite Teacher Resource Book?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

HELP!! We have some iPad obsessions

I know I have been absent from the blogging for quite some time but I've still been reading all of your great blogs!! I promise at some point soon I will post some of the fun things we've been doing but for now I just have a question: 

Many of my students are OBSESSED with the iPAD.  I know they are awesome, I'm obsessed too:)  However, it's beginning to be less of a motivator and more of a meltdown issue if they can't have them when they ask for them.  I try to do everything the way I've been 'taught.'  The iPad is used both as an educational tool and as a free choice option during free choice times in our classroom.  They also each have iPad on their schedule once throughout their day in case they are not able to get one during free choice time for whatever reason.  But it's still causing problems!  

What would you do??

I'm thinking of having an iPad free week and then gradually reintroducing them back into our room again.  I'm worried though that this will just cause a week of meltdowns and then once they are able to use them again we won't have made any progress.  


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

I've been Boo'd!

  I've been Boo'd by Allison over at Miss Allison's Class!  How fun! Thanks Allison for Boo'ing me and for always sharing your great ideas on your blog!

Here are the rules:
Cynthia at 2nd Grade Pad is hosting this BOO'D linky.  

1. Choose a fellow blogger that has MORE followers.
2. A blogger that has about the SAME number of followers .
3. Someone that has LESS followers.
4. Highlight their blogs with links to encourage others to check them out.
5. Don't forget to let your fellow bloggers know that you shared about them. 
 6. Lastly, leave them some love by offering them a goody from your store as their "treat." (Unfortunately, I don't have a store yet so I don't have a freebie to offer-sorry!)

 More Followers: Sasha over at The Autism Helper.  I love all the videos she shares and I am envious of how organized she is.  I get a lot of great ideas by reading her blog and look forward to getting many more!

Same Followers: This one is hard to find because I don't have many followers yet and most people have more than me.  So, I'm going with Kate at Fun in ECSE 
(who also has more followers than me but I tried to find someone who was close).  She is not only a fellow Special Ed teacher but she also teaches in Michigan like me!  She does a lot of great lessons and activities with her students that she shares on her blog.

Less Followers: Hailey over at The Autism Tank is a newer blogger like me.  She has lots of great ideas for tasks and she includes Freebies!

I promise to have a real update soon.  I keep bringing my camera to work and forgetting to take pictures!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Adapted Listening Center

I recently revamped my listening center.  I felt like some of my students would just sit at it without much focus on the book they were listening to.  Some would even sit for a while after the story was over, lost in their own thoughts.  I wanted my Listening Center to be more structured and also last for one switch of our reading centers.  (Next year my goal is to make question sheets for the books that a majority of my students would be able to do independently.) So here's what I came up with:

I numbered 4 bins (I don't think I'd ever need more than 4 stories to fill a 10 or 15 minute rotation.)  I uploaded all of my Books on CD to my computer.  I copied 3 or 4 books to a CD (depending on the length of the stories).  Then the students don't have to switch CD's between stories!!  I also put numbers on each bin and made a pull off card for the students to keep themselves on the correct book.  1/2 of my students can follow along with the right book fairly independently but I'm wishing I had put a little clip on each CD that says, "now pick up the next book."  I'm sure the prompt could be faded but it would help the students who struggle with when to go on to the next book.  It's really helping though.  I've also added visual "rules" to the center to help them follow the routine or for a visual reminder if someone is off task.  
When I started this center I had one of my aides sitting with each student to practice the routine.  The amount of days someone sat with them depended on how independent they were able to be.  When I was able to fade my aide, I added an additional center that will not be independent.  

This is our first year doing reading centers in this way and I'm finding this as a successful way to teach my students the centers that will be independent before adding all of the "manned" centers.  

Here's a quick pic of my Read to Self center.  4 of my 6 students are able to at least look at books independently and 2 of them need to be read to.  I practiced reading independently with each of my 4 independent students so that this could be independent as well.  These are the bins from Lakeshore that I spent a ton of money on a few years ago but find that I'm not so good at keeping organized.  Therefore, I've re-purposed them as reading bins.  

Does anyone have any other tips for making Listening center and Read to Self independent?

Sunday, October 7, 2012

October Currently & Monday Made It

Happy October Everyone!  I can't believe it's here already.  My class is finally getting into the groove of our routines and the weather has been perfect lately.  

Realized after I had already saved this as an image (and didn't save it any other way) that the book was supposed to be my favorite October Season book!  Whoops- the answer to that would be "There was an Old Lady who Swallowed some Leaves."  The books in this series are good for engaging my students in literacy and also for sequencing activities.

I bought a bunch of stuff at Target the other day for Fall and Halloween.  Here are some of my goodies and the activities I made to go with them:

Apple, pumpkin, ghost & leaf foam cut outs for something I haven't thought of yet- any ideas?
Halloween, turkey, leaf stickers for patterning and counting.
Pine cones-I think I'd like to do a sorting activity with these if I can find another size.
Skeleton erasers for counting activites.
The foam stickers are sea/ocean themed but were on clearance so I grabbed them.
Mini clothespins- they were just so cute!

My Monday Made Its:

I also bought a pack of each of these table scatters.  I made this sorting activity.

 And this sorting activity for my kids who can read to work on vocabulary.
And I hot glued a bunch to clothespins for patterning activities that will also work on fine motor!

Don't forget to link up for October Currently with Farley and check out Monday Made It over at 4th grade Frolics!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

How our stations work

The last time I made a post I showed you our schedules.  Today I thought I would show you how I help my kids complete the tasks as independently as possible.  We use number matching 4 of 6 students.  There are numbers that correspond to the number of activities to be completed at each station.  The kids match the number to the number on the shelf or drawer.  We consistently use TEACCH methods to set up tasks and work systems.  This means that we work from Left to Right and Up to Down.  

The following are examples of what their  independent work stations look like.  These have been decided based on the furniture I have and which students would work best at each spot.  The large connected desks are great.  Plenty of space and the shelf helps fit more work tasks.  There is a finished basket by each independent station for students to put each task in as they finish.  We mostly incorporate folder tasks and paperwork at independent work.  However, we sometimes put puzzles or other similar tasks as well.  
I needed a 5th independent work spot this year and I was really trying to avoid taking up more valuable space so I bought a folder storage pocket chart and hung it next to my most flexible student's desk.  It works great!  

One of my students uses a color matching system instead.  He is most successful with matching colors so it works better for him.  He still needs prompts to use it correctly, he often wants to match all of them to their partner before completing any of the work:) His work tasks are mostly tasks that we have made to fit his needs and academic abilities.  


Here is our choice area.  This was not set up last year.  There was more structure needed for my new students so I made pull-offs (Velcro pictures that can be pulled off)  for each choice activity the students can pick from.  They are able to match the pull-off to the desired task. Once they clean up one task they can make another choice.  

  I also took a picture of how we organize the pictures visuals we need each day.  They are alphabetized so they can be found quickly.  I believe this was an old calendar pocket chart and it works perfectly!

Also, What Happened in First is having a 100 Follower giveaway! Check it out here:

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Still Here!

Well, hello!  I am so impressed by all of you bloggers who manage to start their school years and keep up on blogging.  Every night over the last few weeks that I've gotten home I've wanted to make an update but haven't managed to make myself follow through.  So here I am finally updating because I finally have a relaxing weekend.  

This school year has been challenging so far.  Last year was my first year teaching in a classroom for students with Autism but I was lucky to have kids that already had routines down and most of them were fairly flexible and able to transition to me, a new teacher, and the new ideas I had for the classroom.  However, this year I have a kindergartner who  is struggling with the transition to a new classroom.  She is adorable but exhausting!  

My class is very different this year and I've spent a lot of time making my classroom fit the needs of my new students.  I have my kindergartner that I mentioned and a 3rd grader (both girls!) as well as 4 students that I had last year.  All but two of them have different schedule needs.  

This is the schedule that two of my students follow.  It has two pages, one for the morning and one for the afternoon.  They are both able to follow it independently and know to switch from AM to PM on their own.  The blue chip can be moved from item to item in order to help keep track of where they are in their day.  While I put it on both of their schedules only one of them uses it consistently.  The other impresses us all the time with the memorization of his schedule.  He may not always go where he should go next but he can most often tell us where he should be:)  And it usually doesn't take more than a verbal prompt to get him to go where he should be.  Neither of these boys need to pull off the pictures and take them to where they are going.   

Kelly's schedule looks very similar to the boys but she needs 4 pages so that she only has one row of items.  She is still getting used to following a schedule and needs support to take the top item and take it to where she is going.  While there is a strip of velcro for a chip on the schedule, currently she is not using the schedule in this way.  Kelly cracks us up because it takes numerous prompts to get her to her schedule and then when she finally gets there she doesn't take the correct item, she turns to a page with "choice" on it and takes that instead.  It proves to me that she has the ability to understand how to correctly follow the schedule. 

As for checking in where she needs to be it looks like this and when she arrives she puts the picture in the corner on the velcro:

This is the schedule I use with Gabby.  She is my kindergartner and this is the schedule she used in preschool and she was not able to transition to the schedule I use with the other kiddos.  We prep the items for the whole day and put in the new ones once she has completed all 5.  Over the last few weeks she is becoming more independent in checking the schedule herself and transitioning to where she needs to be.  However, there are still lots of times that she refuses to go where she should be.  We are working on it!  Gabby does take each card wither her to where she is going and she puts it in a matching card holder that looks like this: 

This is the "schedule" that one of my other students uses.  We hand him the clothespin when it is time to go to a station and he matches it to the color cardboard hanging at the different stations around the room.  Previous teachers have tried numerous other schedules/ways to help him transition with him and this is what they found to work best so it's what I've stuck with.  

Here is what the stations look like once the students arrive.  There is a check in for everyone who needs it.  

It takes a while to set up everyone's schedule each day but it's worth it to make our day run more smoothly.  Most days we have the schedules ready for the next day before we leave which helps a ton!