Tuesday, May 27, 2014

10 Things I Want to do This Summer!!

Joining the Linkup! 10 Things I Want to do this SUMMER!!!!

I decided that even though it is not summer yet, that I better get started on planning what I want to do with the long awaited and always flying to quickly by pieces that teachers like to call their summer vacation. We always have a big to do list in the summer and when the end of August rolls around we realize we never got quite as far as we had hoped. So, here is to making the list and hopefully checking off all of them!

1. Loving on my little one..    I am so lucky that I am a teacher and get time off to spend it with my daughter. She is such a  fun age at 2 1/2. She loves to play outside, be my helper, and play princesses!

2. Spending time in my garden.. I have decided (or maybe my husband has..) to go all out this year with 30 tomato plants, pepper plants, cucumbers, eggplant, strawberries, onions.. and more! Gotta keep up with it all!

3. Visiting lots of family and enjoying their company... I love that I have the time to visit family and friends since we moved out of the area. I miss them so much!

4. Working out more regularly and eating better..  BLAH BLAH BLAH

5. Staying up late because I can sleep in... Watching some of the shows that I have been slacking on and maybe catching up on some shows so I can start watching them when the new seasons start in the fall like Parenthood, Orange is the New Black..

6. Cleaning, de-cluttering, and pitching.. Since we moved a few years ago we never really got rid of everything. I need to go through and decide what is really needed, what can be donated and so on..

7. Creating TPT products... I have been slacking at the end of the year and with the start up of the new blog.. I have so many ideas and things that I know that I want to make for my own classroom and things that maybe others can use as well!  Summertime should be good with that!

8. Finishing Grad school and obtaining my masters! This is a big check! Probably the biggest one on my list. I am currently taking two courses and then I'm done.. what a huge accomplishment for me since I stopped it a few years ago and just decided to finish it up!

9. Attending National Autism Conference... This is at Penn State and there are TONS of great speakers and presentations, it is so hard to choose..

10. Getting prepped faster for next year...I only had about a week and a half since we moved to a new building this year but, now the school will be open all summer and I can pop in and out as I want.. I did kinda make a rule though that I'm not coming in til at least the last week in July.. and at that rate maybe a couple hours a week..

So there it is.. perhaps I'll check back in like the week before summer is over and see how I did?!?!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Five for Friday! and a Freebie!

So hey there! Linking up with Doodlebugs for 5 for Friday ! It has been a fun week! This is our last full week of school and I'm excited and sad all at the same time. Check out what was happening in my room this week! 

I shared in another post this week that we went to a local college of technology as part of the 8th grade field trip for our entire school. I was nervous about the trip but found out that my students rocked it and there really was nothing to worry about. Yes, that is one of my students actually working a bulldozer! Awesome! 


If someone can help me I'd greatly appreciate it, I cannot figure out for the life of me how to take pictures that are oriented correctly to change. It is so frustrating! I love being able to say that I can do a lot of things on my own but, this is not one of them! So, feel free to comment or send me an email with help!

Anyways, this is a curriculum called Cooking 2 Learn. It is a very visual based cooking curriculum and I love it. My district had purchased it through a grant from a local autism foundation. It is awesome in that is has the recipe in multiple differentiated forms depending on your students reading abilities and it also has comprehension questions at the end for students to complete. No one can say that my students are just doing silly cooking anymore, there is so much educational and functional purpose to it it is insane!


WRONG!!! A student put this up on the board today and I thought I read it wrong. She counted the weekends too. We actually have 7 days of school left. Not a full week left for this teacher in this school year. Like I said before I am excited for summer to be able to spend everyday with my daughter, but I think I will be ready to come back by early August. I'll be bored and itching to work on things in my classroom. I'm a weirdo like that. Most teachers are dying that they have to come back but, I think I just really truly love my job and the students I work with.


This is my setup for my morning meeting in my classroom. My students drove me crazy today talking about the field trips we had this week and the field trips that were coming up for next week. I felt like I was constantly referring to this all week because they are just so excited about these trips. I should have done more of them all year long! Perhaps a calendar of scheduled appropriate field trips around the community is needed for next year?!?


Well, I realized that since I started this blog I have started to neglect my TPT store. I have a huge list of products that I can think of that I either use in my room already or things that I'd like to use next year that would make excellent products to share on TPT. So, since I was slacking I went in my files from the year and thought to myself is there something in here that I could give as a freebie?? Sure enough there it was, a visual recipe that I used during Valentine's day. We made cupcakes and decorated them as our cooking activity the week of Valentine's day. So here you go, a visual recipe of how to make cupcakes to use with your students. Check it out here....

HAPPY FRIDAY & Enjoy the Freebie! :)

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Field Trip

So, on Monday we went on a field trip to a local Technology based College Campus that is like right in our backyard. It was a field trip for all 8th graders to go on in the entire middle school. I had my thoughts about not taking my students because was this really a realistic field trip for them? Were they going to be sitting in college classrooms with professors that were just going to talk to them about college life? Those were definitely thoughts running through my head. This would not be beneficial for them.

Instead of being a negative Nelly I called my guidance counselor who was in charge of the trip and asked her about the programs that the students would be involved in. She said that based on career interest surveys that the students took they would be heading to different departments of the college to learn about their areas of interest. Well, my students had taken this survey as a part of their Technology class but, some of their choices were not realistic. I asked her what she thought was the most hands on program that they had and she felt the Earth and Science center would be best.

 Even though others tried to convince me that this trip was not appropriate for my students, I decided we were going. Why shouldn't they have the chance to go to a college, see some cool stuff, and interact with peers. If anything I saw this as an opportunity to teach some life and social skills. It was way better then that!  I was worried though that taken my students out of their schedules, routines, and normalcy that there might be problems. I was a packing machine thinking of every reinforcer, device, and material my students loved that could get them through the day. Also preventative measures  like noise busters, snacks, visuals out the kazoo, and sensory items.

My students loved the trip we went on a nature hike, they got to climb into trucks, bulldozers, and cement trucks, they learned about bugs, the ecosystem, and how cars run. There were some regular education students that even teamed up with my students, took pictures, cheered them on, and did a nice job interacting them. Check the pictures below....

My whole purpose for sharing this is that a lot of times we can find ourselves thinking we know what our students are capable of and when we push them to do something out of both their comfort zone and ours they can really surprise us and step up to the challenge. My students were the best behaved of the bunch of 400 students on the field trip ( I may be a little biased on that one). They learned so much, and got a great experience out of it.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Sharing What Works: Symbaloo

I had this issue this school year. As many of you know, I work with students with autism in middle school. My students' academic abilities are not that of typical middle schoolers. So, a lot of things in the school that are set up for 12,13, and 14 year olds doesn't work the same as in my classroom. In this way I envy elementary teachers because there isn't such a large gap between students in regular education and special education (well usually). Not saying elementary teachers have it any easier then I do, elementary teachers are the reason that my students have made the the progress they have that I can work on even more complex skills!

 Anyways, so I had this problem. I tried to create ways for my students to be as independent as possible while all the adults in the room worked with students one on one or in small groups. Let me tell you coming up with things to do that were meaningful and not just busy work was not as easy as it sounded. Of course I have my wonderful work task system with the manipulatives that I have been showing you the last couple weeks but, I wanted more then that. I wanted many different outlets to practice skills that we had been working on.

So, I thought  to mylself that my students love technology. So, could I possibly come up with a way for them to be independent using the computer? Now for about half of my students giving them a website and having them type it into a Google search is no biggie and once shown a handful of times how to navigate the website to go where I want them to go is no problem. My problem was the other half of my students that loved technology but, had little skills in knowing how to use it. Of course, in middle school this is unheard of to have a pre-teen or teenager not know how to sign on to a computer, search on Google and go!

 I started by talking with the resident technology guru in my building about how to make it easier for my students to choose what they wanted to do and with one click they would be there. Let's just say that my tech guru was a lifesaver, like super cherry flavored! He had this website that had a way to show multiple websites in icon form (so the visuals were there) and all on one page so that my students could know their choices and click and go. The other best thing about it was I could customize it to get the websites that I wanted on there to show up. You can mess with font size, background colors and all the fancy things you want. You can decide where the symbols go on the page and everything.

 Alright, I've been dragging you through this post trying to build the exact same excitement that I had when I saw this. The website is Symbaloo !  I am not being compensated to share my thoughts on this resources I just love it that much that I wanted to share it!

All you have to do is set up a free account and then make it to custom fit your students and their needs. I'm not going to go into great detail about each item I have but, some of them I haven't heard anyone else in a blog talk about so I figured I'd share. Some items that I have on my Symbaloo are:

  • Joey's Locker- This is part of News-2-You that has games and interactive books and lessons. 

  • Reflex Math- This is a math program that I earned a grant for last year that helps students practice fluency with all their math facts. It has a way to keep data and see student progress. It does cost per student to get it for your classroom. If you have a small number of students that could benefit from it though it might be nice to have. I'm debating on asking my district to buy it for some of my students because it was a great addition to my classroom this year. I know there are other good resources for math facts that are free out there but, I couldn't turn down something free!

  • Seussville-  When we did our weekly News-2-You on Read Across America I made sure that this was a choice for my students to explore! 

  • Tumblebooks-  This is something that my local library offers. Check yours out to see if you can use it too! They have audible books that students can listen to. The nice thing is that it is not just all stories for younger kids there are chapter books too! There are also games that are related to the books that your students can play. 
Others that you probably know:

So, what I do to have this set up for my students that need the extra support is I have one of my higher functioning students type in the url to Symbaloo each morning as part of their morning jobs so that each computer has this up by the time any student needs to use it. Your other option is to set it up yourself or have a paraprofessional do it too!

Really the possibilities of this resource is endless! This is not just a gem for special education teachers but all teachers could use this! I know in my building since the rest of the teachers are one subject area only they create Symbaloo pages with websites that are based on their content area.

Please check this out! I'm positive you won't regret it! It has been such a big help in getting my kids to use technology more independently and make my classroom run even smoother.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Five for Friday

I'm getting the hang of this stuff!   I decided to try this link up with Doodlebugs for 5 for Friday!        I can't make promises that every Friday I will be doing this but, I'll make the effort for now! So here we go ...
 Happy Teacher Appreciation week to me! I got this lovely calla lilly and a chocolate covered strawberry from my classroom! They even picked out my favorite color purple! The strawberry was delicious! I love getting surprises when I'm not expecting them!

We had a community field trip today to the conveinence store and instead of a student buying his normal drink and snack he wanted to get these cups! One for his mom (for mother's day) and one for him. They were versions of Si's cup from Duck Dynasty I thought it was too funny!
This week we talked all about Arlington National Cemetery. This News-2-You curriculum has been super awesome this year. It is one thing I do not regret asking my administration to pay for to enhance my instruction in the classroom because it has really worked out awesome. Every week I read the topic for the next week and think that my students are going to not understand the content or be engaged and they love it! I can't wait to do next weeks topic too! It is so relevant to what their regular education peers are talking about but, it is laid out on a more appropriate level for them. 

 Happy Mother's Day! Sorry the picture is upside down. I haven't quite figured that out yet! We made cards for our mom's and I just have to share this one because my one student was so insistent that since it was a mother's day card that he had to have a picture of his mom on it!

Making applesauce from scratch today. I don't know if I'm going to be making this a repeat lesson or not. We are attempting peeling apples, cutting them up, and mashing them. We will see!!!

There is my 5 for Friday! Thanks for letting me take part and thanks for being interested in what is going on in our room!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Sharing What Works: Work Tasks 3

I'm so excited! I have gotten such great feedback from a lot of teachers and fellow bloggers about my Work Task posts that I've done so far. Seems like I'm not alone in my work task obsession! I've got a few more for you that I currently have out this year. I actually have switched out a few times this year for different reasons so, I have more to share just will have to dig them out at some point! I plan to go more in depth to how I run things in my room as the summer goes on and I can really focus on being super specific. So, here are some more work tasks that are currently working like a charm in my classroom!

Button Sorting w/ an ice cube tray- Color and Shape Discrimination

A while back I was at a garage sale and I found this bag of tons of buttons that were so colorful and diverse in the amount of shapes that they had that I could not pass them up. Did I have any idea what I was going to use them for? Absolutely not! That is what is so great about being a teacher! We always find ways to use junk that no one else can think of. So I took the buttons and velcroed them to the ice cube tray so that students could take them on and off. Also, I was trying to think of multiple uses and if I ever want to change the items that I use the tray for then I can take them off easily and Velcro new items on. 

 Groups of 10 and Rubber bands- Counting and Fine Motor Skills
I can't take full credit for this work box. I got an idea from another picture that I saw (can't remember where I found it to give it credit) but it was showing to use rubber bands to create bundles of objects. The students have to count out 5 sticks and then bundle them up. This is great because as my students are deciding on some transition and career skills that they want to pursue this is something that a student who might want to find a job where they are hands on might have to do. Bundle a bunch of sticks and rubber band it your thinking and look at me?? No, but, the idea behind making a group of something and then utilizing some sort of motor skills is what I mean! 

Blokus Pieces Matching- Spatial Relationships
This work box is using pieces from the game Blokus. It is a lot like Tetris but, not in video game form. I took the pieces traced them onto a file folder and placed velcro on both the pieces and the file folder for students to have to match them up. I have a lot of pieces because my students are older and can focus for longer periods of time. If you have a younger student or a student with limited focus you can always use small amounts of pieces. This can be done with anything that has a distinct shape from other objects. 

Clips onto Paint Cards- Fine Motor Skills/ Color Matching and Generalizing 
This work task is one that just kind of came to me. I was at the Dollar Store in "Work Task" mode and was looking around at objects trying to think of things that could be used in different ways to make unique work boxes. I actually enjoy doing this, it is really weird. So, I stumbled upon the teeny tiny hair clips that you would use in a small child's hair. They were in many different colors (rainbow colored even) and I got an idea. So, I took the multi colored clips and I took my trusty paint chips and created this work box where the student has to put the slip on the card. The interesting thing was at first some of my students would only place the clip on the side that had the exact matching color as the clip. So, I showed them that there is differences in colors. Not every blue is the same color blue and that we have to generalize our thoughts of what blue is. I got the weirdest glares from some of my students when I said this but eventually they were okay with clipping on to the other parts of the cards that didn't match exactly too. 

 Clothespin Grabbing Beads and Sort Task- Fine Motor/ Color Matching
My one paraprofessional calls this the "Box of Cruelty" in my classroom. I swear that is not my intentions at all! She says this with a big heart of course. The whole point of this work task is for the student to grab the pony beads with the clothespin and drop them into the corresponding color container. Yes, this takes a long time and yes the students used to hate me for it in the beginning of the year but, they are awesome at this now! They have improved their fine motor skills and it has helped one of my students with building his ability to write more legibly! So really this box should be called the "Box of Legibility!" 

Well, I hope that you have gotten some good ideas from my work tasks!!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Teacher Appreciation Week Sale!

I'm not a big TPT promoter. Don't get me wrong I have been a big purchaser on TPT and finding great products from other teachers. However, since I started this blog I haven't even mentioned that I sell products on TPT but, I do have a button on my sidebar so I've done a little advertising! To me, it's not about making money, it's about helping other teachers out there because so many others have helped me. I feel like it's kind of a continuous pay it forward concept. Teachers have been that way for a long time. I don't know if there is another community of professionals that are so helpful to one another and I think that is great.

 So, just for that reason I am going to participate in the TPT sale going on for National Teacher Appreciation Week. Everything in my store will be 20% off. I have added some new products for those of you that are followers on my TPT store   -------- > Teach Love Autism TPT Store. Here are some of my top sellers to date:

I've got 5 sets of these cards available all for Edmark Reading Level 1

Large style posters with multiple visuals to represent the different types of questions. 

Worksheets to help with one to one correspondence and with counting pennies.
 Counting goes from 1-10. 

Flash Cards to use in your fluency stations or for vocabulary building or safety units. Multiple ways to use this one!

So be sure to check out the things I'm offering! There are more items if you check out my store here  -------> Teach Love Autism TPT Store Hopefully in some way the things that I have created and shared can help you!! I know I'm getting my cart ready with all the awesomeness that my fellow colleagues have worked their butts off to create! 

Friday, May 2, 2014

May Currently- Attempting a Linky!

Trying something new today.. just hold on for the ride here...
     I am braving the storm and trying to be part of a linky. I have to say, I'm kind of a straight forward gal. Anything that is too tricky I tend to shy away from unless I have someone showing me how to do it. I know that a lot of bloggers out there do linky parties and such and I think that there are some great ones. I thought I'd start by linking up with FARLEY from Oh' Boy 4th Grade .

Listening-  Okay, so I hope I'm not alone in this as an adult but I love Frozen. I got it for my daughter for Easter and we can't stop watching it! My husband might strangle us but I haven't been able to deny my daughter when she asks to watch it. I love the music, it is amazing and I totally get why they won all the awards. 

Loving-  This weather has been so up and down lately, cold and rainy one day and warm the next, but I'll take at least some warm weather! I'm loving this because taking my daughter to the park has been a blast on these warm days! I am getting a little glimpse of what a summer of not working and spending more time with my family will be like and I'm super excited! I haven't had a summer off since I had my daughter and that's been hard knowing that most teachers do get them off! 

Thinking- Yeah, I'm sure a lot of us are. It's hard not to. Thinking about what worked well, what didn't, what I want to do differently, and also wondering what my students are going to be like that I'm getting. This is such an overwhelming thought at times and it's not even really time to worry about it. I've had such a good first year with this district I'm trying to stay on top of how to keep it going. 

Wanting- What woman doesn't want this???? Well, lately we have had some moments in our classroom that all that my paras and I would need to make us feel better is a big hunk of chocolate! This end of the year jitters is getting to all of us! 

Needing- My spring/summer wardrobe is in major trouble. I have not really gone and got myself many clothes for spring or summer for a couple years. Most summers I spend in workout clothes but, I'd like to up my style this summer.  This means, that I have some major retail therapy ahead of me. Trying to scope out all the sales so I can get the best price. I love being able to get clothes that look expensive for a cheap price and then brag about how much I saved!! 

Surprise- Although I'm new to being a blogger I have been following a lot of teaching blogs since I started teaching. Once I knew I was teaching in an autistic support classroom I hurried and followed any and every special education blog I could find. This was hard to choose just one and don't get me wrong there are tons that I love. I chose Autism Tank .
Hailey has opened her arms to following my new blog along with some other great special education bloggers out there. Hailey does such a nice job sharing her ideas and her products on TPT are great Autism Tank TPT Store. I'm working on a wishlist this summer and many of her products are on it. So please check it out!

Well, I think I survived my first linkup and hopefully it won't be my last. Thanks for tuning in!