Monday, October 27, 2014

Halloween Weekend Sale!

Hello There!

I can't believe it has almost been 2 months of school done and down the drain! Feels like it was just summer and I was worried about getting things ready.

AnyBOO, (ha, did you get it??)... I decided that in honor of that and Halloween I would throw a sale. Grab everything in my TPT store for 20% off from Thursday, October 30th through Sunday November 2nd. Stock up on some of those wishlisted items or check out my store for the first time and see what I have! Here are a few of my best sellers..

So, while you are on that sugar high from eating all that candy, take some time to check out what I have in my store and get a great deal!  Happy Halloween Everyone!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Teaching Pet Peeves

So, as I was reading around some fellow bloggers blogs I found one that was all about that bloggers pet peeves (non-teaching blogger). It kind of inspired me to work on a post that talked about about my pet peeves as a teacher.

1. I hate disorganization. Everything in my classroom has to have a home. So, students that lack this capability really get on my nerves and I make it my goal to get them organized. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. 

2.  I hate crooked things. Things need to by symmetrical and/or lined up straight. I literally stagger my bulletin board titles so that you can't tell if they are not lined up right. (Teacher trick I learned. 

3. I hate when other teachers think I do nothing all day and basically tell me that. 

4. I hate when a student is absent because it makes the day go sooooooo much longer. 

5. I hate when my ipad is dying. I sometimes forget to plug the charger in before I leave for the day and then the whole next day I am stuck attached to this cord and unable to move around the classroom because if I unplug it I can't work on it. 

6. I hate when the volume on my smartboard is on an odd number. This also goes for my car, my TV and anything else with a numbered volume. I know that's just weird. 

7. I hate when my to-do list looks like a small child has written all over it (sometimes that maybe true in my case). It is so annoying and I cannot move forward on my to-do list until it looks nice, neat, and organized. 

8. I hate that other people have no idea (well except the small few other teachers like me in the world) how hard I work on a daily basis to provide appropriate education for my students. I bust my butt and I can't stand when someone tries to tell me I don't do anything or my students are incapable of "real work". Talk about someone really wanting to get me into a rage... 
9. I hate no schedule (I'm like my students on this one). I hate not knowing what is coming next and for how long I'm going to have to do it for. This includes inservice professional development trainings that feel like drag on for days... 

10.  Lastly, I hate that a majority of the students in my building have no awareness of my students. I feel like part of that can be fixed by me and I've seen other teachers do trainings or seminars in their schools for other students to allow them to understand autism and other learning disabilities. Just having a student come up to me and ask, "Is there something wrong with her?" drives me bonkers. I can't imagine if I was a parent of a student with autism and the lack of understanding most people out in public would probably have. 

Alright, so I've vented, I've told you what is my major pet peeves as a teacher.  Now I'm going to challenge all my fellow blogger friends out there to share!! What are your teacher pet peeves???

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Learning to Be Proud of My Classroom...

Well, I have to say going into my second year of teaching special education and my 7th year of teaching overall has been as different as all the rest. There have been highs, lows, and times that fall somewhere in between. This blog post is going to share a time when I may have not felt confident as a teacher. I know, most of us don't show this side, but I thought it was important because I am sure I am not alone.

Last year as a first year teacher in a new subject, new grade, and new school I was nervous about when my principals sent an email out asking all the teachers in the school to make use of the walls in the hallways and display student work. I wasn't nervous because I didn't have work to hang. I had plenty of examples of work that I had stored away that I use during IEP time to show parents their child's portfolio of progress. I work my students hard and they work hard for me. We have a great thing going in my room where students are always doing something that is going to help them for the rest of their lives. I thrive on making that happen everyday for my students.

My nerves came about because I knew that what I would be putting out in the hallway would not be similar to what the other teachers were putting out there. I work in a middle school and most of my students are not working at a typical middle schoolers ability. I don't see anything wrong with that as long as they are making progress. Honestly, I bet that some of my students make more progress in a year then most students in my building do but, in my head I worried about what other teachers and students would think if I hung addition and subtraction problems while most students are doing algebra. I was worried about my students being made fun of for not being as smart as them. I was worried that other teachers would think all I do is babysit all day or teach preschool because the skills I am working on are more functional and things that many of the other students in the building learned in elementary school.

At first, I tried to have my students create these writing pieces that would look somewhat like the writing pieces that were out in the seventh grade english classroom. It was was horrible and hard. The kids hated doing it, I hated making them do it, and it just was frustrating and inappropriate all the way around. I sat in my classroom that day afterschool and looked at the writing pieces thinking. "This is not my students, this is not their work, this is not what we strive to do and be everyday of the school year."

So, I decided I wasn't going to care if kids were going to look at my bulletin board and wonder why there was counting money on a worksheet. I wasn't going to worry about if a student's writing piece looked like someone younger had done it. I knew, my staff knew, my students knew, and their parents knew that we are all working out butts off in my classroom everyday to produce this work and make it beneficial for the students so that they can be more independent and better in their lives as adults.

So, this year I decided to go all out and put up some of my student's work that we are all proud of.

It will be up all year and due to the fact that I can just change out the work on the clothespins that is what I will be doing. I will find new pieces and put them out every once in a while so that people can see all the hard work we do in my room everyday.

I know that this blog post is not to convince the other special education teachers out there. You all know that we work hard everyday. You all know that we are usually looked at as people that don't have to teach the hard stuff. This is for the people who don't know or understand the work, heart, and dedication that every special education teacher, paraprofessional, student and their families put into getting that student at their very best. And this is one of the reasons that I got into special education is because the work is hard, but the reward is even greater when that student that couldn't talk is talking to you and when that student that couldn't write their name, is writing it. This is what special education is all about and this is why I love my job, my students, my school, and my staff everyday. We do amazing things in my room and I am proud of it!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Sharing What Works: Work Tasks System

I've noticed a new found love by many special education teachers. Whatever you want to call it... work tasks, job boxes, work boxes, etc. These systems that allow students to build independence in their lives through the use of some little rubbermaid containers and mostly dollar store finds is making teachers so excited! I am no different!

This was one of the first things that I set up in my room when I found out I was going to be teaching students with ASD in a self-contained classroom. I have read a lot lately though that teachers have trouble storing the items and they have problems setting it up. That students couldn't be kept engaged because they were just given whatever task was available.
My work tasks behind the blue curtain and my newly added on black shelf with about 25 more tasks in it and even more on top of it! I love them all! They are like my babies! 

Well there is a solution to all that. It is called labeling and scheduling. YES another schedule! I know it hurts to think that you have come up with another fool-proof schedule in your classroom.

If you classroom is anything like mine you have multiple schedules. You have:
-the regular building schedule
-the teacher's job duty schedule
-the para professional job duty schedule
-the students work schedule
-a schedule for when to collect data and work on IEP's

...and the list could go on and on and on for-EV-ER! Well, yes I'm going to tell you. If you haven't already added a schedule for your work tasks in your classroom then you are going to want to do it now. The time and headaches that are saved is amazing!

Here is a picture of what my work task schedule looks like.
Each student has a different set of boxes that no one else in the room has that day (so there are no mixups) and they don't do the same box twice during the week (unless I make a special exception).

Here is a close up of the Work Task Schedule in my room. This is what my student who puts the numbers on the desks uses as a reference to know what numbers and letters to put on.
I have this schedule right next to my shelves of work tasks. This is so everyone in the room can read it and knows what each student is doing at any given time during their Work Task time. The great thing about it is that it is simple, easy to read and understand, and it is laminated! So I write the number or letters under each students' name for the time being and use a dry-erase marker so that I can change easily without having to re-laminate or re-print something that was typed out. 

Here is what my students desks look like with all their tasks on them. 
I even got smart this year and made the whole process of placing the numbers or letters on the students desks into a job that another student does as part of their morning chores. I was asking one of my paras to do this every morning and she would pull her hair out trying to find the stinkin' numbers. Now, I solved the problem by getting one of my super organized students to help us out!

So, within my classroom schedule each student has time in their day to work on their work task boxes for that day. On the schedule for each day they have a different set of boxes. I have had times in the past where I had students that couldn't handle different boxes on different days so they did the same ones over and over. I don't like doing this because I think students should have variety because not everyday in their life is realistically going to be the same but, for this particular student it worked well. 

During their "Work Task" time and during any other "down time" students may work to complete their work boxes. They know that when they are finished they are allowed to take a break. Again, I have adapted this for students who may need more breaks. I have students that have breaks in between boxes and halfway through depending on their ability to work independently for periods of time. 

As you have seen in many of my other posts I have all kinds of work tasks. If you haven't you can check my blog posts about work tasks here, and here, and here, and here.   Yes, they are all different links to different posts I have done on work tasks. 

Well, as I change things (because I always do) I will keep you posted. I plan to continue this with a post all about my new "Life/Functional Skills Area" that I have created new in my classroom this year. I've shared pictures but now I'm going to explain how it works too! It is a whole other type of work task time for my students but mostly focusing on Life and Functional Job Skills. 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

October Currently.. with a TREAT!

Hello! Now don't jinx me.. we are going on day 3 in a row of posts. It won't happen this way normally but, I have just been able to find the time and it has worked out so lucky you guys!

Today, I am linking up with Farley for the October Currently. Check out my latests...

Listening- To nothing.. everyone is sleeping in my house and it is such a nice feeling. Although in the morning I will have wished that I went to bed earlier.

Loving-  I love the fall! I love apple and pumpkin picking and the hayrides. I love apple cider and corn mazes. It is just such a fun time of year with lots of activities to do.

Thinking- My weekend is jammed packed with a birthday party, visitors, and a day of cleanup after it all! Oh well, that's what makes life exciting right?!?!

Wanting- Yeah, I know I'm complaining but, if I wasn't busy I'd be going crazy saying how bored I am. I am a pain in the butt like that.

Needing- I am coaching, teaching, being a mom, a wife, and trying to do it all. I know there are others out there doing all this too. It is hard but, I do really love it all and would hate myself if I didn't work hard and bust my butt to do it all. It is just part of the job in my eyes!

Trick or Treat- TREAT!!!! I love you guys so much and I decided that since my Edmark products have been a hit I'd pick one that lots of you have wishlisted but, maybe haven't had the $ to spend. So here you go!  Go to this link here: Edmark Task Cards Lessons 1-45

Thanks for checking me out and please grab that discounted product! You won't regret it!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Work Task Wednesday Link-up!

Workbasket Wednesday at Autism Classroom News
Wow two posts in two days! It is amazing. Ha, no I actually had this post done a week or two ago waiting for it to come up. Thanks Christine for hosting this from your site Autism Classroom News!

I will share a few new ones that I created new this year with ideas I had over the summer. I am super proud of my work tasks and think that it is one of the most efficient and effective parts of my classroom. 
This is a packaging task where students have to put the clips back in the boxes. Ummm super easy to make right??? This could be done with paper clips, erasers, pencils, crayons. 

This is one of my newly created "Binder Tasks" I noticed that binders took up less space then boxes did so if I could find a way to store everything for that task in a binder I did it. These are pattern block templates that I bought from Lakeshore in my early childhood teaching days and I've repurposed them for a spatial relationship task. The students take the blocks out of the pencil case to make the patterns on the cards. 

I'm going to first apologize big time because I cannot remember where I got these from. They are definitely a teacherspayteachers freebie or product that I got but, I don't know from who. If you know or are the one I got them from please comment below so I can give you credit. These puzzles work great for my students!

So there you go! New work tasks that are in my room and loving being able to share them with all of you each month!!