Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Sharing What Works: Work Tasks 2

My obsession with work tasks continued... Here is another round of work tasks that I do in my classroom currently. Like I said before, these are ones I've made up, or I have gotten ideas to do from other teachers. Let me know what you think!

Pattern Block Patterns- This was simple to set up. I had pattern blocks on hand and found these pattern templates somewhere online for free (If I could find where I would link it.) Here is a link to a Pinterest board that had a lot of images that were similar  Pattern Blocks

Paper Clip Sorting by Color- This one was a more advanced sorting task. I took small snack containers and placed a small square of a paint chip that matched the colors of the paper clips that I was using to the bottom of the container.  Then I added a bunch of paper clips of varying colors so that it was really targeting that skill and not just a lucky guess. Also, notice that I put variations of some colors to help with generalizing the skill such as both light and dark blue. 

Fine Motor Clothespins to Rulers Color Matching- These rulers were a lucky find in Walmart at the beginning of the school year. I actually didn't know what I was going to use them for but, I figured they would be good for something. Then I figured it out. I got the colorful clothespins from the dollar store or you could use wood clothespins. I have done this in a pinch when one has gone missing. The students have to use their fine motor skills to clip the right color clothespin to the right color on the ruler. I love work tasks that tackle two skills at once! 

Letter Sorting-  This task was created in a pinch when i realized I forgot to put something in a work task box for a student.  All I took was an ice cube tray from the Dollar store and some left over letter tiles that I had for the student to randomly sort letters.  

Number Matching Task- This was made from bulletin board borders that I got at the dollar store and never found a use for. So I laminated them and left one part whole and added hard velcro and cut the other one apart into pieces and added soft velcro so they could be exactly matched to each other. 

I'm loving my work tasks right now, my students are also doing the same. They are staying busy and they are working hard!

Monday, April 28, 2014

My Random Thoughts as a Special Education Teacher!

Okay, so I'm pretty sure I warned any of you that read my blog that you won't find excellent writing here! Just me! So, Here are some random thoughts that I had to share!

Well,  in my district we have to have a fire drill once a month. This means that once a month they plan a fire drill, let the rest of the staff know and then we are to practice. No big deal.  Right?!?!

In my classroom of middle schoolers it usually isn't a big deal and for the students it wasn't. I've worked in classrooms with younger students who would have a horrible time dealing with the sound of the alarm and the change in routine. I was freaking out and making a big deal for another reason.

So during the fire drill the students need to be quiet so we can hear if there is another set of procedures that need to be followed to keep everyone safe. We make this a big deal that everyone has to be quiet during the time that we walk out of the classroom, get outside the building, and on the way in.

For some reason on Friday when we had our fire drill one of my students that rarely talks decides he wants to have a full blown conversation with me while we are waiting for the okay to go back inside the building.  He goes, "Hey, where is that big white truck going?" (he was looking down the highway that runs next to our school). I turn and look and I'm in shock. I'm lucky if I can get him to say hello to me when he comes into the classroom in the morning.  So, I answer him and tell him that I think it's going to make a delivery somewhere and he keeps on going! He wants to know what might be inside the truck, who is getting the stuff in it, and what are they going to use it for.

Of course, being a teacher of an autistic support classroom this is like the best thing ever! Although, my colleagues that were waiting quietly outside of the building gave me a look like I was nuts when I kept the conversation going in the middle of the fire drill. Sorry! This kid never talks I'm taking advantage of this and having this conversation people!

I swear on the daily I am telling my support staff that other teachers must think I'm crazy for the things we make big deals about in my class but, it seriously is what needs to be done to help my students. I'm sure at times they walk by my room and wonder why I teach at my table with a binder in front of my face. Some of you may get that when the students are doing work they will look at you to see if they are getting the right answer or not. They have gotten so good at reading adults faces that they know instantly, so I hold a binder in front of my face and teach behind it so they can't tell if they have the right answer or not and I can get a true read of their ability.

Oh well... the crazy things we do as teachers to get success out of our students! :)

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Making Connections...

Here we go! So, I'm trying my hardest here to get some followers. I've connected to all kinds of places like Google+ , TPT, Bloglovin, etc. I never knew all this stuff existed! Not because I want people to like me more because I just feel like I have so many cool ideas that I want to share with others! Isn't this what it is all about? I want to make other teachers better by teaching them what I know and of course vice versa! I have so heavily relied on the blogs that I follow for advice because in my school district there is only 5 other autistic support teachers and in my school there is just me! So, you can guess that we don't get to collaborate as much as we would all like. We are kind of like the odd men out in our schools because there is no other teacher in our schools that teach the same class or students. Don't get me wrong, I love the building I work in, the teachers are fabulous and my administrators are soooo supportive. It is just that it's nice to have someone to bounce ideas off of that is in the same situation. I think we all like to be able to do that as teachers!

So, I am hoping that if you have a blog and you are stumbling upon mine that you will follow, then word will spread and I will find that sense of community that I sometimes miss in my own building. I am working on creating some new posts that will share what we are doing in my classroom. I have to get better at planning posts and not just randomly writing one up as it comes to my head! I'll get there though!


Please take the time to share me with blogging buddies, check out what I've posted and please feel free to give comments and feedback! This whole experience is really new to me and I'm looking forward to learning and growing in a new way!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Sensory Room Part 2

Hey There!

   Time to get into more depth about my sensory room and the great finds that my OT and student teacher OT found for me. There are a few finds of my own that I added but, really like I said in this post Sensory Room Part 1 my inspiration was started from those two wonderful ladies that got my mind thinking in terms of the senses! So, in this post I'm going to use the same pictures that I had in my first post but, I'm going to explain what the items in the pictures are used for and if I know, where they were found! All about the sharing!

In this first picture you will find my "fidget table". I have a student that will sit on an exercise ball and bounce while at this tale and play with the items on it. Starting from left to right there is a mini pillow pet (black) which when pressed will glow different colors. There is also squish balls some with lights in them and others without. Those I found at dollar stores and the Target dollar spot.  The "frog" looking things are massagers that I found at Aldi's for $5. The kids love them, and there feet glow too! Then I have the standard lava lamp (five below) and sets of bins with small items and a homemade light box. This is a tupperware container, christmas lights inside with a hole cut out so the cord will fit and plug it in! The student teacher OT that I had made this and the kids like putting glow in the dark stars and see through chips and mess with mixing the colors.

 Here is a closer look at the homemade light box that was made! The students turn the light off and move the pieces around to see how they look.
 Here is a closer look at the mini pillow pet, frog massagers, squish balls, and lava lamp at the "fidget table".
 Here is part of my tactile wall. I got these tactile letters from my OT but, you can get these at lakeshore or other stores. They have all kinds of textures on them and my students love to touch and describe how they feel.
 My best piece in the room! My tactile board! The student teacher OT made this for us! She got a pegboard at Lowes and piled it with anything and everything she could find on the cheap from stores and samples at Lowes to create these different textures and touches. There are slinkies, zippers, push lights, magnet boards, felt grass, tile samples, and different styles of cloth.
 This gives a large view of the "crash pit". I have students that love to spin, crash into mats, and try to balance. This mat and exercise balls help. There is a blue cloth hanging which is an extra large body sock! You can also see my shower curtains over my lights so even when the lights are on in the room they are more dim. One shower curtain is an ocean theme and the other I got at TJ Maxx and it has all different synonyms for "relaxation on them. I thought it was calming and fitting for our room.
 Here is another vestibular area. There are handprints for students to do wall push ups on. Also pictures of different positions students can try on the mats or in the body sock. They were simple enough that my students could understand them. Also, the angry bird picture is for one of my students that love to play catch. Instead of bugging the staff every time I taught him to play wall ball with the angry bird! He loves it.  Also pictures in the bottom is the spin disc ( very expensive sit and spin, my OT bought it from school specialty) and a bilbo seat. I found that at a second hand sale for $5.
 Lastly, the cozy corner. We have mats (from a yard sale at a day care) pillows, bean bag, carpet, rope lights for when the lights are out, and a basket for one of my students who likes to curl up in the corner and draw. She would do this forever if I let her and her drawings are so awesome that sometimes I want to let her do it!
Well, this was a really long post but, I hoped you enjoyed my sensory room. I am so excited with how it came out and my students definitely use it more now that they have this setup.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Happy Break!

We are gearing up for break in my classroom! I have to say it has been long overdue with all the snow days making these past two months have no other days off! I can't wait to spend time with my family and friends and also allow my students to get a little breather from school (their parents may not feel that way though).

We did some fun things on the day before break like made peep  & fruit kabobs, had an egg hunt, and relaxed and watched a movie.

 Most days are not this easy in my room so my students really enjoy it when we do these special things. The last thing we did was a jelly bean taste test. They had fun trying the crazy flavors of jelly beans and taking guesses at what they are eating.

Thanks for checking in! See you after break!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Sensory Room! Part 1

Hello all!

This is my first official blog post and boy am I excited to be sharing it with you. This actually will be a multiple part post because it is so intricate. There is a lot of stuff I want to share about my sensory room. When I first started my position this year as an autistic support teacher to 7th and 8th graders lets just say I was a bit overwhelmed. I had not worked with this age group before and actually it was an age group I avoided at all costs. Teenagers just gave me the chills and made me want to go back to bed.

When I started setting up my classroom I felt that I had a good idea of how to make my room function even though I was going from teaching primary grades to middle school. These students still needed the same kind of structure. One part of my classroom that got put on the backburner was my sensory room. I didn't know much about sensory rooms and didn't really understand their main function.

I was so fortunate to be in a brand new school, brand new classroom, and in my room was a seperate room to be my sensory room. Problem was... I only had limited things to go in the room. I had two exercise balls, two gym mats, a broken bean bag chair, and a box with little trinkets in it. Other then that, I didn't have much that I could use in my sensory room and I didn't really have the sensory room "mindset" to think outside the box and find some inexpensive ways to boost the room and really encourage students to want to use it for their sensory needs.

In came my occupational therapist and a student teacher. They were awesome! They opened my eyes to a whole new idea of how a sensory room could be. One thing that was great is that they understood my classroom was filled with teenagers that knew mostly what their own sensory needs were so we tried things out with them to see what they liked.

I guess what got me thinking "sensory" was when the student teacher that worked with my OT was saying to me how looking at the senses and how each student reacts to them can determine some of their needs. Trying to balance the room to have a little bit of all the needs sensory wise might be the best place to start. So that is exactly what we did. Here is a before picture of my sensory room:

Here are after pictures of my sensory room. I will be posting more in the future about the specifics and where some things came from or how they were made on the cheap! I am so proud of where this room has come from. My students are using it so much more too! 

Let me know what you use for sensory in your classroom! 

Friday, April 4, 2014


I cannot thank you enough for taking the time to check out my blog. I love reading blogs and learning new things from fellow teachers and I thought to myself that I occasionally have a good idea and that maybe this was a good way to share it!
Now to get to a little more about myself. I am a sixth year teacher that has taught in the primary grades in regular education and have embarked on my first year (which is almost over) as a special education teacher. I am working with students in middle school (7th and 8th grade) with autism and some life skills students. I have found that working with teenagers on the spectrum can be sooooo much fun and also soooooo challenging.
Everyday is new and we stumble upon things and go on adventures together as my students, staff, and I learn how to work together. I love what I do and can’t imagine doing anything else. So please join me as I share what I do in my classroom and other ideas and thoughts that I have. Thanks for reading and stay tuned!