Sunday, November 27, 2016

The Most Important Station in my Classroom

I am a big believer that keeping the schedule filled and busy for my students is the key to having them stay on task, reduce behaviors, and maximizing the learning of new skills and the maintenance of old ones. So, I have a lot going on in my classroom. You can read posts about my schedules in my classroom here. 

In having a packed schedule you have to have things to put in it. So, I have created centers, stations, whatever you want to call them that my students work at everyday that are either taught 1:1 by myself or my paraprofessionals or they are independent areas that my students work at. One of those is my Life Skills Station. 

This has the students work schedules on them and then some of the drawers and cabinets have tasks inside them such as hanging and folding clothes, putting shoes away in an organizer by matching the pair. And in the corner you can see our vacuum. 

This cabinet is new this year and I am super pumped about it because not only does it store a lot of items for the students to work with but, it has this great work top space where students have room to fold clothes and work! 

Students work here everyday. I have created a schedule so that students work on different tasks on different days but, the key to getting the students to be independent here is that they can independently do the tasks prior to having them work on them at that station. This means that we have either tested to see if the students had these skills prior or we have taught them in a teaching session with an adult. 

Here is a look at some of the activities and skills that we have the students work on in this station:

These are my clothespin cards that I have for every room in the house to work on matching popular items that you would find in each room.

These are puzzles the students can put together by looking at the numbers at the bottom and putting them together with the same vocabulary for different rooms of the house. 

This is a pill organizer that my students use to follow the schedule with the colors on it to place pony beads in the right section of the pill sorter. 

This skill is not only something that a students may do as a job one day but, it works on their fine motor skills as well! 

Where did you get all those materials?? Well just like with my work tasks I have accumulated things over the years. I got this Vocational Task set from eNasco.

I have gotten some things from the Dollar Store, Target, and Five Below. 

And I have even made some things myself that you can get in my TPT store like these:

The biggest thing about this station is that it provides students a chance to practice skills that they will very likely need most of their lives. I might argue that it is one of the most important parts of my students days. So, if you haven't thought about implementing something like this in your classroom you definitely should!! 

Lastly, if you didn't know there is a HUGE TPT Sale today! So head over and get all my products and other TPT authors products for 28% off! 

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Rules on the First Weeks of School

In this post I wanted to really focus on rules in the classroom. I have seen a ton of pictures on Instgram, Pinterest, and Facebook of teachers posting their classrooms ready for the new year. Of course something that is in probably every room (if not you are crazy and love adventure!) is a set of classroom rules. Some teachers like to let the students come up with them but, in my classroom that might be a little off. I think my rules might be something like this:

1. Students are allowed on the computer and iPads whenever they want.

2. Students can have snack whenever they want.

3. Students can have breaks ALL DAY.

4. Teachers should not teach or discipline any students.

5. Students are basically allowed to do whatever they wanted and teachers can't stop us!!:)

Let me preface first by saying my students are wonderful but, if they had the chance to do whatever they wanted all day instead of working their butts off like we do, I could totally see these being the rules in our classroom. Although, I really can't blame them.

Rules are what give our students in any classroom boundaries. It lets them know what they can and cannot do but, as teachers we need to be sure that we are going over these rules thoroughly to make sure they understand what is expected of them.

During the first weeks of school I am like a broken record. I am constantly stating our classroom rules and I am giving lots of examples in different areas in the classroom. I explain how each rule can be interpreted in that part of our classroom whether it is the direct instruction area, work tasks, or sensory room. This allows the students to internalize that information.

A key to helping students understand your rules and expections is to be clear, concise, and model all the time what you expect. Our students can't be mind readers and we can't expect that they know how we want them to behave no matter what age they are

In order to be able to do this and tackle different modes of learning for my students I created a product that could be used with multiple learners but, still was functional and appropriate for teaching rules during those first weeks of school.

In this resource you will find small visuals that can go on a lanyard, large visuals that can be used as posters or at an assembly for a quick reminder. There is even a flipbook that you can create to make it easy to reference the rules! 

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Classroom Reveal 2016-2017

So, it is time to start another year of school. I can not believe it. I am going on year 8... REALLY?!? It feels like I was just in my first year of teaching like yesterday?!?

Anyways, I am in year 4 of being a special education teacher in a self contained middle school autistic support classroom. And I want to say that looking at my room you won't see changes, and yet, you will see changes. I have tried to make this room work for everyone. I have six students this year and 4 staff (2 one-on-one aides, and 2 paraprofessionals). It is an interesting group to say the least but I wouldn't ask for it any other way! Only time will tell and when the kiddos come on Monday we will get the true test!

I wanted to give you a reveal of all that I have worked on to create this wonderful classroom for my students. So here we go!!

When you first walk into my clasroom this is what you see, my students' schedules. There are clipboards for the students that have laminated dry erase schedules and then under the clock you see the schedules with pictures. It is kind of hard to see but actually there are flaps that have a red check and a green check and when a student completes that part of their schedule the turn the flap over so that it is green and means they have finished that and can go to the next part. 

This is one of my para run stations at the horse shoe table. This year I am calling it "Academy". The reason why is because it is going to be a complete mix-up of academic activities. 

This shows my lifeskills work area. There is a rectangular table to work at with some rubbermade drawers with tasks in them and then the counter with the tablecloth on it is my newest baby that houses all my tasks! 

Here is the front of the counter and as you can see I have pictures on the doors and drawers because when you open these up there are life skills tasks inside that the students have to complete. There is probably a post specifically on what is in here coming soon! 

These are the cabinets that house some of the other life skills materials. I have students hang clothes, hang shoes, fold shirts, and sort light and dark laundry. You can also see in this picture the schedules that the students have to follow with their names on it when they work in this area. 

On this cabinet you will find my work task schedule cheat sheets! These are life savers to help my staff and students to know what they are going to work on each day. These are part of my Work Task Starter Kit. This is my supply cabinet. also houses all my school materials and supplies.

This is the view of the entire cabinet. It took about 1/2 a day to organize it all, but it will save all of us so much time when the school year starts! 

A close up of the cabinet. You can see that I have everything in a basket and then the basket is labeled. LOVE IT! 

Another look at the cabinet organization! <3

This is my work task system. It consists of both the black and wood shelving. I couldn't tell you how many tasks I have here but, there are a lot. Which gives me a lot of options to mix it up for my students so they don't get bored and that is key! 

2 Computers for students to use. 

Binderwork area- independent work for the students. The students will use both binders with tasks in them and also cookie tray activities in this area. 

Classroom library

Classroom rules, hooks for hanging backpacks and coats, and a table for break times for drawing and doing puzzles. 

Bindershelf where we store Academy work, morning meeting binders, communication binders, lunch materials, and a place to put finished work. 

Direct instruction area with whiteboard, morning meeting board, teacher desk. 

Morning meeting board, whiteboard and technology station. 

Morning meeting bulletin board. My favorite stuff to teach! 

My teacher's desk, love how tiny it is! 

Unique vocabulary pocket chart and a computer for students to check their class dojo info! 

Left side of the room

Right outside of the sensory room, I added a few more items for an extension. And I added a core vocabulary word wall for students to reference! 

As you can see, I have a lot of stuff, and if I ever had to move all of this to a new classroom (which I don't intend to in the future!) I would probably go with a company like MakeSpaceMakeSpace. They provide easy options for anyone to move and store things. As a teacher, the service they provide is perfect. Check out their self-storage locations to see if there is one near you! 

I hope to take the time this year to go through each area of the classroom and give a more detailed blog post on what happens in each area of the classroom! Happy new school year to all of you whether you have started or not!! :)

Sunday, July 24, 2016

DIY Materials for your Special Education Classroom

One thing I love is a little DIY. For many reasons.. it is usually cheap, it is sometimes free, and you get something exactly the way you want it! I posted a picture on Instagram about 2 weeks ago of  this...

If you don't follow me on Instagram you should! 
It is a sensory light box that I have in my sensory room.

It was made by a OT student teacher who helped my sensory room get a makeover. She was awesome and I was so sad to hear that she was moving to Virginia for a job, but she is doing fantastic there.

Anyways, when I posted the pic I got some questions on how it was made. I don't have pictures of how I made it (because I didn't) but, I thought I could share some pictures to show you how she did it.

There are a few items that you need:
-Multippurpose light
-rubbernaid tub box (shoe box size is good)
-hot glue gun
-materials to put on top!

You will probably want one of these. Here is the affiliate link!!

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You need to place it inside the box and then seal it with your glue gun. the case I have has the clamps on the side that lock so I didn't glue mine but, I know I wouldn't want little finger to get it open and mess with the light!  

I use this in my sensory room and loved that as I went through my Pinterest that I found all kinds of crazy ideas that I could use with my students. They are going to have so much fun this year!! 

Then, find some cool things to play with on top of the lid like... 

I love the versatility of this box and so do my students! If you take the plunge and make one please send me pics! I'd love to see how you did it! 

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Sharing What Works: Work Tasks 4

I have not done one of these posts in AWHILE! I thought to myself that I owe you all another round of my work tasks in my classroom. I am constantly updating, changing and working on my work tasks in my classroom because lets face it. Our students are forever changing and we don't need them getting bored! If you'd like to see more of these posts you can look at these!

Work Tasks 1
Work Tasks 2
Work Tasks 3

 So, here is a work task that is like a mixture of a lot of things. I have a rubber maid container that is probably suppose to be used for storing your dinner when you don't want things to touch but, when I saw it at the Dollar Tree I was in my "work task mode" and thought what a great sorting vessel! So, I decided to cut holes in the top of the three sections so that they were the size of the items I wanted students to sort to make this work for a "put-in" task. I took beads of different shapes and counters that I didn't have another use for.
 With this task I was able to find things at the Target Dollar Spot (this was not recently though). I would say probably last winter I found the four section divided tray which came with a lid. I believe the real use for it was to organize makeup but, I again thought about how I could use it in my classroom, found these linking shapes at the Dollar Tree and was able to put together another sorting work task for $2!! The students have to sort by shape in this one.
Every year I get asked by my special education department about which stores in the area we would like gift cards too. Don't get too jealous we only get about $100 total worth of gift cards but, I'm not complaining here because every little bit helps! So, I asked for Five Below as one of my stores this past year. I was so excited when I went in there and found these! They are actually suppose to be things you put in your freezer and use as ice cubes in your drinks for some kind of fancy drink but, I thought of the packaging task right away. I have the students use these bags and take one of each fruit and package it in together.

 Sorry for the upside down picture. I am technically challenged when it comes to this and figured you can tell what it is so it doesn't matter. This work task is pretty awesome. I found these sight word/ classroom words on sentence strips with the picture cue to go with and didn't know what to do with them but, thought they were nice and being the packrat teacher I am I put them to the side until this year I decided to turn them into a task. I just cut them apart using different patterns so none of them would match up with the wrong answer (self-check made simple) and then added them to the box. Talk about a $1 work task. I think that should be a new hashtag. #dollarworktask

Last but most certainly not least. One of my favorites in my classroom this year has been these Life Skills Clothespin Tasks. I made these and you can find them at my TPT store. I have created a set for each room in the house such as:
-Living Room

I also put them all together in a BUNDLE that you can get right here too! The only thing you need to do with these is print, laminate, cut and add clothespins. The students can easily see the picture at the top with the word description and then clip the corresponding picture below that and it will make it super easy for them to identify some household vocabulary by words and pictures.

So, do you like these tasks? Think you want to set up one of these work stations in your classroom!?!? Well, I have got a new product for you.. CHECK IT OUT! Everything you need to get a work task system in your classroom. You can get this in my TPT store here!

Thanks for stopping by and be sure to check in again as I plan another Work Task post before the summer ends! :)