Monday, July 30, 2012

Monday Made It, Clip Chart Style!

This past year, when my district went to PBIS, we were told (on a building level) the behavior tracking/reward system they wanted us to use. It didn't really work for us - without going into specifics, I didn't feel there was enough follow-through or support to make it motivating for my kids (all the reward was on a building, not classroom level), or even worthwhile to continue...in my classroom we petered out using it about halfway through the year.

Okay, then...Definitely changing it up for next year (yes, we are allowed to). I'm going to use a clip chart for the first time! I just finished making it this week:
I used the adorable polka dot labels from PreKinders and added my own text. It's quite large, so if I were to make it again I would probably use half sheets rather than full - but at least my kids will be able to see it well! I still love how it turned out! I still need to get some jumbo clothespins/clips for the kids' names. I will have 9 students next year so they can be pretty large (again, so the kids can see them well).
I don't know if you can see it clearly from the photo, but I was trying to figure out how I wanted to attach the pieces, when I remembered I had this adorable polka dot ribbon from the Dollar Spot a while back that worked perfectly and matched with the design!

The kids will have their clips moved up and down based on our PBIS expectations. To make it more motivating than last year's method, I am also going to implement a ticket system. Kids can earn tickets by:
-Ending the day on dark blue or purple (possible one ticket per day)
-Doing their classroom job every day (possible one ticket per week)
-Going above and beyond - doing something extra to help or cheer up a classmate or adult (possible one ticket each time)
-Getting a compliment on their behavior from an adult who does not work in our room (possible two tickets each time, because this one is rare!)

I'm going to store their tickets using this:
I used the back (unlined) part of colored word strips from the Dollar Tree, laminated and put 10 large paper clips on each strip. I used packing tape to affix the paper clips to the back, so they won't move around. When they earn a ticket, it will go on their strip until they've filled the whole thing and can choose a prize.

I'm going to post their prize choices on the wall beside our clip chart:
(waiting for laminating on our school machine)
Prizes they can choose from include:
-Breakfast Bunch - eat breakfast with staff at the round table (we eat breakfast in the room and the kids always like the chance to sit at the staff table instead of their desks)
-Princi-pal - visit Mr. Steve (our principal) and tell him what a great job you're doing (my kids IDOLIZE Mr. Steve so I can see this being a popular choice!)
-Fresh Air - take a 15-minute walk outside with an adult (weather permitting)
-Bike It - take a bonus 15-minute bike ride (kids ride bikes for physical therapy and it is always a favorite activity)
-iPad, Please - 15 minutes to use the iPad app of your choice (this one will be held off until we actually get our iPad - rumor has it this will happen in the new school year!!!)
-Librarian - you choose the book we read at circle time
-Pump Up the Jams - 15 minutes to listen to music or a story on headphones
-Work Pass - skip morning work for a day (just the work task they do while we wait for everyone to arrive and breakfast to be ready)
-Lounging - sit in a beanbag chair at circle time
-You've Got Mail - receive a special certificate in the mail about how well you're doing

I am still trying to figure out where I'm going to store their ticket strips. I'd like them to be as accessible as possible - on their desks, perhaps? - because I want them to be paying attention to how many tickets they've earned...Keeping them on desks might make desks too cluttered, though. I don't know yet! The strips are also pretty heavy (relatively), what with laminated card stock and 10 large paper clips, so I don't think hanging them on a wall with sticky tack will work. I'll have to think about it more...Any suggestions would be welcome!

Go link up with Monday Made It @ Tara's blog - it's my favorite part of the week! I love seeing what everyone else has created!

One more thing...I was asked if I had a "follow by email" feature of my blog by someone on my Facebook page...well, now I do! Take a look at my sidebar and if you'd like to follow this little ol' blog by email, please do so! (I'm assuming it works...let me know if it doesn't!)

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Fabulous Finds, back to school edition

First of all, on my post where I talked about my circle time notebooks, Liz from Special Education - A Work of Heart asked for more details on how I conduct my circle time. Since I am changing up my circle for next school year and don't have all the details ironed out yet, I'm holding off on answering her question - but it will be coming soon! I'd love it if anyone else would like to chime in on how you do circle time/morning meeting, too.

Next, I've been doing some major back to school stocking up lately, which I know many of you have, too. Here are some of the treasures I've found recently:

From Target's Dollar Spot: double sided dry erase boards, mini whiteboard erasers, dry erase sentence strips, Cat in the Hat socks (for me to wear on Dr. Seuss' birthday - which also happens to be MY birthday!), "good work," etc. stamps, and an alphabet Bingo game. I have still not been able to find those great dry erase sleeves at Target...some Michigan teachers are hoarding them all, I think!

From the Dollar Tree: large posters - position words and the one you can't see is opposites, numbers/counting flip chart, foam alphabet puzzle for word work, character posters (3 in the pack) - the self control one is perfect for my friend with severe behavior issues - we tell him all the time that HE is the one in charge of his behavior, tactile letters for my new friend with vision impairment, and uppercase and lowercase alphabet foam squares. This was a jackpot trip to the Dollar Tree! Such fabulous stuff!

Fun finds from Goodwill, all just $0.99 each: almost-full package of printable business cards I'll use for sight word flashcards, poker chips for letters/word work/building words, and a packet of sight word flashcards...can never have too many of those. They will be great for some game-I-haven't-made-yet for my higher reading group.

My only non-bargain-basement finds...they are still fabulous...from my trip yesterday to the "good" teacher store! I have two teacher stores in my city and they both are utter and absolute c-r-a-p. So once a summer I go to the AMAZING teacher store in the town about an hour away. This place is a mecca of teachery goodness, and it's very dangerous because I could spend way too much money there. Yesterday I got: a pirate ABC book, an awesome very detailed coloring book of real (historical) pirates, two comparison/measurement books (love this series!) and Unifix cubes to go with them (over the years I've had quite a few Unifix cubes go missing so it was time to restock), foam dominoes set for domino addition with my higher math group, pirate decor and name tags, and a great pizza math game! I could have bought tons more, but I held back :)

Whew. I am done with school shopping for a while now! It can be so addicting...But I'm definitely pleased with the things I've gotten, and at mostly great prices, too!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Christmas in July and Tell Me More

It's so hot right now throughout most of North America...so we could do with a little Christmas in July, right?! A bunch of TPT sellers are putting their seasonal products 20% off for this sale...and since my only seasonal products currently are freebies, I decided to join in by putting my whole store on sale, tomorrow only!
Click here to visit my store tomorrow and save 20%!
Click here to check out the other stores that are also having Christmas in July sales!
Happy shopping!

I'm also linking up with Amy @ Step Into Second Grade for the Tell Me More, Tell Me More linky party! I love reading about fellow bloggers' "real lives," so here is a handful (or two) of things you may not know about me:

1. I love, love, love the outdoors. I love camping and backpacking in particular...some of my fondest memories of my childhood are camping with my extended family! In 2007, my dad and I backpacked on North Manitou Island, an uninhabited island in Lake Michigan. I would love to do that again, but my dad's back and hips are really bad now and he can't physically do it. I would also love to backpack in the mountains, but I'm not sure I could do the altitude with my asthma. Here is a photo of me and my pack on North Manitou:

2. In addition to camping and backpacking, I also go turkey hunting every spring with my dad. (No one believes me when I tell them this!) It's more an excuse to go hiking in the woods for a few days than the great longing to get a bird! I am an expert turkey caller, if I do say so myself - it's so cool when you're sitting in the pre-dawn dark, making your turkey calls, and a real one actually answers back! I have had some long "conversations" with Tom turkeys in the early morning hours! Here is me in my camo (holding my box call) a couple years ago:

3. Part of the reason no one believes I go turkey hunting is that I'm a vegetarian. I never really liked the taste of red meat to begin with, and after I got food poisoning from a chicken sandwich at a restaurant, that was kind of the last straw for me, and it was pretty easy to cut out meat completely after that! I have been meat-free for 4 years now (I do eat dairy and eggs). It's forced me to be a bit more creative in my cooking and I love the variety I now eat. It's a lot cheaper, too! I am not morally opposed to meat and will eat it if I'm in a situation it would be rude not to (ie, if I'm a guest of someone who does not know I'm vegetarian). That doesn't happen often - it's so much easier than people think!

4. Though I actually consider myself a dog person (I grew up with a dog), I have two cats. I sometimes call them my rebound relationship, since I adopted them two weeks after I broke up with my boyfriend of 3 years (who disliked animals of all kinds - one of the many reasons I ended it). It must be a darn good rebound, since five years later we are still together :) I am still a dog person and hope one day to have one. Here are "my boys" when they were just babies - they are much bigger now!

5. My first job was working in my dad's store in junior high and high school. He had a lawn and garden dealership (tractors, etc.). I did data entry and filing and was better/faster at it than the full-time secretary he had (no kidding...it pays to be slightly OCD). I also cleaned the bathrooms, which was by far the worst part of any job I've ever had. The guys in the shop made it absolutely disgusting. Cleaning bathrooms is still my least favorite household chore.

6. I first dreamed about a student during my special ed student teaching (at the same school I work at now). I dreamed one of my severely impaired, nonverbal students spoke aloud to me. It was such a vivid dream that I woke up shaking, and the next day I went to school almost expecting him to talk. Now, I dream about students and/or school about once every other month or so, but never anything as specific and affecting as that first one.

7. I am kind of a sci-fi geek. I grew up watching Star Wars (the originals...I would watch all three movies back to back if I was ever home sick from school) and now it is my favorite genre of television. Right now I am re-watching the whole 9 seasons of The X-Files on my Netflix instant stream (great to do while cutting and laminating!). My all-time favorite TV show was Battlestar Galactica when it was on a few years ago. I even have an action figure of my favorite character, Kara Thrace (Starbuck) I found at a garage sale once (the photo below). I also really like the BBC shows Doctor Who and Torchwood. I keep wanting my classroom theme to be aliens, but I haven't found any decor that isn't too "cute" for my liking.
8. In contrast to my love for sci-fi, I also really enjoy some reality TV - namely, Project Runway (the new season just started last week!!) and What Not To Wear. Anyone else?! I would love to be nominated for What Not To Wear - I would so gladly give up my entire wardrobe for them to ridicule and dispose of - and take the $5000 shopping spree, of course! When I shop for new clothes, I think "WWSaCD?" ("What Would Stacey and Clinton Do?") - but I'm sure I get their "rules" wrong.

9. I am a special education teacher because of my mom. She was a speech therapist at a center-based special education school in Illinois, quite similar to the setting I teach in, in the '70s and '80s. I grew up hearing her stories and seeing photos of her students. I can still picture some of them! I was hooked early on and knew even in high school I wanted to teach students with severe and multiple impairments. I'm so lucky my sped professor/advisor in college listened and placed me in aiding and student teaching placements with my preferred population! My mom is no longer a practicing speech therapist, but I still bounce ideas and questions off of her all the time, and she comes to visit my classroom at least once per year. I love that!

10. Since I talked about my parents already...how about siblings? I have one brother who is two years younger than I am. We fought like cats and dogs growing up, even to the point of drawing blood, but we are great friends now! I also love his wife, my sister-in-law. I knew she was "the one" for him when she and I spent an entire drive to my parents' one Thanksgiving break in college completely making fun of my brother...and he took it with a smile! Here we are a couple years ago, celebrating my birthday at my parents' place (people say my brother and I look a lot alike, though I don't necessarily see it - but it must be true; we used to get asked if we were twins when we were kids!):

Now it's your turn...go link up with Tell Me More, Tell Me More - click on the image below:

Monday, July 23, 2012

Monday Made It

I was recently reminded of Lakeshore's Mystery Box by Sharon at Teaching With Sight, who mentioned it in her post about the five senses. Love it...but at 40 bucks a pop, I definitely don't have this cool box in my classroom. I've done the Mystery Bag thing using paper lunch bags, though. Love the opportunity to get kids exploring with their sense of touch, using descriptive words, etc.  I decided my paper lunch bag thing needed a bit of an update, though. Enter Monday Made It!

Those DIY t-shirt bags are all over Pinterest lately, and I think they're awesome...but I'm not a sewer (um, person who sews, that is). Like, I really, really don't sew. I can reattach a button to a shirt in a pinch (if I remember where my needle and thread are...and even then, that's iffy). But seriously, people, that's it. This past winter a hem on one of my dress pants came out. I re-hemmed my pants using duct tape (on the inside - I'm not that fashion-impaired!) and proceeded to wear them to work for a few weeks until I could get to my mom's house and have her sew them for me. To her credit, she didn't laugh or roll her eyes too much.

So, I needed a mystery bag that involved no semblance of needle and thread...machine...anything that would require me to venture to the 'sewing' aisle of the store, really. I thought about jazzing up one of those reusable shopping bags...and then I stumbled across the Ten Minute No-Sew Recycled T-Shirt Bag!

Here is the original source's awesome Sonic the Hedgehog bag:
Leethal has an amazing, easy-to-follow tutorial complete with lots of photos on their blog, so I'm not going to tell you how to make this yourself - check out the post for the step-by-step. Trust me, this takes less than ten minutes. If I can do it, you can do it!

Here is the first bag I made - using an old t-shirt with our school mascot on it, which I thought was definitely appropriate for our class' Mystery Bag:
 I used the three-slit method as described on Leethal's blog, so this is what the bottom of my bag looks like:

I liked how it turned out! But, then I thought an adult-sized bag/shirt might be a bit too deep for my kiddos to reach down into the bottom and really be able to explore the mystery object only using touch. So, I found this great kid-sized tie-dye shirt for 99 cents at Goodwill and voila:
I love it!! It's going to work perfectly for our Mystery Bag. We will still use the Lynx bag for when my kids have to run errands/make deliveries throughout the school building.

This project was so fun - the hardest part was convincing myself I should not convert my entire t-shirt collection into cute totes for the farmer's market...the beach...I need something left in which to sleep, work out, or paint in! And the best part - it's completely FREE! (Okay, so I spent 99 cents on the Goodwill shirt. But it definitely could have easily been free!) Also...completely machine washable - always a plus with my students!

And of course, I've still been doing the printing-cutting-laminating thing in prep for next year. One major thing I did was make up my kids' notebooks for circle time. I'm totally redoing my morning circle (in format, not necessarily content) so I needed something different. They have never had notebooks for circle before; I think they'll like them, and it'll be a better way to fit some individual work in our whole-group time.
The 3-ring notebooks were 79 cents at Walmart!!! Cover and sign graphics to go with our pirate theme are from Scrappin Doodles. The blue bin to hold the notebooks I already had in my basement and it happened to be a perfect fit!
Inside each notebook (I didn't take photos) is a pencil pouch with their needed supplies - label stickers for patterning, a crayon and a pencil) and then, so far, pages for days of the week, patterning, tallying how many days we've been in school, and the weather. I used some of the materials from Mandy's Weekly Weather Graph (great! check it out!) and some I made myself. More will be added as we add skills throughout the year. I'm excited about this change after years of doing the same circle time!

Go link up with Monday Made It...it's my favorite part of Monday!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Wish Lists...and a giveaway!

Does everyone here know about Teacher Wish Lists? A lot is said about Donors Choose, which is definitely an awesome resource. Teacher Wish Lists is somewhat of a similar concept, except on a (generally) smaller scale, more versatile, and is a great way to get parents and your immediate local community on board with helping out with things you need for your classroom!
Basically, you sign up for a free account and then create a wish list for your classroom. You can share the wish list link with anyone, or people can search for your wish list. There's no middleman here - people contact you and arrange the best way to get you what they're donating off of your list. This makes it a great thing to put in class or school newsletters, share with parents, or anyone locally!

I make up a new wish list every year and include a variety of items I need for my classroom - some free (we always need plastic grocery bags, for example, and I've asked for old magazines, too), some "used is okay" stuff people may pick up at garage sales (like supplies for our cooking lessons), some basic school supplies our school does not supply us (like construction paper and tempra paints), and some specialty stuff or relatively larger-ticket items (such as games, books on CD, or specialized scissors - anything specialized I provide a website). I always provide a description of the item, or why it will be used in my classroom - just a brief, one-sentence descriptor.

I love this resource. It's super-easy and fast, and it gets results! It's up to you to publicize your wish list (most people don't know to search for you on this particular website), so it will be as effective as you can make it...Definitely still keep using Donors Choose for your big-ticket stuff, but this is great for smaller "incidentals" or supplies...and there's the bonus of knowing many of the donors and getting to thank them in person! With "Back to School" on most of our minds already, I thought this was a good time to share about this great website.

On another note, Amy over at The Resource(ful) Room is turning one in bloggy years! Help her celebrate her bloggiversary by stopping by and entering her amazing giveaway!


I'm just one of the many bloggers who have contributed products to this giveaway, so definitely go check out the jackpot you could win! Happy Bloggiversary, Amy!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Monday Made It...on a Tuesday (w/ a freebie)

I'm a day late for Monday Made It, but, well...this past week has been crazy-busy, and not to mention I'm kind of in a mid-summer slump...The summer is going by too fast and too slowly at the same time. My students are dragging. The heat is killing us. We have not had rain in over a month (my trees in my back yard are dying...it looks like the end of fall instead of the middle of July) and it's been so hot it feels more like Arizona than Michigan (not that I've ever been to Arizona. I just hear it's crazy-hot!). It is hot in homes, so the kids are in general not sleeping well. The bus ride to school is uncomfortably hot for them. We are not allowed to take the kids outside if the heat index gets past a certain point, which most days we have reached as early as 9:30am, so we are stuck inside all day, every day. They want so badly to go outside for recess, because it looks lovely and sunny. I hate having to tell them 'no' every day!

Okay, enough complaining...it could definitely be worse! I'm so thankful we have air conditioning in our school (and it even works most of the time!).

For this week's Monday Made It, I am still working on mostly creating-and-laminating practical stuff for my classroom next year. As I said in my previous post, my classroom theme next year is going to be pirates. And since positional words are something my kiddos need a lot of practice with (not to mention it's always heavily featured on our state special ed standardized test, the MI-Access), I decided to combine the two and create a pirate-themed interactive book to work on positional words and phrases. The adorable graphics are from KPM Doodles:
Students have to read the page and place the picture icon in the correct position on the page. I put 3 Velcro dots on each page as possible positional options, and added red Sharpie to each to make the options more visible to my kiddos.

If you want the book, I put it on my TPT as a freebie! Go ahead and snag it here :)

I also did a new-to-me home Made It this week...I made pesto for the first time!

Here is some gorgeous basil from the Farmer's Market - it smells even more incredible than it looks! The farmers are hurting because of this weather in a major way, so I'm always happy to support our local farmers who do have enough crops to sell at the market!
And here is my pesto:
It is gorgeous and fragrant and delicious! I could eat it straight out of the jar, but I was good and put it on pasta with some veggies instead.

Want the recipe? Sure. I got the recipe from my brother, who says he got it from the NPR show The Splendid Table:

Basil Pesto
-1 large clove garlic
-1 pinch salt
-2/3 cup tightly packed fresh basil leaves
-2 tablespoons pine nuts
-1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
In a food processor or blender, puree the garlic and salt. Gradually add the basil and pine nuts and chop into a rough paste. Add the cheese and oil and blend briefly into desired consistency.

Easy peasy, lemon squeezy!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Olympic Rings and a new classroom theme

Our theme/unit for summer school is the 2012 Olympics, and as I was searching for materials, I came across the official posters for the London Olympics. I'll be honest - not many impressed me. Maybe I'm just not artistic enough! But one, by artist Rachel Whiteread, really caught my eye:
She took all five of the Olympic rings and combined them in an abstract way to create this really cool print!

...And then I thought...my kids can do this!

My staff and I raided our recycling bins and brought in empty paper towel and toilet paper rolls and this week, our kids used blue, black, red, yellow and green paint to create their own abstract Olympic ring prints, using the cardboard rolls as stamps. They turned out so great, and they had lots of fun doing this, too.

(You can see the edge of our torn paper version of the traditional Olympic rings hanging on the wall beside our abstract prints.)

Now, I'm linking up with Surfin' Through Second to talk about my classroom theme for next school year.
Classroom themes are tough for me. I love them, but I struggle to find themes that are age-appropriate for my students, who are middle school aged but function at a preschool/kindergarten level, cognitively. This year, our theme is rock stars. I don't go "all out" with our theme, but it does feature heavily into classroom decor, etc. Since I have my students for several years at a time, I try to change it up instead of keeping the same theme each year.

I've gone back and forth on my theme for next year, but I've finally decided on pirates. The deciding factor was a great pirate decor set from North Star, an awesome Michigan-based teacher resource company...their pirates look "real" and not "cute" or childish...perfect for my middle schoolers! I just ordered their bulletin board trimmers and bulletin board set today:
I love it! The bulletin board set will be used (among other uses) outside our classroom door. We are required to have posted where our classroom is (if not in the room) because we constantly have people looking for us - nurses for tube feedings and/or meds, physical/occupational/speech therapists for sessions or pull-out kids, parents, etc. - and we're out of our classroom a lot for specials and therapies and various activities. My heading is going to be, of course, "Where Arrrrggghhhh We?" because I'm a dork and love a good (or bad!) pun. ;)

A couple other pirate things I've found are:
Pirate "Happy Birthday" banner for our display of class birthdays. $1 at the Dollar Tree!

Skull and crossbones tablecloth from the party aisle at Target. This is going to go on our reading table!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Monday Made It!

First of all, thank you so much to all of you who have commented and given me advice on my new friend with blindness. I have gotten some good ideas to start with, so if you ever find yourself in a similar position, check out the advice I've already gotten. And please do chime in if you have anything else to add :)

Now, onto the best part of the week -- Monday! Monday Made It, that is. I love this linky so much. My favorite part is seeing all the wonderful creations everyone else is making!
What I made this week was directly inspired by Nikki at Uncommon to the Core's Flotsam and Jetsam bags. Here are hers:
Aren't they adorable? You can buy those "I Spy" pouches in stores for $20 or more! This version uses Dollar Tree bags, rice (I buy in bulk, anyway, because I love rice, so it's already in my pantry and cheap, at that!) and odds and ends you probably already have around the house (Happy Meal toys, anyone??).

Here are mine - I used pencil pouches with windows from The Dollar Tree. I didn't color my rice like Nikki did - I love the look of the colored rice, but I thought it might be too visually stimulating for some of my kids. I hot glued the zipper, and for some extra reinforcement I added patterned duct tape I got at Target. Don't want a rice leak!
I took these "I Spy" bags one step further to work on beginning letter sounds: each bag contains two objects that begin with 4 letters of the alphabet (so each bag contains 8 objects). I created a search/recording page for each bag that the students can mark off with a dry erase marker, and a second sheet that is sorting by beginning letter with velcroed photos of each item. I attached the pages with good ol' book rings.

I've only completed two bags (ABCD and EFGH) and I'm working on the rest. I can't wait to bring them to my kiddos - I think they'll really enjoy them.

I also spent a lot of time this week printing and laminating...mostly stuff I'm remaking. Things I'd made back when I didn't have a laminator of my own - the thin school laminating gets pretty worn out pretty quickly! One of the things I remade and updated is my ABC environmental print book.
(not sure why I can't get this photo to rotate - I usually can) I love environmental print - even my non-readers can feel successful when they recognize familiar logos, and it gives great exposure to different fonts/ways letters look. One mom told me excitedly her son pointed out the Meijer (a local supermarket) sign on a billboard...since it was not attached to or even near the store, she was - and I am - sure he recognized the word and was not just labeling the familiar place. I love that!
I'd share the file, but I'm not sure if that's the greatest idea at least on TPT or my blog, since all the images are logos and copyrighted. Also, it's pretty specific to our state and even city, with local sports teams and stores and restaurants...but if anyone wants it, leave me your email address and I'd be glad to send you the PDF. (Michigan people, I think the only city-specific ones are for the West Michigan Whitecaps - our local baseball team - and the sign for John Ball Zoo, which is on the "Z" page and the word "zoo" is definitely emphasized, so that wouldn't be too big of a deal.) Edit: I could also send you the powerpoint file, which I think should be edit-able??

Also, can you tell CK Handprint is my current favorite font?? I love it so much!

Go link up with Tara on Monday Made It - I'd love to see what you have created this week!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

advice, please?

First of all, Michigan teachers, are you going to the Michigan meetup on the 29th? I will most likely be attending - just need to confirm schedule-type things - and I'd love to see lots of us there! I had such a fabulous time at the first meetup in Lansing, and I know this one will be just as excellent.


Second, I'm looking for some help/advice here. I am going to have a new student next school year who is completely blind (he can see some shadows, apparently, but that's it). I have never had a student with this type of total visual impairment before (I have students now with visual impairments, but their vision is functional with corrections). I am nervous and unsure...this is the one impairment I feel the least qualified to teach. Give me the severe physical impairments, profound Deafness, sensory and behavior disabilities...I am feeling at a loss with this one, though! Since he will be in my classroom, it is safe to say he also has a moderate to severe cognitive impairment. I have not seen his IEP yet though I have a brief description of him and his functioning level (for example, he is working on pre-Braille skills such as sorting by and differentiating textures), so I will feel a little better once that happens, but I will still need some help!

So, any teachers out there who have worked with students with blindness/total visual impairments: I'd love your advice! My classroom right now is set up to be heavy on the visual supports, because that's what my other students need. Obviously this will not work with this student! So:

>>What are some of the essentials for a classroom setup for a student with blindness?
>>What are some things I should definitely do to help ease a transition for a student who cannot see his new classroom/teachers/classmates?
>>What are some other ways to support pre-Braille skills (and I'm hoping some can coincide with our pre-academic/academic focus on alphabet and "sight" words)?
>>Are there any great resources out there you can point me towards (I've done some googling, but the majority of support resources I found are aimed at individuals with blindness and not teachers, or individuals with normal cognitive functioning)?

I don't even know what other questions I should be asking. We have one VI support staff and one O&M (orientation and mobility) person in our building, but they don't work the summer program so I can't tap into their resources until the school year begins and my new friend is already in my class. Thanks in advance for any assistance you can give me :)

Monday, July 2, 2012

Monday Made It!


For this week's Monday Made It, I made what I'm calling the "Me Me Me" jar. Let me explain...My kiddos take turns choosing from class name cards who will have turns to do certain activities/jobs during our morning circle time, such as adding the new number/date to our calendar, checking the weather, etc. I have always had all the kids' names printed on cardstock flash cards and had one student choose in a "pick a card, any card" way, as it was random and the best way to cut down on complaining when someone wasn't chosen.

...And then my kids figured out how to cheat the system...It was getting kind of uncanny how often a student would pick his or her own name, every time...I started realizing some of them could actually read through the cardstock and find their own names! I'm actually pretty impressed with this feat. My kids all have moderate to severe cognitive impairments, so reading (or at least recognizing) backwards and through cardstock is something I never imagined they could do. But impressive or not, it kind of kills the randomness I'm trying to achieve with the whole "pick a card" thing, and was beginning to cause at least minor issues with complaining and major stalling during this time ("um...well...this one...no, that one..." as the student tries to eyeball the faint letters showing through the backs of the flashcards).

I was inspired for a solution by all the great Pringles can ruler holders (like this one, for example) people have been making all over Pinterest and Monday Made It. I don't use a lot of rulers in my class, but...paint stirrers! I figured these would be a perfect solution to my name card dilemma. No kid can see through a wooden paint stirrer! (And if they can, I've got bigger problems than choosing a name at circle time!)

I painted the paint stirrers (free @ the paint counter at Lowe's) front and back with some paint I had leftover from painting my bedroom this past winter. (That was far too many uses of the word 'paint' in one sentence! Also, the color is Valspar's Tidal Teal, for those who may wonder.) It took two coats to get a nice coverage.

After they dried, I used Mod Podge to affix students' names to each one (I just wrote with Sharpie on scrapbook paper...kind of wish I'd printed them with a cute font, but oh well). Then Mod Podged the whole thing for a nice glossy finish.

Okay, Pringles cans. I am actually kind of (read: really, really, really) addicted to Pringles, but am trying to lose some weight, so I haven't bought any in quite some time. (Let me tell you...all your Pringles projects are hard on the willpower!) I used an empty Panko breadcrumbs container instead, because that's what I had on hand. Panko container + Mod Podge + scrapbook paper + more Mod Podge = cheat-proof name selection!

I call it the Me Me Me jar because it's crazy how many times I have to tell my students I will take their name out of the running if they yell "me, me, me!" at the person who's choosing ;)

Also, one last thing - I'd love it if you voted for my blog in the Fascination Awards contest - click the image below, scroll down a bit until you get to the special education blog category, and follow the instructions to vote! It's also a great way to discover some new-to-you sped blogs who are also in the running!

Fascination Awards by Accelerated-Degree.com
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