Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Survival Mode

I am writing tonight with a heavy heart, for two reasons (the second being the main reason I've been an absent blogger this past month)...

-A student I had in my special ed student teaching classroom, as well as my first year teaching classroom, is struggling with some very significant health issues (related to her disability and chronic, but much more serious now than it's ever been). She has been in the hospital for nearly a month now and the prognosis is not good.

-A current student is going through a mental health crisis which is manifesting itself in some pretty extreme violent actions, defiant/disturbing behavior, even threats to my/my classroom staff's lives. In my world of center-based special ed, these things are not usually viewed as mental health issues but related to the cognitive disability - but as I truly believe it's the former rather than the latter (and he is much higher functioning, cognitively, than any other student in our school), I don't think he's getting the help he needs - and by extension, our classroom is in chaos right now.

I'd love prayers for these two students, from those of you who pray. And for my classroom in chaos. We are in survival mode right now. Any advice from those who have dealt with a severe mental health crisis in the classroom would be welcome, too! (Though I'm well aware that's a vague description and while more information might garner me more helpful/specific advice, I can't share more than that for the student's privacy.)

On a happier note, I discovered today several of my students know and love The Beatles! I grew up listening to The Beatles courtesy of my dad, and I'm delighted my students know some of their songs. I went on iTunes to try to make a classroom mix; I was dismayed to find out songs are now $1.29 instead of the $0.99 I remember! I feel old ;) Still will probably make a mix, though. It's just too fun to pass up - I play music for the kids as they come into the room in the mornings (a half-hour time period as buses from various districts arrive at different times) and this would be great.

More happiness: I was at Target for the first time in a long time the other day. I scored on some books at the Dollar Spot!

I got 7 nonfiction easy-read books for social studies and science! Can't beat the dollar price, really!

I can't believe it's May tomorrow...our May unit is all about water so I'll hopefully be posting about some water cycle activities we'll be doing. Hoping to be a better blogger this month...

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Book Series Reviews - Character/Citizenship

Our ULS unit this month is all about making good choices and being good citizens. I always like to supplement the unit stories (which are very dry and boring, usually) with other books related to the topic/theme, of course.

But I've blogged before about how difficult it is to select appropriate books for my students. I have a wide range of cognitive abilities in my class (my higher students can comprehend chapter books, while my lower students can only attend to simple preschool-level picture books) - but all are very aware of subjects, text and pictures that are way below their chronological/social age levels. They all, across the board, will reject something that is perceived as too "babyish" or for little kids. (They are all pre-teens and teens, in age.) This is, perhaps obviously, difficult when selecting picture books (which I use for whole-class lessons/activities, like the books I read in morning circle).

I put two book series on hold through my library and the first few books were available for me to pick up today. Because of the above issues, ordering books through the library, unseen, is sometimes quite hit and miss. These were quite an exception! I can definitely recommend both series and am excited to bring them to my classroom tomorrow!

The first series (and my favorite of the two) is the "Way to Be!" series published by Picture Window Books. Each book is titled "Being __________," such as "Being Fair," "Being Trustworthy," etc.
One of the books I got from this series is "Being Responsible: A Book About Responsibility" by Mary Small. Each two-page spread has a fun illustration and text about people doing specific things that are responsible, such as returning library books on time, wearing a helmet while riding a bike, getting ready so you can catch the bus in time, etc.
At the back of the book there is a list of other titles having to do with the particular characteristic.

The other series is the Acorn Citizenship series. Again, the titles are "Being ______________."
One of the books I got from this series is "Being Helpful" by Cassie Mayer. Each two-page spread has illustrations and simple text about different things you can do to be helpful (wash dishes, follow instructions, watch a younger sibling, etc.).
The second to last page asks the reader what they can do to be helpful. The last page shows an illustration, and asks the reader how the person is being helpful.

Books in both these series have simple, predictable, repetitive text that isn't too juvenile. The illustrations are likewise appropriate for younger and older children. My lower students will be able to attend to/comprehend the books and enjoy the pictures, and my higher students will be able to make observations, make text to self connections, answer questions, think of their own applications, etc. The books would definitely be appropriate for a wide age/grade/cognitive range.

(Disclaimer stuff: I didn't get anything for these reviews and I wasn't asked to do them; these are just some library books I picked up and thought were great, all on my own.)

Monday, April 1, 2013

Sale, Autism Month, Currently!

First of all, it's April 1 and - no fooling here - my sale has started on my TPT store...hop on over for 20% off today and tomorrow!

Second of all, April is Autism Awareness Month! I was hoping to find the ABA Flash Cards apps free today, as they were last April when I didn't have my iPad yet...they are not free yet but I remain hopeful that maybe they will be again. I did find this great app for free, though:
I don't know how to link to the app store, but just search "sequences for autism" in the app store and it should come up. There are pre-made sequences - kids drag and drop the steps into correct order, there is included audio and the steps can play uninterrupted in sequence when finished. You can also create your own sequences with your own pictures by using the admin character. I just played around with this app a little bit and I love it so far!

And finally, it's time for April's Currently!
Listening - one of my favorite things about Pandora is discovering music I'd probably have never found otherwise! I'm loving me some Bon Iver this morning.

Loving - I do love the sunshine...just wish it was a little warmer already...

Thinking/Needing - Happy Spring Break to me! I'm flying out this evening to visit my cousins and their new baby until Thursday. I'm excited! I do need to pack still, though.

Wanting - This month was nutso, and I didn't get as much of my basement teacher work area finished as I'd have liked. It is all painted, though! Hopefully soon I will get carpet in and then can finally start moving stuff in for real.

Advice - Remember it's about the kids first - obvious, probably, but sometimes I think we can get so worried about followers, views, sales, etc. that those things overshadow the reason we're all here in the first place! It's nice to remind myself of that from time to time :)

Go link up with Farley's Currently!
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