Saturday, March 29, 2014

Five for Friday...March 28, 2014.....The Special Educator's Toolkit.....making changes!

Join us in linking up with Doodle Bugs !

Thanks to the assistance of Cindy Golden's The Special Educator's Toolkit, I have been restructuring my classroom. My most recent changes:

Transition/Waiting Area
Our classroom has visuals to mark where to line up when they prepare to leave the classroom. However, if everyone is not ready at the same time (and let's be real, there are always doddlers), the standing in line thing does not last very long! So I created a waiting area with the expectations posted.


Cool Down Area
Sometimes students have trouble controlling their behavior. There is a need for a place to cool down in. It should be free of distractions with minimal visual clutter. Items to include in this area may be: Cool down steps, social stories, a timer, a choice of sensory items to help the student become independent in becoming calm. the area should also be easily seen by staff.


Organizing the Walls and Teaching Boards

Dr. Golden recommends cutting back on the visual clutter and making the walls useful. Each area should have visual clues as to the area's function.  The OMAC system renames the decorative bulletin boards as teaching boards. She suggests devoting the wall area to the subject: reading, math, social skills and so on using basic visual supports that is helpful to the students. Another idea is to make the walls interactive.

This wall has been for decoration all year, cute, but not serving any purpose. The class was ready for words, so creating a word wall in this big space seemed logical. In just two weeks it has been useful for learning high frequency words and a spelling resource when we are writing.


"In terms of "purposeful decor", consider traffic signs to help arrange your classroom. Students with autism spectrum disorders do not generalize skills well, so this is a tremendous opportunity to use signs such as Stop, Yield, Danger, Phone, Bathroom, Enter, and Exit. Because these are typical symbols found in the real world, these signs help students reintegrate into society."

Cindy Golden
The Special Educator's Toolkit

One of my students pointed out that the girl and boy are on the wrong side! This is our bathroom checkout poster, I will probably end up fixing it.


Spent a fun day with our grand daughter this week! 

I went into the plastic maze at Carl's Jr. with her first......

Then passed the torch to her Aunt! She got to do more exploring with her! 

and that's my week,
Talk later,

See previous posts inspired by The Special Educator's Toolkit:

January 7, 2014: The Introduction
February 15, 2014: The Classroom Environment
February 24, 2014: Classroom Traffic Flow and Setting up Boundaries

Friday, March 21, 2014

Five for Friday...March 21, 2014...Linking party

It is time to link up with Doodle bugs  for the week!


It is officially Spring! The roads are clear of ice and snow (there is still plenty in the shady spots), the "ice heaves" are back, the sun is shining, the temps are up to 40 degrees Fahrenheit. It's springtime in Alaska.



The last quarter of the school year has begun! This time of year I look at how much progress has been made and kick it into high gear. I work with a small reading group who have really taken off (thank you Zoo Phonics), I am so proud of them. They know their sounds, they are beginning to blend them into words, they are ready to read! This week I restructured the time we spend together, we have 45 minutes daily. 
 The kindergarten high frequency words went up on the word wall. We started reading them every day as a group along with the word families that are in our phonics reader. Now the tricky part....keeping them busy while I read with each one individually. 

The mini drawers are very helpful for individualizing and organizing my small number of students. They are keeping their journals, readers and Zoo Phonics stick puppets in them. They also provide quick access to unfinished work . The students like having their own space. I am also thinking about partner activities they can do on their own. This week was mainly to learn what to do and how to do it while I was listening to a reader.
Anyway, I am much happier with the space now, it is less cluttered and feels more functional.

The deadline for ESY paperwork is due at the end of next week, I half heartedly prepared it, now I need to figure out when to meet with the team to complete it all. ugh, yuck...I HATE paperwork.


Started exercising this week! We have a gazelle glider that has been folded up on the back porch for a while, my husband got it out and dusted it off. He sets it up in the living room for me every night (isn't he a sweetie) and I stumble around in the morning, get on it and go! So at least I'm doing SOMETHING.


I am running out of juice, so I will finish with a picture of a pair of cute kitties, who happen to live with me!

Mother and daughter

I have a technology delay, so I have no idea why this picture would not allow me to crop it. It's still cute! You know...if you like cats....

Until next time,


Monday, March 10, 2014

Math Skill Tasks

Here are some easy to make task ideas for math skills. These are not only great for students with Autism, but for all students. It allows them another way (that looks like fun) to practice much needed skills.

Skills: counting by 1's with fine motor that requires handling small Legos which means getting those fingers working on fine motor objectives

Skills: addition facts using touch dots. Large index cards, velcro, and laminating film...makes adding more interesting then a worksheet.

Skills: recognizing money by name and value. Designed for a student who can read.

Homemade book
Skills: Reading, money name and value

Even if these are not EXACTLY what your students need, they might steer you toward an idea for your students.

Leave me a comment with a link to your ideas! 


Friday, March 7, 2014

Five for Friday...March 7, 2014....Dr. Seuss...and a fun word game

 It's the Doodle Bugs Party! (AND I have never linked this early on a Friday!)This is an especially sweet Friday because it also marks the beginning of Spring Break! Yeaaaaa! So link up with Doodle Bugs here and join the parrrrrttyyyyyy!

Naturally, since Spring Break is around the corner, our incredibly mild winter has decided to dump some snow on us.

Of course, we celebrated Read Across America this week as I'm sure many of you did! 
Crazy hat day
I have a great team of people to work with! This lady is also very creative, the net on her hat is a child size tutu!
Crazy hair day
and here is my co-worker again with the most awesome Dr. Seuss character costume!

Crazy sock day

New Game: Green Eggs without the ham
For practicing decoding words, I made up this game!
Materials: pan or skillet, spatula, green construction paper with words on a contrasting color.
Lay the "eggs" word down, scoop up one, turn it over...
Read the word and place it in the pan! Slide the pan to the next person. The students really liked it, but asked me where the ham was!

Door Decorating contest
I found this idea on Pinterest, thank you Trisha Cox!
The best thing about this door is that the kids created most of it!

The grass: nice easy fine motor skills being practiced, using scissors to cut short straight lines. 

The socks: Students were presented with a variety of materials and told to create! They did not disappoint!

The fox: I traced the fox, one of the students took it over, added the socks and made the eyes. He did awesome!

and here's the really awesome part....we won! Here are our  prizes.....


We had a workday Friday to give us some time to put in grades and in my case, complete IEP progress reports. This is my least favorite part of my job, and I appreciate a paid day to work on it!
I am so looking forward to NOT setting my alarm clock!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Five for Friday......February 28, 2014

It is time to link up with Doodle Bugs! I have been lapse in joining this party lately because my weeks didn't look like something anyone wanted to hear about and I like to have pictures, which I haven't been taking...and I'm still not taking...but oh well!
I will begin with the
who is at this very moment sitting behind my head batting at everything that moves including my hair! (I am trying not to move my head)
She looks very docile in this photo, but you can see it in her eyes, can't you?

Weight Watchers Online
Two weeks into it and 4 pounds down! yea! I haven't began to exercise (yuck) I don't like to exercise, I don't find an inner thrill to exercising! But I'm really going to try to find something I might do regularly....stationary bike in my living room maybe?

Knowledgeable friends recommend the one on the left, it is easier on the back.
The weather is improving...I can start walking....

Next week is Dr. Seuss time! fun fun fun! we are having crazy hat, socks, hair and so on going on, as well as a door decorating contest. I looked online for some ideas, there are lots! Here are a couple......


I'm looking for an idea that the variety of students who pass through our doorway can help create. I'll let you know what we came up with next week.


The Iditarod is tomorrow, well today is the ceremonial start in Anchorage, but real Alaskans know that's just for show, the real deal is tomorrow out at Willow! We haven't gone for a few years and I kinda want to, but it's a lot of trouble and a lot of traffic, so.....I don't know!
They have an awesome website, and for some $$$ you can follow the whole race through video updates:
But there is nothing like standing on a frozen lake, listening to hundreds of dogs bark excitedly, people watching and waiting for each team to run by!
This year will be harder on the mushers and their teams, our weather has been too warm with less snow!
You people in the lower 48 have been getting all the good stuff!


Preparing for the end of the third quarter! This one has gone very fast! Only one left! woooo!
I began assessing this week and am very happy with the students' progress. One in particular who has struggled with learning letters, sounds, and blending words is doing awesome! We have been working one to one using Reading Mastery and in a small group using Zoo Phonics
He can now identify all the common letter sounds and 24 out of 26 letters by name! He also is blending 3 letters into words for 3 out of 5 words. I am very proud of him.

Now the next step, phonics readers! The small group is ready! The decodables at their grade level that come with our core reading program are too difficult for them at this point, the lower grade level is too easy and they have already been through those. My friend and co-worker uses Learning Pyramid readers and I'm going to try those. I checked for them online and they seem to be out of print so I will be borrowing hers!

That's my five for Friday! (even though today is Saturday).

Have a great weekend,