Showing posts from August, 2009

Monday's Motivation: Animal School

Over the years I have collected quotes, poems, prayers, videos, excerpts of books...etc. related to things that I am passionate about.  Many of these are about teaching, school and/or disability.  I am required to have a spiritual goal as part of my professional growth plan so I'm going to spend some time each Monday either pulling something up that I already have or finding something new and then reflecting or spending time in prayer related to it.  Some of my thoughts I will share here, some will be private but each week I will share the video, prayer, poem, quote, exerpt...etc. that I am looking at that week.
This week is a video that I have had tucked away for several years now called "Animal School".  I have gotten it from u-tube but it is also available for purchase at
This one pretty much speaks for itself and so I will just post it...

Changes and Additions: Organization, Morning Meeting, news-2-you Plans and Auto-ball-ography Project

We start on Monday.  I'm not really ready but am hoping that by tomorrow evening I will be closer.  Not being able to go in my room until so late has made it tough as I'm a single mom to a child who can only handle about 2 hours at a time in the classroom so I'm doing a lot of running back and forth.
As I've been getting ready, I've made some changes and additions along the way that I thought would be worth recording/sharing.
Organization I have decided to rotate staff every 3 weeks instead of every 2 weeks. I just feel we can maintain a bit more consistency then. I'm also feeling like we may not be able to get through everything I want to get through in just 2 week time frames. Morning Meeting
Have added a "Do you want to feel the weather?" section to going through the weather.  Students will be asked if they want to feel the weather after we have gone through the weather.   If its windy, they will be able to switch activate a fan to feel t…

Wednesday's Weekly Comments

Another great idea that I got from Geek Teacher.  I've been reading a lot of teacher blogs the last few weeks and I'm humbled.  There are so many great ideas, links, information and stories in these blogs.  It reminds me again of vast the amount of information to learn and take in is.  
In the hopes of sharing just a glimpse into the great stuff I read, I thought that I will list the blog posts that I comment on each week on Wednesday.  This is my first list... What I Won't Do This Year at Geek Teacher Community Based Experiences at SMD Teacher Interesting News from news-2-you at Teaching Learners with Multiple Special Needs "Why Twitter?" at Ed Solutions: Teaching Every Student Making a Difference Differently at Education on a Plate

My Classroom Still Needs a Lot of Work!

Less than one week until the students will be back in class and my classroom is so far from ready its crazy!  Back in June we were told that we had to move everything off of side shelves as we would be getting air conditioning this summer.  So I piled things up wherever they could go and left the school knowing that we would not be allowed back in until shortly before school started.  
I'm sure anyone who teaches knows how summer construction goes.  I'm confident that they started nothing until about a week ago and now they are saying not only will they not get it done this year but the part of it they will get done they have to do while we have students in the classroom.
What this means for me is that my classroom consists of a bunch of piles of things that should be on shelves and that I'm not allowed to use those shelves before the start of the year.  Its completely frustrating. But that is not what this post is about.  This is post was meant to just be a…

Monday's Motivation: Flowers are Red (Harry Chapin)

Over the years I have collected quotes, poems, prayers, videos, excerpts of books...etc. related to things that I am passionate about.  Many of these are about teaching, school and/or disability.  I am required to have a spiritual goal as part of my professional growth plan so I'm going to spend some time each Monday either pulling something up that I already have or finding something new and then reflecting or spending time in prayer related to it.  Some of my thoughts I will share here, some will be private but each week I will share the video, prayer, poem, quote, exerpt...etc. that I am looking at that week. 
I'm starting with a song that I heard in a workshop the very first year that I was teaching.  Even back then we were talking about "Assessment for Learning" although at that time it was more focused on student led conferencing and learning styles as that is what the workshop was about.  I was teaching a variety of subjects in middle school at …

news-2-you: Super Sand Castles

I have moved this up to the top one last time as it is now complete.  I will be using these ideas from August 31 through September 18 and will post a new topic towards the end of that time frame.
I got the idea to share the plans I'm making related to news-2-you from the blog entitled Teaching Learners with Multiple Special Needs.  I enjoyed the outline format that was used and thought I would do something similar as I found resources and made plans.  Given the way I function, I have decided that I will generally be using the papers every 2nd week and generally one week later than what they were intended for.  This will give me the time I need to make sure materials are adapted for my students and also give my students the time they need to really explore any new topic.  If I make any materials with Boardmaker, I will post them here for download as well as post them in the Adapted Learning news-2-you group.
Morning Gathering Time Activities
Each morning during morning gat…

Community Experiences Program Brainstorming

This coming up year we have several times during the week where we have a 1:1 student-staff ratio. This has opened up the door to begin looking deeper in to a community experiences program that I have been dreaming up for a couple of weeks now.  These community experiences would also tie in to our transition pporfolios as it would allow us to get a better picture in to student's interests/passions.  I'm still working on the logistics and am thinking it would mean a trip every 3 or 4 weeks throughout the year.  I would want there to be both lead in and follow up to these activities so that we can give them meaning.  I would also want there to be some type of "project" associated with most of these trips.  Finally, I'm hoping that we can build a personal "Community Experience Book" from each of these trips.  These would be kind of like mini scrapbooks and would include pictures, notes and materials collected on the trip (menus, mall map, pac…

Individual Student Materials

Our classroom is full and spilling over.  With people, equipment, materials..etc. things seem to end up everywhere.  My students do not have lockers or desks to store materials.  This makes sense as the materials we have for each student are not always traditional school supplies.  As a result, I have dedicated spaces for each student on a side shelf and in the bathrooming area.  Here is what is kept in these spaces:
On the side shelf, each student has a half of a shelf and the following materials are housed on that shelf: Individual Programming Binder:  I have outlined this binder in a previous post.  This is my way of tracking information for IPPs and the staff's way of knowing/understanding what is to be worked on with each student.  For more information see my "Individual Programming" post.
School Materials Bin:  This bin houses any materials that are specifically for the student.  This may include nuk brushes the student uses, timelines, reinforcers that are student s…

Our First Week of School

With less than two weeks left of summer, it is time to start thinking about our first days of school.  This year is unique for us as we are starting with a full five-day week.  This is a first in my 17 year teaching career as in the past if we go back before the long weekend it is only for a couple of days and if go back after the long weekend, the holiday Monday makes the week four days long.  This makes it even more important to allow for transition time for both the students and the staff in the room.  Those first days are exhausting and so I plan almost all group work for the first week.  I also allow for longer stretches of down time and leisure style activities in these first days.
This year, our news-2-you topic (Super Sand Castles) will be driving much of the group work we will be doing in our first week.  I have outlined some of the activities in my "Super Sand Castle" thread but did want to note how it ties in to a couple of the big things that I try to do at the b…

Daily Home/School Communication

We will be using three different tools to facilitate day-to-day home/school communication in our classroom this year.  I have just finished up making changes to some of these and thought I would take a few minutes to share what we do in our classroom.
The first is a a step-by-step communicator.  Here is a link to information about it:  Staff help students to record a message about their day at the end of each day on the step-by-step.  Students then take the devise home and use it to tell their parents/family about their day.  Staff are encouraged to record messages that encourage responses like "Guess what I did today..." before putting in what they did.  Parents then record a message back the next morning and this is brought to school for us to use during morning gathering time so that students can tell each other about their evening/weekend.
The second is a PECs symbol home-school communication b…

Defining the Purpose of this Blog

I thought I would take a minute to define the reason I started a blog.  I'm relatively new to teaching this population as I am only heading in to my 4th year doing it although I am heading in to my 18th year of teaching all together.  I spent the first 14 years of my career in two different middle/high schools teaching mostly mathematics although I did teach an experiential education class for a couple years in there as well as a whole host of other side subjects including language arts, accounting, computers, social studies, science, physical education, drama, wood working...etc.  You name it, I've probably taught it somewhere along the way as I worked in small schools and we just had to pick up the slack sometimes.  I really enjoyed it but as time went on, I was craving something different.  I then was asked to sit on an adaptive technology pannel for our school division as a parent and quickly found my new passion.  When this job came up in the division that …
I teach in a Catholic school.  Where I live, Catholic schools are public and are funded equally to non-Catholic public schools.  What this means to me is that I need to ensure that I'm fitting prayer and religion in to our school day.  Neither are overly difficult to fit in and both actually fit in nicely with many of my students IPP goals (fine motor skills, communication, self-awareness...etc.). 
The other thing it means though is that each year I need to come up with a new batch of religion activities to do becasuse I keep the same students for many years in a row (some have been in no other classroom but this one and just graduated this year or will graduate next year).  My plan for the 2009-10 school year is to spend the year going through the major Bible stories and create a Binder with experiences related to these stories.  Some of them will be arts and crafts that the student will later be able to touch/feel or look at.  Others will be actual experiences in the classroom w…

149 Sensory Bin Ideas

Over the past couple of years since I started teaching this population, I have developed a list of things that can be put in to our sensory bins. Here are some of the ideas that I've used and collected.  This is by no means an exhuastive list as I'm sure there are many other ideas but wanted to throw this out there as at first I was reaching for new and different ways to use our sensory bins...
64 Dry Things to Put in Sensory Bins (these can last a while)
sand dry beans puffed wheat uncooked pasta dry cereal packing peanuts shredded paper confetti pop corn seeds pop corn (popped) rice cotton balls pea gravel colored salt peanuts buttons legos cut up ribbons cut up yarn leaves cut up straws birdseed plastic flower petals Easter grass Mardi Gras beads dirt tissue paper feathers seashells wrapping bows dry instant mashed potatoes dried corn bubble wrap dry oatmeal egg shells coffee grounds flax sawdust flour hay/straw colored sugar magazine pages bean bag filler roll of sod l…

Books in My Resource Library - Part 1

Here is a list of some of the books that I have in my resource library. I wanted to post them because many of my plans/ideas grow from reading these books.  What I'm doing may not be exactly what is outlined in these sources but these sources have had an impact on how my classroom works. 
Note that this is part 1 of my list.  I will add part 2 soon.  I also plan to add this to my "links" page and continue to update it as I get new books.  If there is one that I find particularly useful, I will do a blog post about it but if its run of the mill, it will just go up on the list with a little new image beside it. 
So here is part 1 of my list... Baseline Assessment, Curriculum and Target Setting for Pupils with Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties Mathematics for Children with Severe and Profound Learning Difficulties The Education and Care of Children with Severe, Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties Fun & Games: Practical Leisure Ideas for People with Profound …