Friday, November 28, 2014

Black Friday Special Education Blog Hop

This is my first time participating in a blog hop. Of course, I have no idea what I am doing or if this will even work, but I am giving it a shot all the same.

Here's my tip. Or two. Because it's the season and I want to start it off with being generous ;).

I have worked with students with a wide variety of disabilities. Currently, I am in a self-contained middle school classroom for students with Autism. I pretty much teach every subject, and believe that middle school should be the transition into Life skills. Therefore, besides the academic subjects, I also teach pre-vocational skills and other life skills. Although I teach this in several different ways (community outings, daily skills, cooking, etc), a main staple in my room are independent work boxes.

These are boxes filled with a variety of tasks, from academic to fine motor, to pre-vocational, to life skills kinds of tasks. I change these out regularly. Currently, they are labeled with either double letters, or single letters and numbers. But when I am in a hurry, it's hard to remember what is what in these boxes. Many of the boxes are the same size and color and because I change them out, I was having difficulty with remembering what was in the boxes and whether they would be appropriate for a student or not. I don't have time to write them all down, and I don't have time to look in all the boxes when they are assigned. So I needed a system that could tell me instantly what kind of task was in the box, and the level of difficulty.

This new system is color coded for the type of task, and the lower numbers will be easier tasks for my lower functioning students and will increase in complexity for my students that can do more. When I change the tasks out, I just need to put it in the right colored box according to how difficult the task is. I go up to 10, but you can just use the numbers/letters you want.  You can find these here, if you're interested.

I teach in an international school, which is fun. We are supposed to infuse an international point of view into all we teach. For example, if you teach about Native Americans in the US, you can also teach that other countries also have their own indigenous people, and talk about how their experiences are the same or different from one another. I love this, especially since I am also an immigrant. But how to infuse it in my program, when my students are so concrete and don't necessarily have the breath of knowledge and reading levels of their peers?

 I decided to start with holidays, as most of mine are aware of, and love, Halloween, Valentine's Day, and the other staple American Holidays. I did some research on different holidays around the world, and will be teaching about them throughout the year. This also works well if you are restricted from teaching about just Christian holidays such as Christmas and Easter, etc. If you teach them all, then it becomes a history lesson rather than just one teacher's point of view.

Here is a simple power point that I have put together describing  2 holidays per month that are celebrated around the world.  You can leave it as a power point, or you can print it out into a book and add icons, which I will also do. It's a lot of pages, so you can print out just a few at a time, or  shrink it down and make 2 or 4 images per page. You can find this book here.

I hope you found some of this useful.

Thanks for checking in.  For more freebies and tips, continue the trip through the blog hop by checking out ABCs and IEPs...just click the button below.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Special Education Blog Hop

Hi folks. I've been a little scarce as I try to settle in to my new job, which is going really, really well. After the last couple of months of chaos, and as we approach Thanksgiving, I am truly thankful for that!

I have finished my 2 lengthy IEPs that I had within the first couple of weeks at my new job, and with assessing the students. Now it is on to changing my centers and working on lesson plans. I will try to share more often now that things have settled down a little.

On Friday, I will be participating in a Special Educator's Blog Hop, which is my very first one. I will have a tip and a freebie or two to share and a link to the next blog on the hop. Be sure to check in!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Finally in my new classroom

It has been a stressful few weeks, what with packing up a classroom, and getting all the paperwork and details finalized on my old classroom, while lesson planning and organizing for my new classroom. And of course, this was for a move in the middle of the week. I burst into tears last Tuesday evening when I went into my new classroom with a cart full of boxes, and the other teacher had not moved yet, even though I had been told they would be gone. I had to haul it all back, and then I had to laugh, even if it was a bit hysterical. I contacted the Principal who assured me they would be gone the next day, and they were, even as they left a big mess behind. It was difficult to start without most of my things, but I managed. I moved one load each day and then on Friday, got the remainder. Then I went in both days this past weekend, and after a total of 13 1/2 hours everything was put away and re-organized. Thank goodness for Veteran's day as I can finally relax a little.

Here is my schedule for this school year, so far. I will tweak it as I go. Sorry for the size, too tired to fix it right now.

And we did have some fun, too. We made hot chocolate and pumpkin pie on Fun Friday. My guys were totally into it, and all of them ate their pie. I was really proud. I got the recipes here from the Autism Tank.

This next week I have 2 IEP meetings, and after that I want to focus on improving my centers.

I am so glad that is all over and am incredibly grateful to be back in a great school, with wonderful students and staff. I'm hoping to be blogging a little more regular now that I am settled. And I am looking forward to the remainder of the year.