Sunday, August 21, 2016

Be ready! TPT Sitewide Sale!

It's a site-wide sale, everyone! Get your carts ready for the TPT sale on Monday, August 22!  


Sunday, August 14, 2016

Special Ed Classroom Pictures

The Teacher's Toolbox
Tomorrow is the first day of the 2016-17 school year! I'm so excited to welcome my students and get rolling! While I'll probably never feel like my classroom is completely ready, it's ready enough for us to get started. 
 
This is the area where I teach small-group or 1:1 with the giant PC behind me. 

This is another teacher area for a para or intern. 


Students sit at their own tables for independent work tasks and snack time. 
Arrival procedures are posted. 
Superhero theme in our school this year. 
This is our math area where we run small-group and 1:1 instruction. 
This is always one of our first whole-group lessons, expected behaviors. This year, I am using a combination of Green & Red Choices from the wonderful Pocket of Preschool and Whole Body Listening posters from Especially Education.


My desk already looks better since I took this picture and my closet will eventually be organized because I can't live with it like that! 
In love with my new lightbox! 

Hope you have a wonderful new school year with lots of learning, love and laughter! 

Sunday, August 7, 2016

SPED Sunday Freebies!

 SPED-tacular Freebies!
The SPED community is linking up to offer TONS of FREE resources! Click on the picture above to get to the links. Don't forget to leave lots of love (feedback) for these great resources! Thanks to The Bender Bunch for hosting!

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Easy Data Collection

I am always looking for ways to make data collection easier. As the demands on teachers to provide data increases, the reliability of the data is also being more closely monitored. How can we take frequent, reliable data and still teach? 

The days of taking data 3 times a year (beginning, middle and end) are gone, especially in the special-ed classroom. We have IEPs to keep up with and, many times, every goal on the IEP has a different criteria. 

Another way they make us crazy challenge for ESE teachers is that a student's IEP does not conveniently begin at the start of the school year and end at the end of the school year. It may be written in January! This means the data must carry over from one school year to another or even change hands if (and when) a new teacher is involved. YIKES! If you are a new special-ed teacher reading this, don't worry! There are solutions, I promise! 

This is why special-ed teachers are so special! We are always coming up with ways to SIMPLIFY. Whatever they throw at us, we'll find a way!  

Here's one way I like to simplify. I made a simple data form for reading response in small-group. This can be used for 'wh' questions or any key-detail question. 
Mrs. Irvin's Toolbox
In the example below, this student was able to answer 3 out of 5 questions related to the story we read. More specifically, I know that she was able to answer the 'who' and 'where' questions but not the open-ended questions about other details of the story. 
Mrs. Irvin's Toolbox
It's a simple little form that takes no time at all and gives me good information. I keep a stack of these handy and file it away for future reference.  

If you think you can use this, click on any of the pictures to find it in my store. Hope it helps! 
Mrs. Irvin's Toolbox


Monday, August 1, 2016

Post-It Note Addiction?

Are you addicted to Post-It notes like I am? When you see new colors in the store all packaged up in that clear shiny wrapper, don't you just gravitate towards it? 

I think the Post-It company has figured out the colors that hypnotize teachers because I see them and I know I don't need any more but I pick them up anyway! Why? Because a teacher can NEVER have too many Post-It notes! It's a serious addiction, people! 

I wish I could enter this giveaway, but I can't! A group of awesome bloggers and I are co-hosting this giveaway, so don't delay! Enter to win your Post-It Note Treasure Box now! 

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Sunday, July 31, 2016

What's In Your Cart? Linky Party!

Are you ready for great deals? TPT is having their BIG 2016 back-to-school sale August 1st and 2nd! (Monday and Tuesday). Hopefully, your cart is loaded with great things and your wishlist is empty! Be sure to use PROMO CODE: BestYear

Here are some resources you may be able to use from my store... 

A letter to welcome your intern, student-teacher or practicum student. Simple, not too lengthy and doesn't repeat all the rules they already get from their University. And it's editable! 
Mrs. Irvin's Toolbox
Start the year out right with a Morning Work Binder for your students that need lots of repetition of certain skills. This binder will get you started with everything you need and you can add to it throughout the year with skills you've covered. 
Mrs. Irvin's Toolbox
Want Sight-Word work for the whole year? Use this as homework or seat-work. Great for reinforcement of basic sight words. 
Mrs. Irvin's Toolbox
And what's in MY cart? Just a few adorable things I need for my classroom: 
All About Me Pennants from Pink Cat Studio... 
Pink Cat Studio

This Emotions Clipart Set from Graphics from the Pond...
and sooo much more! 

Be sure to head back to the Linky Party here to see what else is in everyone's cart!  


6 Ways to Get Your Sped Classroom Ready... plus a freebie and a giveaway!


As you already know, there are a TON of things to do to get your special ed classroom ready for the new year. Sometimes, though, we overlook some of the little things that, when forgotten, can be really, really stressful. The last thing you want to do is scramble for something in front of parents on the first day or while your class is staring at you, wondering what you're looking for. (We've all experienced that one!)

So, in addition to the obvious decorating and labeling, be ready with some of these things so you look like you know what you're doing.

1. If you have assistants, meet with them before school starts! Sometimes we don't see them until the first day of school, but it would be great if you were able to meet before the students and their parents are walking in the door. If you don't have time to meet, at least write it down for them. Let them know...
  • what you want them to do as parents are bringing students in the door 
  • how to handle students that are already acting out in the first five minutes
  • where they are expected to be, who they are scheduled to work with and what their duties will be
Not only will this give you peace of mind to know that someone's got your back, but your assistants will feel much better knowing what is expected of them. 

2. Get your VISUALS ready. This is still hard for me. It is so time consuming. The easiest way to tackle this is to dedicate one day to work on just your visuals for your classroom. You'll feel so prepared if you do this. 

  • Have your visual schedules ready for every student. Even students who don't need individual schedules need at least a larger, whole-group visual schedule. I have both up in my room.
  • Have visual procedures posted for arrival, dismissal, bathroom use, hand-washing, clean-up, small-group behavior, designated areas, etc... 
You'd be surprised at how many students will refer to these. It helps even the students you think don't need this. Sometimes we don't know what will be needed for our students, so have a good supply of visuals at your fingertips. Visuals help students know what to expect and feel calm. They can't always read class rules or fancy schedules but they can understand pictures. Search for "visual schedule" on TPT for lots of choices.  

3. Schedule every minute! In a special ed classroom, nothing good comes from down-time, repeat 3x! There are students, of course, that may be able to handle down-time at some point in the year, but NOT the first week.
  • Have a plan for those that arrive too early. 
  • Do real work (easy is ok) even on the first day.
  • Have a plan for early finishers. You may have a 30-minute lesson planned, but there's always that student that finishes a worksheet in 2 minutes.
  • Arm your assistants with back-up activities for those early finishers.
4. Post important information in an easy to find spot. 
  • Schedules for everyone in the room 
  • Allergies and medication times 
  • Behavior plans
  • Emergency procedures
  • special needs/bathroom plans: some students have quirky needs ("doesn't like Cheerios" or "Is afraid of flushing toilets" can prevent lots of headaches!)
5. Collect information from parents, asap. At my school we have a Back-to-School (meet the teacher) a few days before school starts. This gives me a chance to collect up-to-date information that I can have ready on the first day of class. If I don't see them on this day, I hand them a clipboard with this sheet as soon as they walk in. It is short and sweet and has vital information for me. This is what I use and it's free in my store here. At the very least, you need to know...
  • how to contact the parent for questions
  • allergies
  • how they get home
6. Be ready with Incentives! Be sure you have a plan for your behavior system. While we tend to think of consequences first, try the opposite. 
  • Many sped classrooms use a "First-Then" chart. Look it up if you haven't heard of this, it works wonders. Basically it shows students that they "work first, then reward of choice". This can be computer time, playdough, listening center, etc... 
  • For students who can work in small groups, I use a simple sticker chart that provides for immediate positive reinforcement. In the beginning, every "desired" behavior gets a sticker and students think their teacher must have gone crazy! I give out stickers for every little thing! Little by little, I wean them off of sticker-overload and still get the same results. You can find my sticker book in my TPT store here


 Student Motivator Sticker Book
No matter what the behavior needs are, children are always motivated by something they want. Find out what it is. 

There are great resources on Teachers Pay Teachers to get your special ed classroom ready. In fact, here's a little giveaway to help out! Enter to win a $10 gift card to my store! You have a real good chance of winning since my blog is fairly new! :) Don't forget to follow my blog for more fun giveaways and freebies! 

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