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Saturday, December 3, 2016

Winter Time Savers!

The winter months are definitely a time when we all feel rushed. Time savers are a must! Here are a few things to help you save time during these busy months: 

Bulletin boards: Who has time for them?! Here are some cute winter-themed letters, snowflakes and pennant banners for your bulletin boards. This is my Easy Winter Bulletin Board set on TPT. 
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Are you doing a "Holidays around the World" theme in your classroom? This banner is part of the Easy Winter Bulletin Board set. You can get it here.

Need some CVC practice by the fire? Cozy up to my Christmas Stockings CVC. Use it as a literacy center, small-group or one-one. It's great for sped classrooms! Just hang the stockings on the fireplace to make new words! So fun! 
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Are you discussing Needs and Wants? Here's a fun Needs and Wants winter craftivity. This lesson has an option for two different levels. This little polar bear sits by his list of "wants" but inside the igloo you'll find some real "needs". It's just too cute! 
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And we all know, no matter what season it is, the show must go on... RTI, data, IEPs...work, work, work. This year I'm making a box for every month that contain practice for basic skills and data sheets for quick assessment and data collection. The kids love the new theme every month and I love being able to hand the box to a para or volunteer and everything is there. It's a win-win. 
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You can find my Winter Work Boxes in my store on TPT. 

And here's a freebie! Click on the pictures to take you there! 
I hope your winter season is filled with lots of fun and maybe even a little relaxation! 

Follow me for freebies, tips and ideas...
...by email or Bloglovin' (above) 
...my TPT store: Mrs. Irvin's Toolbox  
...on Instagram: mrsirvinstoolbox
...on Facebook: The Teacher's Toolbox

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Fill your Carts and dust off your Wish Lists!

If you have things on your wishlist that have been collecting dust, it's time to put them in your cart! This Monday and Tuesday TPT is having a CYBER SALE! Be sure to enter the promo code to get an additional discount! 

Follow me for freebies, tips and ideas...
...by email or Bloglovin'
...my TPT store: Mrs. Irvin's Toolbox  
...on Instagram: mrsirvinstoolbox
...on Facebook: The Teacher's Toolbox

Saturday, November 26, 2016

CVC Stockings on the Fireplace Activity

Just wanted to let you all know that I've made this adorable little activity for my class. I plan to use this as a center activity for my more advanced students and as a one-one activity for those that need more guidance.
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Grab it here in my TPT store! I hope your students enjoy it! 

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Sped Teachers Thank You!

Head over to TPT for $1 deals all day long! Type in #SpedGivesThanks to find great deals from all of your favorite sped teachers. Don't forget to show them your love by following their TPT stores, too!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

10 Tips to Get You Through your Next Observation

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Miss Trunchbull - Matilda
Here it comes again. The dreaded observation. The day we all look forward to: teaching while your administrator watches you for an hour. What could be more fun?

After 17 years of teaching, I don't get nervous about it. I just get prepared. As prepared as I can be, because the problem is, kids will be kids and will do the craziest things when you least expect it. 

Here's my advice for observation time... and please don't rely on my opinions here to get you through your observation. ANYTHING can happen. If you suddenly find POOP on the floor while your principal is in the room, and nobody will claim it (yes, it happened to me), I'm sorry about your luck. Don't say I didn't warn you.  
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1. Get the requirements done. If you have a checklist, be sure to have everything checked off on that list. If you know ahead of time that there are certain things they are looking for, make sure you have it. This is a no-brainer. Lesson plans complete, learning scales up, objectives posted... get all of that done and out of the way so you can focus on a great lesson. 

2. For heaven's sake, clean up your mess! There's nothing more distracting than a messy room. I don't mean kid-mess. I'm talking about piles of papers. Shove them in a closet. Clear your desk, tables and counters. At least pretend to be organized! You can pull out your piles again later. 

3. Don't try something you've never done before. Your students will be lost, you'll be frustrated, there will be tears. Stick to your routines. There's nothing more pleasing to watch than a classroom that runs like a well-oiled machine. Let your students do what they're used to doing. Whether you know it or not, you have a style and your principal will enjoy watching your style. Just be yourself.  

4. Don't tell your students that your principal is coming! They'll act weird. You'll suddenly have a bunch of robot children staring at the principal and not responding to you. Inevitably, you'll have that one student that says something you don't want them to say like "But you said we'll get extra recess if we're quiet!" Awkward. Let your kids just be. Let your principal see what you deal with on a daily basis, even if it is a little crazy. They need to see the struggling kids and the shining stars and all the little personalities in-between. 

5. Manage your time. Make sure you plan enough to fill the time but manage your time wisely. I hear this all the time: "I didn't get through my whole lesson." "The Principal left before I was done." Watch the clock, move the lesson along, pace your students, remind them of what's next. You can't always time it just right, but try. Plan the 'meat' of your lesson mid-observation so your administrator can see the best part. They'll want to stay if they're enjoying the lesson, too.   

6. Have all of your materials. Run through your lesson in your head before the observation. Think about every item you'll need for this lesson. You don't want to be rummaging through drawers looking for that timer you needed or that book you were going to read. Make sure it's all laid out ahead of time. 

7. Test the technology. Bringing technology into your lesson is great. But if there's ever a time it's going to fail, it'll be, you guessed it, during your observation. Have your Smart Board, iPad, computer... ready to go. Test it out before your lesson, have it ready to start and have a back up plan, just in case. 

8. Remember the basics. While you're teaching this great lesson, don't forget about good teaching practices. Wait time, higher-level questioning vs. yes-no questions, circulating or getting down to their level, proximity control for behaviors, differentiating, pairing, cooperative learning... I could go on and on. This is what good teachers do and we do it on a regular basis. But when we're being watched, we get nervous and suddenly we're first-year teachers again. Focus and do what you know how to do.   

9. Turn your cell phone off. Another no-brainer, but so easy to forget. Put it out of sight if it's not supposed to be in sight. If you're at a school where using it in the classroom is okay, put it away anyway. Unless you are using it specifically for your lesson, it probably shouldn't be laying around. Many old-school (traditional) administrators still see that as unprofessional in our profession and this is not the time for that argument. Just put it away. 

10. Smile, and have fun! Remember, a smile is contagious. Happy teacher, happy kids. Have fun with your lesson and just go with the flow if something doesn't go as planned. You will laugh about it later, trust me! I never planned for poop on the floor, but I can definitely laugh about it now. *Read above if you missed that part! :)  

Here's a condensed version of these 10 tips...
 The Teacher's Toolbox
Good luck with your next observation and don't forget to COMMENT with your great tips or funny stories of your own observation mishaps! 
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Monday, November 14, 2016

Turkeys and TPT Cash!

In case you didn't catch my last post, it's Turkey Time! 
Grab this cute Turkey Time! FLIPBOOK for your class and while you're here, enter to win some TPT cash!
It's easy! Follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, November 13, 2016

It's Turkey Time! Are you ready?

Can you believe the holiday season is already here? I don't know where this year has gone! There's an explanation for why time seems to fly by faster the older you get. I read about it somewhere. But that's another topic for another blog post. :)

So, like most teachers at this time of year, I'm scrambling to find new and interesting things for my students. Being a special ed teacher means that my students stay with me year after year so I try not to give them the same activities every holiday. I'm sure their parents don't want a collection of the same turkey craft. No need for a filing cabinet full of things we've already done. 

So off to TPT I go, in search of a new November activity for my students. There are a ton of great activities out there and you can spend all day browsing. In addition to a cute craft though, I wanted something that incorporated some skills that we've been working on, but I couldn't find anything simple enough to match the needs of my students. So I decided to create something just for them.
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I'm really excited about this cute little flip book! It showcases a few of the things we have been, and will be, learning about this month. It has a little bit of Reading, Writing, Math and Science and a cute little turkey craft to sit on top. I had a great time putting it together and I know my kids will, too! 
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The sheets are mostly full-size worksheets that can be completed in your small groups, as seat work, or in a center. It can easily be done over the course of a week, on different days, and assembled when all the pages are complete. 
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The pages are easily trimmed to make the tabs. 
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There's also an alternative math sheet of subtraction problems for differentiated instruction. 
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 There's always room for Math and Science!
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Click the picture above if you'd like to grab the Turkey Time! FLIPBOOK on TPT. 

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Using Token Boards to Motivate Students

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Time to confess! Special-ed teachers have a secret little tool in their pockets that works like magic for kids that just won't work. Want in on the secret? Token Boards! It's a tried and true motivator. 

But did you know you don't have to be a special-ed teacher to use a token board? If you've never used a token board. It looks something like this: 
Courtesy of Designed by Teachers
It works like this: The student decides what reward he'd like to work for, a star (or token) is added at intervals during the lesson, the student earns their reward when the lesson is complete. Easy! 

This works WONDERS with students in a regular-ed setting because they've never seen anything like it and they really think they're getting something for nothing! 

It also works like magic in our special-ed classrooms... to a certain point. If you're a special-ed teacher you can attest to this: TOKEN BOARD BURNOUT! After awhile, the novelty wears off. The child (and the teacher) gets tired of looking at it and working for the same old rewards. 

I don't abuse the token board. I try not to use it for every task. Sometimes we don't need it at all. (I am always working to wean the student off the token board.) But when that head is down or the arms are crossed, and I'm getting that "I'm not doing it" look, I know it's time to whip out the token board.

Usually, I customize the tokens to include characters or other cute items such as cupcakes or butterflies just to make it interesting. This year, I've decided to take it a step further by making Seasonal Token Boards! 
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Right now, we're using the Little Pumpkins Sitting on a Gate token board and my students LOVE them! Such a simple thing can make such a difference! 
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By changing the boards monthly, we add a little excitement to our every day tasks. The kids love creating these little "scenes" and by the time it starts to get old... we get new boards! WIN-WIN!  
Build-a-Scarecrow - The Teachers Toolbox
If you have volunteers, room moms, paras or college students, they can help you assemble these in no time at all.       
October Token Board - The Teacher's Toolbox

My students take their token boards with them for Speech Therapy and OT. It helps keep them on track while out of the classroom, as well. One more bonus... they LOVE showing these off! 

So to motivate students with token boards, remember: 
1. Don't abuse it or overuse it. 
2. Keep your rewards and tokens fresh.

I've been working on monthly token boards to share on TPT and they are turning out SO CUTE! These will be available as a growing bundle for a great price, so grab them here!
November Token Board - The Teacher's Toolbox
 Monthly Token Boards

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Quick Bulletin Boards

Teachers have a love-hate relationship with bulletin boards. We love how they look when they're up and done. But by March, we're out of ideas and out of time! Without them though, our classrooms just wouldn't feel like home. 
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via queenof1stgradejungle
I've noticed something trending, though. Teachers are creating these cute bulletin boards with full-sized pages for titles, or giant letters. So cute! The end result is a nice, eye-catching bulletin board that really pops! 
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via constantcontact
I made some recently in my classroom (still need to take the pictures) and they turned out so cute! 

There's a great tutorial from Blair Turner here if you'd like to make your own letters on Power Point.
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If you need some quick Fall Bulletin Board letters, I've made some that you can grab here. There are letters for 3 different boards: Pumpkins, Apples, and Happy Fall. Too cute!  
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Happy Fall y'all! 

Sunday, September 25, 2016

SPED-tacular Sunday Freebies!

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My friend, Traci, over at The Bender Bunch, is hosting her weekly SPED-tacular Sunday Freebies! Go grab my freebie - the cute little Kitty Ten Frames below - and TONS of other freebies for your classroom! Be sure to check back every weekend for more goodies! Have a great week!
 Sunday Freebie
Kitty Ten Frames