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Saturday, April 23, 2016

Special Ed Morning Work Binder System

Like most special ed classrooms, my classroom population and student needs are constantly changing. Therefore, I must adapt. I can't do the same thing year after year. 

One thing that my students have loved this year is their dry-erase Morning Work binder. There are so many benefits to this system, some of which just evolved unexpectedly, AND it has saved my sanity on those busy mornings when everything is happening at once.

Here are some of the amazing things that have happened that I love: 
  • My students know what is expected of them. They go right to it after hanging up their backpack and get to work. 
  • It is predictable, so they feel successful. I leave the same pages in the front (calendar, name practice, number of the day...) so they know what to expect and what to do without needing help.

  • I can differentiate for different needs. The calendar pages in my morning work binder system are made for different levels. Some of my students can write the day and date themselves. 

  • It makes a great review tool. I add or change a page or two at a time to review something we've learned. Some of my students love the change and some have a hard time getting used to the change, so I individualize this. 
  • You can put it in a binder or a folder. I switched to folders. I slip in new pages when I need to and they are easy to store. 
  • It is a great assessment tool for me. I can record data for following routines, writing his/her name, writing a sentence, counting, or whatever other independent skill I'm looking for. 
One thing to keep in mind is that it is so important to give our students opportunities to be independent. If you think about it, most of our special needs students need help with just about everything they do! When they can do something on their own, without any help from us, you can just see them holding their heads up a little higher. So even if these tasks seem a little mundane to us, let them have their time to shine. =)
 Mrs. Irvin's Toolbox


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Inspiration Is Everywhere!

What inspires you? That's such a difficult question to answer. We don't really know until it happens. Like a flash of lightning, a thought or a feeling will come over you that you didn't expect. And sometimes that spark will come from the simplest of things. 

Teachers, as you may very well know, live for this inspiration. We NEED it! Crave it! We'll take it any way we can get it. After all, it takes a lot to motivate and inspire others to learn. If you're not a teacher, you probably think that listening to motivational speakers and attending professional development classes would do it. Sometimes it does, if you're lucky. But after 16 years of teaching I can tell you that I am most motivated by this: OTHER TEACHERS. 

Teachers are in the trenches, finding out first-hand what works and what doesn't. Conducting their own research, keeping their own data. No textbook needed. 

So look no further than your neighboring teachers for true inspiration. Take a little tour of your own school. Walk into classrooms and take pictures. I've done this before and it is so much fun! This is why I love TPT. Teachers, all around the world, sharing their ideas and creativity. 

I'll leave you with a little something that inspired me recently. I'm sure you've seen her work. It's one of those simple things, my first cup of coffee of the day with a little message, reminding me to stay creative.
Mrs Irvin's Toolbox
Mug from Creative Clips Clipart