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Sunday, September 25, 2016

SPED-tacular Sunday Freebies!

The Teacher's Toolbox
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

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

IEP Work Boxes = Quick Data

Taking data while working with a student with special needs isn't always easy. It takes a little bit of multi-tasking (okay, a lot). If you're new to the SPED lifestyle, don't worry - you'll get better at it soon. 
Mrs. Irvin's Toolbox
More and more, teachers are asked for current data on their students. Students with IEPs have goals that are reported on at least four times a year. Some districts require teachers to report on goals eight times a year minimally. It is unfortunate that we have to do this so often. (In my opinion, teachers should be trusted to decide whether a skill has been mastered or not, but don't get me started.) Data is a very useful tool. Don't let yourself get to the end of the year (or IEP duration) before realizing you don't have enough data to back up your discussions at an IEP meeting or conference. 
Mrs. Irvin's Toolbox
The flip side of this is that we have to consider what is happening to our students during the drill-n-kill of every day tasks. Students with special needs often take a little longer to master some concepts. What happens is, we end up working on the same flashcards, numbers, activities day after day. Our job is to mix it up and make practicing those same skills a little more fun. In addition to the research-based programs we use in our district, I bring in many different "adapted" resources. I have different reasons for using supplemental materials: 

  • Sometimes, the programs we use are a little monotonous - I know, our kids need that consistency, but really... The problem I have with this is that our babies DON'T master these concepts as quickly as the programs suggest they will! Thus, we find ourselves repeating the lessons or levels, over and over, in hopes that it will eventually "click" for these kids! It's a wonder the teachers aren't the ones throwing a chair or two!
  • Sometimes the programs we use are outdated, as in 10-15 years old or older! Lots of things have changed since then, especially to a six-year-old. Images of vehicles, telephones, computers, even people sometimes look a little odd. 
Being able to go over the same skills, with fresh materials, is always so refreshing. Now, I'm not saying you should ditch your research-based, approved programs! But, a little change now and then is a great way to get your students excited about doing something "new" before they realize it's the same thing you've been working on for weeks. 

Mrs. Irvin's Toolbox
The change in seasons is a great way to bring in something exciting. I like to throw in "seasonal" fun to practice basic skills like letter & number identification, counting, matching, working with shapes and patterns, etc... I like to use IEP BOXES with seasonal resources for daily practice and data collection. I've created these FALL resources to help break up the monotony. 
Fall IEP Work Boxes
Here's a fun little Kitty Ten Frame freebie that you can use in your classroom right away! Just laminate and go! 

And here's another freebie... Turkey Ten Frames...
The Teacher's Toolbox
If you'd like to start IEP boxes in your classroom, this is a great way to start. My FALL Work Boxes include lots of great tools for daily practice and even contains a data sheet to keep track of your student's progress. (More about how I use IEP boxes later!) 
Fall Work Boxes
Fall Resources for IEP Work Boxes are available in my TPT store here or click on the image below.  
Mrs. Irvin's Toolbox
By the way, these are the boxes I use for my IEP Work Boxes. They are the perfect size and really durable! It was a great investment for my classroom! 
*Affiliate links above, but I also just love sharing great finds! 

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Back to School Giveaway!

Back to School TPT
How much have you spent on your classroom so far? I try not to keep track! It's scary how much we spend getting our classrooms ready and supplementing our curriculum to make learning fun. 

So, in honor of hard working teachers everywhere, I'm teaming up with some great teachers to have a giveaway. Here's your chance to get a little back! AND IT'S SO EASY! Hey, $25 on TPT can go a long way!

Prize: $25 Teachers Pay Teachers Gift Card
Giveaway Organized by: Kelly Malloy (An Apple for the Teacher), 
Rules: Use the Rafflecopter to enter. Giveaway ends 9/23/16 and is open worldwide.
Are you a Teacher Blogger or Teachers pay Teachers seller who wants to participate in giveaways like these to grow your store and social media?  Click here to find out how you can join our totally awesome group of bloggers!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Hurricane Hermine: No Power, No School

The Teacher's Toolbox

So what happens when your district shuts down for a week in the aftermath of a hurricane? I'm about to find out. We go back to school tomorrow. 

Hurricane Hermine pounded our beautiful city of Tallahassee (Florida) last Thursday night. As a precaution, school was cancelled for Thursday and Friday. Then we had the weekend to recover and Monday was a holiday for Labor Day. But on Sunday, it was clear to the district (and the rest of us) that we would not be ready to come back to school on Tuesday as was originally planned. Many people are still without power, even as I write this on Tuesday night, 5 days after the storm. 
Mrs. Irvin's Toolbox
But school starts back tomorrow, Wednesday. It was announced yesterday. That means it may be hard for parents (and staff) to get their kids ready for school in the dark, and heat, on Wednesday morning. It won't be easy packing lunches when you haven't had refrigeration for a week. Some may not even have clean clothes for the week since they haven't been able to do laundry. For some, though, it may be a blessing to be able to send their kids to an air-conditioned school where they'll see their friends and get back to their regular routine. 

It'll be interesting to see how my students have handled this "unexpected" event and how long it'll take them to get back to the routine that we just learned. (We started school on August 15th.) This is such a hard time for us, but especially hard for families with children with Autism and other special needs. 

For now, I'm counting my blessings. I have my home, a/c, refrigeration, transportation and most of all, my family is safe and sound. A bit of a rough start to the school-year, but a great reminder to appreciate everything and everyone we have.