Wednesday, October 8, 2014


Wowza! It has been along time since I last posted. So many wonderful things have happened. New classroom, new students, new principal and to top it off my husband and I are selling our house. I have been so busy and unfortunately my camera/phone has been broken and I have not been able to take any pictures to attach to my blog posts. But along with all of the "new" stuff in my life I just got the new iPhone 6 and LOVE IT!!! I look forward to using it to take classroom actions shots to accompany all of the new tips and tricks I have been trying out this year. For now I leave you with basically describes my life :)

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Friday, July 11, 2014

Special Education Blog Hop

I am so excited about the linky Jamie from Tales of a Carolina Girl is hosting. Blogging is something I have really gotten into this past year and LOVE, LOVE, LOVE finding other special ed. bloggers. Networking is a huge part of my success and I love hearing from those who do what I do day in and day out. With that said here is a little information about me:

Any teaching job, gen. ed or special ed., can be stressful at times. Getting advice from those who are in the same situations as you can be one of the most helpful and comforting things for me. My advice for anyone in the special education field is just to be patient and not give up. Our students are creatures of habit. If they have eaten lunch before recess for the past 4 years and now are expected to have recess before lunch a problem will more than likely arise. It is important to take the time to help your student understand the change in routine and show them that it will be ok. This may take 1 time (lucky you) but in my case it took me about 1 month to get this under control this year.

Another thing is to be consistent. Kids are smart! They know how to push our buttons and manipulate situations. Don't let up on your directive. Keep pushing yourself to stand firm and your students will learn. Again be patient, but they will learn.

I would also say to make sure to celebrate accomplishments. One of my students during melt downs last year was very destructive. At the beginning of the year we were tearing down book shelves, ripping bulletin boards down, breaking baskets and at sometimes getting physical. I worked very hard to educate my staff on using common language. After meltdowns, when the student was back to a rational state, I would talk to them about what happened. I would then teach the replacement behavior. I would want this particular student to say "I'm angry". We worked long and hard at this. The destructive behaviors continued to get smaller and smaller until one day (8 months into the school year) my little guy said "I'm angry" and noting was destroyed. I am not kidding you when I say I was so happy I cried. It was that moment that told me everything I did, the countless hours of preparation, reading up on interventions, finding dinosaur materials etc. was totally worth it. No accomplishment, big or small, should be passed up. Celebrate and share what you and your students are doing.

My final note is to have fun and laugh. Our jobs are tough. If we don't make ourselves enjoy them we will get burnt out. I laugh daily and teach my kids it's ok to make mistakes and laugh at ourselves.

I am so excited to do some blog hoppin' and meet up with some other SPED's!! Make sure to get in on the action too, just click here!

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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Start of Summer School (+ Freebie)

Today was the first day of summer school. I had know idea what to expect. We had a roster with 16 names on it...that's it!! We didn't know what grade they were in, what (if any) disability they had, if they required a para professional...nothing! Oh and to top it off the teacher I run the program with couldn't be there because she had to be at a class of her own. So here I am with 16 students (per class), 3 volunteers and my lifesaver best friend who stepped in to co-teach with me while my counter part was gone. Having my bestie there was the best thing that could ever happen. We are pretty much the same person and know what the other person wants just my looking at each other. She was able to follow my lesson plans, my bullet points, my 3 minute oral directions at the beginning of the 3 hour class to a tee!

Our summer program "Explore" focuses on reading, writing and math improvement for students with an IEP or who are considered at-risk, grades K-5. I love working in the summer because I get a chance to work with the "littles". They are just so stinkin' cute! Don't get me wrong, I love working with my drama filled, boy crazy, sport loving 4th and 5th graders. But it's just something about the littles that makes my heart melt. Maybe it's the pure innocence of everything in life. Every moment is a teachable one.

Alright, alright enough of that...let's get onto what we did. It was a jammed packed 3 hours but it couldn't have ran more smooth. Someone was a little shy to enter the room, he sat out there for a good 50 minutes until he got enough courage the come in...or until he couldn't wait any longer to eat the goodies we had laying out for him.

For math we started off by having students make the number they selected 10 different ways. We had the older students make sure to include at least 2 number sentences for an added challenge. The younger students had pre-made tally marks, ten frames and number words to choose from. The differentiation for this task was perfect and allowed all of the students to achieve the same objective in the same room.

It was then time for a tasty snack so we pulled out some M&M's. For this activity we had the older students go to our other room, since this task required more direct instruction. I had the littles sort their M&M's on sorting mats.

We then made a graph together. I called the students up 1 by 1 and had them color as many spaces as they needed. This was a great task because it required the students to count up from a specific number instead of always starting at one. Some of our kiddos were even able to add 10 quickly. I was so impressed.

The older students completed the same task but they had their own graph and answered questions about their graph individually instead of whole group like the littles.

Once we finished with a color they were allowed to eat those candies....they said we were torturing them by making them wait soooo long to eat them.

For reading we focused our day on Chrysanthemum, by Kevin Henkes. I absolutely adore his stories and couldn't have selected a better story to start off the summer. I started off by introducing a pink paper heart. I told the students that throughout the story they would hear some hurtful words. We were going to take turns passing the heart around and every time they heard a hurtful word they would have to crinkle up the heart. As I read the story the students did a nice job passing the heart around and only crinkling at the correct times. I asked questions and did some partner shares during the read aloud to keep them moving and engaged. At the end of the story we tried to "iron" out the wrinkles but no matter how hard we tried it still wasn't perfectly smooth/mended. This was a lot of fun because it allowed a visual representation of how someone's heart may feel after being hurt. Visuals are soo important for our little fellows, especially those with autism.

After reading the story we filled out our anchor chart together. I was very interested to see how this went but surprisingly the older students allowed some think time and gave the littles a chance to respond.

Once we had an understanding of feelings, worries, kind words and traits, we went on to creating our own, About Me pages. Most of the K-2 students required adult support to complete this activity but they did a nice job.

And I had to slip this one in here because apparently he has no worries in life :)

During writing we talked about bucket lists. We made a giant list of all of the things we would like to accomplish before we "got old" together.

 I then told the students that we were going to make a summer bucket list. I showed them an example of mine. I created 3 different size paper templates for our varying ability levels. Instead of sharing my summer bucket list as a whole, I split the kids up by ability levels and shared my "just write paper" story with each group. I thought sharing it in small groups would allow the students to focus on exactly what they were supposed to do instead of seeing all of the examples and ask why they couldn't write less.

They worked hard creating their bucket lists and then colored these cute bucket and shovel pictures (available here in the clip art pack). We cut them out and pasted them to a large piece of construction paper next to our summer bucket list stories. These will be great to have on their wall during the summer. We thought about putting a sticker next to their item if they completed it. Get your very own FREE copy of our bucket list activity here!

All in all I would say our first day of summer school went great! I am looking forward to 6 more weeks of fun filled, jammed packed days! What summer activities do you do if you teach during the summer?

***Just for fun, who doesn't like cowboy boots, in Michigan, on a humid day with basketball shorts?

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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

July Currently

I was worried about keeping up with blog post this summer but have found joy in joining many linky parties. Today I have linked up with Farley from Oh' Boy 4th Grade for July Currently. I promise once I get started teaching again more tips and tricks from the special education world will be shared, but for now here is my currently.

I start teaching summer school next week for grades K-5. It should be a fun time, reading, writing and math for 3 hours in a hot, humid room, who wouldn't love that? Make sure you head on over to link up and share your July currently.

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Monday, June 30, 2014

Me Time Monday

On this hot, humid and gloomy Monday I have linked up with Amanda of at One Extra Degree for...

This summer has proved to be a relaxing one. I have been super busy but...I have truly enjoyed getting stuff done for me! I have been able to get stuff done around the house (inside and out), spend time with my family and friends, coach, make new products for TpT and help my husband get his business up and running. Here are some of my summer highlights so far:

The number one thing I have enjoyed is spending time with my husband. During the school year we don't get to spend quality time together because I am always working. Even when I come home at night it was extremely difficult for me to turn it off last year (it was a stressful one!). So I have really enjoyed sleeping in, snuggling, making him breakfast and watching movies. Here is a photo of us at our friends beautiful backyard vintage wedding.

I also have recently started coaching again. Before I was offered my current teaching job I coached but decided to resign to focus on teaching and my master's degree. Now that I have been in the job for a couple of years and have completed my degree I am missing something. I absolutely love coaching and it is actually my source of "therapy" throughout the year. I love working with the girls and helping them achieve their goals. Oh and I coach cheerleading :) Here is a look at one of the bows I am ordering the girls for camp...super cute right?

Something totally random but my daily must have are my Sparkling Ice drinks. I used to buy these babies for $1 a piece at Kroger but have made the amazing discovery of them being sold in an 18 pack at Sam's Club for $10. That is like getting 8 for FREE!!!

As I posted in yesterday's post my husband has started a new clip art business. We have been working a lot on marking that lately and it's really fun to see him getting excited about his work again. Check out the post here to read more.

And finally I am super excited to say that my very first Erin Condren lesson planner has been shipped. I cannot wait until it arrives and I have already purchased some new Washi Tape to spice it up. I think it was really bad that I discovered the lesson planner but and extremely excited about it!

That's my Me Time Monday...make sure to hop on over to Amanda's blog to link up!

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Sunday, June 29, 2014

JB Design Clip Art (plus FLASH FREEBIE!)

I am going to take some blog space today to share a little bit about my husbands growing business. He is currently studying graphic design and will be finished in April. We are very fortunate to be able to have him attend school full time and not have to work. During his time off from a "real" job he has been exploring the world of clip art. He has mostly made things for me and the products I create for TpT.

When he finishes school he would love to do something with illustrations or make clip art full time. He really enjoys creating the packs and the freedom clip art allows . He is always looking for new ideas and clients :)....He loves me but he says I am the worst client lol. I can't imagine why... I don't see how hovering over him and pointing out the flaws mid design can be any bit annoying :). In the end he always WOWs me with his creations and I am very proud to share his hard work on my page.

Here are a few packs he has created...

Check out our TpT page to view all of his packs and follow us to get alerts when new products are posted. And just for checking out the blog post here is a flash FREEBIE for you (available until 9:30pm)! Make sure you also follow JB Design on Facebook for updates and Flash Freebies.

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Monday, June 23, 2014

Modifying Assignments Using Photos

I love incorporating tasks into my classroom that students can use over and over. I like this for a couple of reasons. One being that the students are able to develop a routine and can build independence and second, they are a time saver! After all we are already busy writing IEP's, attending meetings, tracking data, dealing with behaviors, managing support staff, oh and teaching :)

Even though I love incorporating routine tasks into my classroom, some of them are not appropriate for all of my students. This past year I had a very large range of abilities in my classroom and it was my goal to get them all completing the same tasks. I felt they were all capable and it was up to me to figure out how.

I found some awesome tasks from Sasha over at The Autism Helper that were a perfect addition to my classroom. I love these tasks because I can use them with all of my students. I have some of my students do these activities the traditional way, by sorting, writing and turning in their finished work (paper). While I have some of my other students, who may have difficulty with writing or are just slower in task completion, complete a modified version.  They sort, take a photo and send it to me. Here are some examples:

Traditional Completion


Modified Completion


Since I have a number of students who email me I keep a digital folder for them and pull each of their completed assignments into them for review. I actually send a copy of the digital files to their families during progress time too. If you needed to print their work that is easy too. I do this sometimes if I am displaying the work or need to add something to a portfolio.

This is a pretty simple modification as it really doesn't involve any additional work for myself (other than opening an email and dragging the photo to a folder). I will admit that some of my lower functioning students needed support to complete the sort but were able to take the photo and send it independently.

How do you modify activities in your classroom for all of you students to be able to complete at the same time?

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Friday, June 20, 2014

Five for Friday {Linky Party...June 20}

What a we go!

My husband has a minor, ok huge fear of storms (shh!). Lets just say when a storm is a brewin' we know about it at least a week in advance. Due to the way our house is positioned on our lot and the proximity to our neighbors any bit of wind sounds like an F5 tornado whipping through. In hopes to get any sleep we head on over to our nana and papa's house and hangout. I know, it sounds funny but heck, free food, good conversations and a good nights sleep...I'll take it! Oh and how can I forget, we get to spend time with this cutie!

During my stay at nana and papas I had some time to do the things my lovely para professionals usually take care of for me. I colored, cut and mounted about 12 file folder games. They are ready to be laminated. I just love these, especially for students to take back to their general education classroom to work on independently. 

I was also able to get caught up on cutting some laminate....I am sure I laminated these back in March! Check out my fancy scissors. I LOVE them!

This technically happened a few weeks ago but... as a kick off to summer my girlfriends (Third in Hollywood, Dashing Dish and Dayna Mae Photography) and our hubbies got together for a BBQ, Minute to Win It showdown and a bonfire. This was so much fun! 


Finally, I found my favorite gum on sale for $0.30 a pack at Target. I had to buy five....then my hubby came home with 5 more. I just love him :)

Make sure to hop back over to the Linky Party to check out everyone else's 5 for Friday!

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