This Teacher's Return to the Blogosphere!

Hey there y'all!

It has been MONTHS since I have blogged! Every week I think "I should really write a blog post!", but I always find myself a little too exhausted to do so.

Well friends, I'm back! I missed the blog world so much! The first few months of the school year are always a little hectic, overwhelming, and stressful for me. It's only year 4 for me, so I'm still getting the hang of a lot of things. When they say that every day is a learning experience, they weren't kidding! ;-)

Anyways-time for me to play a little catch up. What has been going on out there?! Hopefully every has had a great first 4 months of the 2013-14 school year!

We are spending our last 2 weeks before Christmas break doing some fun activities! I found this great free resource on TPT the other day that I just HAD to download. I have some friends in the military and really wanted to send something for Christmas. Well, found the perfect thing! This afternoon we spent 45 minutes coming up with "thank yous" for our troops and using our very *best* coloring skills. Just look at this coloring!!

"Thank you for protecting us!"

Click the link below to make some cards with your kiddos, our troops will appreciate them! :)
Cards to Soldiers Freebie
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Year 3 In The Books!

It's official, I'm done with year 3! Only a million more to go! ;)

3 days into summer break and I can already see it flying by! I have so many doctors appointments, fun plans, and of course SO many materials I want to make for next school year! I even brought home my classroom laminator and tons of file folder tasks to create. I mean, why not color some cute tasks while I catch up on Netflix?!

Next Wednesday I'll be attending the Milestones Autism Conference. My special education director offered this to anyone that would like to attend, super nice! I will be attending with our school principal, some regular education teachers, special education teachers, and even some of our paraprofessionals. I'm going to spend some time over the next week trying to pick out the best sessions to attend...so many to choose from!


August 1st is going to be here before I know it. Better enjoy my morning coffee, extra time for work outs, and warm evenings with a nice cold beer. :)

Enjoy your start to summer, everyone!
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A Little Laugh

One of my teacher friends posted this on her Facebook today. A hilarious reminder that us teachers aren't the only ones that are checked out for the summer...sometimes your kiddos parents are as well!

Worst End Of School Year Mom Ever

A little laugh for you on this Thursday.

TGIF :)
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One Of Those Days...


One of those days today. In the last few hours, I've been through my own emotional rollercoaster. This girl is headed to bed before the sun even sets.

5 more days...I think I can, I think I can.
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Tasks Galore

Alright, things have been a little crazy around teacher-land over here! We are in the home stretch of the school year and I have 3 IEP meetings to kick out in the next week and I need to finish up report cards, IEP progress reports, etc. To say the next 10 days can't go by fast enough is an understatement! Love my little ones but summer break is SO needed around here! The pool and limearitas are screaming my name. :)

I wanted to write a quick post about one of my favorite go-to resources, Tasks Galore books! I found these my first year of teaching and it was SUCH a lifesaver in my autism classroom!


The "Climbing Art Obstacles in Autism" book is worth every penny, people! Crafts with students with autism can sometimes be painful for both the kiddo and the teacher. These are all visually based, simple, and mega cute! I had my classroom aides last year go through the book and make templates & craft examples for every craft in the book! They were such troopers & the time was well spent. :)
An example from the Tasks Galore website!


The yellow "Tasks Galore" book is another awesome find. There are SO many great tasks to make for all different aspects of your curriculum. Check out these examples of what you will find inside!

SO many awesome ideas!
The last book I own is "Making Groups Meaningful". I haven't used this as much in my new multiple disabilities classroom, but I referenced it quite a bit in my autism classroom. Many, many great ideas to tackle groups (which can be extremely tough with your students with autism!). Here is an example of one of the pages out of the book:
This was actually one of the ideas that I put into place in my last classroom! This gave everyone a chance to participate in calendar time, and jobs could easily be switched daily or weekly!

The books are a little pricey, but I promise you that they are so worth it!
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Bzzz Bees!

We have been talking about spring & reading about bees in our classroom. Check out these super cute bees that my kiddos made! As I've said before, I use Unique Learning Systems with my students. This was this months craft & we all LOVED it!



Proud mama moment right here. :)
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Writing Fun!

I know what you're thinking...how dare you put "writing" and "fun" in the title together?! Writing is tough for so many kids, especially our students with special needs. However - we still need to get it done! Many of my kiddos are still working on writing their letters and numbers and get easily frustrated. A few weeks ago, my deaf education specialist came in with this cute game. Lucky for me, she trusts me enough to leave it with me to work on letter writing with it!

I like to use this 1:1 with my students, but it is really meant to be a game that you can play with 1-4 students at a time! Each student get their own "popper" that has letters on all sides. Once they pop a letter, they find that letter on their card and practice writing it. It's really cute and my students LOVED popping the dice and finding their letter!

You can purchase the game here from Lakeshore Learning if you're interested! :)

Do you have any fun or interesting ways that you incorporate writing with your kiddos?
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Spring Themed Positional Words!

I don't know about you guys, but my kiddos tend to struggle with positional words such as above, next to, below, between, etc. This can be a tough concept to teach your special learners. Plus, my students definitely get sick of doing the same task over & over! I found this idea on another blog and decided to make a few positional words books of my own!
Cute!



Most of my students cannot read this independently, so this is a fun & cute task we do 1:1 together. I love the cute clip art I found online & can't wait to use it throughout May with my students!

If you'd like to download the Spring Positional Words Book, click here!
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Rough Days & A Freebie

Coming into the world of special education, I knew that my job wasn't going to be easy. I knew that there would be never ending mounds of paperwork, always changing behaviors, a huge array of needs, and some less than "easy" days. I always tell people that I am incredibly blessed this year. But let's face it, that certainly doesn't mean that I don't have my rough days. Today was one of those days. It seemed that everything that could go wrong, did. Never-ending-crazy. It's OAA week (testing in Ohio) so I have been gifted 3 extra kiddos. This among many other issues did not make today the best day of my career. Did I cry 3 times at work? Why yes, I did. And then I came home, passed out from being emotionally and physically exhausted, and then went on a nice 35 minute run to try to clear my head. I found this on Pinterest & I'm sure I'm not the only teacher out there that needs this today:


Here's to a better day tomorrow, fingers & toes crossed!

And I leave you with a freebie...check out HERE to get some cute Spring Counting Mats!
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File Folder Frenzy!

Teaching in a moderate to intensive needs classroom, I obviously make quite a bit of what my kiddos do throughout the school day. Other than using ULS, News2You, & our PCI Reading Program, almost the rest of my daily curriculum is made by me & my paraprofessionals.

In our classroom, we use TEACCH work systems for my students to complete independent work time. All of their TEACCH bins are tasks that they have already been taught & have mastered. When I started at my new school this year, there were quite a few file folders already made, but lets just say they weren't exactly the best "quality" file folders. In the last month or so, I have been copying file folder games and having my paraprofessionals put their top notch coloring skills to work! We have been coloring, cutting, gluing, & laminating these babies to get them ready for next school year. I recently ordered our own smaller laminator that can laminate the smaller file folder pieces to make them last much longer. Once this thing gets here, you better believe I will be carting that thing home and going to lamination heaven!! (Teachers understand, but everyone else would probably look at me like I've finally lost it...)

Anyways, other than preparing these file folders by coloring & cutting, I have also been working on some already colorful file folder tasks on my laptop! I recently made a whole "spring themed" file folder set for my TPT! I might just have to bite the bullet and send the smaller pieces to the school laminator, I want to use these before the year ends! Check it out :)



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Spring Is In The Air!

Happy Monday! (Did I really just call Monday "happy"?!)

Our countdown to the last day of school is in full swing! Only 36 more school days, but who's counting?!

To celebrate spring and the warmer weather that is gracing Ohio as of lately, we spent some time talking about gardening & planting seeds today. I use Unique Learning Systems in my classroom & this month's unit is all about working together. It just so happened that one of the books was about working together in the garden! Perfect to read before planting some flowers, right?! There was also a science experiment in this month's unit, so we spent a little time talking about the steps to planting our seeds.

An example of Unique's step by step directions
After going over the steps to planting our seeds, we went around the table and took turns filling our cups with soil, choosing which flowers we wanted to grow, and making sure our soil had enough water!


I'm so excited for our flowers to grow over the coming weeks. I know my kiddos will really enjoy watching them grow once they start coming out of the soil. :)
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Autism Awareness Month: Books!

Happy Thursday everyone!!

In honor of Autism Awareness month, I pulled these books off the shelves & wanted to share them with you guys!


During the month of April last year, I sent out a schedule of days and times for teachers to sign up to have one of our special education staff come into their classroom and read their students a story and give them a little information/answer any questions about autism. These were some of the awesome books I found online that help give elementary students a good idea of what autism "is" and why some of their classmates might flap, make "strange" noises, or any of the other quirks our little kiddos might display.

Here are the books if you'd like to order them for your school!
My Brother Charlie by Holly Robinson Peete
Ian's Walk by Laurie Lears
Looking After Louis by Lesley Ely
In Jesse's Shoes by Beverly Lewis
Rules by Cynthia Lord (this is a great chapter book for your 4th or 5th graders!)

Hope y'all have a wonderful Friday!
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...And They're Back!

Well it's official, spring break is over and the final quarter is now in full swing! 40 more school days doesn't sound too bad..right?! Totally do-able!

We had a conference comp day yesterday, so I spent a few very quiet hours in my classroom getting some stuff set for the month of April. I don't know about you guys, but this is my FAVORITE time to work in the school! You aren't exhausted from the day you just had, it's not the crack of dawn, and there is no one around to mess up your train of thought! My new goal for next school year: convincing our principal that we should have access on the weekends!

Anyhow, I was able to plan for our "whole group" time for the month of April. We started doing this more back in December. Our classroom schedule is totally crazy, and there is rarely a time where everyone is the room & we can do a full group! This is my favorite time of the day though. No "IEP specific" work, just fun things that are related to the Ohio standards and that my kiddos enjoy! Here's my (not so beautiful) monthly group plan for April!
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Freebie Friday!

Spring break is coming to an end and I feel like it just started! It always works that way though, doesn't it? We go back on Tuesday & then will only have about 8 weeks left in the school year! Woo hoo!

Anyhow, I wanted to share a couple of my favorite *free* iPad apps with you guys! My kiddos with special needs LOVE these!

The first one is more of a fun app, the Toy Story Read Along book! All of my kids LOVE this book...I mean, who doesn't like Toy Story?! It reads the story to you, or you can choose an option where your students read it to themselves!

Another classroom favorite is Shape Puzzle HD! The free edition only includes their animal puzzle where your students can choose an animal (giraffe, lion, turtle, zebra, etc) and each puzzle has 5-10 pieces. This is a tough skill for many of my students and great fine motor practice as well! Plus, they all LOVE their animals!

I could go on for days about iPad apps. There are so many awesome educational ones that are so worth the $1-3 price tag. I don't know about you guys, but I'm sure that my kiddos get very sick of me talking to them & learning time, coins, etc. on the iPad is a welcomed break!

Do you have any free iPad apps to share?
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Autism Awareness Month: World Within Our Own

World Within Our Own from Carolyn Van Houten on Vimeo.

I'm short on time this afternoon but I wanted to share this beautiful short documentary that was done with one of my former students & his family. His mom is also working on getting funding to start an "Assisted Farm Living for Adults with Autism" in North Carolina. She is more than half way to her goal of $500,000 and I am so excited to see 3 Irish Jewels Farm build and grow in the coming years!
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Autism Awareness Month

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, April is Autism Awareness Month. Today we celebrate "Light It Up Blue" with Autism Speaks to help spread worldwide awareness!
How are you lighting it up blue today?!
In honor of Light It Up Blue, I wanted to share some freebies to use with your kiddos that have autism!
This is a great resource for your kiddos with autism (or even some of your other students with varying disabilities!). Rather than just sending home a teacher-written home note, this gets your students more involved in the process and gives them a way to tell their parents how their day was and what they did at school! You can download it for free HERE!

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Keeping Track of Standards

Happy April & Autism Awareness Month!

I'm on spring break this week so I'm busy catching up on making some resources, writing IEPs, and developing new data sheets.

We all know that keeping track of data in the SPED world is ALOT of work and takes quite a bit of organization. For me, keeping track of individual IEP goals and behaviors is easier than keeping track of when I hit specific standards with my kiddos. Not only do I have students in a variety of grades, but they are also on different "levels" as well. In Ohio, we have the Ohio Extended Standards that align with the Common Core. They are grouped as K-2, 3-5, 6-8, & 9-12 and also have 3 different "complexity" levels.
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Welcome!

Welcome to "My Special Learners"! My name is Miss Kayla and I'm a 3rd year teacher in a moderate to intensive needs classroom in Northeastern Ohio. I spent my first two years teaching in Raleigh, North Carolina with a classroom full of kiddos with autism. This year, I'm blessed to have a class full of lovely students with multiple disabilities. I hope to share my ideas, resources, and stories with all of you! Welcome to my crazy yet amazing adventure!
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