Special Education Blog Hop: First Week of School!



Welcome back for another week of the Special Education Blog Hop! This week we are all talking about the first week of school. I have to admit, I'm in slight denial that we are going back SO. SOON. -- however, it's time to start preparing!

The first week of school is always exciting & a little chaotic. Transitioning back into a school routine can be especially hard on our kiddos, so it is KEY that we start off on the right foot!

Whether you have many of the same kiddos as the year before, or if you have a bunch of new little ones, there are some important things that we need to be sure we cover in the first week of school.

1. STRUCTURE

Obviously, this is something we need ALL year long in special education classrooms. Our students work best under a structured, scheduled day. The first week, even the first FEW weeks, can be a learning experience for the students AND staff. I don't know about you, but my schedule changes approximately 2,458 times in the first month of school. It is important that with schedule changes, our students know what to expect in their day. For some students, this might mean a picture schedule, others a written out schedule, etc.

2. KEEP BUSY!

Going right along with structure, we need to make sure we hop into our day from day ONE. I always make sure I have activities or lessons planned and plenty of file folders & task boxes ready to jump right in. Things can get crazy if your students are left with too much free time!

3. EXPECTATIONS

Just like a regular education classroom, our students need to know what we expect from them. It might be a little different than a typical 2nd grade classroom, but they need to know from day ONE that there are certain behaviors that are not allowed in the classroom! If you start the year off with lower expectations, it's MUCH harder to extinguish those behaviors later on. Obviously in special education, there are behaviors that will be worked on all year long. However, I make sure my students know from the first day what I expect in the classroom. This can be reinforced through behavior charts, sticker chart, token economy systems, etc.! The first day is a great day to start on a system not only for the students, but to get YOU into the routine as well!

4. PARENT RAPPORT

Parent rapport is one of the MOST important parts of the beginning of the year. We spend countless hours with their babies, we need to make them feel comfortable & communicate well! This makes IEP meetings, progress reports, or tough discussions easier later in the year. If the parent trusts you and has established that rapport from the beginning, they will feel much more comfortable in those tough talks later on! This communication can be done through home notes, positive e-mails, phone calls home, picture updates, etc.!

These are just some of the important things about the first week of school. What else do you do that you feel is important? Tips or tricks?!

Click the picture below & hop on over to Erin's blog and check out her tips about the first week of school!

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Special Education Blog Hop: Back to School Forms


Welcome back for week 3 of the Special Education Blog Hop! This week we are talking all about back to school forms!

Personally, I don't send TOO many forms home at the beginning of the school year. There are the typical school forms (medical, etc) that go home. In addition to those forms, I always send my OWN supply list (our school does grade-level specific lists!) and a WISH list! Each year the wish list changes, and I'm still working on mine for next school year. I like to send these forms home either via e-mail (if I have parent e-mails) or have them ready at open house. I prefer to e-mail them out early on so that my parents have some time to grab what they need at the best price available!

Here are some examples of my supply & wish lists for next school year (I'm not done with my wish list yet!!):


Special Education Classroom Supply List


Special Education Classroom Wish List


In addition to these lists, I send home a "Contact Information" sheet with some important information that I like to keep on hand. I put these in my "Teacher Binder" so that if I need to reference a phone number, medication, or e-mail address, I can do it quickly & easily! Below is what that typically looks like.

Back to School Forms


The next form is something that our Special Education Director actually asked us to start doing. This form is our "Elementary Level Life Skills Form". At the beginning of each school year, I send this home with a short note of explanation to parents. These are all skills we would like to see the student doing by the time they move on to the Middle School. It's a great way to look at what the student has mastered & what they need to continue working on! I also fill one out and like to look at home vs. school comparisons. We will often look over these at IEP Meetings as well. I wanted to post it so you could print it off if you are interested, so click BELOW to go download it for free at my TpT store!!



Here is what I send home stapled to the form, so the parents know what they're filling out! :)



In addition to these forms, I recently started a PRIVATE classroom Instagram for my parents. THEY. LOVE. IT. I will be sending home a permission slip for that at the beginning of next school year with some information as well!

Click the link below to hop on over to Erin's blog and read about her back to school forms! 

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Special Education Summer Blog Hop: Classroom Set-up

We are back for Week 2 of the Special Education Summer Blog Hop! I hope you learned tons of tips & tricks last week about scheduling and are BACK to get tons of NEW ideas about setting up your classroom!

I'm going into my 6th year of teaching now and this will be the FIRST year I haven't totally changed my classroom set-up!! My first 2 years of teaching, I changed it during the school year. Sometimes, it can take a little while to get right (especially if you're in a small space!!). I'm so glad that I finally figured out what works best for ME & my kiddos.

Obviously, your classroom set-up might need to look a lot different than mine! Maybe you have a smaller space, are in a resource room, do more whole group/small group/centers. Personally, I haven't been able to do a TON of that in my current district. The ages and abilities are a VERY wide range and I have to have space for all sorts of areas!

Here is a general floor plan of my classroom with all of the "big spots" labeled:


When you walk in my door, this is pretty much what you see!


As you can see, I have these handy divider walls to separate the big spaces in my room that are marked on my classroom floor plan. These are GREAT for lowering distractions for my students! Now, if only they weren't in those God awful primary colors. (Sorry guys, I seriously hate those colors and have REALLY contemplated spray painting them!!!)

When you walk in the door, you run right into the fine motor work area. It will still be here next school year, but I hope to amp it up A LOT and have some great work tasks in there!


When a student goes to the fine motor area to do their work, they're given 3-4 picture icons on the Velcro strips to match to the corresponding work bin. Much like the TEACCH work bin system, but I don't have them get the bins from the left and leave them on the right.

To the right of you when you walk in the door are our computers. We have 3 computers, 2 of which have TOUCH SCREENS! Woooo! SO nice for my kiddos that aren't using a mouse independently!



The computers are used for math work, Spelling City, Zac Browser, typing practice, or just reward time!

The next thing you will notice are two work areas which are our 1:1 work areas. Both of these areas are where all IEP goals are worked on by either the teacher or a paraprofessional. I like to rotate who works with which student each day to give the student a new person to work with (if possible! sometimes it's just me in the room!). Like I said in my last post, each student is allotted 40 minutes per day to work with a staff member 1:1 on IEP goals. Obviously goals are worked on at other times, but this is THEIR time! :)



The carts are with the 1:1 work areas and hold all sorts of materials & manipulatives to work on goals! The second picture is an idea of what the area looks like, minus that shelf. I don't have an updated picture without it. :)

Next up! Our whole group area!!!! WOO! We are blessed to have an Interwrite Board which we use just about EVERY whole group time AND every morning group! This is where we do the calendar, weather, and educational songs in the morning. Then, during our whole group time, we work on standards based materials through Unique Learning or that I have prepared for us!



Let me just say how much I LOVE LOVE LOVE having individual desks. I did it for the first time last year and will honestly NEVER go back. I HATED that big kidney bean table. All that happened there was fighting over chairs, mixing of materials, and never EVER enough room to work. HALLELUJAH desks. OK, I'm done. I also really really love those tennis balls. God bless my ears. ;-)

Anyways, that is our whole group area. I am really hoping to use it even more next year! Many of my kiddos are returning and I think we can handle it. :)

Next up, our book/calm down area. I don't really have a name for it, it's just a great place for my kiddos to go look at books & relax OR get their wiggles out on the little trampoline!


My kiddos love this spot. When they choose what they're "working for", it's often to come over here and chill out in a bean bag with a book!

(Are you still here?! SO MUCH TO SEE!)

Next up are our independent work areas! This is where my students come to work on tasks that are already mastered. Just like in the fine motor area, they are given picture icons and have to match it to the corresponding bin & then do the task. When the task is done, they place it on the "finished" square and move on to the next task. When they're done with all of their picture icons, they're done in independent work!


There are two independent work areas so that I can have two students going at once! Love these spots!

Lastly, we have our play area. There is also a swing over here that is ONLY hung when a student works for it & earns it. I would love to keep it hung all the time, but honestly there are just some munchkins that can't handle that temptation. ;-) Can't say I blame them!



I'm doing an overhaul on our play area which will contain MUCH less toys and more organization. It should look a little different come August. :)

So there is my room! I hope you enjoyed a glance into it & it sparked a new idea or two about your own classroom next year!

Click the button below & hop on over to Erin's blog to read ALL about how she sets up her classroom! Make sure you hop on through all the blogs for TONS of new ideas!! :)

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TPT Seller Challenge Week 3: Make Your Masterpiece


For week 3 of the TpT Seller Challenge, we were asked to make a NEW product for our TpT store! Luckily, I have a long list of things I want to make, so this one was easy for me. :) We use file folders a TON in my classroom, so I'm always making new ones so that my kiddos have plenty of file folders to rotate & keep them engaged!

On the agenda: Back to School themed file folders!! I am in LOVE with how these turned out!!


This product is 52 pages full of 20 file folders to use in August & September when you get back to school!!

Inside you will find:
-Matching number sets 1-10 & 1-20
-Matching numbers 1-10 to the number word
-ABC order
-ABC upper to lowercase match
-Match the sight words
-Sorting big & small objects
-AB and ABB patterns
-Order 1-10, 11-20, & by 10s number puzzles
-Fill in the missing number 1-20

Here are a few of these ADORABLE file folders put together!







You can get these Back to School File Folder Activities HERE in my store!

You can also WIN these file folders below!! :)


a Rafflecopter giveaway
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