Teacher Trainings

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While students enjoyed the summer vacation many teachers spend days building their teaching skills. Summer is a time for professional development and growth for those of us in education. This is one reason why it is so frustrating to hear, “Teaching is easy, you get all summer off”. Teachers really don’t get ALL summer off.
But professional growth doesn’t stop when the kids enter the classroom. No, that’s when it just begins. Teachers get a new set of students every year and every group brings its own trials and rewards. So this year during the first week while kids are adjusting to teachers and schedules, teachers are also adjusting to kids. On day one teachers start to calculate and make an ever growing list of what they need to educate this diverse population of students. So as you embark on a new school year, let me say Good Luck! You do this for a reason and YOU make the difference.

Now, to offer what I can to help prepare for this new world of new students, here’s a list of some upcoming workshops offered through Region 15 Education Service Center that may help you grow, learn and teach.

9/20- For the new Special Ed teacher’s out there, this is a basic overview of PLAAFPs and IEPs. It is an introduction course designed to give you the knowledge needed to feel comfortable writing PLAAFPs and IEPs, but also to prepare you for the two day more intense workshop offered later in the semester.

9/25- MAKE AND TAKE!! All students need social skills not only to be successful in school, but to be successful in life. But with everything you are required to teach, how do you fit in social skills as well? This workshop will look at easy and effective ways to address social skills on a daily bases as well as specific strategies for your students with more challenging behaviors. You will get a chance to make and take everything needed to implement these strategies the very next day!
You will walk away with a cool down kit, visual timer, brain break games, reward cards, supplies for visual schedules, check in cards, social skills lesson plans and materials to teach the lessons.

10/21 Reading Accommodation Assessment: The PAR or Protocol for Accommodations in Reading is a FREE tool that helps assess the need for reading accommodations. Do students need accommodations? Do they need a text reader or an adult reader? How do I show students what they need? This FREE tool can help with all these questions. ANYONE can give this!! YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BE A DIAG OR READING SPECIALIST! This workshop will show you how to use this tool and provide an opportunity to practice.
You will get a bound copy of the PAR assessment that you can use to test with IMMEDIATELY!

11/19 20 Strategies for ANY student!! Teaching is no longer one size fits all. As more students are moved into inclusive settings, teachers face new challenges with how to address the needs of GT, Special Ed, ESL, ELL, slow learners and average performing students all at the same time! This workshop will look at 20 strategies that are effective for engaging and teaching ALL students in ANY classrooms. We will also look at how to imbed these strategies into your differentiated instruction.
You will walk away with Marcia Tate’s book, “Worksheets Don’t Grow Dendrites,” and the confidence to implement a new engaging strategy the VERY NEXT DAY!

To register or for more information click Region 15 ESC.
Have a Great Year!

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Who says teachers don’t know how to ROCK?

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500 teachers, paraprofessionals, therapist, counselors administrators and parents attended the 15th annual Academy for Teachers of Young Children, July 10th-12th. This year’s academy was hosted by Region 15 ESC in San Angelo, TX. For two days participants had access to more than 30 different breakout sessions covering a variety of topics that support the development of young children.

It kicked off Wednesday with keynote presentations by Dr. Pam Shiller, who discussed social emotional development and school readiness; and Elizabeth Montero-Cefalo, who discussed conscious discipline and how the brain develops.

While the academy is geared for age’s birth to 5, much of the information was applicable to students of all ages. Attendees reported that the sessions were informative and fun. Presenters focused on supplying teachers with new ideas as well as inspiring and praising them for their work with children.

The conference wrapped up Friday with the last keynote speaker Nina Rodriguez.Drumming with Nina Her amazing presentations used music and rhythm to captivate and inspire. The diverse population of participates drummed in harmony, sang and danced. Even the most skeptical (that would be me) got involved and enjoyed the high energy, very engaging presentation.

NOTE: I wanted to post HILARIOUS video footage of teachers “getting down”, but I couldn’t get it to upload. So imagine 500 educations doing the Cumbia like it’s Saturday night at the club and you’ll get the idea 🙂

Special Ed-The equivalent of acronym Hell!

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There are so many things about Special Education that are tricky or hard to decipher. Laws that don’t always make sense, rules that only apply under certain circumstances and to make it worse, Special Educators often speak in their own language.

Have you ever heard one Special Ed teacher say to another, “I need to finish the FBA as part of the FIE. Then I can work on the BIP and PLAAFP. The student will qualify as LD and OHI. I’ll work on draft IEPs before the ARD”.

WHAT? It’s the equivalent of acronym hell! The link below will take you to a document that lists some of the most common acronyms and what they mean. I hope this helps you to have a better understanding of Special Ed and the crazy language we speak.

Special Ed acronyms

Research Based Strategies for Autistic students.

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Sorry it’s been so long between posts.  Wrapping up the end of the year was CRAZY!  I’ve recently started a new job in the Special Ed department of the Region 15 Education Service Center.  I will be working primarily with access to the General Ed curriculum and accountability.  During my first week, Region 15 was hosting their second annual Autism Conference.  There were some GREAT presenters!  The objective of this post is to share information and resources gained during this conference.

REMEMBER:  Just because the conference was geared toward Autism does not mean this info applies only to Autistic children.  Every child is difference and these strategies would apply to many kids, no matter their label!

I set in on a presentation called “Practical Strategies for Teaching Students with ASD: focus on HFA & Asperger Syndrome”.  It was presented by Dr. Lori Ernsperger, Ph.D., BCBA-D.  You can find more information about her on her website www.loriernsperger.com

It’s important to remember that teachers are required by law, No Child Left Behind and IDEA, to use research based practices and strategies.  As a teacher I didn’t always know what this meant or where to find these researched based strategies.  http://autismpdc.fpg.unc.edu/content/briefs this link takes you to The National Professional Development Center on ASD.  Here you can find specific info for over 24 Research Based strategies for students with Autism.   Below are links to the specific strategies.

 

You can also watch training modules at www.autisminternetmodules.org  These are free modules on an array of topics.

Dr. Lori really stressed the ABC’s of behavior.  If you’ve had any training in behavior you know these, antecedent, behavior, and consequence.  If you can pin point what is “triggering” a behavior you have a better chance of changing that behavior.

It’s also important that you give replacement behaviors.  Simply telling a child to “stop” without giving them a replacement behavior will not help change the behavior.

Dr. Lori also stressed the importance of teaching social skills to ALL of our student, but especially those with Autism.  She explained it in a way that will make sense to any educator.  If you have a student walk into your class who can’t read, you teach them to read.  If they can’t add and subtract, you teach them to add and subtract.  But for some reason when they lack social skills or social thinking we do nothing about it.  This has to change.  But you need a plan for teaching social skills.  It’s easy and can be done using VERY little class time.  (As little as 5 minutes a day)  But you need some resources. www.socialthinking.com has some great resource for teaching social skills.  There is also a post on this blog and a page dedicated to social skills.  Take a look and get some FREE resources.

Below are some addition resource that I found helpful. I look forward to posting more ideas and resources as I learn.  Enjoy your summer!

 

Additional Resources

Texas Statewide Leadership for Autism

ASD Video Glossary

Division TEACCH

National Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center (NECTAC) Autism Topic Page

Office of Special Education Programs

 

 

 

Meltdowns 101

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HiRes-2I recently attended a workshop that discussed using social skills to address challenging behavior.  The presenter was Linda Davidson for Region 20 ESC.  One slide in particular caught my attention and I wanted to share it.

My teachers are very good about using strategies to try to head off negative or disruptive behavior.  But sometimes that isn’t enough.  The teachers who directly work with students who struggle with behavior know how to deal with a full “meltdown”.  But teachers who don’t come in contact with these students regularly don’t always know how to handle it and will often inadvertently escalate the situation.   So this is information for those teachers who don’t work with this daily.

What is a “meltdown”?  It may look like a temper tantrum, or it may look like sever defiance.  These are different for every kid and start for different reasons.  You may see screaming, kicking, rolling on the floor, covering ears or eyes, crying; you may also see complete silence, head down, refusal to move.

What causes a “meltdown?  It’s different for every student.  Some students have sensory issues and it may be caused by loud noises or a smell, it may be a change in schedule, or a request the student doesn’t like.  There are many reasons for what can cause these types of behaviors.  Again the key it to know your students and head them off before they start, but here are some tips for what to do after it’s too late to prevent.

If you come in contact with a student who is having a meltdown first get help so you are not alone, then remember these strategies.

 

  1. Remain calm: if you act excited the student will notice and could increase behaviors.
  2. Avoid excessive talking, questioning and handling: the student may not fully understand what is going on and if they are spinning out of control you aren’t going to be able to explain anything to them.
  3. Zip it and show it: use pretaught visuals instead of words (the key is pretaught, if they don’t already know and use them, this isn’t the time to introduce them.
  4. Remember this is NOT a “teachable moment”: This is the number one mistake I see; wait for the kids to completely come down before trying to address the behavior.
  5. Proximity control: not too close you could get hurt, or too far away they could run or hurt themselves.
  6. The Antiseptic Bounce: move the child away from the problem area, change in scenery
  7. Wait out minor meltdowns: once it starts you often have to wait it out.
  8. If the student becomes aggressive, remove other students and restrain only if necessary.

 

I hope you never come across a student who is having a major meltdown, but if you do these simple suggestions can help.  The number on thing to remember is to GET HELP!  Even if you are just going to wait it out, don’t do it alone.

Take advantage of Targeted Feedback

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I recently attended a workshop over evaluation.  One of the presenters discussed various forms of data that can be used in an evaluation.  Best practice dictates that you have multiple data sources that contribute to your finding of, or lack there of, a disability.

One of the sources that she discussed that I haven’t given much thought to was targeted feedback.  If you are new to education, or a parent who isn’t familiar with this term, targeted feedback is feedback over a specific skill that a teacher gives a student.  It goes beyond Xs for wrong answers and checks for correct answers.  It targets the specific skill the student is struggling with in order to assist them in making progress toward mastering that skill set.

Good teachers do this all the time, whether they realize it or not.  When you show or tell a student that their calculation is correct, but they put the decimal in the wrong spot.  That is targeted feedback.  When you discuss verb tense to correct a writing problem.  That is targeted feedback.  Even novice teachers do this naturally because we all understand that if a student is going to make progress and not make the same mistakes over and over we have to re-teach what they are missing.

So how does this tie to assessment? If you have a student who is in Tier 1 or 2 RtI and you think they may have a disability, information from this feedback and follows ups on how effective it is could help in an assessment.  You can keep this data through work samples.  The student completes an assignment.  You mark what was right and wrong and give targeted feedback on how to correct the mistakes, document this right on the work sample.  Then follow up by writing on the sample or in a separate documentation form if this targeted feedback was effective or if you have to find new means to re-teach the information.  How many times and ways you are teaching a given concept before the student reaches mastery is important.  That’s part of RtI.

You can also use exit tickets that cover topics you’ve provided targeted feedback on.  An exit ticket is a ticket with a question from class that the student must answer and hand to you on the way out the door.  If they miss it you quickly re-teach and provide examples.  It’s one way to see if students are retaining concepts taught during class.

EX: The student is struggling with verb tense and you’ve provided targeted feedback in several ways.  Have them do an exit ticket on verb tense and keep it as documentation as to if they are making ground toward mastery or continuing to struggle.

You wouldn’t have to do this everyday or with every student.  Pick 5 students a day and write exit tickets specifically for them.  Or pre-write questions and randomly select students to answer them on the way out.  You can change this strategy to meet the needs of your classes.

There are lots of little things that teachers do everyday that can help in determining if a child has a specific learning disability and more importantly help in designing interventions to meet the child’s needs.  If you have a student who is struggling get with your evaluation personnel and ask what kind of data you should be keeping to help with an evaluation.

The Monday Blues :(

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kids-funThe weekend is over and it’s time to get back to work.  It’s a bummer for everyone.  When you walk into school on Monday remember you aren’t the only one who wants the weekend to continue.  You set the tone; so put on your happy face, smile and greet your students.  Make them feel welcomed.  Give them a minute to tell you about their weekend.  This is a great chance to make a connection.  Here are some ideas for fun Monday morning activities.

Check out Jumpstart.com for fun activities at every level.

Check out ClassroomConfection for fun, free printables.

Check out objectiveanalyst.com for word games, puzzles and more.

Check out ESLkids for fun games and activities, great for low language kids!

And as always you can turn to Pinterest, twitter or facebook for good ideas.  Just take a minute to have some fun.  It can still be educational, but a minute or two to be a kid will help relieve stress for you and your students.  Start the week off right!

 

I don’t give a sh**!- motivating the unmotivated

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441105-Cartoon-Bored-School-Girl-At-Her-DeskOk so that’s a very dramatic title, but I know many of you are facing students who are thinking, if not saying, just that. I remember the first time a student said this to me. I would love to say that I put on my cool face, walked away as if it did not affect me and addressed it in a calm, your attitude doesn’t ruffle my feathers way, after I cooled off. This would have let the student know, your words don’t hurt me, but have serious consequences for you. But I was 21 years old with about 2 months teaching experience and I LOST IT. Red faces, hair standing up, stomped to his desk and dragged his juvenile delinquent butt to the office. “You won’t talk to me that way I’m an adult.” Unfortunately I didn’t act very adult. I got in an argument with a teenager.

Now, this extreme example goes beyond simply unmotivated and enters the realm of defiance/discipline. But many your unmotivated students have this same “I don’t care” attitude, even if they don’t express it in such a disrespectful manner.

As teachers we have the overwhelming task of taking information that does not appeal to everyone and making it interesting. I know when I was in high school Geometry didn’t exactly light a fire in my heart, but I was nonetheless stuck in that class. So if you have a classroom full of unmotivated students, or maybe just that one who brings down the rest of the class, then this post is for you!

Now I know some of you are on the edge of your seat with anticipation, thinking you’re about to read about the magic trick to motivating the unmotivated. You want the key that unlocks young minds and keeps them hanging on your every word like your teaching Twilight 101. Well I’m sorry but there is not such key. There is no sure-fire trick to motivate all students. It’s all about changing up your game, knowing your students and making connections that matter.

Don’t close out of the page just yet. While I don’t have the quick fix to motivate all students, I do have several strategies and resources that you may find helpful. I’m going to put the ideas into categories so you can skip around and skim the categories that interest you.

CLASSROOM

-Make your room a safe place. You can do this by listening to students, even if they are not always honest.

-Give students space if needed. Set up a “cool down” spot in your room where kids can go if they get frustrated or mad. If you see a kid start shutting down give them a visual cue (such as a cool down “Pass”) so they can take a step back and calm down before they shut down.

-Be very structured. Students crave structure, whether they are well behaved or in the office every other day kids always like knowing what to expect and what is expected of them.

TEACHER/STUDENT RELATIONSHIP

-Know your students. This is so important. Try to remember that you dislike BEHAVIORS not students. If a kid feels like you don’t like them they’re not going to work.

-If you know a student struggles create a secret signal so they can let you know they need help without letting the entire class know. This may increase the chance that they ask for help before shutting down.

TEACHING STRATEGIES

-Break material into smaller chunks, it will be easier for kids to follow.

-Try to incorporate student interest into the lesson and let them know how this applies in real life.

-Set up struggling students for success. Give them a chance to answer questions you know the already know. This may not be a good measure of what they’ve learned, but it will build their self-esteem, which will encourage them to keep trying.

-Give choices. Some students just want to be in control, so give them control. On a worksheet let them choose the 20 questions they want to do. This way the get some work done, but feel like they have a choice it the situation.

-Catch your students being good and reward positive behavior. Focus on positive over negative and you will start to see more positive behavior.

You may already be doing a lot of these and still have students who just don’t seem to care. I hate to be the barer of bad news, but there have always been a few students who just honestly don’t care and they’re never going to let you know that they might be slightly interested. But a good teacher NEVER stops trying to motivate those students. For every kid who’s stone faced and not letting you in, there are two others who have started listening. So keep pushing and you may be the teacher to finally get that one stubborn kid to set up and take notice. You will surely touch the lives of many while trying.

For more strategies and ideas to Motivate the Unmotivated check out these links.

Strategies for Students Who Refuse to Work

Motivating Students

Some Ideas for Motivating Students

Top 12 Ways to Motivate Students

Fight against Social Impairment-teach important skills in every classroom.

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Christmas break is almost over and we’ll be returning to school. There will be some who are excited to return and tackle the spring semester and some just hoping to survive. Everyone will have the BIG spring tests moving closer to the front of their minds as we stress and cram before the big day. I know that the state assessment is more strenuous than ever before; unfortunately the state assessment does not measure some of the most important skills needed to be successful. I’m talking about social skills.

These are the skills that we use everyday without stopping and thinking about how we learned them. How to ask for help, make a friend and speak to an adult. These are skills that fewer and fewer students are learning, leaving a large portion of our population with a “social impairment”.

I understand the pressures of the classroom. Teachers are stressed due to higher expectations and fewer resources. Our kids are expected to learn more at a younger age with more kids in the class and more diverse needs to be met at once. But when we skimp on these important skills we create students with HUGE gaps that are often harder to fill as they get older.

So here’s what I’m asking. As we start to prepare to go back for another semester of class, think about your classroom structure. Most of you already work on social skills in some way. Think about how you can continue to help develop your students socially.

Most social skills can be taught as part of your class routine. Look at the suggestion below and get creative. Talk to a Pre-K or Kindergarten teacher, they work on social skills more than other grades. Unfortunately for some of our kids that’s not enough. Look on Pinterest, that’s were I get a lot of my ideas.

The ideas below were found in various places. They are not appropriate for all ages, but I think there is something listed for every age. Most of these ideas can be blended into your class routine.

Social Skill of the Week: Pick social skill and use it for the focus of the week. For instance, if your skill of the week is showing responsibility, the word responsibility goes on the board. The teacher introduces the words and talks about what it means to be responsible. Students brainstorm ideas of what it means to be responsible. Throughout the week, students are given opportunities to comment on responsible behavior as they see it. At the end of the day or for bell work, have students talk about what they’ve been doing or what they did that showed acting responsibility.

Social Skill Weekly Goals: Have students a set social skill goal for the week. Provide opportunities for students to demonstrate and tell how they’re sticking to their goals. Use this as the exit dismissal key each day. For instance, children state how they met their goal that day “I cooperated today by working well with Sean on my book report”.

Set Goals: After you’ve reviewed the essential character traits. Ask students to set goals about improving the traits they feel they need the most improvement in. Have each student fill in a goal sheet that identifies at least 3 steps that they will take to improve the goal. At the end of each week, review the goals and steps with students. Have students revise and edit goals as necessary.

Good Character Submission Box: Keep a box with a slot in it. Ask students to put a slip in the box when they observe good character. For instance, “John tidied up the coat room without being asked”. Students that are reluctant writers will need to have their compliment scribed for them. Then the teacher reads the slips from the good character box at the end of the week. Teachers should also participate.

‘Social’ Circle Time: At circle time, have each child say something pleasant about the person next to them as they go around the circle. This do can be themed based (cooperative, respectful, generous, positive, responsible, friendly, empathetic etc.)

Mystery Buddies: Put all the student names in a hat. A child draws a student name and they become the student’s mystery buddy. The mystery buddy then offers compliments, praise and does nice things for the student. The students can then guess their mystery buddy at the end of the week.

Good Solutions: This activity takes some help from other teaching staff members. Have teachers leave you jot notes of the conflicts that have arisen on the yard or in the classroom. Collect these as often as you can. Then within your own classroom, present the situation that have happened, ask the students to role play it or to come up with positive solutions and practical advice to avoid repeats of the incidents.

The Button Jar: For this activity, you ask the students to catch somebody exhibiting great social skills. When students see another student sharing or helping out, they will ask if a button can be put in the jar. Likewise, the teacher puts buttons in the jar for targeted behaviors. There should be a small celebration each time the class reaches a defined number of buttons within a time period. For instance when a teacher says “Oh, I really like the way Jenny is cooperating”. A button then goes into the jar. This strategy really hooks kids providing they have opportunity to celebrate.

Good News Box: A box is displayed prominently in the classroom. You explain to the students that each time you see acts of kindness, consideration, patience, cooperation, encouragement, helping hands etc. the student writes a praise note stating who and what and then places it in the box. At the end of the week, the teacher reads out the praise notes to the classmates and gives them their praise notes. Teachers need to make sure that all students at some point receive a praise note for the desired behavior.

Seize the Moment: During lineup times for recess or lunch or other times when you have a few minutes to spare, have students select something nice to say about other student and why. For example: “Tara was helpful today because she lent me a pencil would I couldn’t find mine”. Sometimes start at the back of the line, sometimes at the front.

Random Acts of Kindness: At the beginning of the week, tell students to watch for random acts of kindness. Brainstorm acts of kindness to ensure all students understand. At the end of each week have a vote for the best random act of kindness.

Conflict Resolution: Give students opportunity to be mediators in conflict resolution. Teach the value of give and take. Have a role-play each week on conflict resolution, which enables you to have a different child act as mediator.

Newspaper Scrounge: The newspaper is a great source to find both good and bad character traits. Have students work in pairs to locate various articles about good and bad character. Have them explain why the article shows good character traits and what they are, and for the articles that demonstrate inappropriate traits, decide how could they have been prevented.

Here are some more resources for GREAT social skills ideas!

http://www.autism4teachers.com/autism4teachers_060.htm Interactive lessons for teaching social skills

http://www.mrdonn.org/sociology.html Lesson plans for teaching social skills

http://www.wingsforkids.org/experience/hot-wing great pre-made lessons

http://www.cccoe.net/social/SAdirectory.htm computer based activities

http://pbiscompendium.ssd.k12.mo.us/ResourcesSchools/SSD/SocialSkills/activiti.htm pre-made, age appropriate lessons.

Last post for 2012-check out the extras

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EFEdImplications

Before the New Year I wanted to add a couple of things to my posts from 2012.  I wrote about executive functioning and how important it is to our students, Executive Functioning: How is it affecting your students?  Yesterday I ran across this article and wanted to share it as well.

Executive function: A new lens for viewing your child.

The author of this article does a great job of explaining what executive functioning is and how it affects our students.   I particularly like the chart that shows how executive functioning affects academic areas like Reading and Writing.  Check it out.

I also want to add to the post I wrote on Educational Apps .  Click on Apps in Education to access a blog about apps you can use in teaching.  This blog breaks the apps down by subject and purpose.  It is VERY useful.ipad

Finally, I wanted to share this article by Angela Watson, How to work a 40 hour week as a teacher.  teacherAngela Watson is an educational consultant in New York and the creator of thecornerstoneforteachers.com.  She has a lot of useful resources on her website and I think this is one article that any teacher can appreciate.  Teachers are overworked and underappreciated.  Teachers go beyond the 7:00-4:00 teaching time.  They work nights and weekends often sacrificing time with their family.

Thank you to everyone who has read my blog in 2012.  I hope to make 2013 even better.