Tag Archives: FREE STUFF

This post contains links to FREE educational tools!

Causion-We are sometimes our own worst enemy.

Standard

enemy Recently I experienced what I would consider to be a very embarrassing moment. Like all very embarrassing moments it led me to think about how we work with students. Let me set the scene. I work as an educational consultant and as such I periodically put on workshops for teachers. Now, there are many things I am not good at, we’ll look at one such thing in a moment, but public speaking is something I feel is a strength. So when I hold a workshop it generally goes well, participants are happy and I feel successful. Well, not this time.

I was conducting a workshop on differentiated instruction, one that I didn’t plan under normal circumstances. The workshop started off great. Then, during the first group break one of the participants pointed out to me that there were some misspelled words in my PowerPoint. I was HORRIFIED. I’m speaking to a room full of teachers and I’ve misspelled caution. (I spelled it causion-and honestly thought it was right. Don’t judge!). Now to make matters worse there are several other errors in slides to come. (These were just missed errors; caution is the only one I legitimately didn’t know was wrong). Ok, so I’m a horrible speller and grammar is not my thing (odd that I write a blog, right?) If you’ve read very many posts on this Blog it’s obvious I do my own editing.

It doesn’t bother me that I struggle with spelling. FYI- there is not a link between spelling ability and overall intelligence. But once I notice all these errors all I could think was “every teacher in this room thinks I’m an idiot”. No one said that of course, and I turned it into a joke and went on with the presentation. But something just didn’t sit right with me. MY opinion of how people saw me outweighed what was going on. Even though I had several people tell me this wasn’t a big deal, it totally dampened the rest of my day.

You may be wondering, “what does your spelling disability and insecurities have to do with teaching students”. Well here’s how it connected for me. How many times have you had a student say, “Mrs. Whoever hates me” or “Mr. Soandso thinks I’m stupid”? No matter how many times you tell them they are wrong it doesn’t change that student’s perception of what someone else thinks.

The point is sometimes we are our own worst critic. What we perceive other people think about us is linked back to how we feel about ourselves in that moment; this is why no one can change that opinion except you. So connecting this to students; teachers need to spend time getting to know and making a connection to their students so that later in the year if they are struggling they will trust you for help and not have a preconception of what you think of them. Below are some links and ideas for icebreakers and ways to get to know your students.

Remember, we all have strengths and weakness. It’s not about what we can’t do, but what we can overcome.

*Note-causion was misspelled in the title on purpose haha.

Learning Style Inventories
http://www.personal.psu.edu/bxb11/LSI/LSI.htm
http://sunburst.usd.edu/~bwjames/tut/learning-style/stylest.html

Student Interest Survey
http://www.union.k12.sc.us/ems/Teachers-Forms–Student%20Interest%20Survey.htm
http://www.livebinders.com/play/play?id=475167#anchor
Interest Inventory
student_survey

Teacher Trainings

Standard

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!

Special Ed-The equivalent of acronym Hell!

Standard

screaming

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.

Standard

AU pic

 

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

 

 

 

The Monday Blues :(

Standard

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

Standard

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.

Standard

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

Standard

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.

Educational Apps

Standard

Technology is everywhere!  My two year old can work my phone as well as I can.  If you have students in class or kids at home who are struggling with behavior, speech, communication, routine or social skills you may try using technology to teach them.

Click on the link to  access a document containing apps for students with Autism Spectrum Disorder. ASD Wheel These apps are good for any student struggling with any of the listed skills.  You DO NOT have to be Autistic to benefit from these apps.

How it works: the inner ring describes a behavior, the next ring has common learning traits, the next has app categories and the outer ring has links to more information about specific apps in that category.

This is a cool tool that was passed along from Region 15 ESC.

The Data Dilemma

Standard

As a Diagnostician I use data all the time.  Best practice dictates that decisions about students, such as goals, testing and placement, are made based on data.  I know realistically we sometimes fall short and don’t always collect the “best” data, but ultimately we have to have something to support all decisions made.

Now while I use the data, I’m usually not the one collecting it.  It is usually a teacher or parent that I’m asking to collect data for me.  This is probably the main reason teachers turn the other way and RUN when they see me coming.  Academic data is pretty straightforward.  We look at grades, class tests and work, benchmarks, and yes that oh-so-popular state assessment.  (If you haven’t figured it out, I’m not a fan of the state assessment in Texas.  But I’ll keep that soapbox for another post.)

If we want to look at an academic area that we don’t have data for it is usually pretty easy for the teacher to get it.  Let’s say I need data on reading fluency for a 4th grade student.  It wouldn’t be hard for the students Reading teacher to measure her fluency and get me the results.  If we are looking at data over a certain period of time we may measure reading fluency once a week for six or nine week.  The point is a teacher usually knows what to do to obtain academic data.

But data on behavior is sometimes a little trickier.  Let’s say we want to get a child to stay in his seat during class.  We would need to start with a baseline of how often he’s out of his seat.  This is a frequency measure.  That one is pretty easy, keep tally marks for how many times you have to redirect the student to his seat.  You might even keep the tally marks in a sheet broken up in time segments, like the one you see when you click HERE. This way you can tell if the out of seat behavior is worse during a certain time of day as well as get a general measure of the behavior.

But lets say you have a student who is having “violent outburst”.  What kind of data do you need to create a plan for this behavior?

Before I look at this question I want to explain the two types of data.  In my option data can be put into two categories, statistical (or something you can graph) and analytical (a narrative of events).  Statistical data would be time, location, frequency, duration, intensity or anything that you can graph.  Analytical data or notes are a narrative account of what happened.   They are useful in completing the ABC’s of behavior (antecedents, behavior and consequence; these will be discussed in a later post.)

Now, back to the student having “violent outburst”.  First define what a violent outburst is; is he hurting himself or others if so how, is he destroying property, if so how?  Answer all the “common sense” questions first.   Then look at gathering the needed data.  You might want to keep a chart with the day/time, duration and intensity.  This would help you figure out if one day or time of day is more prone to outburst than another.  It will also help define how long and how sever the outburst are.   If the child is throwing chairs and breaking furniture for thirty minutes at a time you may need to start by reducing the duration and intensity of the outburst.  (Ideas for how to do that will be discussed in later post, remember this is just the data collection stage.)

The point is to implement an effective plan for modifying behavior you must have a grasp of what it is you want to modify.  To do this you need data.  The trick is to figure out what you’re looking for and how you want to measure it.  To help with this I’m linking some data collection sheets and graphing information that was shared with me during a workshop at the Region 14 service center. Click the link below:

Graphing made easy