Wednesday, August 31, 2011

New Weekly Features Coming Soon

In an effort to increase my daily blogging I've created 2 NEW weekly features that will be coming soon!

Parent Teacher Conference (PTC) will feature some of  my favorite Parent and Teacher written blogs. Each week I'll choose one from each category and share them with you. I'll also use PTC to share idea's and methods of facilitating good communication skills between school and home. 

Teachers Tool Box Tuesday will feature DIY style posts on  how to create and implement everything from student work boxes, behavior plans, easy IEPs, classroom organization and structure, art and supplemental activities, and much more!

I hope you'll join me each week for these 2 NEW features coming soon! If there is enough interest, I'd be more than happy to open up a linky each week for you to join in and connect!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Starting with a Sketch

I've never been much of an artist and I'm not much of a doodler either, but when it comes to physical classroom structure I always start with a sketch. Last year I did it the old fashion way with paper and pencil but this year I got a little more "sophisticated" and used Microsoft Excel to help me. 

The first thing I do is measure the room, which is quite easy since the floor tiles are 1'x1' squares. This year my room is 23' x 20'. The following sketch is the room as is, without movable furniture. 

Here is the first sketch I had drawn up. When I inherited this room it came with 4 tables where the students sat for everything from work to lunch. I really wanted desks for the students instead of tables so I designed my room based on  desks. The area between the permanent dividers had been previously used as a quiet area for the kids, but I opted to make it another work station and intended to create an alternate quiet area in another area of the room. This design would also require me to obtain 2 move divider walls...which I planned on grabbing from my old classroom anyway. Oh-and it required the bulletin board to be removed. This design was based on having12 students. 

But as with all good plans comes bumps in the  road. I was unable to obtain desks in place of my tables from the school so I then had to redesign the room based on tables. This design also would require me to obtain 2 additional divider walls. This design was also based on having 12 students. 

And then I found out that I will have 14 students and I had to start planning from scratch. It actually worked out perfectly, and I decided to implement the TEACCH method in the design. I purchased 8 desks from IKEA (with my own money) and my husband helped me build 2 dividers for the room. This design also only required me to obtain one additional divider from my previous room as opposed to 2 for the other designs. 

So, I have implemented this sketch as my room design. There are a few pieces off missing furniture from this sketch such as the book bag cubbies, the lunch table area, and the shelves that hold work boxes, but this is the general idea. 

I'll be heading back in to the classroom this week to finish up the structure so that I can focus on curriculum design next week. Make sure to stop by next week to see pictures of the completed room and see how it all came together. 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Three for Thursday

I'm not going to play by the rules today...but then again, I rarely do anyways.

Since I've never actually downloaded a font in my life I don't have a link to share. Instead, I'm going to share a video. This is my favorite Teacher song of all time and it makes me smile (and sometimes cry) when I hear it. I hope you enjoy.

**Side note: The video is larger than the width of my text area and it really bothers really bothers me. I'm a little OCD and I think it  looks sloppy when it overlaps on my page. But the  video is sooooo good I'm willing to grin and bare it just so you can enjoy the video too

Next, I really can't pick one teaching blog that I love so instead I'm sharing my favorite parent blog. This mom is rising twin boys who have Fragile X. Her honesty and outlook of life are inspiring and it helps me get a glimpse of what the parents of my students go through on a daily basis. I love reading her blog and she takes amazing photographs that capture her children beautifully. The blog is The Fragile X Files written by Bonnie.

And last but not least, my favorite on-line resource...I don't really have one. If I had to pick based on what site I go to for information and idea's then I'd have to say my favorite online resource is my Google Reader. Each morning I get up early and enjoy my morning coffee in front of the computer and browse all  the teacher blogs that I follow.

So there you have it,  Little Miss Rule Breaker participated. Don't be shy, leave me a comment, they make me happy.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Where it goes down Wednesday

Summer school (ESY) ended on Friday, August 5th which meant that on Monday, August 8th I headed to school to start prepping for the new school year...which doesn't start until September 12th. I know that sounds like an excessive amount of time, but considering I'm getting a NEW classroom with NEW kids, there is a lot to do.

On Day 1 I decided to shoot a little video of what I walked into...remnants of the previous teacher. 

After 2 weeks of cleaning I finally have my blank canvas to begin building on. It's still a GIANT work in progress. 

The room is no where near completion but it did get a good cleaning, all  the Velcro got  striped off the walls, the white board was removed, and the floors were given a thorough scrubbing.  In addition, I made final decisions about furniture and its placements.  Several sketches, 3 trips to IKEA, 1 trip to Lowes, and 2 trips to The Container Store I have all the items I need to start designing my curriculum and lesson plans. I'm a firm believer that you can't plan instruction if you don't know where the kids are going to sit and how the room is going to flow. 

I wish I had "after" photo's to share with everyone, but I still have 3 weeks left before the students return to school and I have a lot of work left to do. I hope you stop by again in a couple weeks to see the finished product. Until then, here's a little preview of something my husband has been helping me construct for my classroom....

Did I mention that my room only measures 23' x 20'???? How much space do you have to work with this year? Thanks for stopping by and Happy Hoppin'!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Teacher Talk Tuesday

Ten things they don't teach you in College 
Special Education Edition

10- how to teach a student how to blow their nose.(You can read the story behind this here)

9- how to control your gag reflex in response to the sights and smells of toilet training. I find that ripping off a piece of baby wipe and secretly putting it up my nostrils helps significantly. 

8- how to hold your lunch and eat it with one hand while feeding a student their lunch with your other hand- because most special education teachers don't get a lunch break. 

7- how not to laugh when you accidentally curse and then a student whose suppose to be non-verbal repeats it.

6- how to sing every task analysis to the tune of "If you're happy and you know it" because that's the only way the students learn. (see below for the lyrics of hand washing).

5- how you will spend more money on supplies and equipment for your classroom than you did on your entire college education.

4- how to resist the urge to conform to the other teachers and put a movie on in the classroom every Friday. (I've seen this happen with at least one teacher  at every  school I've taught at)

3- how to  manage your para-professionals who are anything but professional. I've had some of the best and some of the worst para's in my short teaching career thus far and I don't ever remember talking about them in college and the crucial role they play. I was a para before I became a teacher and think it should almost be mandatory that all special education teachers be one before the can teach.

2- how to cope when a student passes away...3 months into your first teaching job.(This is true and happened to me and I will never forget it)

1- how to mange both a professional and personal life at the same time.It's hard, but I seem to have the hang of it most of the time....but it took me a few years to find my balance. 

Lyrics to Hand Washing- sing to the tune of "If your happy and you know it"

If your happy and you know it turn on the water
If your happy and you know it turn on the water
If your happy and you know it then your hands will surely show it
If your happy and you know it turn on the water

If your happy and you know it get some soap
If your happy and you know it get some soap
If your happy and you know it then your hands will surely show it 
If your happy and you know it get some some

If your happy and you know it rub them together
If your happy and you know it rub them together
If your happy and you know it then your  hands will surely show it 
If your happy and you know it rub them together

If your happy and you know it rinse them off
If your happy and you know it rinse them off
If your happy and you know it then your hands will surely show it
If your happy and you know it rinse them off

If your happy and you know it dry them off
If your happy and you know it dry them off
If your happy and you know it then your hands will surely show it
If your happy and you know it dry  them off

Like all task analysis you can make then easier or harder depending on the needs of your student. For the student I had to sing this too I always had to finish with the REAL version of the song after he was done. 

Happy Teaching!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Teacher Week 2011

I'm happy to be joining in my first blog hop here at Classroom in the Corner

Welcome and enjoy! Classroom in the Corner is a new blog that I have started and I look forward to developing it further during this school year. 

You can read my post for Monday's topic, Meet the Teacher Monday by clicking here. And make sure to meet the other teachers by hopping over to our host at Blog Hoppin'