Saturday, June 29, 2013

American Hero Project and Wax Museum

I have been wanting to share this for awhile, but I haven't had a chance, so I am very excited to be writing this post right now.  The last grading period is a very difficult one, as many of you know.  We have lots of testing going on, schedules are all off, and my students start to show many behaviors.  I wanted to try to keep behaviors under control as much as possible this year, so I made the last 9 weeks very hands on.  I pulled ideas from different places and put together a big unit!

My 4th through 6th grade students (total of 9 students) who range in Reading levels from Kindergarten through 6th grade levels were asked by me to do a research project on an American Hero.  There were 6 parts to this project and they were to work fairly independently at their own pace (as long as it was all completed by the deadline which I helped them keep on target with that).

1st Part - Research

My students made research folders like above.  As they researched information, they wrote down on the Index Card the information and where they found it.  Then, they put the card into the envelope that it fit. This helped them organize all their information easily.

2nd Part - Book Report

I found a great pack from What The Teacher Wants that has the needed papers for this.  I had my students search online and in books. I didn't use the exact 120 page book requirement that she did, but it worked out well.  Many of my students needed a Text to Speech software, so I used her awesome template and just retyped it and put it in our SOLO program for my students to hear and type into.  She includes awesome rubrics and even invitations for your Wax Museum.  Check out the product by clicking on the picture:

You can see more information on how she does her Wax Museums by clicking HERE

3rd Part - Life-Size Americans
My students had to make a Life-Size replica of their American Hero out of paper.  They had someone trace their own body and then they decorated as the person.  I found this idea at The Open Door Classroom and my students absolutely loved it.  They had to add bubbles for Wise Words (a quote), Thoughtful Thoughts (an idea), Amazing Action (something they did), and Terrific Trait (something that describes them)

Jackie Robinson and Thomas Edison

Orville Wright

Martin Luther King Jr.
This child HATES to write and struggles academically with Reading/Writing, but loved this project and look how much he wrote!!!!!
4th Part - Speech
My students had to write a speech from their American Hero's point of view summarizing their life.  Then, they had to record their speech in Audacity, which is a free program that can be downloaded to record on.  These speeches were saved and played during the Wax Museum.

5th Part - Visual Board
They had to put 10 pictures and 10 facts on a small tri-fold board to be displayed during the Wax Museum. (You will see pictures of these in the next section.)

6th Part -  Wax Museum
The ending activity was a Wax Museum.  I could go on and on about how proud of my students I was.  This was a HUGE social breakthrough for them as they had to stand there while most of the school walked through.  We had our issues with kids being rude to my students, but my students and I agreed that those kids were not making smart decisions by messing with the behavior kids in our school and that we were just going to laugh in our heads at them and be the bigger people!  :-)  

For the most part, people were very respectful and interested.  My students stood there.. dressed as their American Hero.  As people came up to them, the viewers would hit play on the computer and the speech would play.  Then, they would proceed to the next person.  We had the following Heroes at our Wax Museum:

George Washington
Helen Keller
Thomas Jefferson
Abraham Lincoln
Orville Wright
Wilbur Wright
Thomas Edison
Jackie Robinson
Martin Luther King Jr.

We couldn't find the exact outfit colors for Jackie Robinson, but he did super good!
Yes, we had a girl be George Washington.  Look how awesome she was dressed!!  She even had boots on!
Have you ever did a Wax Museum?  What other fun hands on projects have you completed?  I am looking for more to use this year!

Teach Junkie Creative Ideas

Friday, June 28, 2013

Hello Bloglovin'... Will you join me??

Just a few more days until July 1st and Google Reader will be gone.   I have chosen to read the blogs I follow on  Bloglovin' now.  It is easy to move all your blogs that you currently follow through Google Reader into Bloglovin'.  Just click HERE to import the blogs you follow over.  So if you currently follow through Google Friend Connect, then it should be listed in Google Reader, and you can just move it over without having to re-follow everyone through Bloglovin'.

As of now Google Friend Connect is supposed to be staying, but I am not completely sure what will happen if you follow through that.  My advice would be to move your current blogs over to Bloglovin' (or whatever you have chosen) and then start following blogs directly through that.  There are some other readers out there, but from what I have seen.. many are moving to Bloglovin'.

I am going to be tracking number of followers through Bloglovin' and E-mail now, so will you please follow me through Bloglovin'????  Even if you move all your blogs over in Bloglovin', it won't count you as a follower unless you follow me directly through Bloglovin' (I could be wrong on this, but from my searches this is what it seems to be).  As you know,  I, and many teaching bloggers, love to do freebies and giveaways based on reaching certain numbers of followers.  My current goal is to move my 250 from GFC to Bloglovin' and grow to 300 and then I may have to do something fun.  I don't want you to miss out on anything here or with your other favorite blogs. 

To follow through Bloglovin', click below or on the same button in my right side bar.

Follow on Bloglovin 

Thank you all!!  Bring on the new adventure!  We all work with kids and came be flexible.. right??

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Weighted Lap Pad Giveaway

The winner of the set of Self-Calming Cards was Lisa S.  Congratulations!  Who will it be this time?

Okay so picture this... I get a phone call to my classroom that a teacher needs help with a student that is disrupting and will not work in the computer lab.  I have never met this student, so I grab a weighted lap pad, Puppy Hugs, and sound-reducing headphones and head to the computer lab.  I have no idea what this child is going to need.  When I arrived, he can not sit still and is not focusing on anything.  I introduce him to all 3 of the sensory materials and ask which he wants... and he says "All".  Since I had no idea what was going to work.. I agreed.. thinking "He is in 4th grade... obviously he doesn't care what he looks like.. and hopefully he will figure out the one he likes most".  He did figure out his favorite.. and it was...

The Weighted Lap Pad!!!

I was very excited when Therapy Shoppe offered to give one away to one of you.  1 lucky winner will be receiving a medium weight lap pad.  Click on the picture to check it out on Therapy Shoppe's site:

Weighted lap pads are a great therapy item for helping kids calm.  They come in a variety of weights, so you can find one that is perfect for your child.  The one being given away is 3 1/2 pounds.  Therapy Shoppe also carries them in 2 1/2 lbs, 5 lbs, and 7 lbs.

One thing that I love the most about these are how you can use them without looking different or without having something that could become a distraction for others.  It provides the weight on your legs while you are sitting, so your hands are free.  As long as you aren't moving around a ton, it won't fall off.  I have found that kids do sit more still when they have this or Puppy Hugs because they don't want it to fall.  This can be taken anywhere with you easily and used in a variety of settings.

Are car rides difficult?  Church services?  Weddings?  Dinner time?  Circle Time?  All of these are great times for a child to use the weighted lap pad to provide a sensory input for them.  The weight is evenly distributed!

Almost time for the giveaway but want to tell you something about the Rafflecopter first:

Important:  As you have probably seen, Google Reader is gone as of July 1st, I am trying to move my followers from Google Friend Connect to Bloglovin' or to e-mail.  Due to this, the follow my blog entry is worth 3 points this time instead of 1 since many of you have to follow in a new way now, but you have to follow through Bloglovin' or e-mail and let me know which one!  Bloglovin's number of followers is what I will go off of in the future for giveaways at certain points so I want to get everyone moved over.  I may just have to do something special when Bloglovin' gets to 300 (GFC is at 250 now, so we can do this).

Please remember.. these are U.S. Mailing addresses only.

Good luck!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Indiana Teacher Blogger Meet-up

Are you a teaching blogger from Indiana or surrounding areas?  If so, we want to meet you!

 Isnt the graphic adorable?  Thank you to the wonderful Kady Did Doodles for it.
Ciera from Adventures of Room 129 and I met for lunch and had a great time planning/discussing the upcoming Indiana Teacher Blogger Meet-up.  Have you checked out Ciera's blog?  If not, make sure you do:

Are you ready for the details???  Here they are:

1. Meeting at El Rodeo in Speedway, IN at 1:00 pm for lunch, chatting, and fun
Address is:  2606 N High School Rd, Indianapolis, IN 46224    It is just off of I-465 on west side at Crawfordsville Rd exit.  Feel free to e-mail me at for directions!

2. We think it would be fun to have an OPTIONAL Dirty Santa Teacher Exchange!  (Anyone have a better name for this?  LOL)   If you would like to participate, bring one of your own TPT products already prepared for someone OR your favorite school supply.  We will have numbers to draw and play a Dirty Santa type game.  Everyone that participates will get to take something home from one of the other wonderful bloggers.  If you don't have your own TPT store, bring a school supply for a teacher if you want to participate!  

3. We are planning to have time to introduce ourselves to each other and just sit, chat and get to know each other.  We may mix up some seating throughout the evening to make sure we all meet each other also.  (Since we have a possibility of 25 people attending right now!!)

4.  ACTION TIME:  I hate to have you fill something out again, but now that plans are set, we need a better idea of exactly who will be there.  We also need to know your blog name.  We are planning for open discussion, but if there are any set topics that you want discussed, please let us know that also so we make sure it gets talked about.  Please fill out the form if you are planning to attend.  Click on the picture for the form to RSVP:

Any questions?  Feel free to ask Ciera or I!  We are looking forward to meeting you all and know it will be a fun time!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Tip 11 - Differentiate for Behavior

Just as you differentiate for academics, you should differentiate for behavior.  Do not just get set in your classroom behavior management system as the only way.  It just may not work for some kids, but that doesn't mean you have to change it all.  Find little things to add in or take away for certain kids to make it work. 

- Maybe some visuals need added in or a written behavior chart.
- A student may need less colors on a color chart than everyone else has. 
- I have had students in the same class that some moved up and down the color chart while others only moved in one direction depending on their needs and their reactions to the color chart. 
- I even had one student that had to earn everything in the day (which I plan to share in a later post in the near future)
- Add in fidget or sensory breaks for some kids

How do you differentiate for behavior? 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Math DVDs Review That You Have To See

I had the awesome opportunity to review 3 math DVDs from Rock 'N Learn. My friends at Educents will be hosting these videos for a percentage off starting on Monday, June 24th and going through July 1st. You do not want to miss this one.

I received 3 Math related DVDs complimentary to review on my blog for all of you.  No other compensation was given.  All the ideas in this review are my personal ideas of these products.

The first one I watched was Telling Time for Grades 1 and Up.

This video was amazing!!  Let me list some of the pros for it. 

- Correlated to Common Core Standards
- Fun Beat and Catching Songs
- Gives Scenarios for different times (such as 8 am is time for school and 4 pm is time for friends to play)
- Quizzes the watchers on times with a countdown timer and gives immediate feedback on the answer once the time is up
- Very catchy way to tell time to the minute - "Find the hour, count by 5s, count the lines, find the time"   Telling time to the minute can be very difficult for kids and this really breaks it all down in a simple and fun way.
- Provides fun facts to read through
- This video even tells what a stopwatch is quickly
- Days of a Week and Months are gone through also

- I couldn't even come up with any honestly!  It was such a great video!  The Fun Facts are definitely more than a 1st grader will probably be able to read and understand, but who cares!!  The Fun Facts are during transitions and this is Grade 1 and Up so I see that as another pro added in for the "& ups" that are watching it.

Check out this sample clip:

Next one was Beginning Fractions & Decimals for Grades 3 and Up

- Correlated to Common Core Standards
- Uses humor
- Uses many real life examples for fractions and decimals
- Quizzes the watchers on times with a countdown timer and gives immediate feedback on the answer once the time is up
- Covers congruent parts, equivalent fractions, proper and improper fractions, mixed numerals, and more

- This one didn't keep my attention as much as the Telling Time, but it is for older students and it is a harder concept to teach.  
Even though I wasn't as engaged in this video, I feel that it is a good way to help kids with fractions and decimals.  I chose this video to review because I know that this is a concept that my students have struggled with and do not really enjoy learning about (and honestly it isn't one of my favorite subjects either).  I plan to use this video with them to help out.  It does cover so many different topics also that I wouldn't be showing it all in one setting like I watched it in!

Here is a clip:

The 3rd one I reviewed was Multiplication Rap for Ages 8 and Up:

- Catchy raps and rhymes.  With it being rap, it will catch the attention of older elementary students.  It is a faster beat that will be a fun challenge for them to learn the words to.
- 3 Different video sections on this one so it is easy to watch certain portions that you need at a certain time 
- Once section goes through all the facts starting with multiplication with 1s all they way through 12s.  It goes through each set 2 times - one time showing the problem horizontally and the other showing them vertically.  
- What is Multiplication is a section that teaches tricks to help with remembering facts, such as the finger trick for nines.  It also shows a times table.
- Skip counting is a fun section that uses visuals of objects and of a timeline to help students learn to skip count to fun beats.  For 2s, it is pictures of bicycles, so you count the wheels by 2s.  4s are the wheels on racecars.  10s are dimes.  11s are people on a soccer team.  Great visuals for kids to learn.
- Skip counting even goes up to counting by 25s for quarters.

- Again, I couldn't find any cons on this one.  I cannot wait to use this video in my classroom!!

Here is a clip:

I am so glad I got the opportunity to review these videos. Rock 'N Learn has videos for Early Childhood, Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies, and even Language (Spanish, French, and English for Spanish Speakers).  You can go to their site by clicking there name above or any of the pictures of the DVDs that I reviewed above.

Don't forget to head over to Educents this week to find these videos for 40% off up to 50% off.  You will find: Addition & Subtraction Rap, Telling Time, Money & Making Change, Multiplication Rap, Division Rap, and Fractions & Decimals.  You can get to their site by clicking on the picture below or on their logo on my left sidebar.  I will post direct links to these products when they became available also.

Has anyone else used any of their videos?  Let me know if you have any questions also!


Saturday, June 22, 2013

It's Here... Special Ed. Bloggers in 1 Place

My bloggy friend, Lisa, had a great idea to begin a Special Education Collaborative blog where you can find many Special Education bloggers in one place! I am so excited to be a part of this. We launched today! Head on over and check out all our introductions! Hopefully you will find some great ideas there in the future.

A Special Sparkle

Also, don't forget to head over to Thursday's post to enter the giveaway for a set of Self-Calming Cards from Therapy Shoppe!  Click on the picture:

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Self-calming Cards Giveaway

Recently I asked on Facebook about who teaches Social Skills and many of you did.  Even if you don't have a set Social Skills teaching time, we are all teachers that are responsible for helping students achieve academically, behaviorally, and socially, so when I saw these cards... I knew they would be perfect for you all!

Therapy Shoppe is giving away 1 set of Self-Calming Cards to a lucky winner.

Disclaimer:  I was not paid with money or products to do this review.  This review is my own opinions of this product.
One of my main goals, as I am sure it is for many of you, is to teach students to calm themselves.  These cards have pictures of ways to calm yourself that a student can use as a visual reminder or you can use when teaching about self-calming strategies.

These cards contain strategies in 6 categories: 

And as if having the pictures of self-calming strategies is not enough, there are strategies on the back for teaching it and a scenario to use!  There are also 12 additional cards with activities and games to help students learn the strategies even better!

I actually don't have these cards currently, but they are on my wishlist!!  I really think they would be useful in a classroom.  Teaching self-calming strategies can be so difficult sometimes because everyone uses different strategies, but I think the visuals and scenarios will help students identify with the strategies that will help them the most.

I would use these for instruction but I would also put them in a cd case, small picture album, or on a ring and place them in my Safe Spot for kids to use to help self-calm.

What is your favorite self-calming strategy?  What self-calming strategy is hardest to teach? (Answering these questions in a comment gets you an entry on the Rafflecopter)

Time to enter the giveaway!


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Tip #10 - Safe Spot

One of my first posts (actually 2 different posts) when I started my blog a year ago was about having a Safe Spot in your room.  I wanted to retouch this as a Turbulence Tip.  It is very important that you have a place in your room, whether general education or special education room, that a student can go to when they just need a few minutes away.  We need to teach our students to calm themselves and be able to do this by just stepping away from other people and using calming strategies.  It seems so easy for some people to send kids out of the classroom when they are becoming upset but this does not teach them the skills they need.  Take the time to set up a small area in your room and teach your students how to utilize it correctly.  It can make a huge difference with some kids.

To see the past posts, you can click here and here

Here is a simple one in a 1st grade classroom (and yes that is a pencil sharpener that could cause an issue depending on the kids, but in this case it didn't and this sharpener wasn't used consistently.  Due to the set-up of the room, we had to make-do and it worked in this case):

Here is one in my classroom before I had my signs up or my dividers built:

After I got the dividers built and switched my room around, it was located in the back corner behind the red curtain divider:

Here is one in another person's classroom: 
I love this poster.  I used her ideas in my classroom with the Problem Meter!

You can get a free Safe Spot poster and Calming Strategies Poster from my TPT Store by clicking on the picture.  I would appreciate you leaving me some nice feedback if you download it.

What do you have in your Safe Spot?  Where is it located?

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