Saturday, September 28, 2013

Therapy Thursday (on Saturday) Giveaway

It is the end of the grading period and boy am I busy!  I haven't been able to keep up with everything recently, so I apologize for my absence in blogging, but I am back with a giveaway.  That should earn me some bonus points, right?  ;-)  So here is Therapy Thursday... on Saturday!

I am excited to say that Therapy Shoppe is joining with me again to bring reviews and giveaways of sensory items to you every other week!  If you are new here, Therapy Shoppe has been my go to place for sensory materials.  Everything I have received from them has been high quality and I love the wide variety of things that they have.

Today's giveaway is the Tongs and Tools #2 Add-On Kit.  Now, you may think, "why would I need some tweezers in my classroom?" and to that I say, "Why not!"   These are wonderful for center activities and for therapy.  Click on the picture to go to Therapy Shoppe's page on this great kit.

Do you have a student that struggles with gripping the pencil?  They may have an issue with finger strength.  I have had students that can grip the writing utensil, but do not put enough pressure to actually make good marks on a page. Using tools, such as those included in this kit, will strengthen the finger muscles and improve a child's ability to grip a pencil and apply pressure.

Have students pick up cotton balls, small erasers, or anything else that you can come up with.  You can use them in a center activity for picking up things in a sandbox or in a water table.  Use them for sorting activities.  If you give the child a fun activity with them, they will never know that it is therapy!

This kit includes Bubble Tongs, Double Play Chopspins, Tizzor Sorting Tongs, Super Duper Skinny Squeezers, and a Chunky Sea Critter Clothespin (isn't the alligator adorable above?)  There are dolphin and duck clothespins also, so you never know what will come in your kit!

How would you use this kit in your classroom?

Winners will be announced here and on Facebook on Thursday.  Good luck!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Big News For Me!

I was super excited to receive an e-mail with a guest blogging possibility!  I am doing a lot of blogs now, but I couldn't pass this opportunity up.  I quickly filled out the form and waited!   Finally, I heard back!  I became a monthly guest blogger on.....

The OC Blog Button 

So, this may not be a big thing for all of you, but for me... it is HUGE!  I have followed Charity's blogs since I started blogging.  I joined Teaching Blog Traffic School and have learned so much from her!  I am so excited to be guest blogging for her 1 time a month for the whole school year.

You will find my posts over there on the 16th of every month (with the exception of December).

Check out my first post there about my favorite teaching apps:

Who is one of your blogging heroes?

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Meet My Mini-Me

Look!!  It is me and my puppies (Okay, so they aren't really puppies anymore... but they are to me)!  Crystal Fox did an Amazing job on making my Mini-Me!  My iPad and Pepsi are the 2 things that I need the most!  My husband bought me the awesome open hearts necklace.

Funny story about this shirt:  Without planning, I always end up wearing it for pictures, so my husband said that I had to have my Mini-Me with it.  I wore it in my school pictures for the last 2 years and then I was wearing it at the beginning of this year, when Kindergarten took my picture for the Kindergarten teacher bulletin board.  

If you want your own Mini-Me, you will find them on Teachers Pay Teachers by clicking here.

You will see my Mini-Me popping up in posts and on different things with and without the dogs in it.   Since I am blogging on different blogs, I have been looking for something to tie myself between places, so I will probably start using this more so hopefully as people see it in different places, they will realize it is me.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Hope Haven Horse Farm

One of my favorite types of therapy is Therapeutic Horseback Riding!  I first experienced this wonderful type of therapy while in college.  I visited a facility for therapeutic horseback riding with the moderate and severe special education classes that I was completing a practicum in.

I have finally become involved with therapeutic horseback riding again at Hope Haven Horse Farm.  I volunteer at this facility during the summer and currently I go each Tuesday night after work. You can find out more about our farm by clicking on the picture.

This benefits a wide range of special needs eligibility areas, but the main ones that we work with currently are Traumatic Brain Injury, Autism, and Down Syndrome.  We also have a quadriplegic who is doing wonderful!

The movement of the horses help build muscles in these individuals.  The relationship that the clients and the horses build is amazing.  The clients earn a respect for the horses and learn to control them with their motions.

We have all different horses for our clients to ride.  Some therapeutic horseback riding facilities use ponies for riding.  We have everything from Minis for pulling, ponies up to draft horses for riding.

Meet Elve:

Meet Grace (and I think that is Dan behind her, but can't tell for sure):

I could go on and on about Therapeutic Horseback Riding and may write more at some other time, but I wanted to introduce you to the idea today for Therapy Thursday!  If you would like to follow Hope Haven to find out what our clients and I are doing, we are on Facebook.  I encourage you to find a facility near you and spend some time there.  It is amazing!

Do you have a therapeutic riding facility near you?

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

My New Position

I realized that I haven't actually blogged about my new teaching position to let you all know what I am really doing these days, so if you want to know.. here you go!

First of all, let me say that I really did enjoy working with students with behaviors in my past position, but there were many changes coming down the line and some things I was very unhappy with.  The job itself was a very emotional and stressful position, but it was also very very rewarding.  I cried having to learn certain students who had really bonded with me.

With that said, I am loving my new job.  I am way less stressed and I am loving the world of:

I am currently working with Kindergarten, 1st, and a few 6th graders.  We started the year down 1 Special Education Teacher, but she is starting this coming week, so I don't know if I will have my 6th graders anymore.. but we will see.  As I get more Kindergarten students identified, I think it will be difficult to stay up with all 3 grade levels for inclusion.

I am co-teaching in 2 classrooms of Kindergarten (1 for Language Arts and a different 1 for Math) and 2 classrooms in 1st Grade (1 for Language Arts and a different 1 for Math, but have kids from both classes during both times).

We have mainly been using the Parallel teaching model, where I take half the class (a bit smaller than 1/2 with 1st grade due to space in the classroom) and teach the exact same thing to the students as the classroom teacher is teaching it on the other side of the room to her group of students.  This is wonderful because it does not just put all the Special Education students in one group by themselves.  It also allows both the general education teacher and myself to really get to know all the students' needs.

In the 6th grade classroom, we are using 1 Teach, 1 Assist (or sometimes called drift), but we switch this up occasionally so I am the one teaching and the general education teacher is drifting and assisting.

My 1st graders are definitely going to give me all the experience with behaviors this year and allow me to continue to give you all ideas with behavior, so no worries about those ideas going away!

I am really enjoying being a Inclusion Special Education Teacher and actually teaching the curriculum!!  It is a wonderful feeling.  Co-teaching can have such a wonderful impact when done right.

Now that you have heard what I am doing, I would love to hear about what you are doing this school year!  Please leave me a comment and let me know what grade level and position you have.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Review: Aesop's Teacher's Edition and Books

Vincent Mastro contacted me to review his book, Aesop's 1st Book of Childhood Adventures, and I quickly agreed, but soon became very busy with changing jobs and the start of the school year that I had to put off actually checking it out.  Now that I have had time to look at it, I wish I had not waited so long to check this wonderful resource out.

Character Education has become near and dear to my heart since teaching students with Emotional Disabilities and behaviors for the past 2 years.  I have found how important it is and how it needs to be a regular part of instruction in all classrooms.

This book would be a great addition to your classroom for quick and wonderful character education.  This 1st book has 3 stories in it with a moral taught in each one. 

The Tortoise and the Hare teaches perseverance.
Friends and the Bear teaches friendship.
The Crow and the Pitcher teaches Ingenuity and Hard Work

(Side note - A shortened version of The Crow and The Pitcher was on our 1st grade Reading series' pretest for Kindergarten.  I gave it this past week!!!)

These stories are very well written and highly engaging!!  Each story begins with Aesop, a little raccoon, talking to his mom about the "Why?" and each story ends with Aesop telling his mother the lesson he learned from his adventures that day.

You have probably heard different versions of these stories, but these versions do not leave the children guessing as to what the moral of the story is.  It is easy for kids to figure out and catches their attention in a great way.

There is also a 2nd book that can be found here:  Aesop's 2nd Book of Childhood Adventures .   The 1st book can be found by clicking on the picture above.

Common Core Users - Listen Up - Do you want a Teacher's Guide that maps out the Common Core Standards and the exact ways you can meet that standard with the story?  I absolutely loved the Teacher's Guide that goes with these stories.

For each story, the teacher's guide breaks down the Common Core Standards for Grades 1-4.  It has standards and ideas for Reading, Writing, and Math - Yes, I said Math!!  Math is included, so you can incorporate literature into your Math (or vice versa).  It gives you the exact steps of activities, such as:

1. Have the children group up and draw a picture of the race track based on the description in the story.
2. Give each group some string and have them lay the string along the entire route and cut the string to match the length of the race track route.
***You will have to buy it to find the other 5 steps to this activity though***

If you have a fable unit or a character education time or just want some good stories, these are great to get, and I highly suggest the Teacher's edition for easy planning and standard reference!

Click on the picture to take you to the Teacher's Guide on Amazon:

Unfortunately, I will not be able to use these in my current position as I have to teach what the classroom teacher is teaching and follow our set curriculum when co-teaching, but I will be highly suggesting these to others (and maybe the classroom teachers will agree to use them in our co-teaching) and hoping that one day, I will be able to find a way to use them myself. 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Therapy Thursday: Focus Foods

I don't know exactly the research behind it or why they work the way they do, but there are certain foods that I have found help with attention in the classroom, and therefore, I try to keep on hand.

I will never forget a field trip with some 4th graders to the Children's Museum.  I was very very nervous about this trip due to certain kids that were going having issues with a lot of people and also issues with sitting and waiting (which we were going to watch something in the planetarium).  I took so many fidgets with me and even some different candies and I was amazed at the focus when a student had something in their mouth.  My students were so much calmer and focused.  Like I said, I do not know the why behind it, but it worked.

Peppermints are something that I always have on hand for kids.  My students for the past 2 years knew they could ask for a peppermint when they needed.  The peppermint is supposed to help them and it was great for my kids.

Twizzler Bites are a food that takes longer to chew and therefore a little goes a long way. It provides a oral sensory input that some students need also.

Sour Patch Kids or any type of sour foods are my go to for when kids are falling asleep.  It helps stimulate them back to focus.

I understand that candy is not always the best way to go and you obviously have to use in moderation, but these do help for some students.  You do not have to feed them a whole meal on them.  Use them sparingly and in effective ways.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Math Stair Step Manipulative Modification

Does anyone else use the stair step manipulatives for Math?  They look like this:

I found out this week that some students with focus issues do NOT do well with these!  They are too easily played with or moved out of the stair step pattern.  Our 1st graders have been using these daily to learn to break apart numbers and it has not been going well for many of my angels.

My modification this week was to use linking cubes instead.

These were so much easier to manipulate for my kiddos.  They were actually able to break apart and separate out the numbers instead of just putting a "break apart stick" on the stair step.  It helped a ton with switch partners also (such as 1 + 5 is the same as 5 + 1).

Same concept for a child, but it allows those with focus issues to have a better visual that they can manipulate and it gives them something to do with their hands so they are not just playing and moving around the stair steps.  (This obviously could become a toy for other students and not work as successfully.)

Just wanted to share this idea with you all in case you are dealing with the same frustration that I was.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Another Anonymous Contributor to Administrative Advice

Some people are wanting to join the administrative advice linky, but would like to stay anonymous.  I completely understand this.  If you have ideas that you want to e-mail me, I will put them in a blog post and link it up.  -Heather S.

Advice from an anonymous person:
1. Do what you say you are going to do. If your teacher is in a position where he/she needs administrative support, try not to cause further stress by being unreliable. If you aren't sure you can do what you are about to say, don't promise something (ex. about when you will come assist, about what you will do to resolve the situation) just because you think it is the "right thing" to say, because it's what you hope you can do, or to provide assurance to the teacher. When you don't follow through, it will only cause more issues. Your teacher may have already told the student something based on what you said. When you don't follow through, it can give the student the wrong impression.

2. On a similar note, only say what you are willing to do. Students, even ones that you peg as the type that "never listen" to adults, tend to remember what you say (especially the things you don't want them to remember.) Don't make threats and not follow through. If you've threatened to call the school resource officer "next time" on more than one occasion, the student gets the idea that you're not going to do it. You already said you would, and didn't. They sometimes generalize this to think that you aren't going to follow through on any threatened consequence. Do not say something just because you think it will get the student to comply. If you're not willing to do it, don't say it.

3. Consult with your teachers in a way that recognizes their expertise, and try to value their input. If they have taken years of classes on teaching students with emotional/behavioral disorders, don't minimize that by making always making unilateral decisions. Yes, you are in charge, but it could diminish the respect of your faculty if your decisions are frequently not supported by best practices for students with emotional/behavioral disorders. If your teacher is advocating an approach or a decision that you don't agree with, ask him/her why. You may still disagree after hearing his/her reasoning, but it shows you value their knowledge. (It's even better when you explain yours, too!)

4. Don't grandstand. Don't walk into a room where a student is in crisis while using a loud, incredulous voice (unless you know that works for that specific student.) Some of the techniques that you might find promote compliance in your typical children may only serve to make a crisis situation more severe. Ask your teachers about verbal de-escalation techniques, or what works best for a particular student.

5. Finally, let your special education teachers know what you can do for them. This is even more important if they teach a class or have students that your typical administrative-level interventions are not possible or are inappropriate for. (For example: if in-school suspension or removal of the student to the office isn't possible, if out-of-school suspension is inappropriate because that's what the student's is trying to obtain, etc.) Can you take the teacher's other students (can they help you "run errands," or listen to you read a book?) or help document the behavior of an acting-out student? Is there a situation-specific need you can fill? Let the teacher know that you support them!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Administrative Support Ideas from Anonymous

These ideas are from an anonymous person who wanted to contribute to the Administrative Support Linky: 

1.  I think that one of the most important things is that when a student is in crisis and a teacher calls for help, help is needed as fast as possible!  So please come as quickly as you possibly can, or DO send someone else, just as Heather said.

2.  I think that teachers need to feel supported, no matter what.  If a teacher has told a child that he or she must go to the office, then the administrator should back the teacher up rather than contradict the teacher and insist that the child stay. Once the teacher has reached the point of calling for help, that teacher has reached the breaking point, and he or she needs a break from that child.  GIVE IT TO HER!

3.  Have something on hand in the office that you can have the child do that they do NOT like, so that you do not have to take all of your time to entertain that child.  Remember that trying to be the child's friend isn't going to help much, but forming a relationship with the child might.  In any case, the child should come back UNHAPPY- not thrilled about the fact that the principal is now his best friend!  Otherwise, once the child finds out that there is nothing scary about the principal's office, then the last card has been shown and there is not a single thing left to "hold over the child's head," so to speak.

4.  Allow teachers to help each other with discipline problems.  When teachers need a break from a child, or the child seems to need a change of scenery to defuse a situation, we sometimes send him or her to another teacher's classroom for a time-out or just to spend the afternoon there.  If both teachers are amiable with this situation, then please don't do anything to prevent it!  Sometimes, this is the only thing that certain students will respond to:  They may stay in their class with their friends if they follow the rules.  Otherwise, they go to another class where they do not know anyone, including the teacher.  This is enough of a deterrent for some children to stop negative behaviors.
There needs to be a way to give the teacher and the child a break from each other -somehow- either by sending the child to the office or by sending the child (or the teacher) to a different classroom.

5.  Remember that when assisting with young children, especially Pre-K, K, and first grade, these children need consequences that happen the very same day or immediately in order to connect their behavior to the consequence.  In my experience, if we give a young child a time out during recess the day following an incident, they don't even remember what they have done the next day and the consequence is mostly meaningless.

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