Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Classroom Exercises on YouTube for Special Education

For my health class, we spent a couple weeks talking about the importance of exercising. Exercise is an important rec/leisure skill that I feel like a lot of times is left out at school. I know my students play sports in PE...but if they don't join a team, that isn't likely to continue after school. So we spent some time practicing different exercises that we could do in the classroom and that they could even do at home too.
Now, I'll admit, some of my students have a hard time following along to things, so I was a little disappointed when Zumba videos didn't work out and almost gave up...but then I landed on these few gold mines.

Walk Away the Pounds. MY FAVORITE! My students will follow this for the full 15 minute one mile walk
Search "Walk Away the Pounds" on YouTube and you will have plenty of options to choose from that range from 5 minutes to 45 minutes. I haven't dared to try any longer than the 1 mile though, but you could even do one of the longer ones for variety and just stop it sooner if you need too. I love how simple the directions are and that you do the same thing for a good amount of time before switching to the next. Practically all of my students were able to be successful with these videos and most of them by actually following along and doing the moves (there were a few students where I considered it a success if they were moving their feet, but hey, it's a start!)

Sit and Be Fit. These videos are hysterical! Check out the Sit and Be Fit channel here. Some of my students really appreciate the fact that they can sit and do these exercises. I haven't found an absolute favorite of these ones, but we've tried out quite a few of them and none of them are terrible either. Plus, they do lot more different exercises than the Walk Away the Pounds. This one was pretty good.

Go Noodle. I've talked about how I've use Go Noodle in the classroom before, and it keeps getting better. They keep adding awesome things for my students. They love Maximo (yoga poses for children) and also the Fresh Start Fitness. We try the Zumba videos every once and a while, but hardly anyone can keep up with those! There are also fun Olympic training videos that do a lot of running in place as well.

Here's one of the Maximo videos. You won't find the rest on YouTube, but they are all available (for free) through GoNoodle.

Are there any other YouTube videos that you use for fitness or break breaks with your students? I'd love to hear about them!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Work Task Boxes with Pipe Cleaners

I'm teaming up with Life Over C's to help bring ideas of how you can be creative with your crafty materials in your classroom. I have used a lot of craft supplies in my work boxes especially, because sometimes you just have to get creative with what you have!

Work Box #1 with Pipe Cleaners: Fine motor and color match. 
I don't think this one needs much explanation but it's great for simple fine motor of stringing on beads and also matching the color of the beads to the pipe cleaners.

Work Box #2 with Pipe Cleaners: Counting 1-10 and fine motor. 
TEACCH counting and fine motor box
Very similar to the task above, the student strings on beads, matching the colors, but also needs to string on the correct number of beads according to the flag on the top. The visual below helps students who need assistance counting.

Work Box #3 with Pipe Cleaners: Packaging and Counting to 5. 
McDonald's fries counting TEACCH box
Students need to put 5 "fries", aka cut up pipe cleaners, into each fry bag. I include the visual for students who need additional support counting or remembering when to stop and put the fries in the bags.

Check out my other work tasks posts here!

Another use for pipe cleaners in my classroom: They also can make a great sensory item as they are soft, small, and flexible!

Do you use any pipe cleaners in your work boxes or another way in your special education classroom? I'd love to hear about them! Please share! :)

Saturday, April 4, 2015

April Currently + My Little Secret

Hello April!!! I was a terrible blogger in the month of March, only got out 2 posts (but at least they were good ones!) Anyway, I'm going to be a much better blogger this month I promise, and I'm starting this month with letting you know what's going on currently!
Currently: We are watching my parents dog while they are in Florida, so it's been fun having two dogs, and also interesting to see how our dog acts differently with another dog in the house!

Loving: I'm pregnant! We are very excited to be expecting our first in September. You might have seen our announcement on Facebook or Instagram, but our little puppy was cropped out. You can tell she's not so sure what to think of this news!

Thinking: Our spring break this year was pushed back two weeks from where it normally happens and it felt like it was never going to get here! But it finally did and I'm ready to enjoy my break :)

Wanting: A "baby bump." People keep telling me that I look great and you can't even tell I'm pregnant, but I'm to the point where I feel pregnant so I just want to look it too! I know, it will come soon enough and then I'll probably wish to be small again...but that's just where I'm at right now.

Needing: I know I was a terrible blogger last month and I really want to get back on track. I'm planning to get ahead during spring break so that I'll have some blog posts ready to go and hopefully some new products too. (Speaking of TpT, be on the lookout for someone celebrating a milestone very soon!!)

Eggs-plain your name: It's not too creative, but if you were wondering what the Breezy was for in my blog name, that's for 'Brie" and Special Ed is pretty obvious :)

Happy Easter everyone!

Monday, March 23, 2015

8 Tips/Tricks You Need to Know About Velcro

As a special education teacher, I think it's pretty safe to say I am a pro at Velcro in the classroom. I use it for EVERYTHING! :) And I've learned a few tricks along the way. Here's what I think every teacher should know about using Velcro.

1. First, Velcro dots are amazing and will save your life and sanity. They are so quick to use!! I especially love using dots for my adapted books.

2. However...Velcro dots are also expensive. So to save money, buy the strips of Velcro. These can be wide, so I like to cut them in half. Long and skinny is the best way to cut it. This helps make your Velcro go farther and also helps with smaller activities (like file folders) by not making it stick too well (making it difficult to easier pull off).

3. When you have long and skinny pieces, I like to put all of the Velcro pieces on the file folder (book, or whatever) horizontally and then the Velcro on the cards vertically. This makes the Velcro easier to stick (if the student doesn't place it in exactly the 'right' spot) and also doesn't make it as hard to pull off (Velcro can be strong!)

4. Cut small pieces in advance. When I have a student absent, sometimes I will give their aide the (terrible) task of cutting apart Velcro. It can only be done so long before people start to go insane, so do be nice :) but it is so helpful when putting together an activity to have the Velcro all ready to go. When cut, I keep them separate in bags labeled "hard" and "soft"

5. Designate a Velcro scissors. Velcro can get stuck on some scissors and makes the scissors impossible to use. It's the worse. However, I've found that some scissors are pretty resilient to Velcro. I haven't figured out what exactly it is, but I know these pink scissors that I got from Michael's for $2 are the best!!! (Kathy recommend Fiskars nonstick titanium scissors in case you don't have magical pink scissors like me!)
6. Goo-be-Gone is a lifesaver. When the Velcro starts to build up on your scissors (or when someone uses the wrong scissors), a dab of this stuff will make them as good as new!

7. Be consistent with your Velcro placement across your classroom. Our rule is "Hard on the card. Soft on the surface." 

8. Another reason I like our 'Hard on the Card. Soft on the Surface' rule is that is allows me to use carpet squares for storing Velcro across my classroom. I even know some classrooms that have carpeted walls for this purpose! I bought rugs at the dollar store and stapled them to my walls in various areas to stick Velcro on. And then the other day I got this awesome divider made of carpet so Velcro works on it too! SCORE!
Those are carpet squares! Our rules are all on one carpet square and the money posters are on strips that I cut from a carpet square. 

Our Velcro crossword puzzle fits great on our carpeted bulletin board!

I use Velcro the most on my file folders and my many adapted books, but you can find it all over my room!

Alright, what tricks and tips did I miss? Please share how you use and manage Velcro in your classroom!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Direct Money Math Instruction with Students Tracking their Progress

In order to make money math functional for my students, I can't only do worksheets or task cards (even though I love and use both). My students need experience with as close to the real thing as they can get. Since my classroom has a lot of 1:1 aides, it is relatively easy to put these experiences into place using these instruction data sheets. However, even if you don't have a lot of 1:1 aides, this could still easily be done in a small group setting or while other students are working on worksheets/task cards.
Above is an example of counting money 1, a simple couple money scenario, all with one dollar bills. The student is given a certain amount of dollars and then has to count and tell you how many they have. For all of our money skills, I list the materials needed and the procedure for the staff to use with specific instructions to help out my aides.

The money instruction/data sheets I've created so far include:
  • Counting Money 1: Student is given a stack of $1 bills and needs to tell you how much they have.
  • Counting Money 2: Student has a stack of $1 bills and needs to give a certain amount.
  • Which one is More?: Student is given two bills and chooses the one worth more money.
  • Identifying Money: Student will identify $1, $5, $10, and $20 bills.
  • Dollar Over: Student is given a price and needs to count out the dollar over amount (using $1 bills).
  • Paying with the Right Bill: Student chooses a bill that is more than their total to pay for their purchase (2 levels, any bill larger or smallest bill possible).

Being able to show student growth is so important, and motivating for both yourself and your students. If you can get your students to participate in tracking their own scores, even better! Since each day we have the student go through 10 trials, it makes it easy to come up with their percent correct. Staff then will outline the part of the graph for the student to shade in and then they can shade it in with a crayon of their choice. It is exciting when you can start to see the graph going up!

Here is any example of how we set up our work area. I have staff sit directly across from their student with the data sheet in front of them. The bills are in front of the student. For this task (paying with the right bill) staff also needs to provide a price, which is written on the white board. (The price is then also what goes into the trial box)

All of my email subscribers will receive these data sheets for FREE in my next newsletter, coming out later this week! I know I hinted at this coming earlier, and I apologize for the delay, but it's coming I promise!

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