Simple Finals Exams for Special Education Classes

So it's the end of the year and you're busy trying to gather some last minute goal data, update your goals, pack up your classroom, plan fun end of the year activities...and then you remember you have to give your students final exams, simply because the rest of the school does it. You might think, are you kidding me?! How am I supposed to give my students an EXAM?! Ain't nobody have time for that, amiright?!
I hated coming up with appropriate exams for the longest time...until I finally got smart. Are you ready for this GENIUS idea?

I create our exams out of materials that we would do daily. I love doing this for exams, because not only does it show a students competency on what we are doing in class, they are totally comfortable doing it because they already do it all of the time! Plus, I can easily make it formal and attach a score to it as well. Winning! :)

Some examples...

Language Arts / News2You Article Exam: 
If we did a lot of N2Y in class, I would go over the story like we always would, and make the exam out of the questions. I would still give students their differing levels based on their abilities. Most of my students use the simplified news articles, so their exam would be the game page (out of 6), the review page (also out of 2, each question worth 2 points), and the think page (out of 3: 1. read/listen to options, 2. circle choices, 3, write answer). Then I would tally all of those up, and their exam score was # correct/15. 

Writing / Daily Journal Exam: 
My students do daily journals, so this made for a simple exam and a great way to assess how they are doing on this daily journaling activity. I give each student the same level that they are working on in class. As for scoring, I would give them 2 points for coloring, copying, or drawing the picture and then 2 points for each sentence (did they copy the sentence (or listen/read it) and did they complete the sentence with their thought). Plus the score is out of 10, which is a bonus because it's super easy to get a percentage!

Math Exam: 
My students also complete a math worksheet daily, so this one was a little more work for them, as I would make them complete 5 worksheets for their exam (but this can always be done over the course of a few days as I would just collect them daily). I would pick a worksheet from each topic at their level and combine the 5 for a math exam that covers life skill math topics of money, time, more/less, sizes, and directions. Boom. Done.

And then for the two hour exam time that we have, we have the freedom to do something fun, like cooking (two years ago we made ice cream and I was creative at how I scored the kids on their exams!), or crafts, or games...or movies! :) It's the end of the year. The kids deserve to have fun just as much as you do! So my advice to you, stop overthinking it, and just do what you do. The kids will do better because they are familiar with it, and it's easier for you as well!

Read about past final exams here (after clicking, scroll past this post to read the older ones!)

How to Incorporate Cooking Lessons into your Special Education Classroom

I think one of the best parts of being a special education teacher is being able to cook in your classroom! Seriously though, cooking is an important life skill for all of our students to have. Being able to independently make a snack or a meal is HUGE for our kiddos. Plus, there's so many other academic skills that can be worked on with cooking, such as reading, math, and language! Not to mention that cooking (and food) can be super motivating as well!
In a perfect world, we would all have a kitchen that we could use with our students to practice these skills, but unfortunately I know that is not a reality for everyone. Here's some ideas to help you start thinking out of the box and bringing cooking lessons to your students.

Make it portable: Bring small appliances such as microwaves, blenders, griddles, toasters, etc. into your classroom. Either bring them in from home on the days you will be cooking or see what you can find at thrift stores/garage sales or ask for donations to your classroom. A mini fridge would be great as well!

Use your school resources such as the cafeteria: For recipes that use the oven/stove, talk to your cafeteria staff and see if there is a time they would be willing to help you out. Maybe they'd let your class come in and watch, or maybe just one student could come watch/help, or maybe your class could prepare the food beforehand (such as mixing up the cupcakes) and simply bring it to them and they could bake it for you. Can't hurt to ask!

Use technology to role play / pretend: Use cooking tutorials on websites such these food and cooking tutorials on  GCFLearnFree to practice the steps of using mixing and using an oven. I love that this one will have the cake turn out poorly if you set the timer wrong!
I bet there are some good cooking iPad apps too!

Interactive Books: Use interactive recipe books to practice cooking steps. I absolutely love these books because they can be used while your students are cooking or while they are at their desks. This book goes through each step of making a cake as if the student was doing it in real life and has interactive Velcro pictures for the student to match on each page while they read. (Have a student who is still a beginning reader and better at matching? Leave the symbols on the book pages and have them match to their identical pictures.)
Why all special education classes should cook and 8 ways to incorporate cooking lessons (even if you don't have a kitchen)!

Cooking "Homework":
 You could also practice various cooking skills and review recipes with resources like the interactive books above, and then send home a visual recipe for the students to prepare at home with their family. This is also a great way to get the family involved.

Worksheets and File Folders: Incorporate some desk work into your cooking lessons when you can't use the kitchen.
All of my visual recipes have sequencing worksheets that can be used for multiple levels as seen in the picture above.  I also love using these measuring cup and spoon worksheets and there's a ton of kitchen life skills to practice in these file folders!

Bake at home: 
Have your students make the recipe, you bring it home to bake it and bring it back the next day! How fun would it be to mix together a birthday cake and then frost it together the next day?!

Brainstorm with administration: Talk to your principal and staff and see if they have any suggestions on how you can get your students cooking and practicing these important life skills!

I hope that gets the ideas flowing! Let me know how you do cooking in your classroom? Are you lucky enough to have a kitchen or do you get creative?

Grab my cooking lessons here! And be sure to check out the bundle!

6 Ideas for End of the Year Paraprofessional Gifts

Can you believe it's almost May?! That means the school year is coming to a close...what, what? It will be here before we know it. With all of the end of the year craziness, you want to make sure you don't forget about your paraprofessionals. In special education, we all know that we simply can't do it with our classroom assistants. 

While we can't say thank you enough for everything they do on a daily basis, we can do something small to show our appreciation!

Last year I put together these simple gifts. I found some cute water bottles and added some tea bags/packets inside. I attached a tag to the outside that said "you're tea-riffic" and a short little note of my appreciation on the back. You'll notice one gift just had a box of tea and no bottle...I wasn't sure my male aide would have appreciated a cute water bottle so he just got more tea than everyone else :)

I've also passed out gift cards, packs of gum, or notebooks. It doesn't have to be elaborate or "Pinterest worthy", you know what your aide like, and they will appreciate the thought!

Here's a few ideas from some awesome teachers I've met on Facebook. I hope you all find an idea that you can use in your classroom!
  • Nicole says, "I buy a cute little bin from 31 and full it with chocolate or Kcups. I also do coffee on Friday once a month." I love that she makes this a year round thing too!
  • Cindy has this great idea:  "I bought 2 packs of contingo coffee mugs from Costco and gave them to mine. They told me those are the best coffee cups ever. Don't leak, keeps coffee hot."
  • As a para, Phil suggests "My favorite gifts I have been give as a para have been having a duty covered so I could get an additional break, 10 or 15 min breaks here and there that are rare. Yes, I know as teachers you do not get those kind of treats but it is little things like that that mean a lot."
  • I love how Marissa gets her students involved too! "I've done flowers and that has been well received. One year we did stress relief baskets from bath and body works. At the end of every year we have a luncheon for the paras where they all have at least 30 minutes uninterrupted lunch together. We try to have students escort them to their lunch, too."

  • Traci from the Bender Bunch has these awesome free printables you can use to put together these cute summer gifts!
Are you planning on doing anything for your paraprofessionals this year? I'd love to hear your ideas!

Laundry Life Skill File Folders

In case you haven't figured it out yet, I love file folders! Here's yet another one of my file folder obsessions...all about clothes and doing laundry! I love using file folders because they are so easy to store and a great way to practice life skills when you are at a desk. Plus, my students always think they are playing games with file folders too.
Laundry Life Skill File Folders Activities for Special Education

I have my students sorting clothes in a variety of ways. 

Students practice sorting clothing by color. A great life skill to prepare to work in a clothing store!
First, I have students sort clothing by color. This is a great skill that transfers to jobs in many thrift stores, where they may organize clothing by color.

I have students sort between colors and whites. As we all know, this is an essential skill for doing laundry!
Next, I have students sort between colors and whites. As we all know, this is an essential skill for doing laundry!

Another way students sort clothing is by putting the clean clothes in the dresser and the dirty clothes in the laundry basket.
Another way students sort clothing is by putting the clean clothes in the dresser and the dirty clothes in the laundry basket.

Another great skill for sorting clothing is sorting by size. (Sorry I don't have a picture of this one, but it includes tags sizes XS, S, M, L, and XL for students to separate).

Students can also separate clothing by warm or cold weather. There is also another file folder to sort people that are dressed for warm or cold weather as well.

Finally, a couple basic sorting activities include shirt/pants and hats/shoes and people dress for the weather.

Laundry and Clothing Life Skill Practice for Special Education
Ready to practice clothing/laundry skills in your classroom? Download here and make laundry/clothing practice easy! Feel free to tag me on Instagram @BreezySpecialEd if you're using them, I love to see these in action! :)
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