Monday, August 3, 2015

Money Saving Bundles + TpT Back to School Sale = Insane Savings!

I have having a hard time believing it's already back to school time! We start a week from Tuesday, on the 11th. Going back into my classroom today to get started. Yikes! There is no denying it now, it's time to get ready!!

Thankfully, Teachers Pay Teachers is having their annual back to school sale today and Tuesday. I have set my entire store to 20% off, and then you can get an additional 10% off by using the coupon code "BTS15" when you check out.

This is a fabulous deal on all products, but an even more fabulous deal on my bundles, which are always discounted. With the sale you can get these for about half the price of what you would pay regularly on all of the products separately!

My new journals created for non-writers, tracers, and writers have been bundled HERE so that you can get an entire years worth (180) of differentiated journals in one pack at a major discount! I absolutely love using these because of my all students can participate. Options are given for students so that they can begin to complete sentence starters on their own.

Check out all of the different options for your students.  I bet there is a level for each one of your emerging writers (with no additional modifications from you - SCORE!) 
Grab all of these journals HERE. Need journals for higher level students? Check these out!

Another popular bundle that you can find in my store is my File Folder Bundle Pack. This bundle includes 69 file folders from 7 different packs in my store, all which have a functional, life skills twist, such as grocery store, cooking, household items, etc!
I love using file folders for many different reasons. First, my students seem to think they are games instead of actual work, WIN! They are easy to use in task boxes, or for independent work. I also send a couple of these home with some of my students for homework each night. They are also great to grab when you have some extra time.

Here's a couple of the file folders you can make from this pack!

You can also find more file folders in my store that have not been bundled yet, such as this Coin ID Pack, Telling Time File Folders, and School File Folders. Grab the file folder bundle HERE.

In my class, we go on one community trip each month and we spend the entire month preparing and getting excited for those trips. This pack includes materials to help you prepare for 8 unique community trips. My favorite trips are Restaurants and Grocery Stores!
Each pack includes Bingo boards, vocab cards, worksheets, a field trip social story, coloring book, a class book, a social scenario game. 
You will be all set for your community trips! Grab them all and make your community trip planning for the year a BREEZE! Grab this community trip unit bundle HERE.

I have even more bundles in my store that might interest you, such as these household vocab units, task card bundle, money task card bundle!

Happy shopping and happy back to school! As always, let me know if you have any questions or anything I can help you with to help get your school year off to a great start! And be sure to check out the rest of my TpT store for items that will help you ease back into the school year prepared!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Our Morning Classroom Routine: The Morning Meeting

I love our morning routine and morning meeting! It goes so smoothly because it is structured and my students know what to expect every day. After everyone has signed in and completed their jobs (see part one of our morning classroom routine), we start our morning meeting.
Morning Meetings for Special Education

Wait, Pause! Not all students will complete their jobs at the same time. Sigh, if only we lived in a perfect universe...however, I have a solution for that. First, if I can add something to the job, I go right ahead and make the job a little bit more work for them. Second, remember how they grab their binder with the schedule and their sign in sheets? I keep morning work for them in there too.

I focus on two different types of work in our morning binders.

Personal Information worksheets: For my lowest students, these were laminated sheets where they traced their initials or worked on sorting "their name" and "not their name". For my other students,  I created a fading personal information worksheets, where they would trace / write their name, address, phone number, birthday, etc. 3 times and I would lighten the font as they went down the sheet, and slowly take away tracing support so that they were working on memorizing their info as well.

Daily Question journal:
During our morning meeting, we go over a question of the day. I have different levels of journals where students can draw their answer for the day, write their answer for the day, or even write an entire sentence that include why about their choice (as pictured above). An entire week is on each page. This helps students prepare to answer the question later on as well (but is not necessary, not all of my students have time to complete this before our meeting time). And for some of my device users, I will have them prepare their sentence, or at least practice saying, their sentence during their extra time as well.

Let the Morning Meeting Begin!
Okay, now that you have succeed at keeping everyone busy and everyone has completed their jobs, you are ready to begin your morning meeting! (This is typically about 10-15 minutes after the bell has rung for my class).

As a high school teacher, I don't run a "typical" morning meeting. I try to give my students as much control and responsibility over this part of the day as I can. So, the first thing I do is ask who would like to go first (we work a lot on volunteering, raising our hands, saying "Me", etc, in my class). And yes, I sometimes have to model this my raising my own hand and saying "I want to go!" Note: for some students this will cause anxiety, I have also done a schedule on the board of the order when needed.

Student-Led Calendar, Weather, Attendance, and Lunch Menu:
Students then take turns explaining what they did for their job to the class. The jobs that students come up for are calendar, weather, attendance, and lunch. I also make sure to thank students who did our other jobs so that they realize their part is also important. Read more about our jobs in part 1.

Basically, the students do exactly what they did for their job, just in front of the class. I do add a couple of things, such as during calendar time, each student turns to the calendar tab in their binder and crosses off today's date, because we already woke up and made it to school today! Then we might look at what's coming up and I'll briefly mention a few things. Read about how we use our visual calendars and check out the 2015-2016 calendars for your own classroom this year.

I also try to make this student-led (granted, with a lot of assistance) part of the morning meeting interactive, so when a student explains the weather, other students might also check the weather on their iPad to make sure that student got the information right. Or after a student states something, I'll ask other students in the class to make sure they are grasping the concepts as well.

Daily Questions:
After those parts are completed, we go over the daily question. This is my absolute favorite part of our morning meeting! I pick a student to lead this, and that student will go around and ask each student, "what do you like?" and after the student answers, the leader will go to the white board and move their picture under the correct answer. This is so great for working on listening and speaking skills! Then when we are finished, I usually quickly go over how cool it is that we like different things and what some people have in common, etc. Read more how we use our daily questions in this blog post and purchase this pack of questions for the year in my TpT store!

We also end our morning meeting with classroom greetings. This might be kind-of silly, but I have an animal, usually a beanie baby, that I switch out each month as our class pet or mascot. And the pet mascot "chooses" who will lead our greetings for the day.
 I will pretend to throw him, or trick students by going to them and then switching it to something else, or placing it on top of a head! They think this is hilarious! (Again, if a student is anxious about not knowing, work a deal with him and let him know when he is going to have his turn ahead of time). The person chosen then leads our greeting for the day, and goes around and says hi to each of his/her classmates along with a high five, handshake, or fist bump.

That wraps up our morning meeting, which usually lasts about 10-15 minutes and then students check their schedules and start their individualized programing!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Our Morning Classroom Routine: Coming in and Classroom Jobs

Especially important in the special education classroom, is a consistent morning routine. When students know what to expect and there are no surprises, things run a whole lot smoother. As an extra bonus, it makes things easier for the teacher as well!!

My students come in anytime between 15 minutes before the bell rings to 5-10 minutes after the bell rings. Before the bell rings, I'm very relaxed with what they choose to do. Some students prefer to just sit at their desk, others follow a sensory diet, and others want to get started with their daily tasks, but oddly enough, no one has ever picked a "free time" choice, even though it has been offered!

Once the bell rings...I'm going to shock you all and you're going to think I'm a terrible American...I don't care if my students stand up and say the pledge or not. I certainly model it, and I encourage students to do it, but if they don't, no big deal! This mindset definitely comes from a couple of years ago when I had a student who would "go off" at requests like this that interrupted his morning routine and it wasn't worth it! Plus, this is a few of my students' sensory time, and I'm not interrupting that! And, when else do you ever stand for the pledge?! The national anthem at games, sure, and we practice that, but sorry, forcing a student to stand for the pledge is not worth having our morning start on a bad note. Okay, bunny trail/tangent over, back on track!

Once the pledge/announcements are over, I expect student to sign in and complete their morning job. As students walked into class, they grabbed their binder. In this binder, they have their individual schedule and their sign in sheet. For the sign in sheet, some students use a name stamp, others work on writing their first name, other work on their full name, the date, and the time.

Psst...I bought name stamps from Discount Rubber Stamps last year for my students who could not write and was super happy with them! You can customize the font and color, and it lasted all year and is still going strong! Oh, and they were only $3 each (now $4, but still a great deal)!

A trick to help your students stamp their name right side up instead of upside down, put a sticker on the side that needs to face them - boom - worked like magic!

After signing in, students complete their jobs. Our jobs rotate monthly and almost all students will have a turn to do each job. I assign jobs by putting their name or picture next to the job title as seen below. I modify the jobs for each student as needed. The bottom jobs are my "extra" jobs that don't really need to be done, but students need something to do!

Our jobs have included:
Calendar: Goes to our class calendar and adds today's date, fills out yesterday, today, and tomorrow by days of the week, sets our classroom block calendar, and then being prepared to tell the class what day it is (ex. "Today is Monday, August 10, 2015").

Weather: Looks up weather on the iPad, fills out "the weather is" strip, moves the arrow to the correct spot on the temperature chart, and fills out what we should wear today based on the weather.

Attendance: Moves student and staff pictures to either home or school depending on who is at school for the day.

Copier: Makes copies of (or just grabs from the folder if our little copier is broken like it was for the second half of the year) each student's daily sheet and passes them out.

Lunch: Look at the weekly lunch menu and easily finds pictures on his/her device or types in the iPad to get a visual of the hot lunch option for the day.

Clean: Wipes down white boards

Music: Chooses a youtube video (classical music option) to softly play during morning work time.

Books: Make sure books are in their correct bins.

Not one of our current jobs, but pencil sharpening is a good one to add if needed too! Any other jobs that you do with your students? I'd love to hear about them!

Check back later this week for a post on our actual morning meeting part of our morning! Can't wait to share it with you. Make sure you are following somehow so that you don't miss anything! :)

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Student Greeting Card Business for Students with Special Needs

I'm not going to lie, we have a really awesome transition program at our school that has created real businesses to help our students get work experience and to earn money for community outings, like our coffee business. This next business I want to talk to you about is our greeting card business.
Now, the teacher in charge of this business has been doing this for several years now, and is a rock star at all of this, so don't be intimidated by all of the different styles and cool things we have on our cards. You can start simple and add more once you can!

In order to make your cards you will need:

Stamp Only Cards
Paper Cards

Other optional materials:

Holy moly, that was a lot of links and a lot of searching. You're welcome :) These are affiliate links, so while it costs the same for you, I get a small percentage if you choose to purchase anything from those links.

Next step would be to find a card design that you like and write down the directions step by step when you create it. If it has a paper background or paper embellishments, write the sizes to cut it at (this is where the sliding cutter comes in handy, staff might have to measure and line it up, but then the student can slide and cut it). 

If you are using fun picture stamps (like the happy birthday owls or truck), students can color them in with colored pencils when they are dry.

You can order a fun stamp with your card business name and contact info to place on the back of each card. Like this one for example. These offers come up on groupon or living social all of the time!

I took a picture of a few of the cards we have to give you some examples, but see what you can come up with based on the materials you have, or start a card inspiration board on Pinterest :)

Our stamp only cards are typically $1 and paper cards are $2. We do offer package deals, see our order form below!

This card was created with two different card stocks and the cuttlebug made the cool Happy Birthday embossing. A sponge was pressed into a stamp pad and brushed over the top to give it that distressed- type of look. This is a $2 card.

This card was made with stamps, colored pencils and glitter! We would sell this card for $1.

How adorable is this card? The cuttlebug adds a lot with the fun textures and it's pretty easy for students to get the hang out. Cards like this are great because there is a lot of steps and you can work on it in an assembly type of system. One student might cut all of the background, another the papers, another the stamp, another putting the different parts together, you get the picture!

How cute is this on! The sky and the grass are made with a stamp pad, the truck is stamped along with the message, and then colored in by a student.

I love how simple, yet creative this one is. The "thanks" is inside the card, with a hole punch on the outside so that you can see the thanks. A sea foam sponge was used to stamp this cool design all over the card!

More fun with the cuttlebug here.

Again, you can see a couple of different punches and stamps, one colored paper background, and a ribbon makes up this $2 card.

Here's what our order form looks like. 
We send this form out to the other teachers in our building and to our students' parents as well. I like to send a form home with each field trip form to remind parents of the awesome opportunity they have to continue to support our community trips and our program!

We use 100% of the funds we make from this business to not only buy new supplies to make new cards, but to cover ALL of our community trip expenses and ALSO to cover all the snacks and food that we have in our kitchen! It's an amazing business opportunity that has huge benefits for our students!

Interested in buying our cards? Like our 'INSPIRE Greeting Cards' Business on Facebook or order directly from this website! *Note, our workers don't come back until mid-August, so you are not currently able to place orders on the website, but save it for later!
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