Sunday, August 16, 2015

Kitchen and Cooking File Folders for Special Education

I mentioned before how I love "tricking" my students into learning by working on concepts using file folders. They still seem to think they are games! Or at least they enjoy them. Some of my students will even choose to do file folder activities during their breaks.
A lot of file folders that you can find online are for basic facts, such as colors, counting, and what-not, but my students need to work a lot more on life skills that will help them become successful as young adults! So I created this set of file folders based on all things cooking and around the kitchen.

I also include a variety of difficulty levels in my file folders so that I can appropriately challenge each of my students.

First, we have a simple file folder that works on sorting measuring cups vs. measuring spoons.

Then, this file folder works on students reading the label and finding the correct measuring cup or spoon.

Now onto liquid measuring cups. This one is more simple, matching liquid colors and amounts.

And then it gets challenging, matching the amount to the 1/2 cup as shown on the cup.

I only have one pictures for you here, but I have four different options for setting the temperature for both the stove top and the oven. There are two different levels for each one, one with exact temperatures (ex. med, low, 350 degrees, etc) and one with in-between temperatures as well (ex. medium-low, 475, etc). You "turn" the knob to match the temperature. Could also be an easier task for student to make sure all of the burners are "turned off" too!

Here's a food sort for what goes in the fridge/freezer and what goes in the cabinet.

Sorting cups and plates vs. pots and pans.

And finally sorting drinks vs. snacks.

Aren't those fun? And they work on a variety of life skills as well! You can purchase these in my TpT store here. Want even more life skill file folders? Check all these out!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Where to Start: iPads in a Special Education Classroom

This will be my third year with 1:1 iPads in my special education classroom. I'm not going to lie, there's a lot to figure out and there's so many options of apps out there it is both wonderful and extremely overwhelming! Here's how I would recommend getting started with iPads in your classroom (many of these tips should apply to both 1:1 or classroom iPads).

Behind the Scenes:
Storage: Where will you store your iPads? If you have a lot you will want a cart. We have a cart of 30 that we use in our program and store in a central location. However, if you have just a few you can probably designate a spot in your classroom, make sure you can charge them there (love this idea for a few iPads)! Also be sure to consider where can you keep them locked up at night. You don't want your iPads to walk off...

Cases: Get sturdy cases! Let's be honest, an iPad will probably be dropped...or thrown, you want it protected! Sturdy does not have to equal expensive. Five Below has "Tuff Cases" that are very protective and only $5! If you don't live by a Five Below, these are similar, very protective, and still not crazy expensive. For my students who use the iPad as a communication device, we get them this RJ Cooper case with a strap.

Set Rules and Expectations:
Before you give a student an iPad they need to know what is expected of them while they use it. You can find iPad rule posters ALL over the internet. (I love this set of free rules from Soaring). In my class the rules are generally:
1) Walk safely carrying the iPad (this used to be use 2 hands to carry the iPad, and then my heart broke a little bit when I saw my one student with extremely limited mobility in his one hand try so hard to use both)
2) Use safe hands with the iPad. No hitting or throwing!
3) Use apps only when allowed.
4) Use headphones when you use an app with sound.
5) Be responsible. Know where your iPad is!

Have consequences for if rules are broken. In my classroom, if students break these rules (most specifically hitting or throwing), their iPad is taken away for the day or a longer amount of time depending on the situation.

Finding and Using Apps:
Don't download everything at once! You will overwhelm both yourself and your students I promise. Download a few things, check them out, delete the ones you don't like, and then see what you want to put on your student's apps. Some apps (especially free ones) look great, but once you try them out they don't always work how you expected, so try them out before you give them to your students and download them on all their iPads! Also, see what you can use on the iPad already. For example, we love the timer that is found right in the clock app already installed on the iPad. You can customize with different sounds and it has both a countdown and a visual red circle to show how much time is remaining. Isn't that awesome?!

Stay in touch for more about iPads! Posts to come soon include:

  • Communication Apps
  • Tips and Tricks for Using iPads
  • Educational Apps
  • How to Make iPads Accessible for All Students
Be sure to follow on Bloglovin' or Facebook so that you are notified when I post new things!!

Can't wait? These few things might hold you over :)

Friday, August 7, 2015

Simple Visuals can make a HUGE Difference

Visuals are a must in every special education classroom. They will help your class run much smoother! I absolutely love my hard core rule following students. You know who I'm talking about, I'm sure you have them too. They might forget the rules, but once reminded of them they will try their hardest to follow them! Let's use that to our advantage!

Since my students often forget, or don't realize what they are doing, simple written visuals like those above can work wonders! Not everything needs to be made with board maker, although I do love the symbol support especially for my emerging/non-readers readers. (Psst...You will see a LOT of boardmaker symbol support in my classroom like the ones below that I keep velcroed to a rug stapled on the wall in my classroom or ones that I keep on my lanyard! But I want to show you that they aren't the only way to go!)
Similar keychain rule cards found here.

We use "quiet voice" for a lot of my script-ers. A lot of times our students with autism might not even realize they are talking while scripting. All I have to do is point to the visual and then this student is redirected, and also reminded of his strategies. This student's strategies to reduce scripting in the classroom are to write down his thoughts, or the other option is to listen and participate. He typically knows which one is best for his needs at the moment.

The "write small" visual has been awesome in having the student adjust his own writing to an appropriate size. No other prompts needed! I just place it on his desk. If only everything could be that easy, right?

That's just a few of the visuals you'll see in my room, and these are ones that I made while teaching, like in the moment. Seriously took no time and made such a BIG difference!

What are some of the best spur-of-the-moment visuals that work in your classroom?

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Visual Task Cards for Special Education

I absolutely love using task cards for my special education students. They are easy to store, easy to use, and great for practicing a wide variety of skills! They can be used during direct instruction, for independent work, and in TEACCH / work boxes. Plus, I've created my task cards to be used for non-readers as well as readers so they can be used by any students in my classroom who are working on those skills.

Using visual task cards to help teach students with special needs various life skills - great for TEACCH boxes, independent work, and direct instruction!

I have a range of money task cards, great for my higher level students. And I have functional life skill cards, great for both low to high students, including simple concepts such as male or female and more complicated concepts, such as determining if food goes in the cabinet, freezer, or fridge.

Check out this video to see all of my task card sets and to hear about how I use them in my classroom.

Here's all of the task card topics that I currently use! Click on the picture to check out each task card set.

Teaching Size Concepts using Task Cards: Big and SmallWork on Concepts of More and Less using Task Cards (special education)
Helping teach students what to throw away and what to save (Task Cards for Special Education)Distinguishing between Male and Female - Task Cards for Special Education

Want them all? I have two great money saving options for you!!
Visual Task Cards (great for independent work and work boxes) for Special Education
Buy all 9 (non-money task cards) in this HUGE BUNDLE!

Interested in the 4 money task cards? They are bundled HERE
(Australian money task cards are also available here.)

Do you use task cards in your classroom? Do you have another idea for task cards? I'd love to help you out, so let me know what you need. I'm sure my students would benefit from it as well!
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