Make Monday Mornings Easier: Weekend Reports

Ah Monday mornings... You just had fun all weekend and suddenly are back to reality. And oh my goodness, you forgot that you were going to put together a lesson plan and now you are scrambling...NEVER AGAIN! I planned all of my Monday morning lesson plans for the YEAR with this one language arts / social skills activity.
On Fridays I give my students a homework assignment, to record things that they do over the weekend. I have different formats based on student needs. Some students write their responses, others students email, and still others send pictures or have their parents write it out for them so that we can later record it on their device or switch.

When students come in on Monday, they check off if they completed their report on the board. If a student didn't finish their weekend report over the weekend, I have them complete that instead of their morning job when they arrive. (This is an especially great time to use the symbol supported weekend report if students aren't able to provide many details on their own).
 
We all take turns sharing our weekend reports. I have students volunteer to read their report instead of me calling on anyone. Sometimes we have awkward silence (and a lot of me modeling raising my hand and saying "pick me", waiting for a student to copy me). It took a while at first, but after getting used to the routine, students begin to volunteer on their own!

While students are sharing their reports, I remind my students to listen when others are talking and to think about what the speaker is saying. Students who can write have a worksheet that they write down something each person did and they can also ask questions (sometimes prompted by me, such as "Hm, he said he went to see a movie. I wonder what movie he saw....What could we ask to find out?")
Also, I now have students asking ME what I DID over the weekend! It's great to see these skills being carried over to typical social situations.
I have included my weekend reports (9 different levels) in this packet.

Morning mornings will never be the same again. And definitely for the better! You're welcome! ;)

Grab these 

Errorless Daily Questions: A Great Way to Start Class + GIVEAWAY

I love starting my class with a question of the day. A visual question of the day gives my students opportunities to communicate and express themselves with having to wonder if they are wrong or right.  No matter my students abilities, they can all answer these questions (and enjoy doing it)!
 Another perk to doing these questions right at the beginning, is I can have something for my students to do if class doesn't start on time, or if all students aren't ready to go right away. I have journal options including drawing, writing one word, or writing sentences that students can complete while they wait.

I display the question on the board and pick a student to lead the question of the day. This student then goes around and asks each student what they like. Then, that student moves each student's picture under their answer.

Since each question has two pictures, I can easily print two copies and put the option on a two button switch for my non-verbal students to say which one they like. Of course, if my students have their own communication device, they use that instead.
I make all of my students work on answering in complete sentences during this time. Each answer starts with "I like" and then the student chooses the one that they like. Some students I challenge by making them state why, " I like _____ because."

Don't just take my word for it though! Here's what other teachers have to say about these daily questions:

Laura M: "This is literally just what I needed for morning work right before our morning meeting. Thank you! It allows me to get set up while my students are engaged and not making mistakes on a worksheet!"

Special Kiddos: "My students love the question of the day now. I use it during circle time and I get a fly swatter and each student gets a turn to hit the choice given to them, they love that part. I make them repeat the full sentence to me to work on speech. Awesome!!"

this teach LOVES SPEECH: "Absolutely love this product! So often we focus on right and wrong answers ... I'm excited to learn more about my students by asking questions that I don't know the answer to and there is no right or wrong answer. Great product!"

CKspeechlanguage: "Love this product for encouraging independent question answering. Perfect for a variety of kids ranging from gen ed preschool to High School students with special needs. Thank you!"

The Speech Spaniel: "These were wonderful both as a speech "warm-up" with my life-skills students as well as the full activity for the session."

I'm giving away my second set of visual daily questions as a part of this awesome Back-to-School Giveaway with resources from 5 other sped bloggers, Attainment resources, and a Smarty Symbol subscription!
Continue this BLOG HOP over at Adventures in the ATC to see what else you could win!
And enter using the Rafflecopter form below! I know resources like my daily questions, and year long resources like these journals and life skill math packs make the school year a lot easier for me. Less planning is always a good thing because there is so many other things to focus on at the beginning of the year! What do you think is the most challenging part of starting off the school year? 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

New School Year and Exciting Changes!

As many of you know, last year was a big year for me personally, as I became a mama. It's hard to believe my little guy will be one year old in just one month!

When my life took this change (for the better), it was time for me to re-evaluate my professional goals. I have always wanted to be a mom and be there for my kids, staying home, if it was possible. BUT I didn't always know how much I would LOVE my job. Special education is my passion. I love my special education students. I love teaching. I am so passionate about helping special education students succeed.
Turns out, I'm also very passionate about my little guy ;)

It was a difficult, but at the same time, an easy decision to make. Thanks to this blog and my TpT store and all of the special education teachers who use my resources to help their students become more successful...I can do both.

I have decided to step away from the classroom for now and be at home with my baby. But you better believe I will continue to use nap time and evenings to continue to create awesome resources to share with my fellow special educators.

To everyone who uses my products or ideas in their classrooms, THANK YOU. Thank you for allowing me to continue to do what I am passionate about, both helping students and staying home with my son.

I want to make sure I am truly helping you in any and every way that I can. Please email me at anytime with any questions or if you ever need anything. I'm taking product requests, blog post ideas, or any questions that you have about running your classroom! I want to share in your classroom success and accomplishments as well! Please share your great news and pictures as well!

Are you in the Chicagoland area and looking for 1:1 classroom consulting in your special education classroom or program? I'm offering that now as well! Contact me for more information.

There are so many things that I haven't been able to share with you yet, and now I'm hoping I will get the chance to share those things. Be on the lookout for more new products and blog posts! :)

I'm here to help you help your students. Thank you for the opportunity to do that!

First Week Activities in a Special Education Class (with freebies!)

How do you start the first week in a special education class? I've been asked this question a lot lately, and understandably why! I think every teacher, no matter how long they have been teaching, has some sort of nightmares or sleepless nights about the first day/weeks (am I right?!).


Here's what I focus on during those first couple of days.

Schedule: I try to start with our normal schedule that I have planned so that they get used to the routine and schedule, BUT I keep the activities easy and fun so that they don't get frustrated. We don't need to work on both academics and learning a new schedule/routine at the same time. We will get to the academic later. It is so important that they learn this routine! This also helps me see where they are at academically so I get an even better idea of where to start.

School Scavenger Hunt: Go on a scavenger hunt to help them learn different areas in the school and different places they will go. My colleagues were always really good at creating activities for this! One time we had QR codes that we scanned in different locations (lunchroom, pool, office) that told us where to go next. It was a fun way to learn the school AND use technology.

Get to Know You: Even if you have the same students you had last year, ask them what they did over the summer. And I'm sure you have at least one new student, so they all need to take time to get to know each other! 

I just posted this free activity here with visual questions so all students can participate easily!

Take Pictures and Make Class Books: Take pictures of your students in their desk and around the classroom and print these to send them home. Students can use these pictures to show their parents their classroom and talk about school, when starting a discussion might be a struggle usually. Post pictures in the classroom. We use pictures for attendance, and even something little like that helps students feel like they are a truly a part of the class and it is their classroom as well.

I love making class book and talk about the important of them here. If you think your students can't help write a book, think again! We love adding pictures to make books our own. This greetings book is customizable for your class and is a fun way to make a class book AND practice greetings at the same time!

Classroom Rules: Go over rules and expectations and be firm with them. Review your students' behavior plans if they have them and know that you will probably need to have different expectations for different students and that is OKAY! I keep my classroom rules very simple and to the point, and create additional visual reminders for students as needed.
Grab these FREE classroom rules!

Morning Routine: I LOVE my morning routine in my classroom. If you know me, you know I'm obsessed with my morning routine and highly recommend every classroom having something predicable and student centered. It helps to start each day off on a great note. We don't do many class wide activities, but we rock these 15 minutes in the morning!

Intro Letter and Parent Questionnaire: Be sure to introduce yourself to your students' parents and get to know them as well! Ask for their input about their child, using a survey. I use these back-to-school forms, and have shared it with you so that you can make a copy in order to edit them to include all of your personal info.

Hope that helps! And good luck. If your first day or week doesn't go as expected, just know you are not alone! So much of special education is learning to go with the flow, thinking on your feet and learning what your students need. You've got this!!
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