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!!
Morning Routine and Morning Meeting - predictability for special education class helps the entire day run more smoothly!

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!

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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!
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Back to School E-Book with Freebies from 25 bloggers + GIVEAWAYS!!!

It's getting very close to back to school time which I'm sure is causing a lot of us both anxiety and excitement. Let's focus on that excitement because there are so many exciting things going on to help you prepare for another successful school year!
 

This free e-book was created by myself and 24 other bloggers. We each have included a back to school tip and one or more freebies! Plus, it's a great way to find and follow other SPED teachers to continue to get fabulous ideas throughout the year. Click on the e-book below to download your copy!

And now for the giveaway, I am giving away a $25 gift card to my TpT Store PLUS these dry erase pockets. I love using these pockets with worksheets that can be used over and over again, or for when something needs to be laminated, but I don't have time, this gives it extra sturdiness. I seriously use these in some way every single day in my classroom!

Enter to win these pockets and the gift card to my store using the rafflecopter entry below!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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6 MORE Ways to Work Successfully with Paraprofessionals

Part of being a special education teacher is working with paraprofessionals. Classroom and individual aides are a necessity for many of our classes and we couldn't do what we do without them! As awesome as having aides is, I know it can be difficult to manage so many different personalities and to make sure that your classroom goals (and students' goals) are being achieved. 
How to work with Classroom Aides in a Special education classroom
I am by no means an expert, but have learned a few things and hope to continue to improve my ability to work successfully with the paraprofessionals in my classroom.


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Stocking Task (aka Matching but with a Work Skill twist)

During the last few weeks of school, a parent donated a bunch of peg boards from an Optometrist's office. I knew we could do something awesome with them and it didn't take me long to come up with the idea to make them into stocking tasks!!!

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Color Coded Visual Calendars for Special Education

I love doing calendar activities in my special education classroom. I try to make our calendar activities as age appropriate as possible, while also reaching my students intellectual needs.

I started doing monthly calendars again this past year, but this time with my lower group of students. See how I did calendar with my higher students here. It took me a while to realize that my lower students could complete a similar calendar but they totally can! So we ditched the individual Velcro calendars and started this instead. It also worked out great that I got some higher students halfway through the year and this activity was easily modified for them to be more challenging as well.

I color code our calendar so students can visually see what is happening that week, without the support of symbols. The color code key is simple (with only 4 colors) and stays the same, so students pick up on it relativity quickly.

So you can see with this one below I outlined the dates with their correct color. This student has the tracing version and traced (with assistance) the numbers and then colored in the dates based on our key.
Visual Calendars for Students with Special Needs - great for math, life skills, and helps students know what to expect each month

This next student received the black calendar and was able to write in the numbers while looking at her communication device page of number to make sure they were in order. Then she was able to follow along and color in the dates as I explained what we had to look forward to that month on the board.
So what do you think of that picture - is that a bunny or a spider?! :)

Once students complete their calendar for the month, I have them hole punch and put it in their binder under the calendar tab. Each morning, we go to our calendar and cross off the days that have passed. It's a great visual way to see what has happened and what is going to happen each month.

For additional calendar practice for my higher level students, I have a worksheet that asks questions about the calendar, such as "How many days are in this month?", "How many Tuesdays?", "What holidays/special events are happening this month?", etc.  

I also have worksheets that work on writing the months, matching months to their picture or abbreviation by cut and paste, and a worksheet for each month that works on picture identification and/or word identification. (For my students who aren't able to recognize words yet, I just cut off the bottom portion of the worksheet!)

Watch a video preview of this product below


Visual Calendars for Special Education - great for math, life skills, and helps students know what to expect each month
All of these calendar activities are available for purchase here in my TpT store. I love using them and think you'd love using them this year too!
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Back to School Forms to Send Home

There are a few things that I specifically like to send home to parents (or pass out on back to school night). These include: an introduction letter, supply list, and questionnaire. I have stolen many of these from my colleagues :) but have edited them and made them my own! Don't start from scratch if you don't have to! I also pass out our syllabi on back to school night, but that's mostly just a formality since my classes are so individualized the syllabi don't really provide that much information, but it's required by all classes in my school. 

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Binder Work Station for Special Education

Someone recently asked about the binder station I had used in my classroom...so I decided it was time to post this video I took a couple of years ago.

Feel free to check out this video below for how I set up and organized my binder station.

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Student Coffee Business for Special Education

Our transition age special education students focus mainly on job skills and we are always looking for more real jobs that they can complete in our school. One of the teachers in our program came up with the most awesome coffee business model that was started this past year and has been a huge success! Teachers order their drinks in the morning through a google form, and then students make the drinks using Keurig machines and deliver the coffee to specified locations at specific times.
The teachers throughout our school love their coffee...the students baristas love the responsibility, it's a win-win situation!
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Setting Up a Secondary Special Education Classroom - Classroom Layout

Have you been thinking about how to set up your special education classroom? Do you feel like you never have enough space? Are you thinking how in the world am I going to be do more than just the typical desks in my room? I've been there.

As a high school teacher, I have a typical high school sized classroom. I'm not complaining, it's not like a closet or anything...but I have to admit I do get jealous of elementary sped teachers and all of their space! I'm here to show you, that even with a small/normal-ish sized room you can do some pretty cool stuff!
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