Sunday, September 4, 2016

3 BTS tips

Here are a couple of quick tips to help your Back to School prep. 

1. Label your packed boxes a the end of the year.
I list the items in each box on an index card and place in a snack size ziplock bag.  I tape the bag onto the box and also put an L for a light box and H for a heavy box. When I store my boxes, I know to put the "H" boxes on the bottom. I also label the boxes in the order I should open and set up my room. 1, 2, 3, ... This way, at the beginning of the year I know the boxes to open first. It makes setup quicker and more efficient. 

 2. Spray laminated class visuals with Matte spray.
I spray all classroom visuals with a matte spray from Krylon.  This reduces the shiny glare and allows students to see the visuals without fighting the glare. Check out the difference in the video below!

3. Place reinforcers in craft reclosable bags to limit size.
I place my reinforcers in these craft bags. They are 2" x 3".  It allows me to carry a variety of reinforcers without the bulkiness of a zip lock bag. :) 

Hope these BTS tips can help you start out on the right foot! Have a great year!

Thursday, August 4, 2016


Hey, teacher friends!! I'm in full BTS mode and one item on my to-do list was update my CHAMPS / Rules visuals. I incorporate the CHAMPS systemWhole Brain teaching, and some basic American Sign Langauge to teach to my kiddos. They remember every rule this way and when I need to remind them of a rule, I just do the hand motion and they know exactly what I need them to do. We take the first 2 weeks of school and look at a rule a day. We read a social story, complete an interactive notebook and everyone takes turns 'showing the rule.' I have the rules velcroed to the front of the room and the students have access to small 'rule cards' as well.

I do not switch the CHAMPS during different activities because it is too confusing for my students. These rules can apply to all work in my classroom.

C is for Conversation, as long as they are completing their work, they are more than likely conversing appropriately-which for my students' conversations are greatly encouraged.

H is for Help. I've applied Hands to Self here. My students sometimes have a difficult time keeping their hands to themselves.  Therefore, if their hands are 'doing what they're supposed to' then they can have the opportunity to ask for help appropriately and remain on task.

A is for Activity.  Everyone in my class can be doing a different activity at any moment.  Therefore as long as they are following their schedule or 'asking first' before going to a choice activity, then they are doing what they are supposed to and following the rules.

M is for movement. We spend a great deal of time talking about 'making smart choices.' This encourages my students to critically think 'should I be doing this?'

P is for participation.  I want my students to reciprocate conversation as well as be polite and respectful, therefore I placed "Please and Thank you" as a rule.

S is for supplies.  I made this 'Sit at your desk.' I have students who wander and roam most of the time, but as long as they sit at their desk to complete their work, they will have access to their supplies and appropriate equipment.

I hope this helps! Here's a little freebie if  you're interested in incorporating this into your classroom.

 What do you use for your class rules?

Monday, July 4, 2016

Restocking the Classroom

Happy 4th of July!! I hope everyone is enjoying their summer and isn't spending too much time 'working' on teacher stuff. :) I'm sharing a strategy to restock my special education self contained classroom.  I do ask parents to send in some supplies, but typically I get a few items and it rarely lasts to the holidays.  Therefore, game plan "restock during the summer" has significantly helped the past 2 years! 

My school supply list

Here's how I restock:

Over the summer I purchase items that aren't typically tax free (velcro, laminate, ziplock bags, and clorox wipes).  I typically shop once a week, so I rotate these items over 12 weeks: 
  • week 1, 5, 9: Velcro
  • week 2, 6, 10: laminate
  • week 3, 7, 11: zip lock bags & Tissues
  • week 4, 8, 12: Clorox wipes

Then during tax free weekend, I restock any items that I could get tax free, such as: sticky notes, highlighters, staples, tape, pens, pencils, glue sticks, etc. The week before school starts I also restock on any positive reinforcement I can use with the students (sodas, juice, candy, crackers, etc.) I typically find out what students like by observations and having the students and the parents complete my surveys at the beginning of the year. 
Parent surveys
Student Reinforcement Survey

How do you obtain supplies for your classroom?? Do you restock your supplies with help of parents? PTA? School district?

Have a great summer and I hope this will help you for the 16-17 school year. 

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Graduation Celebration

I teach students in 6th-8th grade and every year we hold a graduation and promotion ceremony.  This year we winged it since time for practice was little to none.  The kids did well and the parents loved how we had the orchestra play the processional as the classes walked in.  Our choir students presented a beautiful rendition of Gone, Gone, Gone by Phillip Phillips.  Each student received an award and then we presented a video of photos from the year as well as the 8th graders baby photos. :) Here's a few of the awards(academic and non-academic) we handed out in case you're stumped for ideas: 
  • Most Improved-the student showing the most improvement
  • Task Master-the one who completes all his tasks
  • Mr. One Man Band-the student with the most musical talent
  • Most Organized-the student who is most organized
  • Most Hard Working-always wanting to work
  • Classroom Comedian-always making us L.O.L.
  • Best Behavior-always displays perfect behavior
  • Chatter Box-Never at a loss for words
  • Classroom Diva-always looking the best
  • Perfect Gentleman-displaying perfect manners
  • Classroom Columbus-enjoys exploring the classroom
  • Sweetie Pie-has the biggest heart
  • Smiles 4 miles- the student who is always smiling

Afterwards photos were taken, cake was devoured and tears were shed with the parents in honor of how far their kiddos have grown. How does your class and school celebrate graduation/promotion/end of the year? Share in a comment below! 

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Hide Classroom Clutter

Good evening teacher friends! 

Would you agree that teachers are notorious for stashing away piles and piles of resources, activities, manipulatives, games, worksheets and more? Particularly in special education our daily work such as work tasks and activities are very bulky and are not "space saver" friendly.  

According to a study done through Princeton University, it states, 
"The clutter competes for your attention in the same way a toddler might stand next to you annoyingly repeating, “candy, candy, candy, candy, I want candy, candy, candy, candy, candy, candy, candy, candy, candy, candy …”  

So how do you store all of the essentials of your classroom without it becoming overwhelming and distracting for you and your students? I try to remember, "Out of site, out of mind." If my kids can't see it, more than likely they won't be focused on it unless I'm constantly drawing attention to the items that are being hidden. Here are a few tips on how I hide my very useful and essential 'clutter:'

  • Place in filing cabinets.  These are perfect for storing equipment, resources and materials and can double as physical structure in your classroom. 
  • Separate room or closet. If you have the resources-place items in a separate room or closet.
  • Cabinets. If you're blessed with cabinets, use them up!!
  • Curtains. Hide with curtains (my current solution). I have a large book shelf that is covered with curtains to minimized distraction due to the 'clutter' of work tasks and manipulatives.  (bottom image on left)
  • Get creative. My wire shelf that my computer is on also houses storage bins, technology for my kids, some paper files and the balls. I hide all of this with a clearance shower curtain I bought...would you have guessed that was a shower curtain? (bottom image on right)

How do you reduce clutter and distracting storage space from your students? Tell me in a comment below! 

Monday, April 4, 2016

Special Olympics Track & Field

Hey fellow teachers!

On Friday we attended our district Special Olympics Track and Field event. During the week we discussed the expectations of riding on a bus, going to Special Olympics and how to conduct ourselves during the day.  I usually review my social narrative with them (free for the next 48hrs!). We also google map the trip from the school to the athletic center.  From there we jump to google images and look at images of the field and athletic center so the kids can see where we will be headed.  My staff and I also load up on plenty of reinforcements (edible, and tangible).

If you know Texas weather at all...Friday was the epitome of multiple seasons in one day!

Here are some highlights from out district:  

We started out with raining cool weather. By mid morning it was lightening and we were redirected to move to shelter. Then the lightening cleared. We headed back to the field where the temperatures dropped and it began to rain! So back to shelter we went! My class was already hungry by 11:30, so we ate lunch and by 12 the sun was shining in that big Texas sky.  It was enough to give me a little sunburn. By 1:30, they stopped the games so the buses could be loaded with enough time to make it back to their afternoon routes so most of my kiddos only did 1 out of 2 events. Let's just kiddos did awesome despite all of the unexpected changes in our schedule! There were no meltdowns, no tantrums, no arguing or discontent.  I could tell they were uncomfortable but they handled all of the changes very well! I was proud. It's days like this that we are working towards every other day of the school year. :) 

If you have Special Olympics events coming up with your kiddos...check out my bundle, half off until April 6th! I also hope you have more consistent and calmer weather than we did!! Have a wonderful week! 

Friday, March 4, 2016

When everyone is sick...

Good evening teacher friends! It has been an insane two weeks.  My students and staff have spread any germ you can imagine. There has been a diagnosis of the flu, pneumonia, bronchitis and diahrrea.

Unfortunately this will probably continue until spring break!!! If you're entire class is sick, I'm here to share an easy tip, hopefully help you to battle the relentless germs. 

Have you heard of EMERGEN-C? If not, add it to you shopping list now and keep it stocked. I typically take one packet a day  and when things start to spread, I start taking 2 a day. 

The trick is to use a small amount of water. I've also learned that cold water tastes way better than warm/ room temp water. Mix the packet in for a few seconds and drink away. Another benefit is, they also come in a variety of flavors!

According to research, Emergen-c doesn't prevent you from getting sick, but will reduce your symptoms if you catch that bug.

Do you already use Emergen-c or something else? Share in the comments below!! Have a fabulous weekend. 

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Picture Journals

My morning routine consists of a variety of activities focusing on a plethora of skills. These may include: days, months, current/past/future year, weather, upcoming events and simple reading/language arts and math activities relating to each student's needs.  

Monday, January 11, 2016

Meal Prep Monday January 2016

Happy new year! I began this monthly link up back in October...then November and December completely fell through.  Can you relate? Were the last two months of 2015 a blur? Let's start the new year off with some collaboration! Let's find great meal prep ideas to keep us accountable, inspired and enthusiastic so we can stay on top of our diet and weight loss goals!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Organize work box visuals

Happy new year!! I started back at work today and I'm blessed that it was a smooth day, despite a staff member needing to leave during the middle of the day.  If you're struggling with organizing work box visuals, here's what I do to ensure all visuals are accounted for at the end of the day. I hope it helps!

I have all of my visuals printed, laminated and velcroed in a binder. (see below)  I place them in 2" x 2" page protects, made for coins...but it works well for this! They are kept in a binder near my work box system. I also have extra pieces printed and stored in the page behind it in case pieces are lost,(which always happens), I can easily keep the system going without having to find the file on my computer, find time to print, laminate, etc.

The students each have a laminated schedule sheet (made out of card stock) with their name on it.  I place the work box visual on their schedule and they know to take of each visual, match it up to the correct location and complete the work.  Students return work when finished (visual stays attached to box) so the staff knows what to pull out and 'undo' for tomorrow. 

  • Here's a link to the page protectors: 

  • Work task visual resources from some amazing fellow sped teachers! 
Editable Independent Work Station Starter Kit for Visual Learners

Task Box Visual Step Cue Card Template
TEACCH task box labels