Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Systems Part 1: Data Binders!!!

Alright friends, I'm back in business...I'm working on a series of posts about different systems that I use - systems to help keep the kids organized, systems to keep teachers organized, systems that you might want to adapt and use in your classrooms.  So part 1 is all about....DATA BINDERS!!!  Now you may be thinking that those don't sound super interesting, but they are a critical part of being systematic with my kiddos and their IEP goals despite them being in a bunch of different rooms and each of them having a variety of adults who support them (myself, the general education teacher, service providers, and a variety of paraprofessionals).  I will take you on a little tour of my binder starting with the cover:

Inside I have a detailed sheet explaining my expectations for how to take data and when to submit the data to me.  This will, of course, be personalized for your class as your expectations are different, but if you want to take a peek at mine...just let me know!

THEN...I have a section in the binder for each student with a quick glance and data sheets.  Now I know you are asking, "can I see an example of those?" but unfortunately, all of mine are chock full of student information so I can't send them on to you.  You can look at the Quick Glance Template and Data Sheet Template on my TpT site - they are editable so you can customize them with information about your students!  They are best sellers on my site and they are on sale for this week only!  I use this data sheet for most of my students, but I do bring in different data sheets like Antecedent/Behavior/Consequence sheets or Scatter Plots when they are more appropriate.  Just giving you a starting place...

I also have a rule that we collect one work sample for each academic goal every week.  How do I keep track of those you ask?  With these handy Post-It notes that I created using Vistaprint!  We stick one on to the work sample with some notes about what sort of support students had on the assignment and then I know what I'm looking at when other staff members add samples to the binder.

In the back of the binder are the carbon copy of communication slips that go home.  Not all of my students are able to tell their parents what happened at school today so we use these slips to communicate that to parents.  The top copy goes home and the bottom copy stays with us.  I wish I could claim credit for these but they existed before I started at my school.

So that is my grand tour of my data binder!  Let me know if you have questions, suggestions, or if you'd like to have me feature a specific system on a future blog post.

Hoping this helps you out,


Saturday, September 21, 2013

One month in!

Wow!  One month in...it has been such a whirlwind!  Meeting my new students, teaching them routines, getting systems set up (behavior, communication, etc.) for kids who are having trouble interacting with the typical routines, having IEPs, meeting with parents, hiring and training new paraprofessionals, etc.  Oh yea, and teaching!  Sadly though, not blogging very much.  My apologies.  This week, I'm going to go through and take lots of pictures of the systems that I have set up for students for you to see.  Feel free to comment with your requests for specific systems you'd like to see.

Why the focus on systems?  Because some very brilliant people have spent a lot of time organizing and reorganizing the systematic way in which content and skills should be taught and have written them up as standards to guide instruction.  Inclusive special education has sometimes become a filtering down of those standards on a day-by-day or week-by-week basis.  I work with my colleagues to develop systematic instruction that connects with the general education curriculum but that has a strong strand of repetitive, systematic instruction as well.

Just a preview of coming attractions....can't wait for you all to see what I've been up to in the last month!


Sunday, August 18, 2013

Back to School!!

Oh dear, I sort of disappeared, didn't I?  I wish I had a good reason, but I was really just having a wonderful, fun summer.  I spent lots of time with my little dog, went to the beach, went to the pool, cooked good food, saw movies, traveled (to Tel Aviv and the Bahamas), quilted, read good books, and just relaxed.  None of it seemed worthy of blogging about, but it has all made me so relaxed and ready for this next year of school.

Between all of my adventures and decadent time off, I did put a lot of time into this school year.  I worked 4 weeks of summer school and stayed late every day of summer school to get things ready for this new school year.  Because I span kindergarten and first grade, half of my students are familiar faces and getting their materials ready was fairly easy since I know the curriculum and I know them.  I got to meet a few of my kindergarten faces during summer school so I feel somewhat prepared for them.  I made picture schedules, collected fidgets, and spoke to all of my colleagues about their needs.  Tomorrow will be the true test of how well prepared I really am.........

Anyhow, I'm back to my blogging.  I'll take lots of pictures this year so that I can share all of my ideas with you.

Happy 2013-14 School Year!!!


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

100th Follower Giveaway...And Happy July 4th!

While I creep along in my quest to hit 100 followers, I've joined in to celebrate with Lucy at Kids Math Teacher to celebrate her achievement of that goal!  Congrats Lucy!!

Head over there to enter her giveaway!  I've got some big plans for when I hit my 100 marker!!

Happy July 4th!!  What are you all doing with your time off?  I'm going up to the mountains for a nice long weekend.  I'm looking forward to watching the fireworks while eating watermelon sitting on the balcony.  Ahhh...relaxation!!


Saturday, June 29, 2013

My first Currently Linky!

Although one of my favorite linky parties to read about is the Currently Linky hosted by Farley over at Oh' Boy Fourth Grade, I have never participated.  I am so happy to be joining the crew.  All of you veteran Currently bloggers, let me know what you think!  I'm excited to join you.

So I'm listening to Pandora in my new car whenever I can!  I got a CR-V this week and it syncs up with the Pandora on my phone and that is just the coolest feature I think a car could ever come up with. I am loving many other aspects of my new car, but Pandora gets an extra smile from me!

I'm absolutely, without a doubt, 100%, completely loving this summer vacation.  This year was much harder than other years have been and I grew a lot as a professional this year, but it also makes me really appreciate some time for myself.  I have spent time with family, caught up with friends, planned lots of fun activities, cleaned through my condo to make some donations, cooked interesting food, snuggled with my pup, and rested!  I am trying to stay balanced and get a little work done, but I am so much enjoying this time for me.  There is a lot to love right now.

I am thinking about all of the wonderful, relaxing things yet to come this summer (a trip to the Bahamas!!) and also keeping one foot firmly planted in my summer school students and their needs and my eyes looking toward next year and how I can prepare.  I'm trying not to overdo anything this summer so I've been keeping lists (me...lists...no way!) to make sure that when summer ends, I am happy and well rested and well prepared for next year.

Because I have a tendency to focus on doing the necessary things now and relaxing later, I am wanting to make sure I make time for those wonderful activities that make me balanced and happy.  Spending time with friends, eating good food, doing new activities, resting, quilting, baking, all of those things that bring me to my zen place need to find their place in my to-do list for next year!

Are you seeing a theme here?  I need to make sure I stick to my promises to myself about relaxing!!

So my tips for getting that done?  A little bit of work and a little bit of fun every day!  It may be a little less adventurous when I plan out my fun time into a to-do list, but it makes sure that I am giving myself what I need and giving my future students what they need.  3 weeks in and I think it's been working really well so far.

What are you currently up to my fellow bloggers?


Thursday, June 13, 2013

An honor!

In this world of teaching where so much of what you do goes unseen by the world around you any appreciation and complements mean the world.  It's why I love reading the cards my students and their parents write at the end of the year - I get a glimpse into how they really feel about me even if it was primarily unspoken.  So imagine my surprise to be asked to be a "focus teacher" for Impatient Optimists - Bill and Melinda Gates' blog!

I was recommended by someone still unknown by me for my work in the classroom with my diverse students.  I don't have much more to say but that I am humbled beyond words and hopeful that reading this article makes others feel more comfortable approaching the CCSS with their diverse kiddos.  Happy Reading!


Sunday, June 2, 2013

Next Year Linky

What?  Next year?  Already?  Yup!!!  I'm linking up with Kim at Finding JOY in 6th Grade to set some goals for next year (that I hope you'll all hold me to)!  We are done with school on Friday so it seems more than appropriate timing for me.  When are you done?

The wonderful paraprofessionals that I work with take lots of data and collect work samples to supplement the time that I spend with students.  This is invaluable because I have four rooms and I bounce between them and inevitably, something exciting happens when I'm not there.  The data helps drive instruction and track progress toward IEP goals, but when I get in the room the first thing I want to do is spend time with the kids.  I need to get better at checking the data binder first!  I just get so excited about seeing where my little ones are and marveling at the progress they are making!!

At my K-8 school, we have some wonderful opportunities for big kids and little kids to connect and build relationships.  We have had a couple of kindergarten students who need help on the play yard - finding things to keep them busy, figuring out how to interact with their peers, solving little scuffles, etc.  We recruited some "big buddies" to hang out with groups of kindergarten students and help with those challenges, but having a more formal program next year would be fabulous!  The upper grade students (6-8th) have the same lunch time as the little ones (K-1st) so it works out well.  It makes lunch time so wonderful for kids who would struggle otherwise, so I want to make sure we have a great program next year!

Great things happen every day and I want to share them with you but I keep coming to the problem that there are no pictures to show you.  My cell phone is permanently attached to me so I just need to get better at taking those pictures to show you!

And then I'll be able to blog more examples of how I teach students with a variety of disabilities with my many diverse students who don't have disabilities.  I appreciate the supportive comments you've all given me, and it just makes me want to show you more!

What are you going to do next year??