Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Creating Activities

Have an extra hour of free time and a little Velcro? How about make a fun laundry sorting activity for the kids! These activities really take no time at all and can be made by anyone.

 I make all my worksheets and activities in PowerPoint. I am sure there are other programs that would be easier, but I know PP and I am a creature of habit. For this activity I found a cute basket in Google pics that I liked. I right clicked on the image, and clicked "save". Then went to my PP slide, right clicked again and clicked "paste" onto each of the three pages I had started. I added the words (whites, lights, and darks) by adding a text box, then went to work finding laundry and followed the same procedure of copying and pasting onto an additional 4th page. I printed out all 4 pages, laminated the three with the baskets, cut out all the clothes on the 4th page, laminated them, then cut them out again. Added a bit of Velcro and waaaalaaaa my activity was complete!

I plan to add this to my activity box collection (as soon as a buy a new box) and I think the kids are going to love it. I hope it inspires you to make one of your own for your class.


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

New Teacher Frustrations

There seems to be a common occurrence of teachers moving into our special education classrooms throughout the US (and beyond), who are presented with little or no curriculum for their kids. I get emails almost weekly from these teachers. If you're lucky like I was with my first teaching job (a workability program), you get the opportunity to start in an already established classroom. The curriculum might not be exactly what you would choose, but at least you have something to get started with. 

When I was moved to my new program, 6 years ago, I was literally given 10 kids, 3 aides, and a bucket of crayons. I was starting with nothing and completely overwhelmed. At the time, we didn't even have computers in our classrooms. We had to use one of the two secretary’s computers to work on IEP's and check our email. I would come home from work and literally spend hours searching the internet for anything I could find that my kids could learn from. A deck of UNO cards was probably one of my first purchases, and we played that often during the first couple months. 

One of the first things I did was get myself some 3 ring binders. I think I started out with 6 – 8. Each binder held one subject, and every time I would find a good worksheet on-line, I would add it to the proper binder. Over time my binders started filling. I would replace old worksheets with new ones I found that were better, which were ultimately replaced with my own.

I’m not gonna lie, and say I didn’t spend some of my own money those first couple years, because I did. I almost had to. We were fortunate to have a yearly budget amount those first few years, but that money had to include everything we needed (pencils, outings, craft supplies, printer ink etc). So needless to say, it didn’t go too far. I slowly started accumulating things. I would buy games at garage sales, find activity box ideas and purchase Lego’s on Ebay. I was also able to borrow things like Bingo games and DVD's from other teachers.

It took me about 4 years to get to the point where I didn’t really “need” any new activities for my kids. Of course that didn’t stop me from continuing my obsession of activity boxes but that’s another post all together.

 I still have my curriculum binders, but have narrowed them down to just three. They are pretty thick and are my life. I won't even let them leave my room, lol. Since I find it impossible to follow a strict schedule, I just pull the binder I need (depending on the day of the week) and pick a worksheet that seems fun or appropriate for that day. Then I place a small sticker on the corner of the sleeve so I know that I have already done that worksheet this year. At the end of the year, I take off all the stickers and we start over again. I tried organizing it many times but then Johnny takes Billy’s jacket and just like that, the lesson I was doing on “Planning a Party” has to be replaced by a lesson on “Respecting Others”. So, no plan. If it’s Monday, I pull from the money binder, Tuesday, social skills and so on. 

I would also like to mention how much Donorschoose has helped me over the last few years. Without the kind generosity of many, I wouldn't have some of the amazing things I do. Through them I was able to receive 3 ipads, a karaoke machine, a projector, all our school balls for the last 2 years, a ton of kitchen supplies, books and much more. I highly recommend you get yourself hooked up with them asap.

So, here it is in a nut shell. YOU CAN DO IT!! It's going to take a bit, but steady and slow will give you time to find the things that work best for you and your kids.

Good luck and let me know if I can help!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Born This Way - TV Show

Happy New Year!!!! I am soooo happy to be back to work. I really do miss my kids when we are off on breaks and am always so excited to hear about what they did when we were apart! 

Has anyone else been watching this series, Born This Way, at school with their students? We have been watching it in our classroom each week. My kids (and staff) just LOVE it!! A couple of them have started watching it at home with their parents which is an extra bonus. I even love the commercials (surprisingly) since it gives us a few minutes to discuss what is happening. Well except for today, when I couldn't seem to hit the "mute" button before it said "if your having a hard time getting an erection" every flipping time! I mean seriously, who pairs a show about special ed kids with a Viagra commercial? 

We were a couple weeks behind because of the break and my plan was to keep up behind and continue watching one a week, be I was outnumbered and we ended up watching three this week to catch us up! But anyway, we are learning so much. First kisses, getting a job, finding independence, how to get a girlfriend/boyfriend (the right way), boundaries and so much more! We discuss things they do wrong, and the things they do right. 

You can watch them online the day after they air on TV. I put the link below for you if your interested. I hope you get the chance to check it out!

*** Update*** It says episode 1 is only available for 4 more days so you better start them asap!

Update 2 - You can now buy individual episodes to watch through Amazon for 1.99 (2.99 HD) each. I'll update again when it comes out on DVD.

Born This Way

fyi - A couple of the boys drink beer on a couple of occasions, socially and no one gets drunk. They are all over 21. One of the boys makes a comment on one of the episodes about needing to get "layed". Not sure if those are the exact word he used but close. My kids didn't get it. You may want to watch them first if you think you might have an issue with parents or to know what scenes to skip.