Helping Students with Autism Transition to Middle School

Wednesday, February 27, 2013 / Leave a Comment
In my county, students go to middle school in 5th grade. For students with autism, this transition can be suuuuper scary, especially for the parents. Incase you need some ideas to give parents or for yourself on how to help your students (even those transitioning to high school), go visit this site:

Here's my little summary of what I am going to do to help my little cuties:

Video Tour of the school on my Ipad

Short video interviews with new middle school teachers

Show them school planner, website, anything else from the previous year I can gather

Video chat (facetime) with a responsible middle school student to give them time to ask questions and with their teachers

Actual School tour with me, the student, and  parents to explore the school (without students present, and then eventually with students present) and their new schedule they will have.

Personal Portfolios - this is a project I plan to complete in the last month of school. Kind of like a "get to know me" thing for them to bring with them to school to share with their new special educators.

Although I'm super excited for them to "grow up" and be big bad middle schoolers - this whole experience makes me so sad! I wish I could go with them!

If you have students with autism, I strongly encourage you to go to Paula Kluth's website even if you don't have students that will be transitioning. She has a lot of great ideas!
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Great Fluency Resource

Tuesday, February 26, 2013 / 2 comments
A lot of my students struggle with fluency on top of their struggle with reading. Although most of them are able to pick apart a word based on learning reading strategies, they still struggle with their fluency when reading a passage out loud. On top of decoding, I have been using a fluency program my county has adopted and I have been loving it (and so have my kids).

The program is called Great Leaps and focuses on Phonics, Phrases (SIGHT WORDS), and Passages. Now this program does not teach students how to "crack the code" when reading, it is strictly fluency based. Here is the best part... it literally takes less than 5 minutes to do each student!

I just go to their classrooms with my teacher binder and their student binders and pull them out for 5 minutes to complete. I get my data, and their reading gets better. WIN-WIN!

All my students that have fluency goals..... CHECKED OFF THE LIST. It's a beautiful thing....

Example of a Student Binder

Dividers made out of cardstock and tabs for each section

Everything I need in the binder to complete the readings and collect the data - Ready to go!

Please note: I am in no way affiliated with Great Leaps - I just wanted to tell you about this because I know as a special educator I am CONSTANTLY trying to find things to use to help my students meet their goals that are research based. This program is CHEAP and easy to use, and it works! I use the resources for grades 3-5, but they offer a K-2 program as well.

Have a wonderful Tuesday!

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Graphic Organizer Freebie

Sunday, February 24, 2013 / Leave a Comment
Hi loves,

Just wanted to drop by on this relaxing Sunday to leave you with a freebie and a link to an awesome giveaway going on over at Teaching And Tapas!

I use this graphic organizer every week after I read the weekly story with my small groups. Since I pull so many students at different times as the special educator, and they are all on different reading stories, I use this because it can be applied to most, if not all, of the stories in their reading book! After doing it a few weeks, my students have been able to do most of it independently, which is the goal!

Also, head over to Teaching with Tapas to enter in the awesome giveaway she has going on! There are over 100 products and they are separated by grade level. I have donated my Magical E Bundle Packet for first grade.

Have a fabulous, LUCKY day! :)

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Division with Manipulatives

Friday, February 22, 2013 / 1 comment
This post is going to be quick, but still has a nice little tip in it. My students HAVE to have hands-on manipulatives in math. It helps them so much and fully engages them into the concept they are working on. To introduce division, I went full hands-on using colored tiles, slates, markers/erasers.

During this short activity pulling a large # of tiles into smaller groups created that "OHH I GET IT" moment for a lot of my students that have such a hard time with basic division. It might not look like much, but it helped them get over the "I can't do this" hurdle.

If you have any students that struggle, try this out... I have them count the whole number to start off with, and then I tell them to divide the number into so many groups, such as 12 divided by 3 shown below....

They simply use dry/erase markers to draw the circles (groups) on the table. They LOVE writing on the table - and it comes right off!

Here is another picture. 24 divided by 4.

18 divided by 6!

Here I gave the student an example of how he could do this activity even when he didn't have the colored tiles.

We also briefly went over fact families using our Origami triangles - very helpful!

Hope you can use this somehow!

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Wednesday, February 20, 2013 / 1 comment
Leigh from The Applicious Teacher was such a sweetie for nominating me for the Liebster Award! This is my second time being nominated -- I'm so grateful! When you get a chance, go check her out!

& here are the answers to Leigh's Questions:

Thanks for the nomination, Leigh!

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IEP Checklist FREEBIE & Caseload Binder

Tuesday, February 19, 2013 / 5 comments
Since I am a control freak and checklist-obsessed, I created this little puppy to help me stay on track when I have an IEP meeting coming up for one of my students. I figured if it was helpful for me, it may be helpful for another SPED teacher. Anything to lighten the load! If you want a free copy, click here to download from my TPT store! I included both an editable form for publisher and a non-editable PDF in the download because I'm sure it won't fit everyones' needs!

Also, I have updated my caseload binder with cuter, newer fonts {of course!} & a key for the terminology used in the packet since special education jargon can vary from county to county. If you already have this resource, go to your download to snag a fresh copy! If you don't, click on the picture below to view.

If you want to learn more about how I use this binder to keep organized, click here to see the blog post!

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Comparing Numbers

Monday, February 18, 2013 / 2 comments
I am a math lover, but doing a lesson on comparing numbers can be booooooooring.. and my little lovebugs will agree! I try to make anything and everything into a game/hands-on activity because my clientel of students tend to be a little distracted, fidgety, and totally uninterested in normal math bookwork. So, to get over this little hump of a lesson, I decided to have a little fun!

Quickie Class Comparison
They loved this one - I put them into 2 teams, gave each team 4 cards, and they had 10 seconds to make the biggest number possible. Then, we would decide who had the bigger number and which way our sign would face!

In A Pinch - Partner Comparison
After we played several rounds of the previous whole group game, students got into partners and played this game. They had mini number cards and took turns picking cards to create a number. They had to record their numbers down and their partners and put >, <, or =. They played ten rounds total!

Close up of the partner game

Task cards for assessment

Success - even the task cards! I timed them as they rotated cards until each person is finished. They loved it!

If you like this idea and have to touch on this concept, it is so easy to create the games. If you don't feel like creating your own game cards and want the task cards - check the packet out at my TPT store. It's Common Core aligned! :)

Hope everyone had a great start to the week!

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Human Number Line

Tuesday, February 12, 2013 / 1 comment
As a little introduction lesson to number lines, I decided to do a little movement activity. First I had the students help me fill in a number like that was missing some numbers on it.
Then, we did a short activity on greater than/less than on the table. To do this, I would pick two numbers on the number line and mark them with small post-its, and have the students compare them.

I wrote the numbers on dry/erase slates, and had volunteer students create the amount using linking cubes. We would then decide if the number on the less was less than, greater than, or equal to the number on the right.

For example:
Is 37 to the right or to the left of 44? (left)
Okay, so is 37 less than or greater than 44? (less than)
Show me the correct sign that will show 37 is less than 44.

Here's another picture..

After the students could fluently do the above, we created our human number line!

To make the number line, I just put down some trusty duck tape and measured the spacing out of the lines. I would only number one or two points on the number line, and each of the students would be given a dry/erase slate with a number on it. Once they found their number, they would stand there until everyone had found their point.
Here is a little pic of me doing the activity - I didn't get a chance to take any photos in action {SORRY!}. We did this several times, and the students really enjoyed trying to beat their time. Plus, it beats filling in the blanks on a worksheet!
Hope everyone had a great Tuesday!
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Snow Day Accomplishments!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013 / 2 comments
Don't you hate it when those that are not teachers LOVE to bring up the fact that our jobs are cake because we get off at 3 and have summers off. Those same people always have snide remarks about snow days. Well I would like to say that we had a snow day today, and I did not leave this area ALL. DAY. LONG.

and I'm sure it's the same for a lot of you out there. On snow days, evenings, weekends, summers, most of us are stilllll working --  because we love our kids & our jobs!

Thanks to this lovely day, I have finally had time to cross some things off my to-do list! I created the rest of my vowel packs and created a bundle pack.

I also got a chance to put some previous activities I created for my kids into a more appealing format. Here is the start of my 3rd grade common core task cards for multiplication. I'm super excited about finally getting these up - the "ugly" versions have been in my files for what seems like forever.

I'm totally obsessed with chalkboard backgrounds & sparkly letters. Thankfully, I was able to load up on some cuties during Sunday's Sale. I'm linking up with Blog Hoppin' to show off a few of my favorite things I bought during that lovely little sale!

Click on any of the pictures above to get to the links!

I hope everyone had a blessed Tuesday!

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Magic E Featuring Long A Vowel & TARGET FINDS

Monday, February 4, 2013 / Leave a Comment
We are finally getting through some Phonic instruction without all the awful inturruption of Benchmarking. This week, we had a little fun with my newest packet....

The Incredible, Magical "e" - Featuring Long Vowel "a"
To introduce this magical creature, I started with a little mini-lesson on example and non-example words and had the students generate ideas about the "rule" of why the example words were different from the non-example words.

The point of this little activity is to have the students investigate the difference without me having to just tell them the rule. If they discover the rule on their own, they will have an easier time remembering it. My students noticed that the words were both the same except the e at the end of the example words. They weren't sure how to read the words out loud, but after a few wrong attempts, one student got it! I explained the the e at the end of the words in the example make the a have the long vowel sounds - or make it say it's own name.

Once students began making these generalizations about the examples, I introduced my little "e" wand and we practiced changing different short vowel words to long vowel words using MAGIC!
bad... bade!!
Other students recorded each word change on this sheet:
Obviously, the magic e idea has been around for a while, so I am not sure who to credit this fabulous idea too. If anyone knows - please do tell! I want to give credit where credit is due.
On to the rest of my lesson... OF COURSE we had to read and identify some words out of some poems from our favorite author - Shel Silverstein

This illustration cracks me up! 

and then we PLAYED GAMES!

My students loved the activities and games from this packet, and it helped tone down the difficulty of that crazy silent e that baffles them.
Here's what is included in this packet!

I am in the process of making a packet for each long vowel - stay tuned !
Also - here's a quickie at some adorable finds from MY OBSESSION - the Target Dollar Spot
Bird Clippies to hold together cards for activitys during a lesson

Mini File Folder expandables to hold all my different card game pieces - PERFECT
Enjoy your Monday! It's snowing here - Always a good thing! 

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