winner winner chicken dinner

Monday, July 29, 2013 / 1 comment
this is gonna be short & sweet because my entire life has just about turned upside down.

more on that soooooon :) :) :)

Congrats Rae from Mindful Rambles on winning the giveaway!

Need your e-mail, girl! :)

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Phonics Interactive Notebooks for Short Vowels {Follower Giveaway - enter to win!}

Thursday, July 25, 2013 / 13 comments
I love love love teaching phonics to my littles and struggling readers, but it can be super boring for them sometimes unless we play games or make it hands on somehow..


My first installment of my Phonics Interactive Notebook!


Click any of the pictures to view on TPT!

Scroll down to here about the giveaway!

Giveaway: Comment telling me one of your fav strategies for teaching short vowels!

I will be picking a winner on SUNDAY, July 28th {my wedding anniversary! 1 year!}

Check out my facebook and instagram {@teachingspecialthinker} for other chances to win!

Good Luck!

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Guess what today is....

Wednesday, July 24, 2013 / 1 comment
I'm at the beach so forgive me for not posting a lot..

I had to post this though..

They should do this for teachers..

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DIY Pinwheel Wreath Tutorial {Monday Made It}

Monday, July 22, 2013 / Leave a Comment
This is going to be a super quick Monday Made It post because I am on vacation! :)

I made this wreath to hang up in one of my classroom windows or on the door.

The pinwheels are super easy to make.

You can use double sided scrapbook paper, or just glue to sheets together!

Just make sure they are cut into a perfect square {I used 3" 4" 5" 6"}

I used hot glue to glue mine together and onto the wreath!

I hope the steps in this picture help!

Happy Monday! :)

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Sunday Funday Instagrammies

Sunday, July 21, 2013 / 1 comment

How it works:

All you need to do to link up is show off your favorite school related & non-school related Instagram photos from the week!

If you follow me on Instagram, you know I love taking pics & I looove all the fun apps there are to pretty up my photos! I can't wait to see everyone's pictures!

Each week, I will pick one person that linked up as the Instagrammies winner based on the pics! That person will get pick one item in my store FO FREE! YAY!

Here are my favs from this week!

My niece and nephew came to to visit and it rained.. Womp womp
So we went to the wow factory to craft!

Love my new shirt from jcpenneys! They are stepping it up!

My brother in law's dog is the sweetest thing! I couldn't get any work done with him around!

Best buys of the week - I love TJmaxx !

What were some of your favs from this week?

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A Strategy & A Snack: Warning Signal and Homemade Garlic Hummus!

Friday, July 19, 2013 / 2 comments
Hi all!

Incase you didn't catch this last week, I've decided to host my own little linky on Saturdays!

For this linky, just write up a quickie post about one of your favorite classroom strategies and share about a favorite snack you like to make! With football season approaching, I need some new ideas for tailgating grub!

Strategy: Warning Signal

At the beginning of the school year, introduce a warning signal to your students and practice it often. During any kind of activity that isn't direct instruction and the students are working together or independently, I like to give a 5 minute warning signal, then a 1 minute warning signal, and then a final signal to alert the students that the time is up. In the beginning of the year, hold discussions about what students should do during the first signal, then the second, and then model what they should look like on the final signal (i.e. work put away, lips zipped, ears listening, eyes on teacher).

I personally like to use wind chimes because they are easy, soothing, and accessible! You do also do a certain song or alarm on your phone, but sometimes that can require more effort than necessary. Get creative with it and tie it into your classroom theme!!

This is a great, effective classroom management tool that will help you transition smoothly to the next activity.

Snack: Homemade Garlic Hummus

I love hummus!

This recipe is my go to for a late night snack when I craving some dip!


1 can chick peas (drained and rinsed)
extra virgin olive oil
ground cumin 1-2 tablespoons
1 lemon (juiced)
3 cloves garlic (chopped)
sea salt and pepper to taste


In a food processor, combine all the ingredients and hit go!

Add enough oil to cover half of the chick peas in the processor.

I just add some salt n pepper at the beginning, and then continue to add as needed.

It's deliciously garlicky - be prepared for bad breath but a happy tummy!

Serve with dippables such as cucumbers, carrots, or crackers!

Do you know any other yummy hummus recipes?

I have edamame hummus and roasted red pepper on my to do recipes list!

Share one of your favorite strategies and snacks today!

(Submissions close in 37d 10h 48m)
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Be Proactive: Staying ahead of the scheduling mayhem

Thursday, July 18, 2013 / 5 comments

At the beginning of the school year, creating your schedule as a special educator can be daunting, especially if you are doing a mixture of co-teaching and in resource setting, and your schedule depends on everyone else’s schedules. Although your schedule will change throughout the year, getting organized before school starts will benefit you tremendously, and give you more time to get to know your students and get them into a set routine!

Before the school year begins, I make 2 copies of the IEP snapshot page {one for GEE minutes and one for SEE minutes}. This page lists their services {Math, RLA, etc.}, the location {General Ed GEE or Special Ed SEE}, and the amount of minutes per week {MPW}. You can also just make of copy of the “services” page where you list the services and amount of MPW if your state does not do a snapshot page. If only I could show you one, but that would be a big NO NO! :(

First, I take multi-colored highlighters and go through to highlight each subject area on both sets of sheets {i.e. pink – reading, blue – math, yellow – social skills, green - phonics, purple - testing, etc.}. For the first copy of pages, I focus on the GEE minutes, and for the second copy, I focus on the SEE minutes. The purpose of this is to group “like” subjects in “like” locations. In my county, I can group multi-grade level students together in my resource classroom {SEE minutes}, as long as the SUBJECT {rla, math} area is the same. I believe it is like this in other states, but I would check with your school’s principal or special education coordinator to be sure.

Once I have everything highlighted, I go through both sets of pages {Set 1 – GEE; Set 2 – SEE} and make a chart similar to the ones below.

Made up students! :)

Made up students :)

Once I have these charts set, I have to collect all the schedules of the general educators and line all my minutes up with their schedules. At my school, my principal requires the teachers to turn in their schedules before school starts so I usually get the schedules from her and double check with the teachers that they are correct before I begin. The SEE minutes are a little easier to schedule, but I cannot pull my students from RLA or MATH or specialist times. At my school, the 3rd grade team and 4th grade team all have similar schedules, with the exceptions of specialist times {art, music, gym, etc}. If two 3rd grade teachers both do reading at the same time, I usually combine students from both classrooms and we focus on reading in one classroom so they can still get their minutes. This usually works fine as long as the general educators are okay with taking on one or two extra students during the reading block. Also, if the teachers do rotating groups for math or reading, I might have my own group that students (reg ed and special ed) rotate through with me.

Important things to remember when creating your schedule:

  • Your schedule minutes must be EXACT! If it says 120 MPW, you must ensure that a student is receiving that instruction for that amount of time per week. Your schedule must be set in stone to ensure you are in compliance.
  • If there is a conflict in schedules due to the general educator’s schedule, tell the teacher(s) and your principal immediately. The earlier large schedule changes, the less of a headache for you and everyone else.   
  • Be sure to schedule yourself planning time (A MUST) and extra IEP paperwork time if you can. Even 15 minutes a day scheduled for paperwork can save you from taking a lot of work home and can give you time to meet with general ed teachers/contact parents if needed.  Try not to overdo it, as you will most likely end up feeling burnt out by the middle of the school year!
  • In my county, 120 MPW does not mean you have to schedule every day on those minutes. If it works better to do 40 minutes three days a week rather than 24 minutes five days per week, then do it!
  • Your schedule will most likely have small (hopefully not large) changes throughout the year as annual IEP’s are held, student’s goals change, and you have transfers. That is the nature of SPED, so there is no need to fret over it!

Although scheduling can be tough, it can also be a blessing if you are allowed to create your own. If you are more productive in the morning, schedule your planning in the morning. If you like to do math in the afternoon, schedule your SEE math in the afternoon. The world is your oyster {as long as you adhere to the IEP}!  :)

Click here to read a post I wrote for All Things Upper Elementary about Collaborating with General Educators in the Classroom

If you have any other questions about scheduling or would like me to post on something specific, feel free to leave a comment or shoot me an e-mail through the “Contact Me!” button above.

I hope everyone is thoroughly enjoying their summer!

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DIY Paper Lanterns & Pinwheel Wreath Tutorials

Tuesday, July 16, 2013 / 1 comment

As a continuation of yesterdays post, I would like to show you how I made my paper lanterns! Next month, these lovelies will be hanging in my classroom!

If you would like to see other items I have created for my classroom, click on the pictures below to go to the tutorials!

Stay tuned for a tutorial on these types of paper pinwheels for a classroom wreath!

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