Welcome to my blog:) Since I am so far away from my friends and family, I want to keep you updated on the fun and trials of my new job. Thank you to everyone for your support, encouragement, and the tips/ideas you may offer!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

November Currently

WOW! I can't believe first quarter is already over!  That means there is soooo much to do!  I need to get my quarterly IEP goal reports sent home, parent teacher conferences are coming up in about 2 weeks, AND IT'S ALL DOWNHILL FROM THERE!  (In a good way.)

Since my room serves more as a resource style setting, I don't play a lot of music because we usually need to get right down to business.  If I do play music, it's usually quiet piano music on Pandora.

Like I said, I can't believe it's November already.  This is going to be a super busy month for me.  On top of school stuff, my boyfriend and I have two trips to Minnesota planned.  One for his cousins is getting married the weekend before Thanksgiving, and he is the usher for the wedding.  Then I have to go back to school Monday and Tuesday.  Then I'll be headed back to MN for Thanksgiving.  THEN!!!  It's time to start getting ready for Christmas.  Oh me or my!!!

Don't forget to link up with Farley:-D

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

IEPs....Calling all Spec Ed Teachers:)

I had my first IEP meeting at my new school today....which means I had to write my first IEP for this school yesterday/today.  My new school does not have a nice computer based program for writing IEPs or doing grades.  That meant I had to write the whole IEP in Word Document!!!  Each form was in a separate document, i.e.: I-5, I-6, I-7, etc. were all in separate word docs.

Now, in my two short years of teaching, I clearly got spoiled by writing my IEPs in Skyward because I was ready to pull my hair out by the time my IEP rolled around.

How many of you have computer based programs specifically designed for writing IEPs?

What do you use?

Who handwrites/types documents in Word?

On a positive note....the secretary of our student services department schedules all our IEP meetings, so I do not have to call parents, schedule with teachers, etc.  That is nice:)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A smile from my students:)

Over the summer I got the great idea to have a puzzle table in my classroom from Michelle at Special Education Strategies and More....  I was super excited to implement the puzzle table at school this year because I have noticed that puzzles are something my students have great difficulties with, and it makes a great quiet activity for fast finishers.

To start I had to teach my students the steps of doing puzzles the "correct" way.
1. take the puzzle pieces out of the box
2. flip all the pieces right side up
3. find all the "flat" pieces and put the boarder together 
4. begin looking for similar colors and put the inside together
5. complete puzzle
6. put it away

We also had to go over rules.  Since the puzzle table is for fast finishers there is NO talking at the puzzle table because that means other people are still working, and we need to respect them.  This has been a bit of a struggle, and requires lots of reminders.

Well, when we first started the puzzle table we used big floor puzzles on our table so that the puzzle area was contained but I wanted to start with big pieces since they are easier to manipulate.  That meant there wasn't always enough room for all the pieces on the table.  So they had to leave all the "flat" pieces on the table and take the rest off.

WELL...(HERE IS THE HIGHLIGHT OF MY DAY:) after a sort of rough day of feeling ineffective and lost in the haze of RtI/Spec ed and having a 45 min mandatory book study meeting, I returned to my room at 4:00.  To get to my desk I walk by the puzzle table and happened to notice that the students had started a new puzzle today and some of the pieces were on the book shelf while others were on the table.  After a closer inspection, I realized the "flat" pieces were the only pieces left on the table and all the pieces were facing right side up AND they had done this quietly!!!!  THIS MADE ME SOOOO HAPPY:-D

Here is the picture I had to take.  Notice the pieces on the white shelf....those are all the inside pieces.

My puzzle table also serves as a bit of a motivator for my students to complete their work because they want to work on the puzzle.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

I LOVE PUMPKIN! (freebie)

So I'm a HUGE fan of pumpkin flavored things!  I love when fall rolls around and everyone has these flavors in stock!

So far this season I've made pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin muffins, and pumpkin puppy chow.  Last year I made pumpkin french toast, but haven't gotten around to it yet this year.  Hopefully soon:-D

As a little treat for some of the people around my school I bagged up the pumpkin puppy chow (recipe) and put a little note with it:)

If you would like to make a treat for some of your co-workers pick up the gift tags for FREE at my TpT Store.

Monday, October 15, 2012

What I'm Reading Now (School Related)

I'm linking up with Marie at The Hands-On Teacher in First for her Something New Sunday Linky Party:)

So I recently finished Divergent, AMAZING!

Product Details

Both of these books are part of series I haven't finished, and I don't have the sequels in hand.  So in the mean time I need something else to read, and since I don't want to start ANOTHER series I'm reading this book for school:  Opening Minds, Using language to change lives.

Product Details

This book is all about how we phrase things and the impact it has on students.  I'm only on chapter 2, but it has already got me thinking about how I say things to my students.

Instead of saying, "Oh you're so smart!" when a student gets an answer correct, the author says you should compliment them on their hard work (that has gotten them the correct answer).  I often fall in to the trap of telling students, "You're so smart."  Since I teach special ed I figured my students (just like any other student) could use all the encouragement I could give them.  According to the author this has actually been detrimental to my students.  So, I have been making a conscious effort to emphasize the hard work students are exerting.  

When testing students, the author suggests saying, "Let's see what you already know."  Implying that if they get any answers correct they are ahead of the game.  I have not been able to smoothly implement this wording yet.  

Have you read this book?  Did you find it helpful?  Did it give you any "catchphrases" you've stuck with?  I'd love to hear what you have to say!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

I've been BOO'D:) Linky

I've been BOO'D by Jen at Positively Learning:)  She gave me a very sweet shout out for this linky!  I love reading her blog posts as they are upbeat and she gives me great ideas!  I love her blog and feel very honored to be BOO'D by Jen.

Cynthia at 2nd Grade Pad is hosting this BOO'D linky.  Here are the rules:
1. Choose a fellow blogger that has MORE followers
2. A blogger that has about the SAME number of followers
3. Someone that has LESS followers
4. Highlight their blogs with links to encourage others to check them out

5. Don't forget to let your fellow bloggers know that you shared about them.  
6. Lastly, leave them some love by offering them a goody from your store as their "treat."

More Followers

Rachel at Ms. Rachel's Room
Rachel is such a sweet blogger with so much enthusiasm.  I always love the great ideas she shares for special ed teachers:)

Same Followers

Miss Allison at Miss Allison's Class
Allison also has many, many great ideas for students with autism!  I also enjoy her "Take a Break Tuesday" posts.  It's fun to see how she organizes her house and recipes she makes.

Less Followers
The Autism Tank

Hailey at Autism Tank
I am a new follower of Hailey's.  She has totally hit the ground running with her blog!  She has tons of great ideas for teachers that have students with autism.  I've already pinned some of her stuff to Pinterest:)

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Home is Where the Heart Is

This weekend I made a quick trip home.  My brother was home for the weekend, and I don't anticipate being able to see him again until Christmas.  So it was a great relaxing time.  I always love coming home at this time of the year, even though it is a super busy time for my parents.  They have a family farm and are busy harvesting.  There is just something about harvest time that makes my heart very happy.

Things I love about home during fall
1.  The smell of corn.
2.  Going to the apple orchard (owned and operated by one of my best friends' parents).

  • apple donuts
  • apple cider
  • carmel apples

3.  Riding in tractors/semis.
4.  Hearing the corn go through the augers or emptying from the semi.
5.  The brisk (not COLD) air.
6.  Pumpkin flavored/scented anything.

It was so nice to be home and see my family:)

Saturday, October 6, 2012

October Currently

It's that time of the month again.....for Farley's ever popular Currently!  I stayed up "late" Thursday night working on this, but then I was too tired to finish.  All the stuff (minus what I'm listening to) still applies though.  

As a "newbie" at my new school, I'm so blessed to have several teachers my age and two that have become my "instant besties".  We have decided to have girls night every other Thursday night and rotate houses.  This week we had our first girls night, and it was sooooo much fun:)  

I just ordered my fall riding boots on Wednesday night, and they should arrive some time next week.  I didn't put my order in early enough though; the cold weather has arrived before the boots!!!!

Holler if you've read Divergent (book #1)!!!  It's sooooo good!  If you haven't read it, in the words of my old roommate, DO NOT START IT (YET)!  Book # 3 doesn't come out for another year.  AHHH!!! The agony of being one of the first people on the band wagon.  This never happens to me.  I'm always the follower (for reading books), Harry Potter I didn't read until like 7 years later, Twilight I didn't read until all the books were out, Hunger Games I read after they were all out, I'm still in the process of reading Immortal Instruments (since I'm borrowing them from my cousin and we live a little ways away I have to wait between books, but I don't think all those books are out yet), and now Divergent.  Man, this is like too much "up and coming" for me;)  It's like I'm ahead of the curve.  HAHAHA!  Yea right!  But seriously if you liked The Hunger Games or The Giver, READ Immortal Instruments and Divergent.  SOOO GOOD.

But it is my Halloween/fall/Thanksgiving book because it gave me nightmares the other night.  My nightmare totally related to the book, so I can't tell you about it, or I'd spoil it.  BUT reading the book was soo good, it made the nightmare worth it.

And Go Visit Farley If You Haven't Already!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Second Grade Sight Word Freebie:)

I have spent the last couple weeks working on a new game.  Kinesthetic learners will love this sight word game!  Students become the game.

They roll the die.

Move the specified number of spaces by jumping, skipping, or walking.

Read the word.
My little guys already LOVE this game:)

Since this year, I have mostly second graders, and I haven't posted any second grade level freebies, this one is for you second grade teachers!

I have made games using all the Dolch Sight word lists, but the freebie is for the second grade list.  Check it out at my TpT Store for these awesome games:)

I have also created my first collage to display this game all on one page!  I'm not sure I used the quickest/most efficient way of created it, but I'm happy with how my first one turned out.

I'm also linking this with Classroom Freebies:)
Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

Friday, September 28, 2012

Football Behavior Management

As I've mentioned already, I have a sports theme in my classroom (again) this year.  I LOVE it!  It is a great way to discuss great sportsmanship, being a team player, and keeping up with current events.

Our school uses PBIS, so here is my board with "rules" or expectations.

Here is the positive reinforcement board.  Each student has their own football.  When students do something I like (sit quietly without reminder, raise hand without reminder, complete a difficult task, etc.) I tell them they can move their football 10 yards.  

When they reach the endzone they get 6 points.  Students can choose to use their points right away or save them.  For 6 points students can get a piece of candy, 12 points for a prize from the prize basket, 18 points for 15 minutes on the computer, 24 points to play a game with the teacher, and 30 points to play a game with a friend.

Students love moving their football, and I love giving them positive reinforcement instead of being so naggy on the kids that aren't behaving.

Check out my earlier post for more information on how I give kids positive feed back:)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

A Silver Lining

I am the 1st - 3rd grade special ed teacher at my school.  However, the 4th-6th grade teacher has a high case load this year.  So I have been helping with a couple of his 4th graders the past 3 weeks.  It has been pretty rough so far.  Yesterday was the straw that broke the camels back.

One of the students was only showing up 50% of the time, (unbeknown to me) due to specials being during the scheduled writing/spelling block.  So I fixed this problem by talking to the classroom teacher.  CHECK.

Then the students have been staring blankly into space for the majority of the time, requiring me to keep prodding them and working with them one on one.  Which is difficult/impossible when I have 8 second graders and 1 first grader in there at the same time.  

SO after having a moment of doubt, I made a new game plan!  

Here's the plan.  The fourth grade students each have a grid of 5 squares across and 5 squares down.  When they are doing something I like I give them a star.  My goal is to give them positive feed back approximately every 2-5 minutes, or any time I see them on task (especially without specific verbal instruction), raising their hand without prompting, getting out their next task, etc.  Once they get 5 stars across they can move their football on our football behavior chart one spot.  (For more information check out this post.)  This allows them to earn bigger rewards.

On the left - token board with stars
Top - Check list
Right - Student work

In addition to positive reinforcement each fourth grader has a checklist of the things they need to do each day.  For example:  get out folder, practice spelling words by writing on the board (or stamping or rainbow write, etc.), DLR (Daily Language Review also known as DOL), writing, and a blank spot for me to fill in things that pop up.

Today was the first day using my new game plan, and it went well.  Keep your fingers crossed for tomorrow!!!  It's also Friday:)  

I'll up date this with pictures...hopefully tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Today I'm extra curious how other teachers incorporate aids/paras/volunteers in your classroom.  I know different districts have different expectations, I'm just curious how your school does it.

For example, I have heard of aids supervising all recesses and lunch periods.  A common task is sitting in a regular ed classroom keeping one or multiple students on task by tapping them/reminding them to face the front or stop talking.  In regular and special ed settings I have seen aids work one-on-one with a student reinforcing topics.  I have seen aids make tons of photocopies and cut out lots of laminating (frowned upon by administration).

Can't wait to hear your feedback on what your aids do:)

Sunday, September 16, 2012


As I have noticed many other bloggers saying, "The school year has been so busy I haven't had time to blog", "I'm kind of in a blogging funk", etc. I have been feeling the same way with the new school year.  Part of it is due to my lack of an overall plan/direction and part of it is because I haven't seen students much yet, so hopefully now that I have an overall plan and will be seeing students all day every day, I'll have a renewed vigor for blogging:-D

Every day after school I come home and read all the blog posts from the bloggers I follow, and I rack my brain for something to share with all of you, but I haven't been able to think of anything worth blogging about.

I'm sure many resource room teachers and Title teachers are in the same position as me, waiting for the classroom teachers to establish their routines and schedules before deciding when to pull your students for intervention times.  Well, I think starting tomorrow I think I'll be implementing my first schedule.

Another thing that was really difficult about planning my schedule, my school runs off a 6 day rotating schedule.  This is to support our specials schedules.  It has been very difficult to plan around this because some interventionists (OT/PT) run on a 5 day schedule and some things are done every Monday, but Mondays aren't all the same due to our 6 day rotating schedule.  Not to mention, it will make it very difficult to memorize my schedule.  But that's beside the point.  I think I'm finally happy with my schedule...for now.

My new school wants to implement as much push in services as possible, so the aids that I supervise will be spending most of their time in the regular education classrooms.  I'm also very excited that I will be doing a lot of co-teaching with our 2nd grade teachers!  (At this time 80% of my caseload is in 2nd grade, 20% in first grade, 0% in 3rd grade.)  I will be doing guided reading groups with our 2nd grade teachers and math.  This is my first time doing guided reading groups AND co-teaching.  So this will be a year of many new things (in addition to a new school and new students)!  I'm hoping to be blogging about our guided reading groups, co-teaching math, a new math curriculum (Expressions), and FREEBIES this year.

On a personal note, I completed a mud run with a friend yesterday!  It was our first mud run, and it was sooo much fun!  We felt so invigorated (and exhausted....and DIRTY) afterward.  Here is me all muddy!

Hope you're all getting a great start to the new year!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

New School & New Year

I have surpassed my 2 year blog-iversary!  This will be a post much like that very first post.

Tomorrow is the first official day at my new school.  I have new teacher inservice tomorrow, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday we have all teaching staff inservices.

I'm excited to meet the other new teachers and get my e-mail/login information tomorrow.  Other than that, I'm nervous.  I hope I meet new friends!  I hope there will be someone who wants to eat lunch with me.  I hope they don't tell us anything that will just put a kabosh (idk how to spell that...cabosh?) on something I have already planned/decorated for the upcoming year.

On another note.  Summer is basically over.  My parents and grandparents came to visit today, and they brought me a ton more stuff for my home/school.  It is all stuff from when I lived at home.  I feel like a HOARDER!  I need to get rid of some of this stuff.  But it's all my crafting things from middle school/high school/college.  It's still in good shape.  It's still usable.  BUT do I need it?  No.  Do I have space for it? Maybe.  Would I be tempted to just buy something different/new for a craft?  Yes.  AHHH!!!!  I'm watching Hoarding:  Buried Alive, trying to gain motivation to declutter.  Decluttering feels good.  I want my home clean before school starts.  AHH!!!  OK, back to cleaning/decluttering for me.

Good luck to anyone who is starting school tomorrow!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Teacher Week Freebie Friday:)

I know several of you already downloaded my Football Calendar Numbers.  Now, I have Football Calendar Months!!!  Yes, fall is almost here, which means football season.  I know that makes most people happier than it makes me.

Oddly enough, I'm not a football fan.  I went to a high school that did not have a football team and my family does not watch football, so I just plain do not understand football.  Being from Illinois but living in Packer country has been a bit difficult.  I'm often expected to be a Packer's fan, but I just can't bring myself to it...even though I'm not a football fan.  But I try.  So these calendar cards are more for the kids and you REAL football fans out there (and my love of matching).

Here is a sneak peak of what they look like.

I'm linking this up for Freebie Friday with Blog Hoppin'.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Calendar Numbers - Freebie

To go with my sports theme, I made these football calendar numbers.  They are yours free at my TpT store.  Here is what they look like....

I'm linking this up at Classroom Freebies for Manic Monday.  Check out all the great freebies:)

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

Thursday, August 16, 2012

1st Day Jitters, Linky Party

I'm linking up with Ms. Jessica at A Turn to Learn.  She has a great Back to School Jitters Linky Party:)

Back to School Jitters Linky Party

Now, I'm off to school to work more on my classroom:)

Monday, August 13, 2012

Monday Made-It

Ok, I know....I know....2 posts in one day....but I have had this ready to go since Tuesday of last week....

So here is to my first Monday Made-It 4th Grade Frolics!

I made some new wreathes to hang on the outside door to my condo.

Here is the fall one.

And I thought this would be a cute summer one.

Now, I just need to get my mom's old magnetic door hanger so I can hang them.  OOO yay:)

Classroom Before Pictures - Linky Party

I am trying to host my first linky party.  So we'll see how this goes.  If something is not working properly, don't hesitate to let me know.  I'll do my best to fix it as quickly as I can.

 We are All Special!

(As I was laying in bed last night I thought I should add a nice little graphic/link for the Linky party:)  Graphics are from The 3 AM Teacher If using this graphic be sure to click on the picture and resize it if it's LARGE!)

I LOVE looking at other people classroom pictures to get ideas and to see how far they have come in before/after photos.  Sooo....this is a before linky party.  If this linky goes well, I hope to have another linky for after pictures.  However, if you have already posted with before AND after pictures in one post, don't change your post just to link up:)  I'd love to see your before AND after pictures if you have them.  I don't have many after pictures here are my before pictures....

As you may have noticed, I just tried to do a 360 degree view.  I'm very excited because I have a pretty good sized classroom:)  

Today I worked on bulletin board decorations because I didn't know where else to start.  The room had a ton of stuff in it, and I wasn't exactly sure what was the "special ed stuff that was being handed down to me" and what was the "Title 1 teacher's stuff who is moving next door".  So hopefully I'll have a better idea of that soon.

In the mean time, I'd love to see your before pictures:)

Good luck to everyone cleaning, decorating, and organizing your classrooms!  I'm sure they'll all look great:-D

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Friday, August 10, 2012

Sports Theme, with FREEBIE

As I said in my August Currently, I'm doing a sports theme for my classroom (again) this year.  Since I'm switching schools, I feel I can safely do the same theme again, even though I'm (still) in a resource room with multiple grade levels.  I'm excited that since it is my second year in a row using this theme, I can improve the use of this theme in my classroom!

Since I'm not in my classroom working, I thought I'd make sports themed name tags for you all to use.  They are FREE!  So hurry over to my TpT Store and snatch yours up:-D  Here are a couple teasers so you know what to expect.

Even though I work in a Resource style room, last year I began using name tags to mark every students' spot.  This was suggested to me by one of my supervisors.  It makes the students feel like they belong AND it gives them a place to go as soon as they walk in the room.  They do not need to walk up and begin chatting with you while you're in the middle of something, they do not need to ponder where to go, they can come in and sit, preferably quietly;) 

Thank you to the following people for their awesome graphics:

Coffee, Kids and Compulsive Lists

Squiggledot Designs

I'm also linking this freebie with Classroom Freebies Manic Monday:)

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

And it's August

Oh, August!  Almost time to go back to school.  AHHH!  So much to do.  Here is what I'm currently doing (when I'm not stressing too badly about my new school and new classroom).

Thank you again to Farley for the Currently linky:)  Check here out if you haven't.

B2S Must Haves are the personal laminator that I decided not to leave in my new classroom because at $17 I was worried it might get lost...and ya never know when you'll need to use it!  Especially this time of year.  I am looking for as much sports stuff for my classroom as possible because that is my theme for the year.  So if you have any great sports items in your TpT store or pictures on your blog of great ideas, let me know!  I'd love to check them out:-D