Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Classroom Reveal

Welcome everyone to a little peek into my classroom. My home away from home. 

I teach 1st-6th grade Deaf/Hard of Hearing students in a Special Day Class. I have 7 students that come and go throughout the day.  We started school about three weeks ago, so my classroom is well lived in at this point. 

So let's get to it! Here's my classroom for this year!

This is the view as you enter the room. As you can see, black and white polka dots are kinda my thing.

The bulliten board as you walk in the door always has our fun seasonal work. (I'm still missing a few kiddos up here.)

This large table and area I use for math instruction. 

 Math centers for early finishers and extra practice.

I added an Estimation Station this year to our math routine. Such a hard skill! 

I was inspired by Amy Lemons to organize all of my math manipulatives, centers, and activities. It was time consuming, but well worth it!  Everything is right there behind me that I could possibly need.

The entire math area... 

Small group instruction area along with all of my sight word activities in the crates.

Our Fairview Learning area and centers.

The front of the classroom and where we do our whole group learning.

I use the right side of the board for our current literature book we're reading. My students are loving Chrysanthemum right now!

We use a classroom economy system in my classroom. The students earn money for various "jobs". At the end of the week they get to visit the class store. The plastic drawers are filled with goodies from the Dollar Tree and the Dollar Spot. They really look forward to our class store!

I am trying out drawers for each day of the week to store all of my lesson materials. This is stored under my front table. So far it seems to be working well.

This is our calendar/class meeting area.  We are spending a lot more time here this year working on basic skills and language, language, language. 

My favorite addition this year is our Class Meeting binders. We work on our phone numbers, addresses, number of the day, etc during our afternoon Class Meeting.

Part of our Class Meeting also includes basic calendar skills and answering a question of the day. 

The next little area is my Guided Reading area. During Fairview Learning rotations, I teach 1:1 reading with each of our students. 

Our beloved Guided Reading library that we've collected over the years. 

Due to the fact that I have 1st-6th grade, my word wall is color coded for each of the Dolch sight word lists. That way the students can quickly find the words they are looking for. 

Writing center... 

Our classroom library, sink area, and computer stations. 

 I have my classroom library organized according to reading level. 

Our computer area....

Behind my teacher desk we have a little staff area.  This is an informational area for my signing instructional assistant and the educational sign language interpreters that work in my classroom.  The photos on the shelves are places we have gone on our overnight field trips as a program. And that tall bookshelf? Those are educational resources that I never even seem to crack open now that I have Teachers Pay Teachers... but feel guilty about getting rid of!

My D/HH teacher friends will appreciate my Hearing Aid tool box. Rather than holding teacher supplies, it holds all of our hearing aid supplies and student batteries as well.  The white binder is for documenting who is wearing their hearing aids, if they are broken, etc.

I also store our student laptops in this teacher area as well. This little file holder works well for organizing laptops in a small space.

This little file pocket chart hangs right behind my desk. It's perfect for sorting to do's, to file, etc. The binders are my student progress binders that I keep on each student. 

And finally... the view from the other side of the classroom. That teacher desk? It's never really that clean and organized. But I knew you all would be visiting today, so I picked up a little for my guests. ;)

 I hope you enjoyed my classroom tour. Thanks for stopping by. Thanks Angie and Ashley for hosting this classroom reveal linky! I can't wait to peek into everyone's classes!

Monday, August 31, 2015

100th Blog Follower Giveaway!

This little blog hit a BIG milestone this month! I finally hit 100 followers on Bloglovin'! How exciting! I am certainly a little fish blogger and I appreciate everyone who takes the time to read my blog and cares enough to follow me. I started this blog more than a year ago to connect with other educators. I am excited that I have "met" so many regular and special education bloggers out there! 

In order to thank each of my followers, I have a fun giveaway planned for you! Several of my friends in real life and several of my bloggy friends have donated products and credits to their TpT stores.  Thank you guys for helping me celebrate this milestone!

So who is ready to win some products from TpT and a Target gift card? Enter below and spread the word! This giveaway will end on Thursday, September 3rd. 

Good luck! Check back Friday for the winner! 

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Monday, August 10, 2015

Monday Made It- August 10th

Ahhh.  My last week of summer vacation has arrived. *Insert solemn music here* I am getting my classroom ready as well as all of my curriculum for the school year this week. Fun! But for now, I'll show you what I made this past week!

I'm very excited about my pretty new student mailbox. I was pretty sick of the ugly green hanging files, so I covered them with scrapbook paper and added pretty new labels. Each side of the hanging file took one half sheet of black 12x12 paper on the bottom, and one sheet of patterned 12x12 paper on the top. I wasn't sure how much it would take to do the job, and could have made things a lot easier by getting enough patterned paper. But I didn't.... so I improvised. I added some white vinyl letters to the front of the file box using the silhouette, and done. Love, love, love the way it turned out.

This little stool sits at my writing area. The spray paint keeps chipping off, so I added some vinyl polka-dots and dressed it up. I seriously need my own Silhouette Cameo. Are you listening Santa? Or I could even partner with Silhouette America. I'm not picky. =)

Thanks to hosting #SPEDChatSaturday, I was able to get my mainstream notebooks ready for the school year. If you're a special ed teacher and want to see how I use these at the start of the school year, check out Saturday's post

This year I'm going to be coming up with 101 ways to use Post-it notes since I have a *slight* surplus in the classroom. (Due to my inability to check my whole cabinet before deciding I didn't have enough when I ordered supplies. I now have 1000's of them. No joke!) So I made these fun little IEP reminder sticky notes as well as my contact information on sticky notes for the mainstream teachers I work with. You can find these IEP reminders here on TpT as a freebie.

This is my favorite project from the week. It's obviously not for the classroom, but for home. I'm not a fancy, lots of jewelry kinda girl. But I have been adding to my collection recently and am trying to dress outfits up a bit more. So I needed a place to store all of my earrings and necklaces. I bought this $3.99 frame at the Goodwill. I spray painted it. My husband added some knobs and cut down the chicken wire for me. (By the way, the knobs cost more than the rest of the supplies combined! Geesh!) I added a little fabric to the back to match my bedroom. I love the way it turned out! Now clearly I need some more earrings to fill up all that empty space!

Okay, I'm on the home stretch. We'll see if I can get any real projects done this week with setting up the classroom and savoring the last few days of summer! That cute fabric garland is still on the to-do list!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

#SPEDChatSaturday- Together We are Better

Good morning everyone! Welcome to #SPEDChatSaturday. Today I'm host our topic on Together is Better- Special Education and General Education. We're talking all about communicating and collaborating with General Education Teachers.

How are your mainstream/inclusion placements decided? At my school, that is left up to me to approach and talk to the general education teachers. Since I have been on this campus for the past 15 years, I have a pretty good feel for the teachers on the campus and who would be the best match for our students. 

During my initial meeting with each teacher, I give them a Confidential Mainstream Notebook for each student placed in their class. 

This notebook contains the following: 
An opening letter
IEP at a Glance
General Guidelines for Mainstreaming with Deaf/Hard of Hearing Students

I fill out a student summary sheet for each of my students. It's a quick way for the general education teacher to get to know the student that will be coming to their class. I like to include a picture of each student. Sometimes our teachers "know" who are kids are on campus, but this allows them to connect their face to their name.

I am excited to use these new IEP reminder post-it notes this year. It will be easy for the general education teacher to remove them from the notebook and place the sticky note onto their own calendar. It's quick and simple. The same with a teacher contact post-it. The general education teacher can place this near their phone for easy reference. I just uploaded these post-it notes to TpT as a freebie. Go download them and get ready for the new school year. There is also a template page included for you to create your own post-it notes to print.  

I also include guidelines for mainstreaming with Deaf/Hard of Hearing students. This is especially important reminders for teachers that have never mainstreamed before. I would suggest including general information on your population of students you work with.
This first meeting is usually a very brief as I recognize everyone is crazy busy before school starts. After I go through the student's needs and concerns, I schedule a follow-up meeting with the general education teacher to go into more detail after the first few weeks of school.

 Email is a special education teacher's friend! It's so hard to track down teacher's after school. I feel like I waste so much time looking for teachers. Scheduling a time to meet or at least emailing a teacher ahead of time that you'll be stopping will save so much time. 

My students each have at least 15 minutes a month of general education consult time written into their IEP. I try and schedule time to meet with at least one or two general education teachers a week. (Remember, I have 1st-6th grade... which is a lot of teachers to communicate with.) That way I have touched base with each teacher once a month. Sometimes this happens more often if there are issues, but we know how that goes. A lot of time is spent figuring out changes in schedules and trouble shooting equipment.

What do you find works best for you when it comes to ongoing communication with the general education teachers you work with?

 Collaborating with the general education teachers we work with is key! We have to be willing to go above and beyond to be apart of the team and make sure all of the needs of our students are met.  So what does this look like for you? For me, it varies from year to year, needs of my students, and time I have available.

  • Co-Teach or Teach a Small Group 
One year I had a student who was really struggling with reading and needed more intervention. I was able to go into the general education classroom for an hour a day a teach a reading group. This allowed the general education teacher to split her class into two groups and rotate the students. It also gave me a chance to really see my student in action during reading and give her support without pulling her out of the general ed class. It was a win-win for both gen ed and I. 
Some years I am able to leave my Special Day Class to go teach sign language to the general education classes we mainstream with. The students love it! It helps bridge the communication gap and it gives the general education teacher 30 minutes a week of prep time. 
  • Modify the Curriculum and Share
If you are modifying something for your student in the general education classroom, share that with the teacher. They probably have a student or two that could also use that same lesson in a modified format. One year I taught a modified writing group for some struggling writers from the gen ed class and my student. My student was able to be with her peers and get the specific instruction she needed, but it also helped the other students in that group.
  • Provide Extra Staff
We all recognize how large the general education class numbers have grown over the years. Some of our upper grade classes have 36 kids in them! Those are crazy numbers! When our sign language interpreters are not busy and our deaf/hard of hearing students are doing independent work, they assist the general education teacher. They grade papers, file, etc. I always talk to the gen ed teacher ahead of time and let them know that my student is that staff member's priority. But if they are working independently, it's okay for them to assist. Most teachers are very appreciative of the extra set of hands and like the assistance. 
  • Provide Supplies
I always ask if there is something that I can provide for the general education classroom. Sometimes my kiddos are one extra number that the teacher did not plan for when purchasing supplies. Every little bit helps and shows the general education teacher that you are a team. For one of my classes I take pictures each year for a special project. I crop, blow them up larger and print them for the teacher. It's one less thing she has to worry about and I'm happy to help. Any thing extra you can help with is always appreciated.

The only way we can educate the whole child is to do it all together as a team. That means we as special education teachers need to go the extra distance, do the extras, spend more time, be more flexible and put ourselves out there more. Our work is never done! But our students are the ones who benefit from this team approach. They are worth it!

I'd love to hear about how you communicate and collaborate with the general education teachers you work with. Link up below.