Monday, July 29, 2013

Upcycled Toolbox

It's Monday and I'm linking up again with 4th Grade Frolics for Monday Made It. I really enjoy posting what I've been up to every Monday. Last week I went into my classroom to organize some cupboards. I was bummed to see that the cleaning crew hasn't even touched my room. That means they are going to be in there as the same time as me! That doesn't work so well.

As I was organizing I looked over and saw this embarrassingly ugly toolbox that I use to store all of our hearing aid supplies and batteries. It's been in my room for the past 14 years and I just add another layer of labels over the top as needed.  Lovely.

I've seen all those cute teacher toolboxes out there on Pinterest. I don't need one for my supplies, but figured the idea would work great for this sad looking box. Naturally, mine doesn't match up with the freebies already out there, so I designed my labels, soaked those drawers in hot water, spray painted the outside black, ran my labels through my Xyron Creative Station, and stuck them to the drawers. (The labels on the right have been whited out since they have student names for their hearing aid batteries.)

This hearing aid supply box is no longer an eye sore in my classroom! Love the way it turned out.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Take Home Daily Folders

I have always sent home a simple two pocket folder for the students to keep their homework organized. Last year I saw this post by the Clutter-Free Classroom and thought I'd give these Daily Folders a try.  They worked wonders in my classroom last year.  I used plastic three prong, two pocket folders and they held up all year long.  This is what the folder looks like:



My students bring these back and forth from home to school each day. It's something that the parents know to look for daily in their child's backpack.  This year I've decided to switch to a clip chart behavior system and added a plastic pocket for the monthly behavior calendar. Each day the students will color their level from the clip cart and the parents will initial the square that evening. I am hoping this helps some of my kiddos with behavior issues. The plastic pocket will make it easy for the kids to pull out the sheet daily. I found the Clip Chart Take Home Calendar here on TpT for free. I spent some time last week translating the calendars into Spanish for those families that need it. Also, the Daily Folder is only in English so last year translated the pieces to Spanish as well. Communication is the key with families!
If you'd like to make your own Daily Folders, these are the supplies you will need:
If you don't have the 9 " Xyron Creative Station, you need one! You can run your papers through the machine and it makes them permanent stickers.  Last year the pieces didn't peel or rip. Love this little guy! I use it for nearly everything.
I'm glad to check these little bad boys off my summer to-do list.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Classroom Economy System

I am linking up with 4th Grade Frolics for her Monday Made It again this week. I've been on a roll!

Last year was the first year I used a classroom economy system. It worked wonders for all of my kiddos, especially my student with a Behavior Support Plan. It's hard not to buy into something when it all revolves around (fake) money and prizes.  You can read all about how I set up and used my classroom economy system last year here

This year I have decided to switch to coins for our money system. My students really mastered counting bills last year. Tha
t was easy peasy by the end of the year. But many of them are struggling with counting various coins. So what better way to get them motivated to count money than by earning it themselves! I converted all of their "earnings" and "fines" into coins. What was $1.00 last year now converts to $0.25. We'll be using quarters, dimes and nickels this year.

While updating the amounts, I also made this little Dollar Store photo album into a prize catalog.  My students love to "purchase" these reward passes during our Friday store. Last year I used to put out the passes and higher priced rewards that were printed out in plastic sleeves out onto the table. It was cluttered and hard to find what we were looking for. Now they will have this small 4x6 photo album to flip through with the prices listed on each item.

I basically enlarged the reward passes to 4x6 size, printed them out and added them to the photo album. I also made a cover and back to match my classroom theme.  If you'd like a free copy of my reward passes, you can find them here on TpT.  If you'd like to make a prize catalog, you can download that here from Google Docs.  If you email me or leave a comment with your email address, I'd be happy to make you a photo album cover to match your classroom theme for your prize catalog.

Remember when I mentioned those zippered pencil pouches that I had no idea what to do with them? Alison mentioned she used them for her classroom economy system. They will work perfectly for all of our coins that the students will be earning this year. Perfect! I labeled each of the pouches with the student names (I am fortunate to already know all of my students from last year) so they are ready for day 1 of school. 

If you are interested in finding out more about what my students can earn money for and what our "fines" are, you can see that here. Included on the list is our monthly rent.  Oh yes. My kiddos have to pay rent for their desk, chair and supply box. It teaches them important life skills, that's for sure!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Mainstreaming Notebooks

I thought I would feature a few of the things I do in my classroom to stay organized and on top of all that paperwork in Special Education over the next couple of weeks.

Each year I make notebooks with information for each of the General Education teachers that my Deaf/Hard of Hearing students mainstream with. My Deaf/Hard of Hearing students are mainstreamed into the General Education classrooms with an educational sign language interpreter whenever possible. I like to give the Gen. Ed. teachers as much information as possible about their incoming student so they know what to expect before school starts.  Usually I do this during the first work day back since I spend way too much time focusing on my classroom set up rather than important paperwork and planning. So I decided to get way ahead of the game and get them completed now. Whew! What a relief to have these done.

What is included in the Confidential Mainstream Notebook?
  • Welcome Back letter
  • Student CST scores as soon as they are available
  • My contact information
  • Student Summary form that includes: name, birthdate, disability & secondary disability if applicable, student photo, IEP date (if already scheduled- if not, write the date it's due by), if the student wears hearing aids or uses an FM system, which subjects they will be mainstreamed for, and what additional support services the student receives.  In the boxes, you'll write about the student's strengths and limitations. List any other important information and what accommodations and supports the student requires (taken from their IEP).
  • A copy of the IEP at a glance
  • Guidelines for Gen. Ed. teachers working with DHH students
  • Behavior Support Plan if applicable
When I meet with each of the General Education teachers during those staff work days before school starts I briefly go through the notebook with them. It's helpful for them to have as much information as possible.

If you'd like the Student Summary sheet and the guidelines for General Ed. Teachers working with DHH students you can download them here from Google Docs. I also edited the Student Summary sheet so any Special Ed. teacher could use the form. The general Student Summary sheet can be downloaded here from Google Docs.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Daily Question

Last week I made a Menu board inspired by Rowdy in Room 300.  This week I have another project inspired by her blog as well.  She has a Daily Graphing Questions product up at TpT that will be perfect for my class this coming year. This pack comes with more than 180 questions to use throughout the school year. This is a perfect addition to my Morning Meeting time and we can follow up with the graphing activity sheet on days when we need some extension of the activity.

If you pop over to Rowdy in Room 300 she has an excellent tutorial on how to make these magnetic pizza pans that came from the dollar store. In order to make the yes/no boards you'll need two pizza pans, some wrapping paper, modge podge, and a spool of thick ribbon.  I put my ribbon on differently than her tutorial. My hot glue was not sticking to the wrapping paper, so I glued it to the edge of the pizza pan. I opened up a spool of polka dot ribbon and cut it in half. It was the perfect length to make the boarder around the pan. I love my black and white theme!

I used the magnetic paper (I found it at Michaels with all the magnets) and fed it right through the printer to make the yes/no headers and student name labels. I was smart this year and made a few blank ones. Last year I got two new kids during the year and had to recreate so many things. This year I am making extra of every thing just in case!

I printed and laminated the 180+ questions for the year. Then came the question of how to store them. I decided to put them into a Sterlite plastic box from Target for easy storing. I was excited to find this perfect container that holds the cards. Due to the fact that some of the questions are seasonal, I decided to make month dividers using my McGill divider punch and gluing them to cardstock. This way the questions are organized and easy to find throughout the year. I'll add a book mark as I use the questions so I know what we've used and what's next.

I'm excited that I finally figured out how to use the Silhouette I borrowed from a friend. I have a feeling that there are going to be many, many projects involving vinyl and the Silhouette before school starts. A Silhouette Cameo is on my love list. Someday.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Summer Pile

Every teacher has one over the summer. Some large, some small. But we all have to admit that somewhere in our house we have a pile of school stuff waiting to go to the classroom.
This summer my pile is small compared to last summer. Last year I did a complete overhaul of my classroom by painting furniture, redoing every single board and changed my whole room to a black and white theme. I loved the look, so this year I don't have to change very much in the classroom. Hence why the pile is so small. Plus, I'm going to Ikea tomorrow... so I can't make any promises that this pile will remain small. I've  also been enjoying being a stay at home momma, so I haven't worked very much on creating things for the classroom yet.
I just cleaned out, organized and purged my office/scraproom last weekend. It felt good to get organized. I found all sorts of things I 'forgot' about for the classroom. Like all those zippered pouches my sister's store donated. I'm not sure how I'll use them yet, but I'll find a way.

I'm suddenly feeling the pressure that the clock is ticking and summer is half over. That's depressing. I'm having way too much fun! Now that summer school has wrapped up in my classroom I think they will be cleaning it this week. That means next week I can get into my room and start to organize and get ready for a new year. Year #16. Crazy.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Liebster Award: Discover New Blogs!

I was shocked to open my email tonight to find out that Alison over at Rockin' and Lovin' Learnin' has nominated my blog for the Liebster Award. I've seen a few blogs I follow receive this nomination, but never thought that anyone really reads my blog. So it was a pleasant surprise to see that other teachers are in fact reading my blog and finding it interesting. In fact, I'm now up to 17 followers. Who knew!?!

The Liebster Award is all about recognizing and getting to know newer bloggers and paying it forward.

So what exactly does this mean for me?

Here are my "rules" for accepting this nomination....
1) Link back to the blog that nominated me.
2) Nominate 5-11 blogs with fewer than 200 followers
3) Answer the questions posted for you by your nominator
4) Share 11 random facts about yourself
5) Create 11 questions for your nominees
6) Contact your nominees and let them know you nominated them

These are the blogs I nominated...
1. Ashton at Special Education Station
2. Polka Dots and Teaching Tots
3. Katie at A Basket Full of Apples
4. Jessica at What I Have Learned
5. Shannon at The Teacher's Work Room

Here are the questions Alison asked me...
1) How long have you been teachin' and what is your absolute favorite grade to teach? (I know that's two questions, but they go together)

I've been teaching Deaf/Hard of Hearing students for 15 years. I started off as a part time preschool teacher and part time itinerant teacher those first two years. I moved over to Special Day Class and never looked back. So I've taught preschool through sixth grade. I'd say first grade is my favorite grade level to teach. I love that age group.

2) If you had an opportunity to change one county, state, or national law about teachin', would you change anything?

Tough question. I wish teaching was about teaching and not about paperwork. There should be less paperwork in Special Education and more time to teach!

3) Have you ever thought about teachin' abroad?  If so, where?


4) If you could go on a shoppin' spree for one day and buy anything you wanted(money would be no object), what would you buy?

Ummm... so many possibilities. I'd love a new professional Canon 7D camera and a Silhouette Cameo. Those are on my love list.

5) What is your favorite "me time" activity to do?

I'm a big scrapbooker. I enjoy scrapbooking with my sister and friends. We just got back from a weekend at the lake house with four full days of scrapping. That's my ideal "me time".

6) What is one food that you could eat every single day and not get sick of?

Mexican food hands down. I could eat it every night with no problem.

7) What is your all time favorite children's book title and why should I read this book?

Our shelves at home are full of children's books that I read with my two little girls. Otis the Tractor is a favorite around here. It's all about a little tractor that is different than the others, but that's okay.

8) What is one app or piece of technology that you could not live without?

Wifi. What on earth did we do before wireless internet??

9) If you were in charge of your school for one day, what would you plan for that day?

Sensitivity awareness. I think all teachers and students could benefit from learning about students with special needs. My students are no different than the general education students, they just cannot hear. I would love to have each class rotate through our classroom and see just what we do and how we learn. 

10) What made you decide to start bloggin'?

I started this little blog in Feb. 2013 as a way to connect with other teachers of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing. We are few and far in between and I'd love to get a peek into everyone's classroom. So figured if the things we do in my classroom could be helpful to others, why not put it out there?

11) Mac or PC?

PC. It's all I've ever known.

My 11 random facts:
1.) I started college when I was 17 years old. I couldn't even sign my own paperwork!

2.) Diet Pepsi is my "coffee". I drink it all day long. I'm addicted.

3.) My secret addiction is celebrity gossip. US magazine, TMZ, you name it.

4.) I've never been out of the country. In fact, the first time I had been out of California was when I went to Illinois for college!

5.) I come from a family of 5 girls. That's a lot of pink!

6.) I finally got rid of my "dumb phone" and got a smart phone last May. Seriously, I don't know how I lived without it!

7.) I've been to Maui three times and would love to go back!

8.) I am terrified of spiders and snakes!

9.) I learned sign language when I was young from my cousin who is deaf. I worked at a summer camp for kids with speech and language issues for four years in high school. This is where I found my passion for working with deaf children.

10.) My sister and I are 11 months apart.

11.) Dark chocolate is my weakness.

Questions for my nominee's...
1.) What is your favorite thing about teaching?
2.) When and why did you start blogging?
3.) How many blogs do you follow?
4.) What is your favorite grade to teach?
5.) What's your favorite thing to do on the weekend?
6.) What's something on your bucket list?
7.) Tell us about your dream vacation.
8.) Who's your celebrity crush?
9.) Do you have a classroom d├ęcor theme?
10.) What's your favorite read aloud story?
11.) Early bird or a night owl?

Thanks for the nomination! I'm looking forward to learning more about my nominee's.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Menu Board

This summer I am excited to be sharing a 'Monday Made it' each and every Monday. This little linky has kicked my bum into gear to get some crafty things done around here.

Today's Monday Made It is actually a little something for home rather than the classroom. However, this little Menu Board is going to make my life so much easier when school rolls around in August. You see, I am *terrible* at meal planning. I'm pretty busy teaching during the day and then trying to spend some quality time with my two little girls in the evenings. We eat out far too much, so this Menu Board is going to help me meal plan and grocery shop ahead of time so there is a plan. Kind of like lesson planning. =)

I found this idea here at Rowdy in Room 300 and fell in love with it.  My kitchen is done in a light blue, black and white Paris theme so I needed something to match. Rowdy in Room 300 has a great tutorial and some printables here on her post that you can use for the board. I made my own menu header and days of the week to match my theme. If you'd like a black and white version, here's what I used for my board. The shopping list is from Rowdy's printables. I added magnets to the back so it hangs right on my fridge for easy viewing and use.

There is also a link to the formatted Word document used to create the meal cards. What's awesome about this is the ingredients for each meal are listed on the back of each card. So when I am making my shopping list I can flip over the card and write down what I need to shop for rather than having to find the recipe to create my grocery list. Brilliant!

All you need for this project is a 11x14 inch cork board, slightly larger fabric piece, 7 clothes pins, a tiny box to cover for the menu cards, a post-it pad or note pad for the shopping list, and optional ribbon and magnets. You also need to print out the menu header and create your own family menu list with ingredients. 

I know that this little project is going to save me lots of stress and money!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Birthday Balloons

Last summer I sat on the sidelines and watched teacher blog after teacher blog post all their fun stuff they were making for their classrooms.  This summer, since I have a blog, I'm going to play along as well! This is my first ever link up with Made It Monday with 4th Grade Frolics.

I thought I'd ease gently into the 'thinking about the classroom' mode and make something easy. I've seen these birthday bouquets with crazy straws all over the place. I thought it would be fun to have these ready to give to my students when it's their birthday. I purchased the crazy straws at Michael's in the $2 bin. The Happy Birthday balloons are a free printable by Teaching in Flip Flops.  You can find the free printable here. I taped the
straws to the back of the balloon using washi tape. I repurposed the black container from my office and I already had the ribbon and the shredded paper stuffing. I'm going to add a little packet of Kool-Aid to the back of the balloon as well.

I'm sure the kids will like this little goodie better than my silly little Happy Birthday certificate and pencil.