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Saturday, August 5, 2017

#SPEDCHATSATURDAY - Classroom Organization

 I'm excited to be apart of an awesome group of Special Educators hosting #SPEDCHATSATURDAY for the next few months. Today I'm sharing all about Classroom Organization.
If you've followed my blog or social media, you know how much I love organization. Like, A LOT. I have too much to do in my teaching day than to be wasting time by searching around for something I need. I need to be able to grab something quickly and move on with my students.  Due to the fact that I literally have not stepped foot into my classroom since after summer school ended, I'll be sharing all sorts of classroom organization with you from previous years.  Today we're only talking about organizing materials. Paperwork is a whole other topic for another day. =)
When your classroom (office or work space) is organized, you can pretty much find anything quickly and easily. The most difficult part of getting organized is the TIME it takes to get your materials organized in a way that works for you. You'll need a space to sort all of your materials in order to group them. Where are you going to store your materials? Do you prefer binders? File drawers? Bins? What space do you have available?
Be prepared. Getting organized means it has to get worse before it gets better.  For example, as you clean your supply cabinet, you need to pull EVERYTHING out of the cabinet. As you do that, group similar items that you know you can store together. Figure out an organization system that's right for you and your needs.
My classroom certainly did not get this way overnight. When I have the time (and energy) I tackle another area of my classroom. I am really good at PURGING. And you need to be too! Take a good, hard look at the items your organizing. Is it even worth it to store the item? Will you REALLY use it in the future? Us teachers are really good at hoarding. We think that we will use that one item some day. Well guess what, we are not going to use it. Toss it. You totally have my permission. 
Nothing looks more organized than matching bins that are COLORED.... not clear. If you can find them, buy something colored or with a pattern. It will hide the contents. But don't forget to label the outside so you can quickly find what you are looking for. These giant bins from IKEA hold my seasonal books, center materials, and some random odds and ends that just don't fit in the closet.
Inside those bins, I simply printed the months at the top of some cardstock to sort my centers. Same with my books. I printed a divider for each season, topic, etc. It's not pretty, but it does the trick. 
 If you have clear containers, just line the front with some scrapbook paper to hide the contents.   Label the outside and you're good to go.
How about books? Your classroom library. Everyone likes to sort them a little differently. I have my leveled by reading level on top for the fiction and sorted by topic for non-fiction on the second shelf. The bins are from Lakeshore and are perfect for classroom libraries... they have held up really well. Although sorting your classroom library is a huge job, the students are more likely to find something that interests them, rather than one bookshelf with everything thrown in. I also have all of my classroom library titles saved in an Excel file. This way I can quickly find a book for a read aloud or specific topic. 
Our Guided Reading books are sorted by level in the IKEA magazine boxes. The students do not touch these boxes, which is why they actually have held up pretty well. 
Last summer I took the time to organize all of my math manipulatives. That wasn't easy! I pulled everything out of the math cabinet and sorted it by topic. So all of my teaching ideas/materials for each topic are in the large bins (from Walmart) and actual manipulatives are in the smaller bins. Did it take time? Sure. But now I literally have everything I need right behind me when I teach math.
For math centers, I use these Dollar store baskets with number labels hot glued to the front of the baskets.
Our Fairview Learning Centers are set up on another bookshelf with baskets and each student has their own box to put their materials in. I make all of my labels with packing tape for "lamination" and then hot glue them onto the baskets. Super easy. 
I also am a big fan of curtains. It makes your room look neat and tidy when the clutter is hidden. I don't have a lot of file cabinets, so I use crates to store a lot of my materials. Just make a label for the front, and you know exactly where to find what you need. 
The only classroom project I actually worked on this summer was organizing my new Fine Motor Center materials. I started doing Fine Motor Centers in February and needed a place to store all of the materials (and not in my garage in random bags brought home from school). I used the freebie monthly tags from Teaching Special Thinkers, printed in a smaller size. Michael's had their Iris Scrapbooking storage boxes for only $3.99 this summer and I couldn't pass them up. Now my materials won't be spread out all over the place and I can quickly find what I need.
Clearly, that's the theme of this post. If you take the time to organize and label your materials, later on when you need something you'll be able to actually find it quickly. When someone walks into my room and asks to borrow something, I literally can tell them what cabinet, what shelf, what container. I know our time is precious and it seems like there are a lot of better things you could be doing with your time than sorting art supplies or math manipulatives. But in the long run, being organized makes you a much more efficient and effective teacher. What's the point of storing something if you can't find it when you need it?
 Hopefully something I have shared here with you today will inspire you to organize just one cabinet or just one drawer. Tackle one little project at a time and pretty soon your classroom will be well organized.
If you have an organizational tip or photos you'd like to share, please comment below. Or post them on social media with the hashtag #SpedChatSaturday. Feel free to use this template and join us in getting organized for the new year!
Check out the upcoming topics hosted by various Special Education teachers on #SpedChatSaturday. Thank you to Ashley at The Behavior Bunch for organizing these awesome topics!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Reflecting on This Year....You Can Do Hard Things

I am absolutely terrified of public speaking. I get all hot and clammy. My stomach hurts. My heart races and I forget what I was going to say. I stumble over my words. The struggle is real people.
I am seriously an introvert. I would much rather just be with my people. Meeting new people is uncomfortable and kinda scary for me. Small talk is really hard for me.
But... within the last few years I have really tried to challenge myself. Heck, I started this blog to meet new people and find my #dhhteachertribe. I also pushed myself way out of my comfort zone by volunteering to be the website administrator for the California Educators of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing organization. Meeting new people.... standing up on stage.... introducing myself in ASL no less! All big and scary steps.  

In March of this year I presented at the CAL-ED conference on using Fairview Learning Rotations in the classroom. Wow! Was that an experience! The nerves were real.  But I did it. I didn't die. I didn't even throw up! Progress people. Progress.

So what's my point? We can all do hard things. We can get out of our comfort zones and make magic happen.
What are you going to do to get out of your comfort zone?

My goal: next year I'd love to go to the TpT conference and really stretch myself out of my comfort zone. 

Saturday, June 17, 2017

FM Storage for the D/HH Classroom

Teaching in a multi-age classroom, that means a lot of students at a lot of grade levels. (Which is kinda why I have been MIA recently.) This school year I had 11 students. 8 of those students use FM technology in my class and in their mainstream general education classes. We happen to use Phonak Inspiro transmitters with Roger technology. (For those of you that are not familiar with FM systems, the teacher wears the microphone and the sound transmits directly to the student's hearing aid, no matter where the teacher is in the classroom. It minimizes background noise and makes a world of difference for my D/HH students.)
To be honest, the cords for all the mics and all the loose audio boots/shoes gave me anxiety. The cords were always falling behind the book shelf and I just couldn't handle the mess and needed to find a solution.
Hello Michael's craft storage section! I found this little divided box with three drawers and was able to use a 50% off coupon. It's the perfect size for holding their transmiters and FM boots. I labeled each section with the student's name and even had a extra slot for audio computer cords. 
My husband drilled holes in the drawers to allow for the charging cord to fit into each divided section. No more fishing for cords! I bought those tiny boxes at the Dollar Tree and no more audio shoes!  All of their equipment looks alike to me, so now it's easy to find the student's equipment and it's easy to plug in and charge for the night. I did buy some cord keepers from Amazon, but found I don't need to use them. The cords do not slip out of the holes in the back of the box.
The only draw back is the with the cords behind the drawers, they don't close all the way.... but I'm okay with that. It's better than what it looked like before!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

My Favorite Resources- Giveaway #3

Next up.... another one of my favorite Interactive Notebooks I have found. Our kinders that are still learning their letters need lots of extra practice identifying and sorting the letters. I found this Interactive Notebook Letter Identification set by Creative in Kinder and have used it ever since!

Carri is happy to give away a copy of her Letter Identification Interactive Notebook here to one of my blog readers. Yeah for free materials!  Just enter below.
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Saturday, March 11, 2017

My Favorite Resources- Giveaway #2

Congratulations to Olivia for winning our first giveaway of the ASL Dolch Word puzzles! Heather over at Mrs. Burgen's Sign Me Up will be emailing her with her prize soon.
Sorry I am a few days behind on Giveaway #2. We just got back yesterday from our D/HH program's annual overnight field trip. We took the students to the snow and skiing for the first time. As I was watching my students come down the 'big' ski hill I noticed a new found confidence and sense of accomplishment. Wow. Really, that's something I cannot teach in the classroom. (A lot of people have asked about how we raise the funds and plan our overnight field trips. I'll have to blog about that soon!) 
Today I am excited to pair up with Jaime from Bright Concepts 4 Teachers to give away one of my favorite Interactive Notebooks! If you came to my Fairview Learning, Beyond the Basics workshop you know how much I LOVE Interactive Notebooks. I actually use both of Jaime's math and language arts Interactive Notebooks in my classroom. My students and I love the activities and the hands-on practice. Using Interactive Notebooks is a great way to reinforce skills already taught. It's also an excellent place for the students to store all of that learning to look back on. Her 1st Grade Interactive Language Notebook is perfect for my students as we go through targeted instruction on parts of speech and many other language arts skills.
Jaime is going to give away one of her Interactive Language Notebooks to one of my blog readers! If you win, you can choose the best grade level that's right for you. She has 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade Language Interactive Notebooks to pick from.  This giveaway is open until Tuesday, March 14th at 12:00am, so enter to win now!
I have two more of my favorite resources to give away coming up on Wednesday, March 15th and then again on March 18th. Yeah for freebies for teachers! So keep checking back!
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Sunday, March 5, 2017

My Favorite Resources- Giveaway #1

Wow! What an amazing weekend of learning, collaborating and networking at the California Educators of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing Conference! I arrived home tonight so inspired and motivated! 
I just love being around other educators who 'get' it. 
Today I presented my very first workshop on the topic of Setting up Effective Fairview Learning Rotations in Your Classroom. (Tons of information will be posted soon about my workshop.) Public speaking is not my 'thing'. I get butterflies in my stomach and my voice cracks. But I've decided enough is enough. It's time to stop reinventing the wheel as teachers. There are so many teachers out there doing incredible things in their classrooms and we need to share more. Share our knowledge, our resources and our materials. So today was my first step in getting off my little island in my little area and sharing what I do on a daily basis with other deaf ed teachers from all over the state of California.
I had a power point packed full of resources that I use in my classroom during our Fairview Learning Rotations. Some were my own. But many were by other awesome Teacher's Pay Teacher authors out there. I reached out to those teacher authors asking if they'd be willing to partner up and offer a giveaway here on blog. Many of those teachers said, "Heck yes! I'll help!"
I'm excited to announce that over the next two week's I'll be featuring some of my favorite resources that I use in my classroom and will be offering a giveaway of that resource. I know you'll love them too!
Today, I'm sharing these awesome ASL Dolch Word Puzzles by Mrs. Burgen's Sign Me Up. Heather just released these puzzles and I am super excited about them! FINALLY some resources with ASL clip art to help my students who need those visual cues. My students already love them! They are having fun while learning and practicing their sight words!
Thanks Heather for being apart of this giveaway! I know there are lots of deaf ed teachers out there that can really use these resources! If you'd like to enter to win a set of the preprimer, primer and 1st grade puzzles, enter to win below.  The giveaway will end on Wednesday night. 
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Sunday, January 22, 2017

5 Reasons You Should Come to CAL-ED

California Educators of the Deaf-Hard of Hearing conference is coming up March 3rd-5th. Why should you spend your hard earned money to come? 
#1: The line-up of workshops and sessions are awesome! There are 22 workshops to choose from.  Lots of teachers are sharing everything from new technology ideas for the classroom, writing strategies to behavior management. There is something for everyone!

#2: I am even going to be presenting on setting up Fairview Learning Centers in your classroom. I am terrified to stand up in front of others to present. But I am hoping that more teachers will do the same. We all seem to be reinventing the wheel and everyone is creating their own stuff. Why not just share it with others? Real teachers sharing the real stuff they have going on in their classrooms. So I will take that leap and hope I don't choke.

#3: Networking, networking, networking. I have met some amazing teachers through CAL-ED. Through those connections I have been able to visit other D/HH programs and bring back ideas for my own classroom.

#4: You don't have to be on your own island. So many times we feel isolated as D/HH teachers working out in our own districts, counties, rural areas, big and small towns. Sometimes just coming to CAL-ED is reaffirming that there are so many other teachers that have the same exact struggles as I do.

#5: This year it's at the beautiful Westin in Pasadena. It's a gorgeous hotel with amazing views.... but you'll be too busy learning from other teachers to really enjoy the full beauty of downtown Pasadena.