Check out my Photographic Interest Inventory Click here
New Activity Board Templates added in right column, look for the orange type!
I phone Apps for special needs click here

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

7 days in and an ode to Harris

So how is everyones year going so far? Mine? I thought you would never ask... Let's see... confusing, but promising, unorganized, but promising, insanely busy, but promising. Thinking I forgot my promise? No way! I WILL NOT BURN OUT!! A lot, excuse me, hardly anything has been officially put in place concerning my students' schedules, my schedule, bus routes, caseloads, my para, etc., but I'm being patient and optimistic that it shall smooth itself out any day now... Yeah...

The kids. Oh yes, the kids. First adjective: beautiful, 2nd adjective: exciting, 3rd: challenging.  I have only three (in my class, 5 on my caseload) new students, yet as most all my readers know, 3 students' comparatively is....5,6,7,8...10..15..20 students' compared to gen ed. Though due to FERPA and the glass of wine I'm drinking, I find it best to avoid descriptions.

My class para, whom I thought would be moved to another school, and then lead to believe that I might get to keep her, graced me with her presence for the last day, yesterday.  Mrs. Harris, I have to say, has been the absolute, most amazing person I have ever gotten a chance to work with. From the first day I met her, 2 years ago, she and I have meshed professionally and personally to a degree that has never been achieved, and in most cases, imagined, between a sped teacher and para. She got me. I got her. We got each other. We get each other. She kept me sane, and I kept her crazy (the good kind, of course). She was my left brain, and I was her right. She was my big sister, I was her little sis. Let me correct myself though, she was all of the above, and she still IS all of the above, and I hope and pray she will remain all of the above for an infinite amount of time. This being said, I of course wish her and the new teacher she works with, the best of luck. Yet, like I told her, I am kind of selfish, and sort of hope, that she will always consider me the yin to her yang...

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Refresh, Renew, and Re-promise...

Miss me? I missed you guys..While I do not want to get into the whys I failed to maintain the blog last school year, I will say that with a school system dealing with restructuring their SPED department, a class size and case load that kept me fighting for student rights and their LRE, and finishing graduate school, kept me quite busy. What I do want to let you in on is my renewed promise to actively update, modestly educate, graciously assist, and freely provide you with humor, through my posts, links, lists, and lessons/ worksheets.
Tomorrow, my students return, and so begins my eighth year in the classroom. While many of you may consider me to still be a fairly new teacher, I find myself constantly battling the urge to admit I might be burning out. While last year lead me to flirt with this idea often, in the end, I am just a sucker for these kids. They are the ones that make me patch my armor, and sharpen my sword. They are the ones that keep me coming back.
Each year on January 1st, we make a resolution. We promise ourselves that we will change, grow (or lose...), or restrain, for the purpose of improving ourselves personally. This school year, I want to make a pact with you. A pact to keep a professional resolution. A resolution to avoid burning out. A resolution to stay strong and keep fighting, even when we get wounded. A resolution to advocate and educate, with passion. A resolution to remember that although this job may be trying and tiring, we do this for a reason, an incredibly special reason. We are the ones that will always fight adversity and naivety, yet we do it for the ones who cannot do it for themselves. We will not consider ourselves martyrs,  because we will not break. We will keep on truckin, with a smile, because these kids need us, they deserve us, they love us. At the end of the day, when we think, truly think hard, we are the lucky ones. We are the passionate ones. We are the strong ones.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Adios GAA! (for a few months at least...)

So, ahhhhhhh! It is finally over! What a year of documentation! I feel really good about my portfolios and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the numerous reviewers that will "assess" them do as well..... Anyway, now that it is finished, I will post some of my worksheets... Only because I didn't have any time before! Save them for next year. Also, those who view, check out the progress I HAVE MADE! Prompts? I don't think so. I completed them independently! Maybe there were some limited verbal from some of my viewers.... lol. Click on the link below to view them.
                                                                                                                                                   worksheets...


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Braille Alphabet Code!


Try out the new activity I just created.  Have fun and please let me know what you think!                                    (Click on the pics and save to computer. Print as full page. Hope it works... I'll try it out tomorrow with my printer and fix kinks if needed.) If you downloaded yesterday or today, the kinks have been fixed! Try the activity now... (2-11-11)

Hi Everyone...

Yeah, I know... Neglect, neglect, neglect.... but with school, grad school and working at the shelter, I am busy as hell! (excuse my language). Anyway, I am still here and will answer any questions anyone may have. Every couple of weeks I get an email from a reader with some sort of  inquiry, whatever it is.... Well, I am in the process of converting some of my worksheets to pdf files so I should be getting those up, sooner than later... Soooo, tomorrow I am getting interviewed (on video tape) for a presentation for parents on low incidence.... I asked that they send me the questions first, and they did... but they are kinda vague and blah.... Oh well... Wish me luck!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Banks of Goals and Objectives for Students with Disabilities



I have found two helpful sites with writing goals and objectives. I thought I would share them with you! Enjoy!


Monday, January 24, 2011

A little bit on Inclusion…

A request was made for some information on instructional strategies for inclusion. I hope this helps!


Inclusion is a term used to describe the ideology that each child, to the maximum extent appropriate, should be educated in the school and classroom he or she would otherwise attend. It involves bringing support services to the child (rather than moving the child to the services) and requires only that the child will benefit from being in the class (rather than having to keep up with the other students).
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act does not require inclusion. However, the law does require that children with disabilities must, to the maximum extent appropriate, be educated in the least restrictive environment. IDEA considers the general education classroom to be the least restrictive environment. (Taken from the CEC website)

Some Instructional strategies that may be useful in an inclusive classroom are as follows:
Small Group Instruction                                                                                                                
Building Meaningful Student Connections                                                                               
 Learning Centers
Concrete-Representational-Abstract Sequence of Instruction
Continuous Monitoring/Charting of Student Performance
Explicit Teacher Modeling
Instructional Games
Planned Discovery Activities
Self-Correcting Materials
Scaffolding Instruction
Structured Cooperative Learning Groups
Structured Language Experiences
Structured Peer Tutoring
Teach Concepts/Skills Within Authentic Context
Teach Using Big Math Ideas
Teaching Metacognitive Strategies

Friday, December 3, 2010

Humor break...

I just found these and thought that I would share.
 Lets add teachers to this interpretation as well

 and we chose this job... remember???

Saturday, November 27, 2010

One way I am giving thanks...

So you might be wondering what I am doing with my time since it definitely has not been spent on my blog.... (thanks Barbara for reminding me that I do have loyal readers out there.. love you!) Everyone always says that special educators have a special and giving heart, and I do agree, yet while I love what I do and who I spend time with everyday, I still get a paycheck. I hate to say it, but I definitely would not do this job as charity work. ( I say this because of all the paperwork and bureaucracy involved in teaching and working with our population,  my statement has nothing to do with the students themselves or the actual art of teaching.) I choose to work in this profession above my other interest, such as architecture and painting because I know I make a difference and I enjoy making this difference. I strive to live a life as an advocate for intellectual disabilities and I am well aware that I have and will always have infinite obstacles that will age me more quickly than normal and will keep my pharmacist in business... lol.
So back to the point of this post.... At the end of September I was up to my elbows with being a saintly, "role-model" teacher at work and proving to my professors at grad school that a nervous, not quite well-spoken 27 yr old, could hack it with my big dog classmates with innate leadership skills. (Sorry, humor has been running deep lately!) Now I know this next sentence will make you question why I am not in a loony bin but bear with me here. I was overwhelmed with urges to do something, give my time and help to others, help those who are not as lucky. I was tired of concentrating on what was hard with my life, why things just weren't fair and why I wasn't getting my just desserts. I needed to break out of this thought pattern and I figured the best way was to help those who I absolutely knew (even though some might say this is open to discretion) were worse off than I was. I contacted Zaban Couples Shelter on Peachtree and inquired about help needed. The Zaban Shelter is a transitional shelter that provides 22 couples with private rooms from October to April. The couples can stay the whole 6 months, receive breakfast and dinner everyday, have access to a clothing closet and work with a case manager who provides help with resumes, disability, medicaid etc.., provided that they observe curfew, abstain alcohol and drugs, help with chores, maintain a job or provide proof of consistent job hunting, and lastly the couples must stay together. I loved the mission of the shelter because he assisted people who were serious about changing their situations. I mean, you cant get a job without an address and you almost cant get an address without a job. So I started working their twice a week in the clothing closet working with a wonderful woman named Vicky. I spent several hours a week sorting clothes into sizes and styles, organizing the mess the closet was in and turning the closet into a functioning and appropriate source of style for the couples. I loved the job! I would help the couples find their sizes and pieces that were either appropriate for job hunting/ interviews or daily life. No holes or stains accepted!!!I began to develop relationships with some of the "clients" and learned of their daily struggles and situations. I quickly realized that the absence of a GED was a running theme. I approached the Shelter Director about starting a GED tutoring program 2 days a week that focused in Reading/ LA and Math. The director was excited to hear about the program and helped me to put it into action immediately. The next week I had 10 clients signed up but on the first Tuesday only 3 showed up. Thursday, 2 more and now I am up to 7 consistent clients. I started with giving them the Brigance Inventory to see if they could test out of 8th grade, Some did and some didn't. This is about where we are now. One, terrific special educator I work with, Rachel has helped me a couple of times and I know she will help more. I now have the clients ability levels and am trying to organize the hour and a half I have with them and how to accommodate every one's ability level. Much like a special ed class I have numerous levels, one client is working on short and long vowels and another is working on thesis statements. I get their, everyone is being patient and showing evidence of the few skills we have gotten to work on.
I can only promise that I will try to keep you updated on what is going on, but to let you in on a secret... I do much better when I receive comments and responses.... hint. hint...

Monday, November 8, 2010

GAA worksheets!

Since I have been absent from my duties to this blog.... I thought I would provide you with some worksheets you can use in your low-incidence classes, especially for the GAA! I am very lucky this year to only have 8th graders but a few of these are for 6th and 7th grades too.

Ok. I know these look horrible, but if you click on them, you can then print them out. I still have not figured out out to add pdf files to my blog. Thank you to the reader who told me about primo pdf and that works great but do you now know how to add them to a blog entry???

Get a masters in psychology to better children that you work with.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

back to basics...

Yes, I know I have neglected y'all yet again and I truly apologize... no excuses.  So here I am refreshed and renewed 2 months into the new school year. Everything has been going terrific this year so far. I have a new para, Mrs. Hart who is excellent! She loves the kids and takes the initiative to start and maintain lessons! She loves to stay busy! How perfect. A big focus this year for us is incorporating sign language throughout the whole day because we have 4 out of 6 who will benefit (yes I said 6! isn't that amazing, i don't know what I did to deserve this but thank you!!!). So Ms. Hart and I are doing our best to teach the students the basics and they are catching on very quickly. It is very exciting. More good news.... We are getting 3 new PC's for the classroom! We had thin clients (Linux) before and they were very difficult to navigate and did not except any of the special ed software programs. I am so excited to introduce appropriate and exciting educational software to my students. Also this will allow Mrs. Hart to assist me with some of the clerical responsibilities such as data collection and sorts. Another piece of software my class will be getting is..drum roll please... an Ipad! There are only a few being donated to our system and I have been chosen to try one out for the special ed classroom! The others are being used and tested as ACDs. So know I wont have to have my students use my personal iPhone for the apps. ! Yeah!  So I know I haven't put of pics of the new class but I will take them this week! I wanted to get everything put in place and clean up my desk... so be awaiting.  The GAA is in full effect and I will be uploading some ideas and possibly some worksheets to the site. I have written a few social stories using Writing with Symbols. I would love to upload them but cant figure it out since they are saved in an unidentifiable format. If you know how to convert these, please let me know! Same with boardmaker!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Summer Update

Let me first apologize to my readers . I have received a couple of comments inquiring to my absence and my only excuse is graduate school. My mind has been focused on leadership and not readership. :( This semester I am taking 2 classes, Leadership Theory and Practice and Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment. I really had no idea how much time I would have to dedicate to assignments but I promise you it is all in the name of Special Education! Before I began the program my knowledge base of school leadership, policies and operations was limited and opinion-oriented. I can honestly say that I had no idea what it entails to be an effective school leader, but with only one month in my knowledge base has grown immensely. I look forward to the next semesters and am excited about the skills and experiences I will gain. Having passion for special ed change is not enough; I must be able to communicate a vision for change and implement this vision in a manner that establishes urgency and promotes collegial collaboration.
Several (sped) friends have questioned my move towards leadership. I assume they fear special education taking a backseat, but like I said earlier, I promise that this is all in the name of Special Ed!!!! My first assignment was to write my "Leadership Obituary"; what I want to be remembered for. This was my catalyst for defining a direction. Before this, I had no idea what I wanted to do, just that I wanted to change special ed perceptions. Now I know I must aim high.
Other than school not much else has been really going on. I have helped out at my school a few times and plan on continuing. Working on the master schedule and plan on working with a close colleague/ friend and redesigning the special ed schedule. We need to focus more on placing students in classes based on their needs and not on convenience (which is how it has been in my school for tooooooo manyyyyy yearssss!) I am incredible excited about this venture and look forward to seeing the positive effect it will have on our population. I am heading to Denver July 1st for my old roommates wedding too. I can't wait; all my friends from Charleston will be there! I miss them so much! Then, when classes end for the summer, I look forward to spending a significant time by the pool working on my tan....

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Saying goodbye :(

I think that one of the hardest parts of my job is saying goodbye to my students. Most of my kids will be returning next year but 2 of them are moving on to high school. One of these two is Karen. Karen has been with me for just this year and has grown into such a beautiful young woman. I am going to miss the quirky questions, the off the wall comments and most of all her care and compassion she shows to everyone she meets. She always will greet me with a smile and a creative reenactment of her previous day or weekend. Her positive view on life and her ambition to try EVERYTHING will get her far and will delight anyone she comes into contact with in the future.
Jesus is my other 8th grader leaving me and this is the one that brings tears to my eyes these past weeks every time I see him. I have had Jesus for three years since he entered my classroom in 6th grade and even though moving on is best for him I am not sure if I am ready. Jesus has these huge beautiful eyes that will melt anyones heart and the first day I met him that is exactly what happened. When Jesus first came to me his English was almost non-existent. He was very shy, confused and scared. Although born in the U.S. he spent most of his life in Mexico and returned to Atlanta at the end of 4th grade. Unfortunately Jesus was misplaced and did not receive appropriate special education instruction. When he arrived at my school he was scheduled for mostly reg ed classes with a few resource settings. It did not take but a week to conclude this was not appropriate for him and he was re-assessed and correctly placed in my MOID class. Since then, Jesus has grown into such an incredible young man (who now speaks English!) with an untiring ambition to learn everything life has to offer him. He strives for independence and even though it has been hard (only for my emotions :)) I have given him every chance to grow. Mr. Roldan is a Spanish teacher at my school who has taken Jesus under his wing. Even though Jesus has never been scheduled to be served in his class, Roldan has taken it upon himself to work with him every single day during his planning to give him a male role model which he lacks at home. He includes Jesus at times in his classes and gives him the life and social skills I could never equip him with. I am so glad and lucky to be working with a staff that recognizes these needs in my students and will go out of their way to help make my students successful.
Not having children, I think of each child as my own kid and only want the best for each one. Jesus has been that special kid to me that I will never forget. It is almost impossible to say I have a favorite but one can conclude. I am close with the high school MOID teacher and am extremely comfortable and assured he will be served, not just appropriately but with the care and concern that I was able to give to him as well. I am so proud of Jesus and look forward to hearing the success that he will continue to show with the years to come. Every special ed teacher I speak to says it will get easier with the years, I have strong doubts though :) I am finishing my 5th year and trust me, it has not gotten any easier. 
I will miss my babies very, very much but am so excited for the opportunities that await each of them. No one ever said special education was an easy job! (except maybe for some regular ed teachers!!! lol )

Friday, May 7, 2010

Academics vs Life Skills


Here is the last question I am adressing for the Weareteachers.com expert blogger special education panal. Check it out here or link to it from the here.
Academics or Life Skills? Should special education teachers emphasize one over the other, or is there a happy medium?

For some reason this question is raised quite frequently in educator circles and I do not know why. The answer is simple; teach to the individual. If the student requires a life skills curriculum, teach life skills and functional academics. If the student’s adaptive skills are normal, then teach academics. If the student needs both, then teach both.
Let me break this down a little further, but first we need to define what academic curriculum and life skills curriculum actually mean. An Academic Curriculum is an integrated course of study that focuses on academia (English, Math, Social Studies and Science.) A Life Skills Curriculum is one that focuses on those skills or tasks that contribute to the successful, independent functioning of an individual in adulthood. These skills are usually grouped into five clusters: self-care and domestic living, recreation and leisure, communication and social skills, vocational skills, and other skills vital for community participation (M. Cronin 1996.)
I will start with the low-incidence population since they are my specialty. Let me add that the following synopses are generalized for the middle and high school populations. If a student is placed in a low-incidence setting (Moderate intellectual disabilities, Severe, profound, low-functioning Autism, and in some cases Orthopedic Impairment and Other Health Impairment, there are always exceptions of course) they usually have intellectual deficits and multiple adaptive skill deficits. So in keeping with the ultimate goal of making each student as independent as possible, a life skills curriculum is what should dominate instruction. Of course we do not want to neglect academia and therefore each subject should be integrated in such a way that facilitates the student’s learning processes. For example, a few of the academic concepts I teach in my classroom are sight word vocabulary (reading), asking and answering “W” questions (comprehension) how to use a calculator (addition/ subtraction), price comparison (algebra), and how to read a map (social studies). I would never waste my students time or energy (unless it is appropriate for the student) teaching abstract academic concepts such as sentence dissection (L/A), prime factorization (math), North American Trade Agreement (S.S.) or building a DNA model (science). Although NCLB would love for this to be our focus (check out some of my posts on the GAA –Georgia Alternate Assessment) it is not practical.
Let me move now to the population of students with Learning Disabilities (LD). A Learning Disability is loosely and arguably defined as having difficulties with academic achievement and progress. Discrepancies exist between a person's potential for learning and what he actually learns. These discrepancies are not due to mental retardation or emotional disturbances and therefore the students do not usually present strong adaptive skill deficits unless it is a manifestation of their learning processes. These students will require an Academic Curriculum with specialized instruction that focuses on their deficits in an effort to improve or alleviate the problem(s). In a “perfect world” these students should primarily be educated in a general or inclusive setting with the minimal amount of resource instruction.
I am now going to move on to Emotional and Behavioral Disabilities for the sake of time and length. EBD as it is commonly referred to, is a whole different ballgame. The definition of EBD is also widely argued but the gist of it is described as having a serious emotional or behavioral disturbance that has been evidenced over a sufficient duration that interfere(s) significantly with educational performance to the degree that provision of special educational services is necessary. Often, these students are dually diagnosed with Learning Disabilities which might not always be correct. A lot of the time the learning problem(s) is actually a manifestation of the emotional or behavioral struggle. In too many school systems these students are educated in resource settings along with students with LD. The only justification I can see for this is funding. You are welcome to disagree. If the EBD is not severe, the student should be educated in his Least restrictive Environment (LRE) with emotional or behavioral supports. The student’s case manager should monitor the students functioning within these classes and consistently meet with the student to provide strategies and assistance to help compensate or improve their struggles. In a severe situation many of these students are best served in a self-contained setting or resource setting for part of the day. In these classes, social skills instruction should be provided and in some cases parts of a Life Skills Curriculum should be incorporated. A lot of times the manifestations of their EBD can affect their adaptive skills.
Lastly I am going to address the Mild Intellectual Disability population (MID.) This population is the most controversial within school systems on how they should be educated. Before NCLB most MID students were primarily educated in self-contained settings with as much general education instruction as possible. Students who are MID also have adaptive skill deficits and should receive a modified Life Skills Curriculum (especially within the vocational and community-based domains.) But then NCLB came along and decided that these students should also take normed-standardized testing and therefore many school systems are pushing to educate these students with their general education and LD peers. In my opinion this is ridiculous! Yes, there are some students who are MID whose LRE is with LD and general ed students but this should be viewed as the exception not the assumption. These students have intellectual deficits and therefore in most cases have trouble accessing a full Academic Curriculum.
In my school system for example, MID is educated along with LD and DO NOT receive any sort of Life Skills instruction! This is horrendous. This creates multiple problems, one being students are not educated in their least restrictive environment. Let’s look at this example for instance; there is a student (6th grade) who has a disability (Downs Syndrome) that is typically diagnosed as MOID. The student does present communication and some adaptive skills deficits but intellectually functions on a MID level with an IQ of 60-65. This child can read and computate math on a 3rd- 4th grade level but due to their physical appearance is automatically pushed to be served in an MOID setting. This is ridiculous; the environment is too restrictive and will not foster appropriately modeled growth for the student. Yes, the child will probably struggle in general education and in some cases resource and this is why the school should have an MID placement. As special educators let’s not keep these kids in limbo but let’s fight for appropriate settings and instruction.
Although I deviated at times I hope you the reader could understand my reasoning and conclusions on Academic vs. Life Skills instruction. I pray that in 2013 NCLB will end and special education can return to its original purpose of teaching to the disability and not the standardized test. Education is not a cookie cutter concept and when everyone fully understands this then maybe we can start to make a truly effective change.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

iPhone/ iTouch Apps for Special Needs

Erica, one of my students who has Joubert Syndrome has made tremendous gains over the past two years. Click here to see a previous post on Joubert Syndrome. Her communication has gone from being completely prompt dependent with mostly yes and no answers to initiating her needs and wants at times. Well her birthday is coming up next month and her parents are getting her an i pod touch. We are hoping that this will increase her accessibility to prompts, schedules, self taught skills such as sign language, as well as to the internet and books. Her father has asked me to find some apps that would work for her, so I am compiling a list of apps that can help all special needs students. You can view the list HERE!  There are almost 50 apps with descriptions, links and cost. They are organized my Schedules and Prompts, Communication and Autsim, Reading and Stories, Math, Sign Language and Braille, Teachers and Parents, and Disability Access.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

A few good news notes....

1. I was accepted to the Kennesaw State University Graduate Educational Leadership Program. Yeah! I start in June!
2. I finally received my Wii for the classroom! Now I need to start looking for the programs I need....
3. My classroom is almost, almost, almost finished! 2 more things, put film on the back windows and get a bucket for the dryer ventalation. I will upload pictures next week!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Going back to school...

        So I did not just spend my spring break getting sun, I also visited Kennesaw State University. I am starting grad school there for Educational Leadership. I have been through tons of schools trying to find the program that suits my needs the best and finally have found one. My latest decision was between Georgia State and Kennesaw and Dr. Dishman at KSU finally swayed me. Both programs seem terrific but the catalyst for KSU was its law and data-driven focus. GSU is a research-based institution and the program there would be primarily research-driven. Why does law and data appeal to me? Well, with the direction education is going data is a huge controlling factor. Administrations’ are constantly pushing data-based evidence in order to develop new programs and classes that are based on the needs of their students. Educational legal matters are also increasing drastically and a full understanding of the law and what is allowed in imperative in a good administrator. With this degree i hope to bring special education more to the forefront and help to alleviate the negative stigma that is attached. With all that is going on with standardized testing and meeting AYP, many schools turn to special ed. as the scapegoat for their "failure". Unfortunately this pattern will not change until new instructional interventions and programs are implemented. Lets take a pseudo middle school for example. Let's say this middle school has 1000 students and 130 of them are in special education. Out of these 130 students, 30 of them (not including low-incidence populations) cannot read past a 3rd grade level. That is almost 1/4 of the special needs students that most likely will not pass the state standardized test (even with the accommodations/ modifications). Unfortunately many schools ignore the fact that they have a low reading level by not implementing a strategic reading intervention. No, an intervention probably would not get them on grade level, yet could facilitate their comfort and understanding on test.

I have heard many times that when teachers enter the administration sector they forget what it is like to be in the classroom. I take this observation very seriously and vow to never forget the struggles teachers go through. My main mission with entering this degree program is to help the teachers. I want to really listen to them and investigate their struggles and in turn examine ways to ease their concerns and troubles. I also will always maintain my special education perspective. My dream job would be as a special education curriculum developer for schools. I want to dedicate my time to finding the gaps and filling them with validated and reliable interventions and programs. I want to impress on general education teachers that differentiation is not a scary word but in fact a way to expel their creativity onto their students. All students are different learners and can benefit from multi-modal instruction. Accommodations and modifications can be an easy, as long as the teacher has confidence and knowledge of to how implement them. Inclusion of special ed. students does not have to be scary either, but it is to many because their is not always a good support system. Daily I here complaints from teachers as to how many special education students they have in their class, and yes I understand this can be hard, but it does not have to be. As a curriculum developer i want to help teachers find ways to teach to the strength of their special ed. students and not focus on their weaknesses. We ALL have strengths and this ALWAYS needs to be the starting point when education special ed. students. I want to encourage special educators to not fear I.E.P.'s but use them as a tool to really design a potent program for the student. I also want to encourage general education teachers to READ the whole IEP and truly become familiar with the student. Let me stop deviating though...

Soooo, if all goes according to plan, my application will be accepted at KSU and I will be starting this summer. Wish me luck and I promise to keep you informed about what I am learning and what ideas start to grow. ;)

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Happy 1st Birthday to me!!!


Wow!!! Can you believe it has been a year since I officially started this blog? I remember the first day; I was sitting at a friends house playing on the computer. I was complaining to him (again) about how there are not enough resources on the internet for special education teachers. He suggested that I make my own blog and post resources myself. What a great idea! I considered myself somewhat computer savvy, so I signed up for blogger and my friend bought me a domain at Godaddy.com. I remember writing my first entry, I had no idea what to say because I had no idea who would read it so I decided on an entry about ...drumroll please...... The Georgia Alternate Assessment!  This was actually written March 5th, 09 but I did not start with the Analytics until April 10th so thats when I consider the start date. Since then my site has grown immensly. Below are some facts about the site http://www.specialeducationteacher.me/ :
In ONE year....
7,272 visits
5,643 unique visitors
90 different countries
In the U.S. the states that have the highest visitiation besides Georgia are: California, New York and Texas
40 official entries
32 followers
Highest visited entries are: Haiti Powerpoint and the Georgia Alternate Assessment
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I could not have reached these numbers without my visitors and I thank you. My goal for next year is to double these numbers, I would also like to include more resources and updates about my life as a special educator. I get lots of comments asking me about certain projects or ideas and it seems as though my readers enjoy reading about what goes on with me. Well I will keep you posted! If everyone could reach out to one person and share this sites URL it would be fantastic! Also if you are a continuing reader please comment to this entry, I would like you to send me your email (if possible) and a link to your site (if possible). Trying to personally collect visitor data. Thank you again!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

If I could invent anything....

My second panal question is out and ready to read. The question is " If I had unlimited resources what product would I invent to assist special education students?"  To my suprise, this question was very hard to answer!!! Following is my response to the question: You can also visit the website and view it there Weareteachers.com

When I first began my career as a special education teacher the hardest struggle for me was compiling resources to develop some sort of curriculum and plan for my students. The first day of teaching I walked into my classroom and it was an empty canvas. I had a desk, a couple of book shelves and a few adapted materials left over from the previous teacher. I was stumped and confused as to where to begin. I had these I.E.P.’s that had tons of objectives and no materials or lessons to pull from. So that year I jumped into the water head first and had to teach myself how to swim.
That year I was given $1000 to help me purchase materials for the class. Luckily I had a co-worker who helped me gather materials and choose the right programs for the kids. I found some money and time programs, I found some sight word programs and also some living skills lessons, but I soon found my money depleting rapidly. I was also lucky that the school had a lamination machine, for it became my best friend. I created a lot of teacher-made materials that year and to this day still use them frequently. As the years have passed my collection of materials, lessons and programs have grown and my classroom no longer looks bare. The hardest thing I find about teaching a special needs class now is the scheduling and lesson planning. General education teachers follow a unit plan set by the state standards and are given a text book to follow, special education low-incidence teachers are thrown to the wind to figure it out for themselves.
If I could invent a product for the special education classroom it would be a complete functional curriculum. The curriculum would cover: functional academics, self-care, motor skills, household management, living skills, non-verbal and oral communication, interpersonal skills, competitive job-finding skills and some leisure-time skills. The curriculum would come as a kit and you could choose which functional would be appropriate for your class, MID, MOID and SID/PID. Within the band the lessons and activities would be leveled as well. The lessons would be organized in a 2 week format and give the teacher a direction and model to follow. Materials and manipulatives (of course modifications will need to be made for some students) will be included. For example, in the job skills section, sorting activities, stacking activities and assembly line tasks would be included in the kit.
Special education materials are expensive and a teacher could spend well over a couple of grand each year buying materials that are accessible for our students. With this curriculum the teacher would have time to focus on the student and not on gathering and searching for materials. This would be a “one-stop-shop” for low-incidence teachers, lessons for all functional skills. Low-incidence classrooms have a lot going on and anything that could alleviate some stress would definitely be beneficial.


Let me know what you think!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

New Classroom

Ok, ok I have not been forgeting about all of you who want an update on the classroom. I have not been ignoring you, just did not have much to say... The classroom was "sorta" finished last Monday and we were able to move in, but there was still a lot of work to be done. I have some pictures but I am gonna wait to show you the whole thing complete. It is Spring Break right now so hopefully a full week without students in the building will allow them sufficent time to finish things up. I will go into detail after I get back next week. Stay tuned.....

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