Showing posts with label special education. Show all posts
Showing posts with label special education. Show all posts

August Show and Tell Linky

Happy Tuesday!! Today I'm linking up with Stephanie from Forever in 5th grade for this months Show and Tell of my Mild/Moderate Special Education room.  It's hard to believe that I'm beginning my 13th year in special education and the beginning of the year is always just as crazy as the last.
I have at lest unpacked and you can make out all the piles on my teaching table. I spent today between collecting baseline data and calling parents--that pile is on my desk. But as you can see I don't hang things on my walls. Most of what I hang is student created and anchor charts they use. I don't hang things up student don't take the time to reference. I'm starting small groups tomorrow.

This year I have gone back to student binders. I want them to be way more responsible for everything. I don't want to be the holder of any of it. I'm hoping that this idea will help with building on Growth Mindsets, IEP input, and increase student buy-in on IEP goals. My district is huge on student voice and choice and innovation, my hope is that with the Personalized Learning Plans students will demonstrate all that and more. I'm looking forward to taking this idea out of a spin with them. I have shared this idea with my Speech/Language Pathologist and came up with some great ideas to build in a week of finish projects, progress monitoring, finish student choice assessments, and build in student driven next steps. Finger crossed this works.

 I created student snapshot folders for each of my IEP students for their grade level teachers. I'm hoping this way they leave them for guest teachers. I'm also hoping that it will help when it comes to planning and documenting accommodations. The district IEP system prints out the IEP information, I added Avery labels and documentation samples that I have found over the years to give them ideas or they could use their own. Many said they loved having the information in once place, so time will tell if this really does help them out at the end of the day.

I have one bulletin board in my room. I have been trying to get it to be interactive-last year that didn't happen.  So this year, I have tried to tie into our data binders and hope to have them use it on a monthly bases to show how well they meet their IEP goals.  As a building one theme we are focusing on is mindset. This idea ties into the teacher rubric. Last year my students worked on determination and resilience since many just give up. I think it really helped get them to grow as readers and work. I'm looking forward to see what they do with the idea of mindset and create pictures to support what it means to them.  Most of what I have been doing over the summer is working through ideas that would get them to think about what kind of voice and choice they want and creating a space that supports this thinking. 

Happy Tuesday!

Data Collection Dred--With What?

Each school year brings dred and worry over how to progress monitor IEP goals and establish baselines. When it comes to setting and tracking IEP goals... there's NOT an app for that. I have tried just about everything but the advice I give is always find what works for you—otherwise it won’t happen. We all know in this age of RTI and MTSS that if they don’t have it there is nothing we can do. The same is true when explaining to parents if their child is making growth—without your sunk. Here are a few ideas to get you started on figuring out what works for you. This is by no means everything.

As we get ready to begin the school year, I must assess my goals for the year. A goal I always seem to make is to find a better way to document data for progress monitoring, especially for my students with IEPs. Over the past 12 years, I have talked to other teachers, scoured the internet, and made up my own resources. I have been secretly hoping that an app developer would come up with some IEP-specific apps that I could use on my iPad, but no such luck yet.

According to the U.S. Office of Special Education Programs, effective progress monitoring provides for accelerated learning, informed instructional decisions, and more efficient communication with parents and other professionals. This is why I feel it is so important to come up with an effective way of collecting and using this data.

Use IEP Goal Pages Teacher Binder

Use the IEP goal pages: In the past I have kept a binder that had only the IEP goal pages for my students and made notes directly on the pages. I was able to then carry this teacher binder around with me throughout the day. I always choose a teacher binder that is a different color than the usual black or white so that it would stand out if I was looking for it.

Personalize Your Tracking Pages

Teacher-created pages: I have made my own pages to document progress monitoring which include a column for the goal, date, notes, and progress code. I find transferring all of the goal information onto this page to be time consuming, but transferring information to the progress reports is fairly easy.

Tap into Online Templates

Last school year, a fellow teacher suggested checking out the assessment & testing form templates on Mrs. Perkins website. I must say these were a fantastic resource for me in tracking sight words and letters. Her simple format made it easy for myself or a paraprofessional to assess student progress. I could also easily send the form home for parents to review.

 Utilize Online Assessment Tools

There are a ton of resources online to save you time and energy in progress monitoring. One of my favorites for elementary math is Numberfly, which is great for assessing students’ number recognition. Numberfly creates your assessments for number recognition and has built-in tracking resources. For reading I use, Intervention Central. I love their reading fluency making, I use it for reading records.  I was able to also use a chart on the site to chart information to take to IEP meetings and the student progress monitoring team.

Still looking for more ideas-check out my RTI Data Collection packet from Teachers pay Teachers for more ideas. 

How do you keep track of student progress? I'd love to hear what everyone else does.

Websites to Support Math Planning

Planing for specific and targeted math instruction is a challenge and some days a pain. I work to make sure my instruction resources are free. I also work with these ideas in mind--even when I think I know which direction I need to go in next.

 Mathematics interventions at the Tier 2 level of a multi-tier prevention system must incorporate six instructional principles:
  • Instructional explicitness
  • Instructional design that eases the learning challenge
  • A strong conceptual basis for procedures that are taught
  • An emphasis on drill and practice
  • Cumulative review as part of drill and practice
  • Motivators to help students regulate their attention and behavior and to work hard

This is a collection of websites I use to plan math instruction to differentiate and help student’s access core instruction.  

Understanding Standard of Mathematics
  • The Illustrative Mathematics Project connects mathematical tasks to each of the standards. Bill McCallum, a lead writer of the Common Core State Standards, helped create the site to show the range and types of mathematical work the standards are designed to foster in students.
  • The Arizona Academic Content Standards contain explanations and examples for each of the standards created by teachers with the help of Bill McCallum a lead writer of the Common Core State Standards.
  • Achieve the Core is the website for the organization Student Achievement Partners (SAP) founded by David Coleman and Jason Zimba, two of the lead writers of the Common Core State Standards. The website shares free, open-source resources to support Common Core implementation at the classroom, district, and state level. The steal these tools link includes information on the key instructional shifts for math and guidance for focusing math instruction.
Curricular Resources for Mathematics
  • The Model Content Frameworks from Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) were developed through a state-led process of content experts in PARCC member states and members of the Common Core State Standards writing team. The Model Content Frameworks are designed help curriculum developers and teachers as they work to implement the standards in their states and districts.
  • The What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) has released a new Practice Guide: Teaching Math to Young Children. From naming shapes to counting, many children show an interest in math before they enter a classroom. Teachers can build on this curiosity with five recommendations from the WWC in this practice guide. The guide is geared toward teachers, administrators, and other educators who want to build a strong foundation for later math learning.

Learning Progressions in the Standards for Mathematics
The Common Core State Standards were built on mathematical progressions. This website provides links to narrative documents describing the progression of a mathematical topic across a number of grade levels, informed both by research on children's cognitive development and by the logical structure of mathematics.

Differentiating the Standards for Mathematics

Back-to-School Tips for Special Education Teachers; Giveaway

Today, I'm linking up with Ashley from Ashley's Brainy Centers for a Back to School Giveaway.

My top 10 must dos for each back-to-school tips I do to emphasize communication, organization, and a focus on student success.

1. Organize all that paperwork
Special educators handle lots of paperwork and documentation throughout the year. Try to set up two separate folders or binders for each child on your case load: one for keeping track of student work and assessment data and the other for keeping track of all other special education documentation.

2. Start a communication log
Keeping track of all phone calls, e-mails, notes home, meetings, and conferences is important. Create a "communication log" for yourself in a notebook that is easily accessible. Be sure to note the dates, times, and nature of the communications you have.

3. Review your students' IEPs
The IEP is the cornerstone of every child's educational program, so it's important that you have a clear understanding of each IEP you're responsible for. Make sure all IEPs are in compliance (e.g., all signatures are there and dates are aligned). Note any upcoming IEP meetings, reevaluations, or other key dates, and mark your calendar now. Most importantly, get a feel for where your students are and what they need by carefully reviewing the present levels of performance, services, and modifications in the IEP.

4. Establish a daily schedule for you and your students
Whether you're a resource teacher or self-contained teacher, it's important to establish your daily schedule. Be sure to consider the service hours required for each of your students, any related services, and co-teaching. Check your schedule against the IEPs to make sure that all services are met. And keep in mind that this schedule will most likely change during the year!

5. Call your students' families
Take the time to introduce yourself with a brief phone call before school starts. You'll be working with these students and their families for at least the next school year, and a simple "hello" from their future teacher can ease some of the back-to-school jitters!

6. Touch base with related service providers
It's important to contact the related service providers — occupational therapists, physical therapists, speech/language therapists, or counselors — in your school as soon as possible to establish a schedule of times for your students who need these services. The earlier you touch base, the more likely you'll be able to find times that work for everyone.

7. Meet with your general education co-teachers
Communicating with your general education co-teachers will be important throughout the year, so get a head start on establishing this important relationship now! Share all of the information you can about schedules, students, and IEP services so that you're ready to start the year.

8. Keep everyone informed
All additional school staff such as assistants and specialists who will be working with your students need to be aware of their needs and their IEPs before school starts. Organize a way to keep track of who has read through the IEPs, and be sure to update your colleagues if the IEPs change during the school year.

9. Plan your B.O.Y. assessments
As soon as school starts, teachers start conducting their beginning of the year (B.O.Y.) assessments. Assessment data is used to update IEPs — and to shape your instruction — so it's important to keep track of which students need which assessments. Get started by making a checklist of student names, required assessments, and a space for scores. This will help you stay organized and keep track of data once testing begins.

10. Start and stay positive
As a special educator, you'll have lots of responsibilities this year, and it may seem overwhelming at times. If your focus is on the needs of your students and their success, you'll stay motivated and find ways to make everything happen. Being positive, flexible, and organized from the start will help you and your students have a successful year.

Ashley from Ashley's Brainy Centers  Back to School Giveaway is live for 24 hours--be sure to get in on the fun and get a $5.00 Teacher pay Teacher Store credit from me and others.

Until next time--

June's Show and Tell

I'm linking up with Forever in 5th grade for June's Show and Tell to give you a peak into my classroom and summer planning. I've been very fortunate my school district provides summer professional development. In this case it aligns with our rubric--this is nice as I've been thinking of ways to provide more voice and choice within their time with me but still make a year or more growth on their IEP goals. This idea is great but I need to find some way to put it into action.
This idea of students given the opportunity of choice and voice has to be built in. Choice is a huge part of the teacher rubric. I started playing with this idea in May.  This is version three (i think) But it gives choice within how they provide answers to the big essential question. Nor does it provide me with any data to show growth on IEP goals. This is a problem.

Each pathway has the 4Cs (communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity) and a blank for a World Class Outcome (example-create meaning strategically) but I thinking instead of the WCO, it needs to be "Must Do's." Here I could list the the weekly IEP goal monitoring or items I need a student to complete before the end of the week


Showing IEP growth with voice and choice, I think will have to be done with student data binders. With students choosing which IEP goal they want to focus on, they will have to collect the data to match that goal. In looking at my current version students can choose: subject and they will show growth/mastery of the World Class Outcome (example-create meaning strategically) through a 4C (communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity). this idea should already be tied to IEP goals but not always plus there is some rubric scoring that gets done as well. I use Marizono's and have students self score but this idea only touches the tip of the iceberg. I would like to also self score for things like fluency and using comprehension strategies too. My district has rubrics I need to use that are embedded with the 4Cs. (Its not as much work as it seems but yes I'm working on streamlining it to be less and still get everything collected on a weekly basis.)

Creating "I can" statements for IEP goals. In many ways its interesting that my students have similar goals in reading, writing, and math--each with its own twist but basically the same. This will make it easy for me to create "I can" on labels so I don't have to write then and the students don't have to write then. My hope over time as they take ownership of these goals they have an active voice on what their new IEP goals should be. (This is a wild and very new idea for teachers and parents to grasp.)

I'm thinking student data binders will lead to both student graphing and goal tracking and a working portfolio students can use for IEP meetings. This is a new idea that has not been used before. This idea gives students a huge voice in what they have been doing and what directions they want to take their IEPs in.

I like the idea behind each student having a binder. I have done that in the past but I have not done the personalize learning plan tie that to an IEP and then in turn to IEP meetings. WOW!! That's a lot but I think in small groups students will make it their own and that in turn students will make more than a years growth. I see an action research project coming in the near future. Stay turned more details to come.

Have a great week.

Special Education Teachers as Speech/Language Support--Who Knew

If your like me, you have students who need more language support than your speech/language pathologist has time for. In Colorado, I have two speech/language learning disabilities that cross over from speech to academics but knowing what to do if half the battle.  My plan/hope over the summer is to find ways to build language into my lessons. 


Oral expression pertains to the use of words and includes the ability to formulate and produce words and sentences with appropriate vocabulary, grammar and application of conversational rules.
A student’s oral expression skills are essential to their learning and academic success.  Oral expression problems in students may result in literacy problems.  Students with poor oral expression, may not perform at grade level because of their struggle with reading, difficulty understanding and expressing language, and the fact that they may misunderstand social cues. Oral expression is about the student’s ability to express ideas, explain thinking (critical in math), retell stories, and contrast and compare concepts or ideas.  

Characteristics of Oral Expression

The following may be exhibited by those children who demonstrate oral expression difficulties:
  • Difficulty with the grammatical processes of inflection, marking categories like person, tense, and case (e.g., the –s in jumps marks the third‐person singular in the present tense), and derivation, the formation of new words from existing words (e.g. acceptable from accept)
  • Learning vocabulary
  • Difficulty formulating complete, semantically and grammatically correct sentences either spoken or written
  • Difficulty explaining word associations, antonyms/synonyms
  • Difficulty with retelling, making inferences, and predictions

Definition and Implications of Listening Comprehension

Listening comprehension refers to the understanding of the implications and explicit meanings of words and sentences of spoken language.  Listening comprehension often seen with difficulties in written language and in the auditory processing of oral information. Students with problems processing and interpreting spoken sentences frequently can experience difficulties in mastering syntactic structures both receptively as well as expressively. Although students appear to perceive and interpret the words used in spoken sentences, building oral language is important to ensure they build sentence level comprehension.
Characteristics of Listening Comprehension
  • Children experiencing listening comprehension difficulties may exhibit the following:
  • Difficulty with following directions for seatwork and projects
  • Difficulty remembering homework assignments
  • Difficulty with understanding oral narratives and text
  • Difficulty answering questions about the content of the information given
  • Difficulty with critical thinking to arrive at logical answers
  • Difficulty with word associations, antonyms/synonyms, categorizing, and classifying
  • Difficulty with note‐taking or dictation  
Intervention and Progress Monitoring
The speech‐language pathologist can provide both direct and consultative services in collaboration with the classroom teachers, resource teachers and interventionists in developing intervention strategies that will include explicit skills‐training in the areas of oral expression and/or listening comprehension as key to some students’ access to the curriculum.

Providing structured opportunities for students to participate in social interactions, such as giving them “helping” roles or having them “talk through” an activity involving a successfully learned skill, reinforces oral expression skills.  Working on beginning, middle and end to organize narratives as well as in the retelling of stories fosters oral expression development.

The direct teaching of listening strategies is important to improving listening comprehension. Particularly effective is cuing the student to keep their eyes on the speaker, make a picture in their head, ask for clarification, and internalize directions by repeating them to themselves.  Modeling and demonstration is essential with students of all ages.

An example of progress monitoring of an oral expression and/or listening comprehension intervention would be correct identification of picture cards of specific targeted vocabulary being taught.  The desired result should be that the student’s correct labeling/identification of the target vocabulary increase with each collection of data to be analyzed (progress monitoring).  
The targeted intervention needs to be systematic and explicit in its delivery and progress monitoring.

I'm planning to reach out to my SLP this summer, to beginning co-planning how to target our more intensive students.  We are hoping with deliberate programming, we can make big strides with this kiddos. Stay turned for some fun short ideas that you can use in your groups!

Using Technology to Create Social Stories

Over the years I have made my fair share of Social Stories. Each one specific to that student and their need. They are very helpful for staying on task and ensuring that the student is prepared for future events and activities and behavior challenges.

  • Reinforce or teach abstract concepts, such as time (e.g., next, later), actions, and prepositions (e.g., open, put in,)
  • Break down multi-step tasks into smaller, more manageable parts.
  • Increase your child’s independence by improving his ability to complete parts of his routine with less help or prompting.

Making Social Stories can be time consuming, I have some suggestions for to make effective social stories to help you out.

Software and Apps

1. Pogo Boards
Pogo BoardsPogo Boards is a full-featured, robust, web-based, solution for creating boards, Features include: Speech output with 42 different, high quality, text-to-speech voices. Access to millions of images through an intuitive, integrated Google image search, plus thousands of unique, custom symbols with SymbolStix© and the new PiCS© symbol system. Pogo Boards also gives you the ability to share boards online either within your own private community or the global community of all users.

Price: Starts at $9.95 a month or $69.95 a year.

picto-selector2. Picto Selector is a Windows application written for easy selection and printing of pictos.  After downloading and installing the software you can start creating pictosheets. You can insert your own pictures into a pictosheet or choose from over 24,000 pictures and symbols. Once you are finished you can save it as a pdf and print out a copy to use.

3. ConnectABILITYConnectbility
ConnectAbility offers a visuals engine that is great for creating a quick social story on the fly. There are no downloads necessary. Simply select your template (choose from choice time, rules, schedules, personal stories and more), add Boardmaker images or upload your own images and print or save as a PDF.

Lesson Pix4. LessonPix
is an easy-to-use online resource that allows users to create various customized learning materials. LessonPix offers a simple three step process for creating a social story.
Price: $36 per year

5. Boardmaker
BoardmakerBoardmaker was one of the first and most well-known social story applications created. Boardmaker lets you create talking books, behavior supports, schedules, rewards charts and much more. Boardmaker also lets you download over 10,000 ready made boards that other members have created. Please note that Boardmaker was designed for schools and therapists and therefore the price is significantly more than other products.
Price: $399

6. StoryMaker for Social Stories

StoryMaker for Social StoriesHandHold Adaptive created StoryMaker to help caregivers everywhere construct social narratives, an evidence-based practice for individuals with developmental delays. StoryMaker allows users to create Social Stories using pictures, text and audio. Add pictures from the built-in Library, or expand the Library with pictures from the camera, Google, Bing or Flickr. You can than print or email the stories you created as a PDF.

7. Stories About Me

Stories About MeStories About Me allows parents and teachers to create their own social stories for their children and students. Blending photos, text, and voice recordings into a talking picture book, children can playback rich media stories of their own personal experiences. Swiping advances the pages and tapping plays the audio; simple as that!

8. Stories2Learn

Stories2LearnStories2Learn is a parent approved app that promotes social messages to individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities. S2L offers parents and educators the ability to create personalized stories using photos, text, and audio messages. These stories can be used to promote an individual’s literacy, leisure, as well as social skills.

9. i Create… Social Skills Stories
i Create… Social Skills Storiesi Create… Social Skills Stories is an application with the ability to totally customize sequential steps of a storyline for individuals that need help building their social skills. The app is designed to make unlimited personalized social skill story books by importing personal photos, adding titles, text and audio to unlimited pages in the story.

Price: $4.99

10. First Then Visual Schedule
First Then Visual ScheduleFirst-Then visual schedule is an affordable user-friendly mobile application designed for caregivers to provide positive behavior support through the use of “visual schedules”. First-Then was designed for individuals with Autism, communication needs, developmental delays, Down’s Syndrome, Alzheimer’s, or anyone who would benefit from a structured environment.

Price: $9.99

11. iPrompts
iPromptsiPrompts, the original app for visual supports, is used by parents, special educators and therapists of those with autism and other developmental delays. iPrompts® also works great with kids who just need more structure, including kids with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD/ADHD), and even typical, pre-verbal toddlers!
Price: $49.99

So… How do you make social stories?

Why classroom visual supports help

I use visual supports for lots of things. I have students with visual schedules, reinforcements/rewards, and even on my anchor charts. It’s the first thing I look for when walking into a classroom—to support students. Many of my students need as much structure as they can get but in my building like many don’t have tons of extra support. Visuals provide that for them. You can never have to many visuals.

Visual supports can be very powerful tools to help increase independence and supporting students. Remember students not just those with autism have communication deficits they cannot express themselves effectively. Language difficulties may make it difficult for these students to understand what is expected of them. They may be confused about what is happening. Visual supports can reduce problem behaviors and increase effective communication interactions for students.

Visual supports have proven to be a huge success with my students when helping to mainstream them into their general education classrooms. Visual supports will allow students with special needs access to the general education curriculum and will help with the inclusion process. For some students, their visuals are almost a lifeline to help them through their day.

I often laugh at my observation that many times an adult is the one who is causing the problem for a child who is having a meltdown. One day, I just could not figure out why one of my students was literally
in tears heading to music class. Oops! Forgot his visual schedule! For this particular student, his visual schedule book helps him understand the rules and expectations in music class. He knows exactly what he needs to do and for a child who has such a severe language impairment and therefore cannot communicate like other students, his visuals help him connect with everyone else. A brief jog back to his classroom to grab that book and he was all ready for music with a smile on his face! Whew!!

I am often shocked at the unwillingness of some teachers to implement visuals for students who could benefit from their support. But when I take a step back I realize what we all know is true: change is difficult and if we are going to put in the effort to implement something, we want results! Like anything, visuals are going to take time to TEACH.

A student will not be able to use them successfully their first day, or even their first week. But, with continued exposure and explanation, visuals will help students. And the great thing is – visuals have not only been shown to be successful for students with disabilities but with ALL students.
If you create a classroom for a student with autism, you have created a classroom for all students to thrive in. Visuals should be part of that classroom!

Not only can you create a visual schedule for the day, but you can create a visual sequence of events for different activities in you class. For example at the art table, you can have a set of pictures or written rules with step by step directions for the project.

I'd love to hear, what kind of visuals do you find that you and your students can't live without?

September Pinterest Linkly

Its been a very bust weeks of school. All the special education staff in my building are either new to the district or to teaching. I have spent most of my time finding ways to support the classroom teachers. Not know what kind of support they have had in the past-most seem very thankful to the support and sharing of knowledge. With that in mind I would like the share three of the pins that I have past on to them. Finding easy to understand information that doesn't require a special education degree is hard.

Dyslexia goes back to a students ability to read. In Colorado, we don't have an educational label for dyslexia. But that doesn't stop teachers for looking to new ideas to help student out. This pin has several great ideas that my K-2 teachers very excited to try out once they get up and running small groups. 

The teachers I work with are always looking for information about ADHD and how best to work with these students. This pin gives teachers ideas on how to work with these kidoos. In most cases it boils down to classroom management and building in brain breaks for the whole classroom. FYI: Best practices are brain breaks are great for all students!

Like every where else, my building has seen an increase in students with an educational label of autism. My teachers have said they are one of the most difficult students to work with because what works for one may not work of another in the same class. This is difficult but do able. This pin has some great ideas. For more great ideas to support classroom teachers or find special education resources visit me on Pinterest at click here.

Have a great week.

About Me

Welcome to my all thing special education blog. I empower busy elementary special education teachers to use best practice strategies to achieve a data and evidence driven classroom community by sharing easy to use, engaging, unique approaches to small group reading and math. Thanks for Hopping By.
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