Monday, 10 September 2012

Wow.. what a start

Well we are 5 days into the new school year and wow has it come on with a bang!  I started a new job this year.  After teaching for 5 years in a special eduaction self-contained classroom, I am now a learning support teacher with a caseload of 35+ kids!  Wow is this been a challenging change for me!!!  Learning a new district, school and kids, while we are in a growing/ developing year for the role of Learning Support Teacher!  All I can say is I am SUPER OVERWHELMED!

But on a positive note I started my communication and LIFE skills groups today!  They went awesome!!!  I am SO excited to teach both of these groups!  Stay tuned for a preview of these activities!

I came across a great website for visual supports.  If you use Boardmaker in your classroom, check out this webpage!

Happy Monday Everyone!

Friday, 24 August 2012

Where I Teach AND Therapeutic Thursday

Where I Teach

I was finally able to get into my new school yesterday.  I took a couple picture of the classroom, BUT I can't start setting it up, because I share it with another teacher.  We share a classroom and an office.. so set up will have to wait until next week!  So below are some *before* picture of my classroom!
*sorry for the blurry iPhone pics*

Therapeutic Thursday

When I've had a really long or hard day there are a few things that I make me feel better!
  • NAP!!!  Having an hour long nap after school can TOTALLY turn around my mood!
  • My husband and my dog!!  cuddling on the couch and watching TV!
  • a COLD BEER!!  Grasshopper is my favourite!

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Technology Tip Tuesday (a little late..)

  • One of my favorite apps out there for the iPad is Puffin Browser.  The reason I like it so much is it allows FLASH content webpages to work on the iPad!!!  Check it out on the app store!

  • Bookshare.  This is an awesome place to get digital books in Daisy format for kiddos with print disabilities... Actually only kiddos with print disabilities qualify for these books and you must prove the disability, but they have thousands, upon thousand of title for kids.  They even have textbooks available.  They are also available in Canada (which doesn't always happen) but there is only around 20 000 titles available in Canada!

  • TumbleBooks, Bookflix, storyline online, any webpage that has digital books!  The kiddos love seeing digital books on the smartboard.  Just something different than paper books!

  • Text-to-Speech software.  This software is awesome for kiddos that have difficulty reading.  They are able to access the information just like their peers!

  • ATIA.  This is one of the best, if not the best technology conference I have ever been to!  Bonus - it takes place in Florida in January (last year I left Calgary in -35 Celsius weather and it was +30 there... AWESOME!)

Monday, 20 August 2012

Must Have Monday

  1. Coffee!!!  On my way to school I would stop for a Timmies coffee almost everyday.  This year I have NO coffee shop on my way to school, so my husband bought us a Keurig!  I'm super excited for this!  I know that September will be a HUGE learning curve, which means many long days, so coffee is a must!!!!
2. Technology!!!  I love technology and I LOVE to teach with it!!! iPads, Mac, SMARTboards!!  These tools are great!

3.Supportive family!  My husband is also a teacher, so he understands what it is like.  Are converstaions at the end of the night are always interesting and so different!  Also I'm very lucky to have a wonderful puppy to come home each night!  She is always so EXCITED to see me at the end of the day!!!  She always puts a smile on my face!!

Don't forget to check out everyone else's Must Haves!

Friday, 17 August 2012

Good-bye Summer!!!

I can't believe that summer is coming to an end.  It feels like it just started!!!  I don't officially go back to work until August 278th, but I plan on going into my classroom next week.  I am also still finishing up my last 2 papers for one of my masters courses this summer (I think taking 3 courses is why it feels like the summer has flown by!!!).  In the spirit of end of summer, back to school I am linking up with Peterson's Pad for Good-Bye Summer Linking Party!

Here are the rules: Share four things about your summer!
1. A place you visited
2. A book you read (for school or fun)
3. Something you did or made for your school class
4. Something fun you did
Then comment on the two links before you and one after you!

  1. This summer I had an opportunity to go on 2 camping trips with my family.  The first trip I went on an annual camping trip with my dads family (my grandparents, my dad's 7 siblings and many of my cousins).  This year there was more than 50 of us there!  We go camping to an area of Alberta called Kootenay Plains near Nordegg Alberta!  It is so pretty there!  The second camping trip I am going on is this weekend.  We are heading to Sylvan Lake with my family again!  Below are some pictures from the first camping trip!

2.  This summer I read:
3. I haven't really made anything for my class this summer, as I'm starting a new job and Im not sure what I need!  I did however take 3 grad courses that will be helpful with my future students!!

4.  Fun things I did this summer include RELAXING, road trip to Saskatoon and went to Heritage Days in Edmonton!
Happy End of Summer!

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Music help!!!!

When I took my new position I was told there was a chance that I might have to teach 1 block of gr.6 music.  I was really hoping that this music block would turn into art or something else, as I have NO IDEA where to start when teaching music!!!!  I chatted with my principal today and she reminded me about the music.. I'm guessing I'm stuck teaching it!!  That's ok as I'm always up for a new challenge!!!

So... I need some help!

  1. has anyone taught music before?  where do I start?
  2. does anyone know of any great music teacher blogs?
  3. does anyone know of any great music teacher resources?
Thanks in advance!!!!

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Teacher Fashion

I'm linking up with From Blood to Books for:

So here are the rules:
Here are the guidelines...
1. Tell me your favorite store(s) that you like to get your "teacher's fashion".
2. What are some of your favorite accessories?
3. What type of shoes do you teach in? (i.e. heels, flats, wedges, etc.)
4. Do you have a "go-to" item in your closet? (i.e. sweater you wear weekly, shoes you wear daily, etc.)
5. Have you ever had a fashion "uh-oh" at school? (i.e. heel broke, button popped off of blouse)

1. My favorite stores to purchase "teacher" clothes would have to be from Ricki's, Smart Set and Banana Republic.  I normally can be caught in black dress pants and they are almost always from Ricki's.  
I like to shop both Banana Republic and Smart Set for tops.  Recently, I also have become a fan of H&M for camisoles!

2.  Accessories: Well what can I say, I'm kinda a plain Jane type of girl.  For jewellery I wear a plain DKNY watch, a diamond pendant and my wedding ring.  I'm not really into scarfs and other accessories... however, I do love my Guess purses.  Every time I go to the states I always get a new one!
3.  Shoes:  At my old school we were only allowed to wear closed toe shoes with at least a strap around the heel.  I hardly ever wear heels to teach in (my feet kill at the end of the day if I do!).  I mostly wear flats in the classroom and sometimes boots in the winter.  I recently purchased a cute pair of TOMS ballet flats that I'm super excited to wear!
4.  Go-to-Item:  Anything black.  I feel most comfortable in black and I am often wearing it!
5. "Uh-oh" moment:  This past year I wore a white cotton cardigan to school.  While I was bringing paint from the art room to my class I go PURPLE paint dust on my left boob!  I tried my best to get it out at school, but all I did was make it worse.  It went from a spot the size of a dime to a spot the size of my fist!  It was horrible!

Make sure you check out what others are wearing!!!

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Back to School Shopping

I don't officially go back to work until August 28th, but I have been itching to start to get my classroom together....However, there is a problem.... I don't know what my classroom will look like.  When I went for my interview for my new position I didn't get a chance to look around the school.  My principal isn't in until August 20th, so I won't know what my classroom will look like till then!

I did however go to Staples' Teacher Appreciation sale today and bought something things that I know I will need!  I will base my classroom colours this year off of the stuff I bought today!!!
(Left-Right: Plan Binder, Sub Folder, Meeting Notebook, Below: is my new day timer)
(my new lunch bag)
I also was inspired by many Teacher Tool Boxes that I had seen on Pinterest, so I decided that I would give making one a try.  I went to Lowes and bought the stackable 22 drawer storage container.  I then went to HomeSense and bought a package of scrapbook paper ( 60 sheets for $3) and went to work.  I created a template for the big and small drawers.  Click on the "DONE" picture below and it will take you to the template!

Anyways, when I get to see my new classroom I will take some pictures!  Until then.... Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

It's been awhile...

Wow, it's been almost a month since my last blog post.. and what a crazy month it has been!

Last September I started my masters in Special Education at the University of Alberta.  This summer I was determined to take 3 courses (on paper it didn't seem like to much).  Well I just finished all 3 (minus 2 papers).  I took them all in the course of 4 WEEKS... It was crazy.  The last 2 weeks I took a course in the morning on Learning Disabilities and in the afternoon I took a course on Positive Behaviour Support (PBS)!  I LOVED my PBS class!!!  Actually it was amazing!  My professor (Brenda Fossett) was one of the best professors I have ever had.  The U of A is lucky to have her.  We spent 2 weeks learning about Functional Behavior Assessments (indirect assessments and direct assessments), creating competing pathway diagrams, building PBS plans, setting event strategies, antecedent strategies, teaching desired behaviour strategies, and consequence strategies.  AMAZING!!!  She taught the course as we would teach in our classrooms (direct instruction, lots of examples, lots of time to practice the skills and lots of feedback).  If anyone in Canada is interested in learning more about PBS, take a course from her!!!

This is a book that many of parts of the course were based off of!

Functional Assessment and Program Development for Problem Behavior: A Practical Handbook

Also... I can now announce that I have a new job in September.. I've known for a little while, but I wasn't able to announce it until my former employer knew and everything was settled.  I will be a learning support teacher at a middle school.  My new school board is a completely inclusive school board (which I'm super excited about).  I will be supporting my kiddos by doing some pull out as well as working with their regular classroom teachers.  This will be a VERY different role for me, but I am super excited about it!  If anyone has any advice on this new role I would love to hear it!!!

Happy Wednesday!

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Daily 5 - Chapter 5


I'm going to start off by saying so far I LOVE Daily 5.  I love how much pre-teaching and  practicing that this framework allows!!!  I love that it doesn't assume that all kids gets something the first or even second time!!!  This is so important in special education!!!  Our kiddos that often need more coaching and practice than most kiddos to become independent... but it is possible with PATIENCE!!!  Anyways on to chapter 5....

Read to Someone:
This past year I did lots of partner reading or Read to Someone (D5 language).  When I first started this I picked my kiddos partners (knowing all of the behavioral issues that could possibily happen with kiddos with autism).  I also spent a lot of time modelling the appropriate behavior.  My kiddos loved partner reading... It was AMAZING at how well they said on task!!!  I was fortunate to have 3 EA's in my class.  At the start of the year my EA's spread out around the class sitting with specific groupings of kiddos...By the end of the year there was only 2 kiddos that need EA's by them!!  They were so INDEPENDENT!!  I'm super excited about the "EEKK" strategy.  I think that this is something that my kiddos would respond really well too!!  I also love all of the comprehension checks that D5 has the partners do!!  Its great!!  A lot of my readers that have autism have a difficult time with reading comprehension.  The can read a passage fluently and with expression but understand little to none of it!  I think that for my kiddos I would use visuals to support "check for understanding". 

Listen to Reading:
My kiddo last year loved this!!!  I mentioned some of the resources that I have used before but I will list some of them now!

Monday, 9 July 2012

Latest Graduate Course

Today I started my latest graduate course - "Teaching Student's with Challenging Behaviors".  I took a very similar course during my undergraduate degree - which I hope will help me with this one!  This course has an actual multiple choice midterm and final.  This will be new for me as all of my other graduate courses have all been project based.  I do have to write 1 paper.  This paper needs to look at an "intervention" that you could use with student's that have emotional or behavioral disorders..... So I thought I would ask if anyone special ed. or general ed. teachers have an favorite "interventions" they use? 

For me, I believe it always important to put the child first and look at their needs and what the function of the behavior is... How ever I do tend to use lots of intervention from "Behavior Theory".  I have use token economies and cost response in my classroom with lots of success!!

Friday, 6 July 2012

Daily 5 - Chapter 4

I'm joining "First Grade Blue Skies", "Tales from Outside the Classroom" and "Tattling to the Teacher" for Chapter 4 - Read to Self.

Three Ways to Read a Book:

  • read and talk about the pictures
  • read the words
  • retell a previously read book
Launching Read to Self:

I love that "the sisters" include the students in creating anchor charts.  I love that the student's actual words are included on the anchor charts!  I also love that they encourage modelling of both appropriate and inappropriate behaviours during Read to Self.  I also love how much time they spend practicing Read to Self.  With the population of students I teach, they are going to need lots of practice and encouragement to become independent!

Guiding Questions:
In reflecting on your students' work with these strategies, what can you celebrate at this point in the year?
  • This past year I did not use the Daily 5.  I am excited to implement it in the fall.  Even though I didn't use Daily 5, my students did daily self-selected reading.  At the beginning of the school year my kiddos could only read independently for between 30 seconds and a minute before becoming distracted.  We continued to practice self-selected reading and how we could read.  By the end of the year we were up to around 10-15 minutes!!  This was a HUGE accomplishment for my kiddos!!!  With that being said, not all of my students could do it for 10 minutes.  As a special education teacher, I am curious how I can make Read to Self super successful for kiddo who don't access books in a traditional way.  This year I have used SETBC Books, TumbleBooks, Classroom Suite Books for the kiddos that couldn't interact with literature in a typical way.  If you are also a special education teacher, how do you help your students access literature during Read to Self?

How might you help your students continue to build stamina within these areas?
  • I think with the population of kiddos I teach, we would need to start at 1 minute for practicing Read to Self.  I also think that it will take us longer to increase the independence time and I'm not sure that my kiddos will ever get to 30(+) minutes of independent reading.  With my kiddos 30(+) minutes of anything is a REALLY long time.  Often they can only engage in activities for up to 20 minutes!  I also think its really important that you build stamina and encourage appropriate reading behaviour.  If you allow them to build inappropriate reading routines then you will have struggles for the rest of the school year!  I can't wait to see what this looks like in the fall!

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Currently - July

I never post twice in one day, but I really wanted to join July's "Currently".... So I'm linking up with:

So here is my currently: