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Saturday, September 14, 2019

Using Power Cards in the Elementary Classroom

What is a Power Card:
Power cards are a type of social narrative, similar to a social story. Unlike social stories, power cards are one page stories that include a topic that the student is very interested in. They are often paired with a social story. The cards describe the rules of how a student should behave in a certain situation (i.e. following rules in the lunchroom, following a classroom routine, or using calming strategies). They are an evidence-based practice for students with autism, but can be a helpful visual for many students. 

Developing a Power Card:
If you want to use a power card with a student, first identify the behavior you want to address. For example, I have used a power card with a student to increase the usage of coping skills when becoming upset. This particular student didn't have a strong interest in any one topic, so I made their power card generic. You can use specific characters or items that the student enjoys when creating a power card (i.e. Paw Patrol characters, Dora the Explorer, superheroes, etc). 

Once you identify the behavior, think about the reasons for the unexpected behavior and develop rules outlining the expected behavior. 

How to Use:
Be sure to introduce the card to the student. Read through it and talk to them about it in a one-on-one setting. Ask them comprehension questions about the card. You can have them read the card before a situation that might trigger them or hand them the card when they begin to become upset. You can also have the student practice using the card in role playing situations. 
I have also placed the card on a student’s desk at all times, so that it’s easily accessible. I would suggest only using the card in this way when a student has shown that they are able to use the card independently. 

I have created a generic power card to help a student know what to do when they are angry. It can be found HERE
Anger Power Card (A Social Narrative)

Monday, July 29, 2019

Four Ways to Build Relationships in a Resource Room Setting

It's no secret that building relationships in the classroom is so important. It is also important, but sometimes more difficult, in the resource setting when a teacher only sees students for 20-45 minutes at a time. 

Here are four tried and true ways to build community and relationships in a short amount of class time. 

1. Ask questions.
One of the easiest ways to get to know your students is to simply ask them questions. Ask them about their family, their interests, what they did over the weekend, etc. Ask them follow up questions about what they've previously told you. Every Monday, I always take time to ask my students how their weekend was and what they did. This only takes a few minutes, but it's so worth it. Students love to share about themselves!

2. Share information about yourself.
Kids love to learn about their teachers. I always share about my weekends with them, pictures of my pets, and anything else that might be a way of connecting. When they ask me questions about my life, I typically answer them unless the question is too personal. My students love to hear stories about and see pictures my dog and cat. 

3. Use their interests to influence your lesson planning. 
Once I know some of my students' interests, I can use them to plan activities and lessons. For example, I had a student who was really interested in dinosaurs. When I found this out, I found reading passages and activities about dinosaurs. Using these materials was a great way to build connection with this particular student and let him know I was listening when he would share information about his interests. 

4. Spend time in the beginning of the year team building before jumping into content.
I always spend time during the first few weeks team building and getting to know the kids before we jump into content. This is especially helpful if I haven't worked with them before, as they may not be comfortable with me yet. In previous years, I have used the Marshmallow Challenge with older students. I also have students fill out my All About Me handout. With this, I can easily learn some of their favorite things. This give the other students and I a chance to talk about or favorite things, find similarities, and possibly learn about something new in a relaxing environment. I'm also able to get a sense of their current literacy skills. It's also interesting to look at at the end of the year to see how students have changed. 

This is an excerpt from my First Week of School: Icebreakers & Get to Know You Activities Pack which can be found HERE. Included in this pack are ELEVEN activities that can be used to build community and relationships in the first weeks of school. 

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Back to School Blog Hop & GIVEAWAY!

It's Back to School time! My students return in one week, so I am in full BTS prep mode.
If you're anything like me, you have tons of things on your Teachers Pay Teachers wishlist that you need/want to help you have the #bestyearever! 

To help you out, I've joined up with 20+ other bloggers for a TpT Gift Card giveaway bloghop! I'm giving away a $10 TpT gift card to one lucky winner.  

Enter using the Rafflecopter below! You have until the end of Tuesday! 

Visit Shelly at Promoting Success to continue your hop! 

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Reflections on a 40 Books in 4 Months Challenge

What is it? Why would I do it?
A lot of my students are reluctant readers. They have struggled for a long time, don't always enjoy reading, and feel easily defeated when they pick up a book. I'm always trying to find ways to combat these feelings and get my students more motivated to read. 

This spring, I challenged my 4th grade students to a "40 Books in 4 Months" Challenge. Essentially, they would need to read 40 books in 4 months. Since many of them read primarily picture books, I felt that it was within reach for all of them.

I didn't want them to feel overwhelmed and I wanted them to be consistently motivated, so I decided to do the challenge with them. That way, we could all hold each other accountable. I hoped that it would provide an added sense of motivation for them to "compete" with me.

I chose to do this for three primary reasons:

  1. The more you read, the better you get. If my students are reading more, chances are they are going to improve in some aspect of their reading. 
  2. I wanted them to push themselves to read more books and be successful in a challenge. Since my students struggle academically, they sometimes feel as though they are failures. I wanted them to see that they could be successful with an academic challenge. 
  3. I wanted them to expand their reading horizons. With all of us completing the challenge together, I wanted students and myself to give each other recommendations and become exposed to books that we otherwise would not have read. 

How to:
I introduced the challenge in January by telling them I had a challenge for them to read 40 books by the end of the school year. A few looked at me like I was crazy and another told me there was no way he could do it. I reminded all of them of how I much I believed in them and knew they could complete this challenge. We officially began the challenge a few days later.

Since I was doing this in my resource classroom, I also made the general education teachers aware of the challenge so they could motivate the kids and support them.

I gave each student a square on my bulletin board, put their name up, and told them they could bring in a picture for the square if they wanted.

Once the challenge started, I initially counted books after they had completed an Accelerated Reader test. That way, they were also working on this school requirement. Once they met their AR goal, they would write down the book they read and the author for me. Every time they read a book, I would print out a picture of the book cover (found from google) and staple it in their square.

Once a week, they would count their covers and write their total on a sticky note. That way, they could see how they were progressing.

Once the four months was over, a good chunk of my students read 40 or more books (and I did too!). Those students were invited to my classroom for lunch for pizza and they also received a certificate. You can download the certificate for free here.

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Next Year:
Many of them asked me if we would be doing the challenge again because they really enjoyed it. My goal is to start a full year challenge in the beginning of the school year, but with some added components to make it more engaging, student-led, and get some family support as well.

I would suggest a reading challenge for you students, especially if they are a group of reluctant readers!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

End of Year Bloghop: Tips for the End of the School Year

I'm linking up with some other great bloggers with some tips for the end of the school year. Blog hop through all the blogs and enter the raffle at the end of this post for a chance to win a $50 TpT and a $50 Target gift card! 

1: Prepare your kids for a crazy schedule! Schedules can be a mess at the end of the year. Testing, fun days, field trip, and assemblies can throw a kink in a normally smooth schedule. This can cause a lot of stress and confusion, especially for our students with disabilities who struggle when there is a change in routine. With my students, giving them repeated reminders for the few days before a big schedule change seems to work well. Other students may need visual reminders that there are going to be schedule changes coming up. Be mindful of these students because the end of the year craziness is an especially difficult time for them. 

2: Utilize your helpers! Every year we have to clean our rooms and get them ready for summer cleaning, which, depending on a variety of factors, can take hours. Ever since my first year of teaching, I have stressed to my students that the classroom is our classroom. Since it's our space, I use their help at the end of the year too. They love helping me take down bulletin boards, sort papers, clean desks, or whatever other small things need to be done. This is such a time saver when those work days come, I can focus on the paperwork and more important things. If you just dedicate a few minutes a day or every few days to those cleaning/organizing tasks, you'll be amazed at how much time is saved at the end of the year! 

3: Enjoy it! This time of the year can be crazy. Testing, end of year paperwork, report cards, and all of the other stress can leave all of us feeling drained and counting down the days to the end of the year. My last piece of advice is to make sure you spend some of these last few days and weeks of school enjoying time with your students. Talk with them. Laugh with them. Do some fun activities with them. Eat lunch with them. Enjoy them before they head to the next grade or school and you don't get to see them everyday! 

My Secret Letter: O

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Hop to Shannon from Teach2Love next and read about her tips for the end of the school year! 

Monday, April 4, 2016

Currently: April 2016

In an effort to get myself back into the blogging world, I'm linking up with Farley for this month's Currently. 

Listening: I LOVE Bob's Burgers. My husband and I catch new episodes every week on Hulu.

Loving: Springtime--warmer weather, rain, flowers, longer days. I love it! 

Thinking: I'm going on a cruise to Mexico, Belize, and Honduras next April and my husband and I are in the planning stages of a trip to the UK/Ireland sometime in the future. If you have suggestions, please share!! 

Wanting: I got a massage over spring break and it was fantastic. I already want another one!

Needing: New clothes for warm weather! I might need another Stitch Fix soon!

Whatever: We went to the Outer Banks last week and took my puppy. He loved the beach so much! 

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Say it, Move it, Write it {A Multi-Sensory Early Literacy Intervention}

For the past few months, there's one activity I've kept in constant rotation with my first graders who are working on CVC words: Say it, Move it, Write it. This is a multi-sensory routine to build one or multiple beginning literacy skills. 

Materials Needed:
*Laminated Workmat (Click the picture below to get your free copy)
*3 Chips, Cubes, or Manipulatives per Child
*Vis-a-Vis or Dry Erase Marker (Vis-a-Vis works so much better)
*Eraser or Dry/Wet Paper Towels

Since this is a routine, I try to keep my language the same each time. When explaining/demonstrating the steps, I will put my words in bold and my students' responses in italics.

1. Choose 1-3 words to work on during your small group time. If I plan to spend more time manipulating a word, we will only work on one or two words. 

2. Phoneme Segmentation Portion:

Say sat. Sat
Say sat. Sat
Say the sounds in sat. /s/ /a/ /t/
Say the sounds in sat. /s/ /a/ /t/
Move your chips & say the sounds in sat. As they move the chips: /s/ /a/ /t/
Write the word sat. Students will write the word sat in the bottom boxes.

3. Phoneme Manipulation Portion:
During this portion, you can have your students change one letter or sound, flip letters/sounds, etc. What you have them do will really depend on their level at that time. For example, my group is only able to switch one sound at a time but you may have a group that can flip the beginning and ending sounds successfully. 

Here is an example of how one part of the manipulation portion may look like in my room:
What word did you write? sat
Touch the chip that sounds like /t/. Students will then touch the third chip.
Change the /t/ to /m/. Students will erase the t & write m. 
What's our new word? Sam
Say the sounds in Sam. /S/ /a/ /m/

*We may change letters more than once, time and attention span permitting. 

To begin a totally new word, they erase the whole sheet and put the chips back in the circle. When you first begin this process, it will take a little bit longer because they won't know the routine. After a few times, they will know the routine and it will work like clockwork!
Note: This intervention can be/is tailored to hit a lot of areas: decoding, encoding, phonological awareness, & phonemic awareness. Make sure you put your own spin on it if my way isn't doesn't exactly fit the needs of your specific students.