Episode 2 of the Special Education Clubhouse Podcast is now available.
We all know that transitions, large or small, can be difficult for our students with disabilities. That’s why I wrote this podcast. This episode gives reminders of procedures, routines and expectations to refresh with your class when returning from Winter Break, or really any long break off from school.
You can listen to the podcast wherever you enjoy listening to podcasts – Apple Podcasts, Spotify, iHeartRadio, Amazon Music.
Let me know if you enjoy the episode by leaving a rating or dropping a comment! If there’s any Special Education topics that you’d like to see discussed on future podcast episodes, please email me at specialeducationclubhouse@theteachingzoodesigns
I am so excited to share this big news with you! The Special Education Clubhouse Podcast has officially launched today! It is available wherever you enjoy listening to your podcasts: Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, Spotify, and iHeart Radio. I will be releasing new episodes on Mondays to help give tips, ideas and advice to start your week off right!
The first episode is an introduction podcast that lets you know a little about me and what the Special Education Clubhouse Podcast will be about. I have so many topics planned for you in the weeks to come. If you have anything you’d love to hear on the podcast, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanksgiving is a time of being grateful and spending time with family. It can also be a time that may be new or bring uncertain feelings to our students and children with autism or other special needs. They may not know what to expect. Even though you might explain it to them, it can still be difficult for them to understand. Verbal explanations are not always the best way to help our students. Social stories are a fantastic way to help our students learn to navigate through difficult situations before they happen. It’s a way to prepare them for new situations that will help make it more comfortable for them.
I created this Thanksgiving Social Story to explain about Thanksgiving and walk through what it is and the events that happen. It comes in multiple options to choose what works best for your students. There’s a large print (8.5 x 11) in both color and black/white. The black and white versions are great to have students create their own book and color it to suit them, as they are reading and learning. The large print is also great if you are using it on a screen or projecting it. It also comes with two different style 1/2 sheet stories. Both also come in color or in black and white. Lastly, they come in a digital Boom Card version that you can use with Boom Learning and assign the story for your students, that can then take it with them on their tablets.
I hope that you find this Thanksgiving Social Story useful for your children or your students. Social Stories work best when pre-taught prior to the situation. I have a variety of Social Stories available and am constantly creating more as needs arise. If you have a need and you don’t see a Social Story available for that situation in my store, please email me and I’d be happy to create it!
If you’re reading this post, you may be a special education teacher, a general education teacher with students who have I.E.P.s in your class, or a parent of a student with an I.E.P. Hopefully after you’re finished reading this post, I’ll be able to help answer some of your questions.
Let’s start with what I.E.P. stands for. It is an acronym that stands for Individualized Education Plan. An I.E.P. is just that – a plan that has been created to address a student’s individual needs and what can be put in place to help that child be successful. There are many components to an IEP and I will break those down in separate posts in order to make sure I cover each one.
A new IEP is completed for each eligible student at lease once annually. IEPs are dated by calendar year, not school year. A new IEP is required to be updated at least once per calendar year. This is known as an Annual IEP Meeting. Any IEP meetings that happen in between one annual IEP and the next annual IEP are known as Interim IEP Meetings. Anyone on the IEP team can request an Interim IEP Meeting.
The child’s IEP team consists of:
The child’s parent/guardian.
The Local Education Agency Representative (LEA – another acronym)
The child’s general education teacher.
The child’s special education teacher.
An evaluation specialist (School Psychologist, ESE Teacher, Service Provider).
Any other service or related service provider.
The service providers for a child can be any or all of the following:
A Speech/Language Pathologist (SLP)
An Occupational Therapist (OT)
A Physical Therapist (PT)
There are four domains for capturing a student’s Present Levels of Performance on an IEP. Present Level of Performance is also known as PLP (another IEP acronym). The four domains are: Curriculum and Instruction, Social/Emotional Behavior, Independent Functioning, and Communication. Within these domains, the student’s teacher(s) and service provider(s) input important information regarding what the student can do presently and is not yet able to do and would benefit from additional instruction with. It is their current level of functioning in each particular domain. The information included in the four domains helps the providers to develop quality IEP goals for the student. (See separate post on developing quality IEP goals).
There is also a section on an IEP that addresses Parent Input. Having parent input is crucial to include on an IEP. It provides parents an opportunity to express to the team what they see as their child’s strengths and areas of weakness. They can also include any special interests that their child has, as well as any goals that they have for their child’s educational needs. Parent input can help the team to see what the parent sees when they are with the child at home. School-based providers/teachers only get to see how the child performs at school, but there is another side of the child to see from the parent’s perspective. This can also help the team to develop goals, services, and accommodations for the child.
I know that’s a lot of information to take in, so stay tuned for Part 2.
My students have always absolutely loved using write the room activities! The truth is, I love them too! It gives our students the much-needed opportunities to get up and move around while they’re learning. They get to be “word detectives” and look around for the words and then write them on their papers. It helps them build vocabulary too! I have made these for just about every theme or topic you can think of. I usually have students use this as a center activity for Literacy centers. This Halloween Write the Room set is perfect for Halloween classroom festivities or Fall Centers.
The great thing too is that you can differentiate this activity depending on your students’ needs. I’ve included different types of recording sheets for your students to write their words. One with pictures and words to trace, then one with just the pictures to find, match, and write on their own. Then, to extend it, there’s also a variety of writing sheets included. Your students can build their writing ability by using one of these writing extenders to draw, and/or write about the words. For this activity, they can write a cute Halloween story and then share it with the class!
Do you use write the room activities with your students? If so, do they like them?
Never tried it out, but want to? Grab this set here!
Tag me @teachingzoo using this set in your classroom and it just might be featured on my Facebook and Instagram pages!
Timers can be a very valuable tool to use for your classroom. Let’s talk about five different ways that you can use a timer to benefit your students.
1. Teaching Students to Wait
Waiting can be such a challenging skill for some students. Many of our students can have a short attention span and have a very difficult time waiting for something, whether it is for their turn with a particular item, going to the next (usually preferred) activity, and so many other instances. Using a timer can gradually increase a child’s wait-time. A visual timer is important for this because they can visually see how much time is left. I use different timers based upon the needs of my students. I’m including Amazon affiliate links for your convenience. Here’s a few of the ones I use:
Visual timer with red “count down” timing.
Sand timers in a variety of minute options.
Many students need a time warning of an upcoming transition. Transitioning from one activity to another is something that students often need advanced notice about. A visual timer is a VERY helpful way to help our students transition. If you give your students also need a transition piece or something to hold during transition time, the sand timer is perfect because they can visually see when the sand has run out on the timer and it is time to transition to the next activity. Then they can carry it with them to the next activity. More about transition pieces and ways to use them in an upcoming post.
3. Data Collection
Timers are GREAT for data collection, which is an essential part of our jobs! You can use a timer to collect SO much data! If you have a student with a goal of increasing time on a particular task (see #5) or decreasing time on a particular task or a student with a Positive Behavior Plan who has a time reduction target behavior, timers are a great tool to use. Even if a student does not have a goal in a particular area written on the student’s IEP, but you see a need to increase or decrease time in a particular area, a timer would still be beneficial.
Our students need breaks! You can check out my post specifically about breaks and using break cards to help here. While taking breaks, it is important to use a timer to set a specific amount of time allotted for taking a break. This helps keep the breaks as short breaks that are targeting what they are intended for, a short period of time to re-group and re-focus for the remaining task or upcoming tasks. Breaks may mean a quick stop to utilize a brain break for a few short minutes, it may also mean a quick time with a figit tool at the student’s work area, or it may even mean a time to use the cool-down area. A post specifically about Cool Down areas is coming soon.
5. Increasing Time on Task
The fifth way I want to share with you is to use a timer to help students increase time on task. Again, whether it is an IEP goal yet or not, sometimes students need help increasing their productive time on task. You can use a timer for this. With some students, you may even want to include them with the use of the timer. For example, Student A typically has 3 minutes of time on task and you want to help Student A increase to 5 minutes on task. By placing a timer with Student A in the area that the student is working, you can use a visual timer to show the student exactly how long they have been working and how much time is remaining until they finish working. With other students you may just want to take note of the time they are working and how much they are able to increase. However, I will say that utilizing a timer and engaging your student by including him or her in the action of increasing his or her time, will help improve the time on task more efficiently.
Everybody needs a break sometimes. Our students can become overwhelmed at times, during work time especially, and may need a break. The thing is that they may not always know how to ask for a break appropriately. I use these break card visuals with students to help them learn to ask for a break when they need one. Break cards are an essential tool for helping students who need to take a break during work time. It is important for our students to have the breaks that they need. Breaks can help students refocus and prevent unexpected behaviors (behaviors that may occur from feeling overwhelmed) from occurring by providing students the opportunity to utilize calming strategies and by showing students that it is OKAY to need a break sometimes. We need to teach students to self-advocate for the breaks that they need. However, we also want to teach our students that there is a limit to how many breaks they are able to take so that they are able to have time for work too. The goal is for breaks to be utilized as a tool for self-regulation, but not to use them as a way to escape work.
Some students only need one break, but others may need more. You can choose how many breaks your students get during a certain period of time. Teach your students to take the break card visual off and give it to you. They do NOT need to use verbal, which is an important factor, especially for our students with Autism Spectrum Disorder and other related disabilities. I always start by helping the student request the break and have them take off the card and give it to me, using hand-over-hand if your student requires that level of prompting. Typically, your students in general education classrooms will not need this level of prompting and can utilize their breaks if you first provide an explanation of what to use them for and how they work, and break expectations. You know your students best and will know which level of prompting they need.
DATA is KEY! It’s important to also take data and keep track of how many/how often your student(s) are utilizing their break cards and taking a break. I use a data collection sheet (included with the break cards pack) to keep track of the data for student breaks. You can use this data in a variety of ways. For starters, you can use the data to include in a student’s IEP (more about IEPs in a new post series coming soon!) You can use the data to reduce the number of breaks and/or the duration of the breaks that your student(s) take. You can also use the data if there are already IEP goals that you are implementing regarding break time and/or work time. I have also used these break cards for students who are in the R.T.I. process (Response to Intervention – another blog post coming soon).
I hope these Break Cards help you and your students! Let me know by tagging me in a post on Social Media @specialeducationclubhouse and I may feature your photo!
Teaching children to be grateful is an important skill. It also helps promote mindfulness and teaches them to be present, in the moment and to reflect on themselves and their experiences.
One way I have implemented reflection time with my own two personal children, as well as with students, is by journal writing. Journaling also helps improve writing skills, which is an added bonus!
I decided to create a journal that helps children learn to reflect. I included color and black/white options. I like having them color certain pages because it helps them express themselves (and they love to color!) I also included large and small versions and styles for a variety of ages.
Here’s a few pictures of the journal in action.
This picture shows the black/white version of the cover getting some beautiful colors added in!
This is one of the pages that asks children to identify people in their lives that they are grateful for.
This picture shows one of the journal entry pages. On the top, students write what they are grateful for and on the bottom, they include something fun they did today.
There are a variety of mixed prompts and many of them can be repeated to extend the journal, because there is always something to be grateful for!
Here’s a little video preview to show you what is included in the Grateful Journal. You can purchase the resource by clicking any of the images in this post.
I hope you enjoy this journal with your students and/or your own children!
Let me know how you like it! Share an image on social media and tag me @teachingzoo
These Tie Dye Ornaments are a fun and easy craft for students to do. I love the Tie Dye effect and I’ve done it with so many different crafting themes! It always turns out beautiful and unique for each child and the one of the beauties of it is that you’ll never truly know how it will turn it out until it is done.
The items you’ll need for this craft are:
– Coffee Filter (or plain paper cut into a circle)
– Tissue Paper in a variety of colors and cut into about 1 inch squares.
– Construction paper in a variety of colors and cut into about a 2 x 1 inch square.
– Pipe Cleaners
– A hole puncher
– A water spray bottle
– A large scrap paper
The steps are simple. Place the coffee filter on a large sheet of scrap paper. After you’ve cut the tissue paper into squares, students choose which colors they want to use and they simply lay them on top of the coffee filter. I always lightly write the child’s name with a pencil on the edge so we know who the project belongs to. If you don’t do this before they start, the project will be completely wet. After the coffee filter is completely covered, you help the child spray (or spray it yourself) until it is completely covered in water. Then you just let it sit until it is dry. I usually move the large sheet to a drying rack and let it sit overnight. Do not take the tissue paper squares off until it is dry. Once it dries, you can just lift them off or brush them off. The tissue paper will literally just fall right off when it’s dry.
The results are always beautiful and each one is different. I always love how they come out! You can then just hole punch the construction paper rectangles (2 inch by 1 inch) and string the pipe cleaner through to give somewhere for the ornament to hang. Then you glue it onto the back of the ornament and you’re done!
Post a picture on Instagram to let me see how yours turned out!