Sunday, March 9, 2014

Organizing Student Work for Portfolios

Hi everyone!  I'm super excited to link up for another Bright Ideas Blog Hop!  I love getting new ideas that make teaching easier.


Since I teach special education students, I need to keep student work to show how students are or are not progressing.  I've tried different ways to organize all their work for their student portfolios.  For a long time, I used 3-ring binders.  But they're bulky and honestly sometimes I don't want the work 3-hole punched.

I finally found this super easy (why didn't I think of it before) system just using a simple crate from Target.


For each student, I use 4 cheap folders.  One has their name on it and includes personal information like copies of their IEPs, their last IEP progress report, their contact information, and other random papers.  I make a folder for each area that I'm keeping data.  For me, that is reading, writing, and math.


This makes keeping work super easy and makes filing for each student super fast.  Once a quarter is complete, I take all of the work our and put it in a folder labeled __ quarter.  What I also like about this system is that it's super easy to change out if you have students who move or come in.  Since only one folder has the student's name on it, I can either white out the name and reuse it or throw it out.

There you go!  It's not genius by any means but I wish I had thought of it a few years ago.

Next up, you'll want to hop on over to Amanda from Around the Kampfire's blog to see how she makes the most of anchor charts in her classroom.


Monday, February 10, 2014

Public Service Announcement: Teacher Hoarders

I've taught in a few schools in a few different states (thanks Marine Corps!).  One thing I've noticed is that some teacher are HOARDERS!!  Oh man, do some teachers like to hold onto things for a long, long time.

I was just offered a 2nd grade SPED resource position, so I'm back full time again.  There might be only a few months left in the year, but I can't stand a cluttered classroom.  I've been slowly going through things and throwing junk away.  I'm pretty sure the custodian hates me already!  

So far I've found some interesting things.

This play dough with MOLD on it might be the most surprising thing yet!  Yikes!  How long does it take for play dough to grow mold?  Scary!

A rice cooker and a toaster oven is something you don't see in a classroom everyday.

This blast from the past that I found last year was pretty awesome though!  Man, I loved He-Man as a kid!  Too bad there wasn't a SheRa book though.

I also found some pretty outdated curriculum.  Do we need to keep work books that are almost 20 years old?  

And oh man the worksheets.  Tons and tons and tons of worksheets.  I'm sure there was good intent to use these worksheets, but it just didn't work out.  Please, recycle that paper!  And I have one word of advice to leaving, transferring, retiring teachers.  Throw the worksheets away.  I know you mean well but most teachers don't have time to dig through old worksheets and see what's useable.  Most of us will find our own thing that fits our teaching style anyway.

If you think you might be a teacher hoarder, look around your room and think about what you can throw away or donate.  I've only made a small dent in cleaning out my new room, but I will get it done!  I don't know if I should be scared or excited about the possible finds that are lurking in my 4 floor-to-ceiling cabinets!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Communicating With Gen Ed Teachers (Let's All Be Informed)

I'm super excited to be linking up for the Bright Idea Blogger Hop!


This hop is going to be an awesome way for you find all kinds of bright ideas for you to use in your classroom!

As an intervention teacher, I've found that it can be super hard to find the time to meet and discuss students' progress with the gen ed teachers.  I wanted the gen ed teachers to be able to know what skills I was working on and the progress of their students at any time even though they may not be able to actually meet with me very easily.

I keep all of my data in a 3-ring binder for each group.

 I keep a sort of lesson plan that lets the teachers know what skills I was working on that day.  And it helps me keep track of which students attend intervention group.


For each student in my reading groups, I take a weekly fluency check and a cold read comprehension check.  I keep the original fluency and comprehension quiz in the binder.

In front of those, I keep a fluency graph.  I LOVE graphs.  They can really can give you that visual about a student's progress.  Although this student is reading below grade level, she's really improving on her fluency!


Graphs can also really let you see when students just aren't making progress like this student.  This is one that I'm super worried about.  Even though he's in my most intense, smallest group, he's just not coming along like I think he should be.  :(


I also keep this form at the front of the binder for each group.  This gives the teachers a quick snapshot of how everyone in the group is doing.


To keep track of their weekly comprehension check, I use this simple form.  As you can tell, comprehension can be really tough.


I also have a math group that I see daily.  On Fridays, I give them a quick quiz that covers several skills.  By looking at their data like this, I can quickly tell which skills I need to keep remediating and which skills they seem to get.  Here's a really good week!  Usually, most of my students miss the word problem.


So there you go!  It may seem daunting to keep data, but honestly, it's really quick.  Once you get the forms set up and your binders organized, it takes no time to add the new information.

Now you should definitely hop on over to Teachable Moments to find out all about how she used Dollar Stores finds in her classroom.  And can I just add that it's really unfair there is no Dollar Store in Hawaii!  You can find her post {here}.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Groundhog Addition and Subtraction FREEBIE!

With Groundhog Day coming up, I wanted to give you all a little freebie!  I made these cut and paste printables to help students practice their addition and subtraction facts and finding unknown numbers.


There are 2 pages for addition and 2 for subtraction.


Students will need to manipulate the numbers and use some critical thinking skills to solve each equation correctly.


It's a good idea for students to move the numbers around and figure out where they will all go before gluing them down.


I hope this is something you can use with your students!  I'd love to hear your feedback.  :)

You can download it {here}.



Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Exploring Hawaii: Lulumahu Falls

This weekend, I saw this amazing saying on Instagram.  By the way, you can follow me on Instagram @extraspecialteaching.  It's my new favorite place to be!  :)


Since my One Little Word is balance this year, I have been trying so hard to collect moments. 

This weekend, we headed out to explore Lulumahu Falls.  This was a fabulous hike, but I would definitely follow Yelp directions to help you find it.  Seriously, what did hikers do before Yelp?

Anyway, it was a pretty cool hike and a little different than some other ones we've been on since there are a lot of different scenery changes along the way.

You start off going through a bamboo forest, which is just freaking cool.


Then you get to walk through a forest of these trees.  I don't know what they are, but the trees reminded me of Dr. Seuss' Truffula trees.  Super cool!


A walk up these cobblestone steps….

let's you out to this view!

On our way back, some college kids were debating whether they should jump off this or not.  I hope they didn't, because that would have just been dumb!


Then you get to trek through some mud, through a stream, over and under some fallen trees, and over some boulders.  I have to say that I felt like this really encourage some critical thinking skills of the dogs and the kids as they figured out how to get where they needed to go.


Stopping for shaka pictures on the way is mandatory.  :)


And then you reach your destination!  It was a really cool waterfall!


There's a pretty big pool at the bottom of the waterfall.  Not enough to jump into but deep enough that the kids could have splashed around and had fun.  However, we didn't want the kids to get leptospirosis  so we didn't let them get in.

This is definitely a hike we'll be doing again!

Pros:
1.  Not very long or steep.
2.  Amazing waterfall!
3.  Pretty cool to see all the different scenery changes along the way.
4.  Not very crowded!
5.  Totally fine for dogs.

Cons:
1.  Muddy (but we don't mind).
2.  You have to climb over and under fallen trees and boulders.  Might be an issue with younger kids (our 8-year-old triplets were fine) or people who aren't as confident with this kind of thing.
3.  Definitely need some kind of directions (like Yelp) to find it.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Teaching Without a Classroom

Last year, I told you guys about the hard decision I made to leave my teaching position and take a leave of absence.  You can read about that {here}.  One thing that experience taught me was that sometimes you really do have to close one door for a better door to open.  My leave of absence gave me the opportunity to take a part-time intervention position at the same school my sweet friend, Courtney from Teaching in Paradise, works. 

Let me tell you, I love the hours.  Part-time is perfect for those of us that have families and spouses with demanding jobs.  Even better though, I love the students, staff, and school.  I've been able to fall in love with teaching again!

Although there are some logistical challenges to my "classroom".  Much like every school, there just isn't extra room for intervention teachers.  Since we're in Hawaii and get to benefit from this amazing year-round weather, I teach at a picnic table outside.

This is my classroom.  


 A little unusual and does make for some different obstacles to overcome compared to what you would face in a classroom.  But we make the best of it everyday, and I'm constantly reminded how teaching is all about being flexible.  :) 

The big thing is I HAVE to stay organized, and I really had to think about what supplies I really need on a daily basis.  First thing was to order a super cute 31 bag to store all my stuff.


This bag has been a lifesaver!  I keep all the stuff I use everyday inside the bag.


 I've tried to keep a consistent routine with my intervention groups, so I can use the same type of supplies.  Inside the bag, I keep these things:

1.  A wooden chart stand that has a pocket chart on one side and dry erase board on the other.

2.  My The Next Step in Guided Reading by Jan Richardson book.


3.  Making Words folders for building words.  You can find out how to get the cover page and the letter tiles {here}.


4.  My Erin Condren lesson plan book.  Love that thing!

5.  My small group materials binder with all of the pages I use for word work.  You can read a post about those pages and find out how to get your freebies {here}.



6.  Dry erase boards and markers.  I use baby socks for erasers.  :)

7.  A binder where I keep all of my curriculum guides and materials we're currently using (like math pages and reading passages).  I love these pocket folders to keep all of my groups neatly organized.



I use all of the pockets to store things that are smaller like pencils, pens, and all of my Fluency Task Cards.



So there you go!  A little glimpse into my "classroom".  And this just goes to show that sometimes a little thinking outside of the box can help you come up with alternative solutions to get things done.  Now if only I could make the VERY large cockroaches and ants go away!  :)

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Exploring Hawaii: Likeke Falls

This weekend, we did a new hike to Likeke Falls.  The hike was so much fun!  We started up at the Pali Lookout, which is the longer way.  You can find directions on Yelp that will tell you how to get there.  I highly recommend directions or you will be searching for hours.

There's some great views as you head down the Old Pali Hwy.


There is a tricky part where you can climb down a ladder RIGHT beside the highway.  Our dog wasn't so sure about how to get down so my husband helped her.  Look how close we are to this major road!


 There were these awesome HUGE flowers.  Seriously, the thing is was almost as big as my daughter's head!  It reminded me of being in Jurassic Park or something.


You really need the directions to find the waterfall, but there are some helpful signs along the way.



And after traipsing through the jungle (literally the jungle) and getting super muddy, we made it!  You hear the waterfall before you see it, and it was awesome!


This is probably one of our top 3 hikes here so far!  We'll definitely be doing this one again.

Pros:
1.  There's a waterfall……that makes it amazing no matter what.
2.  Fairly short, about 3 miles there and back.  There is a shorter way that you can get directions for on Yelp.
3.  Dog and kid friendly.  Our dogs were fine but did some coaxing around that one ladder.  On the way back, they figured out how to go up beside the ladder.  Our triplets are 8 and did this no problem.
4.  This isn't a big touristy hike so there wasn't a ton of people.
5.  You can park at the Pali Lookout for free if you're military or local.  Just show the the parking guy your ID.

Cons:
1.  Hard to find without directions.  I had phone service the whole way and was able to check Yelp when we missed one of the turns.
2.  Muddy.  Don't wear nice shoes or flip flops!
3.  Mosquitos at the falls.  You may want to bring bug spray.