Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Paint Nite (day)!

 Have any of you had a opportunity to do a "Paint Nite" in your town? I've been to a few and they are so much fun. A group of about 25 to 50 people all meet (usually at a restaurant or bar). All the supplies you need from paint to aprons are set up for you and ready to go. You basically all paint the same scene, as your artist host shows you step by step instructions while she/he paints as well. There's music, cocktails and you may even make some friends! 
A few months ago we were gifted paint, easels, brushes, and enough canvas's for each student to do about 5 paintings from Donorschoose! We did a "free paint" back in October and it wasn't pretty. They just wanted to add paint to paint. Color over color. We had a few black blobs, lol. They had fun and that's really what was important but I knew this time I wanted it to be a bit more organized. 

Sure enough, there are a TON of "Paint Nite" artist on Youtube who do step by step directions for beginners!! I had the kids watch each step first with their paint brushes down, then re-watch it while following along with her as she painted again. When each step was finished I would pause the video while the kids finished the step and caught up to her. As you can see my kids did an amazing job! They were so proud of their work! I can't wait until we do it again!

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Hello - What Would You Do?

Well hello there! It's been a while since I've posted I know. January was a very hectic month for me. A CASA case I accepted five and a half years ago was coming to an end and there was so many things to do to prepare her for emancipation. I had made a decision to take a break from CASA before taking on another case but literally 2 days later their was a sibling group that really needed an advocate and I felt it was where I needed to be. I also offered to take on a family findings case to try to find family for a child who knows none. So for the last 3 weeks I've been mining files every day after work, meeting my new kids, and acquainting myself with their social worker, attorney etc. It really is hard for me to say no when a child is involved.

I have so many pictures on my phone of thing I want to share with you and am going to try to make an effort to do that regularly now that things have died down.
So, first thing I'm sharing is some "what would you do" cards on independent living. We started these last week in my classroom and so far have done 10 of the cards. We spend about 5 minutes discussing each card. The kids seems to really enjoy brainstorming and coming up with solutions. There are 30 cards in total. I laminated mine so they would hopefully last a few years. I also put together a Kahoot quiz if your interesting that corresponds to the the cards. 

The quiz can be found HERE.

The cards are available in my store on TPT for free if you're interesting in doing them with your class. Just click HERE

You can read more about how we are using them there. 

Until next time,

Monday, November 21, 2016

2016 Christmas Card Exchange

Update: We are no longer accepting participants.

The 2016 Christmas Card Exchange is here!!!


If you would like your class to participate, please email me at: Empoweredbythem@aol.com. 

Please include exactly how you would like the address to read (name, school, etc). I will have the list out to all participants sometime next week. Each participating class will be required to mail out one Christmas Card to each of the other schools on the list by the 5th of December. Cards can be store bought or homemade. I will stop the entries at 30 unless there is an overwhelming response in which case I will go to 50 and split the groups into two groups of 25.

This is going to be FUN!!! I hope to hear from you soon!


Sunday, October 30, 2016

Reading Graphs, Charts, and Schedules

Well hello there! How's everyone's year going thus far? Been a super busy one for me. I have no idea why, but I feel like i'm just never getting caught up.


I did want to share with you a new unit I put together over the last week though. I have actually used this as a goal in the past and thought it was about time I put together my own worksheets to help my kids achieve it. There are 15 worksheets in the packet and cover all kinds of graphs our kids would see in everyday life. 

It includes worksheets on:

Airport Fight Status, School Schedule, Football Schedule, Chore Chart, Store Hours, Work Schedule, Bank Registry, Weekly School Menu, TV Guide, Movie Theater, Event Schedule, Bus Schedule, Sock Size Chart, Train Schedule, and Fast Food Menu.

I did not include instructions as I think it's very important to go over and explain each of the graphs to the kids prior to them doing the worksheet.  You can find yourself a copy of the unit HERE




Hope the kids have fun doing them! I haven't forgotten about you, I have a whole list of things I want to share. I'm going to try to find the time soon!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Student Interview Answer Sheet

 Here we are again. The beginning of a new school year trying to get these IEP's out of the way so we can stop worrying and focus on teaching. I am fortunate this year that I only have 3 incoming freshman, and another student with an IEP due the first week of September. So, 4 IEP's isn't so bad the first month of school. I've had worse. 
 
We have to do 3 assessments on our kids prior to their IEP. One is always aptitude and second vocational. The third assessment I usually do is a student interview. Asking the kids questions about things they like to do, what they need help with, what things they do at home independently and so on. I usually just scratch it on a piece of paper and that's that. Well last year we got dinged by the state for not having the assessments in their IEP file. Since I didn't want to add a piece of scratch paper to the file, me and my fellow teachers did a little brainstorming today and put together an answer sheet to the questions we thought most important for the interview. This way we can jot down the answers and have something nice to put in the file.
  
I will start mine tomorrow and might be making changes, but for now I think it will work well enough. I have added it to my store and you're welcome to pick up a copy for yourself if you would like. Let me know if use it and if it was any help

You can pick up your free copy HERE



Hope things are going well,



Thursday, August 18, 2016

Welcome To The 2016/17 School Year!

Hi everyone!!

I know it's been a while since my last post but I took the summer off!! I am in the middle of a huge house remodel (we moved onto the main living area) so I tried to be gone as much as possible doing a little traveling and visiting family. The new school year started on Wednesday and so far so good. You know how some years you get it pretty easy and some years not so much? Well, I think this year is going to be a challenge for me. First off, my ratio of students with autism has gone above the 50% (7/4) that I prefer. I rely on my more social students to help bring out the socialization in the others, so we will see how that goes.


This year I have also decided to share with you the morning folder work that I do with my kids. I posted Augusts folder a few weeks ago and Septembers folder today. There is one worksheet (sometimes more) for each day of the month and they include all kids of activities like calendar skills, time, cooking, money, math, reading comprehension, food, alphabet, cut and paste etc... The schedule is in the thumbnail if you'd like to check out what it includes. I tried to keep the cost low as I assume you probably already own some of the worksheets in the packet. I hope it makes your day a little easier. 

Enough for now. I hope everyone's had a great start to the new year! I am getting an apartment this year so I'll have lots to share with you!

ttyl,

Sunday, May 15, 2016

A Plethora of Assessments

 I am not sure if I have mentioned this is the past, but I am a part of the transition committee for my high school district. We have met monthly for the last 3 months for: 1. We are planning and organizing a Transition Fair. 2. We are working towards getting uniform as far as transition goes for the 19 high schools in our district which includes putting together a matrix of what we will teach and also suggested informal assessments we can use. 3. We have been working towards putting together a portfolio that will follow the students through their 4 years of high school. 
 The portfolio will contain information about the students abilities, interests, training's they have done, assessments, things they know, places they've been, and resources among other things. 

Now, I teach kids who have already finished their 4 years of high school, so we will start new portfolios when they come to us. We figured 8 years of information might be a bit much for one binder. The good news is, I will the opportunity to look at their high school portfolios before they get sent home for them to keep. So much more information that just having an IEP to look over for sure.
Like I said above, we have been combing the internet for informal assessments for the past few months. The transition committee will be supplying 16 suggested assessments. There will be 2 vocational assessments and 2 aptitude assessments for each of the 4 years. 

Since my program starts after they leave high school I thought, why not put all the assessments together on the "U" drive (a drive that is accessible to all teachers in our program) and our 19 teachers can pick which ones work best for them? I also put hard copies of each assessment in a binder by the copy machine for quick access. I have given each assessment a rating (with help from my colleagues). Emerging, Intermediate, and advanced to again make it easier for teachers to know which ones might work best for their level of students. If it's an assessment that can be taken online, I just named the assessment  ex. "Voc Online eLEARN" than put the link on a page for them to click on. Since we are not allowed to use the same assessments year after year I think it's going to be great to be able to go to one place and have a variety of good assessments to choose from.

What we did find was, there was not a lot of informal assessments for our emerging kids. I would find an assessment that I thought might work only to be told by the emerging teachers that their kids wouldn't be able to do it. So what does one do? We make up their own! I did this one shown with the help from the emerging teachers. There are 33 activities in the set. It can either be done by giving them both the "thumbs up" and the "thumbs down" cards and letting them choose which one, or as we did with a student the other day, gave him a choice of a few thumbs up activities and asked him which one he like and he chose. We were able to come up with a couple more "teacher fill in" assessments as well. 

I will be putting this in my store sometime in the near future. A couple of the photos I don't own so I will have to wait for my daughter in law to draw them for me so I can switch them out. It will be there before the new school year if you're interested. I can't believe there are only 14 more days left in my school year!! Where did the time go!?!?

Take Care,


Thursday, May 5, 2016

Peach .... Cobbler?

It was my aides turn to cook this week with my kids and he made something really fun and easy that he had learned in summer camp one year! Here's what you need:

Ziplock Bags (we used heavy duty)
Graham Crackers
Canned Peaches
Cool Whip

Inside each of the bags he had the kids place 2 graham crackers, a half cup of sliced peaches (we used spiced) and two heaping plastic spoonfuls of the cool whip. They then pushed the air out of their bags and zipped them closed. Then they kneaded them, and squeezed them until the crackers were broken up and the peaches squished into small chunks. Then he cut the corner off of each bag (or let them) and they squeezed the yummy goodness out into their mouths! 

The verdict.... It was a huge success! The kids loved it as well as my other staff! They said it tasted like peach cobbler. I think it would be a fun snack to take on a camping trip too!

Hope you enjoy! I have a project I've been working on that I will share hopefully this week, so keep a look out :-)

Thursday, March 10, 2016

No Bully Zone


For St. Patrick's Day I though it would be really cute for my kids to pass out these No Bully signs to the other students in our program. Of course I'm not thinking at the time that there are 150 kids in my program and this might be a little more time consuming than I had wished. Or the fact that I have very few kids who can cut well with scissors. I found the rainbow part on line and cut and pasted it into my circle and added the words. They had the words as well but it was easier to shape it doing it myself. I was able to get 4 per page and printed them in color on cardstock. 

Today we started the task of cutting and taping them to a St. Patrick's pencil from the Dollar Tree. With free printing in the office, the whole project only cost me 12 dollars in pencils! With kids and my aides cutting today, and a group of us taping, we were able to finish about 50 of them. So glad we started early!



Thursday, February 25, 2016

Cooking With Kids

I absolutely love my cooking classes I do with my kids. Seriously, I pretend I have my own cooking show and millions of special ed kids are sitting at home watching me, lol. Might be my second calling now that I think about it. So, I have a couple of kids in my class who love cooking.They help at home making meals and spend their free time looking through my cooking magazines while at school. 

After continuous conversations about them cooking, I decided I was being unfair and it was time to pass the baton and let them teach a class. During a morning meeting I mentioned it to the kids and sure enough about half of them were eager to sign up. Here's what the kids want to cook....chilaquiles, grilled cheese sandwiches, peach cobbler (in a ziplock bag), "famous" quesadillas, and pizza. 

Yesterday was our first class. One of my boys made chilaquiles and they were amazing. He was absolutely adorable telling us each step along the way! One of my aides acted as his sous chef and did the actually cooking but he cut the tortillas, added them with the oil to the pan. Opened the cans, cracked the eggs, seasoned everything, added everything, topped it with the cheese and served his classmates! We taped him on the iPad, and he was so proud of himself. I wished I would have saved the grocery list he gave me to show you. He included a picture of each item next to the name. Why didn't I think of that before I used to send my ex-husband to the store, lol.

I can't wait for my other kids to get a chance to have their own cooking show soon. It's well worth stepping down and watching them shine.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

You Know You're a Hoarder When.....

You buy 5 years worth of Christmas Card Exchange cards because they were 75% off!! 

And 75% off $2.86 is practically NOTHING! 

The struggle is real my friends :-)

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Community Resources

Alright, here it is! What I have been working on for the past week+! A collection of community resource information pages for our students. 

Here's a little back story and how, at times, inspiration hits me. I am part of a transition committee for our local high school district. We've only met twice so we are in the beginning stages of deciding what is needed. So far we have been putting most of our energy into setting up a transition fair for our kids and their families. The fair will be held during the evening hours at a central location in our town. Also invited will be any programs or services that our families need to know about in order to help prepare them for their transition from high school to adulthood. 

Ok, so during our last meeting, there was much talk about the need of getting all these resources to our kids during their time they are with us. Since I have portfolio's for each of my students, I thought... hey, why not come up with an informational page on each of the resources available? This way, after it is discussed in class or we visit, the paper will go into their portfolio under their "resource" tab for them to have with them when they graduate. Think about it. I take Johnny to visit one of the resources in his sophomore year of school. What is he really going to remember about that resource and how they can help him 2 to 3 years later? Right?

I pretty much just cut all the information from each of the websites that I thought was important and informative. Then pasted it onto a document. I made sure to add the website for those who will have access and added addresses and phone numbers as well for easy contact. There are 27 pages in all and I am sure through the years there will be more that will need to be added.

I am hopeful that these documents will be of great resource to our kids and their parents once they leave us. 

Let me know what you think.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Super Bowl 50

Here it is, your 2016 FREE Super Bowl activity sheet! And thank you to those who messaged me. I don't watch football and to be honest, I didn't have a clue it was this coming weekend!

I have been soooo busy. Literally spent all weekend and after school working on a transition idea I had. I'll let you in on it when I get it a little more complete. I would LOVE your input.

Here's your worksheet ---> Super Bowl 50 Activity

Talk to you soon,

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Creating Activities

Have an extra hour of free time and a little Velcro? How about make a fun laundry sorting activity for the kids! These activities really take no time at all and can be made by anyone.

 I make all my worksheets and activities in PowerPoint. I am sure there are other programs that would be easier, but I know PP and I am a creature of habit. For this activity I found a cute basket in Google pics that I liked. I right clicked on the image, and clicked "save". Then went to my PP slide, right clicked again and clicked "paste" onto each of the three pages I had started. I added the words (whites, lights, and darks) by adding a text box, then went to work finding laundry and followed the same procedure of copying and pasting onto an additional 4th page. I printed out all 4 pages, laminated the three with the baskets, cut out all the clothes on the 4th page, laminated them, then cut them out again. Added a bit of Velcro and waaaalaaaa my activity was complete!

I plan to add this to my activity box collection (as soon as a buy a new box) and I think the kids are going to love it. I hope it inspires you to make one of your own for your class.

Tootles,

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

New Teacher Frustrations

There seems to be a common occurrence of teachers moving into our special education classrooms throughout the US (and beyond), who are presented with little or no curriculum for their kids. I get emails almost weekly from these teachers. If you're lucky like I was with my first teaching job (a workability program), you get the opportunity to start in an already established classroom. The curriculum might not be exactly what you would choose, but at least you have something to get started with. 

When I was moved to my new program, 6 years ago, I was literally given 10 kids, 3 aides, and a bucket of crayons. I was starting with nothing and completely overwhelmed. At the time, we didn't even have computers in our classrooms. We had to use one of the two secretary’s computers to work on IEP's and check our email. I would come home from work and literally spend hours searching the internet for anything I could find that my kids could learn from. A deck of UNO cards was probably one of my first purchases, and we played that often during the first couple months. 

One of the first things I did was get myself some 3 ring binders. I think I started out with 6 – 8. Each binder held one subject, and every time I would find a good worksheet on-line, I would add it to the proper binder. Over time my binders started filling. I would replace old worksheets with new ones I found that were better, which were ultimately replaced with my own.

I’m not gonna lie, and say I didn’t spend some of my own money those first couple years, because I did. I almost had to. We were fortunate to have a yearly budget amount those first few years, but that money had to include everything we needed (pencils, outings, craft supplies, printer ink etc). So needless to say, it didn’t go too far. I slowly started accumulating things. I would buy games at garage sales, find activity box ideas and purchase Lego’s on Ebay. I was also able to borrow things like Bingo games and DVD's from other teachers.

It took me about 4 years to get to the point where I didn’t really “need” any new activities for my kids. Of course that didn’t stop me from continuing my obsession of activity boxes but that’s another post all together.

 I still have my curriculum binders, but have narrowed them down to just three. They are pretty thick and are my life. I won't even let them leave my room, lol. Since I find it impossible to follow a strict schedule, I just pull the binder I need (depending on the day of the week) and pick a worksheet that seems fun or appropriate for that day. Then I place a small sticker on the corner of the sleeve so I know that I have already done that worksheet this year. At the end of the year, I take off all the stickers and we start over again. I tried organizing it many times but then Johnny takes Billy’s jacket and just like that, the lesson I was doing on “Planning a Party” has to be replaced by a lesson on “Respecting Others”. So, no plan. If it’s Monday, I pull from the money binder, Tuesday, social skills and so on. 

I would also like to mention how much Donorschoose has helped me over the last few years. Without the kind generosity of many, I wouldn't have some of the amazing things I do. Through them I was able to receive 3 ipads, a karaoke machine, a projector, all our school balls for the last 2 years, a ton of kitchen supplies, books and much more. I highly recommend you get yourself hooked up with them asap.

So, here it is in a nut shell. YOU CAN DO IT!! It's going to take a bit, but steady and slow will give you time to find the things that work best for you and your kids.

Good luck and let me know if I can help!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Born This Way - TV Show


Happy New Year!!!! I am soooo happy to be back to work. I really do miss my kids when we are off on breaks and am always so excited to hear about what they did when we were apart! 

Has anyone else been watching this series, Born This Way, at school with their students? We have been watching it in our classroom each week. My kids (and staff) just LOVE it!! A couple of them have started watching it at home with their parents which is an extra bonus. I even love the commercials (surprisingly) since it gives us a few minutes to discuss what is happening. Well except for today, when I couldn't seem to hit the "mute" button before it said "if your having a hard time getting an erection" every flipping time! I mean seriously, who pairs a show about special ed kids with a Viagra commercial? 

We were a couple weeks behind because of the break and my plan was to keep up behind and continue watching one a week, be I was outnumbered and we ended up watching three this week to catch us up! But anyway, we are learning so much. First kisses, getting a job, finding independence, how to get a girlfriend/boyfriend (the right way), boundaries and so much more! We discuss things they do wrong, and the things they do right. 

You can watch them online the day after they air on TV. I put the link below for you if your interested. I hope you get the chance to check it out!

*** Update*** It says episode 1 is only available for 4 more days so you better start them asap!

Update 2 - You can now buy individual episodes to watch through Amazon for 1.99 (2.99 HD) each. I'll update again when it comes out on DVD.

Born This Way

fyi - A couple of the boys drink beer on a couple of occasions, socially and no one gets drunk. They are all over 21. One of the boys makes a comment on one of the episodes about needing to get "layed". Not sure if those are the exact word he used but close. My kids didn't get it. You may want to watch them first if you think you might have an issue with parents or to know what scenes to skip.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Shopping List Activity

Right after our Thanksgiving week off, my school psychologist gave me a shopping game he thought I might be able to use with my kids. It was really old, but very cool. It had cards with store items on them along with a price, money, and shopping lists. The only problem was that it was from back in the 70's and the items and prices were way off what we would find or expect to pay in today's time. 

I decided to make a few of my own. I had started two separate ones, grocery store and pharmacy. Then one day during our morning meeting we were talking about items the kids wanted for Christmas. They were the normal things most teenagers would want, but I realized my kids had no concept of the cost for these items.

So, I put the grocery store and pharmacy cards on hold and started a new set using the items they had mentioned that morning. I even went to Amazon to get accurate prices. I cut and pasted pictures from the internet along with the prices I found. There are 24 cards in all and 4 numbered Christmas lists. I included four numbered envelopes in the box as well, along with the cash they would need and a calculator.

All the kids had the opportunity to do the activity before we left for Christmas break. I tried to emphasize the cost of the items as I went over their envelopes to check their work. My kids have the same thinking that my own birthed children had, at a much younger age, that all you have to do is "go to the bank" if you need more money! We'll continue to work on that as well! 

Well, I hope you are all enjoying your time off. It's Christmas Eve and I finally finished my shopping yesterday! Every year I say I'm not going to do that, but every year I do it again!

Happy Holidays,

Monday, December 21, 2015

2015 Christmas Card Displays

Here are a few of the displays I received from classrooms participating in the Christmas Card Exchange this year. I love them all!!! I have zero wall space, so had to use my door this year. We tacked all the pictures and letters around the outside of the door. The kids loved getting them in the mail, opening them, finding where they came from on our map, and adding them to our tree!
 Thanks again for everyone who participated. I look forward to doing it again in 2016!


Sunday, November 15, 2015

2015 Christmas Card Exchange!

It's that time of year for our annual (2nd, lol) Christmas Card Exchange! Please send your info to the email provided as soon as possible as the spots will fill up quickly. Please do not sign up if you are not sure you will be able to participate as we want the kids to receive as many of the cards as possible. After entries close, and over Thanksgiving break, I will send each of you a list of 30 other classes and the addresses. During the first week of December your kids will get the cards prepared and mailed off! You don't have to send anything in the cards besides your names but some last year sent small notes about their class (where they are from, the weather there, what their class is doing to celebrate, what the kids are asking for...) and some even included pictures! The kids LOVE this activity and it's a great life skill to boot!

All spots have been filled, sorry :-( 

Friday, October 30, 2015

Community Based Instruction Idea List

Happy Halloween!! We had a "Harvest Festival" today to celebrate the occasion! There was a pumpkin decorating contest (we won the prize for cutest), face painting, a costume contest and lots and lots of dancing! It's hard to believe that we have 3 more weeks of work before the Thanksgiving break, then only 3 more weeks of work until Winter break. The year is just flying by!

I get a lot of emails asking for ideas on where I take our kids for CBI. Last night after answering another email I figured it might help out more folks if I posted the list I use, and linked it to the blog. These are the places in my community that I try to hit each school year. I understand that you may not have all of them where you live, and in all actuality you may have tons more if you live in a bigger city. Last year we were able to get to all of them except 5. Remember, we go out twice a week so it's not that difficult for me to achieve.

Here's the full list -----> CBI Idea List

I hope this helps!

Have a great Halloween,

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Free Resources

Hi guys! Yesterday I used the last of my fire safety goodies I had ordered from the FEMA website a couple years ago, so I headed over to order more for next year before I forgot about it! I didn't know if you guys were taking advantage of these freebies on-line so thought I would share with you some things that I have found and order for my classroom.


FEMA has some great stuff I use every year. Unfortunately they don't seem to be giving out the cute fire safety activity books I usually order, but you can still download it and print the pages yourself HERE. There is some other cool stuff you can order though. There is a limit of 25 per person per year. I usually order the full 25, that way I don't have to order every year.

Here's the link https://apps.usfa.fema.gov/publications/

Here's what I ordered this year:
Is Your Home Fire Safe? Door Knob Hanger
kids.usa.gov has a lot of resources as well. I love this calendar they have. It gives links to different resources throughout the year .Calendar | Teachers | Kids.gov

I also found this really great PowerPoint presentation on first aid the other day that I plan on using with my kids in the coming weeks. It's long, so I will probably split it into 3 classes.

http://www.redcross.org/take-a-class/school-programs
Scroll down and click where it says "Basic First Aid for Youth Presentation ages 8-10, then click "access digital presentations" it will be the second one on the list.

I used to order a ton of stuff from the Food Pyramid people, but I think almost any of their things now are digital. I printed out 5 of the sheets the other day and we went over them as a class. Here's the link: Parents & Educators | Choose MyPlate

Hope you can use some of these resources. Feel free to post any others you're willing to share :-)

ps... I ordered a bunch of cool stuff on clearance from Oriental Trading last week! I'll share when I get them!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Grocery Store - UPDATE!!!

 Our first lesson in our mini grocery store is complete! My boss was gracious enough to find me the shelving and it's perfect! We also have a grocery store going out of business locally and they sold me the three baskets for 5 bucks each! 
The cards are in three levels, each level containing 3 cards. Green has 5 grocery items, yellow 10, and red 15. They will have to master each level (all three cards) to move on. I also laminated the answer cards and set them in the little tray on the register along with a dry erase marker that has been velcroed on. 

I'm anxious for the kids to begin!

Update: I have posted the lists in my store to save myself some time emailing them. Click HERE!