Monday, July 30, 2012

Monday Made-It

I'm linking up with 4th Grade Frolics.  Head over to see all of the amazing things teachers have been busy creating!  I've been busy, busy, busy creating things on my computer so now all I have to do is print them out and put them together.  I have also been working hard at school getting my classroom into some sort of order.  I have painted all of my bookshelves and reorganized all of my books.  Here's a quick view of my bookshelves.  I still need to print all of my labels for the baskets and the books.

And another bookshelf.

I also made this little handy-dandy paper organizer.  My desk is always a mess.  I always have a ton of papers that need to be handy and end up being placed into various stacks on my desk and after 10 minutes being back at school, my desk completely disappears under the pile.  So this year, I am going to try harder to be organized.  I made this out of filing folders that I taped together with duct tape and added a little ribbon to the top.  I still want to add labels to the different sections.

 My todo list still includes printing out my new alphabet wall, word wall, book labels, "How do I go home" chart, and my bulletin boards.  That's a lot to do considering I go back to school on August 7 and I have 2 days of training this week as well as planning a birthday party for my soon to be 5 year old!


Monday, July 23, 2012

Monday Made It- Kid Edition

I'm linking up with Tara at 4th Grade Frolics.  Since I've been hard at work in my classroom, my two daughters wanted to make something they would enjoy.  I found this great idea from Pinterest. It took less than 5 minutes for me to make them both a catapult.  I used 7 craft sticks for each catapult and 4 rubber bands.  The hardest part was finding an old lid to hot glue to the end.  They had so much fun experimenting with force to see how far they could launch a foam ball.  It kept them busy playing for a couple of hours which allowed me to get a few things done.  I will post pics of the classroom soon!


Friday, July 20, 2012

Reading the Masters

Earlier this week, I attended a conference on integrating the arts into the non-arts curriculum.  One of the sessions I attended was taught by the amazing Robyne Batson.  She had so many wonderful ideas on how to teach all of those difficult reading skills using the master artists.  For example, she chose this painting by Klimt

and uses it to teach the following reading/language art skills: quotes, narrative writing, main idea and supporting details, author's purpose, fact and opinion, theme, compare/contrast, similes and metaphors, predict, and story components (character, setting, plot).  (These skills may vary by artist studied, but each artist has at least this many skills taught!)  I was simply amazed how she can teach so many important skills using a painting.  After listening to her tell about the amazing lessons she teaches to her class and their responses they created, I found out her she teaches an average bunch of 2nd graders.  I thought, if her 2nd graders can do this, my kids can do this, too!  She has created several books, each on a different artist, to teach reading and language arts skills.  She also makes science, social studies, and math connections with the paintings/artists.  I really hope you will look into her materials. I can't say enough about them.  I will say, I am super excited that my school is purchasing all of her books for the staff library!  I can't wait for them to arrive!  You can find more information about Robyne's amazing books HERE.  (No, this is not a paid advertisement.  This is my opinion offered freely about this series of books.)

I also want everyone to know how amazing integrating the arts are into your core curriculum.  I teach a self-contained special ed class.  My students are 2 or more years below grade level in all subjects.  Since I began integrating the arts into my class, I have been able to move 5 students out of my room and back into the general classroom with minimal resource support.  Before the arts, I wasn't able to move anyone back into the general classroom.  The power of the arts is incredible!


Saturday, July 14, 2012

Arts Integration!!

I am very excited!  This weekend I am heading to MTSU to attend a workshop on Arts Integration. Many of the teachers I work with will also be attending and several are presenting.  I can't wait to share with you all of the fun things I learn!  Have a great week!

Friday, July 13, 2012

And the winner is....

Good morning!  the lucky winner of my 400 giveaway is Margaret!  I sent you an email.  I need to know what products you want and I will email them to you!  Congratulations!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

100 Best Resources for Educators

Online Masters in has created a list of the 100 Best Web Resources for Educators in 2012.  I was simply amazed to find out that I made the list for Elementary Resources.  There are many blogs that I stalk follow because of the great ideas they share.  You will find many wonderful blogs on the list.  Check out this great list for some new blogs/resources to help you through your school year.

Best Teaching Resource 2012


Sunday, July 8, 2012

Wahoo! Freebie for all and a Giveaway!!

I want to celebrate 400 followers by saying thank you to each and everyone of you!  I never thought blogging would make me a better teacher, but I truly believe that it has!  I created some special, olympic themed classroom materials for everyone! One lucky blog stalker will win $25 worth of materials from my TpT store.  I am making this super easy so everyone can participate!  Good luck and thanks to all of you wonderful bloggers/stalkers!  You can pick up the FREE materials HERE!  

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Saturday, July 7, 2012

Tips and Tricks to Make Alternate State Assessment Easy

I teach a k-5 self-contained special ed class.  Some of my students take the regular state assessment and some qualify for the alternate portfolio assessment.  The Alt is so much better for most of my students since the students are tested over a long period of time and they are assessed on personal growth not mastery of the skill on their grade level.  It is a LOT of work on the teacher.  Here’s a breakdown of how the TCAP-Alt works in Tennessee.

Students are required to be tested in reading/language arts, math, science, and social studies.  For each subject, the teacher chooses 3 standards which are based on the student’s IEP.  For each standard, the teacher has to plan lessons and assessments to take data on for 15 days.  (The days do not have to be consecutive.)  The teacher also has to keep track of which peers the student worked with for each data point and what choice you gave the student.  By the end, that’s a lot of data to keep track of especially when you have several students taking the Alt.
I have 4 folders, one for each subject area.  I keep all data sheets and materials needed to assess that subject area in that folder.  On the outside of each folder, I have a chart that has the students’ names down the left side and the numbers 1-15 across the top.  As I complete an assessment for a student, I check off their name under the correct standard.  I can tell at a glance how many data points I have completed for each student.  (See checklist here.)  I also keep one folder for each student that is being assessed.  I put completed graphs and evidence sheets in the student’s individual folder. I also put all of the other papers that will be part of the Alt in individual folders such as the table of contents and the signature pages.  Here is an example of where I record each student’s scores. (See data sheet here.)  I put the standard at the top and make enough copies so that I have more than 15 data collection days (students are absent and will need to make up days at the end so they still have 15 data days.)
How do you make this manageable?  I try to figure out how to make flashcards for each standard.  The students either identify or sort the flashcards so I can assess daily quickly and easily.  When I make my flashcards, I make them for what I want them to be able to do at the very end of the unit of study.  At the beginning, they may only know 1 or 2 correct answers, but by the end, they are getting more and more correct.  Remember, the goal of the Alt is to show growth, not mastery of the skill. If they master the skill, that’s great, but so often our lower functioning students are not able to master a skill after a unit of study, but they have made progress.   Here is a set of my simple machine flashcards that I use with the students.  I have them sort them into the different types of simple machine it is. Then, I quickly count how many are correct out of how many total and I have a percentage to recored on my data sheet.  I add in any other details that I need such as peers and choice offered and my assessment lasted only 2-3 minutes! 

Some standards don’t allow for flashcards such as writing.  For those standards, I create a rubric.  Here is a sample of a writing rubric that I made for one of my students last year.  The good thing about rubrics is you can customize it to fit each student’s individual needs.  They are quick and easy and allow you to keep several days worth of data on each rubric.

I hope you found some useful tips.  I would love to hear any of your useful tips and tricks.


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

My blog?

Hi bloggy friends.  My blog was nominated for the Most Fascinating Special Education Teacher blog!  I can't believe it!  I would really appreciate you heading over and sending a vote my way!
Thanks friends!

                                                    Fascination Awards


Monday, July 2, 2012

WoW! You can win what?!!

Peace, Love, and Learning is having a huge giveaway!  Three lucky blog stalkers will win an amazing prize!  I have donated my Plant Unit as part of the Awesome Blogger Prize Pack.  Head on over and enter to win.  You have until Sunday to enter. Good luck everyone!

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