Planning for Maternity Leave!!

So I possibly mentioned my upcoming maternity leave (possibly the worst time ever to be absent...I'll be missing the first 4 weeks of school!) which is giving me massive anxiety. However, that's life and I'm trying to set up my class for success in my absence.

Here is Part 1 of my maternity leave plans:
Week-by-week sub plans for getting back into routines, coordinating with therapists for schedule information rotation of morning group activities & special Back to School activities.
The main focus of September is usually:
1.Getting students used to changes to our schedules, routines & staffing.
   a. Schedule changes & social stories about the new year changes & my maternity leave will be reviewed on the first day (and again as needed). The new monthly calendar will be set up & discussed so students have a general idea of what's happening day to day.
2. Getting student behaviors back under control (if they aren't already) by re-establishing behavioral expectations and re-pairing the environment & staff (old & new) with reinforcement (using higher than normal rates of reinforcement to show the students their good behavior and efforts in the classroom is worthwhile, then gradually moving back to their typical reinforcement schedules).
3. Dealing with administrative Back to School needs like having forms returned, medical supplies sent in, lunch plans set up (especially for students with free & reduced lunch plans), etc.



Stay tuned in for upcoming posts about our schedule & structure of our September instructional sessions. Best of luck planning for September everyone!!

In the meantime, check out these resources for more clear guidelines on some of the morning group activities we will be working on.
Morning Group Activities: Weather Group Plans & Materials & Calendar Group Plans & Materials
Back to School Forms & Activities: Back to School Forms (FREEBIE)  & Back to School Mini Books

Student Data Books: Getting Organized!!

(So this is take two on this blog post... started it on my phone, when to look something up real fast and lost it. Oh well, Take a Deep Breath Tuesday continues!!)

This year I completely revamped and reorganized my system for data collection, which brought with it new formatted programs, data sheets and a MUCH better organizational system that makes instruction SO much easier! Including myself, there are 4 staff members in my classroom running programs on any given day at any given time. That means we need a clear-cut & simple system that we can use efficiently so our main focus is student learning!

Create what works for you and your classroom. I do NOT have all of my data in this book, this is primarily academics and language skills. Other skills which most/all students are working on that take place in a very specific location (such as hygiene, typing, vocational work tasks) are organized in their own binders with each students' current goals, data sheets & materials are set up inside - again, whatever is the simplest way to make everything clear and accessible is absolutely the way to go!

I have to give a shout out to Miss. Meghan, a colleague of time, who used this fantastic organizer & some neat tricks to make them last longer & be completely re-usable time and time again (you'll see how below!) for her skill acquisition programs: This is what I'm talking about (also available at other stores that sell office supplies such as Walmart, possibly Target, etc.): Avery Extra-Wide Table of Contents Tab Dividers 1-10

 So first things first - cute binder covers & spine labels with student names so all staff can quickly identify and grab what they need (I even have one student who will look at the schedule, see that he is working with me, see which classmates are also working with us and will grab all the books to get ready!)

When you open the binders, the first thing you'll see is: A list of IEP goals, baseline scores, dates the programs were initiated & mastery or discontinuation dates, assessments & assessment data, my notes, etc. Just a little section all for me :)

Here's the table of contents divider set in action! I have mine laminated so I can easily write on and erase them using dry erase markers & then the table of contents is placed in a page protector so the writing doesn't get wiped off until I'm ready (again, thanks Meg, you're 100% my organizational guru!).
Note: This particular student has a lot of goals in a lot of different areas, so I have grouped them together in a way I felt made the most sense. For that reason when you flip to a certain #'d divider you will see multiple goals. Ideally, there would only be one goal per divider, however who would I be if I didn't have to be flexible & learn to adapt to meet the ever-changing needs of my kids??

Next: I included a binder pocket for storing bulkier materials. I only put things in here temporarily (if they are shared/communal materials) or things which only that one student is working on. 
Note: I have a different storage place for communal materials so that we can all locate & share the materials easily.

Once you flip to the next page, you'll find the numbered dividers, which, again, make it super easy to find what you need and fast!
Flip to the divider you're looking for here is what you will find:
1. A skill acquisition program
2. A data sheet
3. Materials (whenever possible!)

The data collecting continues in the next section. Here you will find all of my curriculum checklists, updated regularly for the student. 
(Behind the checklists I have acquired programs, still working on some of the organization in the back of these binders, but hey - we are a work in progress!)

I hope you find this helpful & please share your tips for organization, I'm always looking for ways to improve my organization & efficiency!


NEW Comprehensive Typing Skills Resource

Hey All!

It's certainly been a while. Just wanted to show you what I've been up to!
So this year my goal has been to get so completely organized that I blow my own mind. Clearly that has not yet happened, however I have been doing some helpful things for my classroom. One has been developing this comprehensive Typing Skills Resource (soon to be available on my TPT Store).
One of the main areas my instructional aides have been working with my students this year is on their typing goals. The great thing about this is the skills are very clear-cut. Either the student did or did not perform the skill accurately and independently which takes out all the guess work.

Since my students are all performing at very different levels for this skill set (like most others!!), making materials little by little has been putting us pretty far behind. So I finally buckled down and got to work. I set up a separate Curriculum Checklist just for typing skills (which includes 44 skills!), wrote a sample program for each skill (that can be tailored to the needs of any individual student), made up custom data sheets (where needed, some skills will use a more generic form, whereas rate building and chain programs may have their own data form) and created all the materials I needed to really get these skills the intensive practice they need for mastery (which includes typing models & computer files as well as visual aids for instruction & for a quick reference for your instructional aides).

Below is a quick glance at what my binder looks like set up in my class. This set-up may not work for everyone, however I like that things are all in one place so that multiple instructors can find them when needed.
First I set up the dividers: Student Data (All data sheets for current goals are located in this section, flip to the student's initials & you can see exactly what they need to do for the day.

Here is a sample data sheet for one of my guys. He is working on different punctuation marks (multiple sets are running at once for this particular student). Data is recorded for each of the punctuation marks he is working on so I can see what's happening and where the trouble areas are (as well as strengths!) to make fast & data-based decisions about what to do. 

The second divider holds blank copies of data sheets. For the time being I only have the two most commonly used data sheets in this section. For more specific skills, the data sheets can be found with that program. 

Rate Building Data Sheet

General Discrete Trial Instruction (DTI) Data Sheet

Section 3: Programs and Materials. Each Skill area is separated by a labeled divider (see Skill Area 3 Divider Below). Following the divider, the programs are placed in the same order as listed on the divider and each skill is followed immediately by the instructional materials needed to teach it. 

Small materials are cut out, laminated & placed into labeled baggies. 
All of the baggies of materials for one skill are placed into a single page protector. 

 Larger materials are placed into their own page protector. So that it was easier for staff to find & less confusing for students (if a text box is on the typing page, it is pretty likely that the students will think they are supposed to type it & teaching them to ignore certain parts of a model they are supposed to follow is a tricky thing... you wouldn't want the student to start (on their own) deciding that they are not going to type certain things!) I put the label on the front of the page protector & placed the model in the back. When it comes time to work on the skill, the aide will located the page protector, take the page out, bring it to the computer and the student is all set!

So keep an eye out for this resource within the next week or so as it is just being finalized with some custom clip art from my favorite artist: Brian Bolanowski, my extremely talented brother.

Feel free to email me with any questions at
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