Friday, May 31, 2013

Successful Saturday: Packing + Autism Videos

Happy Successful Saturday! I had a whole post planned, and then I got sucked into clips of Katie Couric's Autism Awareness interviews, so you get to read my babble valuable information about that first!

I tried to pick a favorite, but I couldn't! I tried to get a YouTube version of them so you didn't have to keep clicking links, but I couldn't find these videos there, so click the links below for some great videos about autism and kids who have it.
Temple Grandin
Parenting a kid with autism (article + videos)
Living with Autism (a collection of videos on one page)

I have a confession to make...I had tears welling up in my eyes as I was watching these, but it had nothing to do with their stories of autism. It had everything to do with me! I have been teaching kids with autism for the last 4 years, but now I'm changing schools. I'll still be teaching special education, but the new school focuses more on learning disabilities. There will be very few kids around with autism. Tonight I just realized that makes me really sad! Is it possible to fall in love with a disability?

My kids are quirky! And I love everything that comes along with that! I love seeing the goofy way they look at the world. I love that today I honestly stopped class to let a kid ask a friend to roar like a lion because he's never asked a friend to do anything and this was a breakthrough! I love watching them finally start to make sense of the crazy world around them. I love that today I picked a kid up and twirled him in a circle when he spontaneously told me a story about his home life without prompting (once again, totally new experience!). I've never been so thrilled to hear about a parent going to the airport, Haha!

Now the thought of not working with these kids makes me a little sad. I am secretly THRILLED to be tutoring one of my little guys this summer. His parents asked about where to find a tutor and I said "I'll do it!!" I know some of these parents really need the extra help, so I really want to try and stay in touch with them and their kids. I have a great group this year, and I'll really miss them!

Okay, now on to my original Successful Saturday post...which is suddenly feeling a little boring. Sorry, my tangent on loving autism seems way more interesting than me packing up my classroom now.
I have exactly 5 school days left with the kids, and only 1.5 of those will be spent inside our classroom thanks to field day, a field trip, and the graduation/award ceremony we have to will happily attend on the last day of school. All of this leaves me very little time to pack up my classroom!

There is only 1.5 weeks between jobs and I don't want to sacrifice any of those days for boring packing when my kids won't even be in the room to miss seeing my junk. Besides, I just booked a wine country getaway the week after school gets out to celebrate my b-day and new job!

So this week's success was all the stuff I got done! Here's my "Yay! I did that already!" list:
  • report cards
  • common core standards progress reports
  • HUGE chunk of my packing (all bookshelves, minus the kids' books)
  • a TON of stuff is now in my shed and on my living room floor (as in I moved it from school to home)
  • social skills assessments (they are 10 pages long for each kid and took me HOURS!)
  • last minute parent conference both the parents and I forgot to reschedule after their kid got sick last month, plus planning for me to tutor him this summer
  • work samples, end of the year testing, and report cards have all been filed in the appropriate places
  • Most importantly...I BOOKED A VACATION! I'm going to spend 3 days at a spa in wine country!
So that's my success! What's yours?

Thursday, May 30, 2013

How a BINGO game can save the day... or at least lead to a happy one!

It's amazing how one little thing can make a HUGE difference! For me, all it took was a game of Addition BINGO in my class today. And an added bonus moment thanks to a Robert Munsch book.

If you've ever been a SPED teacher, then you understand what happens when a SPED kid loses a game. It can be a full blown kicking, screaming tantrum that can last for hours! At one point subs were banned from giving the kids board games when I wasn't there to supervise and play social skills coach through every step of the game. I think it all stems from a huge blow to their self confidence when they know they already don't do as well as all the other kids in class. Add in losing at being crummy at yet another thing and the kid feels like a failure and has a fit.

Yesterday my cottage roommate (AKA my super awesome speech teacher friend) worked on "The Destroyer of Fun" who is one of the Social Thinking Unthinkables. He gets in your head and makes you super competitive and you destroy all the fun when you don't win. He got mad when he lost a speech game, but she had him rip The Destroyer of Fun out of his brain and throw it against the wall before he could ruin the fun. I was cracking up laughing at this by the way! Then the kid stopped his fit, and said "good game" and was perfectly fine. This has NEVER happens! We were so proud! I tried to see if it would happen again a few minutes later during BINGO, but he happened to win so there was no real test there.

Here is how BINGO made my day today...

I'm a meanie teacher and manipulated the game to make him lose. He's a kindergarten boy and totally didn't notice he had 5 in a row because it was diagonal and not up and down. I conveniently didn't tell him, then intentionally picked the addition cards that would make another student win.

Little guy did great! He surely wasn't happy but he didn't have a fit because he knows he'll drop levels on our behavior chart instantly. I reminded him of the Destroyer of Fun and without missing a beat he pretends to rip the Destroyer of Fun out of his brain, threw it on the floor, stomped on it, threw it in the trash, then calmly sat in his chair. I've never been so proud! He calmly asked not to play again and I said no, and he went ahead and played again anyway! It was great! Not to mention it was Addition BINGO so he was practicing how to add using counting on which is a 1st grade skill and he's in kindergarten. Whoo hoo!

How BINGO and Robert Munsch Made Me EXTRA Happy...

For storytime we read Roar! by Robert Munsch which is about kids who wake up grouchy then think it's funny to roar like lions all day. It's HYSTERICAL! It's even better if you have the CD like I do with Munsch reading his own book aloud with all the crazy noises he makes!

Anyway... because it was fun and it's the last week of school, I let all the kids give me their best ROAR right before the story began. One munchkin is the definition of autism and doesn't interact with others if he doesn't have to, and he surely doesn't play pretend very often. I got him to roar!! I was thrilled!!

Then it got even better... after the story he asked one of the boys "_____ will you roar again for me please?" The he goes to another boy and asks, "Will you roar for me too please?" I know this is like nothing, but in my world IT'S EVERYTHING! I have waited all year to get this kid to voluntarily talk to a classmate just because he wanted to, not because he was told to. I squealed and rubbed his curly head of hair telling him how proud I was that he talked to friends!

After round 1 of BINGO was a success by getting rid of the fun destroyer, my ROAR boy decided he was done playing. So I made a deal with him that he didn't have to play, but he had to lead the game and pull out the math problem cards and show them to his classmates.

HE DID IT!! He "kept his brain in the group" (not stimming or going off into his own little world) the whole time! Then after he read the problem, he'd prompt my kinder boy! For example, "B 8 + 4, put 8 in your brain and count on 4 more and find it in the B section." Can you tell he not only listens to my directions but can teach it to a classmate without being told to?!?!

I told his mom today and she was in shock that he was able to do those things! Then she laughed that of course my class is suddenly perfect the last week of school! Haha.

Have you had any moments of greatness during board games?

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Clearing out my classroom...or starting to at least

The end of the year craziness has begun! Today was the first big moving day for clearing out my classroom. Every time the kids left the room for recess/lunch/PE I was packing something up and loading up my car! We are down to just 7 days of school and of those 7 only 4 will be spent with us on campus. We have a teeny tiny school, so many big events are held off campus such as field day and graduation (last day of school). Plus we were able to sneak in one more "just for fun" field trip! So that means very limited packing time between now and the last day of school.

This was my living room 15 minutes ago! I just moved 15+ boxes into my shed where they are now stacked ceiling-high so I can shove more in there tomorrow.

I'm not quite sure how much more I have because there is a bunch of stuff in my room that will actually be staying there because I don't need/want it or it just plain belongs to the school. I know I need to pack up my classroom library, art supplies, posters/borders and find a big enough box for my binders because my set of banker boxes just isn't going to cut it for those.

On to life in my classroom this week...
I had the sweetest non-verbal boy shadow my class yesterday! Clearly my school was not a good fit for him, but if I taught non-verbal, he'd be the kid I'd want! He can't talk much at all aside from "no" but he was clearly bright. He is in kindergarten and could point to all his letters and numbers and could easily identify every single picture I asked out of about 50. I've actually never taught non-verbal, so just keeping him in my class for a few hours was a mental challenge for me to figure out how much he knew and could do. It would have been so easy to just let him play in the toy area all morning since I know our school doesn't take kids that can't talk, but I could tell he had something going on in his head and it was like a teacher game to see if I could teach a non-verbal kid on the fly! I used the kid-sized whiteboard for a bunch of different things, then I pulled out my rhyming puzzles for the pictures on the pieces to test his receptive language. He clearly knows what people are saying, he just has to respond in a different way. It almost made me want to teach non-verbal...almost.

I felt horrible when the mom cried after I talked to her about how we don't have the resources to help him. I almost started crying too! I had to explain that a 3 grade level split class without an aide just wouldn't be an appropriate place for him because he needs help to show what he knows without talking. I really hope they find a good school for him. The boy and his mom were so sweet!

I have another shadow student on Monday...a visiting kid the last real class day of school, this should be interesting!

Just for fun... a kid drawing of a monster that came to school. I think his question for the monster was "What are you doing a school?" I find it funny that if he could ask a monster any question at all, that's what it was. It just might inspire my next clip art collection! Hehehe!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Successful Saturday~ Author Chat + Giveaway Winners!

It's time to focus on the successes of the week!

After a very rough start, we had a very successful Skype chat with Howard Binkow, author of Howard B Wigglebottom Learns to Listen. The kids loved it! He was the most patient man ever and I'm sooo grateful!! One little guy had his first meltdown in weeks in the first 2 minutes of the chat! Howard called a little early just as my kids were walking into class. I had them come early for this little and changes in routine are NOT an easy thing in the world of autism! I honestly had the kid screaming at the top of his lungs while on Skype! I wanted to cry! Howard was sooooo patient and didn't seem to be bothered in the least by this little snafu. Thank goodness!

After the kid calmed down Howard jumped right in with showing the kids all sorts of cool things on his website. The kids were entranced! He was so friendly the whole time. Then our internet connection was being it's usual temperamental self...let's remember I teach in a 100 year old cottage. Not exactly up to speed with Skype technology! He didn't mind at all when we had to call each other back two...or three...okay maybe 4 times. Hahaha.

Time to share the good stuff he showed us!

Free Animated Books!


The kids wrote questions for him this week and Howard Binkow answered them very nicely. We discovered there are actually two more books coming out this year! One is about who to trust, and the other is...oh gosh, I suddenly don't remember! Either way, I remember it sounding like a fabulous topic in the moment! He was so nice to talk to and very generous with his time. We chatted with him for about 30-45 minutes! Then in the afternoon the kids watched his animated books on the computers. I love that the books all teach an important lesson!

We also got to see the pilot episode of The Wiggle Tales!

If you are interested in an author visit, I believe there is a place to request one on the web page at I happened to get lucky and Howard Binkow found me and offered to do this for us.

Feel free to link up and share your success of the week!

Now what you've all been waiting for... THE GIVEAWAY WINNERS!!! I'm working on sending out the emails to the MANY fabulous contributors for this great giveaway. If you won, you'll be getting an email from me by the end of the day (Saturday) and you'll start getting your prizes in your email from the people who donated their products for your prize very soon :)

Thursday, May 23, 2013

It's almost author chat time!

I am SUPER DUPER excited that we get to have an author chat (via Skype) with Howard Binkow tomorrow morning! He wrote the Howard B. Wigglebottom books that I made activities for earlier this year. He contacted me about a month ago and asked if he could Skype with my class and of course I said yes.

My kids are so excited about it that they are voluntarily coming to school a half hour early! We normally start at 8:25, but the kids are coming at 7:55 for our 8:00 Skype time. I promised them that when the rest of the kids have to go into their classes, we'll get to go play outside since they are missing their playtime before school. This made them feel extra special.

We chose his book Howard B. Wigglebottom Learns to Listen as the basis for our questions. It was a bit of a struggle to get my kids to create questions at first. If you aren't familiar with autism...It's actually really hard for them to generate questions spontaneously. It took the prompt of "questions usually start with who, what, when, where, why or how" because at first the kids said "You're books are really cool!" and I had to explain that that's a compliment, not a question. Then later in the day, Genius Boy came to school and I handed him a marker and told him to think of a couple more, so his are the last 4 on the list. He came up with really good ones all on his own.
  1. Why did you make Howard a bunny?
  2. Why doesn't he listen?
  3. Why does the character have the same name as you?
  4. How many books have you written?
  5. Will there be more Howard B. Wigglebottom books?
  6. Did you illustrate the books?
  7. How did you write the books?
  8. How long did it take you to write the books?
  9. When did you start writing the books?
Oh I forgot to mention something... IT'S CRAZY HAIR DAY TOMORROW! So who knows what kind of crazy my kids will look like tomorrow! I sent Howard a message warning him my kids would look silly before we answer the Skype call looking like crazy people!

Oh, and I have a shadow student visiting my class tomorrow to see if he will be joining our school next year. So he'll probably think we're crazy too. I know nothing about this kid so I told the parents to bring him after the chat is over...just in case. He looks fabulous on paper but...sometimes shadow days = Lisa runs out the door to catch them!

Last but certainly not least... Don't forget to enter my GIGANTIC bloggy birthday giveaway! You only have 1 more day to enter! There are 5 Rafflecopters and 27 prizes! You can enter on my Facebook page for part of it or on by clicking the image below to get to the full list of prizes and raffles.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Get Teaching Materials + Help the OK Tornado Victims

I contributed my 5 Senses in the 4 Seasons mini-book to the relief effort pack. Please buy the pack to help the people recovering from the tornado in OK!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Busy busy spirit week!

This is going to be short and sweet... I am CRAZY busy trying to get things done in the last 3 weeks of school! Plus it's spirit week! I was teaching in my PJ's on Monday, and rocking my hot pink soccer socks and my uniform today for Sports Day. Tomorrow is Superhero day...not sure I have anything ready for that!

I'm scrambling to get all sorts of paperwork done this week before the chaos of the last week of school sets in. I've got social skills assessments, report cards, common core standards progress reports, class awards, a slide show, and who knows what else I'm forgetting. I know I need to have my whole classroom empty by the end of the school year since I won't be returning in the fall. I'm super excited about my new job, but it's going to be a very wacky couple of weeks until then!

Just in case you missed it, yesterday was my 1st Bloggy Birthday! Click the image below to go to yesterday's post and the FIVE Rafflecopters to win fabulous prizes!!

Monday, May 20, 2013

It's My 1st Bloggy Birthday!!

It is exactly one year ago today that I started this little blog! This has been the best adventure ever! I started this blog after reading so many great teacher blogs. I honestly never thought anyone would read my blog! Now here I am a year later and I'm at 230+ followers!

I THANK YOU for sharing your ideas, reading my venting posts, supporting my TPT store, and I am especially thankful for all of the new friends I've made thanks to this little blog! For the last 4 years I have been the only K-2 at my school, which means I've never had anyone to swap teaching ideas and materials with. It was something I took for granted at my old school, and greatly missed. Thanks to all of you, I know have people to share teaching ideas, lessons, and super amazing classroom materials. It's so fun to take a peek into other classrooms while you take a peek into mine!

Now it's time to celebrate!! Time to give away some awesome prizes! Feel free to enter in as many of the raffles as you want! I have them sorted into categories for you so you won't win things that have no use in your classroom, just the prizes you want for your class and needs!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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The 2nd Grade Surprise

Surfin' Through Second

Teaching and Tapas: 2nd Grade in Spain

Fabulously First


A day in first grade

Conversations in Literacy

Peace, Love, & First Grade
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