Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Special Sparkle Giveaway!

Hey Guys! You can find me over at A Special Sparkle where I have a GIVEAWAY waiting for you!!

Today was picture day! My kids did really great, but picture day in special ed is a whole other experience! I taught general for 3 years and it was always the same routine. The kids go up to the stool, smile, photographer peeks at the screen, says "great!" and then you move on to the next kid. This does NOT happen in special ed!!

I love my kids! They are ADORABLE and do not look "special" by any means if you just glanced at them. The problem happens when you pull a camera out! They suddenly turn into aliens! Force kids who don't like eye contact to stare at a stranger with a camera and smile a real smile...easier said than done! You should have seen the goofy things my co-teacher and I were doing to make the kids laugh!

And this happened:
Teacher: You didn't dress up for picture day?
Kid: No, I just want to look natural for my picture!
(a few minutes later at picture time)
Me: Smile for the camera!
Kid: Why do I have to smile for a picture? I just want to look natural. My parents know what I look like when I smile.
Me: How about you smile and I give you instant prize box?
Kid: *Big cheesy grin* (that was eventually caught on camera 3 tries later)

And here's me on picture day! Cherish it, I actually have makeup on at work. It happens about twice a year! Obviously not the official photo as it was taken by our class aide as I was sitting on the kids' bean bag chair in the "calm corner." That thing is shockingly comfortable! I've been known to sit on it as I work on my laptop when the kids are gone after school!

Also, my support for autism continued into my weekend this week! I participated in a fundraiser workout to support kids with autism. The kid it was named after is the exact type of kids I've been working with for the last 5 years. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Successful Parent Conferences

We just finished our parent teacher conferences on Thursday and Friday. It was a long couple of days, but they went fabulously! I genuinely don't think I've ever had a more successful set of conferences! Every parent left very happy, and so did us teachers! Whoo hoo! Yippee skippy!

In our class we have 2 teachers and we each bond with completely different kids. Some kids come to me for everything, other kids prefer Lauren. We have totally different personalities and therefore different connections with the kids. Both of us love this and see this as the epitome of teamwork in a co-teaching classroom. As long as every kid feels loved and has a strong connection with at least one of us, that's all that matters.

With this in mind, we took turns leading the conferences based on which teacher has the strongest connection with that child. It's a very equal balance and made the conferences go 50/50 for who was leading and who was taking all of the notes.

One thing that seemed strange to me at first, but I actually really liked was the "action required" section of our notes below our regular notes of the discussion topics. We had to make a list during our conference of things that needed to be followed up on. This ranged from emails to specialists, behavior charts to send home, to the new strategies we wanted to implement based on our discussions. This section made it SOOOO easy come Monday morning to make sure we did all of those little follow up things that can be so easy to forget after a new parent walks into your room to talk.

Our kids have made soooo much progress since they walked into our room on the first day. The kids have already made HUGE academic strides! We have also had kids who had struggles with their behavior who are like whole new kids now. We are so proud of them!

One thing we make sure to do is tell little stories about each kid to their parent about something that made us laugh, or something that made us very proud of them! The parents always love this part. This was my favorite story of the week:
Please note the kids are dead serious during this conversation.
Kid 1: (big sniffle/snort)
Kid 2: They make tissues for that!

Kid 1: Tissues are for boogers. This is snot!!
Kid 2: But still! Use a tissue!
Me: Actually Kid 1, Kid 2 is right. Tissues are for boogers AND snot (as I try my hardest to keep a straight face, but then burst into laughter as I look at the other teacher)
The parents busted up laughing and it made for a very enjoyable conference ending!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Owl Lessons

This week we continued our theme of nocturnal animals. The boys have loved every minute of the lessons and I find myself constantly surprised by the amount of academic vocabulary they are using during our conversations! I love hearing the kids talk about how owls are predators and the prey of the snowy owls are lemmings in the arctic.

When we were writing a graphic organizer I was happily surprised by one of the kids who was ignoring my modeling of answers and creating his own ideas. They were exactly correct and he was on a mission to do the assignment on his own. Normally a teacher would be mad at a kid not following directions. Instead I was proud of how hard this struggling reader was working to generate ideas and then spell the words on his own!

We finished watching The Magic of the Snowy Owl on Monday. My kids really loved the movie and even asked me to send the link home to their parents. It's a PBS documentary, but it's not targeted for kids. You may want to watch the video to determine if it's appropriate for the type of kids in your class.

More specifically, this documentary shows what can happen to the runt of the litter. I explained this to my students by telling them that most sets of animals born in groups have a "runt" who is not as big or strong as the others. Sadly, in this movie the runt dies when there is not enough food for the whole family to survive. I skipped over this part because I didn't want the kids to be any more upset than necessary. They know the bird died, but I skipped over minutes 28-30 and started it at minute 31:03. I'm all for science, but not scarring kids for life!

Then we made paper owls using this template. I made an enlarged copy of it, then cut it and traced it onto old file folders as tracing templates for the kids. They all got to pick their colors to decide if they wanted snowy male (all white), female (white and brown), or another combination of realistic owl colors. They turned out pretty cute! Take a peek! Yes, I'm well aware that a few seem to have turned into Angry Birds! Haha!

I've also created some owl clip art for my lessons to make some of PowerPoint and worksheet activities a little more detailed. You can pick it up here in my TPT store.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Starting our Nocturnal Animals Unit

It's October now, so what better way to celebrate the month of Halloween than with Nocturnal Animals as our theme?! We started off the lesson with a simple picture sort that I found to separate nocturnal and diurnal animals. I'll be totally honest, I had no idea what the opposite of nocturnal was in science terms! Thank you Google search! You can find the link here. The activity was pretty simple, but the kids loved it and it was a great way to kick off the unit and get their brains going. I also made a little introductory Nocturnal Animals PowerPoint but it's not quite ready to post for you guys just yet.

Then we watched a few short videos about owls on National Geographic Kids. This was a great way to learn some basic owl information with images and videos of real owls.

Night Owls
Night Vision
Full Video List

Then we completed this simple graphic organizer for the information we learned from the video. You can download it for free HERE. The owl clip art I drew for this unit is also in my TPT store now too.

Then on Friday we started a longer documentary about how hard it is for snowy owls to survive in the arctic. I had a chat with the kids before the movie started about how owls are preditors so they will see them eat small animals in the movie. Thankfully owls eat things whole so there wasn't anything gruesome!

I've learn kids are either fascinated or totally bored by documentaries. One of the things I love to do is sit next to the player to hit pause every time there is an interesting fact and talk about what is happening. Then the kids are more likely to be engaged in the movie, and I know they are learning the crucial information I want them to learn. This movie is long (an hour) for my little 1st/2nd graders with attention struggles, so I actually broke this into two days. I need to develop a response activity for when the movie is over Monday afternoon.

This video is from PBS and shows how a family of owls tries to raise owlets in the arctic. Be warned, it is a nature video that was not film just for kids. There is a very sad section involving the runt dying that I highly suggest you fast forward through! Approximately minutes 27:30-31:02! It's super educational, but still has sad real life events that not all kids are ready to see!
The Magic of the Snowy Owl
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...