Friday, November 30, 2012

SLO much fun!

We met with our principal today to figure how to meet the states expectations for writing Student Learning Objectives (SLOs) based on tests that are beyond the skills of our students. Fortunately, our principal (and district, in my opinion) realize the reality of an actual classroom, specifically a self contained special education classroom. They listen when we tell them that the regional pre-assessments are not a true picture of what our students are capable of doing. There is no test to show the growth our students have made, from struggling to sit and attend for more than 2 or 3 minutes to being able to join a general education classroom and participate for 30 minutes or more without disruption. This is HUGE growth for these students but cannot be measured by any standardized assessment. As it stands however, we must try to fit our students into this given box and show rigorous growth according their standards, meaning only academic skills. I know my students will improve and I know that I will do all I can to get them to reach their goals (and the ones I set for them!) but it won't be because NYS says I have to write it all down and prove it, it will be because it is my job and I love it!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

MORE Thanksgiving Fun!

This week has been full of Thanksgiving activities! We tasted a variety of Thanksgiving side dishes. The students got to taste stuffing, apples, mashed potatoes, homemade squash, apple sauce and cranberry sauce. Mrs. Neumann, our OT, did this in another classroom in our building and shared the idea with us. We were able to tie in our first grade science curriculum by having the students describe the color and texture of the foods as they tried each one. We tied in our math curriculum by collecting data about which ones they liked or did not like. We could have furthered that by creating a class graph comparing the information we collected. I'll keep that in mind for next year!
Then we wrote our own Thanksgiving recipe book. We tried to be as accurate as possible by remembering what we tasted and researching some recipes and pictures online before writing our own. This really helped the students to use more interesting language when writing. They used words like sprinkle, steam, boil, degrees, and stir. We were also able to discuss informational writing. We used the transitional words first, then, next and last. Each student will get a copy of this book to take home for their parents to read and enjoy. The kids did a fantastic job, but I hope they don't follow these recipes exactly! (PS: I posted my Thanksgiving recipes format in my TPT store)

We also made handprint Turkeys as a gift to someone we are thankful for. I found the poem on this blog. The kids always enjoy painting their hands for various projects.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thanksgiving Fun!

The Occupational and Physical Therapists often push into my classroom during science or social studies this year. I only have 4 students at this time so we have been trying to incorporate more movement into these lessons. For Thanksgiving, I created an activity to help the students to identify some traditional Thanksgiving images. The students were given clues describing the images including details about not only what they look like, but maybe how they taste or feel and what they are used for at Thanksgiving. These are all details that we have been learning about in science as well. After being given the clues, the students were then asked to move in a variety of ways to find the hidden pictures in the room. They slithered like snakes, walked like a turkey, hopped like a bunny, did the bear walk and army crawl. (DM)

Check out the whole activity and more in my Teachers Pay Teachers store:

Clipart from:

Saturday, November 10, 2012

My Favorite Things

On the radio the other day, they mentioned that this is usually the week that Oprah had her extremely popular "favorite things" episodes. Obviously, I'm not Oprah, nor can I afford to share anything other than my ideas, but here are a few of my favorite websites:

Reading A to Z  ( printable leveled books, activities, lessons, assessments, phonics, wordless books for writing

Pinterest ( If you haven't been on here, be careful; it's addicting :)  Follow me at Follow Me on Pinterest

Teachers Pay Teachers ( See my store link to the right

Teacher's Notebook ( My shop link: coming soon!

Math Fact Cafe ( online activities and free printables

ABCya ( great learning games for kids

Cookie ( another site for learning games for kids but also printable worksheets

A to Z teacher stuff ( a little bit of everything

Please add your favorites in the comments section below! I know my best resources are my colleagues. (DM)

Friday, November 9, 2012

Split Personality

My role in the OWLS classroom has me feeling some days like I have a split personality! Darcy and I joke quite often that she is becoming more of a speech path every year and I have become more of a teacher. We share everything... our space, our materials, our responsibilities and stress and of course the fun and excitement, it only makes sense that our jobs sometimes overlap. I have times throughout our day when I see kids for a more typical speech session. I have my own little area in the back of the room, with all of materials and I get to work on articulation or specific language needs... the rest of the time I am co-teaching or involved in a lesson as a helper or leading a lesson from science and social studies to math. 99% of the time I LOVE that my role in the classroom is so different day to day, but that other 1% of the time I sometimes feel like I have completely forgotten what it would be like to be a true speech path. Sometimes I wonder if I could juggle a massive caseload that has me running from one of the building to the other or if I would self destruct! I am hoping that I will be able to show you a little of what my life is like in the OWLS program. This section will have everything from how I organize my materials and record keeping to specific speech activities and lessons.

BUILDing Math Skills

We spent some time this fall trying to figure out the best way to meet the extremely diverse math needs of our class this year. I LOVE pinterest so that was my first place to research some new ideas. We came across this blog with the BUILD math centers from the Daily Five program. We used that idea and adapted it to fit our classroom. This is what we came up with. We use name tags to move the students through each center. They only work at one station per day which makes it much easier to manage. While the students are working, I can pull 3 math groups to work on specific skills. (DM)

Thursday, November 1, 2012


This year our school selected themes for our Halloween Character parade. We had community helpers in kindergarten, Disney characters for first graders and story book characters for second graders. We didn't have a lot of money to go out and buy costumes so we made our own this year! Kristin blew some pictures up using an "old fashioned" overhead projector and we colored the rest. Such fun!