Sunday, July 20, 2014

Advice for First Year Special Education Teachers

A recently had a newly licensed teacher, who obtained her first special education teaching job, ask me for advice as she started her first year. After some thought I wrote down much more advice for her than I thought I had. I decided to make it a post. Below is the contents:

So what advice would you give a new teacher? What did I miss? I’d love to hear from you!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Easy Peasy Math Helpers (They're Free too!)

This year seems to be flying by. I hope you all are
enjoying your summer. I’m back again with another
bright idea for the month of July. This one is short
and sweet.
What you will need this time?
Paint Chips & a Sharpie
Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy

 Whenever I go shopping, whether it is Home Depot, Lowes, Wal-mart, or Paint Stores, I always grab a handful (or two) of paint chips. I love them for just about anything.  I’ve used them as flash cards, as bookmarks, as seat markers and more. This particular time I was having a kiddo who was struggling with being able to count by 5’s. We tried flash cards, songs, everything. Nothing seemed to work.
I came up with this idea after realizing he seemed to
be a kinesthetic learner. So I took paint chips and a
sharpie and wrote down the numbers by 5. When I
was done I placed them on the ground. We jumped
down the hall and sang out each one. This seemed to
work. Within a week he had them memorized and we
were on our way to harder math concepts.

I hope you try this bright idea in your own classroom.
I’d love for you to follow me on Instagram,
Don’t forget to check out the other bright ideas

Saturday, June 21, 2014

A Bright Idea: Giving Positive Praise to Even The Most Difficult Students

I can’t believe it is JUNE! Oh my goodness. Time flies. It seems like just yesterday I was praying I could make it until the end of the school year and now we have been out for a few weeks. I hope you are enjoying your summer break if you are out! If you are one of those unlucky people who are still in school, I hope you are managing to make it through! 
I’m back with another bright idea! 

This month I bring you what I like to call, “The Love Bucket”.  Since I teach special ed, I occasionally have students for multiple years in a row. With this one student in particular he had a really hard time with adjusting to the kinds of positive behaviors that we were wanting to see from him. He often yelled, and threw things, or would try to wrestle with others if he wanted to play with them. He didn’t know how to start to play with others and often would resort to try to engage them in play by wrestling with them. As you can imagine, that didn’t go over well with his unsuspecting playmates. We worked really hard from December to June when I first got him last year. His parents were wonderful and were trying to keep similar expectations at home.  Over last summer I had the idea to start writing down positive things I would see him do. I am not a teacher who likes to point out only problems that I see with a student. I like to point out positive attributes as well. I realized that with him, we were so focused on keeping track of the negative (FBA Anyone?? ) that we weren’t relaying the positives.

I decided to be more purposeful with giving him positive praise. Each time he did something great, I would write it down on a piece of paper. Whether it was he “sat through Calendar time without any disruptions,” or he “verbally said Hi to someone in the hallway.” I wrote them down. I tried to write out at least 2 things a day. If he had a really great day there could be as many as four or five that I had written out. At the end of the day, I put them in a container and sent them home with him. His family was thrilled. They were finally seeing GOOD things that he had done, instead of only hearing about the bad. They told me that after dinner, they would pull out the container and read aloud to him what I had written down. They would all make a big deal about it telling him what great job he had done. 

Below are a few of the many little notes of praise I have him. 

At the end of the year, his mom brought me in his Love Bucket. It’s what she named the bucket that they emptied all of the good notes into. It over flowed. At the beginning of the year, she called me crying one day worried that maybe he didn’t belong in our classroom. Was worried that he would never get his behavior under control. This little love bucket proved that he could and that we all helped him too. He is moving on to another teacher next year, so I will miss him dearly, but I know that he has made great progress and will continue to do so with his new teacher in the fall.  

At the end of the year his LOVE BUCKET runneth over!

I would love for you to check out a few of my other BRIGHT IDEA Posts, or following me on FACEBOOK, Pinterest, or INSTAGRAM =) 
& Don't forget to check out the over wonderful bright ideas from the linky below!   

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Surprising Resources

Thanks for stopping by my May Bright Ideas post! I hope you are enjoying hopping through all of the BRIGHT Ideas! =) 

It is finally May! I don’t know if you know what that means, but around here it means that school is ALMOST out! Nine More days, nine more days….. It’s become my little mantra. Kind of like the little engine that could…. without the awesome conductor and caboose… but I digress.
May also means that it is time for another BRIGHT IDEA. So Here it goes:

Spring was made to teach science concepts. I mean what better way to teach about life cycles and living and non-living animals and things than by looking at these things first hand.
By Spring it feels like my kiddos and I are JUST hitting our stride. They know what I expect and we have a good solid foundation to work on.

Last year my class watched a caterpillar grow into a butterfly.
This year I wanted to do something different. I had heard about classrooms hatching baby chicks. This intrigued me. I went to Amazon and looked around for incubators, knowing I would need one. Holy Guacamole! They are expensive. So that Idea was out. Or so I thought.
I posted on my
Facebook asking if anyone knew of any way that I could make this happen…

To my surprise there was a way. I don’t know if this is every where or just in Ohio, but we have what are called county extension offices. For $20 bucks I was able to get 24 baby chick eggs, borrow an incubator, a brooding box, and chick feed, to try to grow our baby chick eggs into actual baby chicks.
It’s an involved process. You have to turn the eggs over 3 times a day and put water in the incubator, but when it was all said and done we had 6 baby chicks hatch. Sadly 2 of them didn’t make it. But we have 4 that are alive and thriving. We get to pick where they go to live out their lives too. 1 of my students is taking 1 home and a few of my
para’s are splitting the remaining ones up. Needless to say it was an exciting few weeks in my classroom. I have never seen so much excitement and learning from a unit. It was such a wonderful process.

You may have read all of that and thought so what exactly is my bright idea?

My bright idea is to learn to use the resources in your community. We as teachers always feel like it is up to us to provide what our class needs to get through the units and sometimes go broke in the process of trying to bring the lessons to life. Remembering to reach out to people in your community can connect you to valuable and time saving resources you never thought existed.
I hope you enjoyed my Bright idea. 

Don't forget to stop and check out the other bright ideas below! Thanks for visiting!  

Saturday, April 12, 2014

A Healthier Alternative for Easter/Spring Class Parties

Thanks for coming to check out my BRIGHT IDEA! I am so excited to share with you
my Bright Idea for your Easter or Spring Class Party. Often
parents send in sugary items, cakes, cookies, jellybeans, and more. My bright idea is 
to create a healthier fun option and an activity for your kiddos. 

I asked Parents to send in Pineapple, grapes, melon, watermelon,
kabob sticks, marshmallow peeps, plastic knives and mini plates. 

We used the plastic knives and cut up the fruit. Once all of the fruit
was cut up we used our kabob sticks to pierce our fruit. Once we
were done adding the fruit to the stick we topped it of with a Peep. 

Simple as that. It’s easy, fun, cute, and a HIT with the Kiddos.
If you loved my idea, I would LOVE for you to follow me on my blog,
Pinterest, or Facebook Page!  & Don't forget to stop by all of the
other BRIGHT IDEAS below! I hope you find a few you'll love! 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

The Cheapest Math Manipulatives You Will EVER Make

I’m so glad to be a part of another Bright Ideas Blog Hop! I had so much fun sharing my ideas and learning lots of ideas from other wonderful teachers. I hope you enjoyed yourself as you hopped from one blog to the next as well as found some awesome ideas to implement in your classroom.
So, onto my bright idea…

Are you ready to find out how to make the cheapest math manipulatives ever?
First you’ll need a Ziploc Slider bag, a marker, ruler, and piece of colored paper.

Use the ruler and marker to draw a number line on the Ziploc Slider bag.. Then use the marker to color the slider piece. Cut out a piece of colored paper that will fit snuggly into the bag. This adds color to the bag, so that the numbers can be seen more easily. You now have a counter! Students can use these to help with addition, subtraction, and more. They can use the number line and slider to help figure out the answers. Example… 9-4. Student can slider the slider to 9 and then slide it back 4 spaces. This will land them on 5 letting them check their work, or help with their work.
It’s simple and easy.  I hope you are able to use them in your classroom!

To keep on hopping through the great bright ideas, head on over to my sweet friend Jennifer's blog. Teaching with Grace’s blog post is about using washi tape for learning! 

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Out of the Box Ideas!

Thanks for hopping on over to my blog.  By now I hope you have tons and tons of BRIGHT Ideas!  A big thanks to Shelley Gray for helping to organize all of this fun! I have 3 quick tips to share with you.
Tip 1:  The first tip is for classroom organization. When I need to find something quick, or have access to it quickly, I hook it too my magnetic curtain rod. You can get one at Wal-Mart or Target for less than 10 bucks. I found 100 book rings for 6 bucks on Amazon. Voila I have a poster hanger or a flip chart if I want to hang up a large note pad. Since it is magnetic, it is easily moveable. 

Tip 2:  I love, love, love reusing things. It helps the planet and my bank account. =) I ask parents to save me all sorts of containers. I use Pringle Containers to store paintbrushes, rulers, pencils, and more. The containers above are crystal light containers. I have some for my students to sort colors, shapes, letters, and more. I also use them for storing name sticks and picking out leaders for the week. I have even put jokes to read for students and they can work for a joke from our jar. So MANY possibilities. 

Tip 3:  I have a lot of kiddos who still have trouble with writing their names correctly. They need lots of visual help. For them, I have taken a font turned the color to white and added an effect of shadowing behind it. This illuminates a pathway for the students to follow. They get guiding lines for them to trace. You can print the pages out and have students work on their names to sign-in in the morning, or you can laminate them for durability. 

I hope you were able to get some inspiration or use some of my ideas. Thanks for stopping by! If you’d like continue to hop on through the BRIGHT ideas hop on over to Fabulously In First for some teacher tool box ideas!
Happy Teaching!