December SLANT

SLANT: Sending Love Across the Nation to Teachers.  It is the brain child of Jameson of Lessons With Coffee.  Jameson links up teachers that sign up each month with two other teachers.  After a month of emails back and forth, you receive a package from one teacher and you send a package to the other teacher.  

I have met some amazing teachers from all over the U.S. through SLANT and this month was no different!

First, I met Allie from The Positive Teacher.  

Allie is a teaching in Ohio and is also a Jamberry Nails consultant. She has really great ideas and wants to start her own TpT store!  I love following her Instagram @thepositiveteacher.  I sent Allie her 12 Days of Christmas themed box.  

The other teacher I met was Kristen from Kinderdoodlez.  

Kristen teaches Kindergarten in New Jersey.  Besides teaching and blogging, she has a TpT store.  She has a lot of brilliant ideas to share.  I am always so impressed by the creativity and energy of kindergarten teachers.  I would never be able to do it!

I received Kristen's package the day after Christmas.  My kids thought Santa came again when they saw the package on the porch!  I couldn't even get a picture of the beautiful box it came in because they were so excited!

Kristen included such a nice Christmas card.  Lily especially loved the GLITTER all over the front of the card.  

I really love this saying and it was such a nice reminder, especially since I was feeling overwhelmed by cleaning up from Christmas, keeping kids happy, and packing for our trip to my in-laws.  I really need to focus on letting that stress go!

The kids really loved unwrapping each individual gift.  (Sorry, Allie!  I didn't do that for you!)  

Can you believe this loot?

My favorite part was my new planner.  I love the bright pink!  I like to keep track of my TpT and blogging stuff but I don't need anything fancy so it was perfect.  

I added my business card to the front.

And the Christmas card I received from Teacher pay Teachers.  I wanted to have a reminder of how lucky I am to be a part of such a great organization!  TpT always goes above and beyond with making us all feel a part of Team TpT! 

The best part of SLANT is the relationships that develop each month.  I am thankful for all of my blogger buddies and have made some lasting connections.

If you want to sign up for SLANT, you can find more information at Jameson's blog, Lessons With Coffee.

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Dear Winter Break,

Dear Winter Break,

     I am so happy to see you!  These last few weeks have been crazy filled with parent conferences, CSE meetings, report cards, professional development, and excited-to-the-max children.

     I love my job, don't get me wrong.  But, you are a welcome treat!  I am looking forward to 16 full days of relaxation and family fun.  Mornings that I can sleep until my kids wake me up.  Evenings that I can stay up past 8:00 and maybe catch up on some of my T.V. shows.  

     I have so much I am looking forward to accomplishing while you're here.  Baking cookies, visiting family, crafting.  Maybe I can even get to the hidden dusting that has been neglected for months!  Maybe not!

     Thank you for visiting.  Please do not rush your stay.  I want to savor every moment of you!

Say hello to your brother, February Break, for me.  I'll be looking forward to seeing him in a few weeks!

Lots of love,
A Very Tired Teacher

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A Heartwarming Story to Share

A few years ago, I was teaching in a 3rd grade inclusion classroom and we had a new boy.  The kind of kid that comes with a very fat file.  The first interaction I had with him was during our Meet The Teacher Night.  The only thing that he did was scream, "Computer!" over and over.  His father ushered him out after a few minutes and I held my breath until the first day of school.

There wasn't much of a difference in his behavior the first few weeks of school, unless you count it getting worse.  In addition the the constant yelling and screaming, there were violent behaviors that included hitting, kicking, and throwing objects.  Logan was used to being in a self-contained classroom and everything that came with an inclusion classroom was overstimulating.  

It was difficult for our team to get to know Logan.  He was essentially non-verbal.  His mom provided us with some insight and gave us some tips on some unique strategies that she used at home.  We finally pulled together an intense program that included 1:1 adult support and a behavior chart that offered incentives every 20 minutes.

It was a long, difficult year.  By the end of it, Logan was able to spend some of the day in our inclusion classroom without being very disruptive to the rest of the class.  He was starting to participate in brief interactions with his peers.  He was displaying less angst and confusion about the world around him.

One amazing talent that Logan possesses is being able to recall the rolling credits from various movies and television shows.  He opens a new document and types in a credit before erasing and typing in the new credit.  He even hums the song that plays during that particular set of credits.  It is truly amazing to watch.

Over the last two years, Logan has blossomed.  He has become more social.  He even initiates interactions with his peers sometimes.  Most days, he becomes overrun with a case of the giggles right after lunch.  He still enjoys the computer, especially typing in the credits.  And he has formed a special bond with his 1:1 Teaching Assistant.  

We has also found another AMAZING talent!  Logan can harmonize perfectly!  While rehearsing for the holiday concert, it was discovered that Logan has a beautiful voice and could harmonize without ever being taught!  Our music teacher asked if she could showcase him which is usually reserved for the 6th grade students.  

On Friday, our 5th and 6th graders got together for one last rehearsal before their concert on Tuesday.  Our team of teachers walked down to pick up our classes just in time to hear Logan on the microphone.  

There was not an adult with dry eyes in the room.    It was so powerful to watch this little boy that was in crisis two years ago, be able to stand in front of 130 of his peers and 10 teachers and sing his heart out.

I cannot wait to sit in the front row with Logan's parents on Tuesday night.  I better bring some extra tissues!

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*  Logan's name has been changed to protect his privacy.

Read! And Help Kids While Doing It!

Have you heard of We Give Books?  The amazing librarian at our school sent out one of her helpful emails a few years ago and introduced me to this amazing website!

We Give Books offers an entire online library of picture books to read for FREE!  There are even lesson plans and activities that can be use in your classroom.  For FREE!  

Do you have a reluctant reader that loves technology?  Have them read online!  

The best part of We Give Books is that for every book that you read online, the organization is able to donate books to children in need!  How cool is that?  You reading helps others have the opportunity to read too!

My kids love reading their "computer books" before bedtime.  We don't always read on the computer because, in my opinion,  there is no replacement for a real-life book.  There is something about actually turning that page!  But, when we read our "computer books", we help put that real-life, page-turning book into the hands of a child that may not have ever owned their own book before.  

How cool is that?

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Top Secret Mission: Do Not Open Until A Snow Day!

Snow days!  

Students.  Teachers.  We all love them!  I signed up for school cancelation text messages years ago but will still wake up and check the news every half hour starting at 3am.  Who sleeps the night before a predicted snow day, anyway?  

Sometimes, I need to check multiple sources just to make sure it isn't too good to be true.  And there is no better feeling than being able to snuggle back into your warm bed without having to write sub plans.  Am I right?

Now, imagine that excitement...MULTIPLIED!  Oh, yes!

A Top Secret Mission can make anything more exciting!  

When you notice that the weather is starting to turn, it is a great time to introduce your Snow Day Top Secret Mission envelopes!  I've used half-sheet manilla envelopes and regular business envelopes. 

Once you have a class set of sealed Secret Mission envelopes, let your students in on the secret! 

Tell them to keep their envelope in a safe place, like on the refrigerator or kept in their take-home folder.  Make sure they know not to open their Secret Mission until their first snow day!

One cold and snowy day, they'll wake up to a SNOW DAY and rush to see what their secret mission is!

Inside their envelopes, your students will find a Top Secret Snow Day Mission!  How cool is that?  Each mission has a task they will need to complete and share with their class when they return to school.  

What happens when the fun is over?  Well, you start again!  I have created 5 different Snow Day Top Secret Missions and have left some blank missions for you to create your own!

Want to get your students away from their video games and out truly enjoying their snow day?  They'll be just as excited to show you their completed mission as they were when they found out they had a snow day!

Now, I need to come up with secret snow day missions for teachers.  I think they'll include sleeping in, eating a hot lunch, and catching up on all of your favorite TV shows.  What do you do on your snow days?

You can find this Snow Day Secret Mission pack along with hundreds of other amazing resources in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.  

Here's to an amazing snow day!

A Bright Idea: No More Messy Student Desks!

We're about 6 weeks into school and the newness of the year is starting to wear off.  Our desks are getting messy with papers to grade, parent letters to answer, and post-it reminders to complete.  

Sunday Scoop!

Another Sunday.  Another Sunday Scoop with Teaching Trio!

My in-laws have the kids for the weekend.  Yahooo!  This NEVER happens! We are so excited to spend the entire weekend together before my husband goes back to working weekends.  

So, are we living it up?  Not really.  We are getting our yard ready for winter and catching up on day to day chores that have been neglected.  Sounds boring, but we are really just enjoying each other's company.  We even got a little trip to The Melting Pot in tonight.  It was a delicious and fun experience!

We're closing our pool tomorrow which means that summer is officially over.  Boooo!  I am not looking forward to our long winter ahead.  

But I am looking forward to Halloween!  I love October and all that comes with it!  Especially Halloween.  

This week, my kiddos worked on a following directions activity.  They earned it by working hard all week long!  They accomplished everything I needed them to and so we were able to add in a fun activity!  They LOVED it!

They're still working on their pumpkins so I don't have a picture of a finished product. 

I'm looking forward to another day off tomorrow!  My kids will be coming home so I am really looking forward to spending time with them.

I hope you've had a great weekend!  Have an amazing week!

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A Simple Way to Keep Behavior Charts Organized

I have a love-hate relationship with behavior charts.  I LOVE them because I have seen them make a huge difference in the behavior of some kids.  I hate them because I hate clutter.

I like to keep behavior charts because they can show me patterns.  Maybe a student always has trouble on Tuesdays.  Maybe most of their behaviors come out on days they do not have Occupational Therapy.  It is so much easier to recognize patterns when I can see the data.  

But, I like to send behavior charts home.  Parents need to know what is happening in school and often, the parents I work with have worked out a home consequence for good/bad days at school.  It is so wonderful when I get to work with dedicated and supportive parents!

So, my choices are:

1.  Make copies each day before sending home so I can keep a copy for my records.  This choice is terrible because I need to waste precious minutes during the most hectic time of the day to go to the copy room.  Not to mention, I would be killing so many trees!

2.  Send the original home and have the parents sign then return.  Well, this is terrible because sometimes the behavior chart doesn't come back and I lose that day's data.  Also, it prevents the parents from being able to try to keep track of patterns.  And what about the parents that want to celebrate a GREAT day by hanging that puppy on the fridge?

3.  Chart the results of the day's chart.  I used to have a table set up where I would enter the number of points a students would earn for the day and a small note.  It was never enough to really get a picture of what happened during the day and I was always having to tuck pieces of paper with notes in the back or make a copy of chart on really bad days.  

No matter what method I tried, I always ended up with a huge pile of unorganized behavior charts from multiple kiddos because who has time to organize them into a binder right away?  

Not great choices.  But that is what I've done for YEARS!  

Another thing I have done for YEARS is have a home-school journal with some kids.  Each day, I would write a short (or long if it was one of those days).  Each day, the book would come back. That notebook held a wealth of information!  Hmmm...  That got me thinking!  

Wait for it...

Ta-da!  I just took a bunch of blank behavior charts and bound them into a book!  Then, the book can go back and forth between school and home.  There is a wealth of data in one place and I don't have to worry about organizing loose papers each day.

It is simple (I like simple) and it solves my problem (I LOVE that!).  

Say it with me, "No more behavior chart clutter!"

To see some of the behavior tools I have used in my classroom, check out my TpT store.

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Sunday Scoop!

Why is it that weeks go so slow but the weekends go so fast?  We had a busy weekend and my cousin got married last night which was a lot of fun!  I'm excited that I'm linking up with Teaching Trio's Sunday Scoop again!  I have discovered some great blogs each week and it's nice to know that I'm not the only one stuck with a ton of laundry each Sunday!

I went to a wedding yesterday which was so much fun but now I feel like I have so much to catch up on before going back to work tomorrow.  Bummer!  I wish we could have 3-day weekends every weekend.

Speaking of 3-day weekends, not only is next weekend a 3-day weekend but it is also our 5-year anniversary on Friday.  I am trying to think of something we can do to celebrate and I need some help with ideas.  Do you have any?  

Lastly, I am SUPER DUPER excited to be a part of Kennedy's Korner's milestone giveaway.  I met one half of the Kennedy's Korner sister team, Karen Kennedy, in Las Vegas for the TpT conference.  She is a wonderfully sweet teacher from Buffalo which is where I went to college and met my husband.  

Kennedy's Korner just hit one of TpT's milestones which is a HUGE accomplishment worth a big celebration!  And so, we CELEBRATE!  Check out these great prizes below and be sure to enter!  

My product is featured in the grades 4-5 pack which also includes a thirty-one lunch bag and a TpT gift card!  Woot! Woot!

Have a wonderful week!

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Stop Annoying Bathroom Requests!

Being in an inclusion classroom, it seems like my doors are always opening.  Kids are constantly being pulled for related services.  This year, I was FINALLY able to have all of the related services for my kiddos scheduled around ELA and math.  That seems easy, but when some of my students need 10 sessions of various services, it is hard to avoid those key subjects.  But we did it this year!  

Anyway, one thing I noticed is that kids were constantly getting up to use the bathroom during teaching.  My co-teacher and I were constantly shooting down requests to use the bathroom while we were teaching.

There is nothing more annoying than teaching a really great lesson and see a student eagerly raise their hand only to find out they just want to go to the bathroom.  Well, I guess I can think of a few more annoying things.  

So, we thought of an easy-peasy visual aid for our students that may not be able to read the social cues of the classroom.  No using the bathroom passes during instruction time is a hard rule to follow when you can't really tell the difference between teaching time and working time.  

We came up with this:

Before even raising their hand to ask, now my kiddos have a visual to help them determine if this is a good time to use the bathroom.  It has worked WONDERS in our classroom!  We have cut down on so many needless interruptions and teacher frustration.  

When our passes are OFF, they are OFF.  I mean, we will accommodate for emergencies but passes are not off for long periods of time anyway.  When the passes are on, we just allow the kiddos to use the bathroom pass without even asking.  

If this is something you would like to use in your classroom, you can find my version in my TpT store.

And if you like this, you may also like my Voice Level Control System.

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