My Favorite Holiday Cookie (& Cookie Hop)

I love December.  I love the smell when you first turn the heat on in your house.  I love the first snow fall, but not as much as I love snow days.  I love Christmas.  I love baking cookies.  I love eating cookies.   

A bunch of my friends from Classroom Tested Resources have joined together to share our favorite cookie recipes that you're going to want to try this holiday season!

Why You Will LOVE Student Led Conferences

We are headed into parent conference season and that always is a little extra hard on teachers.  Conferences can take up a lot of time and energy!  But, have you tried student-led conferences?  There are so many ways to implement them in your classroom but I can assure you, that if you do, you will LOVE them!
We all know that when students take ownership of their learning, they are more likely to put forth more effort in their daily performance.  You can read more about having your students set and track their own goals in this blog post.  

How to Have Successful and Productive Team Meetings

How many of you have weekly meetings with your team?  I know it is best practice, but it is soooo hard to stick to a consistent schedule, especially when my inclusion team involves 3 general education teachers, 4 paraprofessionals, and myself.  And that is not even including the special area folks and related services providers.  

When you have several adults working with the same group of students, it is vital for everybody to be on the same page.  It is especially important to keep the paraprofessionals in the classroom up to speed on student progress and your expectations for continued growth, both academically and behaviorally.  

Over the years, I have learned a few things about successful and, more importantly, productive team meetings and I am hoping to put them into practice before I go on maternity leave in October.  That way, my team can easily continue our schedule.   

Student Led Success

With back-to-school season here, it's a great time to start thinking about implementing student led goals in your classroom!

One thing I have found is that students work so much harder when they have created their own goal.  They put forth even more effort when they are involved in the progress monitoring.  And, boy, do they celebrate their success harder when they reach a goal they set for themselves.  Feeling that success makes them crave more!

10 Alternatives to Traditional Book Reports

Last year was my first year teaching Read180 in a few years.  I love Read180 and what I have seen it do for my kiddos so I was excited to get a chance to implement it again.  But...the book projects included with the program are B-O-R-I-N-G!  Sure, some of them are pretty good, but the directions can be questionable and I find myself using the same two projects over and over with my class.  

My students started to get frustrated (beyond frustrated) with the repetition so I promised them that one of my summer tasks would be to create new book projects, just for them.  

I mean, who doesn't just LOVE working on school stuff during summer break?  You know we all do it!

These book project ideas are a break from the traditional book report and can be used with any book!

Put a New Twist on Your End-Of-Year Activities

I cannot believe that another school year is winding down!  It seems like each school year goes by more and more quickly!  With summer right around the corner, I wanted to share a few end-of-year activities that I have done in my classroom.

I think almost everybody does some type of memory activity with their class.  I have found that many of my kids are bored with the usual memory books and activities.  A few years ago, I thought of a way to put a new twist on the old end-of-year activities.  

Bright Idea: Make Homework Collection A Breeze

After taking a month off from the Bright Ideas Link Up, I am so happy to be back!  My house was bombarded by the flu in March so I was a little busy but now everybody is healthy again.

My favorite part of the Bright Ideas Link Up is all of the no-pressure ideas I can implement in my classroom.  The best ideas are the simple ones that make you wonder, "Why didn't I think of that?"  I think that is what I have for you here!

What's the Story Behind the Logo?

Jenny from Art with Jenny K put together a linky a couple of months ago and like usual, I am a little late to the party!  Better late than never!
Jenny wants to know the story behind our logos.  I thought it would be fun to link up since the story behind my company's name and my logo holds a special place in my heart.

My Teacher Hero

Webster's dictionary defines the word 'hero' as a person who is admired for great or brave acts or fine qualities or a person who is greatly admired.

Teachers are heroes.  

Last night, Jenny from Luckeyfrog's Lilypad wrote a blog post about her teacher hero and it got me thinking about mine.  

Fire Safety (Freebie Included!)

Let's talk about fire safety...

Bright Idea: Using Graph Paper as a Math Accommodation

As a special education teacher, I work with a lot of kiddos with tracking issues that impact their reading, writing, and math skills.  In addition, many of them also struggle with fine motor skills and have larger than typical handwriting.  

One of the ways that I help my students during math is to have them use graph paper when solving problems.  

Handing out graph paper for your students to use to work through problems is a very simple way to help them keep their numbers aligned correctly.  

Special Education February Blog Hop

A great group of Special Education Teachers and I have joined together to have a month-long blog hop full of awesome surprises!  

Bright Idea: A Perfect Way to Display Student Work

 Yay!  The Bright Ideas Link Up is back!  I hope you all had a restful holiday season.  We had a wonderful time with both kids old enough to understand what was going on.  The excitement was electrifying!  

I am super excited to catch up on some bright ideas from my blogger buddies!  I have been inspired by so many wonderful ideas since this link up started last year.  My bright idea this month is all about displaying student work in an easy and attractive way.

The Real Teachers of "Blog" County

One of the biggest misconceptions about teachers that have blogs is that they have picture-perfect classrooms, flawless lesson delivery, and dream class lists.  In reality, we are just like you.  We share a lot of the same struggles you have.  

One of my blogger buddies, Hilary from 2nd Grade is Out of this World came up with a great idea to give you all a sneak peek into the reality of our classrooms.  Welcome to the first installment of The Real Teachers of "Blog" County.

When you walk into my classroom, it looks pretty good.  I take a lot of pride in keeping my classroom neat and organized.  There is a place for everything and I like everything in it's place.  

But I have a secret...

I am a closet messy person!  If you look behind the curtains or in any of my drawers, you will find a semi-organized (at least to me) disaster.  

Here is a peek under my desk.  This is actually pretty clean.  I am getting observed this week and my principal will sit in my seat so I will clean it out one day after school.

One of my parents sewed me shelf curtains for my bookshelves and a few of my tables.  I have them attached by velcro and love that they hide my disaster.  

This cabinet is so bad, that the junk on the top shelf falls down on me when I open the doors.  Some day I will clean it out.  Not today!

My desk is embarrassing!  I feel bad for an substitute that needs to get a pen out of my drawers.  You never know what you're going to find in my desk.  

I can't even tell you want is hidden in my classroom behind the curtains and in drawers.  It is my intention every summer to clean it all out, but I always get caught up in other more important, i.e. more fun, things.  

Show us your mess!  Join the fun and link up with us!

Next month, we will be disclosing our secret hoarding stashes!  See you again soon!

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Do You RtI? (and a giveaway!)

The short answer?  Yes!  

Every good teacher uses RtI strategies!  Most of the time, you don't even realize that you're doing it.  We use other words for the things we do:  Differentiation, Preteaching, Reteaching, Modifying, etc. 

A few years ago, our school district changed our whole RtI process.  We used to only look at the kids that were really struggling in class.  Now we look at every kid.  That's right!  Every single kid!  Of course, we spend more time on some than others, but every kid gets at least a piece of time.

So one of the things that we are really focusing on this year is documenting all of the interventions, no matter how small.  It is something that some of us are having a hard time with because a lot of what we do is just plain ol' being a great teacher!  We have to switch our thinking to list some of those interventions that don't seem big enough to be worth mentioning.

One of the biggest misconceptions about RtI is that we feel like the interventions NEED to be big or NEED to be a "program".  Maybe we feel like it only a specialist can deliver the intervention.  Nope!  Great RtI starts with the smallest interventions that you can do right in your classroom with little effort!

Here are some interventions that you may be already doing in your classroom without even knowing it:

*  Having a student sit in the front row.
*  Giving math facts practice for extra homework.
*  Reading with a buddy during study hall.
*  10 minutes on the iPad playing reading games before dismissal.
*  Checking a planner before packing up.

Those are just a few easy things that we use in our classroom but there are so many more examples.

A few weeks ago, I was contacted by Mentoring Minds to see if I wanted to test one of their products.  I checked out their website and immediately knew that I needed to get my hands on some of their RtI materials.

Last week, I received this:

I was so excited to flip through it!  So excited that I brought it to another training because I couldn't wait!

Oh my goodness!  I LOVE it!  There are so many great ideas and strategies.  The layout is easy to follow and it even divides the strategies up by tiers.  

Another thing that I really like about this flip book is that it includes behavior strategies as well.  A few months ago, I attended an RtI training and the one thing that really stuck with me was that we need to first figure out if a student's deficit is caused by a "will" problem or a "skill" problem.  The behavior strategies section gives ideas to attack a "will" problem head on!

My most favorite part is that it is small enough to fit into my RtI binder.  For awhile, we had giant posters all over our conference room walls with different interventions listed by tier.  This is so much more practical.  It can actually fit right in the inside front pocket with no problem!

Want to hear more good news?  Mentoring Minds is allowing me to give away another RtI Strategies Flip Chart (valued at $25) here on my blog! Be sure to enter below! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

So be confident!  Trust that teacher brain!  RtI isn't as intimidating as it sounds.  Most likely, you're using many strategies and interventions without even knowing it!  

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