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Teaching our students to be a good friend and be kind to one another is often something that gets lost in the fast paced world of education. We often tell our students to "be a good friend" or "be kind", but how often do we TEACH them how to do this? 

A group of 9 TpT sellers have collaborated to bring you 9 engaging and fun resources to help teach your students HOW to be kind to one another.

Here is is a  cute Bingo game for kindness activities. The boards have 12 squares each plus have a picture version and a text version for easy differentiation. 

Click the picture above to take you directly to the product. Download it from the store, then check out the "map" at the end of the file. It has all 9 TpT sellers mapped out. Click on their logos and check out their wonderful products and download them. You can also do a search on TpT for #KindnessRules to find all the products.

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you enjoy the kindness activities!

Teaching reading to kids with special needs often requires pulling out all the tricks we have in our "bags" in order to see progress. I often find comprehension to be a particularly difficulty piece of teaching reading to get across to kids.

Today I wanted to share with you an idea  I have used that has worked with my kids over the years.

No matter what I used teaching reading skills, I always made sure I have the four main strategies included in my reading instruction.
Research has shown that these four techniques are effective especially for comprehension instruction. They are direct explanation, modeling, guided practice and application. Briefly these instruction steps are as follows:

Direct explanation

The teacher tells the students why the strategy being worked on will help comprehension. she/He also explains when to apply the strategy.


The teacher models how to apply the strategy while demonstrating using the text that is being used by the students.

Guided Practice

In guided practice the teacher guides and helps the students as they are working to know how and when to apply the strategy.


The students apply and practice what has been taught until they can do it independently.

One way to work on main idea is through the use of graphic organizers. One of my favorite organizers for main idea is an ice cream cone graphic.
Have the student read a story or read it to them.
Discuss the  story and explain and  model how you would take sentences and determine which ones contain main idea and which contain details. Think aloud as you make your decisions so the students can "see" how you come to the answers you use. On this graphic organizer, place the main idea in the cone and a detail in each scoop of ice cream.
In the next lesson, use the same organizer and read or read a different story to the students. Discuss the story and guide them as they make their decisions about main idea and details. Discuss everyone answers so everyone can correct their answers and understand the reasons for the correct answers.
Finally, use a third story on the same level and readability but this time let the students complete the graphic organizer themselves as they apply what they have learned in the previous lessons.

Here is an example of how the ice cream cone graphic organizer might look for the following paragraph.
Dogs need special care. 
You have to take dogs for walks everyday. 
You feed your dog so they stay happy and healthy. 
You play with the dog frequently. 

I have included a free downloadable of the file in my TpT store. Click my logo below to take you there. 

If you like the freebie  checkout my variety packet of Main Idea Graphic Organizers.

Thanks for stopping by! Have a great day!

A big part of special education is making sure the students are included with the general education students as much as possible.

As a resource teacher it was a big part of what I did with the students; getting them involved in the mainstream classroom. At times kids went to general education classes where they participated in their strongest subject with the other students and came to special education when the class was working on subjects they needed more help with.

Now many schools have inclusion classrooms and  many special education students are in the general education classrooms all day. Special Education teachers sometimes go from classroom to classroom working with the students  right in the classroom. At our school we had 6 inclusion special education teachers that divided the grades up between them and spent their days in the general education classroom. The special education teachers worked with the grade level teacher or assisted the teacher in presenting the materials in ways all the students could understand and master them.

As a self contained teacher, I was always working with teachers in multiple grades to include my students not only in academic areas they could manage successfully, but also social, recreational and non-academic activities. Many of the students attend physical education, music, art, assemblies, meals and field trips with a buddy class. They also attend parties and social activities with them.

Here are some  things I have found that need to be in place in order for  students to become an integral part of a general education environment.

The administration must be supportive.

Whether the setting is occasional inclusion or daily inclusion classes,  both the general
  education and special teachers need to believe that all students can succeed.


All personnel must be committed to collaborative support.


Teachers must have the knowledge of how to adapt curricula to meet the needs of the students.

Provide variety of instructional methods to meet the needs of all children. (this can include but is not limited to: team teaching, cross grade grouping, cooperative learning groups, and  peer tutoring.                                    

PAIR KIDS - At the beginning of each year, we pair up special education students with general ed classrooms.
Throughout the year they participate in activities such as parties, dances, field days with this class.  This helps the students form relationships from the beginning of the year and make friends.

PAIR CLASSES - Pair general ed classes or individual students with special needs classes or students. These classes visit together frequently, attend special functions together and pair up to do activities.
 such as buddy reading or practice flash cards together

As students develop relationships, let them spend more time with each other as
Our kids loved eating lunch with their gen. ed buddies.

What are some things you do to include your special education students in things in the mainstream? 

I hope your holidays were really special ones. I hope you had time to  enjoyed your family and friends and hopefully taken some time for yourself.

I love the start of a new year! New beginnings. Fresh starts!  Time to revamp, reorganize and rev up for more progress in the classroom. But...where do you start?  I start by looking at the framework of the classroom. Not the physical framework, but the rules, procedures, schedules, centers and routines.

Usually I have found the key to a smooth start after a break is......

First thing I do to get a fresh start is to revisit routines, procedures and classroom schedules.
Whether you are using the same routines and procedures from before the break or you are changing them to adjust to your students needs, spend some precious time that first day and even the first week back reteaching exactly what you expect from your class.

Here are a few things to consider when revisiting classroom procedures.

  • What wasn't working before?
  • Was your rotation of centers not working? Too confusing?
  • Perhaps an area was getting too crowded.
  • Are your classroom rules working? 

Look at what you want to change. Ask yourself if you have control to change it.  Some things can be changed. Others, you have no control over. Change and tweak what you can.

Now find some ways to present your students with what you want them to do. Present this to them in in as many different ways as possible so everyone understands and has an opportunity to practice what they should do.

Here are some ideas about how to do this.

Include the reteaching activities in morning meeting for several days that first week back. Depending on your students' levels and abilities, you can have a discussion about your expectations. Include songs,  rhymes, jingles and poems that include actions and sayings about what is expected of them. I found morning meeting to be an excellent time to include this review time for rules and expectations.

Use games to teach appropriate choices in procedures and routines. This works particularly well when teaching procedures for centers and and work areas. Choose a generic gameboard and make cards that are specific to your class rules. The kids LOVE playing games and probably won't even notice they are learning at the same time.  The game can be played throughout the year whenever your kids need a quick reminder of expectations and routines.

Use social skills stories to teach what you want them to do in specific situations such as arriving and leaving school, going to places in the school environment such as the lunchroom or the library. Read the social skills stories over and over with groups and individual students needing extra instruction in the particular areas.

My kids love to role play. Just like we would practice a play or performance, we practice what correct procedures are in the classroom for things like lining up, going to the library, coming to morning meeting. If we are acting out center time then some of the kids play students and  some play the teacher and or paraprofessionals. Then we switch roles so everyone gets an opportunity at all the roles in the situation.

Songs, music, jingles and rhymes have a way of making their way into our heads. This makes them excellent means of remembering information later.

There many songs and rhymes already written. I'm sure you know some. Here is a site that has a few - Songs for Teaching . If you want some that fit more precisely to your rules and directions, try making your own. Take a common tune that is in public domain, such as Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. Modify the words to fit an expectation you're      teaching.

What activities and lessons do you use for reestablishing classroom procedures? Please leave me a comment and let me know. What works for you can also help someone else.

Do you have one of these your Special education classroom?  I did! One in the main classroom, One in my office, one in the bathroom, the storage room...well they are everywhere and continually are frightening our kiddos. What can you do to help your students with fire drills. Here are ideas from posts of yesterday.

When I was a kid, fire drills were a welcomed interruption to the day. However, fire drills  can be a very difficult thing to students with disabilities.
Fire drills, especially for those on the Autism Spectrum or those with auditory sensory disabilities, can be a frightening event that is dreaded sometimes for days in advance and whose effects last way beyond the 15 or 20 minutes a routine fire drill lasts in schools.
Some of the most common behaviors I had in my classroom, were  screaming, crying, hiding under furniture and even escaping the situation entirely by running away. I had one student that could anticipate when the fire drills would occur and would start crying, attempting to run away and scream prior to the drill.
For some children its the loud sound of the fire drill, for others its the disruption of their normal schedule that frightens them. Some children don't know what to do or what is expected of them during a fire drill.
Behaviors such as these whether  they occur before, during and after a fire drill  can be a major strain on the teacher, the classmates and staff and of course the student.

Other students in the class are often negatively affected by the behaviors and staff is diverted from you what you need them to do in order to tend to the screaming, yelling, hiding or escaping. It takes a toll on everyone.  Fires drills are an important part of safety awareness and preparedness. They are not something we can abandon.

What can we as teachers do to help children when this happens to them?

One thing that can be important in the classroom is for the teacher to work with administration.

  •  See if  you can be informed about the fire drill ahead of time. The administration at my school puts it in our weekly teacher bulletin and calls me 15 minutes prior to the drill. This gave me some time to put some calming strategies into place with the students.
  • Go over the rules of a fire drill. Walk the class through the process of a fire drill, step-by-step.
  •  Role play what will happen during a fire drill.
  • Desensitize the student to loud sounds such as the fire alarm. Try using an app on your smart phone or tablet that has loud sounds on it. There are even some apps that have examples of fire drill alarms. Start off with the sound soft, introduce it to the student. 
  • Try doing mock drills with a lowered fire drill sound. As the student becomes more acclimated to the lowered sound, raise the sound level up and continue mock drills. Continue doing this until the sound is at full level.
  • Purchase an alarm such as a smoke detector, and follow the same procedure as above for desensitization. Muffle the sound, then progress as the student gets used to the sound.
  • Take the student outside prior to the alarm going off. Doing this could alleviate the behaviors that occur during the fire drill as the alarm may not be as close or loud, as it would be in the classroom. This option should really only be a stopgap solution. We need to be teaching the students what to do and how to be safe in emergency situations.

One thing that has worked in my classroom and in many other classrooms is to use Social Stories. Social Stories were created by Carol Gray  in 1991 to help teach social skills to people with autism. They are stories with short descriptions of situations with statements about what is expected of the student or what the student can expect.

Here are a few suggestions for using Social Stories for situations such as fire drills in the classroom.

Use of Social Stories

1.   Prior to implementation of a new social story, be sure to communicate the new task beintaught to all the people involved in your student’s programProvide a copy or share the steps of the task being taught in the story to those professionals working with the  student so everyone is approaching the task in the same manner.
2.   Introduce the book to the student as you would other literary selections (i.e. look at the cover, discuss it, look at the pictures. Adapt as necessary for your student. 
3.   Read the story aloud. Reread the story on a regular basis so you can review the steps and the student(s) become very familiar with what is expected. 
4. After the student becomes familiar with the book and its content, send a copy of the book home with the student. Integrate the parents into the teaching process as well by sharing the book with them.
5. If you do practice fire drills as I  have done, also review the book immediately prior to the fire drill practice as well as on other days to make sure the information presented in the book becomes second nature.  Review the book as necessary to keep the steps fresh and supplement the teaching with the visual schedules and step poster.

 Check out the revised social narrative.
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