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One of the most important concepts in teaching my special education classroom  is organization.
Why is it important ?Organization leads to orderliness. Keeping a classroom in an orderly, organized manner is our job as teachers.
It leads to smooth implementation of other classroom implementation components.  It helps students focus.
Yes, I know.....Blah, blah,  blah,  blah! We know all of these are true, but in my classroom of  12 children  with a variety of disabilities, personalities and strengths, it was MANDATORY!Data is a large part of being a teacher these days. Keeping it organized during recording and storage is imperative.Today let's talk about 5 ways to take and/or organize data to make it easier to manage.Now I have been around for awhile so lets start with some simple ways to take the data.

Recording Data

When I first started taking data, there were no apps, no iPhones and it was challenging to keep up with data on the fly. Let's face it, We take data in so many different situations and with so many different behaviors, we have to be prepared for just about use, do and experience anything and still keep recording data through it. Here are a  few ideas to keep data organized and in one place during recording keeping. Masking Tape - a few strips of masking tape on my pant leg worked well. Each strip served very well for making tally marks for frequency behaviors. Usually I had a code on each piece of tape so I could keep each child's information private.Sticky Notes - Ohhhh do I LOVE sticky notes. I love them for a myriad of things but...we're talking about data here. When sticky notes came along, they were a godsend. They stuck to things as easily as tape, but provided more room for the prompting level or frequency tally. They are easy to stack at the end of a class or day and then unstick to transfer to a formal behavior sheet. Better yet, sticky notes fantastic because you can create a behavior sheet in which all you have to do is unstick the note from your pants or table and place it on the behavior sheet. Take things one step further with sticky notes and color categorize them according to student or behavior. This could make organizing them later much easier, if all the math data was on one color note or all of Sam's information was on green stickies.  Easy to sort!Clipboards - I use many different sizes of clipboards as a way to keep data. Clipboards can be grouped according to class for which you are taking the data, by the student, or by the location in the classroom. I liked keeping clipboards in the math area for data keeping. This way all the adults needed to record data had access to them. Sometimes I decorated the clipboards with contact paper or put stickers on them to Notebooks - There are many different types of "notebooks" that you can use to gather and record  data. You can use mini 3 ringer binders, notebooks of index cards or one notebook for a set of students. Data Forms Of course there are all sorts of forms out there for collecting and recording data. ABC check off forms,  and tally frequency forms are some of my favorite.
Data Recording Apps Once the App store became a reality, behavior and data apps have been growing by leaps and bounds. I have used Behavior Tracker Pro app through the App Store. It is a $29.99 paid app for the pro version, but it is worth it. You can use it with multiple students but you can also set it up for multiple observers, too. These are just a few ways to organize and keep data together. What are ways that you use?Have a great week!
Having some technical issues today so I'm reposting a great idea from a past year regarding
quiet chair socks for my classroom chairs. 

Its the little things sometimes that get noticed and work so well in a classroom of special education students. Don't get me wrong, general education classrooms need to work well also, and the little things count there too, but in special education, the littlest things can make or break a day sometimes.  Sometimes its colors of chairs, pencils, who touches your lunch box or moves your chair.

This summer I found a  simple, but cool pin on Pinterest. It was one of those things that seemed so simple, it was like "How did I not think of this before?"

When school rolled around and my tennis ball solution for my chair and table legs scraping on the tile floors began to be a problem because the balls were falling off the legs when the chairs were moved, I remembered this pin. While I cannot claim this as an original idea, I have modified it and wanted to share it with all of you.

An idea of putting felt booties or socks as we call them in my room has been the BEST thing since sliced bread.
They are quiet, easy to install, economical and easy to replace if they get too dirty. My tennis balls were so dirty. I had tried to dress them up by drawing faces on them but it really didn't help. The cuts in them were expanding and I needed something different.

Here's how I did them.
1. Materials:
  • 1- 9" x 12" piece of felt cut into 4 equal pieces. 
  • 1 zip tie at least 7 inches long (length helps in ease of fastening) Mine would work with a 4 inch zip tie, but it took longer to get it fastened and secured. Depends on your chair leg circumference also.
  • Pair of scissors to cut felt.
chair socks

2. Turn the chair upside down and cover one leg glider with one piece of felt.
3. Use a zip-tie and fasten it around the felt and pulled tightly to secure.
4. Cut off any loose end of the zip-tie.
5. Spread out the felt as seen with the yellow sock on the right in the picture above. You can choose to leave it gathered like the purple sock on the left.

The possibilities are endless I think as to what you could do with these. I did several color variations in my classroom just to add pizazz and to satisfy certain color preferences of a couple of my students.
We have a couple of chairs with football team colors, one chair with all pink feet and chair socks coordinated according to the location in the room to which they belong such as the reading table, computer center or individual centers.
Coordinated Center Chair socks
I have several center areas specified by color. You can see by the picture to the right how I color coordinated the center colors with the chair socks. This red center table has red tape around the edges. The chairs have red tape on the back to designate the chair belongs at that particular center and NOW, the chair at the red center has red chair socks. All color coordinated!!!

Over the years I've tried many things on chair legs but so far this is my favorite. Sometimes simple is the best!

Last week I showed you a preview of a product I was working on for my students to improve reading comprehension. It has simple 1 sentence text with basic WH questions. This activity has limited clip art so as not to distract from the content and includes answer prompts that can be cut out and placed in the answer square or they can left intact on the card and used as a worksheet. They can even be laminated and then you can use wipe off markers for students to draw a line from the answer space to the correct answer.
So as promised, just for you, my blog readers, here is a FREE sample of this new product.

Until next time!

Your teacher planning days are almost over. You have your class list and the pile of IEPs sitting in front of you. You know what each student needs to work on and your room is all set up! Congratulations! Now what are you going to do on the very first day of school? 
In special education it's very common to have the same kids year after year with perhaps 1 or 2 new ones thrown in. How do you meld these groups together into 1 awesome classroom. 
With a class like this it will be very important to work on making the new kids feel welcome and part of the group while acknowledging the kids from the previous year(s) as experienced. 
What can you do ? 
Here's an idea I have used for many years, adapting it as the technology changed from drawing pictures to taking pictures to taking selfies.

On orientation day spend a few moments one on one time with each student and help them take a selfie with your camera phone. They LOVE being part of one of those special moments you put on your phone. You can use these to complete this Getting Acquainted First day activity.
Once the selfies have been taken,  print them out in a format that works best for you. Here is one that worked for me.
You can print one: 5 in. X 5 in.  at the top and multiple smaller ones on the bottom of the paper. 1 inch X 1 inch worked for me.
Print these on adhesive paper.
Cut the big picture off and  have the kids peel the paper from the backs and attach theirs in their big square at the top of the page.
Cut the little pictures apart and put each child's pictures in a separate container. I have used zip bags, envelopes and even plastic screw-top containers.
To play this Activity- each student should have:
1. Selfie activity page with their selfie affixed to the big square located at the top of the page.
2. One container of the small  selfies with their picture on them.

Here's how to play!

Object of the activity: Collect as many mini selfie pics of other students that have likenesses similiar to their own.

  1. Students use the picture clues in the mini selfie squares to approach another classmate and see if  they have the specific item in common with the classmate their approach. 
  2. If the specific items (i.e eyes, hair etc) match, then the classmates exchange mini selfie stamps and place them on their selfie papers on top of the item they have in common. Example: If Brad approaches a classmate because they have the same color pants on, they exchange mini-selfie stamps and fasten them to one of the pants squares on their papers.
  3. Student continue approaching different students and exchanging mini selfie stamps with those having matching items with them.
  4. First student to fill up (or have the most) the mini-selfie stamps correctly "wins". You can also eliminate the "winner" portion of this activity and use the time instead for a conversation about what makes each "friends" similar to them. 

With an activity such as this, you have provided an opportunity for new and old students to open new pathways of communication about their similarities and given them common factors to start great new friendships on.
This activity is available in my TPT store free for a limited time. You can find it here:

This is a repost from a blog post I did several years ago. 
There are so many things to look at when we consider reading materials for kids. Do you stay with the reading materials approved by the state or move onto something else.
This is a view how I felt after using PCI Reading Program after implementing in my classroom for several years. I LOVE it then and still love it!

PCI Reading - LOVE IT!!  What about you?
How many of you out there use this program?
I was a firm believer in Edmark Reading and the "miracles"
I had seen it do with students who once believed they couldn't
A few years ago I was introduced to PCI when our county
switched to using it for our students with intellectual disabilities on Alternate Assessment.
I was amazed at how it has helped my students.
It has the basic of what Edmark does and then adds to it.
I love the repetition of the presentation of the words it teaches as well as the
activity sheets it provides for practice.

I have found that some of my students need a little bit more word practice.
In order to provide this additional practice, I developed some worksheets
to give them practice in recognizing, reading and writing the words
learned. You can find those sets in my TPT store.  Worksheets Level 1 and  Worksheets Level 2. These worksheets also work well for students learning sight words and needing extra practice since the words taught in PCI are also basic sight words.

My students have really benefited from the worksheets so I decided to take it one step further and create some review pages and group the words together.  I just finished uploading this new set of worksheets to TPT . Please remember, these are NOT to be used without the complete PCI program. 
Check here for the new product on TPT

I LOVE this tidbit I came across recently while reading blogs here and there. I'm  always on the lookout for great ideas of materials to use to teach kids and I am never as excited as when I come across gems like this one at Thanks Primary Graffiti Resources. Click to visit her blog.

You can make teaching letters and numbers so much more engaging using these tips.

 Pasta ABC's. 
Just think of all the possibilities in the classroom. 
I always had students needing to work on letter recognition and I was always looking for different and new ways to work on this goal. Worksheets of course sometimes work but when you work on letter recognition year after year, you need something to JAZZ things up!

You can use so many things to teach letters and sounds but one thing this has going for it is how different it is. Kids will get a kick out of using these to practice letter sounds. Now that you have the letters...JAZZ it up and color the pasta. If you have kids like mine you will want to make certain you color it in such a way that they are safe in case they end up in someone's mouth. 

 Use a vinegar solution such as is used with coloring eggs and food color.
  1. Use containers with lids that can stay on during shaking. Perhaps the disposable type of container might work well. Place your dry pasta in the container. Pour 1 teaspoon of white vinegar and ample food coloring onto the pasta. You may also want to try icing coloring.                                                                
  2. Close the lid tightly and shake, shake, shake. Lay them out to dry and you are ready for your next color.
Here is one using water and food coloring.
  1. Cook the pasta.
  2. Combine 2 T of water and approximately 20 drops of your preferred food coloring in a zipper type bag.
  3. When the pasta is cooked al dante, transfer it to a colander and rinse with cold water. Seal the bag.
  4. Use your hands  on the outside of the bag to mix the pasta and thoroughly infuse the color into the pasta. Let each bag sit for a few minutes.
  5. Transfer the cooked, colored pasta back into the colander and rinse with cold water. Then put it into a pot or dish.
  6. Repeat steps 1 through 5 for each color of pasta.
You can let them dry or use them and eat them.

One thing I like about this pasta is the size of it. I have used cereal letters before but for kids that often have fine motor issues, cereal letters are quite small. Also, when kids get to work with pasta, they often think its fun so they aren't sure they are learning. Check out the picture above from

One of the things my kids absolutely ADORED was having their own belongings. They loved pencil containers they could call their own, adored their backpacks and they were really attached to their letter boxes. 
I purchased blank, white metal mini lunch boxes from Oriental Trading. The only ones they have currently, are a bit larger than the ones I purchased I decorated the boxes with stickers, their names and pictures of the them,  then put things such as magnet letters, peel and stick letters, sand paper letters and even tracing letters inside. Inside the boxes I selected the items that were appropriate for each student. They were able to keep the lunch bins in their desks or cubbies and they even transported back and forth to school easily. These boxes were used over and over again.  The decorations came off easily so I was able to reuse them several times that year before I sent them home with the kids for summer with summer work to keep their skills up.

Another great way to practice letters whether its individually or if you are just working one to one with a student, use some tracing letters. Below you will see numbers that have a groove routed out in the appropriate shape.This makes the perfect place for kids to use their fingers and trace along the path of the letter or number. 
Another idea I love to use is colored sand. Color your own sand or purchase sand already in beautiful colors such as this one
Coloring Sand There are many ways to color sand. You can use food coloring. 1. Put sand in a jar with a lid that can close securely. 2. Cover the sand completely with water. 3. Add 1-2 drops of food coloring and stir completely. 4. You add more food coloring for more intense colors or mix food coloring together to achieve new colors. 5. Use cheesecloth to strain the the liquid from the sand mixture. 6. Spread the sand out on paper towels or old towels. Take precautions such as putting plastic under the towels to avoid stains from the coloring coming through to the table of counter space. 7. Let dry completely then store in a closed container.

Put a little bit of water in the sand and you have a fantastic way for kids to trace their letters or even write words

All of these ideas can be adapted to be used either as independent work stations, one to one teacher and student work, small group work or even assessment methods. We have so much assessing to do, why not make it fun for the kiddos? What ideas have you used? Head on over to Special Ed Spot  and  share your ideas about what you use.

More next time.

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