Morning Meeting is one of the most powerful teaching tools in the classroom.
Each school year when developing my morning meeting components, I make sure my goals of what I want the kids to work are firmly in mind and I am addressing each students IEP goals.
I want to make sure I take into consideration what skills students they a have mastered and what they need to work on. What are their strengths and weaknesses and what accommodations would they require?
Here are some of the more common goals I have used.

With my Morning Meetings I want to:
1. Build community in the classroom
2. Set a positive atmosphere for the day of learning ahead.
3. Integrate academic and social skill learning.
4. Reinforce skills.
5. Engage all students at their functioning level.


At the beginning of the school year, I start out  with 4 very basic parts to my Morning Meeting. Those parts usually consist of something like these.

I. GREETINGS

II. FINISH THAT

III. CALENDAR

IV.  SHARING



As the year progresses and the student skills grow, I always change it up; adding more components and modifying the ones I have, to grow and change with the students and to keep things fresh and interesting.

Today I want to share some ideas about the Greetings portion of my Morning Meetings.

Greetings are paramount, especially at the beginning of the school year.  The greeting activity should be fun and positive. Its one of the first things the students do each day. Greeting can be done on so many levels, but I want to make sure the activities I incorporate reinforce social skills and extend verbal skills. We also work on eye contact, different ways and appropriate ways to greet others.
Here are a few ideas to try. When I have used these, I have always had nonverbal kids and  for whatever greeting activity I used, I made sure I had visuals to be used, or their ACC device programmed for the activity. Instead of speaking these kids could select the other child's name from their board.



GROUP CHANTS FOR MORNING MEETING


BROWN BEAR BROWN BEAR
1. Group begins the chant using the first name of student A.
    First name, first name, what do you see?
2. Student A turns or goes over to to student B and  replies using their first name.
    I see first name SMILING at me. Hello, first name!
3. Group chants again using the first name of student B.
    First name, first name, what do you see?
4. Student B replies using the first name of student C.
   I see first name SMILING at me. Hello, first name!
The chant pattern continues around the circle until all students have been greeted. At that time
the group chants:
Everyone, everyone, what do you see?
I see children smiling at me.

With student names as examples, and using waving as a greeting,  it would go as follows.
Student A: Sally
Student B: Sam
Student C: Michael
Student D: Roger

Group: Sally, Sally, what do you see?
Sally: I see Sam waving at me. Hello, Sam.
Group: Sam, Sam, what do you see?
Sam: I see Michael waving at me. Hello, Michael.
Group: Michael, Michael what do you see?
Michael: I see Roger waving at me. Hello, Roger.
When all the students have had a turn, the whole group chants
Everyone, everyone, what do you see?
I see children smiling at me.

VARIATIONS:
A. You can change the action verb for what the students are doing during the greeting such as the word SMILING to other words such as WAVING, LOOKING, or WINKING to name just a few.
B.  You can vary the greeting each student says such as Hello! to other ones such as Good Morning, How are you? or Nice to see you!


HELLO, HOW ARE YOU?
Students take turns in a circle greeting their neighbor (or assigned greeting partner) with this chant.
Hello, hello and how are you?
I'm fine, I'm fine and I hope you are too. 
As the students chant, they can turn and greet another student using a wave, a handshake or high five.

2, 4, 6, 8 CHEER
Assign an order of the students to use in this cheer or the teacher can stand/point to the next student in turn in the cheer. You could also assign a helper to select the next student.
This one doesn't necessarily practice specific greetings, but it does give an opportunity for all the students to be positive toward each other.

1. Students stand/sit in a circle. Students clap and chant, naming the first student.
Two, Four, Six, Eight
Who do we appreciate?
First name, first name Yeeaaaaah, first name.

2. As the students are chanting, the named student walks inside the circle giving high-fives. When he/she returns to his/her place, everyone shouts out, raising their hands above their heads,
Yeah, first name
3. Continue in the same manner until all the students have been named.

VARIATIONS:
You can modify this by adding the use of different voices for the day or for each student. For instance, you could whisper the chant, put it in a song, do it in a crying voice, a deep voice, or even a squeaky voice.

MATCHED PAIRS GREETING 
This activity has unlimited variations. This activity requires you to make a set of cards for the class. Some of the easiest ones I start out with at the beginning of the year is colors, numbers or letters. You could also use any other type of patterns. For a class of 10 you will need 10 cards of 5 matching items.

1. Distribute cards to students.
2. On the teacher's signal, the students locate the classmate with the matching card and greet them appropriately. 

I adore this activity since it can be modified in so many ways to fit the needs of the students. Usually with this activity at the beginning of the year, I start with one type of greeting such as "Hi!"  or one skill such as eye contact to focus on. As the students skills progress, I can add different types of greetings.

Thanks for joining me today for some ideas on greeting activities in Morning Meeting. Store the ideas away for next school year.
Come back next week for another portion of Morning Meeting activities.

Reading has always been a favorite of mine to teach. I adore working on decoding with students but my passion lies in helping them detect the meaning in the words on the page and grow in their comprehension skills. After all, isn't that what reading is all about? Detecting the meaning behind the words?

In a previous blog post I wrote about some simple ideas to increase understanding of what the main idea is. Here is a blurb from that post.

MAIN IDEA is finding the information that tells what the entire text or picture is about. It is the message or the point the author of the materials wants to convey.
When teaching main idea I use key words such as WHO and WHAT. Another idea to use is what is the BIG IDEA of this story or what you are trying to teach is how to pinpoint what the author is targeting.


HOW
Picture Main Idea
Start at the picture level. Use an easy to understand pictures from magazines, photos, picture books or comic book.  These can be  extremely useful for main idea. When working with materials at the picture stage, be sure and include the use of key phrases to prompt the correct answer such as What is happening in this picture?  What is the boy/girl doing? Pictures depicting things familiar to the student are particularly  helpful at this stage such as the one below.

 Here are a couple of examples of picture stage.


Here are a few types of questions  you can ask about pictures when working on main idea.
1. What is happening in this picture?
2. What do you see in the picture?
3. What are they doing?


Main Idea
Here are some ideas for working on comprehension skill of main idea in your classroom.
Sometimes real pictures are better than words. Use a real object such as target with a bull eye on it.



One that works really well is a velco target.
This is a great way of emphasizing with students, how we need to get to the most important piece of information in text. We always need to drill down to the the bulls eye to understand what is being said.  I like to modify the  target with details of a well know story, such as a fairy tale or such.
I fasten story details in several of the places on the bull eye and the main idea in the center. The kids LOVE throwing the balls to try and get to the center of the target. This becomes a great learning "hook" on which to refer back to during main idea instruction to help them understand what we are looking for in a main idea.




Another idea for working with main idea is to use headlines from newspapers or magazines. I find kids newspapers and magazines the best to use for this. Headlines are great for finding what the main topic is.
I like to laminate them so the kids can use wipe-off markers or crayons on them and circle the word(s) that are the main topic of that sentence.
Following the activity, they are easy to wipe off and use again.



You have any ideas for teaching main idea to those kids that really struggle with this skill?
I'd love to hear about them.


This time of year is so hectic and jammed full of activities both personal and work.

At school, you are wrapping up the current year, assessing your students, analyzing all the assessment data and having end of the year IEPs and packing up your room. It's absolutely chaotic and you are downright exhausted at this time of year. Right? Well take a moment...right now and just breathe! You DESERVE it!




Even with any of those factors and ending up the school year, one of the most important things to do is to think ahead!

Here are some ways you can THINK AHEAD, ACT NOW and save yourself lots of time later.

Here are some ideas for for getting organized and jump starting your new year.

1. Get organized for the beginning of next year as much as possible. 

Before you walk away for the summer. This will save you so much time when the new year rolls around. 

2. Supply and materials storage. 

When you are packing away all your materials from this year, be sure and weed them out. One of the best things I started doing as I was cleaning up at the end of the year, was to start a FREEBIE box. As I was cleaning out, I would toss items into this bin if I knew I wouldn't be using it or if they were materials for an age of students I was no longer teaching. Then I put this bin outside my door with a Big FREEBIES on it. You should see my colleagues flock to it. I even send out email to fellow teachers letting them know where the FREEBIES box would. This all helped to make room for new materials for the coming year and gave some of the materials to other teachers that needed it.

3. Next year's materials go in front. 

Get all your name tags, get acquainted materials, classroom rules, and first week ideas organized and set up in one place. Put these materials at the front on the shelves or in the drawers. This way you can pull them out easily when you return. 

4. Returning students' materials easy access

If you teach special education, you know you are going to have some of your students returning to you the following year. Be sure to keep their portfolios, assessment information and work samples handy and easy to grab first thing in the year.

5. Organize your student files by color. 

In a special education classroom, you are always working with a multitude of grades and even more ability levels. I love organizing by color because its visually pleasing and an easy to use way to tell one set apart from another. Organize each grade level as a different color notebook. Use actual grade level or functioning level, which ever works best for you. I'm a firm believer in using 3 ring binders with the slip in sleeves on the front and back. This way I can color code any way I want and they are easy to change out. You can also use file folders or pocket folders. 

6. Before you leave 

Update each students information. Make sure they have a current IEP in the notebook, current assessment information and where you left off in instruction. Its amazing what might slip your mind over the summer. Keeping information about where instruction stopped makes a nice smooth transition when starting up the next year.

7. Determine First Day Activities

Determine some get-acquainted / Day 1 and Day 2 activities you would like to do with your class the first day/week of the new year. Prepare the number of activities and materials you need plus a few more in case you get new students. Gather all the materials you need. I like to put all those materials together in a plastic tub and store them at the front of all the supplies so they are the first things I get out when I return. 

8. Ready Theme Materials

I also found a good idea was to decide what theme I wanted to use in the classroom and put all the name tags and things in the tub . As you put things away in storage, put on the labels you want to be using next year. 

9. Take Pictures

If you aren't sure what theme or decor you want to use for next year, be sure and take pictures of your room before you leave. This will help you in planning over the summer and help your purchasing of item be more productive. 

10. MOST IMPORTANT 

Leaving your room in tip-top organization will make the beginning of next year so much easier.
Take a few minutes now and it will pay off later.


;

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It's that time of year again! Time to assess the kids and see what progress has been made since the last progress monitoring.

Well- isn't it ALWAYS that time of year in the world of SPED?

Assessments are crucial to knowing where students are functioning, their strengths/weaknesses and the areas in which they have progressed since the last assessment.
Doing assessments in the beginning of the year was always easy for me; I wanted to get an idea of where to start each student.  I found keeping up with the assessment during the year a harder task for me when I was trying to intertwine assessment administration with ongoing instruction.

HOW FREQUENTLY DO YOU TEST?
I found it best to assess frequently throughout the year. I usually assessed several types of assessments each grading period. This gave me a good basis for progress report parent conferences and reassessment of instructional skills for each grading period.
The assessments were short easy to administer tests. This made it easy to have my paraprofessionals run the the normal schedule helped as much of a regular schedule as possible since disruptions and deviations from the norm were often difficult to handle for some students.
I assessed one student at a time while the remainder of the class worked as normal a schedule as possible.

WHAT TO ASSESS? 
I usually gave a basic sight word assessment depending on what was being worked on. Sometimes it was a Dolch sight word test or  Fry words and phrases test. Other times it was a recognition test based on sight words from our county lists. Even when teaching SPED self contained classes, I tried to stay as close to what general education is doing as possible.
Keep in mind your student's abilities, however and as always make sure your your assessments match what you are teaching.
In Math I usually used basic skills test as benchmark assessments or post tests from the math curriculum. Key Math, an individual assessment tool, was a common test I used, but often I also used a self made math skills test.
Make sure the assessment fits the student, adheres to your school system's directives and that you use the same assessment  to accurately track beginning and ending data.


TRACKING
Keeping track of the data you get from your assessments is imperative. I use an easy Excel spreadsheet to track my results from the beginning of the school year to the end. Excel makes it easy to create graphs and charts to show strength and weaknesses to parents and colleagues



ORGANIZING THE DATA
Keeping track of the data you get from the assessments can be an overwhelming task. I found if I got it organized from the first of the year, it helped me greatly.
I like to use binders, one for each child. In the binders, I kept a copy of the IEP, personal information about the child,  charts and graphs of assessment results and work samples. This system helped to have everything in one place when meetings such IEPs or parent conferences came up suddenly.


Spring is the perfect time to get those assessments organized if you haven't done so already. It's nearing the end of the year and those  year end meetings are close by.
Already have yours organized?

How do you keep your assessments organized? Share your organization ideas in the comments below.











One of the most fun things I like to do in my classroom throughout the year is journals. Journals are a great way to include writing into an every day activity.Journals are also a great way to to work on written expression with kids that don't like to write because they are short easy to complete assignments and they can be modified to let the students write about topics they choose.I used several types of  journals in my classroom, depending on the level of the student. My main goals  in journal writing were:1) Get the students expressing themselves. It didn't matter if they weren't writers yet because of of the journal types I used was actually drawing. I wanted them to know that I valued what they would tell me of "write" about.2) Adhere to the basic framework of the writing process. A. PlanB. WriteC. Edit3) Let them know that what they are expressing is valued.Here are a few examples of ways I worked with journals on several different levels. This type of blank journaling page can be used for kids that have not reached the writing stage yet. 
I usually let them draw a picture in the rectangle at the top, an individual conference with them and have them tell me about the picture. The sentence they tell me about the picture is then written on the line beneath it. I like to use the handwriting lines in order to give them an example of exactly how it should be written.
For students that have progressed into the writing stages. They can use this sheet and write a sentence or words about their picture. 

I also have seen much success in fostering writing when giving students picture prompts to jump start the writing process. On the journal pages below, the picture can stimulate a multitude of reactions from kids. We spend some time talking about the picture to get the juices flowing for ideas about what to say or write. On the left hand page, the sentence is already provided for the student. This is used for the student to trace the sentence after the discussion.
The page on the right hand side can be used for sentences to be written for the child or you can model their sentence given to you verbally and let the students trace it. 


One of the key ideas in using journals with pictures already provided was to spark the students' interests and get them talking and thinking about what is in the picture. I also ask them questions about if they have done the activity in the picture such as in the bubbles picture below.

 High interest pictures are the key. Candy is a great idea for picture cues. Almost all kids LOVE candy! Then enjoy talking about what candy they like, a time they got candy, what their favorite candy is or even a story about a time they got the best Halloween candy. The possibilities are endless.
 Once they have given me the ideas verbally then those ideas can be transferred onto the paper.  As the student perfects their thinking process and has the writing process modeled for them then I begin to has them to think about what they have said or written. Would they change anything to make it better. We have a little mini-writing conference to pull out more detail about what they have expressed.
In our mini writing conference, I always want to make sure the student feels valued for what they have expressed. When they believe they can write, have a purpose for writing and can feel safe, there is no end to what they can achieve.


Ever try to rev up up excitement for math just to have some groans come back at you? I was that kid when I was in school. Just didn't get math! Don't know why - just didn't; especially in elementary.
I used that dislike for math ever day when teaching. What can I do to get my kids psyched about math? How can I reinforce the skills they need without the attitudes?  Well, here are a few ideas you may want to try !
My kids LOVE games! If I can engage them in a game - I swear they don't even think they are learning!
For those kids needing practice in multiplication
ZOOMTUBA
Zoomtuba has 2 great math games  for division and multiplication you may want to check out.
ASTEROID DEFENSE Multiplication  lets kids answer multiplication questions and shoot down asteroids.

ASTEROID DEFENSE
DIVIDE and CONQUER Monsters! lets kids answer division problems then prevent the monsters from filling the house.
DIVIDE AND CONQUER!


COOLMATH
Cool Math has many games at all different levels. There are way too many to list or even share. This one is for basic addition. Move the laser shooter left and right and press the space bar to shoot at the ship with the equation that matches the number on the laser.

ALIEN ADDITION

ADAPTEDMIND
This site has a multitude of grade levels and almost unlimited skill levels. You pick where you want to work and the site uses the students answers to adjust the level of the skill as they progress.


ADAPTED MIND

There are so many great sites and games out there to get our kids practicing their math skills. There's no limit to what we can do. Let's share our resources!
What do you use to get your kiddos practicing math?
Leave a comment below and I'll include it in a post update.




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.

Modeling

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.

Application

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? 





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