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    Friday, September 1, 2023

    Organizing Progress Monitoring in the Special Education Classroom

    Data collection on IEP goals is one of the most important tasks a special education teacher takes on because it helps us plan for interventions and monitor student progress. But it is also one of the most tedious tasks we do! 

    Over the years, I have created a system for organizing my IEP goal progress monitoring that has made it easier to set up, implement, and even delegate! 

    The first step is designating a binder for each student on your caseload. I prefer using colored binders because I color-code each of my students' materials each year. 

    In the very front of the binder, I include an IEP at a Glance. We use IEP Anywhere so they luckily create this for us! I also include any essential medical or behavior plans for that student. 

    Then, I get pocket dividers for each subject I will be monitoring. This is a great way to organize the different subjects but my favorite part is the pocket. This is where I store all of my work samples. Then, at the end of each quarter when I send home my progress report, I attach the work samples to back up the data. 

    Then, behind each divider, I include progress monitoring sheets specific to that student's goals. My sheets are detailed and user-friendly so that all members of our team (paraprofessionals, related service, and general education staff, etc) can take data in a consistent way. It even helps me if I get confused by all the different goals on my diverse caseload! 

    Over 100 of my progress monitoring sheets can be found in my TPT store. You can get individual subjects (Math, Reading, Communication & Vocabulary, and Fine Motor, Daily Routines, & Writing) or a bundle to cover all of your needs (and save 20%)!

    During progress report time, I collect all of the completed progress monitoring sheets and organize them by stapling them to these Progress Report Form graphic organizers from my Special Education Teacher IEP Organization Kit which becomes a nice tool for me to reference when making additional copies, updating my paraprofessionals on skills to target, as well as just organizing the overall progress report process!

    Find it here:

    Finally, on the back cover, I include a "cheatsheet" all about that student. With IEP goals, behavior and medical plans, and this cheatsheet all contained in one place, my progress monitoring binders truly become an amazing, organized resource for all members of that student's educational team! 

    Once I developed this system, it made progress monitoring organization so easy every fall. I would look at a student's IEP at a glance, print off the corresponding progress monitoring sheets, and get their binder organized. Then I was all set for the rest of the year! 

    Saturday, July 29, 2023

    Top Tips for Paraprofessional Management during Large Group Activities

    Do you find yourself getting frustrated with your paraprofessionals during large group activities? Sometimes you feel like you are swimming in a rocky ocean all alone... and other times you can't hear yourself give directions over the level of verbal prompts happening. 🫣😬 Typically this boils down to a couple things... lack of training and communication.

    Remedy this common struggle with these tips:

    • Set Clear Expectations: Define roles and responsibilities for paraprofessionals during large group activities. Clarify their support tasks, behavioral strategies, and communication protocols.
    Bright Rainbow Editable Paraprofessional Role Sheets

    • Team Communication: Foster open communication between teachers and paraprofessionals. Regular meetings ensure everyone is on the same page and can discuss any concerns or improvements. I liked to meet with my team weekly to discuss current questions or concerns and discuss lessons for the week ahead. This helps paraprofessionals feel heard, confident, and prepared.

    • Provide Training: Offer ongoing training sessions to enhance paraprofessionals' skills and knowledge. Some areas to prioritize may include:
      • behavior management techniques
      • understanding disabilities
      • differentiation
      • reinforcement strategies
      • data collection
      • fostering an inclusive environment.
    Boho Watercolor Editable Paraprofessional Role Sheets

    • Flexibility: Be adaptable to changing situations during large group activities, and encourage paraprofessionals to be flexible with their support methods accordingly. If you feel the need to pivot in the moment, communicate that! Sometimes paraprofessionals can get frustrated if you discussed facilitating a lesson in one way and switch it up in the moment. 

    • Breaks and Self-Care: Remind paraprofessionals to take short breaks if needed and prioritize self-care to maintain their effectiveness in the classroom.
    Bright Rainbow Editable Paraprofessional Role Sheets

    • Celebrate Success: Acknowledge and celebrate achievements, both big and small, for students and paraprofessionals. A positive atmosphere boosts motivation.

    • Debriefing Sessions: After activities, hold debriefing sessions to reflect on successes and challenges. Encourage feedback from paraprofessionals to continually improve teamwork.

    By implementing these practical tips, you'll create a harmonious and supportive environment for both students and paraprofessionals, ensuring a successful learning experience in your special education classroom. 🌈"

    Sunday, March 19, 2023

    Spring Activities in the Special Education Classroom

    As an elementary special education teacher, it's important to create a learning environment that is engaging and meaningful for all students. This includes incorporating hands-on activities that not only help students develop academic skills but also foster their curiosity and love for learning.

    One way to achieve this is by exploring the natural world around us. Spring is a perfect time to focus on plants, flowers, and insects, as the warmer weather brings about new growth and activity. Here are some activities that can be incorporated into the classroom to help students learn about these topics:

    • Flower Dissection: To learn about the different parts of a flower, students can dissect one and label its various components, such as the petals, stem, and roots. This can be a fun and interactive way to learn about the anatomy of a flower. Then, assess what students remember using this flower labeling cut & paste activity from my Plants & Flowers Thematic Unit

    • Vocabulary Fun: For each of my thematic units I use a pocket chart for students to match vocabulary words to the corresponding picture icon. For students who are not yet reading, we work on receptively identifying the corresponding picture icon after staff reads the word for them. For students who have easily mastered reading the vocabulary, I ask them to provide a definition or use it in a sentence. BINGO is another fun way to practice vocabulary each unit! Both of these activities are also part of my Plants & Flowers Thematic Unit

    • Butterfly Life Cycle: Provide students with caterpillars or butterfly larvae and have them observe the changes that occur as they grow and transform into butterflies. Or if you are on a budget, YouTube has some great videos too! Encourage students to make observations, discuss them, and also assess their ability to sequence the life cycle using this cut & paste worksheet from my Insects Thematic Unit

    • The Very Hungry Caterpillar: Another fun way to study the life cycle of a butterfly is by reading Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar. This is one of my all-time favorite stories to read each spring and it is actually one of the first stories I made communication and comprehension supports for including basic wh-question worksheets, sequencing, fill-in the blanks, vocabulary, and progress monitoring. 

    I also create sentence building boards with all of my Picture Book Communication and Comprehension Supports. These can be used for students who point as they create their sentences or if you print and laminate two copies of the sheet you can make an even more interactive velcro board that kids can use to create sentences on a velcro strip like the picture below. 

    • Water Cycle Exploration: Each spring we bring in an electric kettle to show students how the warm air turns to vapor, then we watch as it cools to create drops and make the comparison to raindrops. This simple experiment starts our exploration of the water cycle. We also read stories and watch videos and songs on YouTube. Then, we assess what the students know using this cut & paste worksheet from my Spring & Weather Thematic Unit

    • Measurement Fun: Spring also provides plenty of opportunities to teach students about measurement from measuring growing plants that students have planted to measuring caterpillars (like this worksheet found in my Insects Thematic Unit). I also have a fun plant measuring worksheet in my Plants & Flowers Thematic Unit too!

    • Insects Class Book: At the end of my Insects Thematic Unit, we created a class book of each student's favorite insect and a fact about that insect. I adapted the activity for some by printing off coloring sheets for them to use as their insect drawing while I extended the activity for others who came up with an original insect fact rather than choosing from the bank of options I created. 

    Incorporating activities related to plants, flowers, spring weather, and insects can not only help students develop academic skills but also foster their curiosity and love for learning. As a special education teacher, it's important to create a learning environment that is inclusive and engaging for all students, and these activities can be a great way to achieve that. These units certainly meet that need! And if you are interested in implementing them all, you can grab my Spring Bundle and save 20%!

    Sunday, January 15, 2023

    About Me


    Hi! I'm Allison. I am a SpEd Teacher who is passionate about creating resources to help every special education teacher succeed!

    Sunday, January 8, 2023

    Cooking in the Special Education Classroom

    Each week in my special education classroom we do cooking and craft extension activities related to our thematic unit. We have had a lot of fun over the years with all of our different projects!

    Each week, we use a visual recipe for students to follow along. On the front, are icons for all of the ingredients and supplies. On the back, are picture-supported directions for each step of the recipe. 

    Are you interested in implementing some thematic cooking activities in your classroom? My Visual Recipes for the Entire Year resource has 50 different visual recipes that can be printed and ready to go each week! 

    My paraprofessionals are in charge of planning our thematic cooking and craft activities each week. This gives me an awesome opportunity to be on "the other side of the table" assisting students and seeing how they all do with group activities without the stress of managing the group as a whole. I love switching it up like this and giving my paras something special that they enjoy coordinating each week. 

    Each week I choose students to be the Head Chef and Head Artist who will assist my paras during the group. These two jobs are hands-down the class favorites. I think it is basically because they get to do so many of the "teacher" jobs (passing out supplies, modeling the activity, calling on students) and sit in the coveted "teacher" chair at the kidney table.

    Each Monday, we go over who gets to do the head jobs. I like talking about it on Monday because it give the kids something to look forward to and for those kids that need the extra behavior motivation it helps also. I place the students' names under these cute signs (click the link below the picture to print!)

    Head Jobs Signs

    To make the job even more special I made these adorable aprons for the kids to wear. They love them! I even had a little guy that didn't really understand that the jobs were assigned each week and for a couple weeks after his turn he went over to the apron at cooking time and tried to put it on! Thankfully, he was a great sport. 

    These aprons were super easy to make and very affordable. I bought two children's aprons at Michael's and some puffy paint at Walmart. First, I drew the pictures using pencil. I was able to do it free hand but you could look at clip art images if you needed some inspiration! Then, I filled in the pencil drawings with puffy paint (I used small paint brushes to spread). After the paint dried, I used a black Sharpie to draw the outlines. Finally, I added a few details with the puffy paint. 

    I made these last year and they had to be washed a lot this year. I was impressed with how well they held up! At the end of the year, I just retouched a few of the areas with puffy paint. The lettering seemed to be peeling the most. I think this is partially from little fingers picking at it :).