Friday, May 26, 2017

7 Days of Behavior Necessities: Day 6, Seating Hacks

Yaaaay Day 6! Seating hacks... I would die without all the accommodations we can provide for our kiddos seats!

One of my favorite hacks is raising a desk as a standing desk. With old school desks you can just as your custodian to raise it up a few notches, and viola! A standing desk. This is so helpful for kids who just don't like sitting. I have a few!

I also love any type of cushion. It gives kids special buy-in to stay in their seat, and of course gives movement and sensory input for our wiggle-worms. These even work in middle school! Don't blow them up all the way, so there is extra room for kids to move. Oh, and beware of scissors and pencils. There's always one kid who takes a pencil and pops the cushion, ruining it for everyone. Wah-wah.

These are two favorites!

I also love bouncy bands. These really need explicit teaching. Students will try to do a million and five weird and distracting things with them. I always let kids start out with being wacky and silly and then begin to share with them the expectations of it. I have found that they really help with students who tend to pace, because they are gaining some movement in their bodies, specifically legs, and they are still seated!

Anything I missed? There are a TON of cool flexible seating options, I just love that these work on ANY standard classroom desk and chair. All of my links are ones I have personally tried and love, and they are Amazon affiliate links :)


Thursday, May 25, 2017

7 Days of Behavioral Necessities: Day 5: Visuals

Is your classroom covered in visuals?! I hope so! And if not, here's a few compelling reasons why mine is, and why it works!

Visuals matter. Many of my students have super slow processing. Giving them verbal directives and prompts can be so overwhelming to them, and visuals really help. I use visuals in social stories and behavior cues to help remind them of what their expectations and options are across the day.

Visuals additionally HUGELY help with expressive communication. All of my students are VERY verbal. None of them require speech therapy for speech, it's mainly for language concerns. So, communication of basic needs is NOT a concern for my current class. But - we cannot discount the need for visuals for our students to communicate! Visuals for sharing emotions have been so imperative for my students who are unable or reluctant to communicate when they are dysregulated. 

I have a few sets in my Teachers Pay Teachers store that may be just what you need to increase your visuals to help your students when they need it most.

This freebie is a great way for students to choose a coping skill that might help them regulate and get back to their baseline. 

This is my best seller! This toolkit includes MANY pre-teaching strategies as well as visuals that greatly help communicate with students when they need visuals most!


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

7 Days of Behavior Necessities: Day 4, Noise Cancelling Headphones

You made it to Day 4! Noise cancelling headphones are an absolute MUST in my special education classroom. While they don't cancel out all sound, they do definitely help with blocking out extra, possibly distracting sound. 

My students, as I've stated in many posts, have really challenging behavior. Now this poses a challenge for each child in their own bodies, but also with their peers. If a peer is having a loud reaction to something, it can often bother/set them off. Having these headphones on hand is so helpful!

These headphones are also so helpful for teaching students to focus! When my class is doing independent work, students are often distracted by any noise going on in the room. My students now know that they can grab these headphones to help block out sound and focus on their work.

One issue we have come across with these headphones? The fact that students will attempt to put them on to drown out my voice! While funny, totally not acceptable. My students now know, after explicit teaching of expectations, that the headphones are used only when they are not involved in instruction (ex: de-escalating, in our de-escalation room) or when they are working independently. I recommend setting this expectation early with these headphones!

Here are a few inexpensive options from Amazon. These are affiliate links!

These do come apart (and are put back together) quite easily - both a perk and a drawback, but something to consider! They're also the most inexpensive I've found. They DO work!

These are much more durable (don't pop apart easily), are very snug, and come in many colors!!

Happy focusing :)


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

7 Days of Behavior Necessities: Day 3, Timer

You made it to day 3! I love timers. They keep me on track, they are great visuals, they are an awesome skill to begin teaching kids, they help with anxiety, and they can eventually be transferred to a student responsibility!

I use timers for EVERYTHING. I make sure they're always visible to the class because many of my students have high anxiety and always want to know how long they have left for free time, before I pass out snack, etc.

Timers have also been really useful for behavior plans. For one of my students, if he can be safe with his language, body, and space for 5 minutes (using a timer!) he adds a puzzle piece to his picture puzzle. If he is not being safe he is asked to pause the timer until he is safe again, when he starts the timer back up. His picture puzzle has 4 pieces, so if he was showing ideal behavior, he could have a 5 minute break every 20 minutes. Now, this kiddo is in a really restrictive setting so we know he really never gets a break every 20 minutes because he has to pause the timer quite a bit :) BUT - giving students ownership over their behavior plans really increases buy-in!!

As for my favorite timers... they must be durable and SIMPLE. Some timers have so many buttons and it is really just not needed for what we use them for in the classroom. Here are a few favorites. These are all Amazon affiliate links!

A large, durable, magnetic timer that you can use for whole class needs:

The time-timer is amazing because it really helps students get a visual for how much time has lapsed and how much time they have left. Better for longer time frames, not great for 1-2 minute intervals.

A small timer that's perfect for individual students. It has a stand and a magnetic back.


What do you use timers for? Don't forget to come back tomorrow for Day 4!

Love, Allie

Monday, May 22, 2017

7 Days of Behavior Necessities: Day 2, Gum

Gum! I know, I know... many people think I am insane for allowing my students to chew gum. I'll tell you... once you go gum, you never go back!

My kids have very, very challenging behavior. Along with this many of them have very severe ADHD and with that comes pretty dysregulated sensory systems. I have also noticed that many of my students have predictable behaviors that start with verbal outbursts. Insert gum.

In order for gum to actually work in my classroom, there needed to be very explicit rules and immediate consequences.

1.) Never let me see the gum.
2.) You may have 2 pieces per day.
3.) No gum can exit the classroom
4.) If you abuse it, you lose it.

I gave them all of September with lots of lee-way as they were learning the rules. Many of them like to stick their fingers in their mouth and stretch the gum out. Ew, NO. They are fully aware now, in May, that if I see their gum it goes immediately in the garbage. If they continually argue about this, they lose gum for the next day.

So how does the headache of gum help with the sensory needs and verbal outburts I talked about? Well, my kids will literally chew on anything. Paper, bracelets, laminated visuals, toys...anything. The gum gives oral sensory input and a replacement behavior that is actually appropriate. The verbal outburts? Honestly if their mouth is busy with something appropriate, they are less likely to be constantly talking.

Are you up for the challenge? How do you feel about gum in the classroom?


Sunday, May 21, 2017

7 Days of Behavior Necessities: Day 1, Hand Lap Counter

I am frequently asked about what I use in the classroom to keep it running. My students are super unique and there are SO many things I could not live without! For this blog series, I'll be sharing 7 TANGIBLE items that I could not run my classroom without!

Today I want to share with you something I have been using for years... a hand lap counter! These are designed for counting laps for sports (like PE class or if you're running around a track at your gym), but they are seriously perfect for data collection!

Most recently, I pulled out my lap counter to get a baseline for how many times my student blurted out. This helped me write his IEP goal, as I cannot just say I want him to "stop blurting out". Though.... that would be ideal ;) I held on to the counter ALL day and every single time my kiddo blurted, I pressed the silver lever. At the end of the day, I could mark down how many "blurts" I recorded. After 3 days, I averaged the numbers, and viola!

These are so helpful for behaviors that are SUPER frequent, like a child who grinds his teeth, blurts out, is out of his seat, stims, or the dreaded "hands in the pants". Another perk? They're super, super cheap! I suggest purchasing a few in a variety of colors. This way, you can color code them per student so you always know which child's behavior you're recording.

Here's an affiliate link to grab these amazing behavior tools off of Amazon!