Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Winter Olympics in the Special Education Setting


So, admittedly, I can't miss teaching my class about the Winter Olympics because I am obsessed with watching them. I figure skated for 10 years and I watch competitive skating like other people watch football (yes, complete with yelling at the TV!). But selfishness aside, the Olympics is a seriously awesome event to teach during! It's a world-wide event that our students should know a little something about. Plus, you can add in so many academic skills to make it such a fun unit of mini-lessons!

Read Alouds
Some Olympic sports are a little more common than others... (think skiing vs. luge!), so creating exposure and background knowledge is hugely important!

I love to read one per morning, discussing the sport, any questions, and during an afternoon transition time, watch a few videos of the sport in action. If you're doing this unit during the actual Olympics, you can time each book to be when these athletes are competing, and show gold-medal performances on the Olympics YouTube channel!

Here are some of my favorite books - including a new one that is just about the 2018 Winter Olympics!





A mix of fiction and nonfiction is good, but this is a real event! It's a great time to focus on non-fiction text and non-fiction text features, which in some of our classrooms may not always take the forefront. Great time for exposure!!

Crafts
I know crafts can sometimes get a bad name, like they're a waste of time. No way! If you really strategically plan out a craft, you can add in language practice, direction following, 1:1 correspondence, turn taking, sequencing, social skills, attending to task, frustration tolerance, and even STEM! I LOVE these ideas from Activity Village! 

Blow Skiing... so cute.
Blow Skiing

Curling game - great for explaining a sport they will likely not know exists.
Curling Game

Make a ski-collage - would love to do this with pictures of actual skiiers in the games!
An intrepid skier in our ski collage!

Medal Count
My favorite activity to do with my students is to complete a morning medal count. We will be tracking the medals of Team USA each morning and watching videos of their performances/games. This is an awesome way to reinforce graphing, data collection, tally marks, and reading a table. And, I came prepared! Check out this freebie from my Teachers Pay Teachers store to keep track of 10 Olympic sports!

Olympics Medal Count - Freebie!

And an extra fun thing? MadLibs! These are great if you're working on parts of speech and have a few extra minutes during a transition time.



What are your favorite Olympic themed activities? Comment below!

Love,
Allie


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Thursday, January 18, 2018

Tech Tips for Special Education

Hey! I'm here with 4 tech tips to help engage your students and keep technology accessible for all of your learners.

1.) Guided Access

Here's the scenario... you finally get iPads in your classroom. You put your students on selected apps and start doing direct instruction with a student at the back table. 10 minutes later, you have 3000 selfies and two kids trying to buy animal crackers on Amazon. UGH! So much for the iPads? Not exactly. If you don't know about the Guided Access feature, consider your teacher life changed.

Guided Access essentially locks your students into an app. They would need to be able to triple click the home button AND enter a 4 digit passcode to exit the app. Even our sneakiest kiddos would struggle with that! Here's the steps:

  • Launch the "settings" app on your iPad.
  • Tap "general"
  • Tap "accessibility"
  • Tap "guided access" under the "learning" header
  • Tap on "passcode settings"
  • Set passcode
  • Move "accessibility shortcut" to ON, which allows you to triple-click the home button and enter Guided Access at any time
ENJOY!

2.) Gloves


Ever have a student who struggles with one finger isolation and consistently makes incorrect taps with her other fingers on the iPad? Try gloves! iPads won't work with gloved fingers, so adding a modified glove is a great way to help your student access technology effectively. 


3.) Google Keep

Have students with major executive functioning needs? I'm talking the student who's incredibly unorganized and no planner in the world could ever keep up with them. Try Google Keep! If this student always has a phone or tablet, this is a wonderful tech resource. You can create color coded reminders and lists to keep life organized, plus it has really cool search features to find exactly what you're looking for.

4.) Quizlet

Study skills are so hard to teach and maintain for our students. Quizlet won't solve all of these problems, but technology makes everything more fun, right? Students can make decks of flashcards using this app, or search for premade ones in the app. If you have students constantly losing items, like study guides and flashcards, this is a great way to engage in technology AND maybe pass the quiz!

What favorite tech resources do you use with your students in special education?

Love, 
Allie

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Read Alouds to Support Positive Behaviors

Bibliotherapy, or the use of books as therapy, can be such a great addition to our special education classrooms! Where to begin? Here's a few of my favorites.

Julia Cook
I've mentioned her before, and I'll say it again, and again, and again... best author everrrrr! Her books are specific, engaging, and so effective for students with lagging social skills. Check out her website here, where you can search for books by topic. She gets as specific as books on stealing, handling feedback, digital footprints, and how to handle farting (seriously!!!!). 

I have a set of about 20 of her books and book companions, thanks to super generous donors. Check out my Donors Choose project if you want some inspiration on creating your own project to gain some of her amazing books!

First Book
Do you know about FirstBook? It's an incredible organization and store: a nonprofit, store and mission all in one! They have entire sets of Social - Emotional books, also sorted by skill type. The best part? HIGH QUALITY, FREE, downloadable resources to accompany many of the books! While of course nothing is one size fits all, isn't it great to have a start on some questions, discussion starters, and activities you could use for some of these books? 

In case your curious, here's some of our personal classroom favorites!


Love,
Allie