Academic Skills



Mastering 'WH' Questions in a Special Education Classroom

Reading goals are SO incredibly common when writing IEP's for students especially in a self contained classroom. Every since one of my students is working on answering 'WH' questions of some sort. Some of them are working on just one 'WH' question at a time and others are advanced enough to be working on literal vs inferential questions. 

Because I teach a 2-3 grade classroom my students work on basic literal 'WH' questions on a daily basis. We love to read stories and answer basic questions but it is also important to know how to answer one sentence 'Wh' questions. 

IN order to do this I created flash cards to help my students (and myself with a low prep printable) answer their questions and get great data for their IEP goals. 

These flash cards are so great because they are easy to print (and laminate so they do not get ruined) to take data on all year long. When I print them I choose the setting front to back in order to have the answers on the back of the question. Check out this resource here!

Another great interactive way to work on 'WH' questions in the classroom is flip books. I LOVE FLIP BOOKS  because the students think they are playing a game as opposed to working on a skill. 

I have the questions isolated into who, what, where, when, and why and the kids LOVE them. I also have two levels in order to help the students who are not readers accomplish the task (with pictures) and the students who are readers accomplish the task (with words). 

Check out these fun flip books here!

Lastly! I don't know if you heard but Teachers Pay Teachers LOVES back to school! They are having an AMAZING Sale! They want everyone to HAVE THE BEST YEAR EVER & so do I! I am giving away $10.00 to TPT so you can fill your cart with back to school goodies! Make sure you enter below!

Happy back to school shopping everyone!


Person First Language

Hey all! I am coming to you today to talk about a personal pet peeve of mine, person first language. I first want to say I am not writing this post to "call anyone out" or anything, but I want to help people see the light on the "PC" way to address children and adults with disabilities. 

When I was working on my undergrad at Bowling Green State University, I had this professor who basically scared the living day lights out of me. He was the only teacher who taught the classes specific to teaching students with moderate to intensive needs and his class was HARD. By the end of my senior year I was so grateful for having him as a teacher because he taught me SO much. The lesson that he instilled in me the most was that disabilities are not adjectives. Autism, Down Syndrome, Learning Disabilities.....they are in no way shape or form a way to describe someone. A persons disability is a part of who they are, but it is not equal to being happy, mean, scared, ugly, beautiful or the millions of other adjectives in the English Language. A persons disability is a medical diagnosis. They are PEOPLE First not the disability that testing on an ETR or a doctor has deemed fitting.

 My professor I mentioned above trained me in not saying the disability first by taking points off papers and test essays if used it, but it stuck with me further than a grade in a class. He taught me that the students in my future classroom deserve the respect to not be defined by their disability and to look at life and the unique people in it from a different angle. This lesson is not in my daily life and I try to teach and advocate others on the best way to speak of my students with respect and dignity. 

 So now you are aware and making the change to incorporate this language into your daily life, but other people you encounter don't know...understand...or are aware of this language. Now what?!?! 

I hope this post has enlightened you to spread the awareness that our students are people with so many amazing qualities that make them who they are. Whatever their diagnosis is does not define them, but shapes them into incredible human beings! 


Morning Meeting!

Morning Meeting! In an Autism classroom Morning meeting is my FAVORITE part of the day. It is one of the few times that we get to sit together.....WHOLE GROUP! Whole group is such a hard thing for my little superheroes to complete. So many distractions, having to wait their turn, attention on other peers, paying attention...the list of challenges goes on an on. 

I attempted to design our morning meeting with a BUNCH of visuals, lots of music, and a routine that does not change so the students know what to expect and how long it will take place. 

Let's start with visuals. I just did a post on visuals in the classroom so Click here to learn about how I use visuals in the classroom! In morning meeting we have visuals to sign in and  the kids tell us how they are feeling, visuals to pick their job for the whole group (weather, days of the week, months of the year, etc), and a visual schedule of the songs and activities. 


All of the songs that we use at circle are from YouTube here are some links to a few of my favorites: 

My students LOVE the Shape Song and the student with the best behavior for the day gets to point to all the shapes on the wall! It is a great reinforcer! 

I got the shape posters from Special Teacher for Special Kids check it out in her TPT store! 

Another student favorite is the Word Family Song by Dr. Jean. I made a cute book to go along with the song and the kids each get a turn to come up and point to the words and pictures and sing to their friends. It is a FREEBIE! in my Teachers Pay Teachers Store!


I also SPLURGED and bought this awesome calendar from Lakeshore. I know a lot of people like to use smart boards, but i think there is something special about doing it the old traditional way and allowing the kids to move and manipulate pieces on a BIG COLORFUL pocket chart! 

Here are some other pictures from our circle time area! 


What do you LOVE about Morning Meeting? Share in the comments below!


Visuals in the Classroom

If you are a Special Education teacher visuals should be your BFF! We wouldn't be able to get through a normal run of the mill day in my classroom with out multiple visuals to help my friends be successful! We use visuals for everything, but here are some good examples of visuals and visual reinforcement to help our day run smoothly! 

The #1 MOST used visuals in my classroom are our schedules. I have individual schedules for each of my students. Most are hung on the wall so the students can reference them all day. I love These visuals made by Chris from Autism Classroom News

One of my students benefits from a really detailed schedule for each transition. His 1:1 aide carries around a binder with his schedule in small chucks so he is not overwhelmed and can reference it in all settings. The binder is divided by color coded pages with the visuals sorted by categories so we can find them in a pinch! The categories are reinforcement, academics, specials, and different activities in the classroom to name a few. 

Visuals are also in the classroom for reinforcement. Each of my students have an individualized behavior reinforcement and target reinforcement plan. These visuals give the students positive reinforcement when they reach their target behavior. It can be a lot to keep track of, but each student's target behavior will help them be the most successful i nthe classroom. The first visual below was one that our behavioral therapist brought in one day after doing a reinforcement assessment on one student. He craved the attention of the teacher in the room (me) from day one. I was slightly mortified to have my face on a token board, but let me tell you for an child who loves the attention of adults, it works like a charm. He is given a token every 2 minutes as long as he is attending to the task at hand. Once he earns 4 "Miss Julie Stickers" he gets a hug from any adult in the room (his choice). He LOVES THIS! It was a little unconventional for me, but sometimes you have to look outside the box!

The second token board is a run of the mill task completion board. For every task this child completes he gets a smile and 4 smiles = 2 minutes of a choice activity. 

The third token board is a Donald Duck board. Donald was chosen by the student so it was especially reinforcing to him. This is a non contingent token board and he is given tokens as good behavior and task compliance is accomplished. Once he earns 5 tokens he gets 2 minutes of a choice activity. 

My parapros and I also carry around visuals on our id badges everyday. These range from, quiet mouth, hands to self, line up, bathroom....This really helps to eliminate the verbal prompting to take place and the students become more independent. These are also in the schedule cards pack in the link above! 
Lastly, I have visuals in my circle time area. This helps give the students a visual schedule of each song and activity we will do during circle. I also have visuals of the jobs the students pick when they sign in. This really helps when my students get fixated on a job. It is much easier to handle letting someone else pick a job if they choose the visual picture first.

Hope you all got some good tips on visuals in the classroom. This post just scratched the surface of visuals. I try to live by the rule "When in doubt, use a visual"! Leave a comment below and let me know how you use visuals in your classroom! 


100th Day of School & a Freebie!

Can you believe it is February tomorrow?!?! This year has had many ups and downs and challenged me as a teacher which is AWESOME, but it sure if flying by! This week we are gearing up to celebrate the 100th day of school. This is one of my favorite days of the year! We talk about it everyday beginning day 1.

I begin my 100th day prep by sending home a parent letter exhaling the day, homework, and donations.