Saturday, December 1, 2007

Mini Offices

I just found this idea on The Teacher's Cafe, called Mini-Offices. Oh the possiblities are endless for my special needs classroom. It so difficult to have large reference areas, because the students are at so many ability levels....However how cool are these? More work for me. I'll post some soon. This idea is to good to pass up!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Simple and Yet Effective

We are working on crafts to raise money for community experiences. Plus, shopping for the supplies offers the students an opportunity to shop for meaningful items. Some craft supplies are really abstract for them to find on their own. I have a very basic digital camera. I keep in in the room most of the time and I also have a small hp printer for photographs. (You know, the little ones that only print pictures...) I took close-ups of two items we needed and gave them to the students. They went to Hobby Lobby, and with a little point in the correct direction, they found the items. The exact match was helpful as compared to using a magazine photo, clip art, or board maker. Not that I don't live for my board maker. My goal, start a file of items we actually shop for.

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Sunday, October 21, 2007

More Concept Maps

Concept map of words that go with pumpkin.

Close up of pictures in the poster about homes.
Posted by PicasaIllustration of a kitchen. Magazine are an invaluable tool in the classroom for older students. They are age appropriate and yet, if your students need to work on cutting and fine motor skills, you get to address both needs. Please make sure you read the next post also. Thanks for stopping by.

Concept Development Using Magazines

Here is a poster that was made by the whole class. We had talked about homes and houses for some time. We had discussed what went into a home. Words of importance included, big/small, ranch/two-story, garage, basement, country/city, apartment, trailer, modular, own, rent, backyard, porch, bedroom, kitchen, bathroom etc. The students, with minimal assistance from the adults, cut pictures out of magazines to illustrate their concept understanding. As they presented them to the class to be put on the poster, they had to use the word in a sentence. This activity usually spans two to three days at 50 minutes per class period.

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

New Word List

Here are the words that we are currently working on for the next two weeks.
  • house
  • good
  • show
  • new
  • family
  • build
  • fall
  • pumpkin
  • brown
  • orange
  • yellow
  • red
  • acorn
  • football
  • October

We worked on a concept web yesterday. Today we added pictures from magazines to support the concepts. The topic was house and or home. The Words we connected to the topic were: big, small, two-story, ranch, basement, apartment, trailer, modular, boat, city, country, garage, rooms, house, new, old, rent and own.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

A Childhood Favorite

Do you remember getting this magazine when you were young? It's still a great publication. On their website you may order the magazine, and you may also sign up for free worksheets. Remember the classic hidden pictures? There is a link under family connection to get a free one sent to your email each month. My students really enjoy them. The pictures also spark a lot of conversation. Here's the link: Hidden Pictures

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Vocabulary List Two

The Friday Folders are going really well. I've gotten them all back within two days! That's outstanding. I'm preparing for parent conferences at the moment. Here's our second set of words. These words came from the past two New-2-You we have read. One was about the High School Musical 2 and the other one was about rescued dogs. Both stories were very popular with the students.
  • school
  • home
  • money
  • help
  • kids
  • movie
  • DVD
  • music
  • TV
  • dance
  • dog
  • friend

I've been taking pictures of my hands-on activities. Pictures to follow soon...

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Vocabualy List One

I have a slightly different philosophy about vocabulary and site words for my students. I believe safety words are important, but they do not provide rich language activities and class discussions. Consequently, I use words from current events and words used most frequently in the students' daily conversations. This list incluedes words that describe activities in the classroom. These words allowed me to discuss the class routine and rules. It really helped the students to learn the classroom procedures. ( We cover a list of words every two weeks.)

  • island ( part of my behavior plan)
  • numbers (writing numbers to 100)
  • words (reading and speaking new words)
  • message (language story on the board every morning)
  • calendar
  • chart ( point for responsible behavior)
  • calculator
  • treasure (behavior plan)
  • math
  • read
  • pencil
  • notebook (contains messages)
  • computer
  • add
  • folder (all loose paper go in it)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

One Full Caulk Board

The power of visual supports in my classroom have become invaluable to me. It amazes me what the kids to do and understand with some simple visual supports. It's very important to me that they present themselves as middle schoolers...
Yes, we have toys.
Yes, we work on puzzles.
Yes, we do simple crafts.
Yes, we work on functional skills.


Yes, we work at our desks, put things in folders, and follow whole group instruction too.

This year, more than ever, I have all the things we are working on for the week clipped to the board in the front of the room. When I ask them to get something out, it's right there for me to show them. It's also an added bonus for sub plans too. All the instructional material hangs in clear view. Method: I simple give the direction and point or hold up what I want the students to get from their desks. Benefit: It helps the students to be more independent. They are also proud of their accomplishments. I often hear, "see Mrs. Alwine, I have it!" That is such a great feeling and accomplishment. Here are some photos:

Item one is a spelling worksheet. Item four is the calendar we fill out everyday. Item five is the story of the week from News-2-You. Item six is our spelling dictionary. Every students has two binders. Each one has a different label.Hopefully this helps illustrate what I am talking about. Please ask questions if you wish.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Behavior Plan

I started a new form of positive management this year. One, I get bored with the same one every year. Second, I have the students for 2-3 years and I don't want them to get bored. This plan is very visual and it matches the needs of my current students. I usually try a mini-economy, which I will explain in a different post. This year I opted for something much more visual and concrete. The students have small 4x5 charts, 20 points total, on their desks. After they get a point in each box, for a given row, they may move to that assigned island. For example, all the students started at the beginning of the "map". As they completed row one on the chart they moved to island 1. They progresses along the islands as they earn points, until they move to the treasure box. The treasure box follows island 5. Once they land on the treasure box, they may pick from a real treasure box full of classroom goodies. Since it take 6 moves to get to the treasure box, I give them a small reward after completing one 4x5 chart.
They get point for responsible behavior:
  • complete work
  • do your best
  • be kind and a good friend
  • hands feet and objects to self
  • return papers and homework
  • good scores on tests
  • keep work area neet and orderly

At some point, I'm not going to tape the charts down. This will allow them to take more responsibility for their belongings. They will need to keep it in a folder or box. If it is lost, then they start over. I really believe in natural consequences. I tell the students all the time, "Your time in the middle school is about becoming a young adult. You are no longer a child." It's a difficult transition, but most of them really blossom.

Oh, Friday folders were a success. All of the students returned them today! *smile*

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Something New

I'm starting something new this year. It's a form of parent communication I found while reading a teaching site called Education World. (Link on the side.) Some school systems are sending home all paper work on a specific day of the week. Here are the benefits: The parents know when the folder is coming home, and they look for all correspondence from the school on that day. The schools report that it has helped with communication because families are so busy. Parents often miss important paper work if it is sent home on an irregular basis.

I'm starting them tomorrow and I'm calling them T.G.I.F. Folders. I'll include newsletters, completed work, homework, rewards, notes from the school and other Misc. information. I'll keep you posted on how it goes. I think it is a splendid idea. Here's the link about the folders. That way you can adapt it to your needs. Weekly Folders, From the Principal's Desk

This is a photo of the folders. On the outside, I decorated it a touch, and put a small note on the front explaining the folder. It's nothing fancy, but it looks good to me. *smile*

Friday, August 31, 2007

First Post

I'm currently under construction in the classroom and on this blog. However, I've found a bunch of great links to teaching sites and will start to add these to my side bar. If you know of a great resource please share it with me also. Please enjoy and I hope you find the links to be helpful.