Sunday, December 22, 2013
If you've been looking for a way to spice up some of your TeachersPayTeachers or homemade classroom activities, check out my new Holiday Digital Background Pack! It includes 30 different 12" x 12" backgrounds in PNG format, so they can be scaled to fit any sized project. And because you're all awesome, loyal blog readers, you can get 2 of them for free!
Friday, December 20, 2013
If you're anything like me, winter break is a great time to sleep in, relax, and also do lots of shopping! If you've got some last minute gifts to pick up for this holiday season, make sure to check out this awesome blog post I found on Pinterest. It contains TONS of stores that offer teacher discounts. A few of them I knew about (Michael's, Office Depot, etc.), but there were several others that surprised me (Dollar Tree, Target, Banana Republic!)
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Looking for some last-minute ideas for your kiddos this month? Minds in Bloom has assembled a giant collection of TeachersPayTeachers resources for reading, math, counseling, writing, behavior management, and tons of other topics. And the best part? You don't have to pay for any of them!
So grab that flash drive and take advantage of this awesome collection! Just check out the post here.
Sunday, December 1, 2013
Don't forget!! Enter the code "CYBER" today and tomorrow at checkout to receive 28% off everything in my store! Tons of social work, counseling, and special education lessons, activities, and resources. Need a few weeks off from planning? Look no further!
Hurry, the sale is only good through tomorrow!
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
It's that time of the year again - family, cranberries, turkey...waiting in super long lines outside a store to save big on that TV or big toy your kids want. Yet if you like good deals, but the thought of Black Friday makes you want to hide in your closet, Cyber Monday may be just the thing!
Luckily, everyone's favorite place for teacher materials, lesson plans, and resources is also celebrating the start of the holiday shopping season! So, from 12:01 am on Monday, December 2nd through 11:59 pm on Tuesday, December 3rd, enter the code "CYBER" at TeachersPayTeachers and get great stuff at a great discount! My store will be participating in the site-wide sale, so it will show sale prices that reflect 20% off regular prices. By entering the code "CYBER," you'll earn an extra 10% off from TpT (for a total of 28%: 10% off a discounted price of 20% off = a total of 28% off the regular price).
Want a head-start on the sale? Head on over and add items to your wishlist so they'll be ready for Monday!
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
If you were around this July and August, you might have seen my summer project: an organization binder for the special ed. teachers, social workers, SLP's, etc. I'd seen so many cute teacher binders on Pinterest and TpT, but felt that none of them really addressed all the IEP craziness the rest of us tend to do! As part of that full binder, I made some grade book pages. However, I quickly realized that lots of regular classroom teachers may enjoy these, but might not use the full binder.
Thus came the individual grade book pages! They're presented in landscape and portrait orientations and match the cute color scheme of the rest of the binder. And since they're in Microsoft Work format, you can add and remove as many rows as you need! So, if you're looking for a way to spruce up your same old red grade book, head on over and take a look here!
Saturday, October 26, 2013
This week was one of those weeks for me! Regardless of how hard I tried to sit and write IEP goals, do my medicaid billing, or lesson plan for next week, I just couldn't! Now granted, this week was our parent-teacher conference week, which meant we were at work until 7 (and I couldn't go home in between school and conferences because I live 45 minutes away), but still. My attention was definitely not what I wanted it to be this week.
Instead, I found myself wanting doing other "less cognitively demanding" things instead: delivering forms for students to have parents sign and return, checking in with a few teachers regarding my student progress, laminating and cutting out some new TpT things, etc. Throughout this week, I couldn't help but think several times how we as adults have a ton of different options for clearing our heads during the day, but many of our students don't have many of those options!
As adults, we can get up and walk to the bathroom if we need a minute or two to give ourselves a break. We can also decide to procrastinate or rearrange the order of our tasks during the day depending what we're in the mood for. We can even listen to music, send a friend a message about dinner plans or, heaven forbid, take a quick look at Facebook). Our students can't! It's no wondering problems with work completion, following directions, or paying attention are the most common things I have teachers asking me for help with!
In college, I took a class that talked a lot about neurological research and how to improve memory. And one of the things my professor mentioned was that people always remember the first and last thing they learn in a given segment of time. So...if you're teaching a class for 35 minutes, chances are they'll remember about the first and last 3 minutes. However, if you teach a class for 10 minutes, break for 2, teach for 10, break for 3, teach for 10, they'll remember the first and last 3 minutes of EACH of the teaching segments.
So when teachers need help with a student who struggles to focus, one of the first things I do is talk about brain breaks. I've heard all kinds of statistics about how long students of various ages can pay attention, but the bottom line is that it's MUCH MUCH shorter than you'd think. The purpose of brain breaks is to provide some type of physical and/or mental time-out so that students can return refreshed to their tasks a few minutes later. Many are physical in nature (do 10 jumping jacks, crab walk, etc.), but they can be mental as well (say the alphabet backwards as fast as you can, summarize what I just said to your partner, etc.). Ultimately, anything that gives your students a chance to do something DIFFERENT for a few minutes will work. And while It doesn't last more than 2 or 3 minutes, I'm always amazed how much of a difference it makes when I use them in my room!
Recently, I put a brain breaks card pack in my TpT Store, which you can get here. I thought I'd already written a post about it, but I hadn't, so I'm sorry about that! It contains 33 different ideas (in color and in printer-friendly black and white) for helping your kids get out of their seats and move around. They're presented in Powerpoint format so you can print them out many different sizes to fit your needs!
Saturday, October 12, 2013
In celebration of TeachersPayTeachers hitting 100,000 Facebook followers, they're offering 10% off everything on their site (including my store!) until 11:59 tomorrow night (October 13). Just enter the code, "FB100K" and you're good to go! So go clear off all those things you've been keeping in your wishlist and save yourself tons of time on planning this week :)
Enjoy and Happy Weekend!
Wednesday, October 2, 2013
Each year, every teacher at my school receives a $50 purchase order to spend on supplies, curriculum, or materials for our classrooms. It's definitely not much, but I was so happy with my purchase this year that I wanted to share it with you!
Normally, I'll buy colored card stock (for making my numerous visual schedules, break cards, and the like), a few books discussing bullying, divorce, or other issues, or school supplies. This year, however, I decided that I needed some new curriculum! Sure, I have binders upon binders of worksheets and other things, but I'm getting so BORED with them...and so are my kids.
I'd heard really good things about the Superflex Curriculum and read a few good reviews online, so I decided to give it a try. It's a Superhero comic book-based curriculum for students in grades 2-5 to help teach social skills and behavior regulation. If nothing else, I thought that since it featured superheroes and villains in a comic book format, it'd be my best shot to compete with the video games, movies, and TV shows my kids are interested in! And lucky for me, the starter set came in at just under $50! Perfect :)
If you aren't familiar with the curriculum, I invite you to take a look at the Social Thinking Website first! After several weeks of using it, here's what I've found:
Things I Love:
- The comic books are super colorful and grab my students' attention.
- Teacher guide includes prompting questions and really good lesson plans for organizing your instruction
- Each villain (called "Unthinkables") has a cute name that is really easy for my kids to remember and addresses many of the social difficulties my kids have.
- Some of the books come with a CD that has all the printable pages. No more need to squish my teacher guide in to the copier and deal with crooked copies! I can just print one from my computer and make pretty copies!
Things I Wish Were Different:
- I know it's an educational curriculum, but it makes me sad that it has to be priced like one. I have a hard time coughing out $20-$30 for a book! Also, the store sells squishy flexible brain stress balls, but I got them for super cheaper on Office Playground.
- The only "comic books" available at this time are for defeating the first 3 (out of 14) villains (Unthinkables). The teacher guide provides other books that can be used to explain the remaining 11, but my kids keep wanting more of the original comic books, not random other books that I can pull in to describe the Unthinkables! I believe more are coming though.
- My original Superflex book started coming apart at the binding after only 2 weeks of use. I'm the only one who holds the book and the staples holding it together started ripping through the pages. It's already taped up, which makes me sad!
So far, I've used it with students with Autism, ADHD, Bipolar Disorder, and Developmental Delays and it has worked very well for those students. A few of my kids with more severe Cognitive Impairments get distracted by all the action in the comic books (I have to show only 1 page at a time and keep portions of it covered) and have a hard time understanding the concept of "fictional characters," which the teacher's guide warns about.
Even despite a few negatives, I love this curriculum! My planning time has been SO reduced, which is wonderful. I'm still getting used to the layout of all the lessons, but my students have been paying attention, contributing appropriately to conversations about social thinking, and even using Superflex vocabulary outside my office!! "Rock Brain got in my head yesterday when I didn't want to let my sister use the TV." I have to say, THAT is pretty awesome! So if you've got some grant money, unspent purchase orders, or extra TpT earnings laying around, I highly recommend Superflex!
Note: None of the images in this post are mine. They are all from Social Thinking and Office Playground. Also, I was not compensated in any way for this review. It's just something I wanted to share!
Saturday, September 28, 2013
At our school book fair last year, I bought a great book called The Interrupting Chicken. It's become a favorite of several of my students, so I'm always looking for more activities I can use when we read it! So imagine my excitement as I perused the boards at Pinterest and found a free activity pack!
It contains activity pages as well as some colored chicken cards that can be used to remind students not to blurt out during class. I'm thinking something like, put 3 chickens up on the board at the beginning of the day and if there's at least one left at the end of the day, you'll play a class favorite song or let them do a fun activity? Something along those lines!
*Note* Photos in this post are from Happy Teacher Happy Kids. They are not my own!
Monday, September 23, 2013
Even though social workers and counselors aren't required by most schools to use common core in their individual and group counseling sessions, there has been a huge push in the educational community for states to adopt Social Emotional Learning standards instead.
According to the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), SEL has been shown to promote students' academic success, health, and well-being, while also preventing problems such as alcohol and drug use, violence, truancy, and bullying. It also reduces emotional distress and conduct problems.
So far, Illinois is the only state to officially comprehensive, free-standing standards , but many other states such as Washington, Idaho, Nebraska, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, New York, and Vermont are in the process of creating their own or using variations on the Illinois standards, while all others have some goals or benchmarks integrated into state academic standards. For more information, check out the CASEL website!
This download includes 339 4 x 6 cards from the warm set, cool set, and printer-friendly set depicting “I can” statements for the following Illinois social-emotional learning standards. However, they are presented in Microsoft Word format so the text can be easily changed to fit other states' standards or to adjust the wording for your students.
They are designed to be used to help students know exactly what types of skills and knowledge they are expected to learn, or can be used as a reference for you as you develop social-emotional IEP goals or intervention plans.
There is 1 card listing each goal (3 total per set):
1 card listing each standard (9 total per set):
and several (101 per set) for each performance indicator under each standard (early elementary, late elementary, middle/jr. high, early high school, and late high school). Skills are presented in age-appropriate language depending on the performance indicator level.
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
I'm really excited to announce the arrival of my new Fall Social-Emotional Activity Pack! I already have Holiday and Spring Social-Emotional Packs in my store, so I knew I wanted to add a Fall pack too. This one was specifically designed with kindergarten through second grade students in mind, but may be appropriate for older students too who are working at a lower level.
It contains several social skills, anger management, and social emotional activities that are sure to get your students excited about the cooler weather! It contains the following:
- 24 Fall-Themed Conversation Cards*
- 24 Friendship Scenario Cards*
- Angry Monster Coping Skills Activity
- “Banish the Boos” Positive Thinking Activity (and answer key)
- “Debug” Problem-Solving Activity
- Halloween Behavior Punch Cards (2, 4, 6, 9, or 16 per page)
- Listening Poster (4 different genders/races used)
- Pumpkin Emotion Cards for matching, role-playing, or other games
- Pumpkin Friendship Glyph*
- Thankfulness Turkey Activity
- Thanksgiving Behavior Punch Cards (2, 4, 6, 9, or 16 per page)
- Trick or Treat Behavior Sort Activity
Saturday, September 14, 2013
One of the things my school has done each year is read "Have You Filled A Bucket Today," by Carol McCloud to the younger grades. "Filling a Bucket," not being a "Bucket Dipper," and such are now common language across the grade levels and it has definitely helped kids to be able to separate friendly from unfriendly actions.
Which is why I was really excited to find a Bucket Filler vs. Bucket Dippers headers by 3rd Grade Thoughts and word sort by 1st Grade Fanatics on Pinterest. Often, I have students list examples of "Bucket Fillers" and "Bucket Dippers," but having words to choose from would really help some of the younger students get started.
The best part of both these products? They're FREE!! So go grab them while you can!
*Note* Photos in this post are from 3rd Grade Thoughts and 1st Grade Fanatics. They are not my own!
Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Some of the most common topics I see social workers and counselors teach is feeling identification and regulation. And it makes sense! Almost every student in need of counseling services could benefit ways to identify emotions in themselves or others, or learn ways to cope those feelings!
As a result, I put together this activity bundle which contains several of my most popular items and many new ones as well! It includes several different activities you can use to help teach emotional regulation and empathy skills to students who many be diagnosed with Autism, Mood Disorders, or other difficulties. It includes:
- Social Skills Feeling Pack (my most popular freebie!)
- Feelings Bingo Game
- Feelings Matching and Game Cards
- Feelings Crossword Puzzle (& answer key)
- Feelings Word Search (& answer key)
- Feelings DeBrief Sheet
- Feelings Journal
*Designates editable items