Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Tips and Tricks for Making Task Boxes

I've had a few questions/ comments on some of my task box posts, so I wanted to share some of my responses, tips and tricks!

1) If you're cutting the lid, DON'T use the boxes from the Dollar Tree!
If you are going to cut the lid for "put in" or level 1 tasks, make sure you don't use the shoe boxes from a dollar store. Instead, get the Sterilite shoe boxes (they're still only $1.00, or less if you get them on sale). The lid on Sterilite shoe boxes is a lot thicker/ sturdier so it cuts waaay better! The lids from the Dollar Tree normally crack and split, but the thicker lids don't!
Look at the horrible crack on the left (Dollar Tree box) and then look at the perfect hole on the right (Sterilite box).
2) Use a marker and utility knife to cut the lid.
When cutting the lid, I start by using a Sharpie to mark how big of a hole I need to cut. Then I use a utility knife like this to cut the lid. You can normally get a really clean line with a good knife!

3) Storage tip: Create an organizational system to save space.
Save space by using one box for multiple put-in tasks. You can group like sized objects together and then cut a hole in 1 box that will fit all of the different objects. Store objects in ziplocks and then change them out every couple of days. This saves space of having tons of boxes and the money of buying tons of boxes!! Win win!
All of the manipulatives in the baggies fit into the whole in the box. Manipulatives can be switched out so kiddos don't get bored!

REMEMBER!! Make sure you use a velcro system for put-in boxes (for example, always put soft velcro on the box and always put hard on the objects) so that the manipulatives/ boxes can be interchangeable.

Here are a few other views of how we store task boxes.

Do you have any tips or tricks for making task boxes?!
 photo xo_zpsh4q1a84m.jpg

Monday, November 21, 2016

Tips for Ensuring Paraprofessionals Take GOOD Data

Data collection can be hard, so you should take some load off of yourself and utilize your paraprofessionals for taking meaningful data! However, you can't expect to hand a data sheet to a para and get good data... Here are a few tips to ensure that your paras are able to take GOOD data.

1) Train your paras!
I know this might sound crazy and simple, but you should thoroughly train your paras to take data before you expect them to do it! If you use different data sheets for different students, behaviors, or IEP goals, make sure you go over all the data sheets, keys on the sheets, and how often you want them taking data. Here's a link to a super basic training I did with my paras a few weeks ago. You can see, download and edit the training PPT I used here.

2) Post visuals to reinforce prompt levels 
If you're a center-based/ self-contained teacher like me, you can't just take data on whether or not a kiddo did something. In my classroom, the level of prompt needed for the student to emit the answer/ response is super important so that we can show growth. If you have to record the level of prompting that a kiddo needs to give a response, make sure you teach paras about the different prompts, the hierarchy and then post visuals around the classroom to reinforce the idea. If you want to save time, you can download the visuals for free here.

3) Simplify your data sheets
Something that can make data easier for your paras AND you is to do little steps to simplify your data collection sheets. Just think... the less writing required, the easier data collection is! So try to make sheets that can be completed by circling a prompt/code or just writing an abbreviation.

4) KISS- Keep It Super Simple
At the end of the day, make sure you create a data collection system that is easy for YOU and your paraprofessionals. If you don't keep it simple, everyone will be reluctant to take data and when data is taken, it will likely not be as reliable.

 photo xo_zpsh4q1a84m.jpg

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

New "Put in" task boxes

With so many of our kiddos only doing level 1 or "put in" task boxes, we are constantly making new boxes to keep the kids from getting bored. We have also been trying to use materials that make noise because we have a few kiddos with vision impairments this year. Here are the latest boxes we've made all from cheap supplies from the Dollar Tree or items we already had in the classroom.

These are small yo-yo's from the Dollar Tree. They were $1 for 8! They were in the party favor section.

These little rattles were $1 for 6! I found them in the baby shower section. They're super fun because they actually make noise!

These mini-maracas are great because they make noise too! I found them in the party favor section at  the Dollar Tree.

Simple counting bears!

I found a whole bag of coins in the toy section at the Dollar Tree.

Rubber ducks! I had to buy 2 bags of ducks (there were only 4 ducks in a package) but it was well worth the $2!
I'm linking up at Autism Classroom News here!

 photo xo_zpsh4q1a84m.jpg

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Quick & Easy Leveled Independent Work Activities

Creating new independent work activities is important so students don't get burned out on work, but it can be VERY time consuming! I'm all about creating quick and easy materials for independent work time/ task boxes. In this post, I wrote about how I use free printed worksheets, charts, etc. to create cheap and simple work activities.
I love using printables for work activities, but I felt like I needed a way to differentiate or level the materials so more of my kiddos could use them. So... I set out to figure out a way to created EASY leveled work activities!

What I ended up doing was printing 4 copies of a variety of black and white worksheets and charts. I used 2 copies to make a set without visual cues (or color coding) and then used the other 2 copies to create a task with visual cues. So I ended up with 2 independent work activities in two different levels! For example, the activity without color coding requires the student to have the skills to match the numbers, shapes, letters, etc., but the color coded task provides kiddos with a visual cue if they can't already match the numbers, shapes, or letters.

Check out some of the easy work activities we made. One activity is color coded, and the second doesn't have visual cues/ color coding. I'm so happy with how they came out!

Do you have any tips or ideas for creating differentiated independent work activities?

 photo xo_zpsh4q1a84m.jpg

Monday, October 24, 2016

Managing and Organizing IEP Data

Organizing and managing IEP data can be scary! I know it's very common to have 1 data binder for each student on a caseload, and this is how I've done it in the past... but this year, I changed my ways and I couldn't be happier! This year I just have ONE binder for all of my kiddos, and I LOVE it!

Why I did it: 
  • Our school has data team meetings often. During these meetings, we are expected to bring data for numerous students and I got tired of carrying 4-9 binders all around the school for meetings!
  • I sadly spend some time at home doing progress reports and it was a pain to lug home 9 binders! Bringing home one binder is much easier...
How I did it:
I kept it simple by keeping all of our data and materials in 2 central locations: a data wall and 1 binder.

A data wall/ a clipboard for every student:
I made a data clipboard for each kiddo. All of the clipboards are hung on a central wall in the classroom. This is a great "data wall" for administrators or observers to see when they come into your classroom! It's also easy to grab a clipboard and pen throughout the day whenever a para or I are working with a kiddo. Each clipboard has 1 data sheet for each IEP goal. Most of the goal sheets are big enough for 1-2 weeks of data.

The data binder:

The binder has 3 labeled tabs for each student. Each student has a tab for: 1) blank copies of data sheets, 2) completed data sheets, and 3) graphs.

At the end of each week, I spend my planning time adding data to graphs and stocking the clipboards with blank data sheets. We are on week 8 of school and I'm pretty happy with how smoothly this is going!
Do you have any tips to share about managing the craziness that is IEP data?!

 photo xo_zpsh4q1a84m.jpg

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Don't have a Smartboard?! No problem, create one for less than $5!

Everyone in education knows that technology is an amazing way to get kiddos engaged in class  activities. Although many classrooms already have SmartBoards or some other interactive white board, there are still so many teachers who don't have the luxury of having fancy technology in their classrooms. The good news is that there is a very cheap alternative if you already have an iPad, computer and a basic projector. It's an app called Splashtop and it's AMAZING. The app allows you to connect your iPad to your computer wirelessly and to control your computer via the iPad. So you can connect your computer to the projector, and then you can control the computer screen/what students see on the white board by using the iPad while you walk around the classroom (or students could have control of the screen using the iPad at their desks) . Let me tell you, this app is life changing!

What you need:
-an iPad, a computer & a basic projector
--Splashtop 2 Remote Desktop-Personal App (download from app store for $4.99)

Steps/ How to Do it:
-Download the free Splashtop Streamer on your computer. (Click the link and then click the orange "download streamer" at the top right of the screen)

-Download the Splashtop App on your iPad.

-Create a Splashtop account. Then sign into the account on your computer and iPad (before you can sign on, you'll have to authenticate the account via your email).

-Once you're signed in, you'll see the name of your computer pop up on your iPad. Click on it and then go through the settings choices.

-Once you finish the settings, your iPad will be connected to your computer and you can control the computer using your iPad as a "remote."

You can connect your computer to the projector and then use the iPad to play games, read books online, and SO much more! Enjoy :) Let me know if you have any questions or issues and I'll do my best to help!

 photo xo_zpsh4q1a84m.jpg