Sunday, November 25, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Well it's time to go back to work after a long relaxing weekend. It was so nice having three days off! I enjoyed having time to spend with family and friends, and having time to spend planning, and taking the time to exercise on a regular basis. I also spent some time reading a lot of different blogs and getting a lot of wonderful ideas to implement when I return next week. I'm especially excited about implementing a lot of the brain based teaching ideas, such as class/ yes and teach/ okay. I'm also planning on trying the super speed math for practicing math facts. Has anybody else been trying these ideas? I've put up the class rules that go with it, and I'll work on introducing and practicing it next week. Another idea that I can't wait to try is the oral writing, really practicing with the students how to speak in complete sentences and adding in details to make the sentences interesting. The students I work with have very poor grammar and need a lot of help speaking in complete sentences that are grammatically correct. They have great ideas, but have difficulty organizing them. We've been focusing a lot on grammar, but now I need to focus on writing complete well written sentences. It'll be interesting to see how it goes. Another highlight of the weekend was being nominated for the Liebster Award. I've really enjoyed blogging and how much I've learned by connecting with other teacher bloggers. It's amazing the wealth of information that is out there, with so many fun creative ideas for teaching students. Anyway, I enjoyed answering the questions and I hope you enjoy reading them. I'd love to hear from you. Anyway, I hope everyone had a fun, relaxing vacation and are ready and recharged to return to work tomorrow!! Jacqui

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Liebster Award

Hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving!  I didn't go shopping, but enjoyed a relaxing long relaxing weekend, enjoying lunch with friends, movies, a few good runs and yoga, in addition to running errands.  So nice!  

I just recently started blogging in October, after reading all the other wonderful blogs out there.  I am learning so much from reading everyone's blogs.  So it was a nice surprise came when I found out that my blog was nominated three times for The Liebster Award!  That's so cool!  The Liebster Award is given by bloggers to up and coming bloggers who have less than 200 followers. It is to show new bloggers that they are appreciated and to help spread the word about new blogs.

The rules:
- You most post 11 random things about yourself.
- Answer the questions that the nominator set for you.
- Create 11 questions for the people you nominate.
- Choose 11 blogs you love (with less than 200 followers) and link them in your post.
- No tag back (but please leave a comment on this post with the URL to your Liebster post so I can learn more about you)!
So thank you
?The Lower Elementary Cottage, ?Diary of a First Grade Teacher and ?Mindful Rambles for nominating me.

11 Random Things about Me:
1) I lived in Mexico for 5 years when I was 6 years old.
2) I lived in London, England for 2 years and graduated from the American School in London.
3) I lived and worked on a kibbutz in Israel for 10 weeks (basically a cooperative-everyone works for their common good)
4) I'm writing a fictional story based on my experiences there.
5) I followed my dream and moved from New York to California without a job.  Luckily I had relatives to stay with and teach special education so I was hired fairly quickly.
6) I moved again 9 years later to Arizona so I could be closer to my family.
7) We have a family cottage in MN that has been in our family for 102 years and built by my great-great grandfather.
8) I love swing dancing, belly dancing and just about any kind of dancing-especially ballroom.
9) I love yoga and just started running again
10) I love going to the ocean, and try and make it to the ocean a few times a year.  Luckily, we live 6 years hours away from California and the ocean.
11) I love to travel and learn new languages.  I already know a lot of Spanish and some Norwegian.

Questions from the people that nominated me:

The Lower Elementary Cottage: 

1. How long have you been blogging?
I started in October, so two months.
2. Favorite food?
It's a toss up between pizza and spaghetti
3. Best thing you've learned since becoming a blogger?
I've picked so many wonderful ideas and suggestions.  I've been reading a lot about whole brain teaching and I'm looking forward to implementing a lot of the strategies into my lessons and classes.
4. How many siblings do you have?
I have one brother who lives in Ohio with his family.
5. Who was your favorite teacher?
I can't remember their names, but my 7th grade social studies teacher-he made social studies fun.  Also, my junior year biology teacher.  He laid out everything so nicely, and made science so interesting.
6. Do you play any sports?
Does swing dancing count? ; )  I love yoga, running and hiking-although I guess they really wouldn't be considered sports.

7. What music do you play to put you in a good mood?
ELO, or Earth Wind and Fire anything from the 70's
8. Who was your first roomate?
I roomed with a girl named Becky from college
9. Did you leave your home state to go to college?  How far did you go?
After returning from England, my parents returned to New York, and I went to school in Minnesota.
10. Favorite thing about being a teacher?
Seeing the students get it, which sometimes takes a lot longer as a special ed. teacher.
11. Favorite form of take out food after a busy day?
I love Subway sandwiches.  Yummy!

From Mindful Rambles:
1. If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why? 
I'd love to fly, so I can move quickly from place to place without worrying about being in people's way. 
2. If you weren't a teacher or educator, what would you be?
I think being an event planner would be fun, or being a writer.
3. If you had to choose: sense of smell or sense of taste?
I think sense of taste since it would help me enjoy some amazing food even more.
4. What is your favorite genre of book?
It's a toss up between historical fiction or chick lit.
5. What is your favorite genre of music?
Probably either 70's music or old style jazz and big band
6. If you could visit any place in the world and money was no object, where would it be?    
Anywhere along the French or Italian Riviera or the Amalfi Coast.  Love the lifestyle there. 
7. What was your favorite subject in school?  What was your least favorite? 
I loved Language Arts, Social Studies or History.  Math was my least favorite. 
8. What is one way you incorporate a healthy lifestyle?
I try and get enough sleep, eat healthy, and I'm working on incorporating a regular exercise routine.  I love practicing yoga and have started running again.
9. How many hours of sleep do you get each night?
Anywhere between 6-7 hours a night.
10. What is your favorite drink alcholic or not?
I love iced tea and wine.  

From Diary of a First Grade Teacher:
1. What did you want to grow up to be when you were a kid?
Something in the helping professions-a teacher, police officer or a social worker
2. Last good movie you saw?
I just saw Lincoln on Thanksgiving.  It was good.
3. Have you always been a teacher or was this a career change?
I've always been a teacher and always in special ed. in some form or another.
4.  What's your best piece of advice for a new teacher?
Read Harry Wong's First Days of School.  Teach routines and expectations.  Also, spend time building a rapport with your students-even the toughest ones.  It pays off in the end.
5. What else do you do during your spare time?
I love going swing dancing, practice yoga, go running, hiking, hanging out in coffee shops and writing or hanging out with family and friends. 
6. What is your favorite school break?
I love Christmas because it's such a festive time of year and the weather is cooler so there are more things to do outdoors.
7. Are there other grades you would like to teach?
Not really.  I teach a variety now K-5. 
8. What's your favorite gift from a student?
A spoon that he bought in Disneyland for me.
9. What's your favorite snack?
I love chips and dip. 
10. Black and white or color?
Definitely color
11. If you had an unlimited supply of money what would you do with it?
Pay my bills, give to charity, fund the college tuition for my nieces and nephew, travel everywhere I want to travel, buy a house, and teach and be able to buy anything I want for my classroom.

Here are my questions:
1) How long have you been blogging?
2) Why did you start your blog?
3) Where and what do you teach?
4) What is your favorite food?
5) What is your favorite television show?
6) What do you do when your not teaching or blogging?
7) Last good book you read?
8) Last good movie you saw?
9) Last memorable vacation?
10) Where have traveled?
11) Favorite time of year?      

Here are my nominations: 
1) ?The Lightbulb Lab 
2) ?The Teachers Work Room 
3) ?The Cornerstone Classroom 
4) ?Autism Tank 
5) ?Toad-ally Exceptional Learners 
6) ?Special Teacher for Special Kids 
7) ?Special Smarts Special Hearts
 8) ?Breezy Special Ed 
9) ?Awesomeness and Autism 
10)?If you give a teacher a treat 
11)?Literacy Sundae with Common Core on Top! 

This is so fun!  I can't wait to learn more about everyone else!

PS  When I try and put the link names up, it comes up with a name and a question mark in front of it.  Am I doing something wrong?  I know the links work, but not sure why the ? mark in front of the name.


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Gobble! Gobble!

I can't believe that it's almost the end of November.  I started off my first day of vacation by sleeping in, going for a run and enjoying a leisurely lunch with friends outdoors.  The rest of the week will be spent eating, hiking, practicing yoga, planning, blogging, hanging out with friends and dancing not necessarily in that order!!  I'm thankful for my time off and ability to enjoy time with family and friends.

Tomorrow it's time to spend with family and the boyfriend with a movie and a showing of Lincoln.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Teaching Tip Linky Party

Hope everyone is having a good weekend!  I'm enjoying some cooler AZ weather, planning adventures and enjoying some time with family and friends.  I'm REALLY looking forward to Thanksgiving next week and having 5 whole days off so that I can catch up with my life.  We only have two days of school next week, so not much teaching going on with all the special activities next week (Turkey Trots, Thanksgiving celebrations etc. in my students general education classrooms).  This will give me time for the whirlwind of iep meetings, testing and paperwork that I will be handling before Christmas Vacation.  Thank goodness I have an great student teacher who will be helping me out!

Anyway, on to teaching tips.  This week I'm linking up with Miss Kindergarten for her teaching tip linky party.

Here are my teaching tips-

1) Touch Math- Does anyone use it?  I'm a big fan of it and love it for teaching math to students, especially those students who are new to adding and subtracting.  My goal is to eventually get my students to a point where they can count and add and subtract in their head.  Until then I introduce them to using touch points for adding and subtracting.  It helps them alot when they're learning how to add and subtract successfully.  I've also used it for multiplication, division and money.

2) Skip counting-I really feel that this gives students a strong base when they're working on their multiplication facts.  When students take state and district tests they are not able to use multiplication tables, but if they know how to skip count they can solve their multiplication and division problems (something that is reinforced in multiplication touch math)Skip counting by 5's also helps teach time and money.

Happy Sunday everyone!!  Hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Stuffed with Thankful Thoughts

It's hard to believe Thanksgiving is next week.  I'm grateful for a three day weekend this week and a five day weekend next week.  Two short weeks.  The only frustration is that it makes it difficult to schedule meetings, tests and all the wonderful things I need to accomplish this time of year.

I'm joining Lyndsey at A Year of Many Firsts for her linky party Stuffed with Thankful Thoughts.

I)  I'm thankful for cooler weather.  After a long summer of hot weather this is the best time of year in Arizona.  It's cool and beautiful and there are so many different things going on that are a lot of fun.

2) I'm thankful for my familyI love spending time with all of them.  My parents are snowbirds and live nearby this time of year.  So it's nice that we can get together and do things anytime we like.  My brother and his family live in Ohio and we try and get together anytime we can.

3) I'm thankful for my sweet boyfriend.  He's my best friend and always makes me laugh.  He's always up for a new adventure and trying something new.

4) I'm thankful for our summer cottage in Minnesota.  It was built by my Great-Great Grandfather and is more than a 100 years old.  My parents renovated it recently so hopefully it'll last for a 100 more years.  It's a place I go to every summer and see friends and family that I only see about once a year.  A lot of our neighbors are related, and if not our parents and grandparents have been friends for all their lives.  So much history there.

5) I'm thankful for a job I love.  It took me a long time to find my niche, but teaching resource is it.  I love the school that I work at, and the students that I work with.  It's a special place that feels like home. 

6) I'm thankful for the swing dance community.  I've been swing dancing for more than 5 years and have been able to develop a lot of amazing friendships, and countless hours of fun on the dance floow, whenever I'm feeling tired or blue a twirl on the dance floor always make me feel better.

7) I'm also thankful for yoga.  I always feel better after a yoga practice.  I'm lucky that the community I live in also provides a lot of inexpensive or free outdoor yoga.

Last but not least I'm thankful for all of those who serve in the military both past and present,  Thank you!!   

Sunday, November 11, 2012

What to expect at an iep meeting

A lot of teachers (especially the new ones) ask me what to expect at an iep meeting and what happens there.  Before the meeting I talk to my student's general education teacher about their progress and ask them to fill out a form with feedback on how my student's are doing.  From this and my knowledge of the student's progress through my work with them as well as assessments I've given them, I create a draft of the student's annual iep.

At an annual iep meeting there are certain mandatory participants (this may vary from state to state, but generally remains the same.  The ones that are always there are the case manager (the special education teacher), the child's general education teacher, a representative for the administrator and the parent.  In addition, others that may attend would be the speech therapist, occupational therapist, physical therapist, or other related service providers that the student might work with. Our psychologist attends only if it's a re-evaluation (every 3 years), an initial, or if for some reason we need them for an issue or concern that we're dealing with.  This may differ from district to district.

I always start the meeting by stating the purpose of the meeting and introducing all the participants.  Then the general education teacher talks about the students progress in the general education class and strengths and weaknesses.  After that all the other related service teachers speak to the student's progress towards their goals,as well as their new goals and recommendations for the coming year.   Then I speak about their progress towards their goals, and discuss new goals for the coming year, asking for input from the teacher and the parents.  I go through the students iep and talk about the program the service times, and any accommodations and modifications the students can receive.  I open it up for questions, and other comments, then wrapping it up with the necessary signatures for our paperwork.  Once everything is complete (about a week later) I send home a copy with the student for the parent's use.


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Organization on my mind!

There must be something in the air, but I'm really in the mood for organizing, rearranging and changing things up.  Once they added another half time resource teacher I was able to change my schedule and have smaller groups more appropriately geared towards my students ability levels.  Because of this I decided that it was about time to change some things up.  I've been reorganizing my lesson plan book and special ed book.  I'll report on it once I see if it works better for me.  I'm also planning on changing up the way I teach reading, focusing more on their classroom stories, pulling in other resources from my other reading programs that I've been trained in.  I'm hoping to make things more streamlined and efficient in the classroom.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Monitoring student's progress

How do you monitor students progress?  I use a variety of screening instruments that I've accumulated over my years of teaching.  I have a variety of Fry word checklists, a phonics screener, fluency screeners and a variety of math screeners that are geared towards different skills.  I'd love to find something better that monitors progress in writing-mostly I've just been using the 6 traits rubrics to score and use as a comparison.  

Lately I've been looking into new and different screeners that I can use for monitoring progress.  I've used intervention central and really like it, more recently I've been looking into using easy cbm.  I really like their screeners, but I'd like to find some additional ones for different areas (reading comprehension, reading fluency, basic reading, basic math, written expression and behavior).  What do you use?

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Sunday Plan-Day

After a fun weekend of relaxing and having fun tonight was time to get serious about getting ready for the week.  My plans are finished, mainly need to tweak some plans and ideas, catch up on some school emails and prepare my plan of what I need to accomplish this week.  I'm working on making a plan for a clutter free classroom (I'm taking things in chunks) and trying to work on finding new ideas for helping my teachers differentiate with their students in the general education classroomOur district has started their implementation of the common core curriculum and it seems like the standards are much tougher for all students, but especially our special needs students as the teachers work to fill in the gaps between what they were learning in previous years, and this year. 

Enjoy your week everyone!!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

November Currently!

Where did this month go?  It's hard to believe that it's already November and the holiday season is fast approaching.  I love this time of year!  There are lot's of breaks, the holidays and an opportunity to enjoy time with family and friends, and a good time to get creative with holiday themed lesson plans.  Here is my November Currently!  I tried to make it larger, but it went over the border of my blog.  I can't figure out why it's so big when I post it as the original size.  If anybody knows please share.  Otherwise, happy November!!

                                 Thanks to Farley at Oh' Boy 4th grade for this fun linky party!

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