Sunday, January 23, 2011

Dates

Just a quick piece of advice, at the beginning of the year find out when the marking periods end (aka when progress notes are due) and see if you can find out when annual reviews take place.  Make sure you plan enough time before these dates to assess students progress again.  I like to have the most up-to-date information for progress notes otherwise I feel like I'm forgetting something.  My marking period ends Friday.  I started doing running records on students last week and will continue to do that through this week.  My students will add to a writing assignment for me as well.  I like to know that what I'm telling parents is relevant and current.  Make sure you section off enough time to complete these assessments.  My running records (reading a to z) take 30 minutes each for the upper grades.  That means I can only do 1 each day for a group.  If I have 5 students and I need to do 2 running records each to find their reading level- that's 10 days!  Some groups I only have every other day so that 20 days! Planning enough time will make you less stressed. 
Enjoy the rest of your Sunday afternoon!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Behavior Plan

To follow up the prize box post, I wanted to talk about behavior plans.  I have thought of a thousand different "whole class" (by class I mean all my students) behavior plans.  None of them quite work a small group setting.  To start the year, I made a chart with 5 colored pockets (green, blue, yellow, orange, red).  Everyone starts on green.  Blue is a warning.  Yellow, orange, and red mean increasing punishments (owing me time, behavior slip home to parents).  Each child had a popcycle stick with their name on it.  If they broke a rule, the moved their stick.  The problem is there were too many sticks, nobody could find their stick when they had to move it - the time and confusion it cost wasn't worth it.  My new plan is simple - 2 laminated sheets of paper.  1 will have a chart on it with room for names and then checks (the background for each column is in the same colors as the pocket chart.  As students misbehave, they recieve checks next to their names.  The second sheet (which I haven't made yet - I'm still phasing out the prize box) will have a title and thats it.  When students go above and beyond what I've asked them to do - they can write their name on the second sheet.  Those students will be able to choose from a few free options such as sharpening the pencils for everyone or filing for me or time on multiplication.com.  I haven't worked all the kinks out of the positive reinforcements yet but I have a little time.  When it comes to behavior plans - keep it simple!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Prize Box...

...Don't have one!  We teach in small groups.  90% of our students don't have behavior issues and therefore the prize box is just one more thing to manage.  I didn't manage my prize box well last year so I thought that I should create a structure and criteria for it this year - I made it worse!  I was giving the students tickets to reward good behavior.  The majority of the time I'd forget to give them tickets, it takes 5 minutes for them to put the tickets away and another 5 minutes of them surrounding me asking when they could pick out of the prize box and if they could just look in it again.  It's a nightmare!  I wish I could take it away now but it's a little late for that.  Once spring comes around I'm going to remove the boxes from my rooms.  Rewards will be 10 minutes of outside play time or an outdoor reading day.  I did stop giving tickets already.  I'm setting up 2 more prize box days and then it's leaving!  Save your time and money.  Kids will work just as hard to earn free time or to be a special helper.  As I'm phasing out the prize box, I'm slowing teaching my students that when they work hard, they are naturally rewarded.  If John finishes his activity in 25 minutes instead of 30 because he got right to work instead of talking - he can file papers for me or be the pencil sharpener which they love to do - it is a reward for them!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Goal Sheets

As resource room teachers, we do not have a curriculum to guide our lessons - we have IEP's.  In order to write focused lessons, you need to keep the IEP goals in mind while planning.  I have recently created a quick and easy form in Word to keep track of them.  I create a table for each student.  The first column holds all of the goals.  I have 15 boxes next to each goal  for checkmarks/dates.  Each time I write a lesson pertaining to a goal, check it off or write the date in the box.  That way you make sure that you are focusing on each goal evenly.  I fit 5 students on 1 page (some kids only have a few goals, others had a lot).  I also added some cute graphics/fonts to make the form attractive.  I use this is my curriculum.  It focuses my lessons and makes it easier to plan. 

As I've mentioned before (I think...), I also create an "At-a-Glance" sheet outlining each child's IEP.  Last year I made index cards for each student for Test Modifications.  Having these items on my desk allows substitutes/paraprofessionals to easily see what needs to be done if I'm not there. 

I hope this helps you stay organized and focused!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Free Easy Printable Centers

As a resource room teacher, we do not have text books.  We don't have a set curriculum (besides IEP Goals).  I am constantly printing out worksheets that nobody uses because they needed help with a class project instead of the review day I've scheduled.  Of course, when I am expecting the classroom teacher to send work, they don't and I'm left trying to figure out plans in the 30 seconds it takes us to walk to my room.  I've found a solution.  It's so simple, I can't believe I didn't think about it last year!  Rather than printing worksheets and throwing them away - laminate them for an instant center/quick activity.  You won't have to worry about running out of copies and trying to print out worksheets while students are waiting for you.  When 1 student in a group finishes their work before the rest of the group (which will definately happen while your being observed), you will immediately have something for him/her to do.  Being able to use wet erase markers rather than a pencil makes it feel more like a game to students. 

My two favorite websites for these printable activities are themathworksheetsite.com and http://www.fcrr.org/
The math worksheet site is a math worksheet generator.  If you join the website, you will have many more options/types of sheets however, there are a ton of sheets you can get for free too.  FCRR is a website full of reading centers.  They have them grouped into grade levels (K-1, 2-3, 4-5) and within each grade level they have printable activities for each of the 5 components of literacy (Phonemic Awareness, Phonics, Fluency, Vocabulary, and Comprehension).  Most of the reading activities are card type games.  I saved everything on my computer (in case they ask you to pay in the future) and I print off what I want onto card stock.  There is a lot of work involved in making some of the reading games (cutting apart cards, laminating them, organizing the extra materials needed and setting it all up in 9x12 office envelopes - I'm also color coding the grade levels so I can tell the students what color games they can play.)  I'll post pictures of some created games later. 

Everything I'm printing from these websites I'm laminating.  Now if my plans change, I need quick sub plans, or my students finish their work early - I'm prepared.  It's also an easy way to build in review of previously taught skills.  My favorite part is that once they are created, there is no more prep!

I hope this post has given you some ideas.  Feel free to leave your favorite center/worksheet websites in the comments.  Happy center making!