Monday, July 16, 2007

Power Ease Stapler

I saw this stapler at Staples yesterday (while I was shopping for my FISH book materials) and thought it would be perfect to add to my room's pre-vocational materials. It will be a nice alternative to a regular stapler without going all the way to a switch adapted electric stapler. Perhaps I will even make a mount for it (or more likely I will just put dycem under it).

Here is the little blurb about it, "Reduced Force Technology reduces operating force by 70%. Twenty sheet capacity with consistent, superior performance. Jam-free guarantee. Push button magazine realiease simplifies staple loading. Front loading magazine holds strips of 210 staples. Durable metal construction and soft grip surface enhance feel and control for desktop or handheld use."

Sunday, July 15, 2007

F.I.S.H. Notebooks

In the primary grades there has been a movement towards M.O.O.S.E. (Management of Organizational Skills Everyday) Notebooks. These notebooks have sections for notes home, work to hang on the fridge, important numbers and e-mail address and more. Different teachers have come up with different acronyms for these notebooks. The one I like best, and that I think applies particularly well to the intensive special needs classroom is F.I.S.H. or Family Involvement Starts Here.

Today I purchased color coded binders (my class is divided into teams by curricular focus - the red team focuses on functional academics, the blue team focuses on vocational skills, the orange team focuses on life skills), dividers, vinyl pencil pouches, card stock and sheet protectors. I plan to have six sections:
  • Daily Notes - I use a checklist format for daily notes that has a checklist for parents to write back on the reverse.
  • Announcements- This is where I will put letters to families, new letters, handouts about things like Boxtops or printer cartridge recycling. I will check off a box on the daily note to let parents know when to check here.
  • Important Numbers and Addresses - Printed on cardstock and placed in a heavy duty sheet protector I will list the school phone number, the number for the transportation office, my e-mail address and the e-mail address to write to students and important websites. In addition I will list the absence policy and where to find out if school is canceled because of snow.
  • Calendars, Schedules and Menus - I will have the school year calendar, the lunch menu and the students daily schedule.
  • Money Pocket - this is what the zippered vinyl pouch is for I am going to attach a money picture symbol and a list of cafeteria prices and who to make checks out for is parents pre-pay for lunch. This is also were book order, community based instruction and field trip money will go.
  • Super Work - this will be where I place finished work for the students to keep at home, in the case of students submitting alternative assessment portfolios I will place photocopies of work here.
I am going to print out picture symbols for each section on Avery labels so I can stick them write onto the dividers.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

New Wrist Worn AAC/Picture Schedule

QCharm is offering a wrist or keychain worn AAC/Visual Support/Picture Schedule. The icon tiles slide on and can be arranged in any order. In the kit you get a yellow bracelet or key chain for a schedule or AAC and a green band or key chain for a reward system. From the website, "Our goal is to provide caregivers and educators with a less labor intensive cueing method. Instead of misplacing traditional flash cards, now each child will wear their schedule and tasks on their wrist." The system looks like a pretty good idea to try for some of our students. There is no price listed on the website, you need to call a number for information.

Online Professional Development

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Thursday, July 5, 2007

Online Special Needs Software - Sensory World

Sensory World is an interactive online enviroment for learners with special needs. You begin at the Sensory House front door and click on the door to go inside (by mouse, trackball, touchscreen, eye/head tracker with a means of clicking).

Once inside you are in a hallway where you can choose from a kitchen, where you can play games about safety or hygiene or plan meals, a music room, or a sensory room , where you can play with the various lighting and sound equipment. The games are basic and fun. Students will need cause and effect understanding, and some life skills knowledge as well as intact vision to play. Hearing is not totally necessary, but the audio is quite nice for those who can hear. Reading is also not mandatory. Overall it is a nice set of online software for the "life skills" track of special needs students.

P.S. Some of the activities are culturally geared towards British students (which is because it is a British site), meaning that British terms, spellings and foods are used. Might be an especially fun activity for American students if working on an "Around the World" type of thematic unit.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Website of the Day - Enviroments Label Maker

Environments is a educational supply vendor. They appear to carry you average array of pre-K and primary level supplies. However, they also offer a number of beautiful free resources. These include a classroom calendar and weather set, label makers for creating a print-rich environment (in English, English and Spanish, with or without pictures), a room layout designer and thematic and products guides. In addition they have parent and staff training handouts.

The site does require a free registration (there is no e-mail confirmation so you can use your disposable e-mail address), with lets you use all of the resources and gets you a catalog in the mail (if you give your real address).

Monday, July 2, 2007

Website of the Day - The Visual Dictionary

In most kindergartens and first grades you will find a literacy center called, "Read the Room" based on the idea that students find and learn to read the words around them. Teachers work hard to make the room "Print Rich" for this purpose.

The Visual Dictionary is like having a "Read the World" website. The site collects and hosts images of words found on in all sorts of places. You can browse the images, look words up or use the search box to find what you need.

I can see two great ways for special education teachers to use this site. The first is as participants. Go on Read the World field trips and take digital photos of every word you see or focus on the functional community words you want your students to know. Then send your images to The Visual Dictionary.

The second way this site could be useful is to help our learners generalize site words. I have had more than a few students who can read sight words on their flashcards or in there primer, but can't generalize this to the same words found in other locations. Now we can print and make flashcards of the same words in different types of fonts at different angles. Or we can use the images to make interactive media such as slide shows or other programs.

The limit is our imagination.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Differentiated Mini Offices

Mini Offices must be one of those teaching ideas that came along after I finished teacher school. I am enamored with the idea of mini offices for my students since I first stumbled over the idea of mini offices a few weeks ago.

Basically Mini Offices are desk size dividers that have helpful information for students. They are made of file folders taped together or presentation boards (like the kind for science fairs) cut in half. A kindergarten mini office might have letters, numbers, colors, and shapes. A second grade mini office might have a mini-word wall, a number line, guidelines for writing, time telling information, etc.

I love the idea of differentiating mini offices for special needs students. One of my students might have all of the Dolch words, a paper QWERTY keyboard, a number line to thirty, a written schedule with cues for certain tasks, time telling and coin information and reminders about classroom rules. Another of my students might have a Mayor-Johnson picture schedule, visual images of various work tasks, a free time choice board and visual images of classroom rules. Each student's mini office only needs the information that he or she needs to increase independence and success.

Another idea I have is for the back or outward facing side to have information for teaching staff. For example a one page IEP for that student, a list of what data and work samples have to be collected for the alternative assessment, reminders about that student's AAC system (especially how to do a soft reset), and tidbits like images of sign language or how to give positive reinforcement. It can be two offices in one! (<-it helps to say that line like the Junior Mints Ad, "Two mints in one!") Each of the photographs above are from one of the links below: Commercially you can purchase chart stickers to use in your mini offices. I have even seen nice ones at Dollar Tree.

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