Disability Awareness

As a sister of a very special brother, I have been teaching others about disability, Down syndrome to be specific, for as long as I can remember. I remember having friends come to my house for sleepovers when I was 5 or 6 and explaining to my friends that my brother has Down syndrome and is "just like us. He just learns things slower." When I became a special education teacher, my love for teaching others about disabilities and raising awareness grew immensely. Last year, I had the privilege of being a part of the piloting of a moderate to severe special education program in my district. It was the first year that my school had had students with moderate to severe disabilities on their campus. Almost immediately, many questions arose amongst general education students and teachers about my precious students....and I LOVED answering them. I was so excited when my administrator gave me the "go ahead" to spend some time in the general education classrooms for Down syndrome awareness month.

Today, I will be sharing a few ways that I helped raise awareness and educate general education students on my campus about disability. Obviously, each campus is different and what worked for me and my school, may not work for yours, but I hope to provide enough ideas and resources that you can find something that will work for you.

1. Schedule Classroom Visits: I sent out an email to all of the teachers on my campus and made sure to include my school psychologist and specialists. I arranged with several teachers to spend 15-30 minutes in the classroom doing a few activities and answering any questions that their students may have about disability. We had some authentic conversations and participated in fun activities. See the resources below for some great tips on how to lead the conversation!

2. Provide General Education Teachers with Resources: I also made sure to continuously provide general education teachers on my campus with email blasts containing cool awareness videos or tips that they could easily incorporate in the classroom when they had some free time.

3. Build Relationships with General Education Students: As a new teacher this can be difficult, but I try to be as involved as I can with the general education students on my campus. This could simply look like saying "hi" around campus and learning their name or it could look like being a volleyball coach or leading student council. I try my best to be seen on campus as a "cool" teacher so that students see my students in a positive light. I want my classroom to be warm and welcoming.

4. Build Relationships with General Education Teachers: This is another one that can be tricky simply because sometimes my breaks are at a different time than the general education teachers' breaks. I have been advised time and time again to make an "appearance" in the lounge as much as I can to build and grow relationships with my co-workers. This allows for you to easily ask for IEP attendees or mainstreaming opportunities without the awkward, "Who are you again?" (haha just kidding.) I also make sure to send out an email at the beginning of the year to arrange for mainstreaming minutes.

5. Open Up Your Classroom: I am a HUGE fan of reverse mainstreaming! At the beginning of the school year when I send out an email asking when PE, music, and art times are, I also let the general education teachers know that "their" students are welcome in my classroom. I currently have a few students that come into my classroom and teach an art lesson once a week. My students love it and the general education students get invaluable leadership experience.

5. Utilize the Resources that Have Already Been Created: There are so many brilliant minds that have already written disability awareness lesson plans. Utilize what they have created. No need to re-create the wheel. Here are some resources that I found helpful:

National Down Syndrome Society Lesson Plans

Autism Speaks Educational Tool Kit

If you have any questions or want to brainstorm some ideas for your campus, do not hesitate to contact me at delightfullydedicatedspeciaed@gmail.com.

Back to School Teacher Crafts

I don't know about you, but I love the back to school classroom decorating/organizing/crafting season. If I am honest, I am somewhat sad that that part of the school year only comes once a year. With that said, today I am going to share 3 of my absolutely favorite Back to School crafts that I did this summer for my classroom. I got all of them off of pinterest (AMAZING), but I wanted to show you how I adapted and modified them for my special guys and how I am utilizing them in my classroom.

For detailed instructions on how to do the craft, click on the name of the craft and it will take you to the wonderful pinterest tutorials. I hope that some of these crafts can give you a creative outlet in the midst of all of the other back to school craziness.

1. Crate Seats

My modification? I added clear polished vinyl to help protect the seats. We all know that accidents, spills, and spit can happen so I wanted to make sure they were protected and could easily be cleaned. My students sit on the crates for morning meeting and afternoon adios.

2. Tool Belt Supply Bags

I put these on the back of my students' chairs. Most of my students do not have the self control to keep pencil boxes in their desks so my thought was to put these bags on the back of their chairs and use them to hold their supplies. It works for some students and does not work for others. I think they are cute. These would also be cute to decorate for your aides to wear during rotations so that they have all the supplies that they need right at their fingertips.

3. Easy No Sew Curtains

These were SO easy to make and, well, they do not really serve a function, but I think they are adorable. They make me happy and a happy teacher helps the class be happy :)

I hope you enjoy these crafts! Be sure to share photos of your craftivities and tag me!

Summer Blog Link-Up Week 4: Cool Communication

I apologize for how late this post is. I wanted to wait until the Special Education Back to School Blog Hop/Giveaway was over before beginning week 4 of my blog link-up!

I absolutely LOVED reading about your scheduling systems. There were so many wonderful ideas for organization. I plan on posting all about my scheduling system in a few weeks. I still am figuring out a few details.

Here are the links to my previous link-ups just in case you want to read about the topics that we have explored!

And now for WEEK 4! Week 4 is all about communication! When I think about communication, I think about 1) parent communication 2) student communication & AAC/AT and 3) paraprofessional communication. Feel free to write about all, just two, or just one of the topics above. I am going to be focusing on parent communication.

I have been blessed to have very positive interactions with parents over the past year. I communicate with parents in a variety of ways, depending on the parent and the student.

1. COMPOSITION BOOKS: All of my students have a composition book that goes home each night and comes back to school each morning. My parents and I can write notes to each other as needed and everything stays neat and in one spot. No floating/loose letters. This year I will be using binders instead of composition books, but the theory is still the same. I will number lined paper and place it in the binder.

2. EMAIL: Some parents would prefer to email me than take the time to handwrite a note in their child's composition book. I always make sure to take the time to check my email when I arrive at school in the morning and after school right before I leave for the day.

3. PHONE: I call parents if I feel like a situation calls for it....good or bad! I try not to only call home for bad things. I try to call parents at least every quarter simply to touch base and let them know how their child ia doing. This is in addition to progress reports, IEPs, and parent-teacher conferences.

4. REMIND: I absolutely LOVE using the remind application to communicate with parents. Now remind has the ability to chat with parents one-to-one. You can even send pictures. I love that I can send text messages to parents from my phone or my computer. Learn more about remind here. 

5. WEEKLY COMMUNICATION LOGS: I send home communication logs that track each child's prompting levels for various aspects of their day during the entire week every Friday. I ask that parents sign and return the logs by the Wednesday of the following week. If they do not return the logs after a month of me sending them home, then I stop sending them home. I also send home logs that track behavior and correlate to my in-class clip-chart. This Visual Clip-chart product (with behavior log) is only $1 in my store!

6. YEARLY IEP COMMUNICATION: I send home IEP invites at least 2 weeks in advance. Once the date is set and the parent has committed to the date, I send home my IEP PARENT INPUT FORM and ask that parents fill it out and return at their earliest convenicence. I use their input to create goals. I then send home the draft goals (via hard copy or email) that I wrote based on their input and ask for feedback. I make whatever changes are necessary and present the revised draft goals at the IEP. I have found that this is an effective method of pre-IEP communication for most parents. This form is FREE in my store!

How do you communicate with parents? How do you communicate with your students? How do you communication with your paraprofessionals? Link-up with your blog posts! I cannot wait to read!


My Blog Vision (and an IMPORTANT Update about my Functional Academic Unit Overview)

I am so thankful for this summer and the time that I have had to make some cool products, connect with AMAZING special educators, and reflect on what I want this blog to be.

What is my vision for this blog? I want to provide all of you, wonderful, special educators, with resources and strategies for teaching extra special kiddos. 

The truth is, yes, I make products, but there are SO many other amazing products out there. I want this to be place where you can find a plethora of information and resources from me and also from other individuals. This upcoming school year, I hope to take the time to blog about my lesson planning process and about the resources and products that I am using in my classroom (whether I made them or not). The goal of my blog is not to promote myself and my products (although, I will promote them a bit ;)). The goal of my blog is to help make your life easier so that you can DELIGHT in your job and in your students. We have a stressful job, which is why we all have to stick together.

With that said, I have updated my unit plans to include YEAR 2! (Click on the cover to head over to my store and download.)

Year 2 has a variety of new themes. The lifeskills pretty much have stayed the same. I have also adjusted my words and letters. I include a list of resources that I used to create the word and letter order. I encourage you to check them out!
Also, because I have used a few outside sources to create this new, updated plan, my unit plans are now and forever FREE! I will be following Year 2 for the 2015-2016 school year so most of my blog postings will correlate with Year 2. With that said, Year 2 is still GROWING (and Year 1 is COMPLETE). I will be adding onto Year 2 as I plan and adapt for my own classroom. The two main components of the plans that are not complete are the books that I will be using and the "What are we learning?" sheets.

What about the standards information? The standards sheets can be used to plan which standards will be taught each unit. I have included blank editable sheets and completed sheets. The completed sheets reference the CORE CONTENT CONNECTORS, which are the standards that have been created for students with significant disabilities in correlation with the Common Core State Standards and the Learning Progressions Framework. They have NOT been adopted by all states. Read more about them on the NCSC website:http://www.ncscpartners.org/ You can find the actual CCCs at:https://wiki.ncscpartners.org/mediawiki/index.php/Core_Content_Connectors

I am so excited about this new season of collaboration! Please feel free to comment below with any questions or comments or email me at delightfullydedicatedspecialed@gmail.com. 

Also, do not forget to check out the awesome Special Education E-Book and enter my giveaway! Read my previous blog post for more information!

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Back to School Special Education Blog Hop!

I am DELIGHTED to be teaming up with 24 other wonderful special education teachers for a blog hop! We have so many freebies and giveaways planned for you and your students.

First, we have our e-book that we have all contributed to. Click on the cover below to be directed to the e-book. The book contains some of our favorite tips and tricks that you can use for your classroom during this upcoming school year and lots and lots of freebies. The book is clickable. See a freebie you like? Click on it and it will take you directly to the item in that seller's Teachers Pay Teachers store. So fun, right?!

Second, we are all hosting GIVEAWAYS! Everyone has a different giveaway. Be sure to hop through and enter each one for a chance to win lots and lots of goodies (see the links at the bottom of the page)!

I have partnered with the Littlest Warrior Apparel for my giveaway! The winner of my giveaway will receive $25 to spend in my store and the "Inclusion is the New Cool" t-shirt. I bought my inclusion tee a few weeks ago and absolutely love it. It is SO soft and comfy. They come in child's sizes and adult S-XL. Enter the giveaway below!

P.S. If you really want an inclusion tee (or another awesome disability awareness tee) and you did not win the giveaway, simply click on the giveaway logo above and you can buy one! 10% of all of their sales go to a foundation or family in need!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Summer Series Blog Link-Up Week 3: Scheduling

I cannot believe how quickly summer is flying by! Only a few more weeks and I am officially back in my classroom!

We are entering Week 3 of our Blog Link-Up! This week we will be focusing on scheduling....Daily Schedules, Student Schedules, and Staff Schedules (for those of us that are special educators). There are also several other areas of scheduling that you can discuss as well, such as IEP scheduling, parent-teacher conference scheduling, and etc. This is an area that I am really hoping to revamp and change in my class next year. With that said, I am not going to write up my ideas and tips and tricks until later, BUT I want to read all about your systems! I need as much help as I can get.

I am SO excited to read your posts...I have already learned so much over the past 2 weeks!

Thanks for linking up!


Make Your Masterpiece: TPT Seller Challenge Week 3

I just finished editing and posting 2 new products! For week 3 of the TPT Seller Challenge, we were challenged to create a new product [masterpiece] and swap with a partner for editing and constructive criticism. My safety and hygiene products have been a hit so I decided to continue the lifeskills theme and create a new series for special education (and early elementary) classrooms. My new product series is called Delightful Lifeskills. I now have a Body Parts Vocabulary Unit and Clothing Vocabulary Unit in addition to my older Safety and Hygiene Units.

Included in each product are: 

1. Vocabulary Cards

2. Adapted Vocabulary Book 

3. "I See" Student Book

4. No-Prep Worksheets (Differentiated for either 3 or 4 levels of learners)

Both products are 50% off through July 11, 2015 at midnight PST.

Special thanks to Erin of You Aut-a Know and Nicole of Adventures in the ATC for being my wonderful editors. 

AND thank you Smarty Symbols for making wonderful graphics! 


Summer Series Blog Link-Up Week 2: Beautiful Behavior

I had SO much fun looking through all of your classrooms. There were so many unique decoration, organization, and BIRTHDAY ideas. If you have not looked through the linked-up blog pages, I challenge you to do so! Teachers are so creative!

Here's a sneak pic of my NEW classroom! I spent a few days organizing. I am SO lucky that the last teacher left it in wonderful condition! :) Oh...and I might have accidentally broke a table. Glad it happened to me and not to the kids!

Its time to start Week 2's link-up! This week is all about beautiful behavior. Alright...let's admit it behavior is usually not beautiful. I enjoy the adventure and challenge of behavior MOST days. Some days, not so much. Because I teach kiddos with significant disabilities, I have several behavior systems in place in my classroom. I have a whole-class systems, individual systems, and transition systems.

Whole-Class Systems

I use a COLOR CLIP CHART in my classroom. Each student has a clothespin and I move their clothespin up or down based on their choices. This works for a few students. I have also sent individual clip-charts home so that parents can use it at home and I have been told that it works! I have modified my clip-chart with Boardmaker icons because most of my students do not read.

My students earn DOLLARS for good behavior (even the smallest little things). We then have our student store about twice a month. This also builds functional academic and math skills! Many of my students did not understand that money was valuable at the beginning of the school year, but slowly they are realizing that money can get you fun stuff!

We work for....PANCAKES. Every Friday my students and I enjoy pancakes (if they have made good choices all week). This isn't effective for all of my students because many of them need to be reinforced constantly. Some of my students will continuously talk about pancakes throughout the week and modify their behavior throughout the week in hopes of getting FUN FRIDAY and PANCAKES (who doesn't like pancakes?)

Individual Systems

I use several different behavior visuals for individual students. Visuals work wonders!


Working for (token economy)

I cannot find any pictures, but if you have any questions about them, email me or comment below.

Transition Systems

I use the Autism Adventures of Room 83's system for transition cards. You can read all about them on her blog. My centers function so smoothly and it is because of the "working for" transition cards that she created!

I cannot wait to read all about YOUR behavior systems! Thanks for stopping by and linking up!


Summer Series: Blog Link-Up Week 1: Classy Classrooms

I got the key to my new classroom yesterday. I am so excited to plan, decorate, and organize my new classroom. I am thinking about all the new things I want to try and implement this year. I know that all of you have so many ideas, which is the inspiration behind my Summer Series: Blog Link-Up. I want to get all of your wonderful ideas in one place so that anyone who is interested in that topic can simply look here. General education teachers and special education teachers are all welcome to link-up here! Please only link blog pages (no TPT stores) and please provide feedback on at least 2 other blogs! You can link up old blog posts from years ago or new blog posts just written today! Here is an overview of the topics that we will be discussing. 

Week 1: Classy Classrooms

I want to see it all....classroom decoration ideas, classroom layouts, classroom organization ideas. You have wonderful ideas to share! If you share on instagram or facebook be sure to #delightfullylinkingup.

Click here to see pictures of my classroom! 

Happy Linking! 


Dare to Dream TPT Seller Challenge Week 2

As I mentioned last week, I have joined hundreds of other teachers in the TPT Seller Challenge. This week's challenge is to think and write about your dreams for your Teachers Pay Teachers store. At this point, my store is not a huge source of income, but I do make some extra spending money. The money is a nice perk, but the best part of creating products is the collaboration that occurs between teachers. I have gained so many new friends through TPT and blogging. I truly have learned so much. I would love to continue creating quality products, collaborating with teachers, and making money through TPT  over the next few years.

Create Quality Products
Special education teachers have a limited amount of supplies and resources for their special kiddos. I want to continue creating products that are applicable to students with special needs.

Collaborate with Other Teachers
Teachers Pay Teachers is a fun way to connect with other teachers and product creators. I want to continue to connect with new and seasoned teachers, learn from their experiences, and utilize their unique products in my classroom.

Make Some Money
I hope that I can use the money that I make through TPT to...
1. Have extra spending money to buy "extra" supplies for my classroom, such as ink, lamination paper, colorful paper, cardstock, and other fun goodies as needed without having to worry about making end meet.
2. Pay for graduate school! I just started classes for my Masters in Special Education. I hope that I can use some of the money that I make for my tuition.
3. Buy a new car!

I hope to set some specific and measurable goals over the next couple of days for product creation and blogging and social media. I want to be more consistent in the next school year!


Makeover Madness: TPT Seller Challenge Week 1

I have joined hundreds of other teachers and Teachers Pay Teachers sellers in the 4 Week Seller Challenge. The goal of the first week was to makeover old products by updating fonts, content, and covers! I made over a few of my older products and am very please with how they turned out! Be sure to head over to my store and check them out because they are on sale through Sunday, June 21st! Simply click on the product that you are interested in and it will take you over to my store!

1. Reading Comprehension Based on the Book, The Day the Crayons Quit, by Drew Daywalt

This was my very first TPT product!!!

I updated fonts, made fonts bigger, and created a beautiful new cover page! This is a great product for the beginning of the year for your higher functioning kiddos or for early elementary (1st-2nd grade).

2. Crayon Themed Letter Practice for Early Elementary or Special Education Classrooms

I had this product in my store, but removed it because I felt that it needed to be revamped. This was the perfect week for me to revamp and repost! It is great for back to school for special education classrooms. It covers very basic letter ID skills. It focuses specifically on the letters B, G, P, R, W, Y, & O.

3. Crayon Themed Basic Math Unit

Like my letter unit, I removed this item because it needed to be revamped. It includes counting, basic addition, skip counting by 10, and subtraction word problems (1) worksheets.

4. Crayon Themed Basic Academic BUNDLE for Early Elementary or Special Education

I updated my very first BUNDLE, which includes several of the items mentioned above AND more! This is perfect for Back to School! 

Be sure to re-download these products if you had previously purchased them! 

Also, do not forget to enter my 300 Followers Celebration giveaway (see previous blog post to enter). 


300 Followers Celebration

I have reached one of my personal milestones. I now have 300 followers on TPT! I have all of YOU to thank for being wonderful followers, customers, and friends. In order to celebrate this milestone, I have three fun sales for you to participate in!

1. FREE Monster Themed Homework Folders

2. 50% Off Summer Products
3. Safety BUNDLE Giveaway! Enter below. The giveaway will end at 12am EST on June 20th.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Please share this celebration with your friends and provide feedback on the items that you download! Good luck!
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