Sunday, August 24, 2014

Invisible Disabilities

I just got back from the grocery store, and I had to share my experience.

An eight-year-old boy stood beside me, without looking at me, and talked to me at length about refrigerators. Yup, refrigerators. A few minutes later, I could hear the frantic cries from a couple calling their child. When his parents happened upon him, he immediately ran for the exit doors. His parents called for anyone to stop him. I hopped in front of the exit and asked him what he thought of stainless steel refrigerators. He stopped dead in his tracks and walked with me back to his parents, explaining that while stainless steel refrigerators are modern and visually pleasing, they are difficult to polish.

His mother, with tears in her eyes, reminded her son to use his words to express when he needed to exit a situation. His father shook my hand and asked if I knew someone with an autism spectrum disorder, and I explained that I'm an emotional support teacher and love several kiddos with ASD. The father shared that they have been working with a therapist to help their son reduce eloping (i.e., leaving a situation) in place of functional communication. He told me that people usually try to grab and scold his son when he bolts for the exits, which triggers a storm.

Then, a nearby man said to his wife, "If I ever acted like that in the store, my father would have kicked my ***. That's why I was never a brat." (Don't tell anyone, but I wanted to kick that man's you-know-what.) He said it a little too loudly, like he wanted us to hear him-- maybe to teach the parents a lesson? The parents had already tried that approach, along with many others, but their son had autism. He wasn't a brat.

There aren't physical characteristics associated with autism spectrum disorders, executive functioning needs, processing needs, dyslexia, dysgraphia, depression, mood disorders, or anxiety, so these can be considered invisible disabilities. These children may "appear" to have neuro-typical functioning, and thus, people expect them to behave in a neuro-typical manner.

Would you ever say, "Just walk already! It's not that hard!" to someone with paralysis? How 'bout, "Just look already! You can see if you try!" to someone with blindness? Would you punish someone for not being able to hear? Of course not. So why do we do it to kids with invisible disabilities?

Just sayin'. :)

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Introducing... Tissue Box Covers

It's been a while since I've uploaded a product to TpT! I'm excited to announce my newest creation, tissue box covers!

Jungle Theme:

Superhero Theme:

Owl Theme:

Fall Theme:

Each set has six different size options, so you're covered no matter what size you buy. I laminated mine for repeated use. The kiddos love them!

You can buy theme here for $1.50:

I have plans to make all different covers to fit a variety of classroom themes. Have suggestions? Share in the comments below!

Bright Ideas Blog Hop- Get Students to Close Markers and Glue!

I'm linking up with the Bright Ideas Blog Hop for August, and here's my bright idea!

I think my class has set the record for the longest running set of markers and glue. Simply reminding kids never seems to be enough. I started singing songs to cue my students to close their glue and markers properly. By the time I've finished singing a verse, everything's shut!

I started having a contest to see which group of students can be the first to start singing the song when I cue everyone to clean up. I challenged them to see if their group could remember before I could. Someone always remembers to start singing the song (perfect if I forget) during clean-up time, and everyone's markers and glues are shut!

Here are the cheesy little songs that have made such a difference and have actually gotten my students to CLOSE their markers and glue.

"Twist and Shut" for Twist-able Glue Bottles
Sung to the tune of "Twist and Shout" by The Beatles.
Well, take your glue bottles now (take your glue bottles)
Twist and shut (twist and shut)
Come on, come on, come on, come on, students now (come on, students)
Don't let them dry out (don't let them dry out)

"Put the Cap on Your Marker" (or "Put the Cap on Your Glue Stick")
Sung to the tune of "If You're Happy and You Know It"
Put the cap on your marker 'til it clicks (click, click)
Put the cap on your marker 'til it clicks (click, click)
Put the cap on your marker
Put the cap on your marker
Put the cap on your marker 'til it clicks (click, click)

Another fun challenge is to number the students' markers and glue, or write their names on them, and see who can keep his or hers the longest.

If you enjoyed this bright idea, please consider joining me on BloglovinFacebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Teachers Pay Teachers for more ideas.

For more bright ideas from more than 100 different bloggers, please browse through the link-up below, and choose a topic/grade level that interests you. Thanks for visiting!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Tips and Tools 4 Back 2 School Blog Hop

I'm so excited to join my PA blogger buddies for Tips and Tools for Back-to-School!

To help you with your back to school preparations, we each have a tip to share and a tool for you to use when you return to your classroom.

Ever find yourself starting sentences with, "How many times do I have to tell you..." in your classroom? Here's why...

When learning occurs, the brain builds connections (synapses) between nerve cells (neurons). It takes strong emotional responses and/or repeated exposure to information to form these synapses.

That's why quickly telling students, or expecting them to know, about classroom procedures just doesn't work that well. We need to rehearse each and every single procedure until it becomes routine. Or until we're blue in the face. Whichever comes first. Hehe. 
Think about it-- we have fire drills every month, because rehearsal works. 

Teach and rehearse 1-3 procedures per day. Show students the "wrong way" and "right way" to perform each procedure, and then have them critique you. Be silly or emotional when you show them the "wrong way." Make it engaging! Have students demonstrate and rehearse procedures, and respond to others as they rehearse them. Practice walking down the hall before you walk to specials. Take your class into the hallway again and again, and rehearse it repeatedly. Discuss, examine, and add all of Bloom's Taxonomy in there! When they're not following directions, say, "Looks like we haven't quite gotten this down yet. Let's rehearse again!" Or curb a behavior concern with, "Do we need to rehearse this again?" We do have to let students know academics will be part of our routine, so break this up with community-building activities and social skills lessons with academic extensions.

We wouldn't expect a football team to skip practice, figure out the game as they go, only listen to their coach during games, and make it to the Super Bowl. We can't expect our students to never practice, figure out our procedures as they go, only listen to the teacher when things are getting chaotic, and make it to success.

A teacher asked me how she could get through a year's worth of curriculum if she starts it a week late. Each time a teacher has to repeat herself, she's lost about 1-2 minutes of instruction time. If this happens every period, that's pretty close to about ten minutes lost per day. That's 1,800 minutes (30 hours) of instruction time lost per year! What?! Swap your first week of instruction for procedures/routines, and save your time (and sanity)! Beacuse... Repeating yourself? #aintnobodygottimeforthat.

(If it helps-- I have a set of illustrated classroom routines and procedures posters that I use for the first week of school, for $3 at my TpT store)


Here's a free, editable copy of my first week of school plans! It's not pretty or fancy with fonts or clip art, because I wanted it to be quickly editable for you if you wanted to copy it into your plan book. If you open it in Google Docs (by clicking on this link or the photo below and selecting the "download," arrow from the top menu), you can click on the links included.

Thank you for stopping by my blog today! I hope that you picked up an idea or two. If you would like to be the first to know about classroom management and emotional/behavior support ideas, new posts, giveaways, and blog hops, follow me on Bloglovin' by clicking the image below.

Don't stop reading here!  We have more tips and tools for you. 
Just follow the link below and visit my blogging buddy Darla at Bouncing Through Life in First:

Have fun hopping!