Friday, February 24, 2017

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 2/24/17

Here are some interesting sites that I’ve found this week, thanks to my PLN. As a teacher, I feel we have to keep up to date concerning research in our field and current issues in the education system. I hope some of these inspire you, inform you, and even have you asking questions. Thank you for coming by and visiting!

Note: Each resource is labeled with a level and subject area to make it easier to use.

Levels:  E: Elementary; M: Middle; H: High; G: General, all levels; SN: Special Needs; T: Teachers

Subject Areas: LA: Language Arts, English, Reading, Writing; M: Math; S: Science; Health; SS: Social Studies, Current Events; FA: Fine Arts; Music, Art, Drama; FL: Foreign Language; PE: Physical Ed; C: Career; A: All

Games Planet Arcade – “This arcade is a portal to games and interactive activities focused on ocean and air themes. It highlights the science and the activities of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and other agencies and organizations promoting environmental stewardship. (L:G; SA:S)

The Art of Storytelling – from Pixar in a Box; “This topic is an exploration of the storytelling process at Pixar.” (L:G; SA:LA)

ClassTools Hexagon Generator – “Hexagon learning allows students to identify links between factors very effectively. Students categorise and link factors together for deeper understanding of the relationship between factors.(L:G; SA:A)

American Timelines Poster – “C‑SPAN Classroom is delighted to offer our new American Presidents Timeline poster – available only to C‑SPAN Classroom members. This colorful 6' long poster details the lives and public service careers of every president, plus key historical events, Supreme Court cases, Constitutional Amendments, and technology milestones throughout history. (L:G; SA:SS)

Presidential Historians Survey – “As the nation marks Presidents Day 2017, C-SPAN is releasing the results of its third Historians Survey of Presidential Leadership, in which a cross-section of 91 presidential historians ranked the 43 former occupants of the White House on ten attributes of leadership.” (L:H; SA:SS)

Original photo by Pat Hensley

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Dealing with Behavior


“What are your best tips for dealing with problem behaviors?”

I feel the best way to deal with behavior is preventative rather than reactive.

I assess my students before teaching so I can find out what their instructional level is. Then I teach them at that point so this might mean students are doing different lessons at the same time. I feel that if students aren’t bored, they are engaged in learning and less likely to misbehave.

I believe in using Universal Design for Learning and look at the individual needs of my students. Some have different learning styles and I try to incorporate activities so that the students have some choices in how I assess their learning. Students complete more assignments this way and are more successful in the classroom. When students feel successful, they tend to misbehave a lot less.

I also like using some kind of token economy system where they receive rewards for working and are fined for not. That is what happens in the real world when we get a job so why not simulate what will happen in the real world. Students like to feel they are earning something for their hard work and can use their rewards to trade for something that they want. But I also believe that they should get docked pay if they are late or don’t follow directions (just like on a real job) or get fined if they break the rules (just like getting a speeding ticket).

I also think students misbehave to get my attention so I have small square foam blocks. One side is red and the other is green. If they need help, they turn the block to “red” on the corner of their desk. Once I help them, I turn it over to green. In this way, no student is having to watch and wait for me while I help another student and can continue on their work until I come to their desk. Students seem to like this system and it works really well.

The biggest thing that I do is that I stay in contact with their parents. I mostly brag about their good behavior so they are getting attention for behaving well. I try to call at least every other week and since I call often, these calls are short and to the point. Parents appreciate that I touch base with them and they are so happy to hear good news. Unfortunately there are times I have to call about problem behaviors but by then I have established a rapport with the students and their parents. Parents are very supportive at this point and we usually can correct the problem easily.

How do you handle problem behaviors? Please share.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Writing Behavioral Objectives

Recently I was in a discussion with another teacher about writing behavioral objectives. I thought I would share how I write objectives for my students.

Every objective should contain the following: a condition, a target behavior, a criterion and a time frame.

A condition is what the students are given such as:
·      When given a list of 20 sight words…
·      When given a story prompt…
·      Given 20 math problems with addition and subtraction…
·      Given a reading sample written on a 4th grade level…

A target behavior is what I want the student to do. This behavior must be observable and measureable such as:
·      The student will say…
·      The student will write…
·      The student will compute…
·      The student will answer comprehension questions…

A criterion is how I want to measure this behavior such as:
·      18 out of 20 words accurately…
·      5 sentences using capital letters and punctuation with 85% accuracy
·      8 out of 10 problems accurately
·      with 90% accuracy

A time frame is when I want this objective to be achieved such as:
·      By the end of the semester.
·      By the annual review date.
·      In 18 weeks.
·      By the end of the first quarter.

A complete behavioral objective would look like the following:
·      When given a list of 20 sight words, the student will say 18 out of 20 words accurately by the end of the semester.
·      When given a story prompt, the student will write 5 sentences using capital letters and punctuation with 85% accuracy by the end of the first quarter.
·      Given 20 math problems with addition and subtraction, the student will compute 8 out of 10 problems accurately in 18 weeks.
·      Given a reading sample written on a 4th grade level, the student will answer comprehension questions with 90% accuracy by the annual review date.
·      Given 3 specific tasks, the student will complete all of them 3 out of 4 times accurately.

Do you write behavioral objectives? Please share!


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Teacher Feature – Kristin Mitchell

This week, our teacher feature shines the spotlight on Kristin Mitchell. I met her years ago in a Furman course and was very impressed with her teaching. Please join me in learning more about Kristin and applauding her hard work!

1.     What is your official title(s) and what services do you provide?

·      Special Education Teacher, M.Ed. I teach the 3-4 year old classroom along with two teaching assistants. Each child receives individual (based on IEP goals), small group, and whole group instruction in the classroom. Areas addressed include; academic, adaptive, fine motor, gross motor and social/emotional skills.

2.     Would you describe your school setting?

·      The Meyer Center is a Greenville County Charter School & non-profit organization that was founded by Dr. Leslie Meyer in 1954. Well before IDEA!  We are a separate school setting that serves preschool children with various disabilities. Along with education, we provide intensive therapy based on a medical model that includes physical, speech, and occupational therapy. Students also receive pet & music therapy weekly.

3.     How long have you been teaching?

·      This is my 6th year teaching.

4.     What ages/grades/subject did you teach prior to this current assignment?

·      I have taught the 3-4 year old classroom at the Meyer Center since I began my teaching career.

5.     What inspired you to become a teacher?

·      My son was born with special needs and disabilities. I watched him thrive and progress at the Meyer Center so that was my inspiration to become a special education teacher.

6.     What is the best thing that a student has ever said to you?

·      I definitely can’t pick just one! Many of our children are non-verbal. So, anytime a student signs, makes a sound or word approximation, uses an augmentative communication device to communicate, or speaks their first words is exciting.

7.     What do you feel is the most difficult thing about teaching?

·      I find that the beginning of the school year can be challenging. In order for students to learn and be engaged, we must first build a classroom community. Positive Discipline in the Classroom: Developing Mutual Respect, Cooperation, and Responsibility in Your Classroom by Jane Nelsen, Ed.D., Lynn Lott, M.A., and H. Stephen Glenn, Ph.D. is a great resource to use in preparation for a new school year.


8.     What do you feel is the best thing about teaching?

·      The best thing about teaching is watching my students develop and progress throughout the year.


9.     What piece of advice would you give to a new teacher just starting out in their career?

·      Be flexible! Sometimes, the most well thought-out and prepared lesson plan/activity, may not go as planned. Meet your students where they are at and monitor and adjust accordingly.

10.  If money was no object, what would you want for your school to help the students you serve be more successful?

·      Access to more augmentative communication devices and an adaptive P.E. program.

11.  “Inclusion Works!”

·       Our school is starting a Pilot Program for the 2017-2018 school year called Inclusion Works! We will be adding typical developing peers to two of our classrooms. The two classrooms will consist of approximately 50 percent typical peers and 50 percent current Meyer Center Students.  We are very excited about this new program. Research indicates that there are many benefits to inclusion for all students in the early childhood setting. Students with special needs benefit in that they have peer models for academic, social, and behavioral skills. Additionally, students also show an increase in achievement of IEP goals and enhanced skill acquisition and generalization.  The benefits of inclusion for typical peers include; increased appreciation and acceptance of individual differences and diversity, opportunities to master activities by practicing and teaching others, meaningful friendships, and greater academic outcomes.

Thank you Kristin for the wonderful interview! I enjoyed learning more about you and seeing all the great things that are happening at your school.

(Readers: If you know of any teacher that deserves to have a light shine on them, please send me their contact information. Thanks!)