Thursday, March 26, 2015


Implementing behavior plans and behavior interventions can feel like the most overwhelming process in the world. Not only do you have to deal with all of the behavior related jargon and acronyms, but you need to be fully versed in communicating the plan in an easy, user friendly way to all of the other professionals that are required to implement said plan. It's tough! After realizing how unfriendly the BIP can be for professionals, I compiled a list of resources to help with the process.

Here are some supports you can use once you already have a behavior intervention plan in place. 

The BIP: I found THIS post on creating a color coded flow chart and I immediately made my own. Go HERE to get a blank, editable version to plug in your own behavior plan.

The data: My grad school professor once told me that the goal of a behavior plan and data sheets are that they are used easily and consistently. You can make the most perfect, brilliant behavior plan but if other staff members don't understand it or it's too complicated... it won't be used. Here are a variety of links to data sheets that are easy to use.
  • THIS school website has ready to print Check In/ Check Out data sheets.
  • The Autism Helper has ANOTHER GREAT BLOG POST on strong ABC charts.  
  • HER VIDEO on how to use her data sheet packet is a great review on different types of data tracking options. 
  • Progress monitoring tools are right HERE.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Standardized Testing: A Love Story

Here in Chicago we just started the PARCC assessment. This, however, isn't a post about my opinions (or anyone else's) on standardized testing. The reality is that testing IS our reality. Going into testing, I have three main objectives:

1. Appropriate accommodations are met.
2. Students feel prepared.
3. Students feel comfortable.
3. Teachers feel calm and ready.

Below are my top tricks:

1. Appropriate accommodations are met.

Use this link to get my testing accommodations spreadsheet. This is a great way to keep all of your students' testing accommodations in one place. I like to print this off before testing begins and hand out copies to any other proctors who are testing with me. You can also share this with the general education teacher or anyone else that would benefit from having this information. I don't like to rely on my memory for something as important as testing accommodations, and this way I don't have to!

2. Students feel prepared.

My co-teacher extraordinaire and I wanted to introduce the test to students without overwhelming them or having them sit down and take a boring hour long practice test. We broke it up by day.

Day 1: Students go on PARCC Sample Test with a partner and write down five things they notice or find interesting. Share out after.
Day 2: Scavenger Hunt!!! The goal of the scavenger hunt is for students to notice the new tech tools provided so that they are comfortable, prepared, and have an idea of what tools are most useful once testing starts. Again, we had students do this in partnerships. We wanted students to spend time talking about what they saw.

Day 3: "Take" test with a partner. This involved the teacher reading the questions aloud, students discussing the answer with a partner, writing A, B, C, or D on a white board, and sharing with the class. It allows students to discuss the test and the directions without having to sit and take the test without any feedback or conversation. These Popsicle sticks are also a really cute option. 

3. Students Feel Comfortable
I bring out fidgets, these cushions, those cushions, and the amazing third grade learning specialists brought in these cool acupuncture rings that are quiet and a huge hit.

4. Teachers feel calm and ready.

  • Read over directions before you read them aloud.
  • Have timers ready.
  • Get yourself some coffee. You deserve it! 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Magestic Menu

I'm a big fan of Paula Kluth's awesome website, Differentiation Daily. A few months back, she wrote a few blog entries about Choice Menus and how you can provide options for students to show their learning and understanding of a topic. This is great because it allows the teachers to naturally differentiate within the dynamic, inclusive classroom. Our amazing 7th grade social studies teacher and I created a choice menu and decided to try it out! 

1. We started out with three articles about the colonial times.
2. I downloaded this free choice board from Teachers Pay Teachers.
3. Co-Teacher Emily and I created a choice board using text centered comprehension activities. All of the strategies listed below have been explicitly taught and used throughout the school year. It was interesting to see which strategies students preferred.

4. Emily renamed the menu as the "Majestic Menu". Students had seven days to work on their choice board and earn up to 40 points using the three readings.

Easy ways to modify:
  • Use differentiated text on the same topic
  • Use iPad in order for students to hear an audio version of the text
  • Have a student choose 3 activities or work on 30 points instead of 40

Below are a variety of the activities completed by students. Students chose activities based on their strengths and interests.

Making a timeline to highlight how long colonial times lasted. We will continue to use and refer to this as a class for the rest of the school year. It stretches out all the way until 2015!

ShowMe Video after reading a text. Go here to watch the video!
 Informational Poster based on reading.
 Sketch annotation
 Annotation and Cornell Notes
 Cornell Notes
 Student pulled five quotes from the text and wrote they meant to her. She then drew pictures visually explaining each of the quotes.
 Majestic Menu
 Summarizing the text by using the 5 W's strategy (Who, What, When, Where, Why)