Sunday, September 18, 2016

Growth Mindset~Our Most Magnificent Things

I love this book, The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Squires! In our special education resource room, we read the book, and summarized it with this activity: 

Growth Mindset Reading and Writng - The Most Magnificent Thing

These students are in 4th-6th grade. They completed the summary frame in their own words and illustrated it. Then they drew their own Magnificent Things! At the bottom of our bulletin board are pages from several different students' journals which I put together to tell the story. So proud of these learners!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Growth Mindset and Special Education

   The concept of growth mindset embraces the idea that intelligence is not fixed, but can develop and grow. As quoted from Carol Dweck, one of the leading researchers in the area of growth mindset, "A growth mindset isn’t just about effort. Perhaps the most common misconception is simply equating the growth mindset with effort. Certainly, effort is key for students’ achievement, but it’s not the only thing. Students need to try new strategies and seek input from others when they’re stuck. They need this repertoire of approaches—not just sheer effort—to learn and improve." 
   Teachers who encourage a growth mindset in their students teach them to persevere, try new strategies, ask questions, and work hard. With growth mindset teaching, mistakes are OK to make, and are simply a signal to try something new, or to practice skills. Growth mindset applies to academics, sports, social skills, and life in general. Growth Mindset truly applies to children with disabilities, struggling writers, and children learning English. They spend much of their academic and social energy trying to succeed, while being met with many failures and obstacles. 
   I am looking forward to this school year as I try new reading and writing activities with my Special Education Resource students and English Learners. Here are the activities I have recently been working on~ Enjoy!

Growth Mindset Bundle for Special Education, ELL, and All Students


Sunday, July 17, 2016

Teaching Special Ed is not for Sissies!

Special education teachers have to love what they do. But it is not for the faint of heart! The field of special education is fascinating and rewarding. But it is hard work. You can't really turn it off when you go home to your own family, and the paperwork and meetings are never-ending. But it is worth it, if you love it!
You get to:

  • Teach children who learn differently
  • Watch them grow and mature
  • Watch their language unfold
  • Help them learn to make friends
  • Teach children to love reading
  • Meet amazing families
  • See your students' self-esteem blossom 

And here's the part that's not for sissies!

You will:
  • Spend hours writing reports and IEPs
  • See children who struggle
  • Advocate for children who struggle
  • Not always agree with the system
  • Feel overwhelmed from time to time
I guarantee it is worth it. Roll up your sleeves and start loving this incredible job of being a special educator! 

I have spent the last few weeks re-doing and updating my special education manual 

Friday, June 24, 2016

Special Education Paraeducators are Very Important People!

   I'm at it again! I am updating my Resource Specialist Manual for 2016. Special Education is constantly evolving, and I am learning new things every year that I teach. I am adding a section on paraeducators, since they are such an important part of the special education program. Last year we had 4-5 paras working with resource students in our school. They are key to making sure our students are able to access their education, academically and socially. Below is a new exerpt from my manual, How to Be a Resource Specialist, which I should have revised by mid-July. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Our Students Who Hate to Write

Special Education teachers know about these students! There are also plenty of students who are not in Special Education who have huge barriers to the writing process. Here are a couple of tips from my new resource: Special Education Writer's Workshop Informational Writing


Saturday, January 9, 2016

Even this Teacher Can Have a Growth Mindset!

Growth Mindset- when it first was discussed at staff meetings- I didn't pay much attention, and dismissed Growth Mindset as another educational fad! Then I opened my "seasoned teacher" brain and read a couple articles, and decided to embrace it!
Persevere, make mistakes, try a strategy, don't give up! 
Growth mindset follows what I believe about specific praise, Multiple Intelligences, and All Children Can Learn! My special education students and their families have inspired me to appreciate the baby steps of learning. I live in a smallish town, and it is a thrill to run into a former student at the grocery store, and see an adult who has conquered obstacles of drug abuse, learning disabilities, abandonment and poverty. Growth mindset was not in my vocabulary when I had this student 15 years ago, but she is living proof that persevering, making mistakes, and continuing to try a new strategy to beat the odds really works! And lucky teacher that I am- I see success in my former students much more than the failures! This is a child who has truly beaten the odds!
Part of my philosophy as a mom of four and special ed teacher of 35 years, is that you have to accept children(and all people) as who they are. Don't compare. Don't put too much emphasis on the milestones, standards, and benchmarks for typical growth. Build on what they have, and allow learners to backslide, regroup, and try something new. 
I want to explore Growth Mindset more and see where sports come in, working on strength and interest areas of each child, and parenting strategies. 
In the meantime, I created a little reader about Growth Mindset for you to use in your special education and general education classrooms. I have discovered that by using kid-friendly language and the opportunity to illustrate these readers, the students tend to enjoy and take ownership of their reading progress!

Enjoy this little reader that I have created!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Special Education Writing: Interactive Literature Notebooks

After 35 years of working in special education, I have research and implemented many best practices for teaching reading. I have developed a fairly simple philosophy, that more time spent reading great literature at the student’s instructional level, is the best way to increase reading skills. Based on that philosophy, I have created a classroom library/ program built on wonderful children’s literature, old and new. I have also found that struggling readers and writers learn skills best when they are taught in the context of interesting text. Chunking big words, using context clues, and noticing the author’s craft are a few. Struggling readers almost always struggle with writing. And in reality, what is an essential writing skill to have on the job? Writing a summary! I have developed fun and easy-to-access writing summary frames for four of my favorite pieces of readable children’s literature: Stone Fox, By the Great Horn Spoon, Little House in the Big Woods, and My Father’s Dragon. I have never encountered a child or adult who did not like these books, and most loved them! The first interactive notebook unit I wrote was for My Father’s Dragon, and one of my 5th grade boys asked me if I could create another unit for our next class book. Of course, when a resource student asks for a writing activity, you know there must be something good about it! I have also included suggested teaching points for guided reading in each unit. they are not scripted, and you can take them or leave them. I know that I find it helpful as a teacher, to have a guide of key vocabulary, themes, and writing structure to guide my teaching. I have not included an answer key for the units, partly because there is no correct answer, and the child should think of these interactive notebooks as a way to tell the story. By illustrating the stories, this also gives them ownership and understanding of the reading and writing. The bottom line: We as teacher can and should facilitate the love of reading! More children will discover that world of literature and books, which will better equip them to be successful adults! Interactive Literature Notebook Bundle Enjoy these literature interactive notebooks!

Interactive Literature Bundle