April 25, 2015

Behavior Chit Chat (Class Dojo & Behavior Interventions)



Raise your hand if Class Dojo has changed your life! Class Dojo is by far one of my favorite tools to ever grace the teaching world.



First of all, I have to say one of my favorite parts about Class Dojo is the iPhone app because my aides can have it on their phone and log in. We are all able to provide positive and negative reinforcement to our students. My aides go to specials and lunch with my students so even when I am not with my class, my aides are able to provide the direct reinforcement. They can be consistent with or without me in the room and consistency goes a looong way with my kiddos!

In the past I have used a variety of classroom management techniques and nothing has ever been as motivating to my kids as Class Dojo. Class Dojo is ideal in a special education classroom because it incorporates the green and red reinforcement system which is a research based behavior intervention THAT WORKS!

Before diving in to my behavior management system, one thing I'll say is that this is what works for me. Later in this post you'll read about the million ways I have had to tweak my system to make it work for everyone. You have to know your kids and don't be afraid to try a few things to figure out what works. I am a weirdo and I actually love behavior. I think behavior makes the world go 'round and it's one of the reasons I love being a special education teacher. I find so much happiness in figuring out the psychological reasons behind why a child acts a certain way and then helping him overcome it. I always keep in mind the ABCs of Behavior:

  • Antecedent- why is it happening?
  • Behavior- what happened?
  • Consequence- how did you respond to it?
EVERY behavior has an antecedent or a cause. Although it may not feel this way sometimes, no behavior ever just comes out of thin air. Children learn how to behave based on how you react to it. It is my own personal philosophy that my job is to help them learn how to control it themselves, not control it for them. 

So here's how it looks in Room 13...

In September I begin with my behavior punch cards to show my students the difference between green choices and red choices. I do this because it is more concrete and in their face and my babies are babies when they come to me so they need that in-your-face approach to learn the difference between a good choice and a bad choice. In the beginning I will give a green for ANYTHING. You picked up your pencil? You get a green! You had your eyes on me? You get a green! You came to school? You get a green! It's like Oprah Winfrey up in here.


(Hehe this was my first time making my own meme! I'm so cool.)

Once the kids start understanding the difference between a green choice and a red choice (usually after a few weeks) I take away the behavior cards and switch over to Class Dojo. I let the kids choose their own monster and off we go!

Incorporating a Traditional Color Chart 

One of the things that took me a little time to figure out was incorporating my traditional color behavior chart. I didn't want to do away with it because I use that to communicate with parents and sometimes I like being dramatic and saying "Move all the way to pink!" or "MOVE STRAIGHT TO RED." There is just something so effective about a traditional color chart. Also, this is most likely the system that my students will use with other teachers in the future so I want them to be used to it. At the end of the day I put a colored star in my students' folders so their parents know what type of day we had. I also can't assume

April 8, 2015

Dramatic Play: Making A "Real" Classroom Grocery Store, for Free!



Have you ever been to one of those awesome children's museums that has a REAL grocery store inside it, just for kids? When I was a kid I loved going to museums like that because I loved pretending I was grocery shopping. Any parent will tell you that you can spend a ton of money on toy food, play money and toy cash registers, but your kids would probably rather go into your cupboards and play with your cans of soup. There's a great children's museum

April 5, 2015

Momma's Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting






Happy Easter to you and your family! Today I'm sharing a recipe that has been in my family for many years...my Momma's carrot cake. She recently made carrot cake cupcakes for my baby shower and it reminded me how much I love them. I hope you and your family have a blessed day!

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Yields two 9" round pans or 24 cupcakes

Mix together the following ingredients in a bowl:
  • 2 1/2 cups of grated carrots
  • 1 1/2 cups of toasted walnuts, chopped coarsely

April 3, 2015

Safely Reaching Your Destination: A NYS Special Educator's Plea

I still remember the night I called my parents to tell them I was switching my major. It was in November of my sophomore year of college. I was so nervous that they would be disappointed that I wasn't going to pursue a business degree as I planned. I was afraid they would think that the reason I wanted to be a teacher was because I had failed calculus that semester. After all, those who can, do, and those who can't, teach. My mom answered the phone that night and I started to explain to her how I think I might want to be a teacher. She said, "Sarah, I already knew this. I have been waiting for this phone call for years." She said, "Don't you remember Miss Honey?"

Miss Honey was the name of the main character in Matilda by Roald Dahl. Miss Honey was the sweetest, most nurturing teacher who connected with Matilda in a way that no other adult or child ever had. My mom reminded me that I used to line up my dolls and my baby sisters (sorry Julia and Lily) and play Miss Honey with them. Just a few weeks ago, I was reading my students The Cat in the Hat. As I held up the front cover of the book, one of my students raised his hand and

March 28, 2015

Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting




Everybody who knows me well knows I am a vanilla girl through and through. I would choose a vanilla cupcake or a golden Oreo over a brownie any day. This is a good (and bad) thing when you work in an elementary school because guess who else loves the vanilla-vanilla combo? Kids. I can never say no to a classic vanilla birthday cupcake (unless it's one of "those" cupcakes- teachers, you know what I'm saying). Vanilla cupcakes are always my go-to when I am in the mood to bake, but

March 26, 2015

Shower the People You Love With Love

When you're in your late 20s, every spring and summer automatically becomes wedding season- am I right?! Since my husband is 5 years older than me, as soon as his friends were done getting married, all of my friends starting tying the knot. Therefore, every summer for the past 7 years have been wedding season for us and it doesn't look like it's letting up anytime soon. I personally don't mind all of the weddings, and one of my favorite parts (besides the open bar, new dresses and steaks) is getting creative, hosting showers and showering my girlfriends with gifts.



This winter we had our first Stock the Bar Party for one of my best friends who is getting married at the end of May. Have you been to or hosted a Stock the Bar party? It was a

March 17, 2015

Curried Carrot Soup with Ginger & Coconut Milk


I started my maternity leave last week which means I've entered full blown nesting mode. Although it's hard to nest when I only have about three good hours on my feet before I have to rest for the remainder of the day. Yesterday I started operation freezer meals. I am not so concerned with freezer dinners because my husband is actually our head chef when it comes to dinner. I am more concerned with having healthy lunches that are easy to prep and eat when I am home with the new baby. This soup is one of the best soups I have ever made! Sometimes I find a soup recipe that looks great but it requires a trip to the store for all sorts of complicated

February 26, 2015

Blog Hop FREEBIE Day!


It's finally my day for the special education blogger giveaway. Today I'm giving away my Call the COPS writing packet (normally $4.50) to everyone who has been following along with our giveaway this month! I am grateful for all of the special education teachers who participated because I have downloaded so many great resources. My Call the COPS freebie is my best selling product on Teachers Pay Teachers. 

This packet of materials is to be used to supplement your writing instruction. COPS stands for: Capitalization, Organization/Order, Punctuation and Spelling. It serves as an easy and understandable checklist for young writers who are learning to write and edit their writing. The theme of the packet is all police officers. The kids will LOVE the Get Out of Jail Free Cards and the Speeding Tickets! This is a great way to motivate your students to check their writing and encourage independence and accountability in their writing.

February 6, 2015

All About Penguins!

Today we wrapped up our penguins unit. I have to say I love the end of a unit because I love sending home all of the things that have been hanging in the hallway and starting fresh. Sometimes units take me a lot longer than planned and by the end I am so ready to never talk about it again. That's kinda how I was getting with penguins. The kids LOVE learning about penguins. They are so fascinated by them and I am amazed every year that they understand a lot of the vocabulary like regurgitate and toboggan. Here are some of the things we did this year! You can read about our penguin fun in last year's post. The group I have this year is more academic than my group last year, so we were able to do more writing and informational texts this year.

February 3, 2015

February Blog Hop with the Special Education Bloggers!




Happy February, everyone! I for one am thrilled to see a new month. The closer we get to spring, the sooner we get away from this snow and the sooner I meet my new bundle of joy! I'm learning that everything people say about the third trimester is true...