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First Year SpEd. Teacher--Tips Needed
Old 07-03-2008, 08:58 PM
 
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I am very excited--I just graduated from college and will be a special education teacher for grades 2-5 at a small elementary school. I am excited that I got hired early so I have time to prepare--organize materials, classroom, look at IEP goals, and simply enjoy my summer. I have toured the school and have been given keys to my room!

I keep thinking about how I am going to prepare for the upcoming year--Praxis III, evaluations, assessments...

Does anyone have any ideas for the beginning of the school year or tips (classroom management ideas, assessments for special education)? I will be mostly inclusion with some pull-out when needed. The district completes DIBELS and DRA (Diagnostic Reading Assessments). I used other assessments with my students--does anyone have any other ideas for assessments?

Most of my students are SLD (Specific Learning Disability-reading, writing, or math), autistic, and one has spina bifida and CP (one student also wears a pacemaker). I have read most of their goals on the IEPs from last year.

I appreciate any tips, ideas, resources, websites, or thoughts to help prepare me for my first year!

(Note: so far, I am trying to get ahead so I have made hanging file folders for each of my students, printed off resources from Department of Education and my state website, school website, assessments I will be using for IEPs (used during student teaching), IEP resources-copies of forms I will be using).


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Old 07-04-2008, 06:20 AM
 
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My goodness! You are very organized! Good for you! Preparing this much in advance will help you out a lot this first year!!

One of the biggest obstacles is keeping everything organized. Here are a few things that I do:
  • Your hanging folder for each student is great. I do the same. Within each hanging folder I place 3 file folders. One labeled "Work Samples" (for samples, annecdotal records, etc.), one "Paperwork" (IEP documents, meeting preparations, quarterly progress reports), one "Communication" (for all forms of communication with family--a copy of all notes to/from me, and a log of any phone calls and what was discussed)
  • On my desk I have a notecard with all of the IEP due dates. I generally just have each student labeled with a first initial and the date it is due. It's starred if I am the case manager (some student I work with but do not manage so the IEP paperwork process isn't as involved from my end), and highlighted blue if they are due for a reeval this year. To anyone else it looks like a card of letters and dates since I don't have anything labeled as "IEP" so it's confidential if anyone sees it.
  • At the beginning of each year, after I've looked over the IEPs I fill out "IEP At a Glance" forms to keep in my sub folder. It's a cheat sheet on everything that NEEDS to be known about the student.
  • I've created a template for checking things off with timelines of when they need to be completed (as far as IEP prep). This helps me keep organized if several IEPs come due at the same time I know exactly where I am with each one.
  • I have a clipboard with packets of goals. For example, everyone with a reading goal gets a page with their goal and benchmarks at the top, first initial in top right corner so I know who it is but I don't need to lock it away because no one else would know, and then just a table to make anecdotal notes on. When reading time comes around, I put the reading packet on top so the goals are always visually accessible. I have packets for Reading, writing, math, organization, social skills (sometimes others as needed). Set goals for yourself of a certain number of anecdotal records for each goal (like one per week) so you don't forget to write things down. Documentation is HUGE.
  • For the beginning of the year I typically sit down with all the IEPs and make notecards for each accommodation. For example, I might make a notecard that says "Testing in small group" and then list who it is that needs that, or "Sensory breaks every 2 hours" and list the students who need that. This just gives me a quick overview because I'm very visual. All of this becomes second nature a few weeks into the school year and you just know who needs what but this is a tool that helps me keep focused in those first few weeks. But again, I'm very visual.
So that's a lot of rambling..not sure if any of it is helpful or not. I haven't really found any websites that I love so I'm hoping someone else responds with a few great websites of resources!
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Wow
Old 07-04-2008, 06:41 AM
 
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Both of you are so organized. That's 50% of the battle right there!

I only have this to add, Peachy. First, it's great that your district uses DIBELS. It's a great way to show your students' progress. I highly recommend ongoing progress monitoring with your students. If your district is only using DIBELS three times a year, you won't get much out of that with your students. Progress monitoring each student on a weekly, or bi-weekly basis will show those little steps that they take during the course of the year in reading skills. My progress monitoring is a separate entity from the DIBELS monitoring the whole school does in October, January and May.

I set up a progress monitoring notebook with each DIBELS subtest as a section (Letter Identification Fluency, Initial Sound Fluency, Phoneme Segmentation Fluency, Nonsense Word Fluency, Word Usage Fluency and Oral Reading Fluency). Depending on where they are at, I have individual student progress graphs for each student in those sections.
Remember that you're progress monitoring skills that each student has at the time according to his/her instructional level. In other words, it makes no sense to progress monitor a child for ORF when they are at a level where they are picking up letter names and sounds.

I use the graphs in a number of different ways- at parent conferences, included in with their quarterly report cards and in their IEPs when we do annual reviews at the end of the year. We actually use the progress monitoring as IEP goals (i.e. will increase ISF to 25 etc.). I also keep track of a class average for each skill and graph that too. I put it in the hallway to show everyone how special needs students CAN attain those skills even though they go at a slower rate.

Hope this isn't confusing. If you have more questions about it, PM me. I have blank graphs etc. I could set you up with.
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Tips
Old 07-04-2008, 02:17 PM
 
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I did inclusion this past year. I put a list of their modifications inside my planbook. Then, I would photocopy a page to write my plans in, then underneath it I would write down the modifications I used. This is a great documentation tool to use.
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Websites for SpEd
Old 07-05-2008, 07:03 AM
 
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Wow~ great tips. Thank you all for responding. I will definitely be using all of your ideas--especially the notecards for accommodations and modifications and binder(s) for DIBELS and possibly DRA. I would love to have copies of those graphs--my principal would love it (visual learner!). Documentation tips are very helpful--I might keep a binder or notebook--but I am not sure. How do you keep documentation organized? --anecdotal notes, checklists, notes, etc.--

I just found out that all the district picks a day for our school and all the IEP meetings fall on that day. That works for me, but then it seems that everything is crammed for last minute--I think it is close to the diagnostic testing, too.

Here are some websites that I find helpful for special education (some of them are more research on disabilities and special education):

http://www.nichcy.org/

http://www.ldonline.org/

http://www.cdc.gov/

http://www.iser.com/

http://www.tinsnips.org/

http://cecp.air.org/familybriefs/

http://www.pbis.org/main.htm

http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/

http://www.do2learn.com/

Lesson Plans from ODE:
http://ims.ode.state.oh.us/ode/ims/Default.asp?bhcp=1

I hope this helps! If I find anything else, I will let you know.



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Old 07-05-2008, 09:02 AM
 
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Quote:
I just found out that all the district picks a day for our school and all the IEP meetings fall on that day. That works for me, but then it seems that everything is crammed for last minute--I think it is close to the diagnostic testing, too.
I'm very curious about this. How can all of your IEPs happen to fall on the same day? They are supposed to be revised one year after the initial one was created. Does this district change due dates so that everyone's IEP has the same due date? I've never heard of such a thing...maybe I'm misunderstanding...

Thanks for all the websites! Some I am familiar with and some I have never heard of. Thanks for sharing!!
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special ed management
Old 07-05-2008, 11:23 AM
 
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Is your class going to be self-contained? My first experience was in a Mild Cognitve Impairment class. I ranged from 8-10 students most of the time. I set up an excel sheet where I listed all of their goals. When I am assessing each child's goal I list the results on this sheet. I keep this sheet in a notebook. In this notebook I have pockets dividers for each child so I put their individual IEP goals on separate Excel sheet. In the dividers I put in the assessments that I have used.

My lesson plans I wrote in Microsoft Word in order to meet each of the child's needs. We did some things together in the classroom, but I had such a range of academic strengths I made sure to group accordingly and work on special needs. My parapro would help me work with the various groups as well.

I found that to keep the kids in their chairs, do the work assigned to them and help them learn to raise their hands for help (otherwise they would get out of their chairs unnecesarily) to put a small grid on their table and give them stickers to collect for the day. At the end of the day, I would count how many stickers and give them "play money" to use at the "classroom store" on Fridays. This worked extremely well with these kids as they could see their progress on their desk. They would remind us to give them their sticker if we forgot to do it.

This year I'm working with young fours and fives in an Early Childhood Developmentally delayed classroom. I will have to get to know what variety of cognitive development I will be working with before I can decide how I manage the classroom.

I hope you have a great year! Special education is so rewarding!
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I used a scanner
Old 07-06-2008, 01:06 PM
 
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to scan all my IEP's onto a flash drive. That way I always had all IEP info available to me, instead of looking up info or making copies, copies, copies. When I was at a meeting, or a parent had a question, I could just look up the info on my flash drive. I used a flash drive so I wouldn't have confidentiality problems--I always had the flash drive. I just kept it with me and stuck it into my laptop when needed. So much easier than paper files, and I could look things up at home if I needed to. (I always had back up paper files, of course!)
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I'm a visual learner
Old 07-06-2008, 02:38 PM
 
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Would it be possible for eveyone who has shared their documentaiton/orgainzational ideas to attach a picture or a copy of their forms? All the ideas sound wonderful. Thanks!
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Old 07-07-2008, 07:18 AM
 
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This is a link to some forms that I attached a few months ago.

http://www.proteacher.net/discussions/showthread.php?t=72672


I posted some documentation forms and also a sample check-in/out form I believe. Hope this helps. The rest of my forms are on my computer at school. I forgot to back everything up to my home computer this summer so I'm hoping it's all there when I go back!!


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Old 07-07-2008, 09:44 AM
 
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fiver326--
Quote: I'm very curious about this. How can all of your IEPs happen to fall on the same day? They are supposed to be revised one year after the initial one was created. Does this district change due dates so that everyone's IEP has the same due date? I've never heard of such a thing...maybe I'm misunderstanding...

I was wondering the same thing myself. That is going to be one of the questions I will ask my mentor the next time I see her. I was looking at the IEPs from last year and they were just revised in March (all on the same date). Umm...I will get back with you once I find out. I would rather work on them throughout the year as opposed to writing them all at the same time. But I will find out more information about that.

ritateach--
Quote: Is your class going to be self-contained?

No, my classroom is not self-contained. I have students from varying abilities and different ages. For example, I have one student with CD and another with SLD. I do know that I will have a resource room where I can work with small groups --but mostly it will be inclusion--it just depends on the needs of my students and what works. With inclusion, my mentor shared that I will be working with students who are struggling as well--but not identified. I might take a small group and work with them on a certain skill. --I just have to make sure not to work with those small groups too much because I have goals I have to meet with my students.--progress reports, IEP goals, etc.

I hope I helped clarify some things. Thanks for all of the ideas and tips. I really appreciate it.
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Old 07-07-2008, 12:33 PM
 
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Thanks for the link to your past posting. It was very helpful.
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Old 07-18-2010, 07:11 PM
 
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Speced9 I would love to get your blank graphs that you use for your students!
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Old 07-19-2010, 01:40 AM
 
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Sure thing, Bulldog. Why don't you PM me with an email address to send them to. I have them in pdf format.
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Old 07-19-2010, 06:26 AM
 
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Ok...I'm still pretty new here..I don't know how to PM you I have actually been looking everywhere to find out how...but no luck...can you tell me how??
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Old 08-31-2010, 02:58 PM
 
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Speced9 Those graphs sound great would you share them with me!
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I need help with documenting
Old 05-31-2011, 04:41 PM
 
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Do you have goal sheets and examples on how you document. I need help with making sense of how to know if the student met their goal for a comprehesion. Do you mark daily if they got 4 out of 5 comp. questions right and then add it up at the end of the quater.
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