Math Rack Flash Cards

New product on Teachers Pay Teachers!



I posted a new product today on Teachers Pay Teachers! I spent 2 days working on these because I created the images for the math racks totally on my own. In the sale page, I wrote how this product can be used as a Power Point presentation, digital flash cards, or printed 2 per page to create large flash cards. I also used it a different way today for a student. He has been having a hard time counting on the math rack, especially counting by 10’s and then counting on. I printed these slides 6 per page and gave him about 20 mini-cards to count on and write the number he saw. He even remarked after working on them “Oh, I get it now!!” He works on an intervention called Dreambox and when it was giving him subitizing 41 to 100 flash card games he couldn’t do it. Tomorrow he will work on Dreambox and we will see how he does!  I hope he remembers the skill and his “Oh, I get it now!” feeling stays tomorrow!


Click here to check out the product on TPT!

Long Term Leave Sub Template


As I mentioned in my previous post, I’ll be going on maternity leave this year. I have been working on a long-term sub binder for quite a while (I started it this summer!!) and have decided to share the template on my Teacher’s Pay Teacher’s store. I know that preparing for maternity leave (or any long term leave) is so difficult! I could have saved myself several hours of work if I’d had a template to work off of first! Much of this is geared toward floating around and teaching small groups, as well as managing IEP’s but it could easily be adapted for a classroom teacher, or used by any other specialist (ELL, Reading, interventionist, etc).
The template is fully editable and in Word. The featured sections are:
-Welcome letter for sub
-Table of Contents
-Daily Schedule
-Necessary Passwords/Access Information
-My Routines
-Behavior Management Tools
-Caseload Information 9
-Details Regarding Groups
-IEP Goal Tracking Information
-Parent Contact Information
-Paraprofessional Information

Check it out here:

Long Term Leave Sub Template (Fully Editable)

Maternity Leave Social Story


I will be having triplets this winter and decided that a social story would be the best way to introduce my students to the idea that I would be gone this winter and returning after spring break. Many of them struggle with change and this was a way to prepare them. We will revisit it again shortly before my break. I will also share it with parents so they can review this at home if their child is having an exceptionally difficult time. I have posted this as a product on Teachers Pay Teachers so other teachers can use it too!  I made it fully editable since I know each teacher’s circumstances will be different. I’m also working on a big substitute binder for my sub while I am gone with tons of great info. I’m hoping to share this on Teachers Pay Teachers as well. It’s always nice to have a template, and I know if I’d had one the time spent on these things would have been much shorter….which is always a huge help when you’re pregnant!  🙂

Here’s the link to the product on TPT…it’s just $1!!!

Maternity Leave Social Story (fully editable)

Double Consonant Spelling Rule Worksheets

DCSP cover

NEW Teachers Pay Teacher Product!

Follow this link to get it for just $1!

I was trained in Orton-Gillingham reading methodology this summer and have been using it this year as an intervention tool with multiple students. I did my Master’s action research project on OG in the resource classroom and found great results. I’m still using it daily with 2-3 groups of students. I have found a need for quality OG connected worksheets and I’ve started making my own. I used these today in an intervention group and they loved them!  Because the kiddos liked it so much, I wanted to share it on Teachers Pay Teachers. It’s just $1 because I’d like to start building my store. I did work on the sheets over a two day span.

These particular sheets cover the spelling rule of doubling the consonants f, l, s, and z following a short vowel. Each sheet features reading for real and nonsense words and reading practice, sentence reading, writing/spelling, and sentence writing. Here are some photos of my student using the “ff” sheet today!

Graphics from:


Class Dojo

Does anyone else use Class Dojo? We started using it in our resource room at the beginning of this year and it’s wonderful!  I love the ability to give the students points to encourage positive behavior and to reward the behaviors after they’ve reached certain levels of points. We have a point menu ranging from 10 point items to 100 point items and activities. The students can earn up to 3 each session when they are in my groups. I started using strips to help them visualize how they are doing with their three points. At the end of the session they count up their monsters and that’s how many points they receive.

Class Dojo has great features in addition to the ability to behavior track/manage, such as parent communication tools. There is a texting feature that hides your cell number, but allows you to communicate with parents quickly. They do have to download the app themselves, but it’s worth encouraging!  I use it frequently to send reminders, share successes, and photos of their children learning. There is also a class story feature to chronicle things going on with the whole class.

I hope you will check it out!  It’s definitely something to consider. There is a great Class Dojo teacher group on Facebook too.

Traveling Teacher

As a resource teacher, I split much of my time between pull-out services provided in my classroom, and push-in services provided in the child’s general education classroom. Because I teach Kindergarten and First Grade groups I try my best to keep them in their classrooms by providing push-in minutes. I teach reading groups in both classrooms.

In Kindergarten, I use Jan Richardson’s Next Steps in Guided Reading lesson templates. We are currently working in the Pre-A lesson plan. My students are just about to be ready for the next plan, which is emergent. The plans require quite a bit of material and I am out of my classroom, so I have to find a way to get it all there with me.

I also teach a reading group in 1st Grade directly following my Kindergarten group. With this group I use the LLI Green Kit. This intervention also requires a substantial amount of material. Both plans are fantastic and have shown great results, but I had to problem solve getting all of the supplies down to the Kinder/1st Grade wing with me.

So I came up with my traveling teacher bag. I purchase a bag from Thirty-One and it’s been the best decision! I use the Large Utility Tote. In my bag I keep:

  • LLI Lesson Plans
  • LLI Books (color and black and white)
  • Jan Richardson Lesson Binder
  • Letter Cards
  • Sentence Strips
  • Whisper Phones (My co-teacher made them with PVC pipe!  So easy!)
  • Kleenex
  • Highlighter tape
  • An organizer tub
  • Stickers
  • Magnetic letters
  • Baggies
  • Pencils, markers, crayons, and dry erase markers
  • Scissors
  • Mini dry erase boards
  • Visuals for reading turn taking
  • Alphabet tracing books

There is so much in the bag, but I have everything I need for my 9-10:25am groups! I hate being without a room, but I think that I found a way to take what I need with me! It also makes push-in teaching effective for everyone, especially the kids! Everything is organized and right where I need it.

Spring Break Journal

Spring Break Journal   Spring Break Journal

I put my first item up for sale on Teacher’s Pay Teachers!  It’s a journal for spring break.  I sent (via email) a Google form (survey) to the parents of my students and asked them if they would like to receive a packet of academic work to help students maintain their skills over spring break.  One of the items I offered was continued writing practice.  I will be sending students who need writing practice home with a journal for the break.  I have also added two free items: a CVC word list and ten frames.

Stop on over to my TpT store and check out my items!  As I continue to make spring break activities for my students I will add more.  🙂

CVC Word List      Cute Ten Frames

Dino Sight Word Match-Up

It’s been quite some time since I’ve been able to post.  While being a coordinator I wasn’t creating much.  As I transitioned to teaching again, I didn’t have time to make creative things.  Well, I’ve finally found some time to create again so I’m ready to post!  This is SO exciting for me!

This game is called Dino Sight Word Match-Up.  I wrote all 40 pre-primer sight words (but it could be any sight words) on the “jungle” board that I made out of poster board.  Then I took 40 plastic dinosaurs (bought them in the dollar section at Target, 20 dinos for $1) and wrote one sight word on each.  I created a recording sheet for the student to use during the game too.

How to play:  The student who is playing the game matches a dino to it’s correct location in the “jungle.”  Then they record (write) their matches on the recording sheet.  This helps students to work on reading AND writing their sight words.  I use it as a “station” while rotating between writers at different levels.

Here are some pictures of the game and a .pdf of the recording sheet!  Enjoy!  🙂


dino sight word match up  <—-Click here for the .Pdf!

A long time away…

WOW!  It’s been about 10 months since I’ve written for my blog.  In August I began working as a coordinator, and I left the classroom.  It was an amazing experience and I would not have traded it for the world.  I went through so many moments of self-discovery and growth.  I realized that I miss the classroom and I make the biggest difference there.  I will be heading back to the classroom next month!  I. AM. THRILLED.  It’s not because I didn’t like my role as coordinator, but because I missed the classroom and direct interaction with students so much.  I won’t exclude being in administration ever again, but not anytime soon.  I’m actually working on my Master’s in Educational Leadership.  I finish my first semester tomorrow.  I’m sure it will make me an even better teacher in the classroom, and one day, if I choose to go back into administration, I’ll have the credentials and knowledge.

The main reason I’m writing is because I am hoping that I will be able to make it back on here now that I be producing material and creating for students again!  I’m going to be in a different role this time, so my posts may not be all focused on students with ASD anymore.  I will now be a K-5 resource teacher in a public school.  I am absolutely thrilled for this new adventure!  I hope to keep you all posted, and hope I haven’t lost the few readers I’ve had!

With SO much excitement,


MOOC Course Goes Live


Over Spring break this year I participated in a recorded interview with the NIU professor who’s class I speak for each year.  The topic: Perspectives of Disability.  I spoke to my knowledge of a sibling of someone with Aspergers+, and my experience as a teacher of special education.  The course was then developed over the summer, and has just been released.

I would like to invite all of you to read the article about it in Northern Today.  (Click on the hyperlink text)  The course is taught by the same professor, and is an entirely online course.  The best part about this class, and MOOC’s in general is that they are free!  Illinois state teachers can earn 20 CPDU’s for participation.  I’ve even signed up for the class to earn CPDU’s and broaden my understanding of other disabilities.

I highly encourage any parent, educator, family member, or those just curious about disability, to enroll in the class.  The responsibility to the course is not as demanding as you’d think.  The course is presented in a video format, featuring interviews with multiple people who have, or are involved with disabilities, with accompanying activities and/or blackboard discussions.  Please consider enrolling in the course!  The more people to enroll, the more feedback we can receive to improve for next semester.  The course is in it’s first week, so don’t worry, you aren’t late!

The register for the course:

🙂  Thanks for reading!  I hope to post some more teaching ideas soon!  

Summer is Ending

I feel like I must come back from my summer blogging break, to say “hello” and begin writing again.  Unfortunately, with kids starting yesterday and the beginning of my new position at school, I am far from having any great to share.

I woke up early this morning so I could just sit, drink some coffee, and “pinterest.”  (Interjection: I feel that pinterest has become a verb, just as google has.  “What are you doing?”  “Oh just pinteresting!”  Weird.)  In stead of bumming around of pinterest developing my dream wardrobe and finding cute quotes, I wound up updating my GoFundMe for my half marathon for Autism in November.   It reminded me that I need to write here.

Currently, I am in changing over to a coordinating role at school, so I no longer have a classroom.  It’s an exciting change, and I cannot wait to have many opportunities to share things with more teachers.  It was bittersweet yesterday when students began arriving and I realized I was not going to have a room full of them this year.  Even though the day had notes of sadness, I am SO happy to be in this new role.

This is about all I have the capacity for at 6:50am after a hectic last two weeks of training, but I do want to leave you with a thought that I have been pondering since I woke up:

What is the correlation between people who have aspergers and the game Mindcraft?  Why do so many of these kiddos and teens love this game so much?

Money Math


In order to incorporate money math and money skill maintenance into my math curriculum I used the following activity today.

I brought in a piggy bank from home and had my students help empty it. I broke students off into different tasks, such as:
-sorting coins, by worth, into Dixie cups
-sorting coin rolls by worth and placing in baggies
-determining how many of each coin was needed to fill 1 paper roll
-writing coin worth and amount needed on the smart board for reference when rolling coins

After the set up was complete, I had students take Dixie cups of coins and sort them into the correct paper rolls. They had to count the coins to make sure the roll worth matched the amount inside. This took about 30 minutes.

After all the coins were sorted and rolled, we did some group math to add up our coins, first by worth, then total.

With only 10 minutes of the lesson left and a mysterious silver dollar from the piggy bank, we researched collectible coins on the smart board and discussed the elements used to compose coins.

It was a fun lesson and a great, hands-on way to incorporate life skill math!

Side note: I found that whole bag of coin rolls at the Dollar Tree for only a buck! With any loose change, you could easily make this lesson a reality in your class!



Today we took a break from our science books and planted herbs. The target dollar section has the mini herb kits and watering cans for a buck a piece.

What is shown in the picture was only $3!!! We had a blast! I did the lesson/activity in small groups of three working on one plant. Can’t wait to see what’s grown after the weekend!

Time Keepers

If your child, or students, are like mine then you probably have a few time keepers. These are the kids who rigidly follow the schedule, down to the minute. If you talk 1 minute into the next scheduled thing you start seeing hands flying up and kids staring at the clock.

In my class, this happens a lot during group discussions and tests. After one exhausting day of time keeping during a tough test, I just took the clock down and told my students not to worry the time. They had all the time they needed. It worked!

These days when time keeping shows up I just cover the clock with this simple sign I made. I gave a mini lesson BEFORE the first time I used it and explained why I’d made it and when it’d show up. I didn’t want any meltdowns if I put it up without warning. When I use the clock cover I may hear a sigh or two but they know what it is and they can expect it because I gave forewarning before I ever used it the first time.

It’s not their favorite thing, but it works!!!


We’re Human Too


Some of my readers are fellow teachers, some service the special needs population in other ways, some are parents and family members, some are just curious, but all of you are human…and so am I.

Since I am a human, I feel these crazy things called emotions. You know, those things that we teach to our students, children, etc. with ASD until we’re blue in the face. And for those of us who work directly with people who have ASD, we have to “feel” and “show” our emotions near perfectly because we are role models; a living lesson. (And I know that my students must be learning something because they are excellent at identifying and correcting how I SHOULD handle things if the rare occasion happens that they bust me going about my emotions incorrectly!! 😉 ) Well, sometimes I suppress so many emotions throughout the day because I working in “happy” or “hyper-focus” mode, that I find myself feeling kind of confused about what I’m actually feeling when I get a chance to stop and actually FEEL it. Does this ever happen to any of you??

I can find myself staying 1-2 hours after the work day has ended, feverishly working on lessons, strategies, social skill materials, and other things, that by the time I get home at 6 or 7pm I’m in a blur. I’ll get in, put my bags down, pop a microwave dinner in, and think “Wait, what do I need to do next?” It’s like my hyper-focus during the school causes me a temporary executive functioning issue when I get a chance to unwind. I feel as if I have to tell myself things that I would say to my students…something like:

“Hey, you had a really rough day! Two kids had major meltdowns. It’s kind of unexpected for you to walk around smiling like that…people are going to think you are crazy.”


“Whoa, it is not an expected response to laugh about that fact that you just spilled hot tea on yourself. Wipe it up and stop laughing. You are being weird!”


“The computer spontaneously deleted your entire narrative 15 minutes before your biggest IEP meeting of the year. You may have said ‘no biggie’ at school, but that’s a HUGE deal. It’s ok, you can be mad now…or just cry.”

Sounds totally ridiculous right?? I certainly hope that at least one of you reads this and doesn’t think I’m a committable lunatic, and instead feels understood! All of this talk of emotions brings me to the real reason I’m writing today…How do we self-regulate our own emotions when we’ve been regulating other’s all day?

I wanted to share one of my favorite ways! I love to use the book “Wreck This Journal.” It’s actually a book with the purpose of being destroyed. It’s the perfect place to let out many of those emotions you absolutely cannot show during the school day. I’ve also found that it pulls me out of my hyper-planned, type A, personality. I’ve attached a few snapshots of it below. My favorite, but also least favorite page, was the one that asks you to crack the spin. When I saw that page it was like the book had just asked me to do something vile and unspeakable. I HATE when the spin on a book is broken, it drives me crazy! But I must say that cracking the spin on my journal had to be one of the most liberating things I could do.

I hope that you check out the journal. It can be found at Target and Barnes and Noble and it’s fairly cheap. I’ve toyed with the idea that it may be helpful to my high school students as well. I haven’t decided yet because allowing them opportunities to get out their anger has to be done careful…otherwise it can blow up into something much bigger than you wanted. Some of the pages ask you to spit, stab holes in the page, etc. and I think they’d have to be removed first.

All in all, I hope that you could benefit from a book like this, or just the knowledge that someone else loses themselves after a day of playing super human!

Thank you Followers!


I just received a notification that The Light Bulb now has 20 followers!

Thank you to all of you who follow The Light Bulb here on WordPress, or on Facebook and Twitter. Thank you for spreading the word and all of your support, “likes,” and comments! It all makes the blogging and sharing worthwhile.

A sincere “Thanks,”


Seating Charts

Sometimes I feel like making a seating chart is an art in itself. I usually let my students give me a little insight on where they feel their dream seat would be and if I can accommodate AND keep the classroom peace, I’ll make the change. However, when it’s cabin fever season and we are inching closer to the end of the school year, it seems like it takes rocket science to find a seating chart that works.

Personally, I’m about as hands on as my students, so I came up with a way to make my seating chart that is tangible and dynamic.

I took a bunch of knock-off Jenga blocks and chose dedicated colors for staff (red) and students (yellow). I put scotch tape on the block and wrote “teacher,” “teacher’s assistant,” and my 7 student names. (I put student on all of the blocks in the photo for confidentiality reasons. Then I sketch out my classroom desk arrangement.


Once I have everything I need, I can move the blocks around and set up where I want each student. It’s so much easier to visualize where I’m placing the students when I do it this way. After I’m finished I create a Smart Notebook slide to show the students where their new seats are. I always save the slide so when I need to change the seats again I can just move around the yellow rectangles and I don’t have recreate the slide from scratch.


I just rearranged my students today, so they will find a VERY different arrangement tomorrow. I hope this cures the 25-days-left-of-school bickering that has been going on!

Happy Tuesday! Enjoy the warm weather if you’re here in Illinois like me! I’m off to go for a run…better get training for my half-marathon for Little Friends! Remember you can donate to the cause if you like, by clicking here!


Socrative: Student Response System

Socrative: Student Response System

It is AMAZING applications and programs like this that make me yearn for an iPod touch for each student in my classroom! I could do so much more if I weren’t limited to one iPad for the whole group. I have a small, 7 student class, so when I bring in my own iPad we have two and can run them simulataneously, but I sure wish I had an iPod for each. iPad for each seems far fetched, but of course, that would be even more amazing!

I hope you check this app out and possibly find a way to use it in your class too!


I had a TEENY bit of “me” time today before heading to an IEP meeting that’s pretty major!  It gave me a bit of extra time to run this morning (one of my own loves)!  I added 7.5 miles to my running shoes.  It was wonderful.  For those of you who have jobs in special education and/or a family member with special needs, you know how precious those few extra “me” time minutes can be!

My newest personal goal is to run a half-marathon that has a meaningful cause.  I have done 2 already and they always have for-profit purposes.  When I heard that Little Friends was going to be partnering with the first Naperville Marathon, I jumped at the chance to register.  I need to raise $200 to register though, and unfortunately $200 is not easy to come by…so I’m on a mission to raise that $200 and register for this race!  My personal challenge will be to finish it in under 2 hours!

Currently, I’ve raised $60, so I have $140 more to go!  I know many of my readers do not know me personally, but I ask you to at least consider donating.  It’s not a for-profit, the proceeds go straight to Little Friends, and it funds many fantastic resources, and classrooms, just like my own!  I really hope to be able to do this and benefit the students and agency that I have grown to love in these last few years.

Click here to donate!

Please think about it!  Thanks!  🙂  On another note, I have so nifty new strategies that I’ve

implemented recently, so I hope to get online this weekend and post them!

Happy Friday!



Light It Up Blue

The Light Bulb is going BLUE for April 2nd!  April 2nd is World Autism Awareness day!


Go to to read more about how you can light it up blue and spread awareness, around the world!

The easiest things I did this morning were put on a blue shirt and putting the “Light it up blue” app on my android phone.  I hope you can find a way to light it up blue too.

Have a wonderful day!  This lady is off to teach her students who benefit from days like today!!



Half Marathon for Little Friends


I would like to run the Naperville Half-Marathon to raise money for Little Friends.  Little Friends is a wonderful non-profit organization that supports the lives and education of those with Autism spectrum disorders and other developmental disabilities.  This is the organization that I teach for (at one of their 3 schools), so the motivation to run this race is dear to my heart.

I have previously run 2 half marathons, timing 2:28 and then 2:08.  I hope to break 2 hours with this one and raise at least $2000.  I must reach a goal of $200 before I can even register for the event so my current priority is to hit $200 as soon as possible…additional donations will continue to benefit Little Friends and classroom’s like mine!

Please consider donating to my registration fee/donation of $200, as well as additionally toward my fundraising as a 13.1 mile half-marathon runner!  Your donation, no matter the amount, will benefit the lives of those helped through Little Friends!

Thank you,


Click Here to Donate!


Speaking: Summary!

Yesterday, I posted to let everyone know I was off to speak at Northern Illinois University to speak on autism and Aspergers. A large part of the presentation focuses on the family aspect of this particular disability, as well as disability impact on families in general. I have family experience with this as a sibling, so it’s especially close to my heart. I get a chance to talk to future educators, employers, and many others about being mindful of disabilities but also of the level of family involvement disability requires. My major talking points are:

-What is my family disability experience? What is the disability? What was my childhood like? How did it differ from an “average” childhood?
-How did disability in the family effect my future? How did it develop me as a person? How as it effected me as an educator? How does it effect my own future plans for location, family of my own, financial help, etc?
-How does it alter relationships? With my parents? With other family members, siblings, and directly with the person with a disability?
-What words of advice to I have for families of similar dynamics? How do you balance your life, and the family responsibility?
-What words of advice can I give to those with little experience in disabilities and what can I tell future educators about working with families with similar situations?

I would love to type up every answer to those talking points above, and maybe one day I will, but I like to speak dynamically, from the heart. I keep a few note cards in my pocket with those points on them, but I find that each time I speak, I change it up a little. I learn to add more or less by the questions that students ask me, or the looks on their faces….maybe that part is just the speaker in me.

My greatest hope from all of this, and continuing year after year (I’ve spoken on this 4 semesters now) is that disability awareness will grow and we’ll see more empathy and patience. I also hope that I can touch a few future teachers, and help them to realize that they cannot only base there opinions of families and students on what they see at school. They must make parents feel heard, understood, and trusted. Raising a child with special needs is a journey, and that makes it sound nice…it’s an uphill battle. It’s an all family journey, and parents are usually trying their best. Teachers need to realize that you can be coming at a kid from two different angles, parent and school, or you can form a relationship with that parent and you can help each other. Become an advocate and a resource for them and I can assure you that the right parents with appreciate it and help you out with things you need to educate their child in the classroom. When you build that bond with the families it isn’t scary to tell them that a change at home may be needed, it’s friendly and they respect it. I am aware that every situation will not be perfect, every parent won’t bond with you, or feel grateful for all suggestions, but most will, and those parents are going to make the times that a family doesn’t connect with you, all worth while! I promise that the best relationship you can form for the student is with the family. I suppose it took me being in a family and seeing it from the other side, to be able to think this way as a teacher, but I hope that speaking on this will help more teachers think that way too!

Have a fantastic day! If you’re from IL get out and enjoy this lovely weather on Good Friday!



Can’t Make Me Be (The World of Jenks)

Hello Readers!

I hope all of you in Chicago-land are staying warm and enjoying your snow days, if you have one!

Maybe some of you have seen the TV show on MTV called “The World of Jenks,” but either way I wanted to share this episode.  It aired back in 2010, but it’s still just as important.  Andrew Jenks, a young film maker, moves in with a 20-year-old with autism for 1 week.  He documents the highs and lows of what it’s like for Chad to have autism.  It gives great insight into the mind of a young adult who is navigating the world with autism.  I plan to show this clip to my students sometime this week.  (I was going to today, but we have a snow day…yay for the kiddos!  Not so much for this teacher who has lots of work to do! 🙂

World of Jenks is back (premiered last night) for a second season and they will be featuring Chad again!  I plan to follow the show just because the more I can see of people with autism or aspergers the more insight I gain into the minds of my students and sister.  There is no way I could ever understand what it’s like to be them, and I always assure them that I do not claim to understand.  However, I do think that it’s important for educators, parents, siblings  random people, etc. to look into what it’s like to have a disability…have empathy, and step out of our shoes and into theirs!

The Season One World of Jenks Episode w/ Chad

Classroom Calendar

Quick post:

I have been using this calendar for two years now and it’s fantastic for holidays, fun facts, and silly dates.  I draw doodles on our classroom calendar and add some of the dates I think the class will enjoy!

It’s from Scholastic.  Their site has TONS of other great resources too.

Hope this calendar is helpful to you!

My Class Calendar



Hangman Smart board Template

Hello readers!

A while ago I created a template for the Smart board for the game Hangman.  I have tweaked it MANY times and I’m finally ready to share it with all of you!

The following link with take you to Smart Exchange so you can download it, if you’d like.

Hangman Template

My favorite feature is the hangman “guy” because it is pre-made.  It gives them a predetermined number of turns, and in my classroom it has eliminated lots of debates, arguments, and meltdowns.

I hope you can find it useful too!


page 1

page 2

page 3

The Help

Sometimes my students can be very self-deprecating, and they will speak about themselves in negative terms.  I want them to remember that we all make mistakes, and it’s OK to remember that even through struggles and slip-ups, they are just as important as anyone else.  I came up with the following solution to help them remember that they are kind, smart, and important!


I showed my students the following clip of the movie “The Help.”

Following the clip, I showed them the positive encouragement slips I had made.  The slip (pictured below) features the movie quote “You is kind, You is smart, You is important” and a space for a note from me or my teaching assistant.

positive affirm card

When my students talk negatively about themselves, or feel down about their abilities, I (or my teaching assistant) give them a slip.  I make them look me in the eyes, and remind them that they ARE kind, smart, and SO VERY important, and then I hand over the slip.

I feel that Asperger’s and Autism can cause so much confusion, angst, and depression in the people it affects, especially teens.  My experience is that they can see the difference between themselves and other teens/adults around them.  When they notice that something is harder for them, takes them longer, is confusing, etc., they begin to feel negative about themselves.  I’ve found this slip to be a fantastic way to put a smile on the faces of my students, and to show them that we are all different, as well as smart, kind, and important in our own ways.

The most important part of that quote to me, and for my students, is that they know how VERY important that they are.  Autism, Asperger’s and disabilities in general hold a special place in my heart, and it is my hope that the individuals I work with or encounter are reminded that they are special and equally important, and that they take that knowledge with them wherever they go!

I hope that this post gives all of my readers an idea for how to incorporate positive encouragement in their classrooms, clinics, and even homes.  Please feel free to use this idea and card as a launching pad for your own positive encouragement method!

Happy Saturday! 🙂


Disclaimer:  I am not affiliated with, nor do I own, The Help, mettacrawler @ YouTube, or Everything Emily.  I appreciate the ability to use their property and content for the education of individuals with special needs, as well as my readers.

Take A Walk In My Aspergers

2013-01-27 17.30.23

I’ve just started a literacy/social skills unit with my students using the book “The Asperkid’s (Secret) Book of Social Rules.”   It is an AMAZING book!  My students agree.  One even called it “hallelujah,” expressing that he’d been waiting for a book like this all of his lofe.

As we progress through the book, I’m sure that MANY posts will revolve around the discoveries WE (the kids AND myself) make.  Until then, I wanted to share the pre-book project that I had them do.

Before we began reading I really wanted to work on some self-awareness and self-acceptance.  I think Asperger’s (and ASD) is awesome!  I am completely obsessed with learning about it and finding new ways to educate that kind of thinker, however my students do not share the same passion about their disability.  I would love for them to though, so we do LOTS of celebrating differences, self-acceptance, and talking about loving themselves for who they are (as they also learn to navigate a world that doesn’t always understand them).

A sweet little interjection: While I was introducing this project I stated that fact that my title was “Special Ed. Teacher.”  This caused many to cringe, and express their feelings that “special” is negative.  I started to explain that it wasn’t, but I noticed a whole lot of annoyed faces, so I switched gears.  I told them that I picked “Special Ed.” because I specifically wanted to work with children who had ASD and I LOVED everything about it.  I told them that because I felt it was “awesome,” I wasn’t going to say “Special Ed.” anymore…I was going to call it “awesome education.”  So from here on out, I’m known as an “awesome education teacher.”

Anyway!  This project was a fantastic turn out.  I challenged the students to be very self-aware and “real” about their disability   I wanted them to approach the project with ALL of their personality.  I asked that they infuse each page with color, pictures (either drawings or printed), humor, and lots of personality.  The projects that I received today were wonderful!  They were incredibly honest and each of them were so different.  If no one had written their names on the project, I would have known who’s belonged to who because each of them emit every bit of their personality and sense of humor.

Below I am attaching a .pdf of the rubric I gave them and above is the cover page of my sample book.  I also would like to mention two things that I would have tweaked about the project now that I have seen it through:

1) I would have said that they couldn’t swear.  This is entirely dependent on the students you have, however mine need to have the same direction given more than once.  I often tell them to put passion into assignments but to leave out swears, however, I felt that I must be a broken record by now, so I didn’t say it this time.  Needless to say, I had to return some pages for censoring!

2) I gave anyone willing to present their project to the class 5 extra credit points.  I was amazed to have over half of my class volunteer!  I made no rules to their presentation other than:

1) no swearing (I had learned my lesson!)

2) They could skip parts they didn’t want to share, but they could state (out loud) that they were skipping.

My hope is that at least ONE of my readers will implement this project and level of disability awareness and acceptance in their classroom!  Disability is really just DIFFERENT ABILITY!  We are ALL a little different and we need to accept those who have disabilities the same way we accept anyone else!  Those that I know who have ASD are AMAZING people and I hope that many get to feel the joy that I feel having them (students and others) in my life!

Enjoy the assignment!  Please share!  🙂

Click below to see the .pdf file of the rubric I created for my students!

The Rubric for Grading

Space Invaders

This year we moved to a new classroom and the set up for staff desks is much different. I’ve been toying with ideas of how to keep the students from coming into the staff area (too many confidential documents) for weeks now. I frequently have kids come to my desk with questions, to tell me little stories, for needed help on an assignment, etc. I don’t mind the kids coming to me at all! My desk is in an awkward position, the front of it is against a wall, so when kids approach they “space invade” something terrible…bumping into the desk, almost whacking me in the face, leaning on my desk, and the list goes on. I want them to learn personal space and since there is no desk as a barrier between us they are struggling. I also don’t want accidental peeks at documents around my desk (I try to keep them in closed binders or filing cabinets but sometimes a to-do list or post-it gets someone curious). To remedy this situation I came up with this…


I put them just at the edge of my desk corner. They can get close enough to have their needs met, but not close enough to invade my personal space or peek around. As anyone who follows my blog would have probably guessed I LOVE visuals and anything tactile. This is just another one of my visual methods! I think it’s truly the best way to reach my students, and highly likely, the best way to reach any of the students we have with ASD.

Hope this helps someone else too! 🙂

Making Predictions

This is my latest journal assignment for the kids…

Making Predictions

I have this sitting on the stool in front of my room…



1) Touch, feel, lift, etc. the bag
2) Make mental notes about what you feel and form a prediction about what’s inside.
3) Return to your seat and take out your journal or a loose-leaf paper
4) Write a 5 sentence (or more) paragraph in your journal about your predictions. Be specific. Explain what you think the item(s) are and WHY you think that. Tell which senses you used to make your predictions.
5) Turn in your journal.
6) At 9:20 we will open the bag and see if you we’re right.

Mystery Motivators


Today I’d like to share an idea that I’ve actually been using for quite a while now.  It’s something that is SO successful since it’s been in place for quite a bit.  It can be tweaked and edited in so many different ways, and for multiple age groups so I think many of you will find it helpful.

On Tuesday’s I take my students to “work.”  They go to two different locations, and depending on age, some are paid in money and some are not.  In order to motivate everyone, especially my unpaid students, I created the mystery motivator system that I use.

How it works:

I predetermine a motivator before we leave for work and I slip the card into an envelope.  (I have several motivators that I rotate between.  I have them printed on laminated cards and I will include a slide show sample of a few of my motivator cards.)  I reuse the same envelope each week until it’s too destroyed to use.  I like to decorate the outside with the words “Mystery Motivator” and usually question marks in different colors.

After the students have finished their day of work and we are all in the van, I hand out the envelope to a student (I rotate between them each week) and they will open the envelope and announce the motivator to their peers.  There are usually cheers following the presentation, especially if it’s the favorite, pizza lunch!  My class knows that they must earn all of their behavior management “bucks” for the three 30-minute blocks that they are at work in order to earn the reward.  Generally, they are so eager to earn the reward that just one reminder that they are about to lose the motivator is enough to get them back on track at work.

I especially like to use motivators that incorporate us stopping at a community location on our way back to school, such as the dollar store or a local fast food restaurant.  It’s a fantastic way to slip in community practice, as well as social skills lessons, all while they think they are just getting an awesome treat.

This is one of the students favorite behavior management techniques!  Several asked me at the beginning of this school year if I’d be doing mystery motivator again, announcing they really liked it.  I hope you can find it just as useful as we do!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

***Disclaimer:  I do not own or have authority over any of the company logos used.  These images have been found on Google Images and are NOT my property.  The sole purpose of these images is to allow students to readily identify local establishments through photo identification.***

“Mature” Reactions

Disclaimer: “Expected” and “Unexpected” language has been adapted from materials found at

Mature has recently become a buzz word in my classroom.

  • “I want to be mature like Tommy.”
  • “Oh please don’t make us do that.  It’s not mature.”
  • “I just want to have a mature lunch.”

However, as happy as I am that the students want to be mature, and don’t want to be caught doing anything immature, their definition of mature was pretty off.  For example, I’ve had students refuse to use the pink rubber erasers because they perceived it as not “mature” or some were cowering and covering their eyes when the group voted on an old episode of Spongebob as their rainy day 30 min filler activity.  One was even telling me that you are only “mature” if you don’t show any emotions at all!  What?  I decided we needed to un-teach all of these crazy definitions of mature that were floating around and THEN teach the reactions that society IS expecting from them when they think of “mature.”

I started by using my Smartboard to write up the dictionary definition of mature.  We discussed what mature people do in their lives, ages people are generally considered mature and what society expects mature people to be doing during the teens years, and also adulthood.  Following this discussion, I created a Smart Notebook file to go through several emotions that we feel at different times.  I wanted them to come up with a situation where you would feel the emotion…then what reactions would be Socially Expected in that situation.  We also listed reactions that would be social unexpected.  We labeled those reactions hot or cold.  Hot reactions were ones that were too extreme for the situations.  The cold reactions were those that are an under-reaction, or not strong enough for the situation.  I came up with this category to specifically speak to the students who felt like “stoic” was the only reaction or emotion they should ever display when acting “mature.”  I added a slide show of the Smart Notebook file below.

This was a FANTASTIC lesson and we are going to be revisiting it soon!  There was so much learned from each slide and we discussed it for 5 weeks, spending much detail on the reactions.  I also had them role play different reactions so they could see how “immature” or “odd” some of the unexpected reactions were.  I even role played with them!  We had a great time, and because the lesson was serious, yet fun, they absorbed SO much more from it!  I really hope others can benefit from this lesson too.  It’s been one of the best so far, and one of my favorites I’ve developed!

Please feel free to give me feedback if you try it or tweak it!  I’d love to hear how it works for you!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Summer Break

Hello Everyone!!

Since we’re currently on summer break, I took a little unannounced hiatus from blogging, but I’m back!  I just wanted to wish everyone well and let you all take a peak at a few things I’ve done to my classroom as we get read to go back to school on August 20th!  I went shopping today and picked up some things to help organize my room and get it ready for the Fall.  I’ll be posting pictures later on how I utilized my new shoe rack, fabric and baskets!

Here’s what I was up to today:

Art Supply Center

You can’t see the tiny sign below the one that says “Art Supplies” but it tells my students to grab one of those gray baskets to put the supplies they need in.  I’m hoping this will cut down on the scattering of supplies that we would end up with last year!  The kids in my room LOVE art, in many of it’s forms, so this is a major expansion from the one overflowing box we had the last two years.



Small Group or One-to-One Teaching Area

I have this wonderful room off of the back of my new classroom that I can’t wait to put to so many uses.  Small groups and individual teaching will take place most often here.  I will also be using the back room as a break area, but I haven’t quite decided how I will do that yet.



I hope everyone is enjoying their last few days or weeks before school starts!  I will be having my gallbladder removed next week so that may mean you wont hear from me for a while or you will hear from me a lot…We’ll just have to see!  I hope to be fully recovered before the kids return to school on the 23rd!

Have a wonderful rest of your break!


Ok, does anyone remember this thing from Men In Black??

Most of my students have seen this movie, so my latest idea came from their background knowledge of the film.  I was working on a lesson with a student and he was really struggling to put aside the splinter skills, or partial concepts he knows, in order to learn a new concept.  I jokingly told him that he needed to pretend that I had the MIB flash pen and we needed to start from scratch.  He chuckled, but couldn’t imagine well enough.  I gave him a break to decompress, and quickly whipped up this latest idea.

I came back from my desk with this:


The visual aid helped him do two things:

1) use his imagination with the help of a visual aid

2) relax, and chuckle…clearing his head!

I held it up, asked him to look at my pen (while he was giggling and enjoying it), and I said “Click!” and pretending to flash the pen.  I immediately followed my “flash” up with a cheesy introduction of “Hi I’m Miss F.  It’s nice to meet you!  I’m going to teach you _________________ today!”  After that, he was ready to learn, calm and clear headed.  This may be a lesson that’s specific to my class, but I think it’s great the way it worked.  I think the overall lesson to be learned it that a little imaginative play and humor can help relax a learning situation for a student and help you build rapport!

*Disclaimer:  I do not own anything associated with the Men In Black series or the youtube video above.

Music Box

In my classroom I’ve found that my students are calmed by music, and not necessarily calming music, but their favorite tunes too. I made an iTunes account on the classroom computer and I asked the kids what they wanted to listen to. I used their initial requests to generate a starter play list. Then I made the Room 302 request box for new tunes that they wanted. I keep the box in the front of the room at all times. To teach a life/rec leisure skill about out community I made the new tune or new playlist introduction schedule be on Tuesday’s. To get songs I downloaded from iTunes or ripped songs off CDs from fellow co workers and the library. It’s been such a hit! [insert cheesy cymbal for my wonderful pun 😉 ] we play the music in the background everyday! It’s a great addition to our room and I really hope is is an idea that people borrow!

Have a great week!

Thinking Outside The Box (revisited)

This simple illustration was used to help kids understand how to things outside the box, or go beyond their preferred interests. I created this lesson for my Smartboard, so we could work on thinking outside the box as a group. However, this lesson would work individually or on a white board too! I printed images/slides 4-6 and stapled them together to make a worksheet packet to complete the activities on. See below for slide images.

Some ways to use the “outside the box” topics:
-Help them expand their conversations by writing questions/scripts with them
-Role play conversation about those items
-Assign a journal free write and require them to select one of their “outside the box” ideas as the topic
-Pair students and have them tell each other about some of their favorite “outside the box” things, and have them explain why they are their favorite (as shown in lesson)

Ps I finally posted on time! Yay!







Teaching Respectful Titles (Mr, Mrs, etc)

I have students who struggles with understanding with why we use titles and at what age/relationship is it appropriate to use first names versus titles and last name.

The particular situation I designed this for was for what to call friends’ parents when you are first meeting them. They were concerned about “cool” factor more than respect so this visual was born. It could also be modified for anyone; teachers, doctors, ect. Feel free to share, but please give me credit. 🙂

Also enjoy my stick figure on the right. I’ve added a bit more detail than I usually do! Haha!


The Impression Tree

In order to teach one of my students how we impress people, what to use to impress people and how not to over use certain ways, I created a tree metaphor/drawing to illustrate the concept. It worked beautifully and we’re now working on expanding the ways he uses to impress others. For this particular “lesson” I just explained what is written on the bottom left of each photo and then I let him generate the discussion with his questions.

Literal Thinking

I apologize this is a day behind.  This whole broken computer thing is really cramping my posts!  Donations for a new one will gladly be accepted, hehe!  🙂

So a student recently asked what it means when we say they are “literal thinkers” so of course I used and handy-dandy doodle to help clarify the concept.

I explained the thinking as two steps:

1st: You see a picture of what I just said (“teacup” = visualize a tea cup)

2nd: If you know what I really meant, then you think of the words/meaning

It didn’t require many more words than that.  The following step was to draw what their brains see when we say things.  We stuck to idioms because those are particularly tricky for the kids.  Below is the picture of how I helped the student visualize literal thinking.

Enjoy!  🙂


Behavior Management

The following post describes the behavior management plan I use in my classroom.  This plan is modified from a teacher that I work with.  She did a fantastic job of laying the ground work and developing the base materials for this “classroom economy.”  I have modified the plan, as well as the materials used.


Students earn “money” for being well-behaved and following directions.  They are given $1 at the end of each half hour (we have 10 half-hours in our school day).  They do not earn pay for negative behaviors, forgetting to clock in or out and not have a “supervisor” (staff) sign their time card at the end of the day.  The picture below is an example of our classroom time cards.

Time Card

The students are to “clock in” and “out” each day, as well as get their time cards signed at the end of the day.  They keep track of their “pay” on their own throughout the day.  At the end of the week they turn in the complete time card and receive a “pay check” for the weeks’ pay.  They can “cash” in their checks for cash and use the money to purchase passes, candy, items from the class store, or donate the money to a class fund.  (When the class fund reaches $1000 they can vote on a movie or pizza party.)


The picture below shows their time clock area.  I have this on the wall right by the door to the room.  They can clock in immediately upon arriving and clock out on their way out to the bus.  I keep spare time cards in a pocket in case they lose theirs (it costs $1 to replace).  I also put announcements in the upper left corner and policies are posted on the top right.  Occasionally, I will put bonus bucks ($1 for going above and beyond, being helpful, making good choices, etc.) in the top-middle pocket and but a note in the announcements about the bonuses, just to make sure they are checking that area.

Time Clock

Feel free to adapt this.  It works for my classroom, but it would be difficult to incorporate in a room that is not self-contained.  I love it because it teaches job, math, and self-management skills all while motivating them with rewards.   I also have modified the time card for specific students to add lines for individual IEP goals that I want them to work on self-monitoring.