August 17, 2017

5 Tips for Managing IEP Paperwork

Being a special education teacher is amazing and rewarding.  I absolutely love working with my students, working towards their goals, and celebrating their successes.  Working and interacting with my students is my favorite part of my job.  But, along with it, comes paperwork.  Although it is super important and necessary for the success of each child, the paperwork can be time consuming and difficult to manage (especially when you have a large caseload)!

One thing I try not to do is let the paperwork take over my life.  I want to be able to spend time with my family in the evenings and weekends.  So, here are some tips that I use to manage paperwork:

1. Stay organized!  This is the most important in order to keep your sanity and save time in the long run.  It takes a little extra time up front, but you will be happy you did it later on!  Although our school does so much electronically, I still use a binder to organize IEP and Reevaluation due dates, caseload information, and goal progress sheets.  I use my IEP Pack for a simple and neat way to record all this information, but you can use whichever forms you already have in place as well.  I find it helpful to keep it in one binder.  It's less binders to keep up with and I'm more likely to record information in it when everything is in one place.  The idea is to have all of your students' important information organized and in one place for quick reference

These are all the sheets included in my IEP pack.

First I have the caseload information sheet, next parent contact sheet, then parent contact log.  Then I have the IEP sneak peak for a quick reference of their related services, accommodations, etc.  Then I keep the IEP goal tracking sheet.  I give a quick summary of their actual goal, so I don't spend a ton of time writing each of them out.  For example, if the student has a fluency goal, It would look like this: Read 60wpm on 2nd grade level w/80% acc.  Just enough info so I know what the goal is. Then I just write the assessment date and write their score in the box.  For example, next to the goal I would write 55/85% for 55 wpm with 85% accuracy.  This sheet is perfect for keeping track of each student's IEP goals.  I like to put all of my students' together in that one binder.  Again it makes it easier to carry it around when needed, and I can easily access any students goal progress quickly, without having to pull out individual binders or folders.  This helps make writing IEPs easier, since all the info on their previous IEP goals is right there.

In the back of the binder, I stick these little reminder sheets.  Sometimes life gets busy, so I like to send home a quick reminder note of upcoming meetings.  About a week before the meeting, I send them home.

2. Folders.  Along with my special education binder, I also have folders for each student.  I keep all of their work samples in them.  When I have an IEP meeting, I just grab the folder and bring it to the meeting.  Having these folders also helps with filling out the paperwork for the meeting.

3. Designate a time to work on paperwork each day.  In the morning before students come in, I like to make sure my materials, etc. are where they should be for the lessons.  I make last minute copies, etc for the upcoming day.  During my planning time on Fridays, I plan for the next week.  Monday-Thursday, I try to use my planning time to work on IEP paperwork.  At the end of the school day, if you are able to, try to spend 15-30 minutes a couple days per week working on the paperwork.  As you get new information from assessments and progress monitoring, you can enter it in.  Also, when working on reevaluation or initial referrals, add in the testing information as soon as you can when you get it back from the psychologists, related service providers (OT, PT, Speech), etc.  This way you are not leaving it to be all entered at once.

4. Don't wait until last minute!  Get as much of the paperwork completed weeks ahead of time.  Especially areas that you have list students' strengths/needs/etc.  Also, you can fill out the students' accommodations and modifications far ahead of time since you already know what they typically need, and that these don't change too often.  Also, try to schedule meetings at least 1-2 months prior to the IEP/Reeval due date.  Getting your meetings scheduled in advance takes away some of the anxiety of scheduling.

5. Collaborate!  A few weeks before the each meeting, get input from the regular education teacher.  I was getting ready to actually create a form to use, and luckily found this gem from Special Little Learners on Pinterest before I started reinventing the wheel.  Click on the picture below to download this.  It's perfect for getting information for upcoming IEPs.

Some of these tips may seem like no brainers, but it can be easy to forget to do some of these.  Especially when things get busy!  Being a special educator, there will always be a ton of paperwork.  But, if you develop a routine and make it a habit, the paperwork becomes much more manageable!  Do you have any special tips that help you manage paperwork?


August 7, 2017

DIY - Class Rules Subway Art!

With only a few weeks left of summer vacation, I've been planning my first few weeks of back to school. One of the first things I think about each year are our classroom expectations. What do I expect of my students? How am I going to let them know what I expect? Posting classroom rules is a requirement in our school, as I'm sure most others as well. I absolutely LOVE chalkboard/subway art and want to incorporate that into my classroom. After looking at many posts on Pinterest, I figured out how to make a subway art class rules sign to display in my classroom. It is much easier than I thought it would be, but it can be a little time consuming. I did not do it all in one shot. I had to spread it out over a few days. If you don't have kids at home though, I'm sure you could get it done in a couple hours though! Here is what the finished product looks like:


Here is what you need to make it yourself:

*framed chalkboard (I got mine at Hobby Lobby for $20 a couple of years ago for a different project)
*white chalk
*colored chalk markers (also from Hobby Lobby, but you can get them at other craft stores too)
*white paper

First, I recommend planning out the fonts you want to use, the rules you want to write down, etc.  You can get a ton of free fonts from  Also, Kevin and Amanda have amazing fonts!  I also got some fonts from Kimberly Geswein Fonts on Teachers Pay Teachers.  Some of my favorite fonts I've used are: 

*smiley monster
*monster paparazzi
*mr. and mrs. popsicle
*wish I was taller
*spicy sushi roll
*KG second chances (both sketch and solid)
*KG falling slowly
*KG always a good time

There's a bunch more that are amazing!  Just check out the sites above and pic your faves!

After you pick out your fonts and decide on your class rules/expectations, next you will need to download your fonts onto your computer.  Then open up a program like Microsoft Word or Adobe Illustrator.  Type out your expectations using different fonts.  Make sure it is typed black, because you will be tracing over it once it is printed out.  The tricky part is, some of the words you may want big, so you will have to print some letters on one page and then some letters on another page (depending on the size of your chalkboard).  

Once everything is printed out, it's time to trace!  First, take your white chalk and color the area where you are planning on tracing the rule white.  Make sure you coat it pretty good.  

Then, place the white paper with your rule on it over that area.  Trace each letter/detail with your pen.  Make sure you push down a little hard and go over it a couple of times to make sure it is visible.  Once your word/phrase is traced, lift up the white paper.  You will see the lettering in the white chalk on the board.  

It does look a little easier to see in person, but it can be a little tricky.  Key is to get good chalk and put a thick layer on.  

Now is where your chalk markers come in.  Pick which color(s) you want to use, and trace over the lettering on the chalkboard.  Repeat until it is all finished.  Your chalk markers should only take a couple of minutes to dry.  Once it is dry, you can wipe the white chalk away.  If there is still white marks, take a wet Q-Tip and swipe the area with it, but be careful not to touch your beautiful letters.

   You can change up the font sizes and types to make it fun and appealing!  I even added my own little doodles in between some of them to fill in little gaps that were there.  Do whatever you want to make it your own!  Please let me know if you have any questions - it's simple once you get the hang of it, but can take some getting used to.  Once you get the hang of it, it will go a little more quickly!

I would love to see your finished versions!  Please leave a picture in the comments if you make one!  


August 6, 2017


Hey everyone!!  Hope you are all having an amazing summer!  I am back after a long hiatus and ready to start blogging again!  We added a new addition to our little family back in April.

Along with blogging about my classroom, I am also going to share how I am balancing being a mom of 2 with being a teacher.  My hopes are to share parenting, organizing/time management ideas, and classroom ideas!

In our area, and I'm sure in other areas as well, people are painting and then leaving rocks in random places around town for others to discover.  Basically, you paint a rock and hide it somewhere for someone to find.  If you find a rock, you can keep it and add it to your collection.  Then you would paint another rock to hide.  If you don't want to keep it, you can re-hide it.  The point of it is to spread creativity and kindness.  Over the last couple of months, I've seen posts about it on Facebook.  They even have Facebook groups dedicated to this new trend.  I've been interested in it, but we never really searched for any.  The other day when we were out shopping at Aldi, I was getting ready to put a quarter in to get my shopping cart.  Right on the ledge was this adorable rock!

My phone was dead, so I didn't get to take a picture until we brought it home and charged my phone 𝨒𝨓🙍.  I pointed it out to my daughter, and she was SO thrilled that we found one.  It sparked that excitement in her, in she was so eager to search for more.  We decided to keep it and paint a new rock.

She wanted to paint a peace sign on hers.  Then we went to a local park and hid it for another person to find it.  Now, we are on the lookout for more rocks.  I absolutely love this idea and can't wait to paint more to hide.  This got me thinking of a super cute idea for my classroom.  Since summer vacation is coming to an end in a couple of weeks, I am really starting to get ideas together and plan.

Since my classroom has small groups throughout the day, each group will get a little piece of construction paper to decorate.  They can decorate it however they want, but obviously appropriate.  They will also write a special message like "you rock!".  Then they can "hide" it somewhere in the classroom for the next group to find when they come in.  We will keep going until all the groups have found a special message.  We can then hang them up in the classroom once all the groups get their special message.  I love this idea, because I feel it is SO important to teach the whole student and not just academics.  This activity will let the students be creative and spread kindness and happiness to other students.  They will also get a chance to work together to create something.  It's not only wonderful for my students with social goals, but it's a perfect reminder for every student to spread kindness.  I can't wait to try this idea and post pictures!

I am super excited for this school year!  It is going to be a fantastic one!


October 19, 2015

Facts About Bats!

Hey everyone!  Hope you all had a fantastic weekend!  Fall is definitely in the air, but I am LOVING this weather!  Sweaters and boots are my favorite!  

We have been working on a bat unit.  We read a story called Batty About Bats, which is included in the intervention program we use.  There are so many informational texts about bats, so this activity could be adapted to whichever one you are planning on using,

The first day, I made a Facts About Bats poster.  I drew a bat in the middle.  We had a class discussion about what we know about bats.  Then, we read the story together.   After the story, I gave each of my students a few sticky notes.  They were directed to write down something they learned, a fact, about bats.  Then they went up and put their stickies on the poster.

That evening, I drew an outline of a bat on black construction paper.  Then I traced all their bats on the paper, this way they were ready to go.  I also cut out circles and triangles on white construction paper for their eyes and teeth.  The next day, my kiddos cut their bats out and glued on the eyes and teeth.  They decorated their bats, and let me tell you, they came out adorable!  

After their bats were completed, we reviewed the facts that were written on the sticky notes.  Hen I gave the students 2 sticky notes each, and they glued them to the bats' bodies.  The students each wrote 2 facts that they learned about bats that they didn't know before.

After class, I hung them on the wall for display.  We will keep them up until the day before Halloween (that Friday), so they can take their little bats home.  

I'm so happy how smoothly this activity went.  They all enjoyed writing about their bat facts, even the kiddos who do not like writing at all!  

Aside from school, I also wanted to mention that I have a new found love.  The last 10 years, I have had super sensitive skin, and it had gotten worse and worse. It got to the point where I started just using pure olive oil and sea salt soap that I bought from Amazon.  Even with that, my face would still get red and irritated just from the water.  Well, other was about to change pretty quickly!

Over the summer, my friend invited me to her Arbonne party.  I went, but was a little scared to try the products.  I gave them a try, and could not believe that I did NOT have a reaction!  And even better, my skin felt so much better and it took away some of the redness with just one use!  I decided to buy a couple things, and booked a party for myself.  After my party, I purchased a bunch more.  I earned a free product, plus $125 for $25, and $35% discount on anything else.  After my party, I was asked about become a consultant and starting my own Arbonne business.  I wasn't sure about it at first, but they showed me how I could earn the products and most of the startup costs from having a few more parties to promote me as a seller.  I decided to go for it!  I figured, hey, why not?  I love the products and I am tired of living pay check to pay check on NC teacher's salary.  So, here I am!

I am now selling Arbonne, because I love the products so much!  I would not have signed up for something just to do it and make some extra cash.  I really fell in love with the products, and I especially love that all of them are gluten free, dairy free, soy free, paraben free, chemical fragrance and dye free, and are even PETA stamped and certified vegan!

If you are like me and have super sensitive skin, I urge you to give it a try!  It was a life changer for me!  Especially, I also suffer (or suffered) from psoriasis on my legs.  After using 2 products, it is gone, except for a little scaring which is going away too! 

For the psoriasis (works awesome for eczema and dry skin too!), I used:

 These even helped with the little itchy razor burn bumps after shaving your legs!  I am so excited about these products, and I'm so excited to begin this new journey!

I hope you all have a wonderful week!  






October 7, 2015

Spooky Spelling

It's frightening that it's already Monday...this weekend flew by!  I spent a ton of time cleaning the house and organizing all Bella's toys.  Much more time than I wanted to 😉.   But I am ready for the busy week ahead of me.  This weekend we are headed to a balloon festival on Saturday and going pumpkin picking Sunday.  We are super excited to get outside and enjoy some family time. 

Last week, we made some adorable little ghosts.  We cut out a ghost shape on white construction paper, then we glued the Google Eyes.  My kiddos got creative, and I love how they turned out!  They picked big eyes, small eyes, and some of them even mixed a big and a small eye.  Then we used bingo dotters and black markers to make the mouth.

After our ghosts were finished, we wrote our spelling words along the outline.  For my younger students, we stopped there.  Then we just glued our ghosts on black construction paper.  



For a my 2 older groups of students, I gave them fancy Halloween paper that I found at the dollar stores years ago (and they still probably have it lol).  I gave them the writing prompt: "If I saw a ghost, I would...".  The students wrote their stories on the paper using their spelling words.  After their stories were finished, they went back and highlighted their spelling words they used.  Then we glued their ghosts and stories onto a 11x17 piece of black construction paper.  They loved reading and sharing their stories with each other.

Afterwards, we displayed them in the hallway. 

I just love how creative my students got with their ghosts' faces.  They look adorable hanging up in he hallway! 

My next post will be a little "batty" 😉

Hope you have a wonderful week!





October 4, 2015

Spooky Slime!

There's nothing quite like a hot cup of pumpkin spice coffee on a raining, chilly, Sunday morning in October.  We are patiently waiting for all this rain to head out though, so we can start enjoying some fall festivities.  Bella has been wanting to go pumpkin picking and to Scarowinds, but the last couple weekends were a washout.  At least it let me catch up on some house cleaning and decorating.  On one of the rainy days last week, I was looking up some Halloween activities on Pinterest and came across this:

I loved this idea, so I made it with Bella.  She loved mixing it and stretching and playing with it.  I wanted to bring this activity to my classroom, but wasn't sure how to tie it in with their IEP goals.

As I thought about it and my students' goals, most of them have a reading or a writing goal.  I came up with the idea to make a poem about our slime.

I went out to the store to get the ingredients:
*liquid starch
*clear Elmer's glue
*bat confetti

I easily found liquid starch in the laundry area of the supermarket, and then found the glue in the school supplies area.  Super easy...but bat confetti...nope!  No luck!  I went to a whole bunch of stores.  I found pumpkin confetti, skull confetti, but NO bat confetti.  I know I've seen it so many times, but when I actually needed it, I couldn't find it.  So, on to Plan B.

At Dollar Tree, I found some rings with bats and spiders.  I also picked up some googly eyes.  Instead of bat slime, we were gonna make Spooky Slime!

I cut the ring part of the bats and spiders off.  They were thin enough that they would mix in the slime pretty well.

The next day, my kiddos helped me make the slime.  Since I have different groups at different times, we scaled down the recipe, so I could make a little bit with each group.  Instead of using 1/2 cup of water, liquid starch, and glue, I used 1/4 cup.  

First, we mixed the water and glue in a bowl.  I gave each of he students some bats, spiders, and googly eyes to mix in.  After that was all mixed together, we slowly stirred in the liquid starch.  Then we finished mixing it with our hands.

After a few minutes of hand mixing, our slime began to thicken.  As the students stretched and played with the slime, I asked them to think about how it feels, how it made hem feel, how it looks, etc.  

Then after playing with it for a few minutes, we separated the slime evenly and then put it in a baggy, so each student would have some.  We washed our hands, and then got working on our poems.

Our poems were formatted like this:

Spooky Slime
____  ____  ____

____  ____  ____

Spooky Slime

I asked my students to think of words that described the slime.  When they thought of their words (some needed to be prompted and guided), I wrote them on the table in front of them so they could spell it correctly (or mostly 😉).  For my kinder, I wrote down the words she told me in highlighter, then she traced over it.

After our poems were done, I laminated them (I used my personal laminator so I can do it right then and there).  Then we put them in our baggies with our slime.  The students each took turns reading them aloud to me and to each other.  They loved sharing their poems, and the loved even more that they could take their slime and poem home with them! 

Spooky slime was fun for my students and me!  It was fun watching them get so excited about their creations and their poems!  

Post a picture if you end up using this in your classroom.  I would LOVE to see it!







October 2, 2015

Happy Fall Ya'll!

Happy fall ya'll!  October is here, and finally I am too :).  This past year has been super tough, so I have not been bloggin' at all.  Unfortunately, my mom passed away March 7th and it really hit me hard.  Although it has been almost 7 months, it is something that I struggle with every day.  I'm lucky to have such wonderful family and friends to support me.  I would appreciate all of your prayers and positive thoughts sent my way.  It's not only tough on me, but it's tough on my 4 year old daughter who was super close to her as well.

I did not want to start this blog off on a sad note, but wanted everyone to know why I have been missing for a while.  School wise, my year has been off to a mostly smooth start.  Super busy, but smooth.  I hope your year was off to a great start!  I love, love, loooove October and the fall season.  From pumpkin picking, pumpkin flavored everything, and just fall scents and colors, it is truly one of my favorite times of the year.  As soon as October rolled around, I did not hesitate to bring out the festivities in my classroom. :)

This week, we have been working on base ten and 2 digit numbers with my 1st grade group.  We practiced with base ten blocks and place value mats, but I wanted to change it up a bit and make it fun.  I decided to break out my Chutes and Ladders game, but added a twist to supplement our learning with base ten.

Before our game, we warmed up by practicing identifying double digit numbers with flashcards.  We practiced counting by both ones and tens.  Then, we were ready to play!

The students took turns spinning their spinner, just like how you would normally play.  When they took their turn, they moved as many spaces as the spinner showed them.  After moving their pawns, they had to say the number that they landed on.  Then, they used the tens and ones to build that number.  During each turn, the students had to tell me how many ones and how many tens were in their number.   During each turn, I would talk them through it asking them questions, "Do you have to add more ones or tens?" "Who has the biggest number?"  "Who has the smallest number?"  "How many tens are in ____'s number?"

My kiddos had a blast playing this game.  They got really into it, and it helped them make the connection about how many tens they had and how big their number was.  After our game, I made a couple random numbers using base ten blocks.  The students told me each number.  Then I had them give me a quick thumbs up for the higher number and thumbs down for a lower number.  

Soooo, before I said that I did not hesitate to start Halloween crafts, so here we go!  I have 3 different math groups.  I have a K-1 group, a 2nd grade group, and a 4th grade group.  I originally thought of this idea for my oldest group when we were reviewing multiplication and arrays.  We made spiders and pumpkins arrays and ten frames with our bingo dotters!

We used:
- Bingo dotters (black and orange)
- Purple construction paper
- Hundreds chart (blank)

First, my students decided on the factors they wanted to use for their array.  Then, they started dabbing away!
We cut the extras away from the hundreds chart, and then glued it onto the purple construction paper.  Then, they wrote their equation on the side.  Then, they got to decorate it by adding stems for pumpkins and legs for spiders!

For my younger students, we used 10 frames instead. 

My 2nd grade group was working on adding numbers to a set of ten to make numbers in the teens.  We dotted a set of ten, and then in a separate ten frame, they picked any number to make.  Then they decorated and turned them into spiders and pumpkins.  Afterwards, we glued our ten frames to the construction paper and wrote down the equation on top.  

 We also did this with my K/1 group.  We made ten with spiders and pumpkins.  I loved how I was able to differentiate, so all my students could have fun with it!

Here is our wall we hung them up on!  The clarity from the camera isn't the best, but it's what I have to work with right now.  I don't have any luck with phones, and ended up breaking my phone.  Now I am stuck using an old phone, but I am planning on sucking it up and paying the money for a new one, since insurance doesn't cover water damage.  

I cannot WAIT to post about our next activity we worked on.  We made something icky and sticky and my kids had a BLAST with it!!  I will post it this weekend.  :)

I hope you all had a wonderful week and enjoy this weekend!  A WET one if you are on the coast and being affected by Joaquin!  (Stay safe if you are!!)