Sunday, December 29, 2013

Happy Holidays from Room 4: Crafting, Gifting, and More!

December was an ultra busy month for us. Looking back, I wish I could extend it (without losing any vacation days, of course).

Check out some of the crafting from our month of holiday cheer:

My coworker at Confessions of a Multi-Tasker made our cutesy holiday bulletin board. The icicles are tissue paper and the snowflakes were foam shapes from the Dollar Tree!

Each student also made a stocking using construction paper, scissors, and glue.

Marble Painted Christmas Trees

Students folded green paper in half and made zig-zag cuts. Once unfolded, students rolled marbles covered with (thinned down) black paint across to make "string" for the tree's lights. Finally, we added a star and a trunk, as well as thumbprint "lights."

This bulletin board is mounted in our "break area." We use it to display some student work relative to our current theme.

What crafts did your kiddos (at home or at school) do for December?

We started planning holiday gifts for parents during Thanksgiving break. In hindsight, this was just enough time to get the job done. We decided on a few different gifts including personalized Handprint Calendars and a hand-selected gift on our CBI shopping trip.

Of course I'll give credit where credit is due. After stumbling on a handprint calendar by G Whiz Teacher, it was deemed a must-make gift timed perfectly for 2014! I did make a few changes, though. Each child created all 12-months for the 2014 calendar, as well as a cover that consisted of their handprints. (*Note: The calendar pictured was one of a few extras I made as a "compilation" of student work that was later gifted to staff members.) I think the best part was making the calendar with each student and hearing some of the dialogue:

"Wow! Uh huh.. a spider!"
"We use 'lots of colors to make a turkey."
"Three white for the snowman."

Cover of Calendar
(Student Handprints or Holiday Message)

January Artwork

February Artwork

March Artwork

April Artwork

May Artwork

June Artwork

July Artwork

August Artwork

September Artwork

October Artwork

November Artwork

December Artwork
(Christmas Tree)

I'll admit it was a bit of work but, in general, the kiddos loved it! They were excited to see what they would paint on each page. Each month also has a corresponding poem printed at the top. December's poem was as follows:
"Here's a little holiday tree,
With lights so shiny and bright.
A star goes on top just in time
For a special winter night."

There are also plenty of ways to incorporate academics into the calendar. Some examples include asking students to:
  • Label the holidays and important days on the calendar months
  • Select stickers or embellishments appropriate to each month
  • Decorate pages according to theme
  • Fill in calendar dates

I hope the calendars are a gift parents will use all year. One parent already wrote back a note saying it was a gift they will cherish forever... It feels great to know our hard work was appreciated!

For full directions, download a copy of my 2014 Handprint Calendar in my Teachers Pay Teachers Store. It includes a few extras that will (hopefully) make the handprint calendar process a bit easier!

BONUS: My 2014 Handprint Calendar is FREE THROUGH FRIDAY 1/3/14! That's right. Consider it a late holiday present! ;)

Happy Teaching!
Kortnie C.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

It Has to Be Said: (6 Tips and Tricks for Easy) Data Collection

One of the things that first drew me to Applied Behavior Analysis was data collection. Growing up, the rigor of science always appealed to me. When I found out about ABA during my undergrad career, I was eager to learn more about it. Fortunately for me, I haven't stopped learning since.

I've always believed that the best educational pedagogies involve a synthesis of the art of teaching and the science of applied behavior analysis. I am forever thankful that my current position allows me to apply my unique philosophy to better the lives of my students.

But let's be honest, in a world where teachers and parents are bombarded by a seemingly endless list of duties, no one is jumping to add another commitment. In the past, I've heard comments from fellow educators who believe that data collection is a waste of time. "There's too much emphasis [on data collection]. Teaching is suffering."

Say what now?

If this is the case where you are, read on.

Data collection doesn't have to be overbearing. Of course, it should be as accurate as possible but it should also be manageable. Check out these tips for minimizing some of "the crazy requirements" surrounding data collection.

1.  Use permanent product as much as possible. Regular education teachers do this all the time (think grades/homework) and special education teachers (no, wait, ALL teachers) can, too! A lot of kiddos have academic goals that can be tracked by using some sort of "artifact" from the learning process.

An example of this is measuring a child's single-digit addition goal via a full-in worksheet. "Bobby will be able to accurately complete single digit (1-9) addition problems. This goal will be considered mastered when Bobby achieves at least 90% accuracy on daily math probes for three consecutive school days." So, each day in school, give Bobby a work sheet or ten addition clip ons (check out some of my other clip ons here). He turns it in or places it in the finished work bin and TADA! You are able to collect data on an academic goal via permanent product.

2. Train and train well. And then provide additional prompts. Most likely, more than one person is going to be taking data on a behavior. It's important for all professionals to know the protocol for the data collection. It helps to run through any new procedures at least a few times. Even with veteran staff, it can help to provide additional prompting. In my classroom, each child has his or her own clipboard for data collection.We also type, print, and use contact paper to adhere specific definitions to each board. Each student's data collection sheets are printed and dated at the start of each week; lowering the response effort seems to increase the probability that all staff will consistently collect data ;).

3. Use tools to aide the process. Did you read my post about tally counters? They are a simple, effective way to frequency count and can be clipped onto a board, wrist, or belt loop. We also started attaching small digital timers to any clipboards we are using to measure duration.

4. Remember the terminal goal. Essentially, why is data collection taking place? Is the aimline (or where you want to "see the behavior go") set? Is progress being made or is a change necessary?  I the life of a teacher, it's easier than it should be to lose sight of the purpose for data collection. If there isn't a clear goal or progress is not being made, a change is in order.

5. Data collection is only as effective as the analysis that follows. We all need the occasional friendly reminder. The ultimate purpose of collecting any data is to use it to make informed decisions to better the lives of students. Best practice involves graphing at the end of every session, school day, or as soon as possible (whichever comes first). The staff responsible for collecting data can also be asked to graph it, as well.

6. Be consistent. Try to incorporate measures for interobserver agreement, or IOA. An easy way to do this is to ask two staff to collect data at the same time but independently of one another. Also, if data collection is supposed to happen at a set time (i.e. every day, during math, at recess) be sure that it is collected as much as possible. This will allow the data to reflect the behavior(s) as accurately as possible.

Phew! Are you tired, yet? I've recently taken on the task of re-graphing (electronic and hand) all behavioral data for all kiddos where collection is necessary. It's one of the tasks that has prevented me from posting as of late (in addition to completing the ABLLS-R for my students, finals week, holiday shopping, baking, decorating, wrapping, and shoveling feet of snow... oh and not to mention my basement flooded yesterday).

There's a lot more I would like to discuss... such as our December holiday crafts, my thoughts on the ABLLS-R, and the top secret parent gifts that we sent home on Friday but duty calls. I would like to strike at least a few things from my to-do list today.

Happy Teaching!
Kortnie C.

Monday, December 2, 2013

December Currently & Cyber Sale!

Nothing like being called out to post by a coworker! For a fresh perspective on life including some adventures with ABA in AS, check out Jenna's blog, Confessions of a Multitasker!

Tonight's post is going to be a little of this and a little of that. Let's start with the monthly currently from Farley's Blog; you can join up here!

1. Listening - I managed to squeeze in a few hours of Black Friday shopping this year. It was much less than usual because I was not willing to sacrifice any family time for the savings at the stores that opened early Thanksgiving day (C'mon, it's supposed to be Black FRIDAY). Despite going almost 3.5 hours after the sales started, my boyfriend and I managed to snag an XBox-One! We take the occasional break from studying and decorating to play and so far I'm impressed.

2. Loving - I started decorating for the holidays yesterday! I am super proud of myself for waiting until AFTER Thanksgiving to do this... The anticipation is killing me!

3. Thinking - If I try to multi-task one more thing right now my brain might explode. Repeat after me: Must focus on task at hand. Must focus on task at hand. Must focus...

4. Wanting - Sadly, our snow melted today despite the Thanksgiving storm's best efforts. As much as I dislike being an ice road trucker December to March, LET IT SNOW!

5. Needing - A good night of sleep before our first day back! Wishful thinking considering my to do list. How many days until Christmas break? Oh, yea, 21...

6. Favorite Tradition - Kickin' the holidays off right with decorations! I'm particularly enjoying stringing lights everywhere this year - tree, kitchen cabinet, porch!

Now, pretend for a minute we can travel back in time orrrrrr be sure to bookmark this post for next autumn! I present to you:

Autumn on the Farm Crafts
by Adventures with ABA in AS

Give Thanks Glitter Banner
(Can't wait to do this again for the winter holidays!)

"We're Thankful for..." Garland

Handprint Turkey

Paper Plate Brown Owl

Paper Plate Pumpkin Pie

Paper Plate Pink Pig

Now, onto the next task!

Must focus on task at hand.
Must focus on task at hand..
Must focus on task at hand... 

Oh, look, NCIS!

Happy Teaching!
Kortnie C.

P.S. Be sure to grab some great resources from my Teachers Pay Teachers Store.
Everything is 28% off until Tuesday!


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

November Currently

Remember, remember the 5th of November...

Oh, that's right!

It's time for  November's currently from Farley's blog! Join in the fun here while it's still the 11th month!

Listening: to the clock ticking and a keyboard clicking. You got it; my house is [near] SILENT! In all of the hustle hustle busy busy, I sometimes forget how much I appreciate the absence of noise!

Loving: my first in-service day, catching up on school and work while cuddling with my pup. Part of me hates to admit this, but I've been in my current position (i.e. working on the couch) far too long to be considered healthy... at least I was productive!

Thinking: of the topic of my next blog post. Resource, freebie, DIY... who knows?

Wanting: to instate the 30 hour day. All in favor? [I take your silence as approval.] I've been petitioning for the 30 hour day for  awhile now. No, not the 30 hour work day but the 30 hour day.

Needing: to get something on the stove or in the oven. Eeek! My day of rest and recovery is nearing its end; time to cook dinner!

A Yummy Pin: There's never a shortage of those on my Pinterest. Check out something delicious here! I've tried it and I approve!

That's it for me. If you're new to link parties, stop by Farley's Blog for more information!

In case you missed it, check out a recent post of mine: Setting the Table: A Series of 3 Leveled Adapted Books

Happy Teaching!
Kortnie C.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Setting the Table: A Collection of 3 Leveled Adapted Books

This Halloween marked my first within the realm of special education and I felt a little unprepared for the whole situation. There is a pile of stuff I can't wait to do next year but, all in all, [almost all of the] kiddos loved wearing their costumes the entire day and really, what matters more? Holidays in the classroom shouldn't be about planning to the T with task analyses and crafts. Those things have their place but there's little more memorable than Batman, Superman, Thomas the Train, a witch, a ghost, and Jeff Gordon "hanging out" in my classroom.

Check out a few cute crafts we did during the month of spookiness:

Handprint Bat Craft

Torn-Paper Candy Corn

And with that, I now feel privileged to say:
The Halloween madness is over! The Halloween madness is over!

....Now, onto Thanksgiving.
(At least we have another 30 days of autumn-scented candles.)

To prep for the next big event (Thanksgiving lunch), I crafted up THREE adapted books tonight on a very important life skill: setting the table. (Don't worry, I'm not always this ahead-of-the-game.)

I leveled the books (easy, intermediate, and challenging) to meet the diverse needs of my learners. One uses repetitive language (easy), another uses ordinal words (intermediate), and the third uses prepositions (difficult).

Also, there's a bonus: all three books are available for sale as one bundle for a discounted price in my TpT Store! You read correctly, grab three adapted books (over 30 pages in the pack!) in my Setting the Table Adapted Book Bundle!


Happy Teaching!
Kortnie C.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Fine Motor Number Word Clip-Ons

A few weeks ago, I posted about explicitly teaching students to read environmental print; so far, that's been a big success. To check out my FREE packet of environmental print cards, click here!

On a related note, we've been working a bit harder lately on teaching some of our kiddos more sight words, including number words. To transfer this skill to an independent level, I created Number Word Clip-Ons!  [If you can't tell.. clip-ons are a new favorite of mine. I love the ever-trusty file folders but my time has been severely limited lately. Clip-ons are as easy as print, laminate, cut, and clip!]

I've been using Discrete Trial Instruction (DTI) to teach one kiddo in particular the number words for one through five. At first, he sought immediate feedback when completing the corresponding clip-ons but today he had his "ah-ha" moment when discriminating between the ever-so-tricky "four" and "five." A little extra exposure to the task in a new context has really helped shape this skill. I'm sure he will be progressing onto six through ten in no time!

Of course I would catch myself smiling about this big win, even hours later while typing this post. I hope these work as well for your kiddos as they do for mine!

Grab your copy of this resource from my TpT Store.

Happy Teaching!
Kortnie C.

P.S. This resource would pair well with any of my other sight word packets, available here!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Simple DIY Spider Classroom Decor

I realize I'm a bit late on this but I've been very excited for the autumn season. As of late, we've had a new guest.. err.. uhh... hangin' out in the hall outside of our classroom.

Meet our new spidey friend!

Now, I'm unable to take credit for the idea (that was all my co-worker) but we fixed this guy up in (almost) no time! We've had a huge response with many compliments since he's taken residence above the door and I'm happy to say he was relatively easy to make. Read on to learn more!

One of my favorite parts about his decor is that we were able to use the items we had on hand. [Did you notice my "Where are we?" sign posted outside the classroom? Grab that resource here in my TpT store!]


  • Large black paper
  • White construction paper
  • Stapler or Glue (depending on patience/time/etc.)
  • Writing Utensil
  • Scissors
  1. Measure out two long sheets of large black paper. This will be the spider's body and legs.
  2. Sketch a big circle for his body. Place the two pieces of black paper back-to-back and cut the circle.
  3. Staple around 2/3 of the circle (approximately 1" away from the edge). This creates a pocket that can be stuffed with paper or other filling.
  4. "Open" the pocket and fill. We "crumbled" our used scraps from the project as well as other soon-to-be-recycled paper. Newspaper or fiber fill would be an excellent resource, too, depending on what is around.
  5. Once filled to desired amount, finish stapling the edges of the circle.
  6. Measure out an additional long sheet of large black paper (the size of this will determine the length of the legs). Cut into 8 wide strips (ours were approximately 4-5") and twist.
  7. Staple the legs onto the sides of the spider.
  8. Add a face using white or other colored construction paper. We simply traced two large circles and two small for his eyes, as well as a "crescent-type" shape for his mouth.

So here's the inevitable question... "How did you get him up there?" And, even more so, "Does he ever fall down?" My response is quick and concise. He is fasted to the ceiling with the resource we had on hand: tape. A lot of tape. Does he ever fall down? Well, no, but sometimes he gets sleepy and this happens:

Giving more thought to this (especially after taking into consideration that the kiddos... no... the WHOLE SCHOOL loves him), my game plan for the weekend is to find additional supports for hanging our new friend. Any suggestions?

Happy Teaching!
Kortnie C.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Mini-Pizza Shopping and Cooking Unit [Flash Freebie]

Today was our second CBI (Community Based Instruction) Trip of the year. So far, we're still practicing the basics: ordering from a menu, staying with the group, and finding items using a picture list.

My revelation for the day: I LOVE CBI.

Don't get me wrong, I understand the importance of academic skills but there is something special to me about teaching a kiddo skills essential for everyday life and independence. That's what CBI is all about.

In short, we visited a grocery store today to buy supplies for a snack recipe for tomorrow afternoon: Mini-Pizzas! [Don't worry: these are no-bake!] I made these this past summer with some of my Carpe Diem Academy kiddos and they loved the hands-on, tasty experience.

To build this unit, I created shopping lists, ingredient lists, and visual recipes for Fruit and Vegetable Mini-Pizzas.

I need a Monday night pick-me-up; just in case you're feeling the same way, grab this unit as a flash freebie in my Teachers Pay Teachers Store! It will only be free for a limited time so grab it quick!

Happy Teaching!
Kortnie C.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Alphabet Clip-Ons (A Fine Motor Task Pack)

Posting two nights in a row makes me feel like quite the overachiever but with tonight's post, I've uploaded one of my absolute favorite resources to my TpT Store!


I've created a set of 52 phonemic awareness alphabet clip-ons! Keeping in mind the value of differentiated instruction, I included two levels for my learners (with, most likely, more to come).

The first set asks the kiddo to match a letter to the correct picture. For instance, F is for fish and G is for green.

The second set asks the learner to match a picture to the correct letter, like apple and "A" or dog and "D."

With either set, the topography (what the response "looks like") can vary. To start, a learner may point to the correct answer. Circling the letter is a quick way, as well. My favorite way, though, is for students to cover the correct answer with a clothespin (yes, yes the ever trusty clothespin!).

The best part is, this product is super easy to assemble... just print, laminate, and cut! Download it soon here from my TpT store!

As you can tell, I'm still on the independent learning task kick... mostly because my co-teacher does most of the whole group planning but I'm also very excited to share some of my "Fall into Fun" activities over the next few months. In fact, I promise that my next post won't use clothespins at all! ;)

Happy Teaching!
Kortnie C.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Ordering Numbers File Folder and Fine Motor Strip Freebie

Whew! I can't believe it's already been over a week since my last post. Just when it feels like I get a grip on everything, life throws a curve ball!

Don't worry, though, because I have a late-night (yes, 9:30 is "late" for me) freebie that could be used as an independent task, center, or basically anywhere else you can name.

A common skill acquisition program in our classroom is numbers. Our starting point is usually 1-5 and we build the kiddos up as long as the functionality remains. To practice this, I've bundled a 14-page freebie with 5 file folders and 17 number strips.

I intend to assemble the file folders by level (i.e. ordering number cards 1-5, 1-12, 1-18, 1-24, and 1-30). My kiddos will be able to finish a file folder that I've started for them (by including a few numbers to begin with) or start from scratch ordering to their ability.

The number strips will be used two ways: by asking kiddos to write in the missing numbers with a dry erase marker or clip on pre-numbered clothespins in the correct spot. Either way, I'm determined to teach them those tricky "teen" numbers!

Grab a copy of this and other freebies in my Teachers Pay Teachers Store! I'm keeping this short and sweet tonight but promise to post more soon!

Happy Teaching!
Kortnie C.

P.S. I'll try to update this post tomorrow with the assembled file folders and fine motor strips so check back soon!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Environmental Print Cards (FREEBIE)

As we delve deeper into the school year, we are beginning to target new, specific skills for our students. One such skill is reading environmental print. Environmental print is just about any words/phrases within an individual's natural context. Common examples are labels on food boxes, restaurant logos, and traffic signs.

Explicitly teaching these words to kiddos will benefit them many ways by expanding their receptive and expressive language. Environmental print is a practical starting point for teaching some individuals how to read.

To teach this skill, I made a set of Environmental Print Cards available (for FREE!) in my TpT store.

Even if your kiddos know how to read, these could be great practice for learning more practical words. I plan on fading the picture out over time until they are reading just the word, without the remainder of the logo.

Any suggestions of words for my second set?

Happy Teaching,
Kortnie C.

Monday, September 16, 2013

September Currently

Hooray for my first link-up from Farley's Blog! Feel free to join the fun (I did, even though I am a bit late)!

Check out my September Currently:

Listening: Even though the game's a rerun, watching it is getting me excited for the upcoming season!

Loving: Although I miss summer, 90+ temperatures in the classroom was very difficult to handle! I'm excited to start decorating for autumn soon, too.

Thinking: Three, three-hour classes fill my weeks and with each comes pages and pages of reading! Trust me, I love to read but between the textbooks and the articles, my highlighters are going dry during the second week!

Wanting: If only I could extend my day by a few hours... all in favor of 30-hour days?! I know, I know, it's probably a bad idea...

Needing: Some relaxation which will most likely be in the form of a warm/hot shower! A spa package would be appreciated, though. I'll keep dreaming.

<3: Once I find a routine that is able to balance teaching, school, blogging, researching, and so on and so forth, I will be one happy lady.

I'd say my priorities are just about aligned; I'm getting more and more into the "swing of things" each day. In fact, I had a productive weekend buying a few holiday supplies for the classroom, as well as making PVC pipe dividers. In case you haven't heard, you can section off a room or create a "screen" for blocking computer station for less than $20 using PVC pipes and fabric!

Check back soon for a post detailing the building process!

Happy Teaching!
Kortnie C.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

How to Keep Parents in the Loop

To start, I created an e-card for this blog post. I promised a post earlier in the week but we lost electricity at my house on Wednesday. Then, Open House was on Thursday and next thing I know, it's Sunday afternoon! In class this week, we were reviewing the basics of determinism and, well, let's just say I found this quote fitting for my situation.

Anyways, this week was parent Open House, which kept me very busy. We created a video to depict "A Day in the Life" of our students as well as other small things. In the spirit of this, today, I have a few ways to bridge home-school communication. In the classroom, we do this multiple ways including daily, weekly, and monthly measures.

Daily, each child takes home a letter outlining skills practiced, activities attended, what they ate for lunch, as well as any other special notes. We also provide parents with a "Sneak Peek at Our Week" through a weekly newsletter. In this is our weekly schedule with any events and our "Day" schedule, our current focus (i.e. body parts, autumn), an FYI, and a Don't Forget section.

On the monthly level, we send home a "Map of Our Month" that outlines the "Day" schedule, as well as any CBI trips, birthdays, holidays, and so on.

All three forms are designed to promote communication between home and school. Parents appreciate being in the loop, especially when the student is unable to communicate about their school day to a great extent.

If you're interested in promoting communication with your students' parents, grab a copy of my Weekly Newsletter and Monthly Calendar Mega Pack, which includes over 30 pages for the whole calendar year!

Happy Teaching!
Kortnie C.