Saturday, January 26, 2019

Classroom Token Economy

In the past few years, I wanted to start a classroom token economy system for my students but just couldn't find one that was the right fit. Some were too juvenile for middle school, some didn't work well with my student's existing behavior plans/reinforcement systems, and I just wasn't having much luck.  I decided to set up my own system in a way that I thought would work well for my students at the time. 

I decided to use fake dollar bills that we already had in our classroom for math as our money or tokens.  I worked with my students to generate a list of things they would want to 'buy' if they were earning money. Then we came up with ideas of ways they could earn money and we made a poster of it.  It was a really simple system, but I started it off hoping it would give my students a little extra motivation when we needed it. 

I have tweaked this system over the past two years, changing the prices of items students can buy, what they can buy, what they can earn money for, etc.  For example, this year my students are running a coffee business at our school.  Half of my students participate in this class every day, and the other half participate every other day. Since we set this period up similar to a real job, students have to clock in and out on a time clock (we use an app on one of our old iPads and have it mounted to the wall). At the end of each week, students get paid $1 classroom cash for each day they worked in the coffee business.  Some other ways students can earn money in my class include participation during a lesson, being in their seat when it is time for class to begin, helping a classmate or teacher, or being caught working hard. 

Classroom cash has become a big motivator for some of my students. For example, I have a few students that will, at times, refuse to come back to their seat after a break or will sit at their desk and refuse to participate in a lesson. That is a time where I start passing out classroom cash to other students for their participation, or for coming to their seat on time, and seeing that their classmates are getting cash is usually enough motivation for a student to start participating.

This has also been a great way for my students to work on money skills.  Each student has a real wallet that we keep in the classroom and they put any money they earn in it.  On Fridays, students count up their money to see how much they have total.  Then they get to look at the price list and we work on determining if they have enough money to purchase an item that they want.  We also work on budgeting because students have to save up for most items rather than cash in their money each time if they want to earn higher-priced rewards. 

This has been a fun system to use in my classroom and a big hit with all my students, and it has really helped decrease some unwanted behaviors.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Sensory Room: DIY Sequin Flip Panel

One of my favorite things in our sensory room right now is our DIY sequin flip panel on the wall.  I made this right before school started by buying a yard of fabric at Joann's and placing it in a large frame I found at Target.  I mounted it to the wall in our sensory room with 3M mounting corners, and it has been a big hit with my students! We have a crash pad right underneath the frame, so I have a few students that like to lay on the crash pad and feel the wall. 

There are lots of different colors of reversible sequin fabric available, but I bought this one: Glitterbug Reversible Sequins Fabric-Rainbow because it was the only one in stores at Joann's and I was feeling impulsive. 

It has been so much fun to play with, I catch myself feeling it whenever I am with students in the sensory room!

Monday, December 31, 2018

Classroom Coffee Business: Visual Order Forms

When I started planning out how to get started on our classroom coffee business, I knew we would need some type of visual order form for students to fill out and use to help them complete orders.  I ended up taking photos of each step of the process and then created a visual order form in Boardmaker that I laminated and then added velcro.  This happened through some trial and error as each time we'd make one and start using it, we'd come up with another step we wanted to add or variation we wanted to make.  Each blank spot is where we've placed soft-sided velcro on the laminated version, and then I've made icons for each variation of drink/creamer/sugar/etc. so we can velcro on the quantity and type that each order includes.  

We have continued to add different varieties of beverages based on staff request as well as seasonal drinks and creamers.  When we started in August we only offered a few options, but as my students got comfortable with the business and staff began requesting more options, we have continued to grow in what we offer.

These forms have really helped us stay organized during our coffee business.  One student sits with a paraprofessional to go through the order spreadsheet and he labels the teacher's name and room number on the cup sleeve.  Then he completes the order form based on the order on the spreadsheet.  I also have other students fill out the order form using the velcro icons with a paraprofessional verbally telling them which icons to place on the form.  These are passed to our student barista, who uses the form to complete the order.  Once she is finished she passes the form to another student who takes all the velcro icons off so the order form can be reused. This has been a really helpful system for us to complete coffee orders!

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Classroom Coffee Business

This year, I decided to attempt a new job skills endeavor with my students: we were going to start a coffee business.  I read many Special Ed. blogs over the years about starting a coffee business at my school, but never felt like it would work well at the time.  I had even suggested it to a High School IS in my district, thinking that would be a better place for it.  This summer the idea crossed my mind again though, and it just seemed like the right time to try it out.  We decided to start a daily coffee business for staff at our school, where we would take orders from teachers online, fill orders during our 2nd period job skills class daily and deliver the orders, and bill staff members weekly for payment.  There was a lot of prep and planning that went into starting this business, but it has been a huge success so far!
I will post more about the products we use, materials we've made to keep us organized soon, and I definitely encourage you to consider trying it out in your building!

It's Been So Long!

Wow, I can't believe it has been over eight years since I have posted on this blog! I am still in the same position, but so much has changed in my personal and professional life since last using this blog.  I'm feeling motivated to get started again as a way to share ideas with fellow teachers and keep me motivated to keep trying new things in my classroom.  Can't wait to get this blog updated and start sharing all the new things I've been doing in my classroom over the past eight years!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

School Supply Lists

I teach in a middle school (grades 6-8), and each grade level creates a school supply list at the end of the year that is sent out to parents, with all the required items for that grade level.   I always create my own lists for my students, as they often need very different items than their typical peers.  This year, my classroom will be a little different than the past, as I will be housing a variety of students, not just students who have severe/profound disabilities.  While working on supply lists, I actually found myself creating 3-4 lists for students that I had to send home.  The way my class is broken down, I have 3 students who are severe/profound, wheelchair users, with medical needs; I have 3 students who have moderate/severe Autism, 2 students on the Autism spectrum but spend most of their day in inclusion, and 4 other students with mild disabilities who I check in with 1x per day.  I had to break my school supplies down into three different lists, and here is what I came up with:

List 1:  The original school supply list for their grade level, with the items they will actually need highlighted on the list (for some students, most of the supplies were highlighted; for other students, only a few supplies).

List 2: The supply list I usually use for my students.  This is for my kiddos with medical needs who are switch users, so I put the following items instead of traditional pencils, paper, notebooks:

2- pack of Clorox wipes

2- 9V batteries

8- AA batteries

2- C batteries

6- rolls of paper towels

4 Magnetic Bulldog Clips

Grocery bags

List 3: Supplies for life skills that will be worked on during the school day (this list went to 8 of my 12 students):

-Wallet/Change Purse

-Toothbrush and Toothpaste (optional)

-Deodorant (optional)

-Complete change of clothes in case of spilling, accidents, etc. (optional)

-Any toileting supplies needed for students who are not toilet trained (undergarments/diapers, wipes, etc.)

-Brush or comb (optional)

-Pillow and Blanket (for students who are wheelchair users and need to get out of their chair)

-Donations of laundry soap, dish soap, and Clorox wipes are always appreciated throughout the year.

Hopefully I didn't confuse my parents with all of these lists!  I work in a building where the cost of supplies is not usually a concern for parents, but when I have had students who may not be able to afford supplies, I usually purchased these items for them.  What do you usually expect your parents to send in?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

News from News-2-You

In case anyone did not receive this email, I wanted to pass on the news I got today about News-2-You's programs.  N2Y online newspaper site, Unique Learning Systems curriculum site, and Symbolstix online symbol library.  I have used N2Y's newspaper for years, and just started using Unique Learning last year.  I was really excited to receive the following info in an email from their company today:


The 2010/2011 school year is almost upon us and everyone at N2Y would like to be the first to welcome you back for another exciting year.  We have been busy enhancing and adding some great new content to our News-2-You newspaper, Unique Learning System curriculum and SymbolStix ONLINE symbol set.  We are very excited about what we have developed and want to highlight a few of these additions.

Starting early August, the immediate change that everyone will notice when they visit [ ] is a BRAND NEW LOOK!  Our developers have been hard at work to bring a completely different feel to all of our websites.  Check out some of these great new features that will be added throughout the upcoming school year!

·         Single Sign On!  If you subscribe to more than one product, you can now use a single username/password to access the materials  *COMING SOON*
·         Web Store!  Ready to order?  Check out our new interactive store featuring the ability to manage all your subscriptions through a personalized account  *COMING SOON*
·         Websites now share the same layout and theme making navigation much easier going from site-to-site
·         All our websites have been completely rebuilt providing enhanced speed and user experience
·         Facebook/Twitter integration allowing our subscribers to connect with us and stay informed
News-2-You Newspaper:  We are now offering even MORE content than ever before!  Subscribers will still have access to current event news each week plus some exciting additions!

·         WEEKLY publishing of Advanced edition including digital pictures
·         Skills practice sheets organized by subject area with new skills addressed
·         New online games that reinforce vocabulary
·         Weekly science experiments
·         Enhanced PowerPoints to extend weekly topic and tie to the Unique Learning System Curriculum
·         Open ended questions added to Simple and Advanced editions
·         Interactive links to websites featured in the news
Unique Learning System Curriculum:  With two successful years of curriculum development behind us, we have taken steps to make the third year even more comprehensive.  Again with the great feedback from our user community, we have incorporated several product enhancements for the upcoming school year. 

·         Improved Instructional Tips
·         Online version of the monthly checkpoints
·         Transition Band monthly checkpoints added
·         More Transitional materials
·         Geometry and Algebra lessons added to all grade bands
·         Training Modules available to all subscribers
·         Additional monthly extension activities
·         Administrator Curriculum Implementation Guide
·         Intellitools Templates are now available
SymbolStix ONLINE:  SymbolStix ONLINE has taken off and revolutionized how subscribers utilize and access symbols.  With over 12,000 of our SymbolStix Symbols available, users have endless possibilities in creating symbol based materials for use in their classrooms.  SymbolStix ONLINE users are provided online access to download and use our symbols in the devices of their choice or utilize our free templates!  For 2010 we are providing some great additions as well.

·         Templates now support drag & drop functionality
·         User defined folders for organizing and downloading multiple symbols
·         Unique Learning System symbols will be available each month for download  *COMING SOON*
·         Refined and faster search capabilities
The N2Y family would like to wish you a great upcoming year, and as always, if there is anything we can do to assist please send us email at [ ] or give us a call at (800) 697-6575.

 This is great news, as I think these additions/changes will be a big improvement to N2Y and Unique Learning.  The website has not been updated yet, but I'm excited to see these changes take effect and figure out how to incorporate the new material in my classroom!