100th Day Celebration!

I seriously CAN NOT believe tomorrow marks the 100th day of school - for me anyways:) I love getting everything ready for this special celebration in my classroom. Which, is exactly what I have been doing since I got home today.

For the past few years I have used the same activies with my students.   The students who have had me before are excited to participate again, while the students who are having me for the first time are excited to see what all the hype - the hype I build up for this day in my classroom, is all about!

I have all ages, grades, and ability levels in my learning support classroom.  My "100 Days! - Celebration Packet" is incredibly easy to adapt to each and everyone of them - the exact reason I have been using these activities year after year...after year... you catch my drift.  This celebration packet is made up of 4 easily adapted activities that I feel anyone, on any level, in grades 3-6 can enjoy! And let me be totally honest, while I was a junior high/high school emotional support teacher, I was guilty of using these same activities with my students then.  They might not have admitted it to their friends, but they had a blast:) For my students with higher ability levels, I turn each activity into a center for them to rotate through. For my students who have a more difficult time working on their own, we work through each activity as a group. We've even worked through each activity with partners before! I am also guilty of secretly wishing there's an odd partner so I can participate!

Activity #1: "I Can Spell 100 Words"

This first activity in their packets ALWAYS blows their minds.  They will tell me, "...but I don't know 100 words."  This is when I smile:)  First, I tell them to correctly spell as many words as they can think of.  If they aren't 100% sure if their word is spelled correctly, they should erase it and pick a new one.  Usually, this will get their brains working and moving. However, if students are still having a difficult time, or are on #89 and "just can't think of anymore," I allow them to use all past spelling lists.  This is when the mind blowing happens. They just can't believe how many words they have learned to spell so far this year. Listing 100 words is a breeze, now!

I even take this activity one step further.  On the very last 100 Words recording sheet, I have included an optional ending sheet.  The students type all of their 100 words they have recorded and create a Wordle.  Never heard of Wordle? Check it out by clicking the link I provided below this paragraph.  It is incredibly elementary student friendly and a website favorite in my classroom.  When using centers I hang up my "100 Word Wordle" poster above my computers. The students always love seeing their completed 100 word, word clouds.


Activity #2: "My 100th Birthday"

I feel like it wouldn't be a true 100th day of school celebration if we didn't talk about how we plan on celebrating our 100th birthdays! Students have the option to choose between two different writing pages, to write their paragraph or just a few sentences on.  I think I might enjoy reading their stories more than they enjoy writing them.  I can remember when Justin Beiber was once a popular 100th birthday appearance, haha!  I've even had a few students want to read what they had written in their "old people voice" to the class. Hard to believe the students can have this much fun writing?!;)

Also in this activity, the students have the chance to draw their self portrait of what they think they will look like when they are 100.  If I am using centers in my room, this activity is done at the students' desks.

Activity #3:  "Math Munch Mix"

This has always been a favorite activity! The activity I ALWAYS jump in on:)  This is my version of the 100th day snack mix, that also includes a little bit of math.  A short list of supplies is needed for this activity: 10 different snacks, 10 bowls, plastic spoons, and plastic bags.  See, I told you it was short.  10 bowls are filled with a different snack in each bowl.  I always nominate myself as full time "snack-spooner-outer." Germs are too gross for little fingers to spread! Each student gets a plastic sandwich bag with their name on it, a Math Mix 100 Pieces Chart, and directions for making their munch mix.  I use my Math Munch Mix Mixing Station poster to hang as one of my centers.  I've learned that as being the snack-spooner-outer it is easiest to call students up one at a time, to spoon out their snacks.  Students tell me how many of each snack they would like, while checking numbers off their 100 Pieces Chart being sure not to go over 100 pieces! We go over these rules a few times. 

Sometimes, I even provide a little more math before they munch on their mixes.   Students use a counting mat to tally how many snacks they have taken from each bowl and then write the total number of that snack.  Students then take their tally totals and graph their 100 munchies. Everything is more fun when food is involved... especially math!

Activity #4:  "You Only Have 100 Seconds"

I complete this activity after the other three activities/centers have been completed. There's a lot of munching going on at this point!  For this activity I split my students up into teams.  They get to make up their own team names. This ONE activity is made up of ten, 100 second activities! Hopefully all of those numbers in one sentence made sense, haha! The ten timed activities are listed for the students to see, and are fairly self explanatory.  However, I always go over them - just incase.  A few resources are needed for this activity, but they are all items from around the classroom: paper clips, dice, timer, etc.  Three of the activities include writing, and each have their own worksheet included in their packets.  It is so much fun watching the students work together in these timed activities! 

I allow one student to work the timer.  It takes the students a few tries not hitting "stop" at the 1 minute mark like they're used to.  But for the most part, they pick up quickly that 100 seconds is actually 1 minute and 40 seconds on my timer.  I just squeezed a little more math in there:)  If I don't have any volunteer timers, I nominate myself!  So many small jobs us teachers have!

Alright, enough blogging:) Now I need to pack up my snacks and get the final touches ready for our celebration tomorrow! Plus, Charley's not so little puppy brother has been sleeping on my feet for the past few minutes dying for some attention! 

OhMyGoodness!!!! I almost forgot to add... As part of my 100th day celebration tomorrow, my "100 Days! - Celebration Packet" will be 20% off all day tomorrow in my TPT store! Get it here: 

To everyone else celebrating the 100th day of school tomorrow, ENJOY!

Organized IEPs in 2015!

Starting back to work after nearly two weeks off is difficult.  Starting back to work after nearly two weeks off, and realizing all of your students' IEPs are due within the next two months is even worse! I have to monitor and plan goals for 15 students, yet I haven't decided what my goals and resolutions are for myself this year. But, let's be honest - I am terrible at keeping New Year's resolutions anyways.  It might happen for about a week and then I lose interest.  The phrase "new year, new me" goes right out the door around January 10th. - Charley barked in agreement as I typed that, ugh.  As for my IEPs left, those DEFINITELY can't go out the door. - Or else my job would too, ha.  However, I really can't... and shouldn't complain about the amount of IEPs I have left to finish, because I've had much larger caseloads in the past.  Thankfully, I have my IEP Meeting binder to keep me organized. - Which is a good enough goal/resolution for me!

My IEP Meeting binder has helped me tremendously over the past 8 years, and has made developing/updating IEPs less stressful. - If you other special education teachers can actually believe that!  During my very first year teaching, I was the very first learning support teacher at the elementary I was hired for. Pretty overwhelming. Needless to say I worked with quite a few other special education teachers in the district, I had the help from my mother who had been teaching learning support for over 30+ years at the time, and I still had a lot of my resources from college, to help get me by.  Throughout my first year, I became a hoarder of notes and other paperwork from meetings I attended.  I had SO much that I had to turn it into a binder of sorts. - I was ripping paper folders, it was looking pathetic. The following year I applied for another learning support job, in a different district, and got the job! - This further enabled my hoarding of special education paperwork.  By my 3rd year in 2009, I felt that I was incredibly organized and could rock all of my IEPs that year. - Might I add third year... third district, more hoarding. It wasn't until the 2013 school year that I decided to make my binder look a little prettier.  - This is also when I was introduced to TpT! My binder had been keeping me so organized, that come December of 2013, I HAD to share it with others.

See for yourself!  Here's my IEP Meeting Binder that I use in my classroom.

At the beginning of each school year, I print/update my binder to list my new student roster and meeting dates. A lot of my students move out of the district, move into the district, or move out then move back into the district, so I do have a lot of crossing outs and side notes. This year I decided to use my Chalkboard themed binder, rather than the Black & White themed from last year. - Everything just seems more fun in color!:)

The first section in my binder is "Dates at a Glance."  I list the students on my roster by their IEP due dates (September - June), and I also indicate if a re-evaluation (RR) needs to be completed.  Optional pages in this section include when RR dates are due.  This year our special education director has us completing students' RRs at their IEP meetings, or else I would be using those pages like I have in previous years.

The next section in my binder is "Student Information."  Here I list each of the students' homeroom teachers.  - It takes me at least the first nine weeks of school to remember which student belongs to which homeroom teacher!  I also keep a profile sheet on each student.  This way I can easily access their personal information, as well as their educational levels without having to constantly re-read their IEP.  These student profile sheets are great when working on an IEP.  The majority of information, that you will need, will be found on these sheets!  For privacy and confidentiality reasons I decided to show you a blank profile sheet.  However, it is very self-explanatory and easy to use!

Section #3 in my IEP Meeting Binder is titled "Extra Notes."  I love Post-its and I have more in my desk than any teacher should - I can't lie, but for some IEPs I'd probably end up using about 30 and end up losing about 10.  In this section I have a Contact Log to keep track of who I have called, the date/time, the phone number or email address, and a space to write brief comments. I can't even begin to tell you how many times this Contact Log has been a life saver to me. I understand that some conversations aren't brief enough to write in a little box.  Behind my Contact Log, I use a notes sheet to be as detailed, in some cases when it is necessary, that I can be. I have also attached my notes sheets behind student profile sheets before.  I do this especially if I'm noticing behavior changes, if a student's schedule changes or there has been a revision to their IEP, if a goal has been met, etc. There are also 3 different styles of note sheets provided. - I decided to show you my favorite one!:)

This next section of my binder I'm not sure how I could ever live without it. - Okay, maybe that's a slight exaggeration.  I call this section "Double Check." I'm sure other special education teachers would agree with me that sometimes we might even need a "Quadruple Check."  I had created this IEP Meeting's Checklist my very first year, waaaaaaaay back in 2007.  It's what to do before and after an IEP meeting.  I was incredibly nervous starting out. - There are still times when I am now! I never wanted to ask myself, "did I invite this person?" or "did I mail a good copy home?" This has been such a HUGE help to me all of these years. My sanity is pretty grateful.

Lastly, this section is "Dates to Remember." There is a calendar page for each month. I already have my dates listed at a glance, but I like to record when I have mailed out invitations, the time the IEP meeting is scheduled for, the day I mailed the IEP home on, when my roster students' birthdays are... I like to do a lot of recording in this section.  There is even space on the side of each calendar to scribble down some notes. 

Now that you have checked it out, I should also add that this IEP Meeting Binder, as well as the others I have created, come completely editable! I understand that special education terms used in Pennsylvania - where I am from:) aren't exactly the same everywhere else. I also understand that someone might have more sections they'd like to add to their binder, needing to create more cover pages.  

So, who is with me?! Organized IEPs in 2015! ...and maybe I'll shoot for eating more greens. MAYBE!

P.S. All of my other themed IEP Meeting Binders can be found by clicking the link below!:)
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