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Why I Flip over Flip Books

If you've been a Teachers Pay Teachers follower of mine for the past few years, chances are you know I LOVE to make and use flip books and flip folders - AND if you're just starting to follow me more recently, you'll soon become very aware of my love for them!

Before I get started on why I flip for them though, let me give you a brief idea of where I'm coming from with these flip books...

In my teaching career, I can honestly say I have taught and worked with every grade level over the past eleven years - all within the Learning Support and Emotional Support setting. I've adapted more assignments/tests/lessons than college ever prepared me for, but that comes with the job title. I DEFINITELY don't know it all, or have even gotten a glimpse into it all yet, but I can share this little piece of knowledge with you - no matter what the grade level I was teaching I found that students love to flip stuff open to help them find an answer, or even check their work.

Yep. That's right - from Kindergarten to 12th grade. However, with teenagers, I can't promise you won't get a few grumbles at first. 

My very first "flip folder" I ever made was an idea I borrowed from the teacher I student taught under.    I immediately fell in love with the idea. The flip folder she used was for spelling practice. Some of you might have even used this one before! It was incredibly basic, as you can see in the photo below, and to the point. I used this folder in every elementary placement I taught in.

It is a very easy to use spelling review. The most effort it takes to this is cutting the slits in one side of the folder! I always chose to cut three slits. On Mondays, under the first flap, I would give them their spelling words for that week and we'd do a spelling activity.  On Tuesdays or Wednesdays I would give them their spelling words again for them to write under the second flap, as well as incorporate what ever spelling activity I had also planned. I wouldn't check the students work, but they checked their own using the words I gave them under the first flap. Then, on Thursdays, the third flap was used as a pre-test. Here the students could still check their own words, or sometimes I would collect their folders and check them. The folders lasted for WEEKS and all I needed to do was print out lined column writing paper each week. So simple. Parents also enjoyed having these at home for their children to practice with.

As I taught in the upper grades, I found myself making a lot of "cheat sheets" for my students to use as the material got harder in my room, or in their regular push-in classroom.  Some students liked the idea of having a "cheat sheet" and to be completely honest some just threw them away.  You'll have that. Then, as I slowly progressed my role as an inclusion teacher, I saw that my "cheat sheets" weren't as effective for everyone as I thought. They lost their sheets a lot. It would fall into the bottom-less pit of their book bag, or be shoved somewhere in their binder. It still blows my mind how a math page ends up in a history notebook.  A lot of times they couldn't remember what something I wrote on their sheet meant, so they would quietly call me over in their inclusion class and ask me for help. Or, even worse, if I wasn't the co-teacher in the classroom they sat their even more confused. I HAD to do something about this.

With the use of a file folder, or in some cases a few pieces of paper stapled together, I made my "cheat sheets" more in depth.  I made them easier to understand and follow. I was able to provide a clear set of examples and instructions without being limited to a single piece of paper. I made them so when hole punched they were easier to find in a binder - they became thicker and easier to find. Lastly, I made the students responsible for making their own.

I need to share a proud teacher moment. While teaching in my 8th grade inclusion math class two years ago, I saw one of my students open their binder and use their flip book to help them work on a review sheet about fractions, decimals, and percents. Such a happy teacher moment - and then it got better! A student sitting nearby saw this happen and asked the student using her flip book where she got it from.  The next morning during homeroom, I had that student who asked about the flip book standing at my desk asking to make his own! Insert me flipping over flip books now. 

Since my time back up in the upper grades these past few years I've made quite a few flip books and flip folders.  Most were based on the needs of my students, in which case I would upload to my TPT shop to share with all of you. However, recently some were based on teachers e-mailing me with flip books they'd like to see!

When thinking about this blog post, I thought maybe I'd share just one or two. I couldn't pick just one or two. I love them all. I love the ease of being able to translate higher level concepts for my special education students into words and examples I know they will understand.  I love that it's not only a helpful resource for my students in my classroom while I'm teaching, but it's also a guide they can rely during independent work, group work, or even homework. AND I really love that thee flip book and flip folders give me peace of mind when my students are out in their regular classes without me.

Through all of this, you might be wondering if it's only for special education students.
I use these with my learning support students, but they're definitely not just for special education students. They are perfect in the regular education classes too! All flip books and flip folders I create come pre-made, but they all include blank pages/editable options for you to customize to best fit the needs of YOUR classroom.

"How do you possibly have the time to make these," is probably another question you have. 
My school has a first period that allows for test preparation, it's almost like a study hall. We make a lot of our flip books and flip folders then - for my students who are pushed out into a co-taught class.  During this period I always make a few extra flip books/folders for myself to keep on hand. However, I also will make flip books and flip folders in my classroom during actual lessons. I like to incorporate classroom examples/terms/key phrases we used if I can. Sometimes we make them as a class and sometimes I make them as a center. My flip books and flip folders for upper grades do reflect more of a "cheat sheet" or a reference guide. Where as the ones for lower grades are more hands on - but still great to use as extra help for them at their desk, at home, or even good for a center.

Although I can't lie, some do take some time to make, BUT they can be used ALL year long, and can be taken with them to the next grade level - if they aren't totally mangled that is.  For example, two years ago I had 6th grader who really struggled with basic multiplication facts, but needed to learn them.  He used his Multiplication Flip Folder all of 6th grade and even some of 7th until they were mastered! Ok, now do you see how excited I get over these and why?

I have linked all of my flip books and flip folders below! Just click the on the images.  There are detailed descriptions of each flip book and flip folder, as well as examples on their Teacher Pay Teacher product pages. As always, if you have any questions or need more information about a product I've made, don't ever hesitate to e-mail me! I love hearing from you all.


IEP Paperwork Organization for Parents

My eleventh year of teaching special education is quickly wrapping up. ELEVENTH. I'm telling you - these years keep going faster and faster.  Not only have I taught a lot during these past eleven years, but I've also learned a lot.  Sounds cliche, but it's so true.

I've decided to make this post a little different from the rest. This post is for the parents (yes - and teachers, too). My mother retired five years ago, after thirty-six years of teaching special education. THIRTY-SIX. My eleven years are nothing compared to her years.  I'd venture to say she's the reason I became a teacher. I can't say it was something I knew I always wanted to do since I was a little girl, or that this has always been my dream job, like some teachers might say. I had actually always wanted to design houses and furnish homes. However, I loved helping my mom get her classroom ready in the summer. I loved putting stickers on tests after she checked them.  I loved playing school with my little sister, with the old workbooks my mom wasn't using anymore. After high school graduation, at probably the last minute, I decided to go into the education field.

My parents were really involved in my schooling. Always attended open houses, aways asked questions about my assignments, and never hesitated to stay in contact with my teachers (through phone calls and letters of course, e-mail wasn't around back then -Ha).   It was important for them to stay involved.  Right after college graduation I was hired. Luckily. I never subbed.  Never had a real feel for being in a classroom full of little kiddos on my own. It was scary. Thankfully, I had my mom to guide me. Although we didn't teach in the same district, she did fill me in on some of her IEP tips and tricks. Quite a few I still use today, and are included below in this post. I also had a great mentor teacher in my district, to help guide me my first year.

Through my years of being a student, my parents showed me how important it was to stay involved in my school life, as well as my sister's. Through my first few years of teaching, my mom showed me how important it is for me to help parents stay involved in their childs' school life. Like all teachers, I always try my best to have the parents of my students fully aware of what is going on in my classroom and I also try to provide them with resources to help them become and stay aware.

There's a lot of paperwork on my end as a special education teacher, but there's also a ton of paperwork on the parent's end too.  I fully know this because I send the majority of it home. A few years ago, I created an IEP Parent Portfolio, to help the parents of my students as much as could.

My "IEP Parent Portfolio" is a combination of 200 + pages of forms, schedules, note sheets, and SO much more (I'll show you here in a second).  I wanted my students' parent to be able to keep ALL of the paperwork I send them, as well as any additional paperwork they receive from other agencies/doctors/etc. all in one, organized place. Now, I originally called this a "portfolio" and not a "binder" because I wanted it to be a place parents could not only organize all of their child's paper work, but also be able to share all the information when transitioning after high school - if need be. However, I did receive a lot of feedback in comments and e-mails about how some parents and teachers have turned this into a binder. Which I just think is an absolutely wonderful idea!

When dreaming up this portfolio I knew I wanted to make it printer friendly for myself - but I also like colors! Then, once I decided I wanted to upload it into my Teachers Pay Teachers shop, I knew I wanted to make it not only teacher printer friendly, but also parent printer friendly. I didn't realize how much feedback I'd have from parents purchasing this. I can't tell you HOW happy this makes me. So, this resource comes in BOTH color and black & white. I like to print the cover and dividers in color, and then the forms and other pages in black and white.  However, for the purpose of this post, I have printed it all in color.

At the beginning of a new school year, the majority of my students' parents have this parent portfolio  - that they turned into their parent binder - from the previous school year. I send home updated cover sheets and contact forms, as well as an entirely blank parent portfolio - for those parents/guardians who do not keep them yearly.  I still like for them to have the option to use it. I've also found for these to be a big hit to leave out at open house.

When using these in a binder form, I like to see the forms that need to be updated yearly first.  That includes the cover sheet, updated student information, and contacts. I also keep the contact notes directly behind my contacts.  I've found this to be the easiest way for parents to look up a contact number and record notes.

Every year I am asking my my students' parents for updated information.  Sometimes it changes, sometimes it doesn't. Regardless, I still ask for them to complete a form for me. I have found that parents having access to this form in their binder is a huge help and time saver for them. They are able to update their child's profile page at the start of a new year, or throughout the year when necessary, and then quickly provide me with any information I need.

Students' teachers and IEP teams can change yearly, too.  Because of this I provide new contact forms for parents yearly. With the notes sheet to tucked right behind the contact list, parents are able to jot down any notes or information they've received during phone calls. There is also a spot for parents to print and store their e-mails, to and from the IEP team.

Obviously, parents are not in the classroom. I like having my parents knowing what's going on in the classroom, like they are there. I created this section of the portfolio to house everything and anything "Inside the Classroom" related.

In this section you will find...

I actually use these forms in my own teacher binder as well.  I wish I could say that I type up each students' individual schedule to send home, but I can't.  I do, however, send home the class schedule option that works best for my students' schedules to be written on.  My students receive their schedules on the first day of school.  I usually know my schedule weeks before the first day, and find out their schedule only a few days before the first day - which makes it challenging me for to type up 20+ individual schedules to send home. BUT - The forms can be "edited" on Powerpoint, to allow for the schedule forms to be typed on.

Also included in this section...
All of the divider pages are included when sent home, although some might not be used. If a child does not have a behavior plan, the Classroom Behavior Plans won't be used. I wanted parents to be able to save all pertinent IEP/classroom information, in an organized fashion.

Also included in this section are two important topics - Transition and ESY (Extended School Year).

Both might apply, one might apply, or neither might apply for students, but I think it's important to keep track of all classroom information that is going on throughout the year, when/if planning for either. I have provided ESY at-a-glance information, eligibly factors, goals and objectives that are to be worked on - if a student is attending, and an ESY calendar - if a student attending. My students in my classroom do not attend ESY. I do not send home the goal/objective page and calendar, however I do send him the at-a-glance page and eligibility information.  I like to provide my parents with knowledge and information on what ESY is.

The same goes with the transition information.  Transition doesn't really apply until students are 14, or turning 14 during an IEP year. However, I think it's important for parents and students to begin thinking about transitioning well before they reach the age 14.  Even that's just by asking what they might want to be when they grow up.  I have provided transition planning information, a 7-page parent transition survey, a checklist of records needed when transition planning, and a 6-page student transition survey.

This year all of my students are older than 14. All parents are provided with these. For IEP meetings, I ask for both student and transition input.  I've noticed I receive these forms back sooner, because parents are able to talk about transitioning and complete these forms well in advance. I've even had some parents tell me they complete them at the beginning of the school year and update them as needed. Seriously a HUGE help to not only them, but to myself when it comes to type all of the information into the IEP.

Now comes the part that contains ALLLLLLL of the IEP information. As teachers, and parents, we all know that can be A LOT (I could probably add a few more L's up there to get my point across). Especially when keeping track of every single piece of paper, from year to year.

First, in the IEP & Evaluations section, I have created a table that allows parents to keep track of every meeting date. Literally. Every date - from the initial evaluation, to any additional evaluations, and all of the IEP meetings in between. From early elementary - to being a junior in high school, that can be A LOT of important dates that need to be kept track of. Since I'm not in the lower grades giving these to my students' parents, I've noticed some fill them in completely on their own - or start filling in dates as they come once given them this portfolio.

Next is a section solely for progress monitoring, with optional progress monitoring forms included. Parents can either file the actual progress reports behind the divider page, or record the goal and progress being made on their own. Options for recording goals include days, week, trimesters, and quarters.

Another section included in obtaining IEP information is "Parent Input and Observations." Before every IEP meeting I send out this exact form asking for parent input. With parents having access to these forms at the very beginning of the year, they can keep track of any notable observations while at home, as well as begin to jot down information regarding their child's needs, strengths, weaknesses, etc., making it easier come time for the IEP meeting.

Lastly, included in this section, is a checklist for parents to use before, during, and after the meeting, as well as a sheet to take to the meeting to write down any notes.  So much can be discussed in an IEP meeting. It can be hard to take it all in. This is even true for me as a teacher, at times.  I use a meeting sheet in my meetings, to keep track of everything. My sheet is similar to this.

Divider pages are also included to organize IEPs, invitations, evaluation report, etc., so parents can easily insert and keep track of their most current documents.

Although I've noticed a lot of parents put meeting reminders in their phone, I have also included calendar pages for parents to keep track of all upcoming events. The calendars show only the months, so you can insert the dates year after year. No need to re-download a huge file.

I personally like writing down dates in a calendar so I can visually see what's coming up each month. I always include this in parent portfolios, whether they get used or not.  I sit down at the beginning of the year and add the numbers in on Powerpoint.  It takes a few minutes, but then I'm done for the year.

For the teacher printing this for their students' parents, or for the parent printing this for their child, all cover pages and divider pages come with a blank option.  Because let's be real - there's SO much going on in the special education world.  Having these blank slides will allow you to include sections I might have forgot, or that you feel like you personally need. Also, like I stated earlier (if you can remember that far back in this post), there is a black and white option included in this "IEP Parent Portfolio" product download. Take a peek of what it looks like below.

I hope that you also find keeping parents involved and informed in all aspects of the special education process as important as I do, and my mom did. I hope that this "IEP Parent Portfolio" can be as useful to you in your home or classroom, as it is to me in my classroom. Special education can be overwhelming just in itself, the very least I can do is help parents stay organized throughout the process.

If you still want to read even more information about what's inside this portfolio, click - HERE - to visit this product in my Teachers Pay Teachers shop. There's a brief description as well as more preview photos included.


Eliminating - Common Common Core Words - In my Teacher Vocabulary

Okay, are you ready?! Say "common common core words" five times fast... and GO!

Just kidding! Although, "common common core" does sound like quite the tongue twister, as well as the words that go along with common core. Those words can easily twist our tongues - even brains - too!

I teach ELA, Pre-Algebra, and Algebra, in my learning support classroom.  More frequently than not I come across, as well as my students who have me for both subjects, the same common core lingo in both subject areas.  Sometimes it makes sense and other times we really need to think about what a word like "expand" means during ELA, when I only refer to the word "expand" during math. We know how to expand in math.  We learned long ago how to write out our numbers in expanded form.

...this is typically when I hear the moaning and groaning of "why can't math stay in math and ELA stay in ELA." ...but I tell them that's just not how these common common core words work. 

In math, when we write our numbers in expanded form, we are just making the same number bigger in length.  If we apply this same knowledge to ELA, we can assume that we probably need to make the length of what we are working on bigger, too.  For instance, we can expand our sentence by using more descriptive words. However, my learning support students can't just figure out and assume, as easily as other students might be able to.

I don't blame them for this confusion at all. I am guilty of using the same common terms, over and over again. As an example, I use the word "elaborate" when I want my students to tell me more of something, rather than "expand." Using the same common words is not going to help my students. Especially when it comes time for state exams.

Ugh. I just got chills thinking about them. 

So, as of this year, I have been incorporating more common common core words into my teaching vocabulary.

I realize what you're probably thinking at this point, "why does she keep using 'common' in front of 'common core'... why can't she say frequently used, or something else to the like?" Well - this way seemed to grab my students attention the best, possibly as much as it grabbed yours. 

I needed to do something about this.  I wanted my students to see that there are other common core words we could be using, that have the same meaning/idea of the words we frequently used. I created Common Core Common Word posters to hang in my classroom to help with this.

I needed these posters to be vibrant, easy to read, and to the point. I came up with 24 posters in all. Sadly, they don't ALL fit on my bulletin board at one time.  I switch out posters to display words I feel we see/use most common in my room, or I switch to words we rarely ever see. It all just really depends.  There have also been times while lesson planning that I have come across words being used in both subject areas.  During these times I really like to drive my point across and hang a poster on my white board.  I want my learning support students to become as familiar with these common core words, as much as they can be.

This is also when I hear more moaning and groaning, but this time while saying, "okay - we get it already."

After a little while of using these posters, I noticed some of my students still were struggling with grasping how words from math class can also be used in their ELA class. I decided to make the posters interactive, for them to use as a reference at any time, by providing example cards. These example cards can be displayed in different ways.  I chose to display them on rings hanging from pushpins. I left these example cards blank.  I write examples of how we can use what the word means, in the subject we are currently discussing, using a dry erase marker on the laminated card.  I had began typing examples to print, but I was adding more to the examples, or changing examples through a lesson.  Keeping them blank was the best fit for me, but when opened in Powerpoint I can still easily input a text book and type my example - if I should ever choose to do so.

So... ta-da! This is it. This is how I am trying to incorporate as many common common core words as I can into my teaching vocabulary.  This is also how I am trying to familiarize my students with these words.  This is also the last time you'll have to read "common common core."

Well, from me anyways.

Find these posters in my TPT shop by clicking my name below!

How I Started Tackling the End of My School Year as an IEP Case Manager

It's the same feeling every year - I put on my Halloween top to go to work, come home, go to bed, and wake up the next day realizing it's MAY.  OK - A slight exaggeration, but I know my fellow teachers get what I'm saying. No matter how long the school year feels, the end is here before we even know it.

It never fails.  Around mid-May I find myself scrambling to collect data on my students to share with their upcoming case managers.  I also find myself receiving information, on students who will be joining my roster next year, and then having to remember where I placed it come August.

At the beginning of this current school year I decided I was going to end this year differently than I have been for the past 9 years.  I created IEP Flip Books at the beginning of this current school year, that's coming quickly to an end, so I knew what information I wanted and needed to know for my new roster students next year.  Yes - I can just look at their IEPs, but I like to have a physical copy of information about my students kept at my finger tips, for whenever I am planning over my summer months.

These "flip books" aren't like the "at a glance" sheets I keep at my desk, or IEP information sheets I send to the regular education teachers.  These are detailed flip books filled out by special education teachers, to then be used by special education teachers. It's an easy to use resource that allows the previous case manager a chance to introduce special education students that were previously on their rosters, to you!  I'd like to think of these as a way to eliminate hundreds of email and phone calls asking about a particular student.  Please Note:  I said hundreds of emails and phone calls - not ALL of them, haha!

Before I get started, there are two different flip book options: upper grades flip book and lower grades flip book.... but I'll get more into detail about the two as I go on. Each flip book comes in color or in black & white.  Print in black & white on color paper or on plain white paper.  When printed in color on white paper, the tabs really pop out!  The lower grades flip book comes with two cover options - 1 boy cover and 1 girl cover.

This flip book is made up of 7 pages (tabs)...
Student Info 

For this page I fill in student information I find to be incredibly important to know about the student within a school year.  The page is made up of information found in the student's IEP that's important, as well as information I feel should be passed along to the next case manager - based on the past year(s) of experience I've had with the student.

IEP Notes

When receiving this page from a previous case manager, I know it will be full of ALL important IEP information I can keep with me as a planning guide for the next school year.  Case Managers are able to fill out the most current IEP meeting date, the student's diagnosis, special considerations to be aware of, present levels of academic achievement, present levels of functional performance, strengths, weaknesses, etc. Nearly all pages in the flip book include an "Additional Notes" box, in the chance I have left something out.

Inside the Classroom

This page is probably my favorite, only because it eliminates SO MUCH stress for myself for next year.  I can read a student's IEP until I'm blue in the face. I can even take notes about what I read. But sometimes I still ask myself after just finishing reading an IEP, "is this student pull-out or fully included?" SO much information to take in.  However, now I have all of this information at my finger tips before the start of the next school year.  This page informs me of a student's educational placement, grades for the year, classroom accommodations & modifications, and any related services they might have received. I have also created this page to include two options for use - by quarters and by trimesters.

14 Years and Older/Tracking Academic Levels

This is where the slight difference between the upper grades flip book and the lower grades flip book happens.  I consider upper grades 6th - 12th, due to students turning 14.  The upper grades flip book comes with transition information.  If a student will be turing 14 years old sometime during the duration of the current IEP, the new case manager will be well aware.  The new case manager will also be aware of transition goals and services that have been going on, or have just started.

Those students 13 years old and younger fall in to the lower grades flip book.  This page is designed to track the students most current academic levels, to help with planning and preparing for the upcoming year. Academic levels that are tracking include letters, sight words, numbers, math facts, etc. There is also a place to record ability levels and grade equivalencies for certain academic areas.


I like knowing my students goals a decent amount of time before the school year begins.  I like being able to prepare for how I plan on measuring and collecting data, well before I actually begin doing it.  There are two different options for goal pages included.  The first option lets you write the goal, take notes on progress toward the goal, describe how progress was previously measured, as well as when progress was reported to the parent(s)/guardian(s).  The second option allows you to so all of that again, but you can also write and record objectives to go with each goal.

Student Survey

I really wanted to personalize each students' flip book so their next year's case manager would really get to know them.  I created these student surveys to do just that. Upper grades flip book has a different survey than the lower grades flip book.  This is only because of the different ages/grade levels.  Some of the information is the same, while other information is geared more towards their levels.

Extra Info

This is it - the last page! And guess what, it's TOTALLY blank.  This is where I can add any additional notes I want the case manager next year to know, that might have been missed in the pages before.  I have also included this page as an editable Powerpoint slide, for if you decide you want to customize a page in your flip book to better fit your own personal needs.

For ONCE it's nearing mid-May and I'm not stressed at all.  I have my flip books nearly all filled out and ready to give to next year's case managers.  I hope my newest method of tackling the end of the school year provides you with some help for tackling yours as well!  You can find both flip books in my TpT shop - Charley's Classroom. I hope everyone who is coming to the end of their school year, like I am, has a street free one! Or as stress free ending as one can get!


Sneak a Peek at What's Inside My IEP Meetings Binder

We are half way through the third quarter, and my IEP binder is about to burst!  Literally. I open it now and pray the rings don't pop open. I posted the photo above on Instagram, about two weeks ago, to share my nearly bursting binder with my Instagram friends.  I couldn't believe the comments and emails I received asking about what I have inside that thing - aside from a ton of papers. I was SO excited to share with everyone. But then... my gallbladder decided to bite the dust and I was in surgery the next day. Ugh. Now, finally feeling myself again, I'm ready to share a little peek into mine with you all! And please, don't be jealous of my lovely carpet background.

Let's get started. In the front pocket of all my binders, I keep note pages.  I like to have these readily available to me incase I need to jot something down super quick. My first official page in my binder is my Dates at a Glance page.  I like to have my IEP meeting due dates in the very front.  Mostly because they're easy to find if a teacher should ask me when a student's IEP is up, but also because I probably look at this section the most.

For confidentiality reasons I printed out a blank copy of my IEP Due Dates sheet. I list all of my students' names from my caseload, when their IEP is due, and circle if they also have a re-evaluation due. After each IEP meeting I cross the student's name off my list.

To the right of this page, I have a similar page for my re-evaluations that are due.  If I had circled "YES" on the IEP Due Dates page that a re-evaluation is indeed due, on the Re-Evaluation Due Dates page I list the student name and the date the re-evaluation needs to be completed by.
After my list of when IEPs are due, I have calendar pages directly behind to show when the IEP meetings are taking place, as well as other important dates pertaining to the meeting.  A few things I like to mark on the calendar pages include:
- when to send invitations home by
- when I sent invitations to the meeting home
- when I need to collect teacher input by
- when I sent the re-evaluation home
...and so on. I am currently in the middle of my tenth year being a special education teacher, and I learned very early on to write and record EVERYTHING.

Now for the reason my binder is stuffed full of papers and ready to burst open...

I guess you could say that the number of students on my caseload determines how large my binder is by the end of the year, haha! This year I have quite a few students, so this section is loaded.  On the opposite side of the Student Information cover sheet I like to keep a student roster. I list all of the students on my caseload, their grade, and their homeroom teacher.

After that it's ALL the info. In the past I've typically sectioned off my students' information by using fancy plastic dividers - keeping it nice & neat, as well as cute. When it looks good I just feel good!:) BUT - this year was different.  I had too many students and I needed all the room I could. So instead of cute dividers, I used just plain colored paper with each student's name typed up on it. I list my students in alphabetical order, making it easier for me to find them should I need to look up their reading level, their class schedule, etc.  I fill out a brief at a glance profile sheet for each student, and put it directly behind their divider sheet. After their profile sheet, I also include state and local assessments, transition surveys, teacher input, observations, report cards, parent input, etc. Basically, anything that I think is needed and important when developing their upcoming IEP.

I'd also like to add that it feels SO good to know it's all kept in one spot. Because let's be honest... sometimes my desk looks like it threw up papers, and other times papers go missing making me wonder if my desk actually ate them.

I guess my last peek for you all would be what I keep in my Extra Notes. When creating this binder, I specifically only made it as an "IEP Meetings Binder" for a reason. I wanted everything I needed for developing my IEPs to be in one spot - ok,  I realize everything is kind of impossible, but you catch my drift. My Extra Notes are basically everything else I need, but have nowhere to put. This is where I keep my daily schedule for meeting planning, list of important phone extensions, my contact log, student logins & passwords for taking online assessments, scoring guides, as well as much more.

Over the years, I've found that this is the best fit for how I feel I should have my binder set up, although I know there are many other ways it can be used/arranged!  For instance, the sections don't need to be in my order.  You don't even need to use some of the pages included in it. I don't, but I do still like knowing I have those pages if I should ever need them down the road. Maybe you don't like what I call the sections in my binder - like "Extra Notes." That's fine! I've included the option of creating your own cover pages. There are so many possibilities to play around with and test out.

Oops... one last thing. I switch up my binder themes at the beginning of each school year.  I like a fresh start. If flowers aren't your thing, check out my other IEP Meetings Binder themes in my TPT shop!

A Post: To The New Year!

What joy there is in starting a new year! New resolutions, new goals, new beginnings... and a new amount of times to write the year wrong.  I had only written it wrong 4 times today - and might I add I'm incredibly impressed with that low of a number.  BUT, with the joy of starting the new year, comes the sad end to another holiday break and having to get back into a routine again. *sigh* When I taught at the elementary level, I loved coming back and celebrating the new year with my students.  I loved hearing about what goals they had for themselves.  I think I've heard just about everything from - scoring 100% on all spelling tests to - not getting in trouble and having to miss recess.  Moving to the middle school last year changed that a bit, and it's not because they don't have spelling tests or recess anymore.  Now, they are "big kids."  Their goals and resolutions go beyond spelling tests and playing at recess.  I decided that over my holiday break I had to make something more "big kid" appropriate for my students to complete as a welcome back pack.  Luckily, being snowed in one morning allowed me plenty of time to do just that!  I decided to create a New Year "Welcome Back" Pack!

In this pack my students can review their last year's goals and achievements, as all as set new goals for the upcoming year.  My students can also write a note to their future self.  AND - because I finished and was STILL snowed in, I had extra time to make this for the 2018 and 2019 new years as well! Now, it's not like me to work THAT far in advance, but I just couldn't help myself. This resource, as well as other resources to get you ready for the new year, can be found in my TPT STORE!

I can't believe the first school day back from break is over already. I hope everyone has had a great start to their 2017 new year so far, and I wish for nothing but the best for the days in 2017 yet to come!

Managing Progress Monitoring

It’s that exciting time of the year again! Christmas music has already begun playing on my XM radio, and the first nine week’s progress reports have been completed, sent home, and filed away! OK, I’m actually only excited about the Christmas music. Progress monitoring has a way of stressing me out, especially at the beginning of a new school year. Some of the students are new to my caseload and I am just getting used to their goals and what data I need to be collecting. Whereas some of the other students on my caseload have been on my roster for four years, making it slightly easier. Over the past nine years I’ve come up with a few different ways to stay organized and on top of my data collecting, throughout each marking period.

During the eight years where I had my own pull-out classroom, my students had their own individual binders where all of their data was collected, recorded, and graphed. Oh how I miss doing this! I used data collecting sheets from my Progress Monitoring Recording Binder.  For this particular student (his binder is shown above), I collected data weekly – I didn’t fill in any information in the photos below due to confidentiality.  Sometimes I used tracking sheets with just the students’ goals on them, and other times I used the graphing sheets.  My students loved using the graphing sheets! They always wanted to see their progress and how they were improving.  On both tracking sheets, you are able to insert the date you collected data or Week 1, Week 2, …etc. Personally, I like to insert the date. Whichever sheet I choose to use, I keep documentation of the goal(s) being monitored directly behind them. Then, at the end of the marking period, I go through my Progress Monitoring Checklist to make sure I have everything I need to be completed. Over the past few years of teaching, checklists have become my best friend!

Now, that I am an inclusion teacher, I collect progress a little differently.  I collect data while in the regular class, because I unfortunately don’t have a time where I can pull them to come in to my office. All last year, as well as this current school year, I kept a Progress Monitoring binder.  This binder is part of my Inclusion/Co-Teaching Binder. I also have what I call a progress monitoring cheat sheet.  When I’m not in my office, it’s hard to remember what I’m monitoring for each student.  Some of the students in my inclusion class are on other case managers’ rosters. My “cheat sheet” reminds me of each students’ case manager, as well as their individual goal and any notes I take.  I use my Progress Tracking sheets to keep all students’ data in one spot. I create a different sheet for each class I am gathering student progress in.  I must say - this has been the best way for me to collect data, while co-teaching in the regular classroom!

A few years ago, my district decided they wanted us to send home not only the IEP progress reports, but also charts and graphs that display progress. So, I created graphs on Excel to do just that!  My Progress Monitoring Charting &Graphing in Excel is very user friendly, the teachers I work with love using it!  I created a “How to Guide” to go along with it, that shows exactly how I use this for progress monitoring in my classroom.  I save each Excel document separately, with the students’ initials in the title.  I input all information about the student’s goal at the top of the spreadsheet.  Then, when I input the data I collected into their chart, it’s automatically graphed! Yes, it’s THAT easy. Unlike my other forms of data collecting, not everything in the Excel document is able to be edited - due to the fact that I had to lock the graph and data table so the formatting wouldn’t be accidentally messed up.  I must say, out of all of the different ways progress can be reported and mailed home to my students’ parents, they love receiving it in this form!  It also makes me feel on top of my work when I can pull out graphed student progress during a meeting!

Alright, I’m not done yet. I couldn’t just stop there! I had to take collecting progress just one step further, mostly because it was at the request of one of my colleagues. I feel that I, as well as a few other teachers I know, have a love/hate relationship with post-it notes and progress monitoring. I LOVE using post-it notes as reminders and to scribble notes down on, but I HATE that they’re stuck all over my things and that sometimes I forget what it was I wanted to remember. Ugh. So, to try to help get rid of my hatred, I came up with Progress Monitoring Sticky Notes! These sticky notes will help you record data for 5 days, 9 weeks, by trimester, by quarter, and/or monthly.  They make data collecting easier, when you’re in a pinch, as well as taking notes on progress. I don’t find myself questioning what my scribbles meant.  I’ve been loving using them so much, I’m making them free for all!:) Knowing firsthand the agony that can come with collecting data and recording progress, I am all about finding different ways to make it as painless as can be!

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