Back to School Special: Top 10 Must Haves for an Inclusive SPED Teacher(6)

Thursday, August 4, 2016
If you haven't checked out my previous picks, definitely peruse the list below! Get those brain juices and target trips flowing, ya know?!
  1. Highlighting Tape/ Highlighters
  2. Sticky Graphs/ Graph Patches
  3. iPads & Apps
  4. Graphic Novels (Comics?)
  5. Composition Notebooks
Clear Page Protector Sheets/ Dry Erase Pockets / Laminator

Generic brand of sheet protectors I purchased at Office Depot.
The Dry Erase Pockets are from the Dollar Spot in Target - get 'em while they last!
Okay, so these items probably seem very primary/intermediate, and they definitely can be! However, think about those moments you needed something laminated or a little white board. You probably didn't laminate it OR you probably didn't have a little white board for each student/group. This trick also serves as an OT accommodation for our babies who need a thicker marker to write with or just needs the lesson to be a little more interactive. I mean... dry erase markers are everyone's favorite school supply to buy, dry, and throw out in 2 months. 

These also are super handy when it comes to Kagan Cooperative Learning techniques. I'm not about to drop a bazillion dollars for something I can easily replicate at home. Sorry Kagan, I love you though. Feel free to send me a bunch of stuff to try out, ha! 

So why do I think this is a must have? They're not only helpful for the kids, but also for the teacher. It serves a dual purpose!

For Students:
  • Kagan Cooperative Learning uses a lot of techniques that require an answer board. Who has the money to splurge on mini white boards?! Not I. Slip a piece of white copy paper in that page protector and you're set. 
  • Competitive Games in class are the best way of getting some engagement in those small groups. Julia had this printable of 10 balloons that I used to represent "chances" in Math. Students would be assigned problems that they had to independently solve within a small group - they'd share their answers and how they solved it, determine the correct answer, and whoever got it wrong, gets a balloon crossed off. Last one standing wins. I easily slipped those bad boys into page protectors and reused them for "dayyyssss."
  • LLI Worksheets become a really big hassle since they have cutting, pasting, clean up, etc. I know that it really broadcasted to other students that work was "different." I definitely think the work is meaningful though; thus, this previous year, I began experimenting since it wasn't age appropriate to keep doing that "stuff" in middle school. I slipped worksheets into a dry erase pocket and had students use a dry erase marker to write the words they were cutting and gluing, crossing off words as they used them. Much more age appropriate and faster LLI intervention times. Happy dance.
  • OT sometimes recommend a thicker writing utensil. A fat, dry erase marker counts, right? Plus, this is a great way of giving a student a role in the group - group representative, answer guy/gal, secretary, whatever!
For Teachers:
  • Binders really help organize my materials. I creeped on Julia doing this last year, where she saved all her science modifications into one binder. Each one had extra copies of the modification in there. I started doing the same with my IEP items and it has definitely made the year run smoother. I've started to do that with my color coded, subject binders. 
  • Paper is gold. I saved so much paper not running 28-34 copies of the same item. Instead, I printed out 8 copies, per group, depending on the activity. I saved a ton of paper and money! If I was using it as an answer board, I just saved myself from buying a complete set of white boards from Amazon. Last I checked, it was 12 boards for 25 bucks? Nope, I just got myself coffee for the week by using this.
  • Easy maintenance is key. Students simply wipe this down and put it away in their community bin. If it's lost, it's easy to replace. 
  • Laminating requests take time to fulfill at school if you don't have a laminating machine. I'd rather wait to laminate anchor charts than sweat the small stuff.

If you want to splurge/ treat yo' self, get a laminator. They were on sale this summer for 15 bucks at Target! I already told you I'm experimenting right? So, I'm in the process of laminating some items from LLI that gets used a lot. To eliminate prep time in class, I'm going to make some worksheets into a reusable, adaptive activity that students can work on independently and quickly versus cutting and gluing. I'm having issues with how I organize the material though, but that's another post I have drafted for later.

I also have a bunch of story books that are for sight word recognition that can be made into adaptive books. I stopped using it because it took too much of my paper supply to keep printing. This might also be a reason for me to buy velcro dots. I'm okay with that.

I also use it to make cool laminated things for the classroom. It's my way of helping my co-teacher out when we're setting up the room together. "Oh, you need those Kagan mats and table numbers laminated? I got you, boo. You keep setting up that bulletin board and labeling those books." I have so many DIY posts that include my handy laminator. Just sayin!


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