Friday, March 23, 2012

Individual Reward System

One of the student's I tutor has a hard time staying motivated when we work on reading comprehension and phonics.  A reward system motivates him to try his best and stay focused. The systems I have been using have cost me a lot of money because I would have to continue to buy rewards too often. I am implementing a new variable reward system using a deck of cards. Here is how it will work:

1) Whenever I want to positively reinforce student behavior or something the student does well (correctly answering a question, using a strategy we have discussed, etc) he will get to flip a card over from the deck.
2)  If the card he flips over is hearts then he get's additional reinforced by adding a check to a table I have created for him.
3)  If the card isn't in the hearts suit then we continue to work and he isn't additionally reinforced.
4) On a sheet of paper I have a table with 10 boxes per row.  For every row he gets fully checked I will bring in a prize.

At the beginning, I will make reinforcement easier so he understands the concept. I will do this by allowing him to check a box anytime he turns over a black card.  After a few days of this, I will change to reinforcing him for only the hearts suit. I really like that this system will allow me to fade rewards by changing what card reinforces him.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Triple Coupons

Today started triple coupons for the week at Harris Teeter. Coupons tripled up to .75. Some of the best items I got included milk for .75, free steamables rice, and free napkins. The picture below includes everything I bought today with an ending total of $8.61. I saved over $40.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Fluency/Punctuation Strategy

 One of the students I tutor struggles with stopping at punctuation while reading.  Today I came up with a strategy to help him better visual what to do at punctuation in a story.  I drew a stoplight and had him tell me what each color of the stoplight meant.  We then drew a period, exclamation mark and a question mark in the red light, a comma in the yellow light and capital letters in the green light since they occur at the start of each sentence.  I then had him use colored pencils to color over each of these things in a reading passage.  It was a great visual for him to see when to stop and take a breath when reading.  I also used hand motions to show him when to stop, pause and go.  I did these while he read the passage and then had him use them while I read.  This really helped him and I'm hoping after a lot of practice with seeing these colors he will eventually begin to use punctuation correctly on his own.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Word Work Game

This week Walgreen's has Easter tumblers on sale for 6 for $1.  I got six of them in three different colors because I knew I would be able to create some kind of game with them.  I decided to use them as a way to reinforce spelling words.   I cut index cards in half and wrote the spelling words of the student I tutor on them.  Under each cup I will place an index card, making sure to remember what word is under each cup.  I will then give my student clues for each cup to see if he can guess the word that is hidden under the cup.  For example, I may say, "Under the blue cup is a word that rhymes with joint," or "Under the green cup is a word that means to gain knowledge through reading and it also starts with the st blend."  After he guesses all the words under the cups I will have him choose different words to place under cups and give him the chance to create clues for me to guess the words with.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Teaching Spoken Language

Currently in my Functional Academics course, we are learning about teaching spoken language skills.  I learned a few strategies to help children who are not wanting to speak often.  First, give them choices they have to make and do not give them the materials for their choice unless they verbalize what choice they want.  Another idea is to put things out of reach that they will have to ask for.  A third strategy is to put a lot of objects in their environment that they are interested in to spark conversation.

Other things I am learning about spoken language include language development.  It was interesting to learn that for some children they will not learn how to properly voice all sounds until they are 8 years old and this can be normal.  The sounds "sh", "r" and "z" are usually the last sounds to develop.

Finally, I learned some websites for language instruction.  Here are a few of them:
Education World
Read, Write, Think
Lesson Plan Page

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Taco Casserole

 Last week ground beef was on sale so I stocked up.  Today I wanted to use some but wanted to try something different than the normal hamburger helper I fix.  I decided to come up with my own recipe so I came up with my own version of a Taco Casserole.   It was kind of spicy because of the salsa I put into it but it made for a very tasty meal!

Jamie's Taco Casserole Recipe

Ingredients:  1 lb hamburger, 1 cup salsa, couple handfuls of tortilla chips, 1 flour tortilla, 1 tablespoon onion powder, taco seasoning, shredded cheese, shredded lettuce.

Step 1: Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Step 2: Brown hamburger and add in taco seasoning.  Once it is mixed in well, add in salsa and onion powder.

Step 3:  Layer a casserole dish with crunched up tortilla chips.
Step 4:  Pour half of hamburger mix on top of chips

Step 5: Sprinkle cheese on top of hamburger
Step 6:  Put tortilla on top
Step 7:  Pour the rest of the hamburger mix on top of tortilla and sprinkle cheese over it.  

Step 8:  Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

Step 9:  Add shredded lettuce on top and more cheese if you would like, enjoy!  I had Spanish rice on the side.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Free Printables

There are always a ton of worksheets and activities online for the general education classroom but it is always harder to find them for special education classes.  I came across a site with some pretty neat free printables today.  The website is called SEN Teacher and there are printables for behavior charts, working on feelings and teaching facial expressions.

I also found a website with several graphic organizers on it.  These are useful to use in any content area when teaching special education since visualization can really help students understand the concepts.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Tips for Improving Spelling and Grammar

I will admit that I am not the best writer when it comes to using proper grammar. I also rely on spell check way too often.  That is why I am putting together a list of suggestions for improving grammar and spelling.  

1.  Visit Grammar Girl Daily
This is a free website with daily tips on grammar rules that we should be using everyday.  From how to use "effect" and "affect" correctly to when to use a comma, you can learn it from Grammar Girl.

2.  Don't rely on spell check.  
We will never become better spellers if we continuous use spell check without trying to spell the word ourselves correctly.  I have really been trying to figure out the spelling of a word before asking the computer to do it for.  If you still can't spell it on your own then of course use spell check.  No parent wants a newsletter full of mistakes from their child's teacher.

3.  Use prepositions correctly.
It is easy to forget what a preposition is when it isn't in the course you teach. It is even more difficult to remember how to correctly use them. However, using prepositions correctly can make your writing sound much better.  

Quick Tip:  The main rule you need to know is that prepositions go in front of a noun, not a verb.
For example, in the sentence "We rode to the mall for lunch.," to the mall is the prepositional phrase, with to being the preposition.  To is before a noun, not a verb. Click here for a list of prepositions.

4.  Changing Y to I
If you are adding a suffix like -ness then you change the "y" to an "i" and then add the suffix, like in the word happiness.  However, if the suffix you are using starts with an i then you leave on the y, like in the word carrying. I've often see people want to throw away the "y" before adding -ing, so make sure you remember leave the "y" alone.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Easter Egg Guided Reading

I bought several Easter eggs because I knew there would be many things I can use them for with the students I tutor.  I mainly bought them to use with literacy activities.

Motivation with Guided Reading:

Easter Eggs
Guided Reading Questions cut into small strips
Small Rewards (stickers, candy, free time pass, etc)

Using this strategy:
 I took guided reading questions and cut them into small strips to put inside the Easter Eggs.  Since I tutor students who really struggle with reading I wanted to add a bit of motivation.  I put small rewards into just a few of the Easter eggs.  After we read a few pages together I will stop and have the student pull out a Easter egg from my bag.  Then I will have them answer a question or if it is a reward I will still ask them "What do you like about this book so far?"  After answering the question we will continue reading until the next stopping point where they will then pick another Easter egg.

I'd love to hear of other ways to use Easter eggs in the classroom or with individual students.

Awesome Teacher Site

Lately I have became very addicted to Pinterest in order to find teacher ideas and things to use with the kids I tutor.  One site I discovered through Pinterest is  This site has so many free lesson plan ideas and printables.  You can search for anything you are looking for and most likely find something to use.  They also have lesson plans you may have to pay a couple dollars for but I'm sure it can be worth it.