Fantasies of a Special Education Teacher

Are you exhausted? Are you suffocating under a mountain of IEP paperwork? Have you fantasized about applying for a job at the mall? Are you already dreaming about your next beach vacation? Do you wish you had more time for self-care?  Do your weekends consist solely of of Netflix and grading?  

As educators, we’ve experienced these same thoughts and more. It was only through the creation of these 4 life-changing intervention resources, that we’ve been able to find balance, have free time, and renewed joy in our careers.  

Let us help you avoid the special educator burn out. Download these ready-to-use resources to reach your ultimate teacher fantasy of work life balance. Having less planning, less stress, more free time, and increased effectiveness can be all yours with a simple click…

Special Education Ultimate Survival Kit

“The Special Education Survival Kit is amazing! I feel so organized and ready for the year thanks to this! After going through this, I feel like I have a rock solid foundation for the year in several areas. Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you!”
–Melissa, special educator

Reading Intervention Essentials Bundle

“I cannot say enough about how wonderful the Reading Intervention Essentials Bundle has been in planning and instructing literacy. The students absolutely love the animals, they are so motivational! I can’t wait to see what you come up with next!”
–Sam, reading interventionist

Phonics Intervention Bundle: Multisyllabic Words

“The Phonics Intervention Bundle is a WONDERFUL product! I’ve been looking for a strong product that uses multisyllabic words to teach the different syllable types. I’ve used this unit to patch some curriculum holes and round out our intervention materials for this skill. LOVE!”
–Jennifer, second grade teacher

Special Education Time-on-Task Observation Chart

“The Time-on-Task Observation Chart is so useful to track data. Saved me a ton of time! Assisted me with reporting focused talking points for parents.”
–Carly, special educator

Special Education 101: Setting Up Your Classroom

Welcome to the first post in our Special Education 101 blog series. I’ll be sharing my top tips, tools and resources I’ve gathered from over 15 years as a special educator.

The classroom environment is a critical component to academic success. Teachers can proactively set up their classrooms to minimize distractions, decrease misbehavior, and increase academic engagement.  Here are 5 key considerations when you set up your classroom.

1. Keep space clear for easy access and movement for students in wheelchairs.  Set up desks and tables to allow for wide aisles and space to turn around.

wheel chair access

2.  Set up tables for small group work.  It is important to have designated space for guided reading groups, small group interventions, and center-based instruction.  Small group instruction allows for easy differentiation when working with students with a wide range of ability levels and needs.  Check out this recent post on how to create a DIY interactive whiteboard table.

Use this dry erase table to promote active engagement during small group instruction.

3. Provide room for sensory equipment if needed.  Even if your school has a designated room or space for sensory equipment, it will be important to have a special space for sensory breaks in your classroom as well.  This space can be a quiet place for students to take a break when over-stimulated or a place refocus by completing activities per their sensory diet.

sensory equipment

4. Create a literacy rich environment.  Label classroom objects and materials to strengthen reading skills.  Set up a motivating and comfortable reading corner with a variety of text genres and levels. Use word walls to post commonly used words and thematic vocabulary.


5. Display student work on engaging bulletin boards.  Encourage students to take pride in their work and show what they know by showcasing their work on a special bulletin board.

Display Student Work

Looking for more resources and ideas?  Check out our Ultimate Special Education Survival Kit with over 125 pages of ready-to-use tools, assessments, templates and resources.




Lights, Camera, Action!!!

We just finished filming our newest video that shares the story of how Astute Hoot came to be!  Our goal was for our mission statement, “Creating innovative learning tools to awaken the joy of learning and spark enthusiasm in all students” to come to life in this video.  Even though the finished product is only 2 minutes long, it took hours upon hours to prepare, shoot the video, and make revisions until it was just right.  It sure was a learning experience for us, but we are so excited to share our final video with you!

My favorite parts of the video are the children!  My sons, Alec and Jake and my adorable niece Miranda were the stars!  They were genuinely excited about interacting with our reading and math strategy characters so no acting was necessary.  Their pure enjoyment and curiosity about learning was able to shine through in a wonderful way.  They had so much fun!  Alec even said “I hope every classroom in the world could have the Astute Hoot animals!  Then kids would love to come to school and they wouldn’t be bored anymore!”

Jessica, Tina, and I on the other hand, had more outtakes and redos until we got it just right.  There were plenty of giggles, jumbled words, and even some strange animal sounds.  All in all, we had a blast with whole process, but are very glad it is done!

We would truly love to hear your feedback and comments!  Did our mission come to life? Is this an effective way to tell our story?  What are your favorite parts of the video?

Thanks for watching!  We’d appreciate it if you could share the video to help spread the word about Astute Hoot!


Jennifer’s Summer Story


Wow!  This summer is flying by so fast.  My boys attend a school with a modified year-round school schedule so that means that their first day of school is right around the corner on July 21st! Although I worked managing Teacher Development Coaches at a summer Pre-Service Training for new teachers throughout the entire month on of June, I still had a chance to squeeze in some summer fun with my family.

We had an incredible time visiting the Grand Canyon for the very first time.  The boys were amazed at its grandeur…and I was freaked out each time they got close to the edge!  We went on an exciting jeep tour and learned a lot about the history of the Grand Canyon.

Alec and Jake
Alec and Jake

Before we left, the boys picked out some cool souvenirs; a bow and arrow for Jake and a dream catcher and pocket knife for Alec.  We also bought an awesome book called Whose Tail on the Trail at the Grand Canyon? .  The author, Midji Stephenson, signed a copy for us too! We had so much fun reading the book when we got home as we had to guess which tail was on the trail as we turned each page.  The book has beautiful illustrations and fun rhymes.  I highly recommend this book to anyone who has visited the Grand Canyon.

Whose Tail on the Trail at Grand Canyon?
Whose Tail on the Trail at Grand Canyon?

Now that we are back from vacation and gearing up for school, I realized that I needed to start getting the boys back on a routine and provide some structure into their days because they have been acting like wild animals  Alec and Jake helped me put together the following visual schedule for our remaining two weeks of summer break.  We have it posted on the fridge and I see them referring to it throughout the day.   I wish I put this in place earlier in the summer!  Children crave structure and routines.  Using a visual schedule and daily routines are great ways to support this for all children.

Summer Visual Schedule
Summer Visual Schedule

A great resource for putting strong routines, procedures, and transitions in place for the beginning of the school year can be found here.


Back to School Teacher Toolbox:  Routines, Procedures and Transitions
Back to School Teacher Toolbox: Routines, Procedures and Transitions


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