Teaching opinion and persuasive writing can be difficult, but not any more. Here are 3 secrets for delivering engaging, differentiated writing instruction from our latest strategy-based resource, Cats vs Dogs: A Common Core Research Opinion Writing Unit. Plus, it’s on sale at our TPT store!
NEWLY REVISED ULTIMATE SPECIAL EDUCATION SURVIVAL KIT!
Today I had a rare moment: some peace and quiet at home and an opportunity to sit down and read a book. As I was diving into Lean In, by Sheryl Sandberg I read about the “imposter syndrome”- the phenomenon of capable people being plagued by self-doubt. It perfectly described how I felt as a special education teacher during my first few years in the classroom. Even though I graduated with honors, received exemplary reviews from my principal, and made significant academic and behavioral gains with my students, I still sometimes felt as if I was a fraud and didn’t belong the classroom. Eventually those feelings faded as I continued my education and experience, but I wished that I had some resources at the beginning of my career that would have helped me feel more confident and be more effective in my role. Although sometimes I felt as if I was using trial and error to best reach my students, I know that that I always gave them 110% and feel so blessed to have been a part of their lives.
When I was working with pre-service and first year teachers, I wanted to impart my knowledge and experience to not only them, but to all teachers working with students with special needs. After 19 years of teaching special education, I’ve gathered my top resources and bundled them together for the “Ultimate Special Education Survival Kit.” Now, that I’m back in the classroom, I recently revised and updated several resources and forms to be even more effective. The following resources are in a zip file, with a total of 165+ pages, including a ton of new FULLY EDITABLE resources for easy customization:
-Beginning of the Year Checklist for Special Education
-Beginning of the Year Welcome Letter from Special Education Teacher
-Co-Teaching Weekly Collaboration Agenda
-IEP at a Glance
-IEP Goal Bank
-IEP Goal Tracking for Small Groups
-IEP Progress Monitoring Calendar
-IEP Goal Tracking for Caseload
-General Academic Interventions
-Lesson Plan Differentiation Checklist
-Lesson Plan for Specialized Instruction
-Paraprofessional Roles and Responsibilities
-Parent Input Form
-Progress Monitoring Data Trackers
-Special Education Caseload Organizer
-Special Education Due Date Tracker
-Special Education Master Schedule
-Teacher Input Form
-Time on Task Observation
-Reading Foundational Skills Rubric
-Reading Comprehension: Literature Rubric
-Reaching Comprehension: Informational Rubric
-Narrative Writing Rubric
-Expository Writing Rubric
-Written Response to Text Rubric
-Math Problem Rubric
Work smarter not harder! Don’t be stressed out…LOVE your special education career with these ready-to-use tools, assessments, and templates that will make your life so much easier.
*Reposted and updated from original post in 2013*
As veteran teachers, we know that the beginning of year often means countless meetings, endless hours of preparation and a great deal of stress. We are here to help! Our tried-and-true Back to School resources are guaranteed to help you work smarter, not harder. Plus, they’re all ON SALE! Visit our TeachersPayTeachers store and use code BTS2017 for 25% off the entire store! Check out a few of our top-rated, best-sellers below:
Best of Back to School Lesson Plans & Activities: This unit focuses on establishing procedures, explaining expectations and building classroom community while creating an organized, efficient schedule with minimal preparation. Our comprehensive first week lesson plans include 50+ interactive, engaging activities with objectives & detailed instructions, homework ideas, daily math lessons and art projects.
Golden Keys to Success Classroom Management Plan: Golden Keys to Success is an efficient behavior management program that builds character, promotes self-monitoring and ensures high behavioral expectations. This program has made a huge difference in my students’ behavior because it teaches them to be responsible for daily choices. Golden Keys to Success focuses on 5 important life skills and qualities that students need to become successful citizens. This 90 page unit includes 21 detailed lessons with essential questions and quality literature, 34 engaging activities and projects, a Weekly Responsibility Chart (for students) and a parent brochure with overview of program, consequences and helpful parent tips.
Math Intervention: Problem Solving Essentials Bundle: Our Math Intervention Problem Solving Essentials Bundle provides an entire year’s worth of Common Core aligned, differentiated problem-solving activities to give students the strategies they need to solve word problems. Perfect for general education, special education, RTI and math intervention! Can be used with students in grades Kindergarten, first, second and third. This 200 page file has all of the lessons, activities, worksheets, printables you need for comprehensive problem-solving instruction during math intervention, special education and general education. This is a perfect math intervention supplement to any existing curriculum or can be used as a stand alone resource.
Writing Intervention Tools for RTI and Special Education: Do you have students who are struggling to write and get their ideas down on paper? These special education writing resources will help even the most reluctant writers experience success and increase their independence with the writing process. This is a great writing intervention tool for special education classrooms, ELL, RTI and/or for differentiation within the general education classroom. Resources can be used for various writing topics and assignments.
This unit systematically guides students through the writing process and teaches critical strategies in a child-friendly way. In our charming book, students meet Hazel the owl, a struggling writer, who takes a vacation to the desert to visit Grandma Hoot. Grandma suggests that Hazel take a hike for writing inspiration and along the way she meets 10 animals; 5 that teach the writing process and 5 that teach writing mechanics.
Reading Intervention Essentials Bundle: Looking for a complete reading K-3 reading intervention kit that includes fluency, comprehension, sight words, and phonics activities? Need engaging and motivating reading supplemental products to enhance your existing curriculum? With over 25 years combined experience in special education, general education, and reading intervention, we have bundled our top reading products to create a 515 page “Reading Intervention Essentials Bundle” for only $25. Purchased separately, these items would cost over $65. These activities, lessons, graphic organizers, posters, assessments, and printables have been proven to make significant reading gains in not only our classrooms, but classrooms across the country. These are a great supplement to any general ed or special ed curriculum. This Reading Intervention Bundle contains more than a whole YEAR’s worth of phonics instruction with 15 individual units.
We hope that these products reduce that dreaded back to school stress and make your life easier. Happy New Year!
We are nearing the end of the year (seriously summer can’t come soon enough) and my students are growing more hyper and less productive by the minute. In an effort to increase engagement and keep my sanity, I channeled their love of animals into a cumulative animal research unit. Follow these steps to implement this project in your room; download the complete unit here.
1. Create a research bulletin board: I created a research bulletin board with the text features poster set from Really Good Stuff. I enlarged an American black bear printout from enchantedlearning.com as my primary resource. I laminated 8 different colors of paper and hung up next to the bear printout; each color represents a different topic (i.e. anatomy, habitat, diet, etc.). I model how to record key words for each topic on corresponding card.
2. Select leveled nonfiction animal books: Look for books rich with text features (headings, captions, photographs, etc.) are best. I highly recommend selecting sets of these books for guided reading groups; this is a great way to teach children how to ask questions and effectively use text features to find answers in the text. National Geographic Kids and readinga-z.com offer a wide range of quality, engaging options.
3. Help children find research sources: I let each student pick animal to research (this promotes ownership and engagement) and print an animal printout from enchantedlearning.com. These printouts are easy to read and all include a diagram and headings. I send home a letter asking parents to send in supplemental research and colored photographs to use in report (I remind parents to preview first to avoid mating details and photos.)
During our research unit, I follow these steps:
1. Read a variety of animal nonfiction books, pointing out different features of nonfiction text and their purpose(s). I also use sets of leveled nonfiction texts during guided reading groups; students ask questions about the animal and use learned text features to find answers in the text.
2. Each student picks an animal and completes a KWL chart (included in the downloadable unit).
3. Explain the report process and review the rubric with them (included in the downloadable unit).
4. Model completing research with the American black bear printout from enchantedlearning.com. Each day I pick one topic to research (diet, anatomy, habitat, locomotion, etc.). If the topic is diet, model finding diet in the text. Write key words on that color-coded card. I organize the key words with bullets. They should fit all key words on one card; remind them not to copy whole sentences. If there is a word that students do not know, I have them highlight the word; these words will go into their glossaries.
5. Create an animal research report outline. First model how to write an interesting beginning (usually a question or interesting fact) along with a transition sentence. Model how to write a main idea and key fords for the supporting sentences. Students also write the heading above each main ideas so that it is ready for them when they draft. This outline can be completed during small group time.
6. Draft, edit, revise and publish report (drafting paper, table of contents and glossary are all included in the downloadable unit). Review elements of the rubric frequently and how to score each report using the rubric so students are familiar with expectations.
7. Share reports with class. Students can practice presenting to a partner or small-group before presenting to the whole class. This activity meets several listening and speaking Common Core State Standards. I put completed reports in the class library so students can read during silent reading time.
We’d love to hear any research project ideas you have!
Children love superheroes so what better way to engage them in writing than with a Friendly Letter Superhero? In this customizable unit, Letterman comes to visit each day, bringing a letter that teaches a specific friendly letter skill. He leaves colorful L’s on the classroom door to signal his visits. Children truly believe in him and even your most reluctant learners will get excited about writing!
This 66 page unit includes:
–Suggestions for use with pictures of letter bulletin boards and work samples
–Common Core standards for grades K-3
–Big ideas and essential questions
–11 detailed lesson plans to teach unit
–Accompanying letters and activities for each lesson plan (Letters can be modified according to date unit is taught, teacher’s name, children’s interests, etc.)
–2 different Letterman templates
–Colorful L’s to leave around room
This is a great Back to School unit; through letter writing, children will learn about each other and build classroom community.