Friday, January 9, 2015

Social Skills: Whole Body Listening

I use Whole Body Listening (WBL) language every single day.  "Listen with your eyes", "Whole Body Listening Check!".  It's also a great beginning of the year classroom introduction lesson.

I usually begin the lesson by asking what kids know already about WBL, and then read Whole Body Listening Larry at School.  I usually stop after each part and either talk about an example or we practice using that skill to listen.

After reading the book, we review all the parts of the body we use to listen as a group using a visual, and then talk about this activity (you can find on my TPT store) that is simple and easy to use.

I go over the directions:  draw the parts of your body you use to listen and send the kids back to complete it individually.  I use heart cutouts to make things fun.  Depending on the group/age level, you can remove the words at the bottom.

Fun, easy activity.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Organization: Special Education Evaluations

Head on over to my TPT store for this FREE download that is one form I cannot test without.

This Testing Planning Form is the first thing I do when I get a new evaluation, or when I have an upcoming trieenial.  I print off this form, and staple it to the front of a brightly colored file folder.  I open the folder, and to the back, staple the Consent to test form.  I fill out the info. and viola!  A one stop shop for all of the info. you need-what tests you are doing, when they are due, and who you gave rating scales to and when.

It's a lifesaver!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Documentation woes: Google Drive to the Rescue

Happy New year!  Just like a New Year resolution, every school year, I have an overarching goal for myself.   My first year, it was to survive (no joke!!).  My second year, it was to solidify the parts of my job I didn't realize I had to do until after I hadn't done them.  This year, my goal was to tackle documentation.

I had been working on this from day one, and never found a solution.  I needed a way of documenting my "regular" kids I see, but also, all the other kids, and parent phone calls and meetings.  I had tried notebooks for everything, binders for each kid, marking a time for it on my calendar, folders, creating my own forms, and a spreadsheet on my computer, but nothing was successful.  The main reason?  It wasn't accessible when I needed it.  Truth be told, as much as I would love to get all my paperwork done at school, sometimes I just can't.  And by the time I returned, I had something else to do and had forgotten about it.

This year, I came across an article online about Google Drive, and this form of documentation has changed my career and saved so.much.time!!!!  At a recent PD, my district also talked about it, which make me feel even better about using it.  

Here is how I do it:  I created 2 documents to start this out at the beginning of the year
Non-Routine Student Counseling:  I use this to track every student I see that I don't track on already through an IEP, 504 or other venue
Meeting/Phone Call Notes:  I use this for notes every time I talk to a parent/outside provider/anyone  on the phone, and then also when I am at meetings

Here is how to create your own:
Log into your google drive account, or start one for yourself (I actually created one just for school, so I could keep things separate).  Click on the "Create" button in the left hand corner, and choose "form".
This will bring you to a brand spankin' new form template where you can name your form.  For this example, I'll change the Untitled form name to "Times I See my students" by clicking on the words and typing over them.

Then you are free to go on and start creating questions.  I always start my forms with the date/time.  It just makes things easier and ensures I don't forget.  In the box "Question Title" you type the words you want to appear on your form.  In this case, still just "date".  I don't use the "help text" box, because I'm only using these forms for myself.  The "Question Type" is one of my favorite features.  You can choose anything that pertains to that question.  Here are the ones I use:

Date:  when, of course, I need to mark the date.  I also check the box that says "time".  
Text:  a short text box.  Helpful for the name of a student, or a "follow up" box
Paragraph Text:  for summaries of interaction with students, phone calls, etc.  Any time I will be using a lot of text.
Multiple Choice:  when you only need the option to choose one thing (ex: or individual).  Make sure to check the "add other" feature here, in case there are those times that none of the choices quite fit!
Checkboxes:  when you need to make multiple choices (ex:  for my phone call/meeting form, I have parent, student, teacher, etc. on there).  

After you are finished with your question, click the "add item" to add to the next question.

You can completely customize the questions to your needs.  Here is what I include in some samples of my 3 main types of docs I use:
Non-IEP student:  Date, Student Name, Setting, Reason for Referral, Summary of Incident, Follow-up Required
Meeting Notes:  Date, Student, People spoken to, Summary of call/meeting, follow up needed
Student Data:  Date, Summary, setting, a question for each goal/objective I have.

Once you are done, scroll to the top of the page and click "view live form".

This will take you to your very own form (you can also change the theme and make it colorful and pretty if you'd like).  Save the link to this document!  You can always go back to it, but saving this link on my computer favorites and iPad allows me to quickly bring it up anytime I need it.

Enter data whenever you see fit and submit.  Viola!  There it is!  All your data is then saved securely in google drive, where you can access it when you need it.  To create a spreadsheet of your responses, go back to your editable form and click "view responses", where you will be taken to a Google Doc spreadsheet of your responses.

And that's it!  Although it takes a few minutes to set up, I have found that this system is well worth it for the time that it saves me in documentation.  I can access these documents from any computer and save the links to the forms anywhere.

What is your system that works?