The Chalk Blog

Creating the “Most Suitable” Self-Contained Classroom

According to my Google search, ideal is defined as, “satisfying one’s conception of what is perfect; most suitable.”  

Perfect? Ha! This is the standard we all strive for and never quite reach. While “perfect” may seem a bit far-fetched, I do believe we can create the “most suitable” environment for students who need a self-contained classroom. (A self-contained classroom is a smaller setting with fewer students managed by a special education teacher where students with special needs might spend most their day to receive a variety of instruction depending on the individual need of the student.) 

To provide you, the reader, with practices that actually WORK in the classroom, I asked a few of my favorite special education teachers from Delano Public Schools (MN) to help me. Read on to find out what they had to say.

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Topics: Teaching Advice, Special Populations

4 Ways to Build a Student Choice-based Classroom

As a new teacher, I first started offering students more choices when I grew weary of reading 150 essays on the same writing prompt. I knew there had to be a better way!  It was clear my students needed scaffolding to find success, including opportunities to write topic sentences together, review textual evidence, and formulate complete paragraphs, but I quickly realized they didn’t need to be writing on the same topic to share in this learning process. When I opened up the next essay to three topic choices (and a “free choice” option for those students willing to write their own topic proposals), their engagement skyrocketed and the quality of their writing improved. I was thankfully more engaged with the process too, because there was less repetition and it was exciting to see their unique viewpoints emerge.  

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Topics: Teaching Advice

Literacy Strategies for Reading: Making Connections [VIDEO]

Learn how to make connections in reading through a quick sticky note strategy, text to self, text to text, and text to world.  A great tool for any grade level!

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Topics: Literacy

The Importance of Assessment In Reading Interventions

I recently started having headaches almost daily.  When these headaches began to impact my quality of life and productivity, I decided it was time to go see my doctor.  After listening to me, the doctor wrote me a prescription for a medication he gives all his patients with headaches.  Seemed to make sense, until I stopped to think!  Does one medication work for every patient with headaches?  What is causing my headaches?  Wouldn’t it make more sense to treat the cause of the headaches?  The doctor should have looked more deeply and diagnostically when he met with me.   

Just as we sometimes see the “one size fits all” approach in health care, it happens with reading intervention as well.   

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Topics: Literacy

Increasing Student Engagement Through Student-Led Discussions

What makes your teacher heart happiest?  

Think about the moments in your classroom where students are clearly engaged and demonstrating deep learning of content you have planned and implemented. When do you feel most hopeful and inspired by your students’ involvement and actions?

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Topics: Teaching Advice

June Amazing Teacher Spotlight

Back in April, Learners Edge announced our first ever, Amazing Teacher Contest and we were overwhelmed with the nominations we received. Collectively, the nominations captured the essence of what makes a good teacher a great one — creative classroom teaching; connection with students for whom an exceptional adult role model makes all the difference; and an uncanny ability to push students beyond what they think possible. Because of these fantastic nominations, Learners Edge will profile inspiring teachers throughout the year - teachers who have gone above and beyond the call of duty in unique and exceptional ways.

One such nomination was an Amazing Teacher Contest finalist, Paige Norman.  Paige is a K-12 Special Education Teacher in the small rural town of Nondalton, Alaska. Read below to learn more about Paige and how she continuously goes above and beyond in making a difference in the lives of her students and her community.

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Topics: Learners Edge News

Videotaping for Teacher Self Reflection and Instructional Coaching

 

My colleague, Molly,and I are both Curriculum & Instruction Specialists for Learners Edge. One of our roles as C & I Specialists is to ensure Learners Edge is meeting educator needs by offering the professional development teachers need and want.  

Besides asking you directly---(Teachers, please let us know your needs! You can email me at Susanne.Leslie@LearnersEdgeInc.com any time to offer your suggestions!), we travel the world to track down hot topics and to find out what educators are interested in learning! 

This year, the ASCD Conference was presented in Anaheim, California and was billed as “EMPOWER17 The Conference for Every Educator!” Enthused by the message of educator empowerment, we headed west to the Golden State to learn about the latest (and greatest!) in education, curious about what we would discover.  

And, discover, we did! 

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Topics: Teaching Advice, Teaching with Technology

Fidgets for the Classroom [VIDEO]

Fidget spinners have been all over the news recently, and with good reason as fidgets can help students self-regulate and stay in control. This video blog gives you some great tips and ideas for using handheld fidgets for the classroom to help your students.

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Topics: Teaching Advice, Special Populations

Making the Shift to STEM Education

 

After completing Learners Edge Course 5080: Making the Shift to STEM Education, teacher Laurel Woodward created this amazing plan of action/implementation plan to address how she will make the shift to STEM education. Check out her STEM goals and her implementation plan to achieve these goals in her exceptional coursework below!  

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Topics: STEAM/STEM

Father’s Day-Time to Talk About Heroes

Father’s Day is coming! As teachers, this can be tricky! It’s the end of the school year with many things to wrap up, and we might have students who don’t have a father in their lives. Regardless, we knowwe are supposed to help students honor their fathers in some way. Maybe one of our art hours is dedicated to creating a small gift…a cute card, a ceramic sculpture or a simple poem. Maybe we have dads come in for donuts and juice. We make sure it’s part of our plan before the school year ends. Right?  

Great intentions, for sure, but I wonder if we can go deeper and connect this day to having students identify their personal heroes, after all many may choose their dad or a father figure. Let me tell you more.  

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Topics: Teaching Advice