Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A Welcomed Challenge

As you know from reading my blog, I’ve mentioned that I’m a Middle School Special Education Inclusion Teacher. Well, as of recent weeks, I am now a former, Middle School Special Education Inclusion Teacher. 

 Yep, you got it: I’m moving classrooms!

In the fall I will be transitioning into an 8:1:1 self-contained classroom as the lead teacher.

And my reaction?

I’m ecstatic!

Don’t get me wrong, I have loved my years as an Inclusion Teacher – mainly because the job allows you to:
·      Collaborate with numerous adults and professionals in the building
·      Co-plan and co-teach content areas, meaning, you always have someone to bounce ideas off of and assist you in the classroom with your preparation and execution
·      Be actively involved in the normal building routine and schedule
·      Attend classes with general education students, allowing you to work with all different students at your grade level
·      Work with students who need your support and assistance, but who can still be immersed in grade level content, routine, and structure 

But if I take a very candid reflection of my years teaching thus far, I have to be honest that I have been craving my own classroom, and a new challenge. The chance to create an environment, routine, and daily schedule, all on my own, where I can have complete control over what is taught and how it is taught. The chance to organize and decorate a classroom beyond just a resource room setting.  And the chance to work with a population of students who need much more support, and are at such different and varying academic and social levels both from each other and from what I am used to.

So as I take a step outside of my comfort zone, I am not only up for the challenge, I can’t wait for this challenge to begin! 

My mind has been swimming with ideas since I received the news! But my problem: I have a classroom full of inclusion, content rich lesson plans and materials.

What I need: academic, social, and behavioral resources at an early childhood, elementary level.

So excuse me while I so calmly shout:


I know that I am new to the blogging world, and throwing this out there may result in nothing but crickets, but I have to try! I have leaned so much from other bloggers since entering this community, and this transition could not have come at a more perfect time; right when I have become a member of a such a supportive network of educators!

So here goes….

If anyone has any ideas or resources that they can pass along I would be more than grateful and appreciative! 

Please feel free to comment and share your resources or simple words of encouragement!


  1. Good Morning! I just happened upon your blog via pinterest. I teach a self-contained, middle school classroom, and have for a couple of years now. Like you, I came from an inclusion background. Some things I have learned:
    1. Keep it age-respectful (yes, it's going to be at a 1st or 2nd grade level, but don't put the little faces, animals, etc.)
    2. I try to keep my curriculum as closely aligned to our grade level standards as much as possible. Grade level Science and Social Studies activities are fun to "lighten" but still make the students feel like they do what everyone else in school are doing. This also makes alternative assessments a little easier.
    3. Routines, Routines, Routines!

    For curriculum, check out my pinterest board. We do math games that are based on basic skills (probably one of the only things I don't base on standards). These are easy to differentiate based on level, operation, etc. I took popcorn containers, made strips that I printed basic operations on, and also little strips that had popcorn pictures printed on them. The students pick out strips, complete the operation on their paper, and keep the strips out. If they pull a popcorn piece, they've been "popped" and have to put all their strips back in. I have leveled popcorn containers (one for addition, subtraction, etc.)
    For Language Arts, we do a daily journal. No matter what level, all students had to write! It is amazing to see the growth in their writing! We also picked out a grade level novel, read it aloud, stopping frequently to summarize. The students make a modified version of the book. After every big event in the book, the students have to draw a picture of what happened, and write a couple of sentences that summarized what happened. At the end, they have a book that they can read, that goes along with a novel that their grade level peers read. If you do this on an individual level, with a para perhaps, then you'll have a class set of modified books that the class can share!
    For Science, as I said above, I pick a couple of standards that I know I can make activities at my students' level. For instance, I did a unit right around Halloween based on the body systems standards (7th grade in GA). I picked one organ to represent each body system and made a hand movement to go along with each. The students stood up, made the hand movement, touched the "organ" and recited the body system, i.e. touch head, point to temple like you're thinking, said "Brain-nervous system" or touched bottom of stomach, made flushing movements (like the move that goes along with the "washing the spider out")said "bladder-excretory system". This was practiced every day. I also made outlines of each organ, and the students colored and cut out the organ, then labeled the organ with it's name and the coordinating body system. At the end of the unit, the students outlined a body on huge butcher paper, used their organ outlines (my higher ones chose to recreate the organs with art supplies) to fill in the body outline. They looked like the crime scene outlines, and were perfect for the season! They looked incredible in the hallway.
    For Social Studies, I made file folder games of world and regional maps (there is a grade level standard in GA for 6,7,8 that requires students to identify and label certain countries in certain regions). Each folder would have a regional map, i.e. the Middle East, and a baggie containing select countries cut out with velcro on the back. Like a puzzle the students have to place the countries on the correct place on the map. I had a lower level one that was labeled already, and a high level one with a dry-erase marker and a printed list of names for labeling. I used CBI activities and trips for a lot of my social studies lessons too.

    These are just some ideas. If this helps, and you want to talk further, feel free to email me! (megangsu05 at yahoo)

  2. I work in special education as well in a self contained classroom. Depending on the needs and grade level of your students, and fine motor skills, I would suggest you goggle " file folder games". There are millions! They are great for students that have high needs and are at a lower grade level. They help set routines and have a clear outline of what needs to be done before moving onto the next task. I would also suggest making schedules for students to be put on their desk if need be as well. Seeing a full schedule of first then and finally seem to be a saving grace for these students. Have fun!! It will probably be the best year of your life!

  3. I am so glad I just found this! I am also transitioning to an 8:1:1 next year after inclusion and am looking for advice. I'll definitely be following you!