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Tips & Resources for Teaching Time Concepts

Understanding functional math skills, like time and money, is essential for students with severe disabilities. I posted some tips and resources to teach money skills a few weeks ago and today I'm here to share some quick tips & resources for teaching time concepts. All of the resources linked in this post are ones that I actually use in my classroom with my students!

Tips & Resources for Teaching Money Skills

Learning to count money and understand money concepts, like purchasing and budgeting, is an important life skill for our students with severe disabilities! I want to share some quick tips with you and a few of my favorite money resources. All of the resources linked in this post are ones that I actually use in my classroom with my students!

Back to School Survival

The first few days (weeks) of school can be pure chaos! Teacher tired is so real! And it's so unpredictable. You may think you are prepared and then a new student moves in, or you end up managing a severe behavior issue, or get called in to assist with another student, etc., etc., etc.  One little bump can throw everything off and next thing you know, you're sitting at your desk at the end of the day crying. I may know this from personal experience. Here are a few suggestions for surviving those first few weeks.


Making Inclusion Work in Secondary Settings

I teach in a self-contained classroom, but I schedule several general education classes for my students each trimester. I work closely with my school counselor to create schedules that will interest and challenge my students. I want them in classes where they will learn something. Inclusion not only provides time for social interaction outside of my classroom, but it’s an opportunity to work on generalizing skills and allows students to learn some grade level content. Some of the classes that my students take include PE, music, choir, history, health, keyboarding, science, and college & career awareness. In a secondary setting, meaningful inclusion can be hard. The content is difficult, and teachers lack training and knowledge when it comes to working with students with disabilities. Here are a few tips for making inclusion successful in a secondary setting.

Modifying General Education Curriculum

As special educators, we often get the curriculum short end of the stick. It's not unusual to find a special education classroom stocked with little curriculum or leftovers that another teacher left and no budget to purchase anything new. I have a lot of direct instruction programs that were designed for at risk students but that I don't really find work for my students with severe disabilities. I also work in a district where that has a lot of subscriptions to curricula and programs and I often incorporate them into my classroom. I love using Reading A to Z  and Writing A to Z with my students in reading groups and I usually use Go Math for at least one of my math groups. I'm also seeing schools move more towards full inclusion and push in models, so it's important that special education teachers understand how to modify curriculum to make it work for our students. Over the years, and with lots of trial and error, I've figured out a way to use lessons that weren't exactly designed for the population I teach and seen tons of student success! Here's are some tips when modifying general education curriculum.

Supervising Student Teachers

Supervising student teachers or interns can be a challenge! You want to provide them with an amazing learning opportunity but you also are responsible for making sure your classroom is running smoothly and that programs are being implemented with fidelity. It may seem overwhelming to give up the control that you work so hard for, but I've had 6 student teachers so far and I promise you it gets easier with practice! Having a supportive and collaborative supervising teacher can make all of the difference for your student teacher's success. I was blessed to work with an amazing SPED teacher when I was student teaching and much of how I handle student teachers came from her. If this is your first student teacher, here are my recommendations for making it a positive learning experience.

Functional Sight Words: Reading in Real Life


I am passionate about creating meaningful reading experiences in my student's lives. I teach middle school and it can be hard to find reading material that is age appropriate for my low level readers so I've worked many hours to create Reading in Real Life. Reading in Real Life is a sight based reading program that uses evidence based instructional practices to teach students functional words that they see in everyday life. This program is excellent for students with significant disabilities, such as Autism or Down syndrome, or students who are learning English as a second language. I used high quality graphics to make sure that RIRL is age appropriate for any grade.

Each RIRL unit includes 20-40 themed sight words, broken up into sections in which 5 new words are introduced at a time. As students master the new words, they are added to their maintenance list. Once students master the included words, they can practice reading the words in a variety of different activities. Ideally, students should also have exposure to the words in the natural setting whenever possible. RIRL is unique because the focus isn't just on the student's ability to recognize the word, but there is a large focus on comprehension as well. What good is it to be able to read a word if we don't know what it means? I love that my students are able to read and understand words that they see all the time!

There are several RIRL products available for purchase at this time. You can click on each one to see a detailed description, word list, and preview.

  ►Reading in Real Life: Signs Edition





  ►Reading in Real Life: Colors Edition

  ►Reading in Real Life: Grocery Edition

  ►Reading in Real Life: Cooking Edition






  ►Reading in Real Life: Restaurant Edition
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