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Here’s to a CALM and HAPPY 2016!

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As a parent, I have searched far and wide to find really solid, usable advice on parenting over the years.  My sons are all grown up now and creating lives of their own but I still find myself using the information I have learned from Kirk Martin on a regular basis.  I apply it mostly to my classroom now, but as we all know, the job of parenting never, ever ends.

I posted the following blurb back in early 2013 and want to post it again in hopes that you may benefit from its content:

“With three teenagers and a myriad of things on my “to-do” list, my life is busy, and I’m guessing yours is too.  One of the best sources of information I have found on parenting and teaching is a website called “Celebrate Calm” (celebratecalm.com). Kirk Martin is a dynamic speaker and writer who puts out a FREE newsletter on his website. You can get FREE notices of new posts if you subscribe. You also get FREE access to all of his speaking engagements–which are also FREE, by the way. Churches or schools sponsor his workshops for parents and teachers. I have attended three of his presentations and he is always full of excellent advice and support for all of us. He really speaks to how to keep calm in your life, whether you are supporting a young child who is emotionally melting down, or helping your 15 year old who is having a “teenage moment”. He speaks of taking care of ourselves first so we can do the hard work of taking care of others. He often answers questions that parents and teachers pose to him–things that happen to all of us in our homes and in our classrooms. Did I mention how helpful this man’s words have been to me yet?  (A quick aside–his son, Casey, does speaking engagements directly for KIDS and he is really, really wonderful too.)  Kirk and Casey have produced some super helpful CDs for parents and kids.  You can find these on his website, if interested.)  Parents, check out Kirk Martin and “Celebrate Calm”, and take a step toward making your life more calm and manageable! Teachers, share this information with the parents of your students if you think it would benefit them. Once you do, let me know what you think. Thanks for reading!”

Happy 2016, Happy Parenting, and Happy Teaching!

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Aimsweb Update–11/2015

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I met with ERESA to get our Aimsweb 2.0 questions answered.  Important things to know as you go forward:

  • You may not enter scores any earlier than LAST WEEK.  If you’ve been saving your scores to enter them all in at the same time, this is what you’ll need to do:  First, enter in your benchmark scores for last week, even if they were from September.  Then add in each of your other testing scores each WEEK (instead of every two weeks) until you are caught up and can enter them every 2 weeks when you actually give them.  I spoke to a company rep and made a request that we can enter scores at any time, even as far as a year back.
  • When doing WRITING progress monitoring, your benchmark score is written as PROBE 1.  All subsequent testing should be written as PROBE 4,  ALL YEAR.
  • If you have blank spaces where there should be boxes when you try to input scores it means that you have not yet set a testing schedule for that student and subject so you’ll have to go back to do that.
  • You may change to “off-grade” progress monitoring, and when you do this, your benchmark scores will disappear and you will be asked to input new scores.  Use PROBE 4 for your benchmark score and continue forward.
  • Use the Benchmark area of the website to set schedules and the SCORE area to enter progress monitoring scores.
  • I am going to see if there can be a designated secretary in each building who will be responsible for inputting scores so you don’t have to.  I will keep you posted.
  • If you go into the system and your old scores are not populating or something else weird appears to be happening, you can call Tech Support.  However, tech support told me that the system is still glitching and to log out and try again the next day, and those scores will probably reappear…
  • Do not hesitate to call Aimsweb Technical Support at 1-866-313-6194.  They have been very helpful so far.
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Super Brain Yoga–VIDEO

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Watch this 4-minute video on Super Brain Yoga.  It is one simple 3-5 minute exercise that has you crossing the mid-line and it gets your students (and you!) moving–and smarter.  I’m going to try this with my classes this year and I’ll keep you posted!  Let me know if you try this with success in your classroom, too.

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Language! Live Introduction Video

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Language! Live is a new literacy program that is being used in our 7th through 12th grade reading intervention classes.  Watch this video to get an idea of what it’s all about!

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Hamburger Helper? Nah… Behavior Helper

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Does this sound familiar–you have a child (or student) who fidgets, gets off track easily in class or at home, is very verbal at inappropriate times, and then doesn’t get his work done?

Here are some ideas for helping that child become successful, happier, and more accomplished at home or at school:

  • When your student arrives at the kitchen table (or the classroom) in the morning, give him a specific job to do (clean the white board, get out the cereal bowls) and thank him. This helps with anxiety by beginning the day with a sense of accomplishment.  In addition, he gets to feel good about helping adults.
  • During class, your student can sit on an exercise ball. If there isn’t money in the budget for this, try experimenting with him sitting underneath his desk or in a corner on the carpet to complete assignments or take tests, since confined spaces may make him feel safe.  If he needs more space and feels confined by having too many students around him, set aside a space just for him, if possible.  Again, anxiety reduction.
  • Place a sensory strip underneath his desk so he can fidget with that instead of nudging his neighbor.  
  • Provide him with “talk tickets” to reduce blurting out. This way he has (3) times to speak out in class, instead of the usual (much larger) amount.
  • Right after lunch, your student can lead the class in chair push-ups for 32 seconds. (Pick some number that is likely to get the attention of the whole class.)  This helps him meets sensory needs and lets him be a leader.
  • If you notice your student getting discouraged, ask him to refill your water bottle. This allows him to move, get a short break from what is overwhelming him, and refocus.  Or maybe your student just needs to get a drink down the hall.  This accomplishes the same thing–movement, getting away, hydration!  (So important for brain work.)
  • After recess, your student can clean a desk or two using the “wax on, wax off” idea of crossing the mid-line to help with anxiety, sensory issues and concentration. 
  • Try using “Brain Gym” exercises with your whole class to get everyone back on track, should the need arise.
  • For the next week, try giving your student a star, a smiley face, or a high five every time you see him practice self-control in your classroom so he comes home with positive input instead of negative.  You could make a home chart for improvement there, too.

Who knows, maybe Behavior Helper will become your next favorite recipe!