Posted in Teaching Life

Back to School 2021: Itinerant Tips and Suggestions

There will be more trial and error this year….never stop growing.

I had incredibly high hopes that school would be opening with an obvious contrast to last year.  Sadly some of the same things that make being a Teacher of the Deaf are still going to be in place. I survived it last year and I know I can do it again.

I have individual record keeping for each student. Keeping pages seperate and clean.

My prep this year is a bit different because I put some things in place last year that will make this years start up smoother and less foreign. These strategies and tools were a bit overwhelming last year, but as with most things repetition and familiarity can make things easier. Being ready and really being ready is my current challenge.

Carts

Using some vinyl is colorful, easy and a fun way to make a cart your own!

Last year to limit cross contamination, between students, I put cute metal carts in multiple buildings. These carts were stocked with whatever we would need for sessions.  They were incredibly helpful, organized and mobile. I love that having something on wheels. If I was relocated for the day, I would just wheel my materials away! This was efficient and also great for my back.  I love to joke that I sometimes feel like I’m carrying the world.  In actuality, I am at times…my little world, but none the less little worlds get heavy, so portability was key last year and will be again.

Materials and tools were easy to find, use and move!

Masks

Masks don’t seem to be going away, so wearing the right one is essential for surviving a school day. I started 2020 with all the cute fabric and clear panel masks I could find or afford. I played around with all the varieties and discovered my students preferred the disposable masks for their auditory needs.  Let be clear…no pun intended, that the clear panel masks were great in theory, but were awful in application.

So, with that being my findings from last year I have already stocked up on disposable masks. I hate throwing them away, but they are the best fit for my situation, so disposable it is. I really wore black a lot, so I decided to try out cute patterned disposable masks. My hope is pretty patterns will lift my mood.

These were an online purchase.

Tools and Resources

For years I have carried my tool bag that has all the things we need for sessions, but with the worry and possibility of cross contamination I made sure every student had individual and dedicated tools and materials.  I will be doing this again this year. It is more for me to set up, but it was mentally worth it. My students also felt safe and secure, so that was a total win.

Each student now has their own.

In the spring I took my carts and materials home. Everything has been reviewed, evaluated and wiped for this new year. I do this every June, but never before have I spent such mental thought about who gets what resources. Will I be able to rotate (with sanitization) and should I consider buying duplicates? I decided that I wasn’t going to purchase duplicates, but find ways to make what I have work. I’m sure there will be further posts on how I am making everything work in 2021-2022.

Going forward and trying to not dwell on all of the difficulties and negativity from last year. I am hoping 21-22 will be positive, productive and peaceful. Here’s to another year.

Posted in Teaching Life

An Itinerant Teachers Summer Balancing Act: Part 1

I think most people who work year round think that when teachers close the door to their classrooms for Summer break we are done working, are ready to relax and have multiple weeks to do anything and everything we want.  This may be true for some teachers, but I think for many of us the first weeks off can be a blur and filled with so many thoughts and emotions. I know this last statement to be true for me.

I love this message….what does this mean to you?

I have been off for a couple of weeks and I have definitely not felt like I was on vacation.  I still wake up at my alarm clock time. I am still getting up early. I still have all of my momsibilities.  By no means am I complaining, but I woke up this morning with my to do list on my mind and did one of the worst things I do when I get up….I check all the apps.

Checking all the apps is such a habit. I really need to make it a priority to not open my eyes and think I need to check multiple email accounts, Instagram and Facebook.  When I figure out how to do this I’ll let you know.  I know I’m not the only person who does this.

During my morning scroll I was looking at all of the awesome things people are doing this summer.  I love Instagram because it is visual and quick, but this morning it seemed like I was seeing endless summer fun and I found this to be overwhelming.

Don’t get me wrong, I am thrilled people are enjoying life, but I have no idea how they are there yet.  It takes me a few weeks to unwind from school and after the year we have all had, I am finding it more difficult to feel like I can relax and enjoy summer. Like I said I woke with a to do list on my mind.

Ending the year and practically jumping into the 4th seemed fast and not like a holiday. I was also driving my mini me to camp the first week off. Thankfully we chose a close, afternoon camp to attend, but I was still in turbo mom mode.  I also started looking around, my mostly tidy house, and started to think of all of the neglected nooks and crannies that need a reboot. So, a few days off and the brain can not shut off, the to do lists can not stop and that internal pressure of I’m not doing enough can not shut off.

What I’ve Done So Far

  • Cleaned 20-21 teaching things out of my vehicle.
  • Organized cupboards.
  • Repotted some house plants.
  • Cleaned my closet.
  • Chauffeured child.
  • Started packing and planning for family vacation.

I know this is not a crazy amount of things completed, but I feel guilty that I am not doing more, not squeezing every minute of productivity out of my day. I also realize this is a wackado way of thinking. My mental to do list needs to take a vacation.

This might even get tweaked some more.

What I Think “Needs To Be Done”

  • Make more TpT resources.
  • Organize my basement teacher area.
  • Purge cupboards, closets and drawers.
  • Redo child’s playroom.
  • Paint front doors.
  • Deep clean.
Resource that is in the works!!

Notice zero relaxation or fun on my list. The list is reasonable and totally doable, but there needs to be a mental balance. Achieving this balance of projects and guilt free summer chill time is definitely going to be a challenge for me, but I know that rest is incredibly important, especially after this year of teaching.

What I Need for Balance

  • Yoga(in person)
  • Chats with friends
  • Books….not teacher PD
  • Family time
  • Less screen time
  • Netflix and chill
  • See or do something new
  • A little nature
  • Ice cream
  • Pedicures
Eat the good things….

I think that if I can balance external responsibilities with internal responsibilities this could be a restful and productive summer vacation. Having these weeks off are a gift. I never take the time off for granted, that is definitely where some of the guilt and pressure comes from, but if I don’t reset my mind and body I won’t be the best teacher I can be for my students this September.

I am going to try my best to walk the talk!

  • Complete tasks without feeling like I “have to”
  • Have 1 lazy day per week
  • Self care
  • Spend time with friends
  • Remember to breathe
  • Spend quality time with my people
  • Ignore the calendar

This is obviously the start of summer and I have weeks to go. I am going to add more posts about my summer balancing act, so check back for updates!

Creating balance is living with purpose.

-The Listening Ladybug

Posted in Teaching Life

That’s A Wrap 20-21

This was definitely the most difficult year teaching in my 20+ years of experience. There were so many changes, that I am proud of myself, co-workers and students for keeping up and kicking butt. I am very sure that no one ever expected this type of year or would welcome it back!

Last day of school message.

Being itinerant I am always somewhat flexible, but this year I was stretched to my limits. My schedule changed nine times. This number of adjustments is not typical and every time it changed I tried my best to accommodate my students and fellow teachers, with as much positivity as I could muster. Some days were more difficult than others, but we managed and got through it.

I am very thankful to have had very understanding and supportive parents. Working with a hybrid model had a few challenges to meet IEP mandates, but everyone pulled together to get my kiddos what they needed. I tried my best with Google Meets, in-person sessions and take home work. I do not think I would ever choose to have another online session again, but even with an immense dislike for distance sessions, I learned a lot about my students and myself. I found that technology isn’t all it is cracked up to be and how valuable the face to face time really is. Nothing can replace the real-time, in the moment energy that happens when you meet a student for 30 minutes.

I am currently enjoying my first day of summer break and also looking forward to what 21-22 will bring. I know in many posts I write about how I love to keep changing, refreshing, revisiting what works and what doesn’t, never getting stuck in a groove….but I think after this year of constant change I might take next year off. I will always reflect and do what is needed for my students, but if I can make it through a pandemic with masks, crazy schedules and endless amounts of hand sanitizer….I think I am due a year of not critiquing my teaching.

Gift from a student.

Here’s to a summer to remember, filled with relaxation, rest, and rejuvenation.

Posted in Teaching Life

Literacy Skills: Spring Sequencing Activity

My students love Splat the Cat stories. I find them easy to read aloud and think the illustrations are cute. Each story typically has enough content and pages to keep my young listeners engaged.

How I Use When Reading Aloud

  • Read
  • Stop and ask questions
  • Predicting
  • Vocabulary
  • Text to self connections
  • Text to text connections

Depending on the student I probably use 2-3 of these ideas when reading the story. I find that reading a fun and simple story can pepper in and layer in many goals or needs a student might have. Story books are one of my favorite tools when working on goals.

I decided with this story I wanted to develop a resource that could be used with various levels of learners. I created different options to sequence the growing process Splat goes through. Creating worksheets that go with the story, but can also be used with other stories is also a goal of mine. I have a student that does not enjoy Splat as much as others, so I know I can use this resource with a few other Spring/planting books I have in my collection.

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Sequence-Retell-Splat-the-Cat-Oopsie-Daisy-6825500

This resource can be printed and copied in color or black line. I typically love color, but if you have a student who loves to color or needs fine motor practice, then printing the black line version would be awesome. Anytime I can support another therapist or teachers goals is a total win!

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Sequence-Retell-Splat-the-Cat-Oopsie-Daisy-6825500

The language used in the various options supports different learners. Some of my students are using transition words, while others need just a simple number to support sequencing the pictures.

The prep for this is very easy. Decide what page option suits your students best and print.

How To Use

  • Small group
  • Centers
  • Morning work
  • Whole group
  • One to one

These can be printed on card stock or laminated for durability. Students can sequence and retell after the story. Another option is to have them listen and sequence at the same time. I would do this with a second read through. When my students used the cards the love to self check, so after the sequenced I find the first page, where Splat starts the growing process, and the listen and correct the card order.

Last, I love to connect their expressive writing skills. My students love to share their favorite aspects of most everything, so I take advantage of this joy of sharing and have them write. The illustrations are typically the easiest part of this sheet. Again finding ways to connect to the whole child. Working on fine motor and creativity. Writing and remembering the text is a fantastic auditory memory skill. If they need prompts or gentle reminders I definitely help them out. The “tell me why” piece is typically the hardest component. Wh questions are always a goal and those why questions typically challenge my students. This is a fun, simple and basic way to attack that skill with a personal connection.

Skills Addressed

  • Creativity
  • Fine motor
  • Expressive language
  • Wh questions
  • Auditory recall
  • Personal expression
  • Phonics/spelling
  • Writing

Spring has definitely sprung in my planbook. I am looking forward to reading all of my favorite Spring storybooks. I am sure I will share texts and activities in the upcoming weeks, but for now I hope you found this inspirational and useful. You can find the resource in my Teachers Pay Teachers store. Happy Spring planning!

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/The-Listening-Ladybug

Posted in Teaching Life

St. Patrick’s Language Activities

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Sayrades-St-Patricks-Day-Descriptive-Language-Game-6479598

I have created a handful of these Sayrades and some of my students love them. They ask for them. This of course makes my heart happy, because I love doing new activities and especially these days we need to spice it up.

These are perfect for vocabulary, syllables and descriptions. The goal is to say the least about of descriptions to your partner to guess. Better description is the key. We clip the number on the side. Dry earse markers also work.

Descriptive Skills

These are easy print and do task cards. I laminate, but you don’t have too. I also printed them on a black and white printer…in a pinch and still effective. I use the clue boards for a guide, but these work just as well with a student. We selected 1 of 12 pictures and then played the same way. When the picture was used, my student covered with a tiny post it note.

Expressive Language

I have a sentence worksheet attached to this resource. These words can be used to generate sentences or be story starters. This is the part two of why I made this resource. My kiddos always need practice writing longer and more detailed sentences and stories.

Listening

The Clue Boards are perfect to use for a listening activity. Once the student has reviewed all of the images they can be used for listening. I like that I can scale the listening. Students can listen for 1, 2 or 3 pictures. These can be tied into sequencing. I like to have the students listen to a sentence with a picture clue…then have the student pull the word out and cover the picture with a mini eraser or tiny piece of paper.

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Sayrades-St-Patricks-Day-Descriptive-Language-Game-6479598

I’m excited to use this for the next two weeks. Keeping things fun, easy and multi purpose this year has been a top priority and these future right in. I will also use these for a vocabulary tie in to the St. Patrick’s Day books we will be reading. I will share books in a future post.

If you like this resource definitely check out my store. I have other themes just like this.

Posted in Teaching Life

2021 Valentine’s Day Lessons and Read Alouds

This is my new haul of books. I have a solid collection of Valentine’s Day books, but of course I needed new titles.

The title alone brings the kids in. We had fun reading.

I have other stories with Desmond and Clayton. The kids seem to like these two little mice, so of course I needed the Valentine’s Day version.

This one is beyond adorable. We loved the pictures and the familiarity of the story. We read The Littlest Reindeer and The Littlest Elf over the Christmas holiday. Emma Valentine’s story delivered just as much….if not more smiles. The puppy storyline was a huge hit!

The Littlest and Biggest….fun to explore the language.

This is one of my favorite stories. I think it is the illustrations, no matter, I read it every year to atleast one student. This year I decided to make some worksheets and activities to go with it. I found the clip art on Teachers Pay Teachers.

I am having a great time with my students this week. I also read last week Nate the Great and the Mushy Valentine. I forgot to snap a pic before I shared it with one of my teams. Love my teacher tribe….not sure how they are using it, but we used the detective story for opportunities to practice predicting.

I am taking advantage of anything cute and fun this year. We are all teaching in a new situation and making the most of it has been my daily mantra. I have a post from last year if you want to see some more Valentine’s Day lesson ideas.

Happy Teaching!

Posted in Teaching Life

Winter 2021 Itinerant Teacher Essentials

Being itinerant can be a dream situation or sometimes you can find yourself questioning the busy, on the go, hectic daily grind. I happen to love my job, but winter can put a crimp in my peppy step. Cold weather, less sunshine and snowy parking lots make my daily hustle more challenging. I wanted to share a few things that are helping me stay warm and on schedule the winter season.

This is my second winter…or maybe third with these boots. They feel and fit better than other brands that look like these. I will not say that look amazing with a dress, but everything else works. I stay warm, dry and don’t slip as I am running in and out of schools all day. They wipe off beautifully and the interior is still supportive. I also like that they are a bootie. Taller boots sometimes make me feel claustrophobic. Especially, when I put winter wear on and off many times a day. I feel like when you are itinerant, you need to be light and stress free with coats, bags and footwear.

I normally wouldn’t post a pic with a price sticker, but 8 dollar of plastic heaven is worth being tacky.

This little, hot pink cone is genius. I have had the same big, black snow brush since I was in college, so that means it is pretty old. It works, but it is big, whereas I am small and it is an awkward experience. This little, hot pink job fits right in my hand perfectly. It scrapes the snow and ice with complete ease. I always struggled with traditional tools, but this little guy gets the job done fast and seeing that I move on a tight schedule, I don’t have time to struggle in the parking lot. I just zip this over the windows in under a minute and go! The spikes in the top help break up thicker ice. I honestly think if you are on the go, a busy mom, or hate winter car care-you need this. I definitely think it is goof proof and easy to control.

The car seat hooks are really helpful. I had been looking into getting some and low and behold…my mom gave me some for Christmas. I can hang them from the headrest forward or behind any seat. I love that I can hang my bag in the backseat and with winter weather it is staying off the salty, wet floor. I highly recommend these for anyone who wants to keep things off the floor or flying off the seat.

You could hang:

  • Lunchbox
  • Purse
  • Backpack
  • Tote bag
  • Trash bag
  • Grocery bags

Winter is my most challenging season as an itinerant teacher and looking for ways to make the day run smoother is always a good thing. Sometimes the schedules can leave me feeling like the Gingerbread Girl, but with better tools of the trade, it make the day more enjoyable. These 3 items are winter winners.

This winter is far from over, if I discover any other little gems, I will be sure to update you on what is making the day easier.

Check my other posts from last winter for inspiration, lesson ideas or just because.

Posted in Teaching Life

Winter Themed Books & Worksheets

I am back in person with my students and I really wanted to make our first week back fun. I purchased new snow themed books for the month off January. I looked them all over and decided I needed to make resources to pair up to the stories and also have fun tackling goals.

Every student seemed to love How to Catch a Snowman. I loved seeing and hearing what sort of trap they would build. I used this page and book with students K-2. I varied my expectations per student. My kindergartner was only expected to listen, recall and draw a trap. Where as, my 2nd graders were expected to listen, recall/sequence, pick out new vocabulary, design a trap and write/explain the trap.

Sequencing is something that I have been working on since September. We started with peanut butter and jelly activities, A s’mores game and activities, and now snowmen. This little matchbook activity hits alot of goals at one time.

  • Cutting
  • Sequencing
  • Oral language
  • Retelling
  • Writing extension
  • Descriptive language

Playing games has been difficult this year. Keeping everything clean and safe is a top priority. We played this successfully because we each had a spinner. I took the spinner on the directions sheet and the student used the large spinner. Having printed and laminated resources has been essential. I can print many copies or if laminated I can wipe down between students.

I varied the game play based on each students goal. I enjoy materials that I can manipulate to meet multiple needs or goals. This makes planning and traveling so much easier.

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Winter-Rhyming-Pairs-Worksheets-and-Games-5446711

Rhyming seems to be a difficult skill force few of my students. We will be using thematic rhyming for the rest of the school year. Snowball Moon is a new title for me. Hoping the kids like it too.

Froggy books are not my personal favorite, but my students like them, sonwhen I saw this one I knew I had to grab it. I also knew it would fit into my snow theme for January. My students will assemble a snowman after we read and discuss the story. I intend to have them cut and sort the pieces, then listen for what pieces they can select for gluing. I always try to squeeze in listening somewhere!

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Sayrades-Winter-Descriptive-Language-Game-6339269

These sheets can be cut up into cards or leave as is. I made these to be in color, laminated and cut apart. A printer selection mistake at school…totally my fault, left me with a set in black and white. Instead of recycling, I decided to toss them in my bag for atleast one student to use. So happy. It worked out and was totally fun playing this Winter “Say”rades game. I made a “Say”rades game for each season. I wasn’t sure how the kids would react to playing, but so far this one is a hit!

We seem to need alot of opportunities to use descriptive language skills. Writing can be a challenge, so playing a game and just using verbal skills to describe was fun and time effective.

Winter can feel very long when you live in a cold climate, so making the most out of it is essential for me. I am going to continue to look for fun titles and make activities that engage my students. If you liked this post check back. I have other winter themed lesson ideas coming.

Posted in Teaching Life

Creating Language Activities for My Littles

I find that I am in the constant pursuit of creating new ways to help my students use language to the fullest. Being a Teacher of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing is something I love and my own passion for language has been a helpful quality in supporting my students and the language gaps and barriers they have, but the ideas I think of are not strictly for the population of students I serve. We all use language for expression and reception, so my hope is that these activities can me modified for any student acquiring or expanding their language skills.

Descriptive Language

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Sayrades-Christmas-Descriptive-Language-Game-6297874

This is a new resource I created for the holiday season. It is easy to use and can be modified for students needs and goals.

My students love games and activities that allow them to use clothes pins-which they love. I have various types for the individual lessons I plan. I try to use basic items whenever I can. They very much like the mini clothespins.

If these pages are laminated, wipe off markers can also be used to mark points earned. Also, laminated pages will save you prepping and planning in the future.

Expressive Language

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Write-A-Story-Holiday-Animals-5072651

My students often struggle with writing. I am always looking for ways to get more from them. I started making these writing promt pages. Our time is limited and I don’t want to waste time on an illustration, so I give them one. Language is my mission, not art. Don’t get me wrong, there are times and opportunities for creativity, but I want the majority of our time to focus on words.

These were a hit last year. Something I love about these is I can print as many pages as I want per student and for multiple grade levels. I always love having resources that I can use in so many different ways. It keeps my bag lighter and mentally I am juggling less.

I encourage the students to use the picture as a spark to start their story on fire. The pictures are there to support and guide the writing process. I love watching and reading their work when it gives life something I’ve made. So many times their little, creative minds take a page in a direction I never thought about when creating a resource. I have other write a story resources in my store.

Receptive Language

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Listening-and-Speechreading-Holiday-Animals-5072469

These are so much fun. I typically use with k-2nd grade students. The pictures are cute and fun, the flexibility is great and another resource that can be adjusted to meet IEP goals. Flexibility is essential to me as an itinerant teachers.a

I love exploring and expanding on a resource. I use these mats and cards to work on listening skills, speechreading skills, vocabulary skills and writing skills. I recommend laminating the cards and mats for durability and longevity. If you are using with multiple students laminated pages also easily wipe off, between students.

Having Fun with Language

Whatever language you use to communicate, being able to express yourself to the fullest is essential. Developing new tools to help my students do just that is always going to be my jam. I love language and I love teaching language skills.

If any of these ideas seem like something you could incorporate into your lessons you can visit my Teachers Pay Teachers store. I also have a Boom Cards store under the same name. Also, you can always follow this blog, I am always adding new content!

Have a holly jolly December teaching!