Wiggly Students

If You Want Children to Sit Still, You Have to Let Them Move
Children need to move their bodies in order to be able to stay focused and to learn.  A good thing to remember is that a nerve in the inner ear, called the vestibular nerve, serves to tell the body how upright, aroused, and present to be in direct response to movement. The only way to activate the vestibular nerve so that it can do its job is to move.
Normally, a small amount of movement, like a quick stretch and turn of the head, will make the nerve fire and talk to the muscles.  When children are fidgeting and finding it difficult to stay still, they are unconsciously attempting to activate that nerve in the inner ear to improve their ability to sit up and focus.

Are Your Students in the Just Right State orin a Sensory Needs State? 
When we are forced to sit still for long periods, we are either in one of two states: the just right state, meaning that our bodies can support our ability to stay present by remaining effortlessly aroused and upright, or in a sensory needs state, which means that we cannot attend because our bodies need something to help our brains stay alert and ready to learn.  The just right state doesn't last long when we are forced to sit without moving, unless what is happening in the room is highly interesting and engages our full attention. Attention spans in young children are quite short.  Most of the time, they require constant movement and novelty to stay engaged.
Some children don’t have responsive vestibular nerves.  If a child has had a series of ear infections, for example, and has had tubes placed in his ears, his vestibular nerve may not fire with just a little bit of movement. His vestibular system requires a great deal more intensity before it will respond and tell his muscles to sit up.  This child will have an especially hard time sitting for long periods without being allowed to get up.
How Can I Keep My Classroom


Types of Learning Disabilities

Learning Disabilities are neurological disorders that affect the brain's ability to receive, process, store, and respond to information. 

Dyslexia - A language processing disorder can hinder reading, writing, spelling, and sometimes even speaking.

Dyscalculia - Dyscalculia refers to a wide range of lifelong learning disabilities involving math.

Dyspraxia - Dyspraxia, a disorder that affects motor skill development, often coexists with learning disabilities.

Dysgraphia - This LD affects writing and can lead to problems with spelling, poor handwriting, and putting thoughts on paper. 

Executive Functioning - Many people with LD struggle with executive function, which governs your ability to plan, organize, and manage details.

ADD/ADHD - Although not learning disabilities, Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and other disorders are not uncommon among people with LD.

Find out more at NCLD.



Memory Tips for Students

By: Anne Hoover (2009)
As exam time approaches students with learning disabilities often find themselves overwhelmed with the amount of information they need to remember. Teachers wisely tell their students to review in each subject as they go along through the semester.
Research tells us that if we review information within 24 hours of learning it, we are much more likely to remember it in the long run. Well thought out homework is designed with this kind of review in mind. Each student should choose strategies for memorization that fit their own learning styles:



ReadWorks.org is a Common Core aligned website with over 1,000 nonfiction text passages.  The passages are Lexile Leveled and can be searched in a variety of ways, including by skill.  This month, they have special passages related to Thanksgiving.  As a descendant of a Wampanoag chief, I hope you take the time to teach the facts about the First Thanksgiving.  I hope you find this site useful!


Cover Copy Compare

CCC, or Cover Copy Compare is a simple, research-based math computation intervention.  Below is some information from www.InterventionCentral.org regarding the strategy.  Here is a link to make your own CCC intervention sheets.  

When first introducing Cover-Copy-Compare worksheets to the student, the teacher gives the student an index card. The student is directed to look at each correct item (e.g., correctly spelled word, computation problem with solution) on the left side of the page.

The student is instructed to cover the correct model on the left side of the page with an index card and to copy the problem and compute the correct answer in the space on the right side of the sheet. The student then uncovers the correct answer on the left and checks his or her own work.



Reducing Problem Behaviors Through Good Academic Management: 10 Strategies


Students who are confrontational or non-compliant frequently have poor academic skills, a low sense of self-efficacy as learners, and a very negative attitude toward school (Sprick, et al., 2002). Misbehavior often stems from academic deficits. Educators who work with these behaviorally challenging learners, however, often make the mistake of overlooking simple academic strategies that have been shown to shape student behavior in powerful and positive ways (Penno et al., 2000). Here are ten research-based ideas on academic management that no teacher of difficult-to-manage students should be without!

1. Be sure that assigned work is not too easy and not too difficult. It is surprising how often classroom behavior problems occur simply because students find the assigned work too difficult or too easy (Gettinger & Seibert, 2002). When assignments are too simple, the student may become bored and distracted. When work is too hard, the student is likely to feel frustrated and upset because he or she cannot complete the assignment. As a significant mismatch between the assignment and the student's abilities can trigger misbehavior, teachers should inventory each student's academic skills and adjust assignments as needed to ensure that the student is appropriately challenged but not overwhelmed by the work.

2. Offer frequent opportunities for choice. Teachers who allow students a degree of choice in structuring their learning activities typically have fewer behavior problems in their classrooms than teachers who do not. (Kern et al., 2002). Providing choices gives students a sense of autonomy and voice in their learning. It should also be remembered that no teacher could possibly anticipate each student's idiosyncratic learning needs in every situation. If students are offered choice in structuring their academic activities, however, they will frequently select those options that make their learning easier and more manageable. In sum, students who exercise academic choice are more likely to be active, motivated managers of their own learning and less likely to simply act out due to frustration or boredom.

As an example of choice at the group level, an instructor may let the entire class vote on which of two lessons they would prefer to have presented that day. Choice can be incorporated into individual assignments too. In independent seatwork, for example, a student might be allowed to choose which of several short assignments to do first, the books or other research materials to be used, the response format (e.g., writing a short essay, preparing an oral report), etc. One efficient way to promote choice in the classroom is for the teacher to create a master menu of options that students can select from in various learning situations. An instructor, for example, may teach the class that during any independent assignment, students will always have a chance to (1) choose from at least 2 assignment options, (2) sit where they want in the classroom, and (3) select a peer-buddy to check their work. Student choice then becomes integrated seamlessly into the classroom routine.

3. Select high-interest or functional learning activities. Kids are more motivated to learn when their instructional activities are linked to a topic of high interest (Kern et al., 2002). A teacher who discovers that her math group of 7th-graders loves NASCAR racing, for example, may be able to create engaging math problems based on car-racing statistics. Students may also be energized to participate in academic activities if they believe that these activities will give them functional skills that they value (Miller et al., 2003). One instructor assigned to work with a special-education classroom of high school boys with serious behavior problems related that she had great difficulty managing the class-until she realized that each of them wanted to learn to drive. So the teacher brought in copies of the state driver's education manual and that became the instructional text. The students were much better behaved because they were now motivated learners working toward the pragmatic real-world goal of learning to drive (R. Sarsfield, personal communication).

4. Instruct students at a brisk pace. A myth of remedial education is that special-needs students must be taught at a slower, less demanding pace than their general-education peers (Heward, 2003). In fact, a slow pace of instruction can actually cause significant behavior problems, because students become bored and distracted. Teacher-led instruction should be delivered at a sufficiently brisk pace to hold student attention. An important additional benefit of a brisk instructional pace is that students cover more academic material more quickly, accelerating their learning (Heward, 2003).

5. Structure lessons to require active student involvement. Here is a powerful concept in behavior management: it is very difficult for students to be actively engaged in academics and to misbehave at the same time! When teachers require that students participate in lessons rather than sit as passive listeners, they increase the odds that these students will become caught up in the flow of the activity and not drift off into misbehavior (Heward, 2003). Students can be encouraged to be active learning participants in many ways. A teacher, for example, may call out questions and have the class give the answer in unison ('choral responding'); pose a question, give the class 'think time', and then draw a name from a hat to select a student to give the answer; or direct students working independently on a practice problem to 'think aloud' as they work through the steps of the problem. Students who have lots of opportunities to actively respond and receive teacher feedback also demonstrate substantial learning gains (Heward, 1994).

6. Incorporate cooperative-learning opportunities into instruction. Traditional teacher lecture is frequently associated with high rates of student misbehavior. There is evidence, though, that when students are given well-structured assignments and placed into work-pairs or cooperative learning groups, behavior problems typically diminish (Beyda et al., 2002).Even positive teacher practices can be more effective when used in cooperative-learning settings. If students are working in pairs or small groups, teacher feedback given to one group or individual does not interrupt learning for the other groups.

7. Give frequent teacher feedback and encouragement. Praise and other positive interactions between teacher and student serve an important instructional function, because these exchanges regularly remind the student of the classroom behavioral and academic expectations and give the student clear evidence that he or she is capable of achieving those expectations (Mayer, 2000).

Unfortunately, in most classrooms, educators tend to deliver many more reprimands than they do praise statements. This imbalance is understandable: after all, teachers are under pressure to devote most of their class time to deliver high-quality instruction and tend to interrupt that instruction only when forced to deal with disruptive behavior. A high rate of reprimands and low rate of praise, however, can have several negative effects. First, if teachers do not regularly praise and encourage students who act appropriately, those positive student behaviors may whither away through lack of recognition. Second, students will probably find a steady diet of reprimands to be punishing and might eventually respond by withdrawing from participation or even avoiding the class altogether. A goal for teachers should be to engage in at least 3 to 4 positive interactions with the student for each reprimand given (Sprick, et al., 2002). Positive interactions might include focused, specific praise, non-verbal exchanges (e.g., smile or 'thumbs-up' from across the room), or even an encouraging note written on the student's homework assignment. These positive interactions are brief and can often be delivered in the midst of instruction.

8. Provide correct models during independent work. In virtually every classroom, students are expected to work independently on assignments. Independent seatwork can be a prime trigger, though, for serious student misbehavior (DuPaul & Stoner, 2002). One modest instructional adjustment that can significantly reduce problem behaviors is to supply students with several correctly completed models (work examples) to use as a reference (Miller et al., 2003). A math instructor teaching quadratic equations, for example, might provide 4 models in which all steps in solving the equation are solved. Students could refer to these models as needed when completing their own worksheets of similar algebra problems. Or an English/Language Arts teacher who assigns his class to compose a letter to their U.S. Senator might allow them to refer to three 'model' letters while they write.

9. Be consistent in managing the academic setting. Picture this (not-uncommon) scenario: A teacher complains that her students routinely yell out answers without following the classroom rule of first raising their hand to be recognized. She invites an observer into the classroom to offer her some ideas for reducing the number of call-outs. The observer quickly discovers that the teacher often ignores students who have raised their hand and instead accepts answers that are blurted out. Because she is inconsistent in enforcing her classroom rules, the teacher is actually contributing to student misbehavior!

As a group, students with challenging behaviors are more likely than their peers to become confused by inconsistent classroom routines. Teachers can hold down the level of problem behaviors by teaching clear expectations for academic behaviors and then consistently following through in enforcing those expectations (Sprick et al., 2002). Classrooms run more smoothly when students are first taught routines for common learning activities--such as participating in class discussion, turning in homework, breaking into cooperative learning groups, and handing out work materials-and then the teacher consistently enforces those same routines by praising students who follow them, reviewing those routines periodically, and reteaching them as needed.

10. Target interventions to coincide closely with 'point of performance'. Skilled teachers employ many strategies to shape or manage challenging student behaviors. For instance, a teacher may give a 'pre-correction' (reminder about appropriate behaviors) to a student who is about to leave the room to attend a school assembly, award a 'good behavior' raffle-ticket to a student who displayed exemplary behavior in the hallway, or allow a student to collect a reward that she had earned for being on time to class for the whole week.

It is generally a good idea for teachers who work with a challenging students to target their behavioral and academic intervention strategies to coincide as closely as possible with that student's 'point of performance' (the time that the student engages in the behavior that the teacher is attempting to influence) (DuPaul & Stoner, 2002). So a teacher is likely to be more successful in getting a student to take his crayons to afternoon art class if that teacher reminds the student just as the class is lining up for art than if she were to remind him at the start of the day. A student reward will have a greater impact if it is given near the time in which it was earned than if it is awarded after a two-week delay. Teacher interventions tend to gain in effectiveness as they are linked more closely in time to the students' points of performance that they are meant to influence.


10 Math Pins

Check out my Math Pinterest Board for more pins related to Math for K-8.

  1. The use of manipulatives helps all learners visualize, and therefore, solidify conceptual understanding.  It is vital for students struggling to learn math.  This is true for the youngest students as well as middle and high school students.  


Tips for Teachers Dealing with Bullying

Stop Bullying on the Spot

Two students fight in classWhen adults respond quickly and consistently to bullying behavior they send the message that it is not acceptable. Research shows this can stop bullying behavior over time. There are simple steps adults can take to stop bullying on the spot and keep kids safe.


Engaged Students Learn More

Use kinestetic activities to engage students. Wake up the brain by integrating body movement into lessons, or as brain breaks. These activities cure many problems in the classroom.



This scene is from one of my favorite movies, "Freedom Writers".  On many levels I can relate to Erin and have experienced almost this exact situation. In addition, I feel that working for a charter school, we face this type of thinking often as well.  I must share with you a mantra I have developed over the years for myself: decisions are easy, do what is right.  I do what is right by students, and try to let the rest go. Here's hoping everyone has a great school year!

I Can

Here are two behavior charts for primary aged students for Tier II: I Can #1I Can #2.  Behavior charts are great because you can customize them to so many needs. Many students need a higher rate of reinforcement to exhibit acceptable levels of classroom behavior.  Behavior charts help you give visual feedback to the student instantly or at the end of a block of time throughout the day and can be tied to larger rewards.  It is usually easy to fade these systems to your classroom-wide system. 


Think Different


Guest Blog - RtI

Thanks, Jessica, for the opportunity to guest blog! This is my first time guest-blogging, and I'm glad to have the opportunity. 

I'm the RtI Coordinator at a PreK-8 Imagine charter school in Florida. Prior to my current position, which is new for this year, I taught PreK ESE, 1st, 3rd and 4th grade as well as middle school reading. I hold certification in Elementary and Special Education and am currently finishing my educational leadership M.S. This will be my fourteenth year teaching.  I've taken a  long path to my current position and I truly feel I have found where I belong. Finally. 



I love to craft. Since my daughter was about three, every year over Thanksgiving weekend we make Christmas ornaments to give as gifts. Over the years, we have expanded to include larger gifts such as scarfs, decorative pots and framed scrapbook pages. One thing I've never done, but always heard it was very easy was using Mod Podge, which is a type of glue. This year I don't have a classroom, so I've been missing the classroom-set-up activities I used to enjoy every summer. I decided to decorate my new office with some crafty items to satisfy the need to "nest". I'm sharing an office with a coworker and we decided on an orange and pink color scheme. .I made two different Mod Podge items,



Last summer, a teacher at my school introduced me to Prezi. I played with it a bit last summer. After you get used to the concept and tools, it's a pretty neat way to use technology in the classroom.  I can make Powerpoints faster, so for the rest of the year I went back to Powerpoint.  However, I'm currently working on a Prezi for a professional development workshop I'm presenting and they've made some changes which I think makes it easier to use.

Last year I taught middle school intensive reading.  The first day of school I showed this All About Me Prezi as an introduction to an ice breaker with each of my middle school classes:



For those of you who are not uber-experienced bloggers, there's a few things you should know!

1. When commenting on a blog Captcha is annoying.  (It might be on and you don't even know it.)
2. The owner of a blog can't reply to your email if you are a "noreply blogger".
3. If you have a blog you can advertise it through your profile! I like to visit the blogs of those who comment, like, share, or follow my blog and often I can't find them.

Meghan at Shine On popped up in Google when I tried to find someone who had already written a fabulous post about this topic. Check it out if you want to fix it to be a more-friendly-blogger. :)


Resources I Can't Live Without

Rockin' Resources is a great blog to subscribe to, and I found it through one of my new favorite-things: Linky-Parties! Everyone will be soon inundated with school-related thoughts and will likely be spending some money! Here are some of my can't-live-without-teacher-tools.


My Teacher Story

When I was a senior in high school I joined the Navy Band as a flute/sax player. About six weeks after graduation I left for boot camp. I knew that there were two things I wanted to do with my life, and I couldn't pick: music and teaching.  I decided to pursue the music end and if it didn't work out, pursue teaching. Well, two years later I had a fully paid scholarship to a four year college.  (I developed a life-long disorder called Interstitial Cystitis, or "IC" and was discharged from the military 20% "disabled".) The VA generously paid for me to be "retrained". 

I attended Salve Regina University in Newport, Rhode Island.

Rethinking Kindergarten

“IQ was the predictor of success in the 20th century. In the 21st century, self-regulation will be the predictor of success,” says Stuart Shanker, distinguished research professor of philosophy and psychology at York University and one of Canada’s leading experts on self-regulation. Genes and temperament impact the development of self-regulation, but the key idea for kindergarten teachers is that children with poor self-regulation struggle to cope with ordinary classroom stimulation: sights, background noises, textures, emotions, what other children are doing and saying. “When a child is putting so much energy into coping,” says Shankar, “there is little left over for paying attention, controlling impulses, remembering instructions and ultimately for learning.”
Canadian and American data suggest that between 25 and 50 per cent of children going into Grade 1 struggle to varying degrees with self-regulation. “That’s why it’s crucial to focus on it in kindergarten,” Shanker says. Here are four ways to build self-regulation in the classroom".   Read More


Newbie Bloggers Blog Hop

Since I just recently "went public" with my blog, I'm joining the Newbie Blog Hop from Grade Three is the Place for Me.  If you'd like to join, link up and post the following on your blog:

1.  what state you are in
2.  your current teaching position
3.  your teaching experience
4.  when you started blogging
5.  share a blogging tip / blogging resource

1. I live in Florida. I've also living in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Illinois, Virginia and Louisiana. 
2 and 3. I am currently the RtI Coordinator for our K-8 school. This year I will work directly with 2nd-8th graders in reading and math.  I have also taught PreK ESE, 1st, 3rd, 4th and middle school. This is my 14th year teaching. 
4. I started a website for my school last summer. This summer I discovered the teaching blog world and I decided to make it public.
5. Cutest Blog on the Block has free backgrounds, headers and graphics! 


Waiting Rarely Works: Late Bloomers Usually Just Wilt

by: American Federation of Teachers at ReadingRockets.com

A look at three pivotal longitudinal studies that clearly show: Late bloomers are rare; skill deficits are almost always what prevent children from blooming as readers.
For thirty years, up until about a decade ago, the idea of "late bloomers" was widely believed among researchers and educators alike. "Late bloomer" was the endearing term for a child who was slower than his peers in learning to read. The idea, so well captured in the term, was that these children would bloom in their reading—they would just do it a bit later than their peers. This common view, known among researchers as the "developmental lag" theory, was


Common Core

I ran into a like-minded friend-colleague yesterday at school when I stopped by to make copies for the RtI Binders I'm going to give to each grade level this year. We started talking about all sorts of things that we agree on.  I mentioned to her to check out my blog for Common Core resources, so I thought I would write a post highlighting that information here for easier viewing.  Here is my Pinterest board for Pinterest Common Core Board and a post about Text Complexity.  Florida has an excellent reading website from the Florida Center for Reading Research with free center activities: just print and go!  My posts about thinking deeper, character titles, and  Education World's Article are all related to Common Core. If you haven't yet, make sure to sign up for and check out Teachers Pay Teachers. As of today there are over 900 FREE documents, lessons, etc. related to Common Core.



Well, this year I won't be setting up a classroom, which, honestly, makes me sad. I loved going to my new classroom (I only stayed in the same classroom for two years in a row once in 14 years!). I love change, so I would usually change my theme each year. So, I can't resist Pinning classroom organization pins even though I have no classroom to organize! I figure I'd share them all with you!


Developing Intrinsic Motivation

Teachers often struggle with students who they perceive to be unmotivated. A common debate is whether or not rewards are appropriate for use with students. On one hand, rewards can encourage students to do things they are not otherwise motivated to do.  On the other hand, people often worry that students can become dependent on rewards.  A statement I often hear is


Advice for the New Teacher

My first year of teaching as a general education classroom teacher I was the fourth teacher of the year and I started in January. The biggest lesson I learned that year is that right or wrong, people judge you on how you handle your class in common areas such as in the hallway or cafeteria. They may have no idea what goes on in your classroom, but your worth as a teacher is judged daily and whispered about behind closed doors. I was successful that year simply because I was the fourth teacher of the year.  I was compared to the other teachers on a daily basis. Because the principal had to go into the classroom and literally take kids off the counters because they were climbing the walls with the teacher before me, I unknowingly had it easy: all I had to do to earn a good reputation was get good line behavior. Never forget that especially in those areas you are being watched and judged.  Your first year teaching is stressful and you are going to make a lot of mistakes. Fourteen years later, I still make a lot of mistakes.  Give your self a break and try again the nexttime. Below are some more tips for your first year.  Enjoy! This will be the worst and best year of your teaching life! 


Top 10 Tools in the Teacher Toolbox

Teaching My 3

John Hattie analyzed over 50,000 research studies on the effects of a long list of variables in the classroom. Assuming we can't choose the students we teach, the following are a list of the top 10 Teacher Tools that have the greatest effect on student achievement. Those listed below were found to have a .70 or greater effect. A .50 is one year, and 1.0 is two years. 

10. Teacher-student relationships - Teachers show empathy, warmth, encouragement.  


I'm pretty sure I already told you already about Teaching Blog Addict, but I have explored that site some more and you HAVE to check it out. It is a daily go-to for me now. You will love it. It is a great collection of Blogs and Pins from teachers all over the world in every possible capacity. Here are some highlights:

Summer Book Studies
Freebies, Giveaways, Linky Parties 
Blog Hop
Featured Authors
Virtual Expo

TBA Fan Page Pinboard at Pinterest
Pins divided into category


Give it All Your Heart

Follow The Famous Yellow Road

Some people say that teachers choose this profession simply because they want summers off. I must say, that is a great perk when you have children. However, what do I find myself doing this beautiful summer morning? Blogging about teaching. And what have I spent my "down" time doing this summer? Planning for the next school year. Oh sure, I've spent lots of time with my kids, cleaned my house, gone to the beach, read a few books for pleasure.  I've gone shopping, but what did I buy last night? Sixty 1 subject notebooks on sale for .17 at Walmart!!! What do I always come back to? What is always in my heart? Teaching.  

My brother recently came into town. We are very different. He was my first student, and truly, inspired me to become a teacher. Either that, or


A Day in My Shoes

Ruby Red Slippers

A day in my shoes. Hmmm. Well, first of all, I am terrible about shopping for myself, so you have three pairs of shoes to pick from so that limits which outfits you can choose, which is further limited by whether you feel like ironing (or if you have enough time between locating lost pom-poms for your daughter and bribing your son to get dressed with xbox).

6:00 - I wake up, go to the bathroom and decide



Happy Independence Day, everyone!

I have some quiet time to myself on this holiday and I was perusing Facebook and noticed someone was on a soapbox (something with which I myself am quite familiar) about not calling today "The Fourth of July", but going back to the holiday's 1940's roots and calling it Independence Day. Or course, this person went on a political rant about the state of our country today and Obamacare, blah blah blah. However, the thought crossed my mind about how difficult it is to balance the immediate needs of our students with the very important life skill of becoming an independent learner.

There is a lot of research about why



I am proud to say that Toad-allyExeceptionalLearners gave me the Lovely Blog Award. The rules of the award are:

1. follow the blogger who gave you the award,
2.  link-back to the giver and
3. pass the award on to 15 new blogs.


Text Complexity

As common core standards become the new driving force behind our teaching, text complexity is of particular importance. This is driven by research that found that there is a 350 point gap between end of high school texts and beginning college texts. The Common Core standards are designed to


Teachers Pay Teachers


I've bumped into this site several times in my searching in the last year or so. As soon as they asked me to fill out a membership with my email, etc. I moved on. Well, after bumping into it over and over again via Pinterest links, I decided to join and check it out. I'm so glad I did!  This week, there are over 30,000 FREE resources and another 98,000 for under $3.  Check it out, you won't be disappointed.

More Sensory Processing Disorder


This whole site is a blog dedicated to SPD. In this post, the author describes using this book to talk to kids about SPD.


Multisensory Math


So, this summer I am tutoring a second grader who has been diagnosed with dyslexia and ADHD. She is unable to take medication, so focusing is a very difficult task for her. She has particular problems in math and so after working with her yesterday I decided to see if I could find some more ideas on how to teach math using a multisensory approach.

While researching, I remembered a training I attended more than 10 years ago regarding Touch Math so I decided to look into it. The idea is very visual and physical, which helps most students learn, but is nearly essential for a student like my "Tuesday tutoree".  She mixes up numbers, forgets whether to count up or back when subtracting and really does not appear to have any concept of what all the abstract computation is. Place value, time and money are all a mystery to her.

The Touch Math site has several sample units per grade level that are available free for download as well as number cubes that can be downloaded and made with laminated card stock.  There is also a free training available. If any of you have additional multisensory math resources or links, let me know!


Sensory Processing Disorder

I often find myself giving out this excellent resource, so I figured I should share it with you. Many people are aware that students with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) have "sensory issues". However, most people that I have met do not know that individuals do not have to have ASD to deal with sensory struggles. Individuals with any disorder, particularly ADD and ADHD have problems integrating sensory information. Some people are even diagnosed only with SPD and don't meet the criteria for any other diagnosis. Regardless of the alphabet soup (what I call the myriad of acronym-diagnoses) attached to an individual, it's great to know how the sensory system works and what to do when someone is struggling with SPD or similar symptoms.

Think about a newborn infant, suddenly thrust into the world of sensory information that until birth was muffled significantly. What do newborns typically do when they are "over stimulated"? They typically simply shut down and go to sleep. Their brains are so overwhelmed that they just shut down to regroup. Fast forward a year or two and think about an over-tired toddler. What do they do? Do they ask to take a nap or crawl into bed? Rarely! They generally get more and more hyper and out of control. These are both examples of normally developing sensory systems.

The sensory systems are not typically fully developed until around age 10. If the brain is not making connections smoothly between systems, this can affect learning in all areas and can be manifested in a wide variety of observable behaviors. Children may appear lethargic, withdrawn, depressed, distracted, hyper, out of control or antsy when their system is not coordinated. This is often the reason why an overtired, overstressed or hungry student exhibits these same behaviors. However, sometimes the problem is actually a neurological issue that can be defined as SPD. This is a great analogy from www.sensory-processing-disorder.com :
"Imagine driving a car that isn't working well. When you step on the gas the car sometimes lurches forward and sometimes doesn't respond. When you blow the horn it sounds blaring. The brakes sometimes slow the car, but not always. The blinkers work occasionally, the steering is erratic, and the speedometer is inaccurate. You are engaged in a constant struggle to keep the car on the road, and it is difficult to concentrate on anything else.

The range of the symptoms vary widely. Here is a video from an individual who is hypersensitive to stimuli and has been diagnosed with SPD. (Some students, often those with ADHD, are not sensitive enough to stimuli and that is why they crave more, more, more!)

The author at Sensory-Processing-Disorder.com has an excellent page regarding symptoms from which I have highlighted a few parts:
Imagine if:

  • You could see obstacles in your way, but you could not make your body move the direction you wanted it to to avoid them.

  • You felt like someone had given you a shot of Novocain in your backside so you couldn't feel if you were sitting in the middle of your chair and you fell off 3 times during this training.

  • Your clothes felt like they were made of fiberglass.

  • You tried to drink a cup of water from a paper cup, only you couldn't tell how hard to squeeze it to hold onto it. So, you squeezed it too hard and the water spilled all over you. The next time you didn't squeeze it hard enough and it fell right through your hands and onto the floor.

  • Every time you tried to write with your pencil, it broke because you pushed too hard.

  • The different smells in this room made you utterly nauseous.

  • The humming of the lights sounded louder than my voice.

  • You couldn't focus your eyes on me because everything and everyone in the room catches your attention and your eyes just go there instead.

  • The lights are so bright you have to squint, then you get a pounding headache half way through the presentation

  • Every time someone touches you, it feels like they are rubbing sandpaper on your skin.

  • You could only sit here for 15 minutes and then you had to take a run around the building or do 20 jumping jacks so you could sit for another 10 minutes before your muscles felt like they were going to jump out of your skin.

  • People's whispers sounded like they were yelling.

  • The tag in the back of your shirt makes you feel as uncomfortable as you would if a spider was crawling on you and you couldn't get him off.

  • You wanted to write something down but it took you at least 5 seconds to form each letter. You can see the letter in your head, but your hand will not go in the right direction to write it.

  • You had to pull the car over 3 times on the ride here because the motion makes you sick.

As you can see, if you are struggling with all of this, learning something new, listening to a lecture, walking in a hallway, eating in a crowded cafeteria or completing homework would all be quite challenging.  I highly recommend reading up on this disorder and in particular looking at ways you can make your classroom more comfortable for students dealing with SPD or similar symptoms.



When teaching a whole class, it's important to keep in mind different learning styles. There are many different theories, but one of the easiest to remember is VAK...visual, auditory, kinesthetic. Below is an excellent way to encorporate some movement into your day.


Once a Teacher

via Once a Teacher…. | Adventures in education 3.0 and web 2.0, starting from 0.0.

This is another teacher's Wordpress blog. She offers lots of great links to free technology on the web.

Teaching Children to Care

I have bought this book, Teaching Children to Care, three times because I keep lending it out and not getting it back!  This book introduced me to the Responsive Classroom approach. It was a natural fit for me. I first learned of it at ProTeacher. It walks you through how to set up a true classroom community, complete with steps for problem solving and natural consequences including the idea of students paying retribution for poor choices. I highly recommend it! 


Florida Center for Reading Research

The free resources on this site are incredible. There are lists of reviewed reading programs, including core and intervention programs and many great articles. My favorite part of this site is the section with the center activities. These are ready to print on cardstock, laminate and bingo! you have centers for reading that are not just fluff. Check it out when you have some time.



Think Deeper

I think this is what I've been trying to figure out ever since I discovered that I could teach anything with sticky notes! Kids love to write on sticky notes, it gives them a few moments to get up to put them on an anchor chart, they can be moved, color coded, the possibilities are endless. This chart is going to take my sticky note lessons to the next level!

Source: via Jody on Pinterest

Character Titles

Teach all the core standards and integrate character at the same time!


Free Kids Clip Art by Phillip Martin

Free Kids Clip Art by Phillip Martin, Free Clip Art for Kids.

This site has 100s of free, high quality, hand-drawn, colorful clipart for every school related topic imaginable! For those of you who do newsletters, this site is a must.


Stages of Reading Development

This website is well worth the cost, especially if you are a fan of Reader's Workshop. http://www.readinga-z.com/guided/stages.html

Rita's Stories

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bndCdOeMO3Y&w=420&h=315]

Check out this video that you will surely relate to! This is an excerpt from a training based on the book "Understanding Poverty" by Dr. Ruby Payne. This highlights the fact that there are hidden rules in society. Dr. Payne talks at length about how schools are typically run on "middle-class" rules. If you have students being raised in poverty, or conversely, in wealth, these students are not being taught the same rules at home.
"A 'hidden rule' is a method of interacting that is common to agroup of people (subculture). Every subculture or class has "hidden rules", but not even the class members realize the rules are there. But when someone violates the rules, it sets up a barrier. Know the "hidden rules" and you will be able to more effectively cross cultural lines."