IEP Snapshot for Regular Education Teachers

As I start gathering my resources for this year, I wanted to create something that I could use with regular education teachers in order to give them a short overview of the special education students in their classroom.  While there are alot of great resources already out there, I could not find one that exactly matched the information that I wanted to provide.  The main two areas I want regular education teachers to be aware of are the accommodations and the services.

So, I created the following one page “Snapshot”.


While previous practice has been to give teachers the accommodations and behavior plan if there is one, I want to go a step further with the teachers.  I would like to sit down with them and fully explain what is written on the paper.  To often, a paper is passed to a teacher and filed away without a second glance.  I plan on scheduling individual conferences with teachers who have special education students in their classrooms, so they know from day one, what accommodations must be provided and what unique needs they will have for the year.

If you would like to check out “IEP Snapshot for Regular Education Teachers” click here.


Guest Blogger on Student Savvy

I’m very excited to be a guest blogger on Student Savvy.  The post was uploaded yesterday afternoon.


Here is a peek at the article…..

6 Simple Strategies to Boost Student Behavior


Student behavior can be quite complicated but the strategies teachers use can be simple, and yet still effective.  These six easy-to-implement behavior interventions are simple ways to boost your students behavior.  You can never have too many strategies since you never know what unique learner will be entering your class……To read the entire blog post click here.

Thanks so much Suzy!


I’m also linking up with RclassroomsRus for Friday’s News to share what we have done this week.  Check it out here.




Cool Down Cushion: A Preventative Strategy


Many classrooms have reflection centers and they are primary used as a place that children can go and reflect on the behavior that has already happened.  Reflection centers are very helpful and I have seen how they dramatically drop the number of office referrals in middle schools when used in the school’s behavioral continuum.  However, how about having a place in the room that is preventative in nature?

As teachers, it is important to teach students productive and healthy ways to deal with emotions such as anger, sadness or frustration. By teaching students different tools they can use to deal with these emotions in a healthy way, we are helping the individual student and eliminating a potential disruption to the learning environment. The first step in doing this is being proactive and ready for a child who needs some additional help calming down within the classroom. The cool down cushion is the perfect place to “house” these tools and strategies.

The purpose of the cool down cushion is preventative, as a place where a student can voluntarily go when they identify signs of frustration before hitting the point of no return.  Of course you could call it something else.  I just liked defining an actual place in the room and giving it a label.  Next to the cushion, there should be a variety of tools students can use to cool down.

Tools for your Cool Down Cushion


1. A cushion or pillow-This defines the space in the classroom and gives the student something comfortable to sit on.

2. Crayons and paper-Many children are calmed by being able to draw and reflect through art.  If you have children who cannot write yet, you can have them draw how they feel.

3.Feelings cube-I actually came across this as I was cleaning out my office and thought it would be a great addition to a cool down area.  Emotions are displayed on all sides and students can use it to identify how they are feeling.  I wish I knew where I originally got it, but you could create one yourself.

4. Sand timer-This allows a time to be set for being on the cushion.  Depending on the situation, time can be extended since some students may require a longer amount of time to calm down.

5. Stress ball or squishy ball-This allows students to “squeeze” out their anger.  Playdough might be another option.

6. Cue cards-These cards would have different strategies to use in order to calm down. Some strategies could be count to ten or take a deep breath.  It is important that we teach students different strategies to use in order to cool down.  A Self control cue card would also be a good inclusion or a set like the cards shown below.


7. Small stuffed animal or plush toy-For younger grades, this gives students a since of comfort and something to hold.

8. CD player-Allow students to listen to classical music or other soothing music.

9. Bubbles-This allows students to blow out anger or negative feelings.

10. Bottle of Water-Drinking water is a strategy that reduces tension and can calm a student down.  I decided to actually make a label for the bottled water that matched the theme.


11. A basket, crate, or bucket to store all the items


Some of the above items might not work in every teachers classroom (such as bubbles might provide more of a distraction).  Every teacher has their classroom set up differently, so pick and choose what works best in your classroom.


In order for this strategy to work, students must be taught when and how to use the cool down cushion.  It is also important for students to know it is not a punishment or discipline practice, rather a place to regain their emotions and calm down.  Partnering with your school counselor or school psychologist for mini lesson could be beneficially  when teaching your students the ways to use the Cool Down Cushion.


You can get a free copy of a “Cool Down Cushion” sign here which can be placed on the wall where your Cool Down Cushion will be kept.

You can get the complete set of cue cards with 12 cool down strategies, water bottle label, directions, and a mini-lesson here.


Self-Addressed Discipline


Self Addressed Discipline is a good strategy to use when you have parents who are equally responsive to their child’s behavior as you.  When a student continues a behavior (calling out, out of seat, etc.), after a couple of warning, he/she is required to complete a form letter.  The letter identifies the inappropriate behavior and an explanation of how the student plans to correct the behavior in the future.

blue sheet

The completed form is then put into an envelope with the parent name.  The student is informed that the letter will be placed in a file unless the student exhibits the inappropriate behavior again within a designated time frame (that day, that class period, etc.).

If the behavior occurs again then the letter is sent home or it could be scanned and emailed to the parents.  Parents should understand the meaning of this form.  The power behind this strategy is that the student knows the letter is sitting and ready to be sent home and the teacher is not making an idle threat such as “I’m going to call your parents”.  Some children can regain control of their behavior once the letter is ready to be sent home.

Get a FREE copy of the formed letter above HERE.


Reward Menus


One of the most difficult parts of behavior plans is finding reinforcers that are effective and long-lasting.  Many times I hear in meetings that the behavior plan worked for a couple of weeks, but now the student is no longer interested or motivated by the rewards.  Most any students will soon become tired of a reinforcer unless it is regularly changed.  I find this also true with my own children!

Reward menus are a good strategy to use to prevent this problem.  Instead of designing a behavior plan around having only one reward for accomplishing the goal, try letting students select among several possibilities.  Depending on the needs of the students, the reward menu could be used at the end of a week, the end of a day, or for especially challenging students, it can be used several times throughout the day. I have typically used a “menu” that has four choices, similar to the one below.

reward menu

You can make a reward menu for students based on their interest inventories and rotate the rewards every couple of weeks.  Many schools have PBIS “dollars” or “bucks” which are a good option for one of choices since typically the students are working towards a bigger “prize”.  Rewards choices do not need to be large or tangible…..just being the line leader is a choice that many children may want or making a positive phone call home to their parent.  If you are having difficulty coming up with different ideas, here is a list of some different choices.

reward menu

After you have added the choices to the reward menu, you can staple into a behavior folder, so the student can see their options each day or week.  Once they start to become tired of the same rewards, switch it up and create a new reward menu and eventually space out the rewards as the student is meeting their goals.  If you would like to check out some different reward menus I created, click HERE.


Mystery Hero Student


This strategy is helpful when a couple students are creating most of the behavior problems within the classroom.  The teacher explains that there is a student’s name written down and kept in the mystery hero student envelope.  Throughout the day, the teacher will be watching this student to see if they are following the classroom expectations or some other set criterion (ex: staying in seat, raising hand, keeping hands to self).


If the mystery student meets the set criterion or expectations, then the whole class receives a reward and the name of the student will be revealed.  The rewards do not need to be big or even tangible.  I plan on having a future post about reward menus that will give lots of ideas! If the criterion is not met then the name of the student is not revealed (you do not want to embarrass the student) and another chance is given the next day.

Another option could be putting all the student names on popsicle sticks and place them in a jar.  At the end of the day, the teacher would pull out one stick.  If the student whose name was drawn has followed all the expectations throughout the day, then the student will get his/her name put on the “Mystery Hero” wall and be given a mystery hero certificate.


You can create a bulletin board to post the names of the mystery hero students when they have been revealed.  I have created a Mystery Hero set that you can get HERE.