Saturday, September 8, 2012

Special Ed Teacher Must Haves

There are several things in my classroom that I cannot live without. Any Special Education Teacher new or old should definitely have the following things:

You can NEVER have enough velcro. This year I invested in tons of velcro. The best investment was the white 1/2 inch velcro dots. Anyone who has spent hours cutting velcro into tiny pieces to stick to visual schedule cards knows how awful cutting velcro can be! The dots are worth the money!

Boardmaker is a program that has tons of simple clip art that you can use to make any visuals you need. Almost every MD classroom I have seen uses Boardmaker. This year I have just started working with the interactive boards using our classroom interactive whiteboard.

Interactive Projector

Last year the district gave us an interactive projector for the whiteboard. I was SO excited! I had always heard about the amazing things that classrooms did with interactive whiteboards and now I could do those amazing things too! My favorite thing about my interactive whiteboard is how engaged my kids remain throughout the lesson. They are all dying to get a turn and they all can't help but keep their eyes fixed to the board. The only thing I don't love about my projector is that the kids need to use a pen to access the interactive features. For my kids with fine motor concerns this an added obstacle.


The iPad is another tech addition we made to my classroom last year.I love my iPad and so do my kids. Like the interactive projector, the iPad keeps my kids really engaged. Plus, there are so many awesome free or cheap apps available. Check out my list of great apps for kids with special needs here.

Hand Sanitizer
Let's face it kids can be little germ monsters! This is especially true for my kids who don't understand that having your fingers constantly in your mouth and/or nose is not socially acceptable.  Some days I wish I could take a long soak in a bottle of hand sanitizer and once I witnessed one of my paras actually rub sanitizer all over her face (this was after a very slobbery hug from a student!). Although Purell seems to be the standard, I really love the scents from Bath and Body Works and I especially love their mini sanitizers with holders that can be attached to badge clips, wheelchair handles, door knobs, etc.

Switches and Step by Steps

This year I am quickly learning that my classroom has not been equipped with enough simple assistive technology. I am working on getting more switches and switch toys. I am also beginning to use a little step-by-step which a student has to push in order to participate/communicate.

Sensory Equipment

Managing student sensory systems (click here for information about sensory management ideas) is critical to teaching students with special needs. Sensory Equipment big and small can be found all over my classroom! My students all accept that other students need "school tools" to help them be successful. At first managing the equipment (where to store, who needs what) and remembering to use it was a challenge but over the past few years we have gotten the hang of it and it is such an important part of helping my students be successful.


Sasha Marie said...

Ahh velcro dots!!! Such a time saver - I totally agree! I used to get blisters from cutting velcro strips!

- Sasha
The Autism Helper

Kara said...

My list would look really similar. And I totally agree about the horrors of cutting velcro ;)


The Gift of Autism said...

Excellent list. I'd also add stick on magnet strips. You cut off a small piece, stick on the back of a piece of whatever and you stick it on any magnet board. Very handy.

I'd also add laminating and dry erase markers for easily erasable written work.

MissAllison said...

I have gotten blisters from cutting velcro also! Laminating is also a key must-have. This year we aren't allowed to do our own laminating and the secretary only does it every Tuesday and Thursday. It is TORTURE! And dry erase markers are great too. Have you ever used SMART Pal Sleeves? They are sleeves that you can slip a worksheet in and use dry erase markers on. I love them!

The Gift of Autism said...

my iPod touch has been a life saver a few times.