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Review :: Julia Cook Books

One of my favorite authors for social-emotional learning is Julia Cook. She has a book for almost every single type of behavior or situation I encounter as a school social worker and they’re great for on-the-go lesson planning when I’m scrambling to make time to plan. Best of all, my students love the books and actually pay attention while we’re reading and talking about them. What’s not to love? Here are a few of my favorites:

 

 

 

 

 

Do you have any favorite books for teaching social-emotional skills?

Disclaimer: I didn’t receive any compensation for reviewing these books. I just own all of them and love using them with my students! However, the links in this post are Amazon Affiliate links, so if you buy them from Amazon through these links, I get a little extra money to help pay for the blog/hosting/etc!

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Review :: Erin Condren Life Planner 2014

Erin Condren Life Planner

For the last 2 years, my days have been a little more organized and colorful thanks to my lovely planners that I have purchased from ErinCondren.com. I’ll admit that I didn’t order one a little after midnight the day they came out like I did last year. However, I will be just as excited to receive that decorated box on my doorstep this year! It’s always hard to justify spending so much on a planner, but each year I think about the total minutes I spend each day looking at it (probably 15-30 which works out to about 70 hours per year, or almost 3 days of my life!) and know that it’s worth it!

Here’s a round-up on my loves and wishes of my EC Planner

Loves:

  • Interchangeable covers. While I only ordered one, the ability to change the cover during the year could be really helpful. For example, I have an adorable 3-month old baby at home and I’m sure I’ll get some cute pictures of her this year that I might not to wait until next year to feature. The ability to may a little bit of money and update my cover partway through the year is pretty awesome!
  • Repositionable stickers. I hate when an appointment gets changed and I have to veeerrrrry carefully and verrrry slowly peel off a sticker and hope I don’t rip the page to little pieces. The fact that the stickers this year can easily be moved from one day to another makes me very happy! And like last year, you can personalize the stickers for institute days, school improvement days, parent-teacher conferences, etc.!

Erin Condren Life Planner

  • “Forget Me Not” Perpetual Calendar for birthdays and anniversaries. While I do have to say that the couple of hours I spend rewriting birthdays and such in my new planner is very fun, it is nice to be able to spend that time playing with my baby instead 🙂

Erin Condren Life Planner

  • The usual adorableness that comes with EC products. Here’s a glimpse of some of the insides:

Erin Condren Life Planner

My Wishes for Next Year:

  • More “circle sticker” choices. You can upload your own images, but I’d love if they had more pre-made images for holidays to choose from. This was a wish of mine from last year and I hope it eventually happens!!

circle stickers

  • Ability to personalize ALL the rectangle stickers. While it is faster (for me and probably for them too!) to have some of them with specific events already made up (sale!, no work!, doctor appt., party!, etc.), it’d really be nice to do ALL my own. That way, I can color code and not be stuck in the colors they’ve decided for certain types of events (light blue for fun things, red for work). Another repeat wish from last year…maybe it’ll happen.

stickers

  • Taller ruler. The week marking ruler is clear this year, compared to the one from previous years. It gets a lot of use from me and it’s nice that it doesn’t block part of my week. However, like before, it only sticks up from the top of the planner MAYBE 1/2 a cm. It’d be really nice if it stuck up a little more so I could more easily find the current week!

Erin Condren Life Planner

  • No August-August calendar? This was ALMOST a deal breaker for me. Sure, I could pay $5 extra for the remaining months of 2014 in addition to all of 2015, but seriously guys. A majority of your audience is school people. Why the heck would you not allow an August to August option!? I understand the production difficulties of allowing people to choose any start month, but August seems like a very common one to offer. This year, I will basically throw out August through December 2015 as soon as I got the planner so I didn’t have to lug around all that extra weight all year. This was majorly disappointing 🙁

I’ll update this post as soon as I get mine in the mail (hopefully in the next week!) Want a planner? Click any of the images in this post, sign up for an account, and get an e-mail coupon for $10 off your first order!!

A final note: All of the pictures on this post are from the Erin Condren site. None of them are mine!

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Review :: Superflex Social Thinking Curriculum

Superflex Curriculum

Each year, every teacher at my school receives a $50 purchase order to spend on supplies, curriculum, or materials for our classrooms. It’s definitely not much, but I was so happy with my purchase this year that I wanted to share it with you!

Normally, I’ll buy colored card stock (for making my numerous visual schedules, break cards, and the like), a few books discussing bullying, divorce, or other issues, or school supplies. This year, however, I decided that I needed some new curriculum! Sure, I have binders upon binders of worksheets and other things, but I’m getting so BORED with them…and so are my kids.

I’d heard really good things about the Superflex Curriculum and read a few good reviews online, so I decided to give it a try. It’s a Superhero comic book-based curriculum for students in grades 2-5 to help teach social skills and behavior regulation. If nothing else, I thought that since it featured superheroes and villains in a comic book format, it’d be my best shot to compete with the video games, movies, and TV shows my kids are interested in! And lucky for me, the starter set came in at just under $50! Perfect 🙂

If you aren’t familiar with the curriculum, I invite you to take a look at the Social Thinking Website first! After several weeks of using it, here’s what I’ve found:

Things I Love:
– The comic books are super colorful and grab my students’ attention.

Superflex Curriculum Review

– Teacher guide includes prompting questions and really good lesson plans for organizing your instruction
– Each villain (called “Unthinkables“) has a cute name that is really easy for my kids to remember and addresses many of the social difficulties my kids have.
– Some of the books come with a CD that has all the printable pages. No more need to squish my teacher guide in to the copier and deal with crooked copies! I can just print one from my computer and make pretty copies!

Superflex Curriculum Review

Things I Wish Were Different:
Brain Stress Ball– I know it’s an educational curriculum, but it makes me sad that it has to be priced like one. I have a hard time coughing out $20-$30 for a book! Also, the store sells squishy flexible brain stress balls, but I got them for super cheaper on Amazon.
– The only “comic books” available at this time are for defeating the first 3 (out of 14) villains (Unthinkables). The teacher guide provides other books that can be used to explain the remaining 11, but my kids keep wanting more of the original comic books, not random other books that I can pull in to describe the Unthinkables! I believe more are coming though.
– My original Superflex book started coming apart at the binding after only 2 weeks of use. I’m the only one who holds the book and the staples holding it together started ripping through the pages. It’s already taped up, which makes me sad!

So far, I’ve used it with students with Autism, ADHD, Bipolar Disorder, and Developmental Delays and it has worked very well for those students. A few of my kids with more severe Cognitive Impairments get distracted by all the action in the comic books (I have to show only 1 page at a time and keep portions of it covered) and have a hard time understanding the concept of “fictional characters,” which the teacher’s guide warns about.

Superflex Curriculum Review

Even despite a few negatives, I love this curriculum! My planning time has been SO reduced, which is wonderful. I’m still getting used to the layout of all the lessons, but my students have been paying attention, contributing appropriately to conversations about social thinking, and even using Superflex vocabulary outside my office!! “Rock Brain got in my head yesterday when I didn’t want to let my sister use the TV.” I have to say, THAT is pretty awesome! So if you’ve got some grant money, unspent purchase orders, or extra TpT earnings laying around, I highly recommend Superflex!

Note: None of the images in this post are mine. They are all from Social Thinking and Amazon. Also, I was not compensated by Social Thinking in any way for this review. It’s just something I wanted to share!