My husband and I took a weekend jaunt to the capitol on Memorial Day. Even though I have been to DC many times, I had never been to Arlington Cemetery, and also hadn't seen the Franklin Roosevelt Memorial near the mall area. As I get older, I am realizing the supreme sacrifice so many of our young men and women have made. The young soldier's grave in the photo below showed he was awarded the Medal of Honor. You can look all Medal of Honor recipients up on the internet. This soldier died in Korea.
Then we walked by this---Robert Kennedy's grave. I realize most of you who are reading this don't know much about RFK, but I acutely remember the morning before school that my mother turned on the TV to the news of his shooting, and then death. He had just won the California Democratic primary. Who knows how his assassination changed the course of history. (He has the most simple grave marker in the cemetery.)
Lastly, I wish that people on both sides (Republican and Democrat) would hold this as one of their guiding principals as they campaign for office. This was a Franklin Roosevelt quote engraved in granite at his memorial.
Saturday, May 21, 2016
In North Carolina, our kindergarten through third-grade teachers will administer reading assessments, one-on-one, using the state mandated system known as mCLASS Reading 3D. Children have also been given this assessment in the beginning of the year and middle of the year. The publisher, Amplify, has created this video which would make us all want to go purchase this assessment immediately! It makes this sound like assessment utopia!
In my opinion, there's good and bad with everything especially when mixing business with education-- Amplify does sell a lot of products to assess and enhance reading and math skills (as do many other companies). I have nothing against progress monitoring, and one-on-one assessment time with kids, and think it's good when assessment causes adults to reflect on the effectiveness of ongoing instruction.
That being said, I do have a couple of thoughts about our EC population and mClass.
- I have children who can read a simple book, but the digital mClass assessment won't actually measure the book-reading skills because the same child can't fully answer the 'concepts about print' portion of the test. Once the child can't answer those questions, he is essentially prevented from moving forward in the test. There needs to be greater flexibility as to when to stop the assessment.
- I have children who can read higher level text decoding, but written language is very difficult. mCLASS requires the child to pass a 'writing about reading' component before advancing in text levels. As a result, some of my students have essentially plateaued for the whole of the school year. For my language impaired students, reading and writing are two separate tasks--writing abilities should not hold back instructional reading levels. By depriving these students of higher level text, the school (or mCLASS) is limiting these students from learning the language concepts presented in reading text at their age level. I groan with frustration when my language impaired students in 3rd grade bring first grade level books to me from their independent book box ALL YEAR. They don't seem too excited about reading them, and neither am I. I have hated to see the 'writing about reading' part of the assessment preventing the students from moving up. We work on it during our speech/language sessions, but it's very frustrating.
A couple of esteemed colleagues, who are not in special education, have also expressed their thoughts about mCLASS in EdNC. They are much more knowledgeable about this than I am (since one is a teacher and one is a literacy coach) and have presented well-balanced opinions on this topic.
If any of you have thoughts about literacy instruction, assessment, and inclusion, speak up here!
My students struggle with this.
Tuesday, May 10, 2016
The future in education is going digital. I record my therapy notes digitally, Google drive contains all of my forms and documents, and teachers do their mClass reading assessments using an iPad. It's only logical that articulation assessments would follow suit. I noticed that the Goldman-Fristoe Test of Articulation 3 has a digital option, and now Smarty Ears has the iTap Test of Articulation and Phonology.
iTap is administered in the same way that most paper articulation tests are administered. The child names a series of pictures that contain target phonemes and consonant clusters in single words. The options for marking errors include deletion, cluster reduction, substitution, assimilation, and distortion. The examiner records on the ipad the errors the child made. At the end, there is a small multisyllable probe.
Rather than providing a detailed tutorial myself, the author of the app has provided a video which explains all of the features. You can watch that HERE.
|video screen shot|
As with any app, assessment, or program, there are things that are great, and some areas for growth.
- This is an awesome tool for PROGRESS MONITORING. This year, I have three boys with significant phonological disorders. I take data on specific sounds daily, but to get an overall picture of progress, I like to assess informally. Paper test protocols are expensive, so this assessment can give a good picture of progress without using up your test forms.
- Once you finish an assessment, this app generates a report. All words/sounds in error are compiled into something which makes a little sense without having to sit there with the manual and charts.
- The app itself is easy to use. You have to take some time to practice scoring, and figuring out which sound and phonological process button to press, but my graduate student intern learned this in no time....quicker than me.
- The pictures for eliciting sounds are well done. Some words, I had to orally tell the child, but that is true for other articulation assessments too, especially for students with vocabulary delays.
- The app developer is quick to respond to suggestions and ideas for improvement. This is an extremely important feature. Unlike paper assessments, if you notice a mistake, app bug, or have a suggestion, the turn around time to upgrade and update the app can be a couple of weeks. The app you buy now will only get better! I also have a copy of the Smarty Ears Sunny Test of Articulation, and upgrades have improved it immensely over the years!
Areas to think about before purchasing:
- I work for a school system and our assessment kit for articulation has one central player (in our case it's the Goldman-Fristoe). This is not going to change anytime soon. For placement purposes and eligibility, all kids need to be assessed the same way and it's hard for an app to compete with such a solid bedrock which has been standardized and used with such a large number of children. I plan on continuing to follow our district guidelines for assessment when placing and re-evaluating children within the special education assessment process. That being said, this app is extremely useful for monitoring progress of children who are currently in therapy.
- If a child has a severe phonological disorder where multiple processes might be playing a part in a single word, this app has limitations on how many errors you can actually record. For example, my child had a voicing error and substitution for one blend. I could only record one. There is a notes feature in the app, but that wasn't quite the same as being able to record as the child is articulating the word.
- It would be nice if the app could automatically determine the phonological process based on the error recorded. Sometimes, for example, I recorded an error as substitution when it actually was assimilation.
- If your student only has one sound error, or a frontal or lateral /s/ distortion, this is not the test for you in my opinion. This assessment is for children who have phonological disorders such as assimilation, cluster reduction, and multiple substitutions.
- I didn't have access to the manual or the normative data. I did look up the other reviews of this app from other bloggers and they seemed to indicate that the norming sample was rather limited to Texas and a limited number of children. For that reason, if your test absolutely needs valid standard scores, you may either want to find another assessment, or wait until this developer publishes their data and then determine whether the norming sample is adequate for where you live.
All in all, I plan on continuing to use this app to monitor progress in my students with phonological process problems. As I said, this app is new, and is only getting better as time goes on due to quick follow-up by the people at Smarty Ears. This is a nice tool for those of us who travel, and it's nice to have a quick means to measure overall progress in a child.
Disclaimer: I received this app via promo code from the developer. No compensation was received to review them and my opinions are strictly my own. Apps and the features within them change frequently as app updates are released.This developer has an excellent track record of supporting their apps and providing frequent updates.