Thursday, April 28, 2016

Mother's Day!

It's right around the corner!

If you want Mother's Day themed material for your students that are actually great all year, go to my store and check these out:

Are You My Mother Companion Pack

This packet has adapted text and loads of visuals to go with this popular book. It's meant for the more linguistically challenged students.

  This packet has a cute book "Looking for Mother Stegosaurus" which fits into the Mother's Day theme.

As always, if you are a starving CF, email me if you can't afford any new materials.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Rigor Shouldn't Mean Painfully Difficult

For those of you involved in education, you know it's full of lingo, acronyms,  and initiatives. 

The buzzword in education these days is 'rigor'.
Form the Glossary of Education Reform,  "The term rigor is widely used by educators to describe instruction, schoolwork, learning experiences, and educational expectations that are academically, intellectually, and personally challenging."  Go to this link to read more.

A simple Google search yielded this article in a notable website.   Here is another article which speaks of 'rigor'.  Both articles are about as clear as mud when it comes down to actual teaching practices, and neither article addresses the need for differentiation of lessons for those students with learning challenges or those who may know little Engish.

Unfortunately, since the actual components of a 'rigorous' classroom are not clear, I find schools are interpreting 'rigor' as 'let's instruct students above typical developmental level'.  Hence, you see heavy reading, writing, and math instruction in kindergarten with limited center/play time.  You see worksheets for third graders including passages at a high school level.  All students are expected to achieve at the same high level or they are placed in reading, writing, and math intervention groups.

My school is no different from other schools in the district, so these two examples I have are not to indict any program but to illustrate the point.

  • Kindergarten Math Test:  Children read two word problems as a whole group and were then sent to their tables to work them out on the worksheet provided.  The first word problem read: "Pam found 6 flowers at recess. She wants to give the flowers to her 10 friends.  How many more flowers does Pam need to find if Pam wants to give a flower to each of her 10 friends?  Show your thinking with objects, pictures, words, or numbers.  Write an equation to match this story."   READING LEVEL OF THIS PROBLEM WAS SECOND GRADE.
  •  Third grade writing worksheet:  Students were to read a passage, state the author's opinion, and find supporting details in the passage.  The passage provided to the students was printed from this webpage about classroom pets.  To determine approximate reading level, I used this website, cutting and pasting the text. The reading level of the website turned out to be high school.  Even if the teachers went over the text line-by-line, the vocabulary, sentence structure, and language levels of the text were very high for the average third grader.  My EC students typically function significantly below average, so accessing this lesson was impossible for them.  
These are but two examples in my evergrowing stack of painful work.  Having high expectations for your students is awesome.   Instruction and materials, however, still need to be developmentally appropriate, AND work needs to be differentiated based on the levels of the students.  RIGOR shouldn't mean PAINFULLY DIFFICULT. 

What does rigor in the classroom look like?   This author explains it well.
At no point does she say to present the actual classroom materials two or more years above grade level.

Any thoughts? 


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Quiver, Fun App Meets the Engagement Triangle

Last week, I had the awesome opportunity to speak to graduate students in the speech-language pathology program at NC Central. The students were wonderful and asked on-target questions, and the topic was using technology in evidence-based practice in the school setting. 

One of the main points of the talk was that using any technology in therapy should follow a "triangle model"--one point is the student, the second is the adult, and the third is the piece of technology such as an iPad.An iPad is a tool to help facilitate skills--the iPad doesn't teach; the adults teach using the iPad.
With this model in mind, when I find a new app, I now look for ways to augment it to enhance the communication between the child and adult.  My students need to learn to request, comment, answer questions, ask questions, reject, and other basic communicative functions.  I think the app, Quiver, will enable the child to do all of these, especially with language modeling and possibly communication boards.  The app is free, as are many of the coloring pages.  There are, however, in-app purchases you can make if there are certain pages you want.  (I paid 2.99 because I really wanted the hot air balloon picture).

From the iTunes page: "Coloring pages have never been so much fun! The Quiver App combines physical coloring from “back in the day” with state of the art augmented reality technology to bring you and your children an extraordinarily magical experience." (I'm sure you need a newer version of an iPad. I have an iPad Air.)

From a speech pathology perspective: You can make a communication board or set up a device for your more challenged children to request colors, and coloring pages. Some of the pages are vehicles, some are little animated creatures, some are animals, and the list goes on.  You do have to careful about what you print, as some are not free.  Make a page of comments or core vocabulary you want to target.  Using this app can be a true interactive experience! 

Have fun!  I'm so amazed with my iPad these days!  This is a totally cool app.


Monday, April 18, 2016

Two New Interactive Dinosaur Books

To all my friends out there in blogland, hello again!

We had an awesome spring break in Mexico.  I loved it for so many reasons--the people especially, and the different cultures. The week flew by!

 Now we are two weeks into the final quarter of the school year, and I'm recommitting to this blog.  I've found that my posts from a few years ago are antiquated, and I need to post new technology, new apps, and delete posts about things that are not even available.  I'm amazed at how fast technology changes. Be careful about app purchases, because the next generation of iPads may not support them.

I promise to post more free items in the near future, but for now, I'd like to show you two new interactive dinosaur books.  My wonderful, artistic daughter, Vicki, created some of the clip art for one of the books. I love facial expressions she rendered for the Stegosaurus mother and baby!

 These are two interactive books centered around a dinosaur theme. This pack meant for the more linguistically challenged students and is perfect for speech/special ed collaboration. This is nice for integrating literacy and language. You are purchasing two interactive books, with an assortment of visual supports for all. Most clipart by Smarty Symbols ©2016 and Kate Hadfield Designs. Bones font by The Cool School .

-“Looking for Mother Stegosaurus” clever interactive book with manipulative icons ( pages 3-14) Similar in plot to “Are You my Mother?” and is perfect for Mother's Day!
-Comprehension Questions for “Looking for Mother Stegosaurus” (page 15-17)
- Sequencing page for “Looking for Mother Stegosaurus”(page 18)
-“Whose Bones?” interactive book where the child matches the dinosaur with the dinosaur skeleton (Page 19-27)

This is very modestly priced. Your students will love these books and theme!
wonderful artwork by my daughter!

Click here to see this 2 dollar packet on TPT.

Enough of sales!   How is your spring going?