Sunday, November 19, 2017

Sight Word Cross out

Sight word practice can be boring, but my students love anything that gets them up and moving.

This is two of my students practicing their sight word recognition. The best part of this activity is that it is easy. Grab the sight words that you are working on, write them on a piece of paper, and start practicing. The students say the word on the card and then need to find the word to cross it out on the paper.

They loved it. 


It's funny sometimes how you can get caught up as a teacher in all the rewards and fun activities and forgot that what you are trying to teach your students is how to love to learn.

I've been reading the book Drive by Daniel H. Pink. Now, most of what is in this book is not real science. The research is extremely outdated and sources are rather laughable, but it does get you thinking about what really helps kids care about learning.

Here is actual breakdown of how we learn. The bottom line is that we learn something because it is pleasant. What stops us from learning is when something is unpleasant. It really is that simple, you do something, there is a positive response, you are very likely to do it again. As a teacher you are providing a positive environment in order to facilitate learning.

But are we getting too reliant on rewards? I know at this time of year the gimme's from the kids start to wear on me. So how do we make learning pleasant without over indulging? It's something to think about.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Play Doh Arrays

Is there anything not great about play doh?

One of my students is working on beginning multiplication. He is a very physical student, and I needed a way for him to make the tactile connections that he needs to be successful. So we spent a minute before starting out math lesson to make "perfect" balls to make arrays with.

The process of creating the balls was quick, calming, and helped my student feel a connection to his wrok that he wouldn't have otherwise had.

I often write directly on the table, and encourage my students to do the same. We use dry erase markers. This is a time saver, is easily cleaned up by the student, and brings the work to the student's level.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Color theory in art

Today I took a field trip with the art class I am taking this summer to the Tacoma Art Museum. 

We were specifically looking for art that gave examples of use of color to convey depth, emotion, and movement, as well as looking for an example of positive and negative space.

As a sped teacher, I was thinking about how this is useful in the resource room setting, where there is always a lot of pressure to cram a lot of information into students in a short period of time.

Then I started thinking about how some of my students who struggle with visual perception had a hard time with understanding 3-D geometric shapes. When asked to draw a cube, they drew three boxes put together. Like this. 

At first, I thought they were kidding. But then I realized that really was what my drawing of a cube looked like to them.

Adding color to help students who struggle with visual perception is helpful. Understanding how to use it in a meaningful way is helpful, not just for arts and crafts, but to help them understand and process information.

Warm colors (reds, yellows, oranges, some violets) create the illusion of something coming forward. That is why it is helpful to highlight in yellow.

Cool colors (blues, greens, violet) create the the illusion of something receeding from your view. Printing on blue or green paper also is helpful to calm to the student, which may help them focus.

Helping students who struggle with visual perception can be a challenge. But the more you teach something, the better it gets. Teaching students how to think about the world around them is important. Making time to teach them about the world through art is as important as teaching them about it through science or math.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Rocket Math - Make It Visual

It's not a race.

That's something that I would be reminded of when working with students on their fluency. I would also remind my students that it is okay to work at their own pace, and we all learn at our own speeds. But making progress visual for them really seemed to help motivate them.

So we made it visual. The students graphed their own progress to see how they were improving each day on learning their facts. We also made a class rocket.

The smiles alone that the students had when they were able to clip up to the next level on their rocket were enough. They were so proud of themselves!

We had a system when doing Rocket Math. The system gave the students a chance to move and take responsibility for their learning. They would come in and get their Rocket Math level from the bin of files that I kept their Rocket Math sheets in.

I would then give one student the timer to time the group on their practice. I always gave them five minutes and allowed them to do this independently. This gave them the opportunity to take responsibility for their learning and to build social skills through working as a group.

Finally I would time them for one minute on their fluency practice. After the minute was up, they counted their results and graphed them on their individual rockets.

After they were done they put their rocket along with their Rocket Math practice in their folder for the next day. 

The students made progress on their ability to solve math problems quickly. This routine also built student confidence as a learner. Having things to do throughout the day that the student is in charge of is important for them. It also helped them develop a sense of team work while working at their individual levels. 

Dyslexia and Teacher Knowledge

For the first time this year I worked with a student who has dyslexia. While I was educated in my teacher preparation program on how to give systematic instruction for students with dyslexia, I found that the student did not make as much progress as I would have liked them to make in their reading fluency.

The National Research Counsel says that children learn to read well when:

  • Have normal or above average language skills;
  • Have had experiences in childhood that fostered motivation and provided exposure to literacy in use;
  • Are given information about the nature of print via opportunities to learn letters and to recognize the sublexical structure of spoken words, as well as about the contrasting nature of spoken and written language; and
  • Attend schools that provide coherent reading instruction and opportunities to practice (p. 315).

Several of my students who are struggling to learn to read have normal language skills. There is very little I can do about their experience of their exposure to print at home. What I can do is send home books and word work materials to foster exposure.

What can be controlled by teachers is the reading instruction and the opportunities to practice. Children with dyslexia struggle with phonological awareness. While their comprehension is good, they struggle to be able to read single words accurately and fluently. These students benefit from instruction that is systematic, explicit, direct, and intensive.

I am guilty as a teacher of saying that the child is just dyslexic to the child’s classroom teacher. Because the child comprehends well, we see the benefit of having the child in their general education classroom the majority of the time, with reading groups that are with other children at their reading level. The question I need to ask myself as a teach is what else can I do to help children in my classroom who have dyslexia become readers.

Studies have shown that having an understand of phoneme and grapheme relationships is vital to teachers who are teaching early reading. This makes it possible to better focus your instruction in the curriculum and gives the teacher more confidence in their instruction.

Being aware of the fact that dyslexia is a deficit in phoneme processing and not a visual problem is the key to being successful in your intervention for students with dyslexia. Ensuring that their reading instruction is rigorous and that the child is given ample opportunities to practice is important when having a student who has been identified as dyslexic or who has dyslexic type symptoms.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Maintaining contact with families

This is my response to a Randy Sprick video I viewed on maintaining contact with families. It was interesting and gave a lot of good advise.
Randy Sprick started the video by saying that some families are difficult, but the more effort we put in the better off we are going to be. He recommends doing the following things to initiate contact. Try to establish a relationship before the first day of school. Create an opportunity for face to face contact. If that is not possible make phone contacts as the second choice. You can find out from your colleagues who the toughest kids are and make contact with those families. Set up that the first contact as an introduction, so you are not making initial contact when there is a problem. Send out a letter that introduces you to the families. Another option is to send home a DVD that gives a walk through of your classroom and tell about yourself and your school and classroom goals and expectations. If you can’t make one for every student, make four copies, have students take them home to view them, then have them bring so you can send it out with other students.
You should create a plan for ongoing contact. Send home a letter that describes your management plan. Produce a newspaper or newsletter every other week. Use your class roster and rotate contacts. If it has been a couple months, contact the family to let them know how the student is going. Let the parents know that you are looking forward to have their child and working with them as a partner.
At the beginning of the school year of had a brief write up about myself with my email and phone number on it ready for the open house. There  I met many of the parents, got the best contact methods from them, and found out a little bit about their children. I also got more information about accommodations for that student, such as a student I have who has hearing aids needing to eat in the learning center rather than in the cafeteria. I also try to make phone calls home about students when they are doing well. In order to increase the amount of updates that parents get about their student’s progress, I also send home the child’s scores after their progress monitoring, so that the parents are able to see how they are doing.
Something that I would like to get better at in the my classroom is sending out a monthly or bi-monthly newsletter. This is a task that I could also engage my older students in helping me with. I feel like more positive feedback about their student would be helpful to the parents and help increase positive relationships with the school.