Our Favorite Learning Tools!

I asked my Grade 1s to share some of their favorite tools for learning! Here are their top picks:

Emotions/Classroom Community:

This year I combined Inside Out lessons with our Bucket Filling, good/poor choices, and Zones of Regulation emotional programming. I have found that the students are more engaged with the lessons and are able to relate better.. (this could be because we watch the movie together with some delicious popcorn!?). The “Let’s Talk About” book series is also a learning tool that we utilize.

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The Zones of Regulation Presentation  (see Zones of Regulation Curriculum by Leah Kuypers for resources)

 

 

Reading:

The Grade 1s enjoy Flashlight Fridays and using our slinkies to sound out words, our ropes to retell a story, and our mirrors to visualize our pronunciation of words and letter sounds!

 

 

Sight Word and Alphabet Learning:

The students love forming letters with magnets, salt, play dough, and shaving cream. Writing on our Buddha boards and chalkboards is always fun, too! Some alphabet and sight word games that they enjoy are: upper/lower match boxes with popsicle sticks, bowling, fishing, balloon pop, ball toss, golfing, toppling bunnies, scavenger hunts, fly swatter, cup stacking, bingo dabber, egg flip, and toppling towers sight word/alphabet games. We enjoy sounding out CVC words on our pool noodles and by jumping in our hula hoops. As a teacher, my favorites are the word walls and my Lakeshore rhyme and alphabet buckets with initial sound or word family toys/examples. The picture cards are also a great find! As always, I recommend the Florida Center for Reading Research for engaging, research-based phonics and phonological awareness games.

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Reading Intervention Planning

This year I had the opportunity to attend a Joyful Literacy Reading Summit in Saskatoon. We learned all about helping struggling readers thrive through a games-based approach. I spent the next couple months trying to implement my newfound knowledge into my teaching, as it positively applies to my work as a Student Support Teacher. So far the kids are loving the games and our Grade 1 reading scores are improving!

With my brain full of great ideas and seemingly not enough hours in a day, my first step was to read Putting on the Blitz by Janet Mort. The text offers ideas about setting up meaningful interventions and there are great game-based resources and examples to learn from. My task was to try and figure out how this would work for my students and within my environment with the resources allotted to me. The next step was to approach my room and resources with a different lens. I had to figure out what I already had in my room that could be used to create game-based phonics and phonological awareness interventions. Suddenly fly swatters were looking like tools for learning in our Sight Word Splat instead of for their intended use! However, I did also have to purchase resources and took advantage of great finds at the Dollar Store, as well as, the Teacher Tax Credit. It is amazing what resources you can find when you look at things with a different perspective.

With significantly less  money in my pocket, my next step was to pull everything together and create a phonics and phonological awareness intervention year plan. This year plan utilizes the games that I have already created in my classroom, as well as, the Florida Center for Reading Research’s Florida Assessments for Instruction in Reading curriculum. If you are a primary teacher and especially if you are a primary Student Support Teacher, I highly recommend taking the time to utilize this resource. It does take a lot of time to create – printing each game on cardstock, cutting, laminating, labeling the resources in Ziploc bags, and filing – but in the end you have hundreds of age-appropriate lessons, games, and assessments that focus on phonological awareness, phonics, comprehension, fluency, and vocabulary. The best part is that it is research-based and the kids are highly engaged by the games! They ask me to play them again and again!

The intervention plan is flexible in regards to the proposed timelines and activities – the students’ understanding will dictate the speed in which you proceed or review concepts and your classroom resources and game creations will vary from my own but can easily be incorporated into this plan. There are Saskatchewan curriculum connections. And since reading intervention is one piece of the literacy pie for my Grade 1’s, I have included guided reading plans with reading strategies and resources.

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I find that having this intervention plan posted in my room allows for easy planning in my Weekly Planner, which can also be adjusted to meet your planning needs. This planner helps when you need a substitute teacher due to an unforeseen event, such as illness. At a quick glance, my substitute teacher is informed about our daily activities, where to find the materials, who I am teaching at what time, and the behavior and academic needs of my learners. So far I am finding that the two resources work nicely together.

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May your literacy and intervention planning be as joyous as your play-based teaching!

Early Literacy and Guided Reading Lesson Plans

Attached are three lesson plans I use for Early Literacy and Guided Reading intervention times. I recommend using Dawn Reithaug’s letter recognition and sound assessment and The Phonological Awareness Aligned to the Hierarchy assessment to form groups based on need. Then divide your learners into early literacy groups (red) and guided reading (yellow) and change groups according to assessment results. I like to check each month formally (summative) using the assessment. For daily (formative) checks, I recommend creating an excel document with all the children’s’ names and all the letters. Pick a letter each day to test them at random (make sure it has been explicitly taught before) and note if the child knows the sound and/or letter. For instance, Child A might be shown letter ‘m’ and Child B might be shown letter ‘c.’ You can do the same thing with basic sight words for your yellow group.

Early Literacy Lesson Plan 

Guided Reading Intervention Lesson Plan

Guided Reading Intervention Lesson Plan – Option 2

Note: I print multiple of these lesson plans out and put them in a folder, which I clip after each day. By keeping a similar format and having copies easily accessible I can plan my next lesson in 10 minutes (depending on the activity)! I can easily highlight what we will be doing the next day and note any letters that need reviewing based on the data or any adaptations for specific kids. It also helps to keep the “I Can Statements” up in the room to save time. Please view Resources for a First Year SST for specific early literacy and guided reading resources.

Happy planning!

Resources for a First Year SST

As a first year SST, I found myself wondering “what resources do I need to be a successful teacher and support?” These are the resources that have helped me get through the first few months (right after some awesome colleages and kids!):

Reading:

FAIR – researched based phonics activities/games. Great to cut-out, laminate, and file so they are easily accessible. So far I have utilized letter recognition/sounds and rhyme games with great success and engagement from the kids! Note: K level actually translated to Grade 1 in many cases (adapt/gage for your children as necessary).

Letterland – kids love the actions and really retain it. Videos on Youtube, as well as, the Sotrybook are great tools for basic classroom teaching and interventions.

This always helps too:

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#halloween #awesomestaff #teacherlife

Measured Mom – everything early literacy (and math!). Great, engaging activities to get student engaged during small-group instruction. It is a good idea to cut-out, laminate, and file some of these supports so they are easily accessible. I also made kids their own individual books and while they worked on those we played some games one-on-one. The kids loved it!

Raz-Kids – for levelled books for guided reading (totally worth it to get an account!)

Reading Assessments: 

Concepts of Print by Marie M. Clay – for basic/initial reading assessments

Fountas and Pinnell Benchmarking Kit 

Orchestrating Success in Reading by Dawn Reithaug – assessing the 5 main components of reading (great for LIT goals)

Reading Power by Adrienne Gear – great for LIT goals and reading instruciton

Autism:

Circles Curriculum – teaches social boundaries/relationships

Getting Unstuck – how to problem solve

Whole Body Listening – great tool for whole-class listening (pair with both positive reinforcement, such as a marble jar, and negative reinforcement, such as name with checks on board, and you will be set!)

Zones of Regulation – great for emotional thinking and tracking (self-monitoring)

Motivation:

A Love Letter to First-Year Teachers from We Are Teachers

And whatever you do, don’t forget to ask questions.. lots of them!

Reading Intervention and Learning to Read

This post highlights some helpful tools to use when teaching students to read and/or practicing during intervention times. This is an awesome website for teaching reading in Kindergarten and beyond is Starfall. I recommend game-based reading programs, as the kids seem to engage more and learn the strategies faster! I now have an entire binder overflowing with resources, games, and tricks that can supplement programs like Fountas and Pinnell. (How many binders will I have after a 35 year career?)

Intervention time and Kindergarten time are easily some of my best moments everyday and the more I work in a school the more I realize that my passion is teaching kids to read. I am enjoying, more than I ever would have guessed, working with young children. I could definitely envision myself as a Kindergarten or Grades 3-6 teacher, if I do not get my preferred SST placement!

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Teaching Acceptance

One of my favorite things about being a Student Support Teacher is bringing awareness to all students about those with varying abilities. I truly believe that presenting kids with facts and personal stories about my work at Camp Easter Seal, Astonished, Best Buddies, or Campus for All is the first step to a more inclusive society. Simply put: kids (and adults, too) cannot be inclusive if they are not accepting. They cannot be accepting if they are not tolerant. They cannot be tolerant if they do not understand. They cannot understand if they are not aware! And I couldn’t be more happy that it is part of my role to bring awareness to students so that one day they can also share an inclusive mindset!  Attached are some resources I have used to help bring awareness to students in Grades 3 to 12 about varying abilities. I urge you to use these inclusive resources (or others) and share your stories with your students!

The first link I adapted into a presentation with personal pictures of my experiences in the world for high school students. I found that many students were using the r-word in a non-malicious way. They had never really been told why it is a terrible word to use and I think this is a truth for many people, including adults. You cannot really blame people unless they are made aware; that was my mission! For the most part, it has worked. I still may hear the r-word from time to time but it is often followed by an “I’m sorry” or “I should have used the word ‘stupid.'” I know that even the more challenging kids were touched by my presentation; you could have heard a pin drop and their mouths were on the floor! To me that is a start and I will continue to work on it, one day at a time. I believe that people cannot “un-know” something; they may be able to ignore it but it will always be in the back of their minds. I urge you to fill your students’ minds with positive thoughts, too!

The second link connects you to the book Ian’s Walk: A Story About Autism that I read to the Grades 3/4 class. I found it helpful for students to complete a multiple intelligences survey about themselves first. That way we could discuss how everyone is a bit different and smart in their own way. We also talked about how we are all unique or a bit weird at times. Students were very responsive to this piece and it was nice to bring awareness at such a young age!

In summary, just go out and do it! It may seem like the road to inclusion is a long hike but take it one step at a time and eventually positive change will occur!

Vocabulary through College Talk and Participation through Talk Moves

College Talk: Improving Students’ Vocabulary”

The College Talk strategy from the Teaching Channel allows teachers to use complex vocabulary words in simple phrases. For instance, instead of “stop talking” it is “stop socializing.” Students eventually repeat this over time. Although this is gauged for younger students, I think it is something to try in secondary classrooms. Vocabulary walls are also important!

What ways do you improve students’ vocabulary? How is grammar instruction implemented in your classroom?

Improving Participation with Talk Moves

To make sure students do not check out as another student answers the question, this teacher calls on students to repeat the answers. This means that all students must listen because they never know when they are going to be called on! This  is not used as punishment or to embarrass a kid for talking; anyone could be called. They also use a silent signals (waving their hands) to show that they have the same answer or idea. This encourages the student who is speaking because they can see that their classmates have a similar idea. However, no interruptions are made. Students get a chance to revise their ideas when they are confronted with new information. Students learn that coming to a new understanding by merging information is normal and expected. This, once again, shows an elementary school class but I think the same strategies can be applied in secondary classrooms (ie. Cold Call).

What other strategies can you think of that foster participation?

Using Checklists

This article suggests using checklist in our instruction. Checklists are something that everyone uses in everyday life. They can be used in our classrooms to: record data (formative assessment), evaluate (summative assessment), track behavior, list items that need to be included in a project, list items that need to be completed in a task, etc. (Rowlands, 2007, p. 61). Checklists must be flexible and Rowlands suggests using them “with individual students or with the entire class” (Rowlands, 2007, p. 61). Obviously, using checklists with the entire class is more inclusive.

Checklists are a teaching strategy that often gets brought up in inclusive education. They can help students with Autism, ADHD, anxiety disorders, visual learners and those that need structure (like me). If you have a student with Autism in your class, checklists and task lists are not an option but a requirement for their success, in most cases. You can create within (steps within a single task) and between (tasks of the day) task checklists, depending on your learners. Checking off items gives students with Autism much needed closure. Students who need their learning broken down or have trouble starting a task can benefit from checklists. Organizational goals, like using checklists, will be found on many of our students’ IIP’s. Rowlands notes that “poor organization skills, rather than a lack of conceptual understanding, prevent [students’ from producing work that fully represents their capabilities, and we then find ourselves in the unhappy position of recording grades that measure lack of clerical competence, rather than lack of content or skill knowledge” (Rowlands, 2007, p. 64-5). Checklists can be a great tool to assist students who have organizational issues. At the end of the day, checklists are a skill that can benefit all of our learners because they are practical and tactile.

Rowlands notes that “by articulating and labeling operational steps, checklists scaffold students’ metacognitive development,” which is important for problem solving, self-aware learners and is part of the revised 2001 Bloom’s Taxonomy of learning. She suggests that teachers can make the checklists but I think since lifelong learning is a goal, student could help construct the checklists. In ECS 410 we learned that if students are part of ALL steps in the learning cycle and assessment process, then they have a better understanding of their strengths, weaknesses and the task at hand. When I taught Grade Five at Regina Huda School, we provided the class with a checklist about the requirements of an oral presentation before they presented to the class. One thing Taylor and I should have done is construct this with them. Checklists, in my opinion, can allow students to self-assess before, during and after. It provides a visual for them to see if they have completed all their work or are staying on task. I think if we changed the curriculum outcomes to student-friendly ‘I Can Statements’ then students could check off what outcomes they have achieved and visualize what they still need to work on.

Rowlands suggests using checklists from class-to-class to foster consistency and to help students conference each other’s writing to foster constructive feedback (2007, p. 63). I also think a checklist for each stage of the writing process could help students write better pieces and break down the daunting task of writing even more. Rowlands also suggests that checklists can help with comprehension, research papers and can be put in many different formats, like bookmarks (Rowlands, 2007, p. 64-5). I think a classroom poster or an agenda checklist could also work. Checklists are not rubrics, but when coupled with them I think students would have an even better understanding about what they are expected to do and learn.

Basically, I am all for the checklists. I would use checklists in a boat and I would use them with a goat. And I will use them, in the rain and in the dark, and on a train, and in a car, and in a tree. They are so good, so good, you see! – Dr. Seuss (although this may be paraphrased slightly).

Differentiation in Action – Inclusive Education Videos

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=y6He0FWoFj0

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=244020232398018

Don’t want a video? Here are some articles and essays to read:

Entrepreneurs with Disabilities

10 things not to say to someone in a wheelchair!

Being Retarded (Anti-R-Word Post)

A Gorgeous Model Worked The Runway At Fashion Week: You May Notice Something Different About Her

R-Word by John Franklin Stephens

Inclusive Education Resources

10 Steps to Writing an Inclusive Lesson Plan from Concordia University

Adaptive Dimension

ADHD from Alberta Education

Autism Resource Centre

Autism: Sensory Overload

Behavioral Recording

Bilingualism and Children from the Hanen Centre

Birmingham Grid for Learning: Multiple Intelligences: This website is a great tool to get to know students and how they learn best. This link leads to a quick, 5 page learning inventory for high school students. After completion, students receive a code and they can give this code to their teachers. Then the teacher can print off individual graphs for each student, the entire class, the boys, or the girls. This offers a great visual for the teacher and can help guide instruction. I would personally put the whole-class visual in my classroom and after each lesson I would check-off or assess what ways of knowing/learning I targeted for the day (an inclusive education strategy). Students could also print off their own results so they know their strengths and areas to work on! I hope to use this in my pre-internship, along with some more interest-based games, to get to know my students so that I can instruct them appropriately and work on relationship building.

ConnectAbility for Developmental Disabilities

Constructivism from Concept to Classroom

For Parents with Children with Hearing Loss

Four Directions Teachings

Glossary of Instructional Strategies

Inclusive Education Library

Inclusive Education from Western Canadian Research Centre of Inclusion

Inquiry Based Learning from Concept to Classroom

Instructional Strategies and Lesson Plans for Inclusive Educators

Katie Letnes’ Blog

Language-Based Learning Disabilities from American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

Lesson Plans Directory

Lesson Plans for Teachers from eduref

Lifelong Learning and Adult Education

Power Soccer and Power Soccer Video 2

Rhett Syndrome in Males

Rick Hansen on Losing his Ability to Walk

Social Media + Differentiating Instruction

Supporting Behavior and Social Participation from Learn Alberta

Supporting Positive Behavior from Alberta Education

Special Ed. and Physical Education

Special Ed. Wiki by Sarah Belson

Technology Lesson Plans

We Act Lesson Plans

Wheelchair Basketball

Wheelchair Yoga