Task Bag Learning

Today we will be talking about learning with task bags. I worked alongside my Educational Psychologist, Jenn Osberg, and my Consultant, Michelle Michaluk, to create literacy, math, fine motor, and life skills task bags that would meet the needs of my learners. As a primary Student Support Teacher, task bags are part of my regular intervention and we love them because they:

  • are play-based and hands-on
  • cover a variety of curriculum and/or individual outcomes
  • are simple to use and model (if another teacher or Educational Assistant will be implementing them)
  • include high-interest materials
  • promote student engagement
  • can be accomplished quickly (5-10 minutes of practice)
  • can be used with 1-3 students to add social goals, such as sharing and turn-taking
  • are quick interventions that reinforce previously taught outcomes
  • are easy and cost effective to create
  • can be created from “Busy Bag” idea books, simple internet searches, or unused items around the classroom

I have used my task bags with a variety of students, particularly a student who could only say two words when they started in our Kindergarten program. Task bags became an easy way to develop this student’s vocabulary, name recognition knowledge, and keep them engaged. What I like most about these task bags is that after modeling the use of the task bags a few times, they are easy for any other adult to take and use and they fit nicely into any schedule. I use my task bags for intervention times. I have also used them for additional literacy and math practice with Kindergarten students who need additional practice time after our centers. It is quick and easy to pull them for 5-10 minutes and target the specific concept and can be done within their classroom. In the classroom, these task bags could be set up as a center after teacher modeling/explicit instruction. I recommend using task bags with 1-2 students but I have used them with up to 3 learners.

 

I have organized my task bags into two shelves and four categories: 

 

a) early math skills

 

 

b) early literacy skills

 

c) fine motor skills

 

d) life skills  

There are countless other tasks bags that could be made and I hope you find use for them in your own room. Please find the task bag labels and instructions attached: Task Bag Instruction Templates. Happy teaching!

 

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Classroom Library

Today we will be talking about classroom libraries! The Saskatchewan Reads document states that “libraries play an important role in supporting and engaging students as readers. “They provide environments rich in information, literature, and technology that, together with effective instruction, enable students to achieve curriculum learning outcomes and acquire the attitudes and skills for lifelong learning” (Saskatchewan Ministry of Education, 2008, p. 1).” It is recommended to have books around the room, in addition to on the shelf, and students can assist with this book selection. I plan to display books on top of the shelves once I have read them aloud to the students. Another option is to switch out books based on current units of study and/or student interests. Routman (2014) states that “excellent classroom libraries” should be of top priority “ahead of the latest technology, resources, programs and standards. It is only through wide, self-selected reading that we will produce proficient and joyful readers as well as writers” (p. 99). It has been one of my main back-to-school priorities, as I know the importance of a well-stocked and organized classroom library for student literacy achievement.

 

My classroom library has both leveled books (blue bins) and interest books (green bins). Students select from both blue and green bins to fill their individual pouches so that during guided reading they have books to keep them engaged and improving during read-to-self and partner reading. Having students self-select these books regularly helps avoid interruptions to my guided reading lessons, as students are excited to read. Students get to choose where to sit, whether it is the reading cubbies, couch, Tipi, swivel chair, standing desk, carpet, or pretty much anywhere but the roof! We even get to enjoy the outdoor classroom space in the fall and summer.

 

When students are both comfortable and interested, classroom management takes care of itself. Well… pretty much. We do have to go over stamina training (graphing time on-task to meet a class duration goal) and lessons on the “Right Fit” books using the 5 Finger strategy. 

Scholastic notes that “experts claim a classroom library should have at least 20 books per student, so a typical class of 28 students would have a classroom library of close to 600 books.” While that may seem like a lot of books, 20 books per student is on the lower end, especially when considering the diverse learning needs in our classrooms. I am proud to say that I have grown my classroom library to 500 books over the past three years. I found the best sources are garage sales, family members and friends with young children, and talking to administration. As a Student Support Teacher, the number of students that I serve varies so 500 books feels like the right amount… for now!

The changes I made this year to my classroom library were to my green bins, or interest book sections. I created more sections so that books can be found easier. I used to put multiple categories in a bin but this just didn’t work for student put-back. Using the labels I found, I created 12 categories: Friends, Family, Cultures/Canada, ABCs, Math, Weather/Seasons, Animals, Fiction, Feelings, Good Character, School Stories, and rhymes and poetry. There are many other categories but I found these worked best with my previous system. The labels were easy to use and I printed the bin labels on Avery 8168 labels. The corresponding book labels were printed on Avery 8293. Everything printed well and it looks visually appealing but not too distracting (in case you are interested in these labels for your own classroom).

 

My hope is that students will be able to select books that they are interested in and also put them back in the correct bins. I will explicitly show them how to select and re-shelf books. At this time, I will also explore with students the books that can be found in each section and we will move books around if needed so that it makes sense to the kids. The system is self-explanatory enough that educational assistants, substitute teachers, co-teachers, administrators, and parents will be able to come into my room and select and re-shelf books to read with learners without me having to explain things. This should help books stay where they should.

My blue bins, or leveled books, are relatively the same as last year with a color-coded dot that roughly correlates to 2 levels of Fountas and Pinnell. I am not too worried about each book being precisely leveled as students will learn how to select “Just Right” books. The idea is that they are reading books that are within their level so that they can build fluency, maintain comprehension, and feel successful, albeit while still being challenged.

Class 18

I am beyond excited to share the classroom library with a new set of learners and some returning friends! As I always say, reading is succeeding!

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!

Boardmaker with Speaking Dynamically Pro Resource Package

Autism Spectrum Disorder Overview

Autism is a “neurological disorder [pervasive development disorder] that features challenges in communication, socialization, and behavior and imagination” (Simpson and Myles, 2008, p. 1). Sensory issues and repetitive behaviors are also main components. ASD “occurs in approximately 1 out of every 166 births” (Simpson and Myles, 2008, p. 17). The ratio of boys to girls is “3:1 or 5:1” respectively (Simpson and Myles, 2008, p. 20). The causes are still unknown and it is still being researched. In the meantime, we know that students with ASD benefit from “best practices that feature increased structure, increased adult directiveness, increased number of educational hours, and precise teaching methods in combination with a specific and carefully tailored curriculum” (Simpson and Myles, 2008, p. 26). It is important to note that “if you know one person with autism, you know ONE person with autism” (Simpson and Myles, 2008, p. 4). It is a wide spectrum. The best way to look at it is as a different way of perceiving the world; take it person by person!

Students with ASD benefit from: early intervention, visual schedules, routines, social stories, literal instructions, repetition, self-stiming, anxiety assistance, continuous prompts, rewards, advocacy, patience, inclusion, individual programming at times, community supports, social outings, qualified professionals, research-based strategies, and high expectations (Simpson and Myles, 2008, p. 28-60).

Strengths (Simpson and Myles, 2008, p. 28).

– physical development

– visual/spatial

– unique perspectives

– order and structure

– systemizing abilities

– rule and routine followers

– strengths such as music, math, calendars, categorizing

*keep in mind that strengths and areas of support change for each person*

Simpson, R. L., & Myles, B. S. (Eds.) (2008).  Educating children and youth with autism: Strategies for effective practice (2nd Ed.)  Austin TX:  Pro-ed.

What is Boardmaker?

Classroom Use

Boardmaker with Speaking Dynamically Pro is designed to help students with speech and/or language disabilities and transform any computer into a speech output device and powerful learning tool for students.

Within your classroom, the teacher can assign variety of activities to students to work on a computer with this software downloaded. You can create and customize activities to your students using Boardmaker, but Boardmaker also has great online community (Boardmaker Share) to share, download hundreds of activities created by other educators around globe.

Great thing about Boardmaker is the ability to print your activities, visual social stories and visual schedules to help all of students in your classroom.

Using combinations of words and visuals in your teaching practice and classroom can enhance the communication and learning of your students. Such as:

  • Job choice menus
  • Transition time card and charts
  • task organizer
  • daily schedule

You can read more ideas here.

016928fa6ea83420332ede19d9bfb8a81e6b8fbf430118cfced5164152d4d39a6bb87235b53f77f8c44c015ee92d7e2c024c0ba45ec9022ae03b725ce03158014caf1896d3810ba8bd5100baf14047eaccb8d1bc01fd4981141ee67acf79c46d95dbdff089166a7f5101fbaba010d81bc128c9747a5706d0e7fa33c7063201f8e1ecf860de2ca45f195d9a459a8ec55bb2bbfa01e6753875c066dbb8b5e7df4bb6529937facf869601d79bcc2144fb1606a85b376d250891dd4e11ee1301b95930246b4e603f8645dd839e91fdca5cb4f492

Curriculum Connections

In general, Boardmaker supports:

  • Learning vocabulary
  • Providing visual and oral directions to support the multiple intelligences
  • Talk boards where students can communicate with one another
  • Circle time activities
  • Sentence building activities
  • Helps to structure a daily schedule in your classroom for all students
  • Assists transitions for students who need it

To provide an example, I have chosen to illustrate how Boardmaker can correspond with the Kindergarten curriculum.  The text in normal font is the outcome that I have taken directly from the Saskatchewan curriculum.  The bold text is a suggestion for how you could use Boardmaker to support the outcome. 

Kindergarten Curriculum

English

CRK.1 Comprehend and respond to a variety of visual, oral, print, and multimedia texts that address identity (e.g., exploring interests), community (e.g., belonging), and social responsibility (e.g., contributing).  Worksheets and flash cards for English Language Learners.

CRK.2 View and interpret the basic message of visuals and objects in a variety of texts including models, photographs, dramas, dance creations, and videos. Could upload photos from your students everyday life and have them correspond with text so students would be prompted to understand the basic message of the image.

CRK.3 Listen, comprehend, and respond to gain meaning in oral texts. Books and symbol-supported literacy activities for beginning and pre-readers.

CRK.4 Comprehend, retell, and respond to basic ideas in stories, poems, songs, and informational texts read to them.  Simple story and simple story with highlighting – reads the story aloud to students.

CCK.1 Compose and create various visual, multimedia, oral, and written texts that explore and present thoughts, ideas, and experiences. Allows you to build stories – gives options for clicking and organizes images with the words on a page.  Writing exercises that include stories, letters, etc.

CCK.2 Use and construct symbols, pictures, and dramatizations to communicate feelings and ideas in a variety of ways. Typing boards that can be modified for your purpose (frequently used, one that is organized alphabetically) Will read the sentences to you as you chose.

CCK.4 Create messages using a combination of pictures, symbols, and letters. Sorting the order in nursery rhymes.

Health

USCK.1 Develop basic habits to establish healthy relationships with self, others, and the environment. Boardmaker has options for students to learn how to take turns, eat their lunch, etc.  All these functions are basic habits that keep us healthy.

USCK.2 Establish behaviours that support safety of self and others (including safety at school and at home). Children can communicate by using symbols.

Math

NK.1 Say the whole number sequence by 1s starting anywhere from 0 to 10 and from 10 to 0. Math flashcards are provided to help students learn their numbers.

NK.2 Recognize, at a glance, and name familiar arrangements of 1 to 5 objects, dots, or pictures. Turns math problems into visuals – math flashcards.

NK.3 Relate a numeral, 0 to 10, to its respective quantity.

PK.1 Demonstrate an understanding of repeating patterns (two or three elements) by:

  • identifying
  • reproducing
  • extending
  • creating

patterns using manipulatives, sounds, and actions. A manipulative in math could be the text to speech on Boardmaker for a student who excels with they learn orally.

Physical Education

PEK.6 Rhythmical Movement Explore and perform rhythmical movement to different auditory (e.g., beat of a drum, clapping, music) rhythms (e.g., quick, slow) using a variety of locomotor movements including walking, running, balancing, jumping, galloping, hopping, and skipping skills. Boardmaker offers uses for sounds, so you could have the different rhythms.

PEK.7 Relationships Use respectful behaviours and safe practices while participating in cooperative games and physical movement activities.  Can make choice boards to suit the student or the class.

Social Studies

INK.1 Demonstrate an understanding of similarities and differences among individuals in the classroom.  There is an about me section where students could communicate about themselves to the class.

PAK.1 Understand and respect the agreed-upon rules of the classroom, playground, and school, and recognize that rules and expectations are designed to promote a state of safety, self-regulation, peace, balance, and harmony.  Circle time activities – counting, weather, date, time, show and tell, about me.

PAK.2 Recognize situations in which disagreement may be part of living, studying, and working together, and that resolution may be an avenue to progress to a state of peace, balance, and harmony. This is where you could use SocialStories to show students situations where people have disagreed and how they have resolved it in the past.  You could simulate stories or use real stories that have happened in your class.  You could include student names, students could help you create the story, etc.

Pros and Cons

Pros of the Boardmaker Software:

  • Calendars –> can be useful for students to know what is coming up so they can be prepared
  • Adapatbility –> “Boardmaker software runs on both the Windows and Macintosh formats” (Hillman 79)
  • Add ons –> there are add-ons you can add to your Boardmaker software
  • Companion Software –> they “provide companion software such as Picture This symbol library, sign language symbols, bingo games such as Print and Play, and Print and communicate” (Hillman 79); this allows creation of communication books
  • Premade templates –> made by the creators, these can help to save time
  • Printables –> anything you create on the software is printable; “printing of individual pictures and communication boards to meet particular needs” (Torrison et al, 109)
  • Filing System –> an online filing system makes it so you can keep everything in one spot
  • Languages –> “available in 10 different languages” (Hillman 79)
  • Sharing –> you can share your creations online and borrow from others who share
  • “over 3000 symbols for use” (Hillman 79)
  • No CD –> once the Boardmaker software is installed, there is no need for the CD to use the program
  • Pictures –> you have the “ability to import symbols from a scanner, digital camera, or screen shots” (Hillman 79) to customize for the student
  • Training –> there is “training in Boardmaker” (Torrison et al, 12

Boardmaker Options

Cons of Boardmaker Software:

  • Cost –> Boardmaker can cost upwards of $500 for the lowest option; can get other methods of technology cheaper
  • Time –> time consuming to learn how to use the software; also time consuming to create boards for individual students
  • Pictures –> premade pictures can be limited; uploading own pictures can take a long time
  • Age –> pictures are somewhat juvenile – targeted more specifically for elementary than high schoolTorrison, C. & Jung, E. & Baker, K. & Beliveau, C. & Cook, Albert. (2007) The impact of staff training in augmentative/alternate communication (AAC) on the communication abilities of adults with developmental disabilities. Developmental Disabilities Bulletin, 35(1/2), 103-130.
  • Hillman, R. (2000). Digital images/picture symbols: Using them with children with disabilities. MultiMedia Schools, 7(4), 78-9.

Boardmaker Price

Why Use Boardmaker and Digital Citizenship

1. Digital Access

Boardmaker encourage and help students with literacy, numeracy, social skills, vocational skills and many more. As well students to become better communicators.

However, there are few restriction when it comes to accessibility.

Purchase is necessary (which can be costly) and download the software to a computer to use Boardmaker. You may choose to go Boardmaker Online and create account which give you some flexibility to work on Boardmaker with any computer with internet access or even at your own home. With free community membership, you are able to browse and share your activities. However, you must purchase personal or professional membership to be able to create, print or play (assign) your activities.

It also offers Boardmaker Student Centre Apps for free. Students can access their assignment using iPad.

Boardmaker offers hundreds of uniformed symbols to choose from. You can create any visual materials with consistency. It also allows to upload your own photo or any visual from web directly into the program.

  1. Digital Commerce

Mayer Johnson offers Boardmaker families and many other products to help educators and families supporting children with special needs.

  1. Digital Communication

Boardmaker Online and Boardmaker Share help user connect and share their resources.

  1. Digital Literacy

It is user friendly and easy to figure out how to use this software on your own. Boardmaker offers many online tutorials as well.

  1. Digital Etiquette
  2. Digital Law
  3. Digital Rights and Responsibilities

While you use Boardmaker Online or Share, you should be keep in mind that it is a community of professionals and this tool is to teach and help students. You should be using appropriate languages and symbols.

  1. Digital Health and Wellness

Students may become obsessed with use of computer or iPad. Use of printed copy of visual aids may help keeping students on task.

  1. Digital Security

When you are using these online sources, you are required to create an account. And you are required to set a password for your security.

Current Events Lit

Resources and Samples

Example Boardmaker Pics

Social Story Visual

Boardmaker Studio Videos from Mayer-Johnson

Videos

Boardmaker images/templates

Pre-Made Boards, Curriculum and Disability Resources

Boardmaker YouTube Videos

SLP Boardmaker Share/Boardmaker Achieve Freebies

Boardmaker Share

Boardmaker Archive

Example Case Study by Kourtney

The following case study is fictitious. It was an assignment for EPSY 330: ASD that highlights the use of boardmaker to assist with IIP goals.

Case Study 330

EPSY 330 Materials Write-up Good Copy

VSP Goal and Target

Frequency Form

VSP Final Paper

Example Case Study by Mayer-Johnson

To Use Technology or Not to Use Technology: It’s Not Even a Question

Computer Hard Drive Half-Full

Today I will be reflecting on Wendy Donawa’s and Leah C. Fowler’s “The YA Reader in the Digital Age” from their book Reading Canada. This chapter focuses on using technology in ELA classrooms. Donawa and Fowler (2013) state that “technology ought to be a seamless, integral part of what [teachers use] in the classrooms, especially in literature classes. Students and teachers want and need a connected classroom” (p. 188). This quote fits perfectly with my reason for becoming a teacher: my purpose is to help students realize their potential, uncover their unknown and known interests, and gain the confidence needed to share their knowledge and perspectives with others (both face-to-face and online). In my opinion, the purpose of learning is connection; we learn to share, we share to learn. Technology is a tool that teachers can and should utilize to get students engaged with collaborative learning. Furthermore, the use of technology improves “students’ interest, engagement, learning and success with Canadian [and other] literature” (Donawa et al., 2013, p. 190). This is how I view technology in my classroom. I believe all methods of instruction need to be utilized and would suggest that the only wrong strategy is an over-used strategy. Technology – although I will have to step back and explicitly teach certain programs – is not the lesson but the tool. Donawa and Fowler (2013) suggest that “mastering digital tools and technology is not the goal of instruction, but if they are well integrated for reading, research, and analysis of literature, they motivate, engage, and support learners” (p. 179). Appropriate use of technology is vital, as our directive is to implement the Saskatchewan Curriculum. Therefore, technology is a tool in accomplishing that goal. Donawa and Fowler (2013) note that “technology needs to be relevant to the objectives, topics, and assignments; it should be high quality, fast, accessible, glitch-free, focused, and specific. Classroom sites or web-based instruction platforms can be marvelous resources for teachers’ tailor-made assignments and activities that enhance learning key principles. Teachers and students support success when they co-create relevant resources and links that connect for learning” (p. 188). Some of the platforms – albeit, not always glitch-free or accessible to all – that can be used are:

Teacher Resources Student Resources Both
Teachers Pay Teachers

Twitter (ex. #edtech; #edchat)

Youtube Youtube
Teaching Channel Prezi EBooks
Edutopia Blackboard
Facebook (ex. Sask. Teachers’ pages) WebCT
Pinterest

Upworthy

TedTalks (Ed)

Class Wiki or Blog (ex. kgorhamblog@wordpress.com; kidblog)
 Google Docs Moodle

I believe that adding technology into our repertoire does not discredit or ignore previous methods or disrupt a sound ELA curriculum. Through the use of technology in the classroom, students can develop “inquiry strategies… receptive and expressive literary skills, and form meaningful online relationships and participate in reading communities” (Donawa et al., 2013, p. 179) and still work “on classic literary strategies: phonemic awareness, oral language development, spelling, vocabulary, writing, comprehension, and fluency” (Donawa et al., 2013, p. 193) through online exploration. We are not replacing the old with the new but shifting from individual classroom studies to global knowledge sharing communities; “the impact of the digital world and on readers and reading, and on literature production, has been profound” (Donawa et al., 2013, p. 179). Donawa and Fowler (2013) note that “we have come to expect an unlimited choice of information and communication as a norm and a right” (p. 180); technology is not going away and it is time to embrace it in our ELA classrooms.

Computer Hard Drive Half Empty

With the positives always comes the negative. Although I do believe technology is something we must incorporate, there are definitely some cons. One of my biggest issues with technology is the overload! I often feel bogged down; I can never keep up to all the information that comes my way and I am sure students feel the same. As an educator with endless amounts of great resources and new information each day, it is hard to pick what to study. We need to help students – who are coming of age and figuring themselves out – navigate through a vast amount of sources and engage with positive choices.  Donawa and Folwer (2013) note that this can be done through instructional scaffolding (p. 191). But this is harder than it sounds, especially when you can find anything to back up your opinion. I often wonder how we can determine if anything is credible? Are we not more incline to believe that an article that supports our preexisting belief is more credible than something that challenges our ideas? Technology is a great example of this: take for instance the many pro. technology articles on edutopia or #edtech on Twitter versus John Lornic’s work or Fusion New’s “This is what it’s like to be one of the 75 million Americans living without Internet access:”

(Note: John Lornic (2007) suggested that “multi-tasking, although inseparable from pervasive electronic distraction, is a phrase initially used to describe the capabilities of a the computer, not the human brain” and that “the sheer glut of data itself has supplanted the kind of focused reflective attention that might make this information useful in the first place (p. 50; 59)).  Even Donawa and Fowler, who are promoting the use of technology in ELA classrooms, suggest that “the generous support of information technology and competency-based learning may well be the prudent fostering of a future workforce, but it is generally accompanied by diminished support for art, music, literature, and liberal education” and furthermore, “ceaseless electronic demands… replace human interaction or inner contemplative and cognitive activity” (2013, p. 180). How do we pick what to focus our attention on and what to believe? And how do we teach this to students when we are figure it out ourselves?

Another issue I have with technology is the lack of access. Donawa and Fowler note that “Canadian students have a media-textual world at their fingertips through home, school, or public library computers” (2013, p. 189) and although this is true for most, over 75 million Americans are without technology access (see above video). This creates a socio-economic divide and also disproves the misconception (see page 191 in Reading Canada) that students are “digitally competent and able.” Many students need explicit instruction and just as learners are ready to learn at different paces, their ability to access technology is diverse. I want to flip my classroom one day but what if I had students who did not have access to technology? Could I do it? What could I do to assist those students and even the playing field?

Searching for Files

In the end, I will utilize technology in my classroom because the pros outweigh the cons and it is not an option. It is here to stay and it is a mode of teaching that works. Not only that, but it is ingrained in our lives; it seemed like I was helpless on my trip to Minot when I had to shut off my data and couldn’t consult Google Maps or Goolge whenever I wished. Technology is part of us and the theoretical framework of an ELA classroom can be met through the use of technology. For instance, technology fosters inquiry-based learning (answering self-directed, real questions), and constructivism (“learning is a socially mediated process, where learners are actively and relationally involved in a process of meaning-making and knowledge production” (Donawa et al., 2013, p. 191). By utilizing technology students get “choice, pace, and control over their work” (Donawa et al., 2013, p. 193). Technology fosters motivation, responsibility, independence, interaction, engagement, critical thinking, exploration, and reflection. Our learners may be all over the map with technology but as teachers it is our job to start with the zone of proximal development and expand their horizons, albeit at their own pace. Furthermore and most importantly, technology = digital citizenship = citizenship.

Edudemic’s Guide to a Flipped Classroom

If you are interested in flipping your classroom, I recommend reading Edudemic’s Guide to a Flipped Classroom.

Why Flip?

A flipped classroom is one of my long-term goals as an educator. After I am more comfortable with using technology in the classroom, I feel that flipping how learning takes place will be a great way to practice my inclusive beliefs and prepare my learners for an ever-changing, globalized world. Furthermore, “studies have found that students K-12 are assigned an average of three hours of homework a day, but many parents [and educators] question whether the quantity of work matches the quality of learning” (Edudemic Staff, 2015). I do not believe this is a realistic amount for most kids to complete, especially those with learning difficulties. Families lead busy lives and the measure of a sound education should not be quantity. However, I do not believe in swinging the pendulum in the complete opposite direction. My belief is that middle ground between hours of homework and absolutely no homework can be found. I believe that a flipped classroom is a model that allows for balance. Students listen to the instruction online (approx. half an hour) at home and then their work is completed in the classroom, where the teacher can assist and collaboration with peers can take place.

Benefits:

  1. This allows students to learn at their own pace: repeat the lesson if needed, skip/skim parts that they already know, etc.
  2. Questioning time is increased and teachers can support their learners without rushing lessons. Students can bring their concerns to class after some reflection.
  3. Increased collaboration due to in-class work time.
  4. Shy students have a chance to voice their concerns/ask questions in a more private manner.
  5. Environmentally friendly: this allows for an almost paper-free classroom.
  6. Parents can see what their children are learning about at school. No more need for the “what did you learn today?” question.

Disadvantages:

  1. Takes time to collect resources/make videos. The teacher and students all need to have access to technology and understand the tools they are using.
  2. Students may not complete the lecture at home. Student motivation is required.
  3. Teachers still will have to balance their time to help all of their learners. Classroom management cannot be forgotten as in-class work-time must be on-task, focused, and hold some structure.

I believe that these issues are similar as to what is already posing challenges in the traditional method. Therefore, I think this model is worth a try and teachers can make adjustments/problem-solve as needed.

Implementation:

  1. Start by getting comfortable with the technology that will be used. Both students and teachers need to know how to best use the tools.
  2. Start small. Edudemic suggests giving homework that is a YouTube video to watch at home and discussion and questions follow the next day. Consider this your pre-assessment.
  3. Start creating your lessons. I would suggest a half an hour a night but adjust accordingly. Also, take a look at what is out there already, who you can collaborate with, etc.
  4. Create in-class time activities/assessments. I would suggest giving students a voice about what they want to do to demonstrate their knowledge. The nice thing is your videos could stay relatively the same year to year but with a new class, new assignments could happen; every year would look a bit different. Students may engage more if they get to co-construct rubrics. However, if problems arise with students not watching the lectures, Edudemic suggests quizzes at the start.

What other problems do you see with the flipped model? What other benefits? How would you work around those issues? What tools would you use to create your lessons? If students were unmotivated to watch the videos at home, what could you do?

Feedly Follows

I chose to follow Think Inclusive, Edutopia, Free Technology for Teachers, and Educational Technology and Mobile Learning. My interest in inclusive education and membership in ECMP355 drove my decision to follow these pages. Inclusive education and technology (and the marriage of these two things) are vast topics that I will spend my entire life learning about. Furthermore, I am passionate and interested in these topics.

Feedly

So far I have read these articles:

5 Strategies For Structuring An Inclusive Classroom Environment – In summary, it suggests that all students benefit from a multi-sensory approach to learning, “fair isn’t always equal” and holding students to different levels/expectations is reasonable and allows them to learn at their own level, stations and centers benefit all students, rules and expectations must be clear, and teachers must be flexible/able to “read the room.” I read this article because as a fourth year education student, I am hoping to create my very own inclusive classroom environment very soon. I couldn’t agree more with what this article is saying. I am a strong believer in using Gardiner’s multiple-intelligences and used this theory to plan lessons/activities in my internship at Mossbank School. I also used stations in my 3/4 health class and this was by far their favorite lesson (aside from when I took them skating to promote healthy exercise). It was a lot of work but the learning was so valuable and well-received by all that it was worth every second! Finally, I believe that the best quality I can bring to the table as a student support teacher/inclusive educator is flexibility. I need to be flexible to meet the needs of students, parents, and teachers.

7 Things Every Special Education Teacher Should Know About Themselves – Once again, as a fourth year ed. student I read this article in hopes of getting some insight about what I should expect in my first job (hopefully!) as a student support teacher. The article highlights the need for self-reflection, asking for help, acting/trying your best, being flexible, accepting your own imperfections/inability to keep up to the workload, and maintaining a positive attitude. I agree with these observations, although I am reluctant to admit that accepting my own imperfections/inability to keep up to the workload will be part of my job. This is something that I will have to work on. The three things that resonated with me the most are: “The worst thing you can do is nothing” – Temple Grandin, “attitude makes or breaks your day,” and “flexibility solves 99% of all problems.” I didn’t, however, agree with the belief that I should accept weight gain. I think it is important for educators to take time for themselves. If your job is getting in the way of your eating/sleeping/working out and other basic health necessities, I think it is time to take a step back and reflect. The airplane analogy of fixing your own breathing mask in a crash before helping someone else here may apply – you can’t teach your students if you’re dead. I plan to do the best I can at my job, while still maintaining my own personal physical/mental health. I’m an avid runner/biker/swimmer and take pride in my cleaning eating lifestyle; I want to be a role-model for children and for them to see me leading a positive lifestyle! Balance is key!

8 Examples of Assistive Technology in the Classroom – This article is a great one to tab and keep around for future reference. It acknowledges the benefits to inclusion: “The philosophy of inclusion promotes a sense of community. Children learn valuable social skills like empathy, problem solving, communication, taking turns, teamwork and more!” but also lists assistive technology/tools that can help you create that inclusive environment, such as Class Dojo. Inclusion doesn’t happen overnight and it is nice to see an article that lists the benefits but also acknowledges how to carry this philosophy out! See also: 13 Disability Resources on the Web You May Not Know About 

The 8 Most Atrocious Myths About Inclusive Education – Another great article to tab and keep around if those difficult conversations ever arise. The reality of being a student support teacher is that resistant behaviors will arise and these must be met with data/facts.. as well as, a cool head!

12 Things To Remember When Working With Challenging Students – The do’s and don’ts of working with those challenging students (which we all will)! I think the most important thing to remember is the children who need the most love show this need in the most unconventional ways. The article mentions getting to know your students, realizing they want your love, AND not letting them walk all over you. To me, that is the recipe for success and all three ingredients must be added or it will be thrown in the trash. Tough love!

Assistive Technology Increasing Inclusion in Classrooms and Beyond – This article discussed the importance of problem solving in inclusive education and looked at a Desktop Desk invention that was made for a student in a wheelchair. We can go a long way and see great success if we think outside the box! It is all in the mindset we let ourselves have! To read more about mindset and reflective questioning/listening read: Opinion: Open-Mindedness Needed for Inclusion to Thrive

Providing Structure Without Stifling Creativity – This article caught my eye because in ECE 325 we were talking about how to balance exploration and play/child directed learning with our human instinct/desire of structure and teacher curriculum planning. This is something that I am just beginning to grapple with and it is one of my personal goals to take advantage of more “teaching moments.” I find this balance to be one of the hardest.  Maybe if I allow for choice in the set structure students will  be able to learn in a creative environment? Maybe I just need to throw out my watch? I am interested in how other educators deal with this tension; please comment below!

What Is Autism? A Definition By Nick Walker – I chose to look at this article because it is always good to refresh  my basic knowledge about varying abilities. Autism is a genetically based human neurological variant that starts in utero. It is a pervasive development disorder and 1-2% of our population is diagnosed on this spectrum,. Early diagnosis and information/research is needed. Autism is characterized by language development, social interactions, behavioral, and sensory issues. However, it is a broad spectrum and no one should be defined/categorized into these rigid boxes. Autism is different for each person because all people are unique!

Happy reading! 🙂

About Me!


Kourtney Gorham

Education: I grew up in Southey, Saskatchewan and attended school at Robert Southey School. I am currently enrolled in my fourth year and final semester of my B.Ed. degree at the University of Regina (English and Inclusive Education). I am also working towards my Inclusive Education Certificate. My goal is to one day become an Educational Psychologist.

Experiences: I have been involved with a wide range of experiences related to teaching. In 2009 and 2010 I co-coached the junior girls’ basketball team at Robert Southey School. In 2011 and 2012 I helped instruct at basketballs camp at Robert Southey School. At the University of Regina I am a member of the Ambassador and the UR Guaranteed programs. I have had the opportunity to volunteer with both the Campus for All and Astonished programs. These two programs have been beneficial and have increased my understanding of working with those who have varying abilities, differentiating instruction and assessment, and maintaining inclusive environments. I also have enjoyed watching my student’s reading level improve and was proud as she wrote her first essay. I have spent the last four summers working as a medication counselor/senior counselor at Camp Easter Seal, which is the only completely wheelchair accessible and level four equipped camp facility in Saskatchewan. During my internship I coached Bantam Boys’ Volleyball and Cross Country. I advised the SRC and We Day Communities and could always be found tutoring/working with students during my “lunch break.”

Interests: I am interested in healthy eating and working out. I am particularly fond of running, biking, swimming, and TRX training. I used to run half-marathons on my own… for fun… but now I am more of a 10k gal! I love to cook/bake and do low-key things with my closest family and friends. If I have time, I love to read. And since I am confident enough to be myself, I will admit that I LOVE to clean/organize. (I’m not as boring as that makes me sound).

My professional interests include a strong desire to work with students of all abilities, both in the classroom and through extracurricular activities. I can often be found researching said topics… and posting my thoughts/resources to this blog!

Worldview: I am a very strong socialist, as I believe we need to provide programs for all in our society. You could say, I like a good underdog story. I believe that everyone has a right to an education and should be included in our society. I am also interested in protecting our environment and I have personal goals to reduce my waste/not use plastic, etc. I have a long way to go but I have been a vegetarian for two years now and work hard to avoid non-organic products and corporations who do not share my environmental values.

Technology in the Classroom: Well… it is not going away anytime soon. Technology is here to stay, regardless of the love-hate relationship I have with it. Therefore, it is time for me to learn how to best use it in the classroom! This can be a challenge (I know how to use it for myself but not always how to use it with students and best use class time/resources/curriculum outcomes). My goal now is just to try it and keep an open mind. If I start small and try to implement a couple of things as a new teacher and work from there, I would consider that successful.

I look forward to meeting you all and working with you throughout the semester! Please feel free to search my blog and leave comments! 🙂