Hiking the Braille Trail

My thoughts and prayers go out to those who have been affected by the Lower North Fork Wildfire.

A find while on Spring Break that I wanted to share. Not far from Downtown Denver is a trial that has interpretive signs in Braille, and a waist-high guide wire, the short Braille Trail is designed for blind hikers. Which is very cool!  I have never seen another trail set up like this to expand access to individuals who are blind or have low-vision. It's student and dog friendly. My students don't have very many experiences with being outdoors in Colorado but I'm thinking this would make a great field trip because the sign posts are written in a way that 5th and 6th graders would understand what they are looking at. The sign posts highlight key aspects of the Colorado mountains including plants, trees, and meadows. A great way to see Colorado mountain vocabulary. Plus it's less the a mile of walking total. Colorado does have trails that have wheelchair access but nothing like this close to town to take student too.

Word Study

No matter if its Wilson or Just Words, I have found the my students need more practice with Long A combinations and Long E combinations. Both Wilson and Just Words teach vowel consonant /e/ way before students are introduced to vowel teams; which is great for my students. They get a chance to mastery one before they have to take on another.  Word study also has to be built into guided reading. I try to pull it directly out of what the group is reading so that they can see and read the words in context. How do you use word work in your guided reading groups? Happy Sping Break--I'm off to enjoy Colorados beautiful spring time weather!!
Safari long a and e

Gradually Release

Over the last two years, my building has used the gradually release strategy from Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey. In gradually release, the teacher gradually releases control of the use of the skills and strategies to the students. The expectation being students apply the strategies and skills learned in guided reading lessons to other reading outside of the lesson. Students should begin to 'own' the strategy as they mastery strategy or skill.  Guided reading is mosty on the students, where Modeling the strategy is totally me as the teacher, and in the middle is shared where both the students and I are working on the strategy together.

A highlight of their work is the learning goal; making sure that I have a clearly definded focus no matter what lesson I'm teaching. I weave my learning focus into my introduction. For example: Today, we will be reading another text that has lots of interesting information. When we read a text it has important things, sometimes something strange or not so important things. Today, we going to learn how to sift and sort what is really important and what interesting. This strategy is very helpful because you'll be able to use it with lots of different text.

For Wilson, this is far more interesting because it moves back forth between all three many times in a lesson but the lesson plans don't include a learning focus. Will I fixed that! I not have a lesson plan that includes lesson focus. I also couldn't find a lesson plan for think alouds and shared reading, so I made those as well. Just in time to use before Spring Break.
Modeled I Do Lesson Plan Shared Reading Lesson Plan Wilson Lesson Plan With Learning Goals

Self Determination--Part 2

Getting students to ask for help is always a challenge. For the last three weeks, a group of 6th grade students have been working on asking of help to build their self advocacy skill set. I was surprised by the number of self-determination video clips, that I found on You Tube. I found three that would best illustrate self-determine to a group of 6th students with learning disabilities.

Using the videos to continue to build their background knowledge, they were able to create a 5-point scale of how they feel when they have to ask for help. I got the idea from "The Incredible 5-point Scale" by: Kari Dunn Buron.
I have used her voice scale with wonderful results.  Everyone created their own High-Low Scale with emotion icons. Then we created a group on, that I have posted in their homerooms as well as my room. Since their are no names attached to it, no one else in the class is aware of who it's for.

The High-Low Scale has helped students identify their feelings around asked for help. One reported that she felt better, now she better understood herself. She was able to work through why she didn't want to ask for help and begun asking for help when she's stuck instead for waiting to see me later and ask me then. I'm so excited that its already helped one student. I'm hoping that as they spend more time with the scale, that I'll see an increase in them asking for help from their classroom teachers.

Small Group Math

Last year I went looking for a new math curriculum, that had strong number sense and would work in either small groups or one on one. I had been using Saxon Math but I was finding that it align so well with our Curriculum Alignment Project (CAP). CAP outlines what needs to be taught when and for how long-its the curriculum and Investigations is the resource. CAP ensures that every student in the district is getting the same thing regardless of what building your in. The problem with Investigations is that it doesn't translate well to small groups or one on one, so it's not used frequently for interventions. We do use it for double dosing students (students getting the same lesson twice).

I found Singapore Math. It came from a recommendation because they had seen improvements in their intensive math groups. Here's what I love about it. It's deceptively thin text books were created with an understanding on how students actually learn. The lessons are structured with the gradual release model(which is huge in my district) which allows students to learn mathematics meaningfully and talk about it like mathematicians. It also aligns better with what they are learning in class. Students love this program because of all the hands on work they get to do. They have said way more tha what they get in class. The girls that I work with in math need all the hands on and language support they can get in math and then some. The down side is the language skills students need to work independently. One way I have worked around in more language supports is creating mini-anchor charts as a visual reminder of what key words mean.
Graph Key Words Math Key Terms

About Me

Welcome to my all thing special education blog. I empower busy elementary special education teachers to use best practice strategies to achieve a data and evidence driven classroom community by sharing easy to use, engaging, unique approaches to small group reading and math. Thanks for Hopping By.

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