Boardmarker's Symbolate Feature

I have spent the better part of my break trying to figure out how to increase student access to text without changing the depth of knowledge. Easier said then down. Well almost--until I stumbled okay fell into a feature in Boardmarker that can be found in 6, Studio and plus-symbolate. Talk about a blessing--a whole lot less cutting and pasting and more learning.

Symbolate in a nutshell adds pictures to words in a sentence. It was so excited to share that I created my first video. I'm going to try it next week with a student with autism to see if it helps him answer questions after he has read. What started this was this student who does better when pictures are attached to what he needs to do. So, knowing that answering basic who, what, when, where questions is tough on a good day that perhaps adding pictures would help him understand and answer comprehension questions after he has read. I can see doing this for other things too like a unit math test--not to change the work but to increase access to the text.

This quick and easy adaptation to text is an instructional accommodation. As an access accommodation that provides access to the core curriculum and doesn't affect the mastery level expected of students.

I've included a couple that I have created to use when I have the student in Wilson. If these work for him than I can see using it for other things like math.

Don't forget that everything in my store will be on sale Monday and Tuesday (12/2 and 12/3). Have a great week!

Parent Common Core Website

We have all familiar with Common Core but our parents well that's a whole different thing. If your parents are like mine, understanding Common Core is more than a challenge.  Explaining what it is and how it will change things is hard if not close to impossible. Early this week, I came across a wonderful website that breaks it down for parents. The Parent Toolkit was designed to help parents track and support their child’s progress from preschool to graduation from High School.

NBC News and education company Pearson have come together to form Parent Toolkit, a plain-talk, grade-by-grade digital guide to Common Core and benchmarks for each grade. Parents can drill down by grade to see what the math and English language arts requirements are, and get sample problems that illustrate the concept.

Since parents are also their children’s teachers, the site provides ideas for everyday ways to support what your child’s learning at school. For instance, if he’s working on fractions, give him a real-world lesson by dividing a sandwich. The site is also planning to add social and health and wellness milestones for each grade in 2014.

A heads up I'll be throwing a sale at my Teachers Pay Teachers store the beginning of next month.

Ideas to Move a Stuck Reader

I have a couple of students this year that have not moved much in the last year or so. At our weekly, team meetings we talk about about these guys. As a group we try to figure out why they aren't moving. It tends to be asking lots of why and right when you think you've got it; you ask why again. Sometimes we need to come back and collect a specific data point. Other times a plan is hatched and put in place. Think of these as questions and does the evidence show that the student has it.

If the student decodes the first few letters or syllables and makes up the rest, confuses simple words like we're and there, or has trouble recognizing high-frequency words than:

Word Recognition: word recognition is a broad term for being able to access print.

High Frequency Words: are words that occur often in written language. Students need to be able to recognize these words quickly. Under 5 seconds fast!!

Sight Words: I think most teach use sight words and high frequency words interchangeable, meaning sight words are words students should know by sight, without sounding them out. Others use sight words to mean high frequency words as words students cannot sound out or don't play by the rules such as have or give.

Decoding: this refers to understanding sounds and letters. 

Phonics: this refers to the rules that govern the English language.

As a rule of thumb, the student's most current DRA or Fountas and Pinnell is used. Digging deeper is key when needing to find a new way to move students. The team is always surprised when talking about High Frequency Words because my buildings kindergarten to fourth grade agreement that all students will known the building list. Student move in and sometimes its just forgotten but not everyone has mastered "the list."

Going into a week after receiving news that I'm now a National Board Certified Teacher, I wish to thank my mom for her ongoing encouragement and faith in me. I also wish to thank my readers for I hope you find what I share informing and useful and even something you can take back to you class and team. If you are traveling this week--I wish you safe travels and a have a restful and fabulous break.

Addition Strategies for Small Groups

For the last couple of days I have been teaching addition strategies for adding 2 digit numbers with something could be called success. These guys have a hard time remembering the steps--which makes moving on to regrouping tough but yet they have a couple of strategies that have helped them. The basic strategies they have built on to help them work to find the answers. I would love, love if they would memorize the basic facts but getting a correct answer with another strategy is all that matters at the end of the day. Even if its not the most efficient. It has to be efficient and effective for them--not me the teacher.

Though mastering the basic facts is one strategy its not the end all be all. It is equally important that they make sense of number combinations as they are learning these facts. Here are some strategies to help with this understanding.

Adding Zero
Model adding zero (with younger students) or review it with older students. If a child understands that when you add zero you add nothing, he/she should never get a basic fact with zero wrong. Make sure this understanding is in place.

Adding One (Count up)
Adding one means saying the larger number, then jumping up one number, or counting up one number. This happens every time you add one. It never changes. Never recount the larger number, just say it and count up one.

Example: 6 + 1 = say 6 then 7
44 + 1 = say 44 then 45

Adding Two – Count up Two
Adding two means saying the larger number, then jumping up or counting up twice. Again this is always correct and never changes.

Example: 9 + 2 = say 9 then 10 then 11
45 + 2 say 45 then 46 then 47

Commutative Property:
You also have to teach or review the commutative property. The answer will be the same regardless of the order you add the two numbers. 9 + 2 = 2 + 9 Order
doesn’t matter.

Adding Ten 
Adding ten means jumping up ten (think of a hundred’s chart). The ones digit stays the same but the ten’s digit increases by one. Students must understand this. Using a hundreds board to teach this works well to build understanding. Have students actually count up the ten and write down the result. Then affirm with them the pattern and explain why it works every time.

Example: 5 + 10 = 15

10 + 7 = 17
For older students you can relate this to higher numbers:

Example 23 + 10 = 33
48 + 10 = 58

Double Numbers
To add double numbers there are a couple of strategies that might help students.

When you add a double you are counting by that number once.
For example: 4 + 4 = think of 4,8 … counting by fours
Practice skip counting by each number in turn:
4-8 etc. This gets harder with the higher numbers but skip counting is an important skill for students to have.

Doubles occur everywhere in life.
For example: an egg carton is 6 + 6
two hands are 5 + 5
16 pack of crayons has 8 + 8
two weeks 7 + 7 =

Do a variety of activities with double numbers and have students determine and explain which strategies help them remember. Each student should look at each fact and relate to a visual image or counting by strategy that works for them.

Near Doubles 
To use the near doubles strategy a student first has to master the doubles. Then, if the double is known, they use that and count up or down one to find the near double.
Example: 4 + 4 = 8 5 + 4 = 9 (count up one)
Or: 4 + 4 = 8 so 4 + 3 = 7 (count down one)

Adding 5
Adding five has a strategy that is helpful but not completely effective as it is a bit tricky. You can decide if it is helpful or not.

To add fives look for the five in both numbers to make a ten then count on the extra digits.
Example: 5 + 7 = (10 + 2) = 12

5 + 8 = 5 + 5 + 3 = 13

Students who can see the five in 8 should have no difficulty. Students who can’t visualize numbers will find this hard. Most students can be taught to do this with some extra work.

Math manipulatives are an important bridge to help students connect the concrete to the abstract in mathematical learning. Math manipulatives allow students to see, touch, and move real representations of conceptual ideas. Numbers on a page are brought to life when students can model with representations. Concepts such as decomposition, place value, and fractions benefit from the visual and kinesthetic aspects of manipulatives. Challenging and multi-step problem-solving activities can be made more manageable when students are able to use tools like manipulatives to compute and represent various parts of the problem. Practice in choosing appropriate manipulatives deepens student expertise with identifying the correct tools for solving a problem.

Explaining and critiquing mathematical reasoning are important skills in understanding mathematics. Manipulatives help students discuss and demonstrate their methods for solving problems. This type of collaborative communication builds precision in language as well as procedure. When students can demonstrate the how and why of a math concept, they build connections and prepare for more advanced skills. Manipulatives also provide students a tool for testing their theories and the theories of others. And, manipulatives can assist English language learners, who are still building their vocabularies, demonstrate understanding of math concepts.

Manipulatives are great for concrete, visual learners who need to see the problem to solve them. Unifix cubes moved my math group from having no clue on how to add two digit numbers to having a working strategy that they can use with confidence. For showing their work they just draw what they created. This list is full of great ways to help students to solve addition problems. I hope your students find one or two that help them solve addition problems efficiently and effectively. Have a great week!

Giving Feedback

What is Feedback?

W. Fred Miser says, “Feedback is an objective description of a student’s performance intended to guide future performance.  Unlike evaluation, which judges performance, feedback is the process of helping our students assess their performance, identify areas where they are right on target and provide them tips on what they can do in the future to improve in areas that need correcting.”

Grant Wiggins  says, “Feedback is not about praise or blame, approval or disapproval.  That’s what evaluation is – placing value.  Feedback is value-neutral.  It describes what you did and did not do.”

“Effective feedback, however, shows where we are in relationship to the objectives and what we need to do to get there. "

“It helps our students see the assignments and tasks we give them as opportunities to learn and grow rather than as assaults on their self-concept. "

“And, effective feedback allows us to tap into a powerful means of not only helping students learn, but helping them get better at learning.”

~ Robyn R. Jackson

For those of use who are evaluated on rubrics like C. Danielson's, giving student's effective and meaningful oral and written feedback is huge. It becomes part of how you use formative assessments during a lesson and how you determine if students "Got it" or not. 

I think its important to remember what good feedback looks like:

  • The more delay that occurs in giving feedback, the less improvement there is in achievement.
  • As often as possible, for all major assignments

  • What students are doing that is correct
  • What students are doing that is not correct
  • Choose areas of feedback based on those that relate to major learning goals and essential elements of the assignment
  • Should be encouraging and help students realize that effort on their part results in more learning 

Specific to a Criterion
  • Precise language on what to do to  improve
  • Reference where a student stands in relation to a specific learning target/goal
  • Also specific to the learning at hand
  • Based on personal observations

Focused on the product/behavior – not on the student

  • Did the student understand the feedback? 
  • Opportunities are provided to modify assignments, products, etc. based on the feedback
  • What is my follow up plan to monitor and assist the student in these areas?
I think of how I give feedback during a Wilson lesson, "I heard you read red correctly. How might you fix this word?" To shift the thinking back on the student to make the correction. This means I'm only focusing on one thing at a time. Not everything that needs to be fixed. I find its hard in guided reading, when the student stumbles over several words--deciding which ones to give and which ones to have them fix on their own. It's finding that balance and shifting the cognitive load from me to the student. That way the next time they see the word or get stuck they can independently use the strategy.  It's hard to find that balance and demonstrate that you are using feedback as a formative assessment. But that's what it takes for students to self-monitor. Some thoughts to add to your daily practice. Have a great week.

About Me

Welcome to my all thing special education blog. I'm Ms. Whiteley. I teach in the beautiful Mile High state--Colorado. This is my 13th year teaching in an rural K-6 Elementary school as a Exceptional Needs Teachers. As Exceptional Needs National Board Certified Teacher, I believe that ALL students can learn and be successful. When I'm not in school, I love to take my two Italian Greyhounds hiking 14ers and reaching for the stars. Thanks for Hopping By.

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