Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Alternatives To Worksheets Book Review

I have 2 books that I really love using with my students. Alternatives To Worksheets and More Alternatives To Worksheets. These books have hands on activities for students that can be used with any subject. There are lots of ideas for centers and class presentations. These can be adapted for various levels. It has some patterns to copy for projects and uses inexpensive materials like sentence strips, construction paper, cereal boxes. The activities include pop ups, foldables, and more.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Teaching Sentence Writing

I have student who struggle with fine motor skills and this makes it difficult for them to write. I love using Pixwriter software. Pixwriter is software that allows you to build word banks with or without pictures. The student touches the word or picture and it puts the word on the screen. it allows students to work on capitalization and punctuation too. There are various options such has colored borders that can be used for nouns and verbs.It has the option of reading the sentence with various voice options or no voice. I like using it on the Smart Board. I build my word banks using words from our weekly story. I also have seen great improvement in my students when I dictate sentences to my beginning writers daily. I have a separate time to work on pencil skills. I use Pixwriter to get a composition grade. I can print it off and send home.

Friday, August 3, 2012


The thing that I dread the most is scheduling. Sometimes it takes me 2 days to do this due to the amount of inclusion we have and the fact I have 3-4 grade levels and various therapies to consider. I have a assistants and usually 7-9 kids. So here are a couple of forms that I use to schedule my groups. The first one is from The Watson Institute. They have some wonderful documents for teachers. I like this one because it has the times, teacher, student names, where they go next and iep goals addressed. A blank form can be found here: www.thewatsoninstitute.org Here is another one made in Excel. I usually color code this one. I assign each adult a color and highlight the students (time blocks) that work with that adult. I leave white for students who do not need adult support during that time.

Monday, July 23, 2012

My Cheat Sheet For Modifications & Accommodations

I created this cheat sheet that contains modifications and accommodations. I put the students initials and grade level at the top. I also include the last ARD date. I have enlarged this so you can read it, but at the bottom I have a spot for other. I try to make it fit on one page. This is a great resource to share with regular ed teachers if your students go out to classes. I just created a table in Microsoft Word.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Vocabulary/Spelling Sheet

I use this sheet to teach new vocabulary, but it can be used in a spelling center too. I created this table in Word. I usually use boardmaker pictures in the top corner instead of drawing.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Spelling Practice

When I set up my schedule I have centers that my students rotate through. For spelling I use some of these ideas
  • write words in gel pen on black paper
  • write with shaving cream
  • Cut and paste letters from magazine or ones I have typed
  • Egg Spellers- The teacher writes the letters of a spelling word on small pieces of paper and places them inside plastic eggs. Students pick the eggs from an Easter basket. The students then must write that word or cut and paste the letters.
  • Alphabet Stamps
  •  Write your spelling words in a pyramid shape. Start with the first letter. On the next line, write the first two letters. On the third line, write the first three letters. Continue until you have written the entire word. Example: the
  • Wagon Words- I draw a simple wagon (box and 2 wheels with handle). Write the word in the square and the first letter on one wheel and last letter on 2nd wheel.
  • Rainbow Write- First write your words using a pencil. Then trace over your words with a crayon. Then trace a second time with a different colored crayon. Finally trace a third time with another different colored crayon. Trace NEATLY and you will see the rainbow!
  • Spelling Chain- write word on construction paper links and make a chain
  • Clothes Pin Spelling- make clothes from construction paper and either put letters on clothes and student hang each letter to make a word or you can write letters on clothes pins and pin to something.
Often times I have students who struggle with spelling and I have to modify it. Sometimes I will just select the letters they need for one word or I go ahead and write the word and they have to "match a letter or trace".

Thursday, June 21, 2012

How And Why We Adapt Books

I have found some great resources on ideas about adapting books for students with special needs. My goal is to build a library of books that are adapted so my students can enjoy books more. I have some kids that would love books if they could read better. Currently I don't have many kids that are able to participate in a silent reading time. There are so many great resources on this on the internet. Here are my favorites:

Here is a great powerpoint


Baltimore City School have pictures already made for you to use in a book
you can either past symbols above the words or off to the side of the page in order so they can follow along with the story. You can even "rewrite" the page with fewer sentences.

This link shows a powerpoint on how to use Baltimore City School website. You dont have to register, just scroll down and click thru slides:
NYC schools have some already adapted too

Tarheel Reader is a great sight where you can make your own story on the computer

Accessing Grade Level Books- Adapted Chapter Books

     This past year I attended a wonderful researched based workshop on adapting chapter books. These adapted chapter books allow students with significant disabilities to participate in grade level texts. These books usually range from a few sentences to one page per chapter. It it uses picture symbols above words or real life pictures to enhance meaning. The text is simplified, but it follows the basic story and you can teach new vocabulary. This is great for inclusion too. The student can participate in grade level activities and have some idea of what the book is about.

   A chapter book can take 2-3 weeks to complete. First I make vocabulary cards with pictures and I also use the internet for vocabulary words.Then I start with the adapted version and then listened to regular version on tape and then we watch the movie. I use character webbs and all kinds of visuals as we go through the book. I was very surprised by how much my students were engaged and excited each day. I was very impressed with their comprehension skills. I actually used these books to the state alternative test.

Here are a couple of websites that have books already made:

  Here are webinars on teaching on teaching reading with adapted books:

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Teaching Reading

     I use several different resources to teach reading. Most of my student are sight word readers, but a every once in while I get a student who needs more challenging material.  I use Edmark reading for teaching sight words and thank goodness they have a new edition, which looks very nice. I like Edmark and it works,but the older version was lacking in the comprehension area. I am not sure about the new one.

     I work with student one on one for the Edmark and I use Reading Milestones for our weekly story. It has more comprehension and lots of practice pages. I usually have 2-3 groups for this program. It is a scripted program, but it works and I like the extension activities.

     When I have students who are not challenged by Edmark or Reading Milestones then I use word families. I use the website, http://www.carlscorner.us.com/. There are lots of free things on here.


Saturday, April 28, 2012

Unique Learning System

 I work with student who have moderate to severe disabilities. This past year I started using parts of Unique Learning System. The lessons are science or social studies based, but teaches all subjects.

  • Differentiated/leveled
  • Provides suggested lesson plans
  •  Provides progress monitoring
  • Helps you relate to students life experiences
  • Aligned to state standards
  • Expensive (my district purchased it)
  • Requires lots of printing
They do have a free summer unit for you to try. Here is the link to the website


Here is the current list of topics for this year

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Book Review of : Teaching By Design by Kimberly Voss

This is a great book on how to use your computer to create materials for students with learning difficulties.
This book shows you how to make materials:
  • wheels
  • flipbooks
  • sliders
  • sight word card with pictures
  • spelling & sentences
  • visual schedules
  • symmetry, time, and much more
It comes with a disk to help you design.