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Sunday, July 28, 2013

What Pet to Get? and a freebie

Yesterday I posted some questions about teaching children with little or no verbal skills how to read.  One of the questions was about comprehension.  Often, these children have not had an opportunity to respond to books that are read to them.  How do you test if a child understands the beginning, middle and end of a story when they can't verbally tell you?  For our students, is one reading of a book enough?

For my first unit of the year, I will be doing pets.  Most children have a pet at home or at least have the experience of someone they know with a pet.  I've picked three books to do a more in-depth study of.

         What Pet to Get?    One More PetCat's Colors

The first book I've done activities for is "What Pet to Get?" by Emma Dodd.

I wanted to make my own communication boards for the activities.  At the beginning of the year most of my children don't have their own communication systems in place.  If they do, they are very basic.  When we start talking about different books, they often don't have the pictures they need to answer my questions.  These are the activities I've made for "What Pet to Get?".

If you want to grab the whole unit, it will be on sale for 1/2 price for the next few days.
Click on the picture below to grab it.

Do I learn the same as you?

When I first started teaching twenty-two years ago there was not much guidance.  We didn't have a curriculum or standards or any real guidelines.  We did our own thing.  We worked on colours, letters and shapes. Played with play-dough and in the sand and learned to line-up at the door and put up our hand to ask a question.

Fast forward 22 years and today's classroom is totally different.  We still play with play-dough and in the sand and learn to line-up and put up our hand but most children are expected to know their colours and shapes and all the alphabet coming into kindergarten.  The emphasis is on reading and writing and we now have high standards to meet (whether it's Common Core or Ontario's Kindergarten Program expectations). Most children have already had school experience in day cares and pre-school centres.  Here in Ontario children can start junior kindergarten at the age of three (they must be 4 by Dec 31 of that year).

I've talked a little in the past about my class.  All the children I teach have either a physical disability or a speech disability.  Some have both.  How do I enable them to meet the high standards that have been placed on them, and on us as teachers.

I do, and will have, children in my class that will need an alternative program.  Something that differs from the kindergarten program because they are not ready or able to meet those requirements.  They will be on an alternative program that will work on goals that are geared to their needs.  But what of my other students?

When you see a child for the first time, do you know what skills they have?  Can you tell just by looking at them?  Do you have a preconceived idea about their ability?  Do you know if they can read? Or have the ability to learn how to read?  What if the child that comes into your class can't walk? Or can't talk? Or can't hold anything?  What if they couldn't do any of those things? Would that alter your conception of their ability?

Does the inability to hold a pencil mean you can't write?  Does the inability to speak mean that you can't read?  What if you can't talk, walk and have little to no fine motor skills?  Would you assume that child would or should be illiterate?  Would you assume they had the ability to learn how to read? Or would you assume that there wasn't any point?

When a child enters my class and I see them for the first time, I DO have a preconceived idea about their ability.  I BELIEVE they have the ABILITY to LEARN.  And I believe they have the ABILITY to learn how to read regardless of the outward appearance of the child.

Now how you go about it, is a different matter.  And I don't know that I have any of the answers. When a child can't say a word or sound back to you, how do you know that they know it? How do I prove that they can read and comprehend stories that they read and are read to them?  These are all questions that I want to find answers to.

Over the past few years I've concentrated heavily on sight words. This is the easiest thing to test. If you give a child a few options, can they point or look towards the word you asked for?  This is an easy way to check on sight word recognition.  Building up a sight word vocabulary is important but it's only part of the puzzle.

How do we work on phonetic skills with children who can't produce the sounds?  How do we test for understanding after listening to a story when the child cannot tell us? I'm planning on working on these two question throughout the next school year.

Since my students are very young, many have just started using augmentative communication systems.  I'm hoping to expand on this type of  system in order for them to be able to prove comprehension using communication boards that are geared to the books that I'm working on.

I still have a month before I return to school. I'm planning on spending that time getting ready for my first theme of the year.  Pets.  I want to spend some time working on making meaningful activities that will enable me to test comprehension, sight words and letter knowledge.  I want to be able to produce solid evidence and data to prove that what I'm doing is working.  That you can't judge a book by its cover.

Do you work with children with severe speech and language impairments or with no speech at all?  I would love to hear from you.  Do you have questions you are wondering about? Do you have the answers?  Are there resources you wish you had?  I would love to hear from you.

I hope that you will follow me in my journey this year as I post my thoughts on this process.  I'm hoping to share some resources that I make to help me in journey and I hope that you will find them useful too.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Freebielicious Christmas in July Giveaway Hop

Hello freebie-lovers! The Freebielicious ladies know how much teachers appreciate good freebies, but we know that teachers are downright OBSESSED with new school supplies. In honor of the back to school season that is quickly approaching, Freebielicious is hosting a MEGA Christmas in July Giveaway. 

School Supply Giveaway Blog Hop

We have selected our very favorite school supplies and each blogger is hosting a mini-giveaway for a chance to win our favorite supply. I found these sticky pad letters and numbers just before the end of school and I'm so excited to use them in my classroom.  They are so easy to move around until you get your layout just right.  And there are so many colours.  This Christmas in July, I am sending this to one lucky "A Special Kind of Class" follower. 

Use the Rafflecopter below for your chance to win some quick letter pads for your classroom! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Freebielicious MEGA Giveaway

In addition to the School Supply Giveaway Blog Hop, we also have a few amazing grand prizes over on the Freebielicious blog. First of all, you could win all the school supplies of all the Freebielicious bloggers

Favorite School Supplies Giveaway

We also have a special Grand Prize of Back to School goodies from Santa's Helpers (aka our sponsors). You won't BELIEVE the amazing line-up of prizes in this collection. 
Santas Helpers Grand Prize

Make sure you stop by the Freebielicious blog for your chance to enter to win both of these MEGA grand prize collections!

Keep Hopping

Follow the giveaway hop and enter to win a special treat from all of Santa's blogging elves! Your next stop on the Christmas hop is Creating and Teaching. Click on the image below for your chance to win a set of Flair Pens!

Merry Christmas in July from Santa's elves at Freebielicious!
Thank you to Santa's Helpers for being such generous sponsors:

Isn't this the best giveaway EVER? 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Another great read

I'm just pumping out the books this summer.  Well the past week has really been too hot to do anything else.  Especially when you don't have air conditioning.

Again, this was an easy read.  I like books that are easy to read.  If you have children you know that you often don't get long stretches of time when you can get into a book.  I can't count the number of times I couldn't remember all the characters in a book because there was so many and when you only get 5 or 10 minutes at a time to read (or have to hide in the bathroom), the story line is just hard to catch on to.

This wasn't one of those books.  This was another one in the bag of books that my friend had given me ages ago.  It's a wonderfully, heart warming romance.

This is Tracey Garvis Graves' first book called "On the Island"

It's about a 30 year old woman who needs a change and a chance to reflect on her life.  She decides to take a job as a tutor to a 16 year old boy who needs to catch up on school since being in remission from cancer. On the way to the summer resort where they will be staying, the plane crashes and they end up on an island.  This is the story of how they survive.  

What would you do if you were stranded on an island?

Friday, July 19, 2013

Pirate Math Freebie

This is a sample of one of my activities in my new pirate unit.

The freebie includes numbers 1 to 10.  The activity in the unit includes numbers 1 to 20.

If you want to see the rest of the activities in the unit, see yesterday's post here.
It's on sale for 1/2 price until the weekend.

Click on the picture below to grab the freebie.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Pirate math

My newest math unit, pirate math, is ready.  It's on sale until the weekend for 1/2 price.
Here are the activities it includes.
Click on the title page to grab it.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Summer read for fun

It's been a long time since I've read a book in a day.  But isn't that what summer is for?  My friend lent me this book during the school year but I never seemed to find the time to pick it up.  Yesterday, I decided that I needed something to read and picked this one up.

"Left Neglected" is about a women who has it all, and is trying to do it all.  She has a great job, a wonderful husband and three beautiful kids.  She is also trying to juggle all three.  Then one day, she is distracted while driving and it all comes to an end.  Waking up in the hospital with an acquired brain injury called "left neglect" she is forced to deal with not being aware of anything on her left side. Sarah is forced to re-examine her life and come to terms with the people and parts of her life that matter most.

It's a very easy read and the story grabbed me from the beginning. I couldn't put it down until it was finished. If you need something heart-warming and thought provoking that doesn't take a lot to get into, this is book for you.

What have you been reading this summer?

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Letter Exchange

I'm so excited to have signed up for an alphabet letter exchange.  I missed out last year so I can't wait to do it this year.  If you want to join or you want to know the details, click on the picture below to go to 
First Grade Found Me.

Have you picked up the awesome deal yet from Freebielicious and Educents?  
You can get $154 worth of products for only $30.

Look at all those units!!!

Here is a sample of Donna Glynn's "A Fall Pattern Unit".  
It's just one of the 23 units you will receive when you purchase this packet.

Get it now while you can.  This deal won't last forever.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Firefly Colour Sort and Freebie

Since my students will be starting out back at the basics come September, I thought I would start making some basic activities for them to start with.  Here is the first one.  It's a colour sorting activity with fireflies.  I included three levels of difficulty.  The first level has the most colour support (the card and the word are in the required colour), the second level has some colour support (the word only is in the required colour) and level three has no colour support (the cards and words are in black). 

You can grab a free sample but clicking on the download preview button after clicking on the button below.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Chapter 3 - The Next Step in Guided Reading - Freebies

Welcome to chapter three of the Freebielicious Summer book study.  I'm hosting this week's chapter along with my good buddies Marsha, Jeannie and Lidia.


This chapter is huge.  There is so much information in it.  I decided to concentrate on the Pre-A group.  This will be the group that I will be teaching in the fall.  Some of the children in my group may not even have a yes/no response let alone know any letters of the alphabet.

I was really interested in information about tracing an alphabet book.  I have never done this before but I'm really interested by this concept and I'm excited to see if it works.  I made this booklet to give it a try.  You can click on the picture to grab the colour version for free.

The Pre-A Lesson Framework consists of Working with Letters and Names, Working with Sounds, Working with Books and Interactive Writing.

Each lesson starts by assessing the letter and sound knowledge of each student in the group.  I made up this chart but I might make up another one with all the children on one page.  If you want this one, you can grab it for free by clicking on the picture below.

Each child is suppose to have an alphabet chart so I made one of those too.  The pictures match the ones in the alphabet tracing book.  You can grab the black and white version below.

For "Working with Letters and Names", I'm going to make name templates for each of the children and get together personal letter bags for each of them.  I just ordered a bunch of new magnetic letters.  Again, names are not something I've spent a lot of time working on, so this will be new to me.  I think I'm going to be starting out with a pet theme.  We are going to be doing a lot of working with letters.  Picking out certain letters an sorting them.  This activity is from my pet literacy unit.

"Working with Sounds" will involve a lot of work on syllables and word families.  Finding lots of rhyming words too.  I'm going to have to make it very simple and use a lot of picture supports for this group.

 I have quite a few interactive books that will be perfect for "Working with Books".  I have four different types of books.  One is a regular book.

One has the sentence missing and the children need to put the right sentence on each page.

One has the animal missing and the children read the sentence and find the right animal.

 And the last one has a word missing and the children have to put the right word in the story.

Since it's more than likely that none of group will have any fine motor skills, the fact that  "Interactive Writing"  is using cut up sentences is going to work out perfectly.  I don't have any made up for pets yet but I think I will make some up like I did for my zoo unit.

I love the way that the book lays out a lesson plan for the whole group.  I know that when I go to do my planning in the fall, that I just have to pick the activities I'm going to do and slot them into the lesson plan.  I'm looking forward to being more organized.

If you want all my alphabet activities, including the colour and black and white versions of the book and chart, you can find them here, along with the matching alphabet posters.