Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Planning for When You're NOT in the Room

Question: What do I do if I can't be in the room?"

Typically, what the teacher is really asking me is what does a child with an IEP do if there isn't a second teacher providing instruction and interventions. My answer is simple: provide supports anyway.

In many schools, co-teaching in one room all day is just not a reality. Most learning specialists have students on their case load that stretch across several classrooms and grades. My first year as a learning specialist, I taught in first through fourth grade in no less than six classrooms. It was a busy year!

Let's break down how to support students when you are not in the room.

1. Plan ahead of time.

My mentor, Sheila Danaher likes to say, "You are only as good as your co-plan." Below are five lesson planning templates that I like (four of which are FREE):
  1. Differentiating Instruction by Jacqueline Thousand, Richard Villa, and Ann Nevin. Their lesson planning templates and resources are incredibly smart and user friendly.
  2. Page 13 of Villa's co-teaching presentation (it's public)
  3. Patrick Shwartz's UDL lesson planning template.This is great to complete during co-planning.
  4. KU has a slew of strong resources for teachers including this co-planning template and this graphic organizer that breaks down a student's individual accommodations and modifications by subject. 
  5. This co-planning template by Murawski is as good and clear as it gets. 
2.  Have systems and procedures in place.
- Keep materials labeled and in the same location
- Share your procedures with your co-teacher

3. Don't just give students supports, teach them how to use them! 
- I'm all about this Gradual Release model (take a peek at page 3)

Friday, June 19, 2015

Support #11: Self Management Checklists

In order to be independently successful, students need to learn how to manage all sorts of behaviors: turning in homework, raising their hand when they have something to share, transitioning to a new class, etc. One strategy that I've had success with in the past is creating individualized Self Management checklists. This is an old-y but a good-y. Looking at my old self-management checklists, I would do things a little bit differently. Let's get critical together!

Even though this skill is all about independence and managing oneself, it requires a lot of teacher support at first! These checklists are the most successful when they are taught using the gradual release of responsibility model. This can be individualized by student need, but generally this is how I use self management checklists in the inclusive classroom:

1. Introduce the self-management checklist to the student.
2. Go through the routine together and find a place to keep the checklists. This should be in the same location every day (my colleague extraordinaire, Cara was always much better about this than me).
3. Run through the checklist with the student at the same time every day. Go through the checklist together. You might do this for one week or even more depending on the student.
4. Start using non verbals.  Tell the student that you want them to take the lead this week. Point to the checklist. Point to the list. Continue to be in there every day but start walking away during the activity or even bopping out of the room for a second (this can only be accomplished if you have a co-teacher in the room with you). This should be done for at least a week.
5. During the third week, the student should have the routine down pat. Continue to be in the room for the beginning of the routine. You don't need to be anywhere near the student, but this will allow you to see what they are able to do independently and what supports they still need. Try to walk away and make as little eye contact as possible. This should feel fully independent even though you are checking them out.
6. Full independence! Make sure you are still looking at the checklists on a daily or weekly basis. This will give you valuable information and tell you if the student needs reteaching or other supports.

Check out the examples (some old, some new) below!
I'm being critical of my old work but number 4 is absolutely ridiculous. I'd also include less steps. I do like that the focus is on on-task student behaviors.

Again, I'm being critical but there's no need to meet in the back once the student becomes independent. I would also teach this skill using an agenda and not a checklist. You live and learn! Remember when school ended before 2:00? Crazy!

This one is for writing.

Here's one that Jenn made this year. I love that it's not very wordy and just focuses on 2 or 3 items per class.

Support #10: Using ShowMe App to Present

This support comes from Lindsay Whited, an amazing learning specialist and co-teacher in fifth grade. She uses the iPad and technology every day in inventive ways. This is just one example.

In Lindsay and Fotine's amazing fifth grade classroom, students were asked  to summarize in writing a chapter from the book they were reading. They were also asked to create visuals and symbols representing the important events of the chapter. Lindsay used one of my favorite free apps called ShowMe. The student used the app and the reading strategies he had been taught in class to orally tell and visually depict his summary. He was then able to show his mega cool ShowMe vid to his classmates. CHECK IT OUT!!!

I have also used ShowMe whole class. Each student created their own ShowMe and we were able to share them full class. I can't say enough about this app.
Here's a student creating a ShowMe video based on the text she is reading.

Here is one ShowMe video being presented to the entire class!

Support #9: Note Taking Labels

In this post I mentioned that I would share different strategies for note taking for middle school students. The Math Help Binder is a great way to initially teach students to access references but the norm for middle and high school students is that they take notes and use them as a resource. I think it's really important that students in fifth grade and above start having a role to play in note taking. Below is one strategy I've used to support note taking in the inclusive classroom.

Warning: It takes a bit of your own pocket money!

Foldables are a pretty popular thing in the education blogosphere and I'm totally on board. I love interactive note taking. I'm down with Dinah Zike's foldable books and resources. I'm all about Runde's Room, To The Square Inch's store on TPT and the foldable options on pinterest. It's all good.

Generally speaking, foldables are naturally differentiated. They are both kinesthetic and visual and provide an easy and organized way for students to refer to their notes. But what happens when the writing is too much or a student struggles with putting information from the board onto paper? One of my favorite solutions is writing the notes on Avery labels. The student uses these labels to place the information on the correct line or in the correct box. This way, they are still expected to follow along with note taking and class instruction but the focus is on the content and not writing. This is also a great opportunity to modify the notes based on student strengths (visuals for visual learners), interests (check out the Pixar labels below), and reading level. See below for some examples!

I created this using Avery Templates. Here are the answers to all of the bingo definitions. I even included pictures! Students with the Avery labels had to find the definition on their page of labels and then stick it on the correct spot on the bingo sheet. 

This Bingo Sheet is from a class-wide note taking activity in fifth grade Social Studies. Students followed along with a PowerPoint and were asked to fill in the definitions as they came up in the PowerPoint. Students that wrote down the definitions of four words in a row or column received BINGO and won a prize!

Here's another example of bingo labels that I had for a Geography activity. This example did not include visuals.

Here is an interactive notebook with foldables (from this seller on TPT). Below are the labels I used for one student. He followed along with his classmates and stuck the labels to the foldable during the lesson. He was a fan of Pixar so I tried to include this interest in many of the labels.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Support #8: Interactive Anchor Charts

 I'm one of those people that likes anchor charts more in theory than in practice. Anchor charts can be great! They can be a visual way for students to refer to new vocabulary, concepts, or information during class time. They can also over-take the classroom. Students that struggle with organization and reading might be unintentionally left out of this support. If a student is unable to locate the poster or read it, it no longer becomes a meaningful resource. I am still working on a solution for using anchor charts in an organized manner. I don't yet have one (but let me know if you do... email me). However, I do have an answer for how to make anchor charts that allow all students to have access. Let's do it, interactive anchor charts!

Suggestion 1: Have students work in groups to create the anchor charts. Make sure to have students draft their ideas on a piece of scratch paper and that a teacher okays them before they create an anchor chart. All information on the anchor chart should be clear and correct. I like doing this in heterogeneous partnerships or small groups.

This partnership was working on creating a visual anchor chart to represent the Judicial Branch. Below is the finished product.
Students used the anchor charts as a jigsaw activity and explained the information on the chart to their classmates.

Suggestion 2: Ms. Shultz's patented Anchor Chart Scramble. In this activity, she wrote down an attribute that could be found in one of the three branches. Students had to find the anchor chart on the branch that included that attribute. For example, when Ms. Shultz wrote, "Congress" students scrambled over to the anchor chart that read Legislative Branch. This is a clever way for all students to interact with the anchor charts. This allows them to become more familiar with the charts and the information included on them.
Here's the wonderful Ms. Shultz holding up an attribute of the Legislative Branch for the Anchor Chart Scramble.

Suggestion 3: Have an anchor chart scavenger hunt! This is a great way for students to familiarize themselves with the different posters around the room. This can be done individually or in small groups. I don't usually do this for a grade but instead have students work on the scavenger hunt until all of their answers are correct. When they are correct, they earn a small prize such as an eraser or fruit snacks. 

Here is a page from a reading scavenger hunt that we made a few years back.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Support #7: Alternative Seating

We're onto support number 7 which means we are halfway through my support a day! There are only SEVEN days left of students and then it's summer time (after a respectable number of teacher institute and professional development days, of course). I'm feeling antsy. The students are squirrely. Let's focus on a support that's perfect for times like this. Ladies and gentlemen of the Internet, I give you alternative seating!

Can you spot the purple cushion? What I love about Leslie and Mahli's classroom is that they are so comfortable with alternative seating that the third grader's focus is not on the fidget or cushion but on the book they are reading.
You can incorporate sensory movement with alternative seating. One idea is to have a student carry the yoga ball up the stairs to their classroom. It can be an enjoyable way to get some heavy lifting in and bring up a student's favorite seat. Also, check out that blue cup at the corner of the middle  desk. It was filled with real money! During the beginning of class warm up/ Do Now activity, the student would raise their hand and pay the teacher for their seat (the price would change every day). I'm a big fan of finding sneaky ways to incorporate individual supports and goals into the classroom. Check out my post on creating individualized entrance and exit slips for more information on this topic. 

Check out the student reading while sitting on his blue cushion!
My cat is into alternative seating (or alternative sleeping, as it were), too!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Support #6: Math Help Binders

The Math Help Binder was one of the first supports introduced to me by my mentor and colleague, Sheila Danaher over seven years ago. This is one of my favorite supports for the primary and intermediate grades. I'll share visual math supports for middle and high school aged students in the next two weeks.

The Math Help Binder is a binder (or a folder if you don't have extra binders lying around) that includes math vocabulary or concepts with accompanied examples and visuals. It is a great resource to use for students that struggle retaining new vocabulary or following individual steps in order to solve a multiple step problem.

At the primary and intermediate level, the teacher (and not the student) typically makes the sheets. I like to go onto pinterest and look up strong anchor charts that already exist on the given topic. I use these to make my own. I slip each page into a sheet protector when I add it to the binder so that it stays intact throughout the year.
Students can use their binders during classwork, homework, and (if it's included in the student's IEP) on assessments. 

In this picture, the students in Carrie and Janet's phenomenal fourth grade class have space to complete their work and use their Math Help Binder if they have one.

Math Help Binders can be used with anything! This student is using his Math Help Binder to complete a hands on activity.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Support #5: Modified Rubrics

Happy Monday! Here in the Chicago Public Schools, we have ten days left with students. That means ten more supports that can be used in the inclusive classroom. Let's kick it!

A great way to grade modified projects, presentations, essays, or any multiple step activity is to use a rubric. I am a big fan of the modified rubric. You are able to incorporate IEP goals (including Independent Functioning goals) into the classroom lesson and unit plans.

The picture on the left is an unmodified rubric provided for a seventh grade essay. The one on the right is modified and incorporates modifications and goals that are in the student's IEP.
I set up modified rubrics so that a 70% corresponds with the IEP goal or the student's individual unit objectives. If a student meets expectations, they will earn a C. Students that go above and beyond the expectation can earn a B or an A. Students who do not meet the expectations can earn a D or F.

Here is an example of a student's modified rubric based on their response to a chapter of The Westing Game.
This is an example of a graphic organizer and rubric rolled into one!

After I've created a rubric, I print out a bunch of copies. This allows me to use the same rubric multiple times throughout a quarter, semester, or school year.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Support #4: Portable Word Wall

Today I wanted to share one of my favorite low budget supports for the primary and intermediate classroom. The Portable Word Wall is a great resource to use with students that struggle with spelling and writing independently. It allows them to add the correct spelling of words they use regularly. What's better, it allows for more writing independence. Below are some examples of a portable word wall being used in Leslie and Mahli's third grade class.
Students get to practice using a support other than a teacher to locate and spell words correctly. It can be differentiated by need and interests. A student that likes writing about basketball can have that word included in their word wall while a student that isn't interested in sports wouldn't need to include that word. You can also use the word wall like a word bank. Feel free to have students include vocabulary words that they are learning in class or activities that they enjoy doing. This will come in handy during the brainstorming portion of the writing process.

The portable word wall is easy and cheap to make. Students can use it at their desk and keep it with their writing things.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Support #3: Bookshare

For anyone that's counting down with me, we have 12 days left of school. Here's support #3!

I am a HUGE fan of Bookshare. In my experience, it is the best (and most age appropriate) way of providing access to text for students who have print based disabilities. I love using the Bookshare app called Read2Go. It's $20.00 and well worth the price but you can also download the program on a computer for free. The hardest part about Bookshare is signing up. Give yourself a week to sign up and familiarize yourself with the download process. Below are some great videos from Bookshare that show you how to become a member. Enjoy!

Here's a website tour:

How to use Read2Go:

How to download Bookshare on your computer:

From their website:
Bookshare® opens up the world of reading for people with print disabilities. If you cannot read traditional print books because of a visual impairment, physical disability or severe learning disability, Bookshare can help! Our books are “accessible,” which means you can read our books many different ways. Bookshare offers the world’s largest collection of accessible titles. As a result, students, seniors, veterans, schools and many organizations around the globe use Bookshare to access the books they need for school, work, and the simple love of reading.

How can you read Bookshare books?
  • Listen to books with high quality text-to-speech voices
  • Hear and see highlighted words on screen
  • Read with digital braille or enlarged fonts
  • Create physical braille or large print
  • Read directly from your Internet browser
  • And more!

Check out Jenn and Nina's amazing sixth grade class. Students are reading The Westing Game. Bookshare's Read2Go app makes it possible for all students to access the text.
Students that have the Read2Go app can change the color, voice, and font size among other things. This is a screenshot from a Chicago Bulls fan. He personalized his Bookshare Read2Go app to show off his Bulls pride. Go sports!

This student is using Read2Go to respond to read and respond to the text. Check out my Support #2 post to read more about sketch annotation.


Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Support #2: Individualized Entrance and Exit Tickets

Looking at my end of the year countdown, we only have 13 days left! Wowza! Enjoy support number two.

At Jahn, every teacher in middle school to have a routine that includes an independent Do Now and Exit Slip activity to start and end the day. Typically, this is presented on the white board or as a slide in a PowerPoint. The Do Now question is on the board (or the slide is up) as students enter the room.

The INDIVIDUALIZED ENTRANCE AND EXIT SLIPS give teachers time to individually assess students on a variety of things ranging from IEP goals to the class objective. Here are some examples of modified Do Now and Exit Slips that focus on students' individual needs, goals, and class objectives.

The two Do Now questions above were completed in the same class. The student in the first picture answered the Do Now question that was presented on the PowerPoint slide. The student in the second picture answered a question connected to an executive functioning/ independent functioning goal. The two Do Now questions are very different from one another.

The two Do Now/Exit Slip questions shown above are connected to the U.S. Constitution. The first sheet was created for a student whose objective was to learn the three branches and the job of each branch. The student in the second picture answered the Do Now question that was presented on the PowerPoint slide. She was focused on learning other sections of the Constitution (including the Preamble and Bill of Rights). The modified Do Now on top was given orally. Look below to see more polished, pre-typed versions of modified Do Now/Exit Slips sheets.

Here is an example one learning specialist, Joanna Cohen made in order for students to self assess in science class.

Above and below are a few examples of pre-typed math questions based on IEP goals. Students would work on Monday-Thursday with Ms. Cohen and would be expected to complete Friday's on their own. This was an easy way for the learning specialist to incorporate a variety of goals within the co-taught class.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Support #1: Sketch Annotation

I can't believe that my first year as an Inclusion Facilitator is coming to an end! As a special end of the year treat, each day this week I will upload a different example of an individualized support (either a modification or accommodation) used in the inclusive classroom here at Jahn. We have 14 days left of students so that will be 14 new strategies. Let's do this!

Our first individualized support is SKETCH ANNOTATION. This can be used as an accommodation or a modification depending on how it's individualized.

This student has created sketches after each paragraph to show her understanding.
This is one of my all time favorite sketches. This article was about cannibalism in colonial times and the girl in the picture is munching on a bloody arm and thinking, "Oh yes!"
Sketch annotation is a great way to assess understanding. The student drew a woman smoking to explain the phrase, "Meat was smoked". This let me know there was some confusion and I knew that I needed to explain smoked meat.
This student first read each paragraph of the article on the iPad. Then, the student made a sketch on the actual paper copy.

Sketch annotation isn't the only way students can respond to text. Check out some of the examples above of students using writing to annotate. Below is a 30 second video I took of Emily and my seventh grade social studies class. There are many different examples of students responding to the text including sketch annotation, summarizing the text, annotating with text, taking Cornell notes, and making a dialectical journal.