Friday, November 20, 2015

Modification Highlight: Middle School Math

I am geeking out about these phenomenal modified tests created by our middle school math learning specialist, Carrie. Below I have snapshots from a non-modified and modified tests in 6th, 7th, and 8th grade. Let's dig into why they're so great, eh?

               6th - Not Modified                  6th - Slightly Modified             6th - More Significant Mods


Why I'm Geeking:
  • The right hand test has application based problems (i.e. word problems) that are done in picture form. What a great way to use visuals to support higher level thinking!
  • The table in the middle assessment is a great support for students that struggle with the organization of drawing a tape diagram but can fill one out when it's presented to them.

7th - Not Modified                               7th - Modified
 

Why I'm Geeking:
  • Great focus on partially written definitions and vocabulary in order to define a word
  • There's specific space on the modified test to show math work/thinking
  • Key words are highlighted which shows a focus on math vocabulary
  • Both tests use the same vocabulary which indicates that although the work and expectations might look different, the overall objectives are the same. This gives us an indication that all students were fully included and engaged in the unit.
8th - Not Modified                  8th - Slightly Modified           8th - More Significant Mods


Why I'm Geeking:
  • The supports on the middle test are very subtle but show thoughtful consideration to the student's individual needs. Specifically of note...
    • There are the same types of problems but the middle test uses more manageable numbers
    •  Problem #3 has equal signs and two lines. This prompts the student that they need to answer the problem in two steps.
  • The test on the right has the same vocabulary words as the others but focuses on one or two concepts within the bigger topic of exponents, expanded form, and solving problems














Monday, November 9, 2015

The Best iPad Apps to Provide Curriculum Access

One of the MOST important ways to create a learning environment that supports, includes, and challenges all students is by providing access to the curriculum. We do this by providing modifications and accommodations, co-teaching, collaborating regularly, and creating responsive and interactive classrooms. One of my favorite strategies that allow students true access to the curriculum is the iPad. This strategy is perfect for schools and classrooms that may have access to a couple of iPads but not an entire class set (no 1:1 in any of the schools I've worked at).

 iPad Accessibility Features


Pros: This amazing FREE feature comes with the iPad. This allows students to select ANY text to read aloud. You can choose the speed at which the robot reads and each word that is read aloud is highlighted. This can be used on PDFs and on websites. This allows struggling readers to access and read websites. Here's another great (longer) video on how to use this particular accessibility feature.
Cons: A robot reads the text. That's it! This feature should be on every iPad in your school!

Reading Apps 

Pros: This connects to Bookshare so all students with print based disabilities can download many textbooks, books, and newspapers free (after the initial app purchase). It also connects to Google Drive which allows you to read aloud any document that you create. The app provides choice of font type and size and many options of robot voices. The app highlights each word as it reads the text aloud. It has the ability to define words, annotate and export notes.
Cons: A robot reads the text. That's it! I love this app!


Word Prediction and Writing Apps 

Pros: This is almost as good as Co:Writer (see below). Includes: word prediction software, easy to use, press down on a word to hear it read aloud before choosing it, press down for a dictionary option, reads each word and the entire sentence back to you after you write it.
Cons: No export options. Word prediction is not always perfect. The student might need to play around with the word before finding what they are looking for. You can't indent and adding sentence starters into the actual page beforehand looks confusing. If you're working on paragraph and essay organization, this app lacks some features. It does not read the dictionary definition out loud.
 


Pros: Includes: word prediction software, easy to use, can use speech to text (speak into the microphone and it comes out as text), reads the entire sentence back to you after you write it, can create a word bank topic (like "Christopher Columbus") to help narrow down words predicted. Export to Dropbox, Google Drive, etc.
Cons: You can't indent and adding sentence starters into the actual page beforehand visually looks confusing. If you're working on paragraph and essay organization, this app lacks some features.


Pros: Great for younger students. The teacher creates sentence starters and word banks beforehand and the student uses the words to create a complete sentence. Great for writing simple sentences. Students can individualized the keyboard with their favorite colors. Very visual- you can include pictures. Send to Dropbox, Google Drive, etc.
Cons: Can be time consuming for adults to put together. Like really. It's a great app but prep time is an issue.


Pros: This is better than co:writer for students who need word prediction, sentence starters, and organization support. Send to Dropbox, Google Drive. Great for middle schoolers!
Cons: Involves teacher prep which can be time consuming