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Visual schedules, reminder strips and more

May 2, 2013

If you have students with autism or other disabilities who need the help of visual supports, you may want to examine the photos and examples over at Do2Learn. Picture schedules and visual directions can help students become more independent, learn unfamiliar tasks, and reduce their anxiety about new routines (e.g., checking a book out from library) and classroom activities (e.g., playing a math game with a peer).

Keep in mind that these supports are not just for students with disabilities; many students are more visual than auditory and can profit from visual models, directions, or rules.


Cell animation resource

May 1, 2013

John Kryk, biologist and artist, has created a phenomenal web resource for educators. His cell biology “movies” will be a great supplement to lectures and whole class discussions. The clips would also work well during a stations/centers lesson where learners had many different ways to study cells (e.g., watching clips, reading about cells).

TODD’S TECH TUESDAY: Keyboard symbol sort

April 30, 2013

Sorts are a great way to informally assess all students, but they work especially well for those who can’t write independently and need an alternate way to show what they know.

Lori Faas at Bee the Change uses sorts not just for letters and numbers, but for keyboard symbols that are new to her students. Genius!


April 29, 2013

I know so many tactile learners who would love this lesson from Krazy About Kiddos. Students in this first grade classroom get to stretch out and squeeze cotton balls to make the shapes and textures of the different types of clouds. How memorable and how fun! This would also make a great bulletin board.

If you have students who cannot pull or stretch the materials on their own, you could have peer partners pull and stretch with or for them before having them match the different types of clouds with their correct names. Glue could also be used to “draw” types of clouds if this is easier for some.

FUN FRIDAY: Tactile landscapes

April 26, 2013

We are over at the Crayola website today with a lesson that could delight your sensory-seeking students. Artistic learners will love it as well. The lesson involves having students analyze different landforms and match them to textured materials (e.g., wax paper to represent waterfalls, sandpaper to represent the desert). Once they decide on a range of materials to use, they create a bulletin board together. You will hopefully find that students have fun with the project and -if you choose the right materials- have an easier time remembering characteristics of and differences between the landforms featured. In order to make the associations stick, be sure to have some conversations with learners about proposed materials and why or why not they might work for particular parts of the scene.

Since it is a group activity, different students can take on different roles. Some might write up short explanations of the landforms (and list places where each might be found), others might label the board, and creative students may want to add details using different techniques and art forms (e.g., sculpture, collage).

Kids don’t hate history

April 25, 2013

I adore History Tech and I highly recommend you bookmark it if you teach history or if you just like fresh ideas for any secondary classroom.

I am always finding great posts on HT, but the one that caught my eye this month was Glenn’s reflection on the work of James Loewen. This short post is worth a look and can be followed up with a browse through Glenn’s site to find great new ideas to help kids love history and history class. You will find ideas for differentiating instruction and reaching and teaching all of your learners.

Put writers in flight with Storybird

April 24, 2013

Storybird is a unique website bringing artists and writers together. Artists submit collections of their art and authors can use it to create storybooks for themselves or to share with others.

Read more…

TODD’S TECH TUESDAY: “One” way to get them writing

April 23, 2013

I don’t know why but I just love One Word. I have been on the site every day this week. One Word flashes a single word on the screen and users have sixty seconds to write anything that comes to mind. The writer can then post  his or her response for others to read.

Having those other responses posted is a real benefit for students who need help with brainstorming and the visual timer makes the exercise fun (gives it that game-show quality of beat the clock).

I know so many students who struggle to put something on the page. They “can’t think of anything to write” or simply have difficulty getting started on any task. One Word could be used as a warm-up for these students. The teacher might even challenge students to increase the number of words they write daily. Or ask every student to use the word in a different way (have some create puns & some create poems). Or use it to teach figurative language. Go to the site and have the class use that word in a metaphor, for example. Or have each student write a few sentences about the word and then find a partner and combine their writings to make one story/poem/essay.

Finally, this site can be used to support students with more significant disabilities. Have the student work on typing a single idea related to the word. Or have him or her work with a partner; the student with a disability types or chooses words in reaction to One Word and the peer makes contributions as well. Together, the pair creates one sentence or paragraph.

If you find it is easier to play One Word off-line (with the teacher using a timer and providing a word), you could also have individual students suggest the words. Or have a child who uses augmentative and alternative communication point to an icon/picture on their communication system.

Other ideas?

Spark their interest in literature

April 22, 2013

Many teachers know about Spark Notes but may not have considered it as a tool for differentiating instruction. The free notes on this site can not only help struggling readers better understand assigned literature but can also make adapting text, assessments, and related materials much easier for both special and general educators. Further, this site can be used by parents who want to assist with homework but don’t have the background or information to do so.

FUN FRIDAY: Egg carton place value

April 19, 2013

Spark your students interest in learning place values with this clever game from Doris at Third Grade Thinkers. Simply take an empty egg carton, write the place value at the top of each column, and fill the carton with small manipulatives (i.e. erasers). The student shakes the closed container, and opens it to reveal a number (3 erasers in the first column would give 3 hundred thousand and so on.

Next the student records the number onto a worksheet. Students can pair up and have one student be the top row and one the bottom row. They can compare their numbers on a worksheet using greater than, less than and equal symbols.

Different students will likely be interested in this game for different reasons. Some like the tactile and auditory nature of it. Others will enjoy the collaborative piece. Still others may appreciate that it is visual and “off the page”.