In an effort to provide ideas for students with disabilities and their families, I've reached out to some of my mentors. Together, we'll be sharing resources and answering questions about teaching students with disabilities.
Today's idea is to create a writing journal with your student. Why?
Because of the following reasons:
a - writing is a fundamental skill that supports reading
b - writing and drawing are natural skills that students will naturally do.
c - writing coherently is a classroom and lifetime skill that allows for identity and personal development.
In a study that measured the effectiveness of writing intervention, it was found that supporting students in making simple sentences assisted this process for students with disabilities:
Sentence combining involves explicitly teaching students how to rewrite short, syntactically simple sentences into ones that are more varied in terms of style, length and syntactic structure (Saddler, 2009). For example, a series of simple sentences a young writer might produce such as: “The ball was red. The ball was big. The ball bounced when I dropped it.” could be combined in multitude of ways depending on the author’s style, for example: The big red ball bounced with I dropped it.
To offer ideas on supporting students, parents and teacher might:
a - read a story aloud to a student (or have them listen to the story using text to speech options)
b - ask, "What is the big idea of this story?"
c - write down exactly the words the student responds
d - break the idea down into simple sentences (as described above).
To support clear writing, you can use common graph paper or you might use the paper I've highlighted above. This is available through Amazon:
One of my favorite books to use with this approach is any of the Jon Klassen books such as "This is Not My Hat". These stories provide for conversation, prediction, and wonderful artwork that encourages interaction with a very surprising ending. All ages, even upper grades, love these books.
Saddler, B., Ellis-Robinson, T., & Asaro-Saddler, K. (2018). Using Sentence Combining Instruction to Enhance the
Writing Skills of Children with Learning Disabilities. Learning Disabilities: A Contemporary Journal, 16(2), 191–202.
I'm knee-deep in writing my Master's Capstone with a completion date of next Spring 2021. I find the research about integrating art within the learning environment affirming and fascinating. So what exactly is "arts-integration"? Glad you asked.
For that answer, I'm using this definition from Helen Robinson: "Arts Integration is teaching collaboratively engaging all students to promote learning through and with the arts." (Robinson, 2013).
Perhaps it is easier to define arts integration by saying what it is not. Arts integration is NOT arts and crafts. It is not tacking on endless craft activities to a reading of a novel or math lesson. It isn't activities that take away from instructional time, filling students time with busy work that is simply busy work.
Arts integration is using evidence based, rigorous curriculum and using art (writing, music, painting, drawing, sculpting) that connects students to core subjects like reading, math, science, and geography.
While the focus of my paper is how this approach benefits students with learning disabilities, my research has affirmed a belief I've had for a long time: good teaching for students with disabilities is good teaching for all students. My hope is that my research will lead me deeper into these ideas so that I can provide many access points for students to learn.
I've decided to re-name this blog to better reflect the direction of my paper and my thinking.
Robinson, A. H. (2013). Arts Integration and the Success of Disadvantages Students: A Research Evaluation.
A Research Evaluation. Arts Education Policy Review, 114(4), 191-204.
This week was Dr. Seuss Birthday Week. Even though I'm 56, I still love Dr. Seuss books and most students I know, do too.
To celebrate -- and to get some reading fluency practice - I tried a new idea to me. I selected two Dr. Seuss Books (One Fish, Two Fish, Three Fish..., and Green Eggs and Ham). The objective was for students to read these books aloud, listen to an exemplar (read by yours truly), connect with the four elements of fluency (smoothness, expression, speed, and accuracy).
Here's a recording of the book that you might also use:
To do this, I invited students to read aloud with a digital recorder (which they loved doing!). I recorded each student's reading and then transferred the file to my computer. I did the same with my exemplar, which was me reading "Green Eggs and Ham".
Here's a link to the recorder I used:
This was a perfect exercise to include in my Friday student conferences where I work to connect with students on anything in the classroom, including successes and misses. I look forward to these every week because I feel it is time I really get to know students better. While I do have up to 10 students at a time, while I'm doing these individual conferences of about 12 minutes per student, the other students are engaged in literacy centers that they are practicing from the week. NOTE: This has taken a lot of practice for students to learn how to move around the room, respectfully, getting their work done. I spend a lot of time at the top of the year reviewing classroom expectations where we literally practice moving from one table to the next. Why? Because learning to learn is an important life skill that most students aren't taught. Being in a classroom with other students is a big deal and one that students needs to master before they transition to middle school. So we work on it!
At students' conferences, I reviewed the four components of fluency by referring to an anchor chart. I connected the birthday of Dr. Seuss (I even wore a Dr. Seuss headband!) with our exercise and the learning we've done this year about fluency (it's mentioned almost every time during small group: "We're working on reading skills today and fluency is our friend!")
1 - Students were invited to listen to the exemplar with headphones for about 2 min.
2 - We discussed what they enjoyed about the listening to the recording.
3 - Next, I invited them to listen to their own reading for about 2 min. It's important that I share with students that I hadn't shared their reading with anyone and that this was only theirs and I keep that promise.
4 - After listening to their reading, I provided a short rubric that allowed students to gauge their reading into the four components by indicating with a mark or happy face: "GREAT" or "Good" or "I need practice". (formative assessment).
5 - Sometimes, students indicated more than one area they wanted to improve and so I assisted them in choosing ONE area that we can work on during independent reading and small group time.
The students enjoyed this conversation as did I. My next step is to have them read the same book again, after practicing the skill they want. I'd like to combine the two readings into one digital file so they can see/hear their progress. Then, I hope to move onto another book of their choosing where they can read and compare their growth for the end of the school year.
For this exercise I used: