Sunday, February 28, 2010

Starfall- Learn to Read

Know about this little website?

Nice way to practice letter/sound blending.  Use this in Center Time or on your SMART Board or Interactive Whiteboard.

Friday, February 26, 2010

An Ever Growing Special Needs Book List

House Rules by Jodi Picoult

My Friend Henry by Nuala Gardner

Born on a Blue Day by Daniel Tammet

Thinking In Pictures by Temple Grandin

The ADHD Autism Connection by Diane M. Kennedy

The Out of Sync Child by Carol Kranowitz

The Out of Sync Child Has Fun by Carol Kranowitz

The Roadmap to Holland by Jennifer Graf Groneberg

Ten Things Every Child With Autism Wishes You Knew by Ellen Notbohm

Ten Things Every Child With Autism Wishes Their Teacher Knew by Ellen Notbohm

The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by K. Edwards

Louder Than Words by Jenny McCarthy

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time by Mark Haddon

Send in the Idiots by Kamran Nazeer

My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor P.h.D.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Turning Best Practices Into Daily Practices

This was, by far, the best presentation of the two day Ohio Conference for Classroom and Special Education Teachers in January of 2010. This presentation “Turning Best Practices into Daily Practices” was given by Anne Beninghoff. Anne is an internationally recognized consultant and trainer with more than 25 years of experience. She has published several books and videos and focuses on creative and practical solutions for effectively including students with diverse learning needs.
Not only did Anne give real and practical information, but she also shared the names and publications where the research for this information is published. Anne covered these 9 Best Practices: Increasing Participation, Focusing Attention, Identifying Similarities and Differences, Using Non-linguistic Representations, Making Connections, Determining Importance, Strengthening Memory, Summarizing, and Challenging Thinking.

An example of turning “Making Connections” into a daily practice- Lighting Up the Brain- Get a large chart paper. Draw a large brain (oval with lines throughout) on the chart paper. Ask students to gather around the large brain on the floor. Give each student a marker. Ask students a question to tap prior knowledge (example: What do you already know about the Solar System?). Students write something they already know about the Solar System in the brain on the paper. Teacher gets glow in the dark paint (Michaels, JoAnns, Pat Catans). Teacher puts paint next to each fact that the students already knew about the Solar System. Turn off the lights and see the brain light up! (This is after discussing with the class that when you make connections in class, you “zap” your brain with electricity.) Students can literally see how their connections (prior knowledge) make their brain light up (glow in the dark paint).

An example of “Strengthening Memory” as a daily practice- Spelling Shapes- There are 5 memory paths. Two of the memory paths are semantic memory (word based, used most in schools, hardest to access) and episodic memory (location-driven, easiest to access). In order to use both of these memory paths to learn new spelling words, try this. Hand out a graphic (an example could be a stick figure person). Tell the class the first new spelling word (an example could be the word ’squish.’) Ask- Where should we place the word ’squish’ on this picture? Students may suggest to the put the word ’squish’ under the foot of the stick figure person. Tell the class that the next spelling word is ‘queen.’ Students may suggest to draw a crown on the person and place the word ‘queen’ inside. This method continues for the rest of the words. The students can then take the drawing/spelling words home to study.

MANY other strategies were discussed and I can share them upon request.

Letter Naming Fluency? Alphabet Memory!

Your student is having trouble with Letter Recognition (expressively naming the capital and/lowercase letters of the alphabet) or Letter Naming Fluency (expressively naming the cap/lowercase letters quickly in one minute of time).

First, collect baseline.  You could use the DIBELS benchmark score (K or 1) for the beginning of the year.  You could also use and print your own Letter Naming Fluency Probe with data collection sheet.


Materials:  Cards with capital and lowercase letters printed on them.

Use 8-12 pairs of cards depending on the students.  Ask 2 or more students to play (the lower the number, the more "intense" the intervention.  Decide how often you will complete this "intervention" (ex: twice a week for 10 min.).

Students should take turns choosing 2 cards and attempting to match the capital and lowercase letter.  Each student should say the letter names out loud (expressively) before taking a match or flipping over a non-match.

Monitor progress.  Once a week, pull your student for one minute to complete a Letter Naming Fluency probe.  These can be found on or you can make your own.  Time your student for one minute. (DIBELS beg. benchmark is 8; midyear benchmark is 27 for a Kindergarten student.)

This intervention can be found (with print ready materials) on the Florida Center for Reading Research website- http://www.fcrr.og/.

Interventions and such...

Along with some educational book reviews, I may start posting some Intervention Strategies on this blog page.  As an "Intervention Specialist" (more commonly known as a special education teacher), I think I have some valuable things to share.  Keep in mind that the Interventions that I will share are all research based (unless otherwise noted).  I did not create these interventions and I will not take credit for them.  I will however, share them.  :)

My most valuable websites for finding research based interventions are:  While semi-hard to navigate and visually overstimulating, this site has GREAT resources.  They have research based interventions, curriculum based measurements, data collection charts, progress monitoring tools, etc., etc., etc. The Florida Center for Reading Research now has a Search Tool!  This is so exciting!  Search by grade level and/or problem area.  My favorite by far. I live and die by this math program.  I love it.  I should really work for this company.  I cannot stay enough good things about this program.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor P.h.D.

My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey by Jill Bolte Taylor, P.h.D.

I've been meaning to read this book for over a year now. It was suggested by another daughter of a stroke survivor. I wasn't ready to read it until now.

This book was incredible. For the first half of the book, I didn't want to stop reading. Hearing the accounts of this woman from her own perspective; the things her brain was experiencing were communicated so well that I had couldn't put the book down. I could hear this woman, this brain scientist, speaking to me directly.

And while I read the book to get some insight into what had occurred with my dad's previous strokes, I began to wonder, "I wonder if these thoughts could be similar to those of a person with autism. The communication is there, but it won't come out. The brain is working and the intellect is there, but it can't be communicated to the outside world." The frustration that could cause!

And as I continued through the second half of the book, I became more and more interested in brain research.

Next book about the brain: The Essential Difference: The Truth About the Male & Female Brain by Simon Baron-Cohen