Sunday, July 29, 2012

Last Week

We have reached the last week at the Summer Learning Place.  It has been a good experience.  I enjoyed working with the students and seeing them progress in their skills.  Looking back to the first week, I was very nervous.  I had never taught this age group before and was concerned about teaching them.  I was concerned about testing and curriculum.  After the first week of scrambling, things settled into a routine.  It has been interesting exploring the internet for available curriculum and ideas.

One thing that overwhelmed me was the vast array of ability levels in math.  It made me wonder how we could help all of them at the same time.  It was a little discouraging at first.  We tried grouping and then I came up with math folders.  I copied a multitude of worksheets in the areas the students needed to work on.  Then looking at each student’s goals, I compiled a folder with a few worksheets for each student.  If the student’s goal was to complete 9 out of 12 addition problems correctly, I sectioned off 12 problems for him to complete on that worksheet.  If he met his goal, we checked it off on his goal chart.  The immediate reinforcement of checks on the goal chart encouraged the students to work hard in those areas so they could earn the rewards.  Students often asked for worksheets so they could meet their goal.  I even had one ask if she could do flashcards during playtime!

We also had good success with DEAR time.  Each student chose a chapter book to read during DEAR time.  Each day the students completed a journal sheet about what they read that day.   We used graphic organizers for story mapping, character analysis and sequencing.  This week the students will work on writing a paragraph about their story and creating a poster or diorama depicting their favorite scene in the book.  On Thursday they will present their book report in front of the class.  Some students are choosing to dress up as their favorite character.  I am looking forward to seeing their presentations!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Can You Find That Word?

Our underwater theme has tied in nicely with learning about the CSS Hunley, a Civil War submarine.  Today we used words from our readings about the Hunley to practice dictionary skills.

I used an idea Leanne shared in her blog about the students jotting down words they did not know as they read silently.  We read a history about the Hunley yesterday while working on comprehension skills.  Today we took the words students had written down and practiced our dictionary skills by looking up the definitions of these words. (Thanks Leanne!)

I went looking on line to find some games to use in the lesson plan and found a great site that shared fun ways to practice dictionary skills:   It was a great resource. 

One game on this site is called Unscrambling Stories:  Arranging Words in Alphabetical Order. This game covers the necessary dictionary skill of putting words in alphabetical order. Students are given a list of words and told to put them in alphabetical order.  If they do it correctly, the words make a fun sentence:

*I                            * one                    *zebras                *Allen                   *here                                             
*or                         *come                  *need                   *two

Allen, come here.  I need one or two zebras.

This game was a little hard for some students who are still struggling with this skill.  I gave  students an alphabet chart to help them with this project.  This game was fun.  Students who finished early created new sentences for us to use!

After discussing guide words in a dictionary and how to use them, we played another game. With students working in pairs we identified guide words for given words. This was an imitation of an online game called Rags to Riches students earned money for correct responses.

Now we were ready for our dictionaries.  Working in pairs students were given a dictionary and list of words.  Students had to find the words in the dictionary and write down their guide words.

We will tie this skill into our book reports.  As students read their chapter book, they will complete at least one dictionary sheet for a word they do not know the meaning of.  Hopefully this skill will help them as they return to their classrooms in the fall.

This lesson was too long. It would  be better to break it up into two or three lessons.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Word Problems

Word Problems use to be one of my least favorite things to do in math.  That train going from one city to another and everyone one wanting to know when it would pass by another train headed in the opposite direction….

My lesson today was on word problems.  I was excited when a colleague let me borrow a workbook on word problems.  It had a four step process for solving word problems that was great:
1.       Read it
2.       Make a plan
3.       Solve it
4.       Check your work

We added highlighting the question and looked for function words that clue us in on whether to add, subtract, multiply or divide.

The lesson seemed to go well. But, of course, I made one big mistake! When the students came up to draw pictures that went with the word problem we were working on, we were one car short.  Did I notice it?  I did not.  It sneaked right by me.  I’ll have to be sure to be more observant next time.  (at least we were not drawing my old nemesis, the train.)  J

It is good to learn from our mistakes and strive to do better.  I’ll be watching next time. J  The students did very well in the lesson – answering questions and being good.  I am looking forward to helping them improve in their math skills.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Book Buddies

Reading can be a dreaded task if a student struggles in reading.  To make reading fun can be a difficult task for a teacher.

 What a great idea our teaching friends across the hall had to be Book Buddies!  The little ones in the younger class are excited to bring their books in for the older students to read to them. This gives the older students a chance to practice their reading skills at a lower level and without the pressure of a teacher listening in.  This is a great experience in social and reading skills for both classes.

 Although the students were a little nervous when they first came in, I saw several smiles as our time went along.  Here is A. and L. enjoying  book buddy time.

Thanks Melissa and Chelsea for suggesting Book Buddies!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

First Day Jitters

Today was the first day of our summer program for students with special needs and I was more nervous than the students! I am a Early Childhood Education undergrad with 18 years experience teaching little ones.  I am working on completing my masters in Learning Disabilites.  I branched out into Special Ed because I wanted to learn more about how to help my nephew who has autism, with the benefit of also being able to help students in my general ed classroom. 

So, today was my first day in a practicum experience teaching children with special needs. I had a thousand worries but they quickly melted away when we got the students into the classroom.  They are a great bunch of kids and I am looking forward to working with them.  I hope we can all learn a lot together.

Sometimes taking that first step into something new is very frightening.  You feel you are about to step off a cliff and wonder what on earth you were thinking!  But, then you try and discover a new exciting experience you have never had before.

So, if you are thinking about doing something new and different...Go For IT!!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Impact of a Child with Special Needs on a Family

A child with learning difficulties has many obstacles to overcome to succeed. But what affect does a child with a learning disability have on his/her family. The level that it would affect a family would depend on the type and severity of the learning disability. Richard Lavoie, well known for his work with students with Learning Disabilities and the video F.A.T. City, said that the impact of a student with learning difficulties on a family is like the family sleeping on a water bed. When one person moves on a waterbed, it affects everyone on the bed. The difficulties a child is dealing with at school often continue into the home.
When a child is diagnosed with special needs or when parents are informed their child will be born with special needs there is an emotional upheaval that takes place in their life. Researchers tell us that many parents go through a grieving process. Mourning for the “normal” child they had hopes and dreams for, worrying about the child’s success and future. At the same time their mind is accepting the fact that their child has a disability, they are considering the affect it will have on their family. Many have no scope to what extent their lives will be changed, the emotional drain it can have, and dynamics it will change in their family.
This adds stress to the family and can all too often lead to marital issue between the parents. Lavoie even mentioned the parents going through the stages of grieving will not always be at the same stage adding conflict in the home. As parents deal with normal activities the extra needs and care for a child with special needs can stretch already exhausted parents to the breaking point.
The siblings of a child with a disability will have changes in their lives too. The parents will need to spend more time with this child and may inadvertently neglect needs of the other children in the home.
A child with severe special needs can also isolate a family to some extent. The family does not go out or do as many things as they would if their child did not have special needs. Even going to the grocery store can be difficult, with a parent needing someone else to go for them or needing help to go to such a simple place.
This child will also be a blessing. One they love so much, that they do not know what they would do without them. The family wishes that the child did not have to deal with physical, emotional, and social needs. But knowing they cannot change those aspects of their child’s life, they endeavor to finds ways to help the child succeed and cope with their difficulty.

picture from:

Monday, June 29, 2009

Are They Ready?

The difficult economic times have had an effect on everyone including Christian schools. Enrollments are down in many Christian schools, teachers have been laid off, and some schools will close. Many parents, who desire for their children to be educated in a school where they can learn more about their Christian faith, are finding that they are no longer able to pay for their children to go to a private school. Where will these children go next year? Many parents say they will home school their children until they can afford to send them back to a Christian school. But other parents are making the hard decision to send their children to public school.
Are the public schools ready? I think that the public schools have not anticipated the large influx of children they will receive who previously went to private schools. There has been much talk of laying off public school teachers and having larger class sizes. But have they thought about the multitude of private school students in the “Bible Belt” area, where a lot of private school abound, that will be going to public schools next year. This influx of students will increase the tax dollars that the schools receive from the government. Will it be enough to prevent teacher lay offs and keep class sizes the same? Only time will tell.
But more importantly, are the children ready? Change is difficult for many children. Not only will they be going to a new school, it will be one where they do not teach about God, some rules and values will be different as will the academics. Some changes will be beneficial for the children, but many parents do not feel they out weigh the negative. Are the children ready spiritually? Will they be able to stand firm in the beliefs that their families and churches have taught them or will they be swayed by peer pressure into making poor choices? These parents will do what they have always done. They will pray for the Lord to take care of their children and give them wisdom to do what is right.