Thursday, December 14, 2017

Reflecting on 2017

I am so incredibly proud of how all my students have improved this year. When i was writing my student reports i realised just how much progress they have made. Especially for those students in my class who had remained on the same reading level for many years. 
At the end of every year we celebrate our students success with an end of year outing. I am looking forward to what 2018 will bring. 
Thank you all for being part of our journey. 

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Make a deal ...

As the year winds down so does the structure of many classrooms. The classroom can often be louder and less predictable at the end of the year.
While i try my best to kept the class routine the same my students have begun to notice that the end of year is looming. One of my students has started to become anxious about school finishing and his behavior has escalated over the last two weeks. 
I have planned a class trip this week. To encourage good behavior for the week I have made a reward chart to work towards being allowed to go on the trip. 

Before setting up a reward system I ensure that i follow these guidelines:
- Be clear about what behavior you are trying to change
- Make it achievable and realistic (not too many stickers needed)
- Identify the prize ahead of time
- Be consistent with giving stickers
- Link the sticker with the desired behavior to encourage positive behavior
- Use as a reward NOT a bribe, do not threaten to remove stickers.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Making Words - Update

For the past two terms i have been using a programme called "making words" which was suggested by Dr Sally Clendon. At Sommerville we are fortunate enough to get regular professional development by Sally who focuses on a "balanced literacy curriculum".

I have blogged about this programme previously which you can find here and here.

I have been using this programme with one of my students who struggles with decoding and spelling who is currently reading at level 17/18.

I have noticed huge changes in Evan since using this programme daily. There are mini-lessons which use specific letters and a "special" word that they have to build up to spelling. The lessons start off by spelling small letters like "as". The teacher gives specific instructions to help them to build more complex words, eg; add a letter to the start of the word "at" to spell the word "pat". The student has to use their sound knowledge to word out where the letters have to go. Evan's confidence with spelling has grown so much that now he doesn't need as specific prompts, now we say to him "use three letters to spell the word cat". The managing self skills that Evan has gained has transferred to his writing. Previously he was unable to write a sentence without adult support, this week Evan wrote a story about his cow puppet independently.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Colourful Semantics

I use Colourful semantics in my classroom to help develop students early foundation literacy skills. It is a good programme for developing sentence structure. At Sommerville many of the teachers use colourful semantics as a system to support students with their reading and writing using the colour coding as a prompt. A colleague of mine, Lidia, has always used this programme as part of her reading programme and when i started at Sommerville i adopted a similar approach.

Colourful semantics is an approach created by Alison Bryan. It is aimed at helping to develop their grammer but is rooted in the meaning of words. It works by students reassembling sentenctes by putting them in order by their colour coded stages. There are different levels within the programme.
           - WHO : Orange
           - WHAT DOING : Yellow
           - WHAT : Green
           - WHERE : Blue
Below is a website with more information: 

A huge thank you to Lidia who has inspired me to structure my reading activities using colourful semantics. Here are some examples of how i use colourful semantics in my classroom.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Impact Story - Key Competencies and Reading

One of my biggest success stories this year has been James. Up until this year he remained on the same reading level for many years with limited success. I believe that improving his ability to manage himself alongside an individualised reading programme has attributed to his reading success.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Elkonin Boxes

Two of my students currently struggle with decoding words during writing and sounding out words during reading. I saw Anita ( use Elkonin boxes with a group of ESOL students in her classroom. I have yet to visit her in action but i couldn't wait to implement them as part of my reading programme.
After a bit of research online i found a strategy that i thought would be beneficial for James in particular as he has recently moved up to yellow. James is frequently appealing for help as he is overwhelmed with the amount of words in his current books (he was stuck on Magenta for many years).
If he is stuck on a word he uses a red dot to put in each Elkonin box as he sounds out the word slowly. Next he is given some cut up letters and has to put them in the boxes to spell the word out. Already i can see James gaining confidence in his reading again as he is reading with more flow.
Article i used as a guide :

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Examples of Visible Learning

Last term i blogged about the importance of visible learning in special education .(
I thought i would share the different ways in which i make the learning visible in my classroom across different activities. My colleague, Donna also blogged about learning intentions recently and shared some wonderful examples of how other teachers at Sommerville Special School are making learning explicit for their students. The link to her blog is below.

1. Individualised work

2. Morning circle on the smartboard using visuals to convey meaning

3. Sharing Reading (using a colourful semantic colour prompt)

4. Reading log which goes home to parents to share their individual goals for reading

5. Learning boards (shared on a previous post

6. Individual daily target (token economy)