Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Focus Group 2018

I currently have 8 students in my classroom, all with varied skills and strengths. When choosing the students in my focus group I wanted to choose students that were showing signs of being ready to read (can sit for a short period of time, attend for the length of a story) but needed strategies to be put in place to be able to progress further.
Here is a brief outline of the students i have chosen in my focus group. 
I am currently completing assessments to have baseline data, i am in the process of finding the most suitable assessments to suit my students needs as well as how to assess them (I often need to get creative to assess my students).

Oliver : Age 5 yr, 1 mth, speaks and understands both English and Chinese, speaks using 1-3 keywords, very social and interactive but reliant on adult support as he likes 1:1 attention, has difficulty with compliance with non-preferred activities, good receptive language skills and understanding, minimal alphabet recognition, weak fine motor skills due to low muscle tone

Conner : Age 5 yr, 4 mth, excellent communication skills both verbal and receptive, he is very social and can initiate a conversation with others, he has difficulty joining group activities however this is improving, he can struggle at times to attend to a task when he wants to do something else,  he can recognise all upper and lower case letters and most letter sounds and he has instant recognition of many high frequency words

Benjamin : Age 5yr, 2 mth, non verbal but can make sounds, is currently trialing a communication device,  he is very social and enjoys being around others, has excellent receptive language skills and is very interested in people (smiles at familiar faces), he struggles with focus and engaging in a non-preferred tasks but will sit at work at a table with support. 

I have already started implementing strategies for all the students in my class - mainly around independence and managing themselves day to day in the classroom (unpacking their bag, sitting for increasing periods of time, using the first - then visual sequence, following routines). I am looking forward to working on specific strategies for each student and their learning needs. 
Watch this space!

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Learning Intentions for Shared Reading

Having a clear learning intention prior to every lesson is important for students of any level. Visuals are a great way of sharing what it is you are wanting them to learn. 

We are fortunate to have received training at Sommerville from Sally Clendon. She teaches that having specific learning targets shared prior to a lesson means that your students only have to focus on one aspect of the lesson rather than trying to retain information about everything you are reading. 

I had great success in my last classroom by writing down on the whiteboard what they were learning that particular day. In my new classroom I have had to adapt the way I teach and deliver content. I made these learning intention boards which i have printed and laminated to use during shared reading. For some books i will make specific learning intentions to go with that story, Eg: we are learning to find out what happened to the mouse.
For each book i make a activity core board which has language from the story in visual form so that my non verbal students can answer questions about the story. 

Here are some examples: 

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Letter of the Week

Like most classrooms, my class has a huge variety of learners with differing skill levels. It can be challenging to build individualised programmes to cater to their needs.

Here is how i have planned my alphabet and phonics programme to suit my students:

- introducing letter : what does it look like, feel like (tactile letters are great) and sound like. A Colleague of mine has made excellent smart board resources which she has kindly shared with me. I use them as an introduction to our letter of the week. They have to find the letter and when they press the letter a video will play.

- Sensory tubs :  finding the letter of the week letters in sand, rice etc and matching them on a alphabet board

- Magnetic letters :  finding the letter of the week

- Dot to dot letters (link to worksheets below): students can color the letters in stickers (excellent fine motor activity), bingo dabbers, fingerprints, crayons

- letter sound sorts (link is below)

- Feely bag :  put objects that begin with that letter inside the bag and students can pull them out to find objects. 

- Alphabet books (link is below)

- Can you find ....? :  Have large printed letters on the floor or wall (I write the letters with chalk on the carpet or concrete), students to throw the mini bean bag at the letter of the week. 

- Cut and paste sound sorting activities (link is below)

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Building Relationships

As i settle into the start of a new year my main focus is getting to know my students. What better way than to ask the people that know them the best - their parents and/or carers.
At the start of the year i sent home a questionnaire asking the following questions...

What activities does your child enjoy (this could include TV shows, songs, places to visit, iPad apps )
What are you child's strengths?
What skills would you like your child to learn?
What concerns / challenges do you have (if any)?
Do you have computer access at home? Would you like to see information on a school blog?
is there any other important information you would like me to know?

Image result for building relationships childrenWhile i work out which students will be part of my focus group i am working on developing their ability to manage themselves in the classroom.
The responses from the questionnaire has provided me with valuable information which i have used to help settle them into school. For one student i made a peppa pig laminated card for him to hold while sitting at circle time so that he could join the class group. Another student enjoys sensory play so i made sure there were plenty of sensory activities on our choosing board. 

The information i have collected has enabled me to better know my students so i can plan for the needs. 

Friday, February 16, 2018

Reading Readiness

I am 3 weeks into teaching my new class. I have 8 students with varied strengths and abilities which is a change from the 5 older students i had for the last 2 years. I have been spending time building relationships, observing what they can do and where they are at.
One of the biggest learning challenges I face is, "how do I know they are ready to read?."
When speaking to a friend of mine who teaches a mainstream new entrant class I understood that most students start school and start on a Magenta reader straight away. This was certainly what i observed when I was out on practicum many years ago.
When i look at my group of students, only a handful would be able to attend to a story or sit at a table long enough to engage.
I came across a blog that has been helpful when deciding on who i was going to start on individual readers. The blog mentions 5 key signs that a child is ready to read with the first one being "engagement" which i believe is key to a successful reading journey as well as concepts about print. This year i want to become more familiar with the assessment tool "concepts about print" which is used widely across our school.


Friday, February 9, 2018

Transition to school

I have 8 new entrant learners with a variety of special needs. They are all transitioning from daycare or kindergarten where there was limited routine and frequent free play where they could explore their surroundings on their own accord.
School is a very different place and can be a huge adjustment for any learner. While I am getting to know my students and what my programme will look like I have ensured that I am setting up routines that will encourage their independence while they settle.

Here are some of the routines and strategies i have set up over the first 2 weeks to increase the key competency "managing self". Most teachers at our school would have these strategies set up in their classes as they are key components of any special education classroom however these strategies may also be helpful to other teachers who have students with additional needs in the classroom.

  • using a timer to finish an activity - this assists with their independence so they can pack up the activity on their own. It also prepares them that an activity is going to finish which is particularly helpful when they have to leave a preferred activity
  • individual timetables - this also assists with their independence so they know where they need to be in the classroom so that you don't have to tell them. Timetables are especially helpful for children who are non-verbal and cannot ask what is happening throughout the day.
  • first - then visual sequence (see previous post for more information http://ssslaurencol.blogspot.co.nz/2017/05/using-first-then-visual-sequence.html)
I have already seen a shift with their independence, compliance and willingness to join the class for group activities.  

Sunday, February 4, 2018

New Year - New Class - New Challenges

2018 is going to be a big year...
Image result for beginning readers
I have been given the opportunity to move to our base school to set up a new entrant class. I am excited for the challenge that this will bring; not knowing what skills my learners will come to school with but also being given the chance to provide them with the skills they need to become enthusiastic, motivated and independent young people.

My inquiry this year will remain the same as last years, "will increasing managing self skills improve their reading?"

My blog however will look quite different. Why? My students last year came to my class with existing reading skills that we built upon.
This year I will have to work on building foundation reading skills that all pre-readers need before they are ready to read.
My students will need to learn how to attend to a task, sit for longer periods of time, focus on a activity and engage before they start reading. Many mainstream new entrant classes focus on "reading readiness" which will be a huge focus on my blog this year.
I am looking forward to seeing if i have the same positive results that I had in my inquiry last year.