Middle School

EDUC 401/ASSESSMENT/Unit 6: December 9 - 16

"Carousel Brainstorming", a cooperative learning strategy.

STEP 1: Think of a response to the posted topic starter AND read what was written by the previous person or people.

STEP 2: If you have something new or different to add please put a bullet and your name before your entry. NOTE: Can be on the same line as theirs, just bold your name. OR if you concur with a comment already posted put "DITTO and bold your name" AND add an example or situation to piggy back what the previous person wrote.

TOPIC STARTER: It's time to Celebrate all the you have learned! Please take some time to reflect upon your new knowledge in phonemic awareness, phonics, and RtI for Literacy and Behavior (FBAs and BSPs). Then share your Greatest Learnings and New Insights from the semester. Share one of your favorite "Student Success Stories" as we Celebrate together.

Makahla I also cannot believe how much material we have gone through. I only wish i had had some of this information last year, like RTI and the strategies for behaviors. I have enjoyed implementing the new material in the classroom and discovering what works. I have so many students that struggle with behavior problems that it was there I saw tremendous success. I used different strategies and now I feel my class time is more beneficial.

** Celiann - It is amazing all the things involved with teaching how to read English. It was hard enough for me to understand the different sounds and rules when teaching phonemics, I can't imagine how much harder it is for children with learning disabilities. I didn't get the chance to be involved in the RtI process as a teacher, but did see how it was implemented in my kid's school and I realized how important is for teachers to be able to explain what the assessments really mean. Knowing what I've learned, I did not "freak out" when I saw my child's own results, but I can see how another parent might and misunderstand what the teachers are telling him/her about the child. If not explained properly some parents might feel his or her child is being ignored or neglected, or just being picked on by the school. Others might take it as a personal attack as to what kind of parents they are, etc.

As I reflect back on this semester, I am amazed at what we have covered. It seemed like I needed the information just as we were covering it in class. I look at how my school does the RtI and BSP and realize it just on feeling not data.After you do a BSP with data it is easier to understand the true problems. I am looking forard to being able to implement these practices in my school and help students make changes.
+ DIRECTIONS FOR ALL WIKI ENTRIES: Please type your name in bold before your contribution.

Kathy I've had the opportunity to gain a tremendous amount of knowledge, skills, and confidence to be effective in the overall development of my students. The challenge of being a Special Ed teacher is that we're dealing with a wide range and diversity in students academic performance, social and emotional behaviors, learning styles, and developmental levels. I've learned how to take the principles and apply the research based strategies and techniques of teaching phonemic awareness to accommodate and modify a structured learning plan based on the student's individual requirements. Through my mentors, coaches, and curriculum, I've gained a tremendous amount of awareness, strategies, and techniques to implement a multi-step approach to accommodate the students unique and behavioral requirements. This has also allowed me to have a positive impact on literacy and performance for the students. On student comes to mind. She has learning and emotional challenges, and she required a special plan of action to improve her overall performance levels. In order to accomplish this, the approach also needed to provide her with the basis of gaining confidence and focusing her efforts. Her problem behaviors were changed positively through behavioral support plans, and her interactions with her peers and adults improved. As we move forward we have a great outlook for her future growth and development. One area that supported and guided my efforts was learning and utilizing the processes, tools, and instruments such as lesson plans, RtI interventions, behavioral plans, ILP's and IEP's, scoring records, standardized assessments that enabled me to analyze, plan, and implement proven strategies for at-risk students. I look forward to my own future development through these courses, coaches and support team, that will allow me to have a greater impact on the students.
Wow, what a semester. Never would I have believed how much I have learned having a job designed to teach others. Hats off to all of you. It does seem that whenever I had questions or was looking for the right direction in a situation, that the answer was provided either by my peers or that the course work, texts, or professors were covering the information to answer my questions. I have also been blessed wit h a very helpful staff with years of knowledge. Anyway, enough sucking up. The task of being a special education teacher at a middle school was so daunting months ago, I was unsure if I had made the right career choice. Now I wonder why I didn’t become a teacher 20 years ago. Example- a student of mine, in eight grade had never been in a public school before , always home schooled because of mental handicaps, arrived scared, never been around peers, never used a public restroom, never used a locker, never been in a lunch line, gym class, crowded hallway, and certainly not in a public classroom. The past several months many challenges have been overcome and by using many different methods and techniques discussed over the past several months, most related to behavior management, the progress was a joy to watch. A girl who could not walk through the hallways for fear of being touched or bumped by other, afraid of the combination lock on the locker, would not eat the food in the cafeteria, refused to answer in class because she could not bear other students looking at her, would burst into violent tantrums at any moment, has shown amazing progress the past four months. As a solid B student, her parent’s fears have been laid to rest, thanks to a great staff, sleepless nights, patience, and perhaps, a very modest bit of credit to me. This week, as I stood and watched her work the lock on her locker , in a crowed hallway, place her backpack inside and prepare to walk herself to lunch, I realized my greatest triumph yet, when she turned to me and said “ I don’t need you anymore.”
I can’t even begin to reflect on everything that I have learned over the past semester. The one thing for sure is that I can’t believe the first semester is over!
I am proud to have completed these classes and to think about what I have learned. I feel very confident now as a teacher of reading. Before learning all of this literacy, I wasn’t exactly sure how to teach reading. But after the phonics lesson, the phonemic awareness, and the RtI model for literacy, I feel quite certain that I will be able to help increase my students reading and writing skills.
Another insight I have is the RtI model and the progress monitoring. Although I am a first year teacher, I feel as if I have more knowledge about this breakthrough idea more than most of the other teachers. I am learning the RtI Model as the state is implementing it, so I feel that I am one of the leaders at my school for implementing it.
I am still working on mastering the behavior support documents but I will be practicing that as the year goes on. My student successes have all revolved around their personalities. They are becoming more responsible and exciting students. They have started to become such amazing students to teach and be around.

Sandy O'Banion Yes! It has been crazy and we have all learned a ton! You can now all be LEADERS in your schools using the more current methods and assessment practices for literacy and behavior. I know that it was stressful… It was stressful for us too… These were new classes for us, but you never progress if you never try anything new. We will be making accommodations and modifications in the classes, based on all of your feedback this semester. I can't tell you how proud I am of EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU! Even though you're adult learners, you are still my "students." I have always said… Sandy always said… That teaching is teaching… it’s all the same… Kindergarten through College (and I have taught them all)… Please remember to use ALL that we have learned and most importantly… remember to teach every child how to CARE FOR THEMSELVES, CARE FOR EACH OTHER AND CARE FOR THE ENVIRONMENT… Tell them each and every day how much you appreciate their EFFORTS to learn in your classrooms. Thanks again and again for all of your hard work and understanding. Please take good care have enjoy the Holidays. We’ll be back in touch in January  s

EDUC 401/ASSESSMENT/Unit 3: November 5 - 11

"Carousel Brainstorming", a cooperative learning strategy.

STEP 1: Think of a response to the posted topic starter AND read what was written by the previous person or people.

STEP 2: If you have something new or different to add please put a bullet and your name before your entry. NOTE: Can be on the same line as theirs, just bold your name. OR if you concur with a comment already posted put "DITTO and bold your name" AND add an example or situation to piggy back what the previous person wrote.

TOPIC STARTER: After "getting your feet wet" in the river of Assessment for Reading and Behavior (DIBELS, WJ III, and the FBA). Discuss your new insights, learnings, and ideas for implementation regarding this VAST watershed of… Assessment in the SPED World. In your writings, address how the Strength Model as outlined in Overcoming Dyslexia can be used to improve the instructional cycle of assessment and instruction.

Sandy O'Banion "In your writings, address how the Strength Model as outlined in Overcoming Dyslexia can be used to improve the instructional cycle of assessment and instruction." The Strength Model is a time tested concept in SPED. It is one of the first concepts that I learned over 30 years ago when I was learning how to be a SPED teacher. When assessing students, it's important to test, observe, and collect data/information on the student's STRENGTHS as well as needs. Then, when planning instruction, you can use the strengths of a student as a foundation or an avenue on which to address the needs. For example, if a student as a strength in the arts and needs in writing… Write about the art that they have produced… write a play…. research and write about art or artists…. Now we're talkin…. This is why SPED is so EXCITING…. :-) - s

Sandy O'Banion Do any of you have some great stories to share about how the STRENGTH MODEL worked for one of your students? If so, it would be great to hear your success story :-) This is what keeps us going…. and going… :-) s

*Linda*I can't tell you how excited I am about learning about all the assessments that are available to use. The last couple of years I worked as a Para and taught a Language! course. We didn't have the time to teach the program as they suggest so we never got to the final assessment. I am the type of person that likes to know what the problem is, then I can figure out a way to fix it. Now I can use DIBELS (I hope) on my students. Most of them are reading at a third grade level even though they are in 8th grade. I know they can't read but I wasn't sure where their individual weakness was. Now I can find out what those weakness are and adjust my teaching to individualize the lessons to fit the students. I like the teaching to strengths because you teach to the positive. Most of the students are already discouraged because they "can't do what the other kids are doing" this way you use the strengths to help with the needs. I am excited to be learning tools I can apply immediately.
All of the assessment we have been exposed to lately seem very valuable, if not somewhat overwhelming. I realize how many assessment tools are available and how the assessment can assist a teacher in planning academic curriculum around a student’s strengths and weaknesses. Using a test delivered in a matter of hours to discover what a student need help with, what they seem to grasp and what they seem to truly understand is pretty incredible. The time saved on discovering what the student’s knowledge base is huge! I’m a bit embarrassed to admit I was helping a student with middle school algebra and progress was very slow (10 days) before I realized that this student did not grasp the concept of multiplying numbers. After reviewing and memorizing multiplication tables from the very beginning for 3 weeks, I began to see quick understanding and knowledge of algebra from the student. Not really an example of dyslexia or LD I know but if I had used some assessment test, interpreted the scores, and proceeded from days 1,
This student would be 4 or 5 weeks ahead of the present level. Now at least I know some options, if needed.
The Sea of Strengths model mainly provides some understanding how to view the positive aspects of a students learning and not always dwell on the negative. Every day is eye-opening for me. One student can add 20 multi-digit numbers in his head in seconds and yet still cannot spell his last name. All the concepts are in play: reasoning, comprehension, problem solving and I need to always be able to understand how decoding can be difficult in certain areas and make the most of each positive aspect. What a challenging, frustrating, wonderful job. Sandy O'Banion Yes Greg! "What a challenging, frustrating, wonderful job." There is never a dull moment in teaching! And especially in SPED.. Figuring out how to best teach a student is always like a puzzel that needs to be solved… and it is amazing when it all comes together.- s

Sara I have enjoyed reading about all of these assessments. Although we don't have DIBELS at my middle school, I have been using Aimsweb. I have been gathering probes off of aimsweb and gathering data from my students to figure out where they are. Sandy O'Banion It's great that you're already using Aimsweb! This will make Unit 5 so much easier for you. - s
I think it is truly important that you feed off of the strengths of the dyslexia reader. I have been doing Read Naturally with my students, and at the beginning of each story we read, I use the Strenghts Model without even realizing it. I pull as much knowledge as possible from my students so that when they begin to do a new read, they already have the background knowledge to help them with decoding words.
I agree with Lea on the WJIII because I think it is very time consuming and strenous for the students. I like the probes and then figuring out the intervention for a student and then progress monitoring that student (which happens to be RTI in a nutshell.) I do believe that I will become better at figuring out what assessment to use for each individual student of mine, and then it will greatly help me to plan for my students.

Makahla DITTO Greg I think it is great that these tests can help see where students strengths and weaknesses are within hours (WJIII) or even shorter (AIMS WEB, or DIBELS) I also like how we can progress monitor the students to see if the interventions and instruction we are using is helping them succeed. The Strength Model is great because it shows how instead of focusing on a student's weakness or area of need, you the teacher can use the student's strengths to improve their areas of weakness.

Celiann LEarning about all of these assessments have opened my eyes as to how critical it is to assess children as soon as possible. I didn't realize that there were standards for kids entering Kindergarten and even less how critical it is for them to develop them on time by providing the right instruction method. As far as the Strenght's model - I see it everyday here at home with my kids - specially my younger one. She has an amazing memory for things she sees and hears, and the way she talks sometimes - you would think she is an excellent student and understands class materials. However, when you sit one on one with her on reading or even simple math (not to mention her assessment scores), you see her problems with decoding that I can see is not only affecting her reading but math. This has helped me help her more at home, and also show her tutor what methods work with her better. Realizing her problems at home, I brought it up to her SPED teacher, as they were only addressing her reading, and asked her to be assessed in math. Sure enough she is now in intervention groups and being considered for SPED in math as well. I'm not saying she is dislexic, but at least by noticing her strengths and how she is overcompensating with some of her strenghts I was able to bring it up to her teacher and now hopefully we can get her the appropriate help on all the areas she needs. Sandy O'Banion It's great that you can use what your're learning to help your own daughter.. How important! - s

Lea I agree with Greg and Makahla at how helpful some of these tests can be to show student strengths and weaknesses, to monitor progress, and to help determine interventions. So far, I am not a big fan of WJIII. I see it as a somewhat helpful indicator about where a student is at, but it has some negatives. It is a very time consuming test. It can be very strenuous for a student. For the amount of time it takes and the stress it puts on some students, it doesn't give us enough information. I especially do not like it being used as a diagnostic tool. I like the RTI model much better. Sandy O'Banion Your reflections illustrate exactly why SPED is moving to the RtI model with frequent progress monitoring and why the WJIII may not be used as much in the future. We are in a transtion phase right now where the WJIII is still used and will probably still be used, but not to the extent that it was in the past. - s
The strenght model is great. It not only is positive by showing the strengths of a student, but it also gives insight in ways to help a student learn. I have a student who has a strength in art, but a weakness in reading. By incorporating drawing into our phonemic lessons, the student is motivated, feels a sense of accomplishment, and learns more through multisensory activities. Two other students I have learn well through hands-on activities and can remember more of what they learn by relating it to things they have done outside of school (museums and traveling). Also, I know to make math as hands on as possible and to use manipulatives daily so that they can see how math works. Knowing a students strengths gives a teacher insight into how a student learns best.Sandy O'Banion Excellent illustration of how the Strength Model works for our students in SPED :-) s

Kathy DITTO to Linda's response. I am excited to have learned about the different assessments, and being able to use these to assess strengths and weaknesses as well as focus my instruction. DITTO as well to Greg's statement about remaining positive. By using the students strengths to overcome weaknesses our focus remains on the positive which is also in line with what we have learned about positive behavior support. The goal is to have the students be successful, and we can assure they are feeling those successes by pointing out their strengths and using those to help overcome weaknesses. In my language arts lab class, we are not having a final exam, but I need to monitor the progress the students have made in reaching the benchmarks and standards set by the State of Colorado. I have focused the lesson plans in the first trimester around writing, and the essential learnings dictated by the state are that a student will write and recognize a variety of genres, understand the different purposes of writing, and revise writing to incorporate the use of vivid verbs, strong nouns, and modifiers. Our final assessment for the trimester is an assignment I have given them which is to create a children's book. They are to examine their purpose, understand their audience, use the writing process of planning, writing, rewriting, and editing to produce a kindergarten level book which we will then take over to the elementary school to read to the K class. They have been working on their books for about 2 weeks now, and will complete them by 11/19. This assignment has allowed me to implement the use of their strengths - art, creativity, computer skills - and blend those strengths with meeting state standards - which many of them may have said"I can't do" if presented in a traditional final test. This way, I am able to see that they understand that writers make conscious decisions based on audience, genre, and they are able to make choices between using a typical noun such as house and change that to something more vivid like mansion(craft), and they are able to plan, write, rewrite, and edit their own work at a level that is appropriate for them. Since some of my students are struggling with reading and writing, having the audience be at the kindergarten level sets them above giving them a the power and strength and takes away any anxiety they may have held with regards to reading and writing. They have enjoyed doing this project tremendously, and they have shown growth. It also has brought out some real creativeness I did not know existed. Sandy O'Banion What a beautiful illustration of how you can still be creative, as a teacher and as students, when meeting the STATE STANDARDS! Thanks for sharing this project with us ;-) s
My school uses the WJIII for assessing students strengths and weaknesses. I like the assessment, although it is time consuming, I feel it is right on target and can be strategically used to guide instruction. By identifying the strengths, I can incorporate that knowledge into helping to overcome weaknesses and helping the student feel successful. I am thankful for the mastery learning technique used through WSU because I have had hectic weeks and I did poorly on a test, but having the opportunity to correct that was helpful to my personal esteem. I'm glad it happened because it showed me the range of emotions my students can possibly have -I had initial feelings of failure, being 'stupid', and not good at it when in reality I just needed a little extra time. This helps me know what my students feel when they are not feeling successful, and by pointing out the strengths I can help them achieve their goals and benchmarks through positive techniques where otherwise they may have feelings of being 'put down' or 'no good'. By identifying and listing strengths, it makes a child feel good about themselves, their education, and their growth and progress. It is also good for the parents when you are going through an assessment to list strengths because every parent likes to hear what their child does well. This may lead to better working relationships since they may feel you understand their child fully.

Patrick After familiarizing myself with these assessments, I find I have a new appreciation for the value of screening and diagnostics as a way to directly address the specific areas where a student is having difficulty. Not only can error pattern charts show where to concentrate instruction, they also take away guesswork and increase instructional efficiency. I have gained new insights into the need for extremely accurate scoring, as students needs and abilities must be determined with the utmost reliability. Assessments, too, must be reliable, valid and efficient and the exposure to those with which I was not familiar has been very beneficial. As I implement further assessments I will remember the importance of progress monitoring and how to best utilize the data to focus on the students needs, both current and ongoing. Additionally, the Strength Model allows teachers to encourage students to succeed by embedding the student's strengths into the instruction. For example, an instructor can help a dyslexic reader's phonemic weakness by utilizing techniques where their verbal and reasoning skills can show through. All disciplines should be using the Strength Model and teaching to, and with, the student's strengths in mind.

EDUC 401/ASSESSMENT/Unit 1: October 22-28

"Carousel Brainstorming", a cooperative learning strategy.

STEP 1: Think of a response to the posted topic starter AND read what was written by the previous person or people.

STEP 2: If you have something new or different to add please put a bullet and your name before your entry. NOTE: Can be on the same line as theirs, just bold your name. OR if you concur with a comment already posted put "DITTO and bold your name" AND add an example or situation to piggy back what the previous person wrote.

TOPIC STARTER: After reviewing the websites for CSAP, CSAP Accommodations, CSAPA, and CBLA, discuss the PROS and CONS of the state assessment programs for students in special education… remember to address BOTH the PROS and CONS equally :-)

MakahlaDITTO about the CBLA being more of a pro than a con. CBLA seems to help students to get to grade level reading and for the students lacking, a more intense literacy program is put in place. It seems that it helps the gen. ed. population more than SPED because it is aimed at K-3 grade. The CSAP testing is a good way to monitor students' progress year to year and is a standardized test, but it is also geared for the gen. ed. population and although accommodations are aloud for students needing them, they don't always make the difference. I have some SPED students who flop just because they are overwhelmed by the CSAP. CSAPA is not used for my students but more for severe needs students which is good because it allows them to also be a part of the standardized test.CSAPA is geared for these students but is it counted towards the schools score? I know my SPED students are. I just feel like the mild to moderate needs students got caught in the middle. They make very little progress if any and get very frustrated.
CeliannDitto with Sara - I do agree that there should be some standarized test to measure students at in the same grade how they compare to each other academically. However, I do not like when schools completely base their instructions on CSAP format. Some students will never score profficient during CSAP even if they know the content they are required to know. Additionally, the pressure built into these tests cause unnecessary stress on the schools, specially the students. More educaltion needs to be given to the actual students on what the scores really mean, and how they are used. This should alleviate some of the pressure.

SaraPROS: I like the philosophy that standardized test "level the playing field for all students". It is also a very nice way for teachers to monitor the growth of their students academically. The various accommidations and modifications that can be used really do help the students with disabilities. The CBLA seems like a pro to me because it is basically "progress monitoring" frequently to find where students are struggling with thier reading and how teachers can help with that. Reading is so important and I think its essential that we evaluate these students at the 3rd grade and provide interventions for them. DITTO Sandy O'Banion** I'm glad that we can start to see the PROS as well as the CONS. These practices actually promote Inclusion of our SPED students in the gen ed curriculum. - s

CONS:I always thought that I disliked standardized tests. I thought that teachers taught just for their students to "do well on the CSAP". That was my experience and made me dislike standardized testing and the CSAP in general. I also know that it puts so much stress and pressure on the students "to do well on the CSAP because this is how we judge your growth" although many students grow each year in many other ways. Students also struggle with the format of the CSAP including "showing your work in the box below" and "multiple choice questions".

Lea Damm The Pros to standardized tests are primarily the ability to assess student achievement and progress monitor student learning, assess how curriculum programs and interventions are working, and to be able to use the data to make decisions about what to teach and how to teach it. I also like that students are allowed accommodations to level the playing feild and that all students are assessed on the same content. The Cons are that tests create anxiety for many students. Also, there are many strategies to taking tests, and part of what standardized tests really show is a student's ability to take tests. The other problem I see with standardized testing is that they can be very time consuming. Evaluation is so important, but it should not interfere with time that needs to be given to instruction.
Aimee Withrow I feel that there are many pros and cons to the CSAP. I feel that the results can be a good benchmark for teachers to gauge their students' levels of learning. At the same time, from my personal experiences of taking the CSAP, it seems that teachers can spend all year "teaching to the CSAP," and can miss some important topics that are worthwhile to teach but are not covered on the CSAP. I think that with all the accommodations available, that the CSAP can be beneficial to students with disabilities and the accommodations have given them an equal opportunity to take the assessment and have their scores reflect their level of knowledge. Another con could be that since the CSAP is a standardized test, it is mostly all multiple choice questions. This is good because it is easier to grade, but at the same time, some students have a hard time with multiple choice questions and sometimes it is hard to gauge a student's knowledge if they get lucky and can guess the correct answers. I think that the CBLA has a great goal of monitoring student's reading progress and making sure that by third grade students can read so they have the literacy skills that are needed to be successful in school and life. I think this is great and gives kids a better chance of succeeding in reading.

rainaCSAP of course if a great way for teachers, administrators, districts, states, and the nation to determine if schools are teaching kids what they need to know. I think it is great that kids are allowed accommodations, but I think more teachers need to be aware of accommodations and how they work and why kids need that accommodation. There needs to be good communication involved between all teachers involved with a students education so that each students can do their best. It is also nice that kids statewide will be learning the same curriculum and that we are determining learning based on what will be beneficial for their education and success lifelong. There are many students though, who have told me that they just guess on CSAP because it doesn't matter to them how well they do. In order to properly assess students there needs to be a way to hold students, not just teachers, accountable for how well they do on the testing.

Pros for the state assessment programs:
*a formal assessment to test and moniter the growth of the students
*CBLA reading assessment helps identify students with reading problems EARLY so interventions can be more successful.
*Teachers, schools and districts are held accountable to have strong instruction in school.
*They allow for accommondations.

Cons for the state assessment programs
*The stress and fear of the test upsets many of the SPED students and they don't do well.
*There is huge difference between the CSAP and CSAPA tests. One may be way to hard and the other too easy.
*The extended time may not be long enough —a student with dyslexia may need more than time and half to process and finish the test.
*It may not be a true test of what a student knows. Some of the classes are so modified the students cannot learn all that is required to do well on the tests.+ DIRECTIONS FOR ALL WIKI ENTRIES: Please type your name in bold before your contribution.

Pros for state assessment:
 The assessment is used to track areas of improvement
 Assessment allows districts to select areas of focus that may be needed
 The district is able to place a value on the educational experience being supplied
 Assessment allows a measure of accountability
 assessment allows early discovery of literacy difficulties
 Provide instructionally useful data as part of an evaluation of individual student progress toward
mastery of the academic content standards
 Guide instructional program, school, district and state level improvement

Cons for state assessment
 Tests may not accurately measure what a student knows. (Student having a bad day on test day?)
 Accommodations may be supplied to students not necessarily needing adjustments
 State assessment vs. local assessments
 Should students be allowed to demonstrate proficiencies through multiple pathways based on their
educational plan and profile?
 Does a child need a totally different test in order to demonstrate what he or she knows and is able
to do?
Were students with disabilities included in making and field testing the assessments? Sandy O'Banion There are truly improvements that can be made in the way that we assess students in SPED. These are good questions to pose. Teachers can e-mail the state assessment folks at CDE and ask these questions. The state needs to hear from more of our SPED teachers in the state. - s
Patrick Some of the pros of the CSAP are that it makes schools accountable for curriculum and student outcome, and ties into the Colorado Model Content Standards which is after all what teachers in Colorado need to be addressing in the classroom. Both the CSAP and CBLA help to create a culture that strives to help students succeed. They both aim to raise student's achievement levels and promote the knowledge, skills and abilities students need to be successful in life. The CSAPA allows those students with cognitive disabilities that cannot access the specific content CSAP test an alternative assessment where their specific needs and abilities can be measured. Individual student data from these assessments can be used as a good teaching tool. Some of the cons of the CSAP is how it measures schools off the outcome of the assessment and uses the threat of turning it into a charter school as a method of motivating teachers. The problem is that is compares one group of students with another and, in a transitory society, that is not always a beneficial measurement. Another problem is the CSAP and CBLA detract from other learning opportunities in areas that may be a strength for the student, and there is excessive pressure on teachers to do well on the assessments.

Unit 8: October 15-21

"Carousel Brainstorming", a cooperative learning strategy.

STEP 1: Think of a response to the posted topic starter AND read what was written by the previous person or people.

STEP 2: If you have something new or different to add please put a bullet and your name before your entry. NOTE: Can be on the same line as theirs, just bold your name. OR if you concur with a comment already posted put "DITTO and bold your name" AND add an example or situation to piggy back what the previous person wrote.

TOPIC STARTER: After reviewing the exercise and Chapter 23 in Overcoming Dyslexia, include in your discussion at least 2 specific accommodations that would help your student/students with dyslexia when engaging in decoding/phonics tasks. Discuss your “hopes for the future” in our schools for students with dyslexia who are faced with the challenge of learning to read.

One of the greatest gifts that we can give to a student with dyslexia is to truly understand the make-up of the disability…
Both the weaknesses and the STRENGTHS!!!!!
Dyslexia is a LANGUAGE-BASED READING LEARNING DISABILITY and about 80% of the students that are staffed as PCD/SLD will have a LANGUAGE-BASED READING LEARNING DISABILITY. According the International Dyslexia Association and from Shaywitz (pg 132), "Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction. Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede the growth of vocabulary and background knowledge."
Students with Dyslexia also commonly display a "SEA OF STRENGTHS" (Shaywitz, pg 57). These strengths include: reasoning, problem solving, comprehension, concept formation, critical thinking, general knowledge, and vocabulary. As SPED teachers, one of the greatest accommodations that we can make for students with Dyslexia is to highlight their strengths as we address their weaknesses.
I have the greatest respect for our students with Dyslexia as I realize how hard they really do have to work in order to succeed in our schools on a daily basis. I also realize how truly brilliant they are… In our next class, EDUC 401, you will have the opportunity to develop reading intervention plans for your students. As you do this, please keep this “SEA OF STRENGTHS” model in mind… my vision and hope for the future… - s
rainaI really like the idea of using books on tape for my students to listen to as they read. I also found a box in our library storage room, so that was exciting. The kids love to listen to their books, but they don't like to follow along, so I am constantly reminding them that they have to read as they listen. I also realized that we had alpha smarts at our school and I some of my students are very excited that they get to use them. My favorite accommodation was the idea of them recording their written work before they actually write it. I really think that my students will benefit from verbally writing their work.

Cindy The accommodations mentioned in chapter 23 that would help dyslexic students would be books on tape and previewing reading. Like Seth's story on page 319, dyslexics benefit from the verbal and remember what they hear with great detail. Decoding a book without assistance, time, and other support is very difficult and strenuous for dyslexics not to mention stressful emotionally. A book on tape allows he or she to listen along and follow the text which will help them decode when this support is not available. Previewing the reading is also a great teaching tool or accommodation that can be used at almost any level and for all readers. Previewing the book can mean the dyslexic looks up new or unfamiliar words that will occur as well as activation of background knowledge for the topic. When they get to the reading, they can identify and use many of the difficult words and will be able to spend less time decoding and more time discussing, processing, or getting information from the text. My hopes for the future and dyslexic students' educations would have to include a wish for a greater understanding for the disability on the parents and teachers part. DITTOSandy O'Banion**See my comments above - s… I have found a majority of teachers do not know the signs of dyslexia or how to monitor for it. In addition, teachers do not understand the scope of this difficulty and just how impossible reading activities can be for a dyslexic student. The accommodations for some of these students are sometimes inadequate. I feel some parents have an even smaller understanding of the disability when the child mixes up the "b" and "d" and they are certain the child is dyslexic. I feel if they really knew what dyslexia was all about, they would not assume their child was dyslexic. A curious phenomena was discussed on pages 337 and 338 about faking dyslexia to get the perks associated with it. The book disspells it quickly as false, that no parent would do this, but I differ. I feel some parents may perceive the child is dyslexic or disabled when they are not advanced, top performers so logic says there must be something wrong. I also have suspected and seen parents exaggerate their child's weaknesses and it thus becomes a crutch for the child in school. I am seeing some unusual parent behavior in these areas this year.

Matthew Extra time and a quiet place seems to help a bunch of my students are, or show symptoms of dyslexia. I provide this accommodation anytime I can for tests, projects, studying, etc… Another accommodation I use to assist students with reading fluency issues, is books on tape, or digitized within the read naturally program on CD, and on the computer. They seem to buy into the reading more if it is done in this fashion.

Makahla DITTO I use books on tape so they can follow along and get the meaning of the book. When my students with dyslexia read on their own and it is a grade level book like what we are reading now, they spend so much energy trying to decode and read the words correctly that they don't remember what they just read. The books on tape help them understand the book and pace of the reading. I also provide accommodations and modifications and help other gen. ed. teachers to do the same (oral testing, quiet environment…). We are starting the Read Naturally program so I am excited to see how that helps too.

Penny Ditto So much of this is new to me, I have encountered it and was unaware of what it was. The item that stood and and yelled at me was the SQ3R I have said for years that middle school students have not been taught to read a text book. If you watch when given a work sheet or asked to answer questions the jump around in the book and look for the answer rather than read the material and then answer. Seldom to students ever look at charts or any of the material in the margins. The miss so much. I think that this approach is good for all readers. I have copied it and would like to make it into a study guide or a reference to hang on the wall in the classroom.
Co:writer is one that I have just encountered this year. At first I was not sure about how much it could help. I have been able to observe a student in the room a cross the hall use this program and have seen some pretty measurable results.
The idea of not taking a foreign language in college is so rational. I'm glad to see that they are willing to allow the study of the country and culture to replace the language. If I had ever been given this as an option even if it meant more class hours I would have gone with the study.
I know the books on tape are a great source and when I use to travel lots I would get a couple and do my reading that way. It does free up your ability to concentrate on the context as to the reading and decoding. For those of you who don't know it Cracker Barrel use to have and may still have books on tap[e that you may get and travel with. Then you just return it at another Cracker Barrel. Thats how I got into the reading on tape.

Celiann Ditto on the extra time and the use of book on tapes etc. I would also add, in more extreme cases, modified assignments - where the reading is abbreviated as well as the writing. One accommodation that I'm not sure with is to ask for a waiver on taking a foreign language. In my opinion, I know is hard to do with kids that are born on an English speaking country, but children that are identified early enough with dyslexia - I would almost start them with an "easier" language to begin with, such as Spanish, where there are not as many phonemes, etc. One of my brothers is dyslexic and to this day he did not struggle as hard as I see students here. In fact he skipped one grade, I know he took some remedial classes at night when he was a child and had more struggles than his twin brother, but he never asked for accommodations. He went to college in Florida, and now is a veterinarian here in the US. As far as I know, he did not struggle as much learning English - it could have been that in Puerto Rico teaching English is part of the curriculum, but I do wonder if the fact that he learned Spanish - an easier language - first might have helped him in the transition to English. Or maybe he was just lucky enough to be diagnosed early enough, but I'm interested in knowing how other people from a different language do when it comes to dyslexia. My hopes for the future is that, just like immunizations, kids are required to do a brain scan as early as possible to at least determine if there are signs of dyslexia in them prior to getting to school. I know it is costly, money wise, but in the long run getting these kids on the right start will save more pain and money than the initial investment.

Linda Ditto to Cindy on the books on tape and previewing the reading material, she covered it well. The quote "Far and way the most critical accommodation for the dyslexic reader is the provision of extra time" gives us the basic clue to what is needed. Studies have shown us that extra time is almost a "physiologic" need, because they must rely on other brain systems to figure out the word manually. They also need a quiet, separate room and earplugs to minimize distractions. I also think having a way for the student to take notes on a laptop or an Alphasmart will help so they don't have to struggle with the writing and spelling by hand. I would hope we could help the teachers understand that these students needs tests that measure thinking ability (short essay) versus rote memorizing (true/false and multiple choice).There is a misconception that if you have problems reading you can't think, with a dyslexic student all they need is a way to maximize their strengths and minimize their weakness.

Sara DITTO to the "provision of extra time". This is absolutely essential for the dyslexic reader. Even during the video we watched at the teach now orientation, the adults that were forced to read like dyslexic students were very stressed, stumbled over every word, and didn't get any comprehension whatsoever due to the fact that is was taking so much energy to actually read the words. I also liked the accommodation about using books on tape. Often it is hard to get the resource prepared, but what I do is read the book aloud with the kids following along (as if I was the book on tape). This helps them see how I read it and the inflection and tone of my voice throughout it. We use a program called "Read Naturally" where the students read a short story, then the CD reads the story to them 3 times (each one becoming a little faster paced). Then they have to answer comprehension questions and refer to ideas from the book. This really helps my students that struggle with reading. My hopes for the future is that we will continue to understand this disorder and find new and improved ways to accommodate for these students. I also want colleges, universities, and employers to become more aware of what dyslexia is like, and give fair treatment with accommodations for admission scores, standardized tests, or business tests.

Lea Ditto to all. One accomodation that hasn't been talked about as much is the visual representation of material. I have a student who I believe is dyslexic. This student also has troubles with audio imput, which means books on tape are not much help. For this student, visual representation of material is so helpful. We preview what we will read, then read slowly together so she can see and hear the material. Illustrated books are helpful, but we often rely on our own visual sources. This can include pictures from books and the internet, pictures I draw, or even pictures the student draws to try to visualize what is being covered.

Jennifer Ditto to all. The accommodations in the book were fantastic, and many of them are so simple that it is surprising how often they are fought in schools. I have witnessed resentment and disbelief when accommodations are mentioned as a measure to level the playing field for students in need. I think that sometimes we forget that we all learn differently. One accommodation that the book mentioned that I use often, and is great for all kids, is to provide a study guide that includes the notes that I put on the board, the reading from the book and any unusual vocabulary. I provide this prior to the lesson so the students can familiarize themselves with the work; it would be ideal to put this on tape but I do not have the resources or time for that yet. When I have a student who struggles with reading allowed but wants to, lots do,I give them the material to pre-read so when they read they will feel more comfortable. I have never heard of the program; Read Naturally, but it sounds fantastic. I think a program like that would be a great help to some of my students, thanks Sara!

Jenelle Ditto to additional time and quiet! One of my kiddos has an absolute fit anytime he is in the middle of something and has noise around him. I guess I would too, if I had to restart the decoding process over and over and over for every little noise. And because he gets continually interrupted he needs the extra time. As a person who needs that background noise to function as much as he does the quiet I can now understand his dilemma. I also use books on tape or CD – whatever I can get my hands on to help my students. Like Sara, if I cannot get the resource I need, I or the paras will read and reread the stories to our kiddos. In the case of one of my students, he was told that “he has a mental capacity of a ten-year old” so often he sees that as his excuse to behave badly and also he will “never perform to expectations” (his words). What I find really weird is that he reads fairly well, but on those quarterly assessment tests he turns around p, d, b, and q which he never does in his reading and leaves me questioning his true abilities. My hope for the future is that not only do parents and teachers understand the necessities of accommodations, but that also so do other students.

Jason I feel for my students, the books on tape and allowing students to clarify their answers are the most important. When my students are allowed to use books on tape, either alone or in a group setting, they are able to pick up what is going on so much easier. They attend better to the story and comprehend better as well. With the extra time to re clarify an answer, my students are so anxious to be right when answering a question, they get ahead of themselves and may use a word to describe an answer that I know they did not want to use. So, letting them calm down and re answer the question, they are able to calm down and sya what they really mean. So many times I see them in the middle of an answer and get stuck trying to find a word. Instead of taking the time to find a word they want to use, they just say the first thing that pops into their mind and lose track of what they wanted to say. I like that accomodation a lot. My hope for the future is that their is extensive training whan it comes to reading instruction and dyslexia. I know I was not taught they way I should have been on how to recognize dyslexia and how to address it. As important as reading is to everyone, I feel things such as extra help in the classroom and adequate resources available to students is important. In an ideal classroom you could have small group instruction taught by qualiified adults where everyone is being taught on their level. I can dream.

Patrick Ditto to all. Two specific accomodations that I believe would help students in the classroom with dyslexia are extra time and recorded texts. I feel every student should be given extra time when it is necessary and justifiable for increasing their knowledge and comprehension of material. Likewise, recorded texts should be used whenever comprehension of the written word is suffering to such an extent that the students education, behavior and self-esteem are adversely affected. With the help of these two accomodations, and clearly extended time is key, I can access the students strengths in order to bypass their phonological weaknesses. One of my hopes for the future in our schools for students with dyslexia are, like Jason, to see an intensification in teacher training on the subject, which will increase awareness and provide strategies to assist students with dyslexia. Sandy O'Banion DITTO** Here at WSC, we are sincerely working to improve the literacy training for teachers (YOU). The use of the LETRS Modules and the text, Overcoming Dyslexia, are new for us and I can see the difference in your knowing and understanding. - s With early assessments and accomodations aimed directly at the needs of dyslexic readers their strengths will become apparent in their thinking skills, reasoning, vocabulary and analytical skills, and the assumptions and sterotypes that often accompany them will no longer be held as viable.

KathyDITTO to all. The accommodations described in Chapter 23 such as extra time on tests and written assignments, quiet areas or testing and work, copies of notes, orally read tests and/or the option to respond verbally to tests should be included for those students identififed with Dyslexia. I was surprised to learn that those with dyslexia function at a higher level of reasoning and possess very strong anylytical skills, however these skills are not apparent when tested by multiple choice questions. These students should be given the opportunity to respond verbally so their knowledge is accurately assessed. The modifications are in place in order to even the playing field and accurately assess knowledge. Their knowledge can not be accurately assessed through traditional methods of testing because neurologically these students process information differently. I hope that I can contiue my literacy training because I find this subject fascinating. I also in the beginning believed this was a reversal of letters and that was the indicator, but only to begin to learn what is involved and how best to accommodate so that these students are successful.

Unit 7: October 8-14 (OPTIONAL WIKI)

"Carousel Brainstorming", a cooperative learning strategy.

STEP 1: Think of a response to the posted topic starter AND read what was written by the previous person or people.

STEP 2: If you have something new or different to add please put a bullet and your name before your entry. NOTE: Can be on the same line as theirs, just bold your name. OR if you concur with a comment already posted put "DITTO and bold your name" AND add an example or situation to piggy back what the previous person wrote.

TOPIC STARTER: Reflect upon your school and classroom instructional practices for reading and SHARE IDEAS with your peers…. Are there structures in place for providing students with systematic and sequential instruction in the foundational skills for reading?… Are scientifically-based reading programs (core, supplemental, and interventions) being used?…. Are scientifically-based instructional strategies being used with consistency?… What needs to be done to improve the SBRR practices in your school or classroom?… What is your ACTION PLAN to help improve the SBRR approaches in your school and classroom?

Jennifer Our school started an intensive literacy program over the summer. The program worked well with our special education and regular education students. The results were promising, all students showed improvement in their reading fluency, spelling, comprehension, and writing skills. Listed below are the programs we used this summer.
Six-Minute Solution
Wilson Reading Program
Step Up To Writing
Rewards Plus
During the regular school year, I mainly teach science but I do teach a literacy strand in the mornings for ½ hour. Currently we are reading The Diary of Anne Frank but other activities have been parts of speech, spelling, free writing and directed journaling.
I believe that we will continue to use the programs that we already have because money is always an issue for our school. The programs were very effective and are approved by the Colorado Department of Education.

Unit 4: September 17 - 23

"Carousel Brainstorming", a cooperative learning strategy.

STEP 1: Think of a response to the posted question AND read what was written by the previous person or people.

STEP 2: If you have something new or different to add please put a bullet and your name before your entry. NOTE: Can be on the same line as theirs, just bold your name. OR if you concur with a comment already posted put "DITTO and bold your name" AND add an example or situation to piggy back what the previous person wrote.

QUESTION: After reading Chapter 15 in Overcoming Dyslexia and reviewing the big ideas for teaching spelling in LETRS Module 3, include in your discussion how early instruction in ”breaking the code” leads to better reading and spelling. Brainstorm a list of ways that schools/teachers can help students with these early reading skills… students who have missed this instruction, who are experiencing difficulties, and/or students with learning disabilities

Celiann Ditto on how the author introduced this chapter. I've always be confused why English is so "complicated" compared to Spanish and calling it a "Code" really puts it into perspective. Early intervention is key - currently I have one student - 8th grader - reading at a 1st grade level. His self esteem is really low, so he gets frustrated easily. The other students know this, and unfortunately they tease him about it. This is why is key for early interventions. It does not only affect their education but their social/emotional well being.
Therefore when I have the 4 of them together, I usually do the reading - he has great comprehension skills. So I try to emphasize that and recognize his strenght. At this level, I think the key is to instruct, when in group activities, at the pace of the slowest reader - but with activities that will stimulate everyone. I'm having difficulties coming up with ways to do this, so reading some of your ideas has helped. I would like to know more about the Reading NAturally program - is there a website? Brooke Hanks Yes, here is the website for Read Naturally: http://www.readnaturally.com/

Sara I thought it was good how the author introduced the chapter on "Breaking the Reading Code" by stating that there are two parts to the puzzle: one involving spoken language and the other involving written language. This chapter directly corresponds with LETRS Module 2 and 3 in the skills that a child must have to be able to read. A child must know the sounds of word, a child must develop a sense of rhyme, a child must be able to blend and segment a word (which an incredible amount of children that I work with cannot do), and a child must be able to separate syllables. One of the best ways that teachers can help students is to practice, practice, practice. Encouraging reading is one way that students will become better with vocabulary, spelling, word recognition, and fluency. I require all of my students to do a reading log each week and they must get a parent signature to show that they have done their twenty minutes of reading each night. I have also done a lot of the lesson plans from the Teaching Reading Resource book that have just given my students more confidence and skill and also a reminder of stuff that they either learning long ago or lost over the summer break. At my school, kids participate in the Reading Naturally program and can graph their growth throughout the school year. I have learned the importance of phoneme awareness and instruction for students of all ages and how it directly improves their reading.

Matthew DITTO, I too, use Read Naturally, and I believe it helps students to compete against themselves, and graph their results in an effort to strive for more of themselves. The motivation built in is priceless.
MakahlaDITTO to Sara and Matthew: We are starting the Read Naturally Program this year along with Linda Mood Bell for our lowest students. I also agree practice is key to learning how to read. I also have found no matter what age (just modify to grade level) making games and rhymes to help students decode, segment, blend and rhyme makes the process more interesting. The America Reads program I used in San Diego worked wonders with the students, and while it was geared towards K-3rd graders I modify the materials for my middle school students.

Lea Working with SPED students, I see a great need to go back to the basics. Some students show signs of dyslexia and others don't, but all of my students need the same thing. They need the skills to decode words. Sara covered those skills in her entry. I find the most challenging part is to make learning interesting. Many of the games and activities out there are designed for young students, but I am working with middle school students. I try to find ways to incorporate learning while providing an environment of respect. Being below reading level, doesn't mean having the same interests as a younger person. I am looking for books we can work with that are low level, but high interest. I am also looking for subjects my students can relate too. I have several students that are interested in sports and am trying to develop activities and reading material that incorporates their interest. Brooke Hanks Lea, your concern with finding games, activities, and books for struggling adolescent readers is one that is shared by many Middle School and High School teachers across the nation. The majority of the research, publications, and materials available has been for the primary grade levels (K-3). So, at this point it is more of a challenge for our MS and HS teachers. However, the good news is that I have heard that the focus, nationwide, will now start moving beyond 3rd grade. In the next few years we should start seeing more information and resources available for 4-12 grade students and teachers. YAY!

Kathy DITTO to Sara, Matthew, and Lea's comments. I agree with Sara that practice, practice, practice is what is needed with our students. I'd like to know more about the Read Naturally program that Sara and Matthew are using. Brooke Hanks Kathy here is the website http://www.readnaturally.com/
Working with middle school Sped students is unique, and we must make the accommodations and modifications necessary while making the learning experience interesting, fun, and not so they feel it's beneath them or babyish. I have focused my warm-ups on phoneme awareness, and I have tried to let my students know we are at the next level. Some of the material may look the same, (letters/sound-symbol relationships) but we are on a new level, a level of deeper understanding and awareness. I have emphasized the word "awareness" in my instruction because I want them to begin to see what letter or letter combinations make up what sounds - and to really pay attention to how these interact, what patterns are being formed, and to be aware that more than on letter can make up the same sound. By approaching it as the next level, as linguistics, and as review of the old and a development of awareness, they have been interested and attentive. I even see some ah - ha moments. I have seen them use their "awareness" in spelling tests and in their writing, and I have already seen an improvement. Lea, you might be interested in a game I made up. We recently had early release day, I like football and football season, so I made up a Phoneme Fun game we could play during our 30 minute class period before early release. We all sat on the floor, I divided the room equally (7 each side) and we pretended to play football. They had easy questions (3 point field goals, and harder questions 7 point touchdowns). The teams got to choose their own team, and then choose their question level (were they going to score a touchdown or a field goal), and they had to correctly spell the answer to get the points. For example San Francisco (7 pointer) Broncos, or Bears (3 points). We kept score - they love the competition and it motivates them, and they were working with everyday words (as it relates to football - including words like National Football League and Conference) and they used and applied their "awareness". I would remind them to be careful - for instance in San Francisco what other letter makes an "s" sound. I was surprised that they had a hard time with Broncos and my autistic kiddo was the one who spelled it correctly for his team - he was proud! They all had fun doing it, and it brought their awareness to an experiential learning level - where they experienced what I mean when I say I want them to be aware. Brooke HanksI love your football activity—it is a great way to motivate older students! Thanks so much for sharing it with everyone!

Linda Ditto to Sara, Mat, Lea, Kathy I loved your game. I'm going to try using it on my 8th graders on a "fun" day.One of the things in the reading research has shown us the steps we learn how to read. When a child is starting to read he is literally building the neural circuitry that links sounds of spoken words to the letters that represent those sounds. They need the practice, practice, practice to accomplish that foundation. My students have a hard time with rhyming and hearing the last sounds in the word. One activity I have gone back to is see and say(they see the letter and say the sound while they write the letter with their finger on the desk).

Jennifer Ditto to all of the above. I liked that the book broke everything down into steps. 1. Develop an awareness of rhyme, 2. Working on words; i.e. segmenting, blending and other phonemic awareness tasks. My student struggle with these things at times. As far as engaging their interest I encourage my students to create rap songs; this helps them get a stronger sense of rhyme and they have to develop a greater vocabulary to convey their thoughts.

raina Ditto to Sara, Mat, Lea, Kathy and Jennifer. I think that it is very important to teach Sped kids how to decode. As a teacher I think it is very important to go back to the basics but, it is very challenging to figure out a way to make things interesting and relevant to middle school students. I had no idea that rhymes were so important to learning reading skills, that was something that I had never thought about.

GregI found the comparisons between spoken and written language very interesting. After reading Chapter 15 about breaking the code and seeing how written words come apart into certain sounds and how the sounds relate to letters of the written alphabet, I can see how written code will develop. I was also surprised at how words that rhyme play such an important role in the development of reading skills. Until this time I incorrectly assumed that rhyming was just a “fun with words “type of reading and writing. After reading Dr. Seuss books to my children several hundred times when they were younger, I wish I had had this type of information earlier. I could have used the questions on page 181 to develop a question and answer time rather than just reading stories to put kids to sleep at bedtime. Also Ditto to Sara about daily practice. Progress among the kids I work with is progressing very slowly. I now realize that comprehension of the written sounds and spoken sounds is much more important than the number of pages read or how many chapters we have gotten through. The “importance of the right fit” hit home with me. Instruction must be fitted to the child. I will use these questions and assessments pinpointed on pages 193-194 to see how my kids are doing and make any appropriate
changes to my approach to teaching reading skills. Kathy, nice game. Most of the kids I work with are teenage boys, who love sports, so this type of game is right up their alley. I believe most of the kids have missed this type of instruction earlier in their life. I will have to go back to basics, use a checklist to determine if the kids are heading in the right directions related to phonologic skills, and slow the pace and expections down to the nneds of the readers instead of attempting to adhere to a rigid schedule of my own.

CindyI feel the same way Greg does, something was missing in early instruction and you hate to say this when you may know the teachers from elementary. But, it is no wonder students are poor readers, slow readers, and poor spellers if they don't have the basic sounds and graphemes of English. The phonemes and graphemes are the building blocks, the bricks and their importance is foremost in early reading and writing, especially when dyslexics see the just the wall. For reading, I had great success with middle schoolers and games, in particular the onset rime. I scrambled a content word (temperature) and had them write as many words as they could from it. Some kids were better at it and no one unscrambled it in our limited time. However, I used the onset rime to make tons of words and they marveled at my numbers. When I told them the "trick" of replacing first letters with the other available letters, they caught on fast. Even though this spelling activity is simple, I thought it helped them with the basic combinations of graphemes. In terms of spelling, I have been trying to resist spelling words for students. Instead, I have been sounding it out, phoneme by phoneme or morphemes. Sometimes they still spell it incorrectly, but it is either correct or closer than what they would have gotten. I can tell when the student is "missing pieces" because sometimes these verbal cues from me produce confused looks, but I still feel it helps them recognize some "bricks".

Patrick Ditto to the above thoughts, ideas and suggestions. I also like Lea's football idea. Clearly, while early instruction in "breaking the code" of reading is important, perhaps even just as important is the necessity for ongoing multiple assessments to determine without delay if intervention is needed. Early intervention can alleviate many future problems while at the same time the assessments themselves are helpful in directing the teacher's strategy and goals for improving the student's ability to read Schools and teachers can help with early reading skills, as many do, by promoting reading on a schoolwide basis, motivating students to read, involving parents and utilizing multiple reading assessments throughout the school year. I enjoyed reading the activities mentioned above and personally have found a powerful tool for intriguing and motivating my older students to be poetry. Not only does it increase their phonemic awareness, but it also inspires their creativity, imagination and analyzation skills..Brooke Hanks Right On! The next course EDUC 401 will cover exactly the topic of assessment that you have raised!

Jenelle — DITTO to all the above comments; everyone seemed to hit at least one important aspect of the problem/solution! I teach at an RTC (Residential Treatment Facility). My classroom is made up of boys who are Sped, age 13 to 18+ that are also are all sex offenders some of which are also considered conduct disorders (drugs, gangs, severe violence). All of my boys have some issue when it comes to reading, therefore, I try to always stick to the basics; segmenting, rhyming, blending, while teaching all subjects. We might stop in the middle of our science lesson with some of our vocabulary words and try to find words that rhyme or use deletion/addition of letters to our words.
I find it really hard to draw the boys interest. Most of the time the would prefer to work on the computer (which is good if the phonics/reading game is working), but my kiddos have been locked up for some time and have very little connection to the outside world. Because of their background, I can’t even bring in the newspaper, because of some of the ads in it. Furthermore, because of the behavioral issues at night, (fights, property damage, self-harm to name a few!) many of my students cannot/do not get the additional help they need to complete reading assignments and or any type of homework.

PennyDitto to so much of what has been said. Sara began with great simple list or explaination of what skills evey child must have to break the code. A key ingredient is the praticing and praticing. I have a neighbor who has asked on more than one occasion as to why so many of her first graders papers look the same or why they go over things so many times. I'm sure lots of parents out there feel the same way and didn't understand the need to repeat some of these skills as often as they need repeated.
I loved the why Kathy uses the word awareness in the clas with her students. I think that laone makes them feel they are special and doing something special rather than the old "lets study" or Lets review"
Reading and Spelling have changed so much over the past 10 years at times I sit and reflect back on how much I have missed in trying to help a studnet do to the lack of info that was available to teachers at the time. I was one of those we did the best we could. Although I look back at my parents who are children of poor coal miners and they both are great readers. I guess them to be the lucky ones who learned from memorization.
I look forward to trying Lindas "See and Say" game with my kids. It really frustrates me in when you ask what sound the letter a says they all respond withthe word apple not /a/ . I'm not sure which direction to go with this. i feel as though I'm still teaching the basics with my kids and I only have two that have even started to break the code. I have not used muching rhyming so far this year and now I see that I could and will do much more of that. I have always thought that my mentor who teachers SLIC at the HS level was just exposing the to different types of writing. I guess we now know why she is the mentor.
Everyday in calendar we say the alphabet starting Mon we will say the alphabet the again with the phonemes.

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