Saturday, June 30, 2012

Following Directions With Origami {Review}

The free ‘How to Make Origami app is a fun, simple tool to utilize with students who are bored with worksheets. This app will walk you and your students through the steps of how to make over 70 popular origami figures (crane, rabbit, giraffe, goldfish, tulip, etc) while using 3D animation of the folding process. Steps range from a simple 6 step walk-through on how to make a boat all the way up to the 78 step ‘how-to’ on creating a spider!   Users can easily go forward/backward through the steps as well as replay the animation. Each figure is rated for difficulty from easy to middle to hard. Directions for images rated easy and middle are provided for each step. For the images rated hard, no written directives are provided.

This can be turned into a great pragmatic language lesson wherein a student can take the lead and instruct others on the next step, engaging in a back and forth dialogue. Students have the opportunity to ask for clarification, repetition, or assistance; necessary social skills a lot of my students do not possess. Additional IEP goals related to following directions, auditory memory, sequencing, sentence formulation, can also be targeted.

For additional reinforcement related to the skills targeted, graphic organizer can be used to recall and organize steps used to create the origami image. Further working on receptive and expressive language.

Below are a few screen shots of one my favorite figures from this app.... a pig! 

Each image is presented on the screen prior to steps being introduced.
 Each step is animated and accompanied with written directives at the bottom of the screen (for easy and middle images only).

 All steps can easily be replayed. Users can go forward or back through steps.

 App Compatibility:

The ‘How to make Origami’ App is available on all Apple products (iPhone and iPad) as well as all Android products (phone and tablet). I have the app on both my Android phone and iPad.  In the therapy room setting I prefer using the iPad where it’s large screen is a perfect size for my small group sessions.

Have fun folding!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

One Person's Trash Are My Treasures

A thoughtful friend who works for Penguin Books was cleaning out her book room last week and thought of me! She sent over an assortment of beautifully illustrated picture books. 

As you all probably know by now, I work with middle schoolers. They would undoubtedly not appreciate Ms. Sohan presenting them with “baby” books to read. How could I not have these books go to waste and incorporate them into therapy?

The solution? Cover up the words. Now I don't know about your students, but mine secretly enjoy books that contain pictures (the more the better) as it provides them a reprieve from reading, which many of them dread!

The words can be concealed with pieces of paper, index cards, post-its, etc. The now wordless picture book can be utilized with students who have difficulty with sequencing, story grammar, vocabulary, perspective taking, details/descriptions, cause/effect etc. The pictures will provide students with visual support to aid in the development of their literacy skills. Note, this can be easily viewed as juvenile to some middle schoolers, tread carefully and be creative! For more of a challenge, this can even be turned into a writing activity, where students create sentence for each image as to generate their own narrative.

Those of you who are more tech-savvy can utilize any voice recording program on your device to capture your students narrative (phone, iPad, etc). The narratives can then be replayed between utterances/pages and judged for its syntactical, semantic, and/or sequential appropriateness. Incorporating such technology will definitely serve to motivate even the most disinterested student.

Happy "reading!"

Monday, June 18, 2012

Online Stopwatch

The academic year is winding down, and I’ve begun to take a retrospective look at my performance during this school year as an SLP. Was I effective in my therapeutic execution? Did I utilize my time wisely? Did I manage the behaviors of my students efficiently? Although the first two questions are very important, I couldn’t help but focus on the third. This was my first year working in a school with a reputation for having a “difficult to manage” student body. Since I service students in groups of 5, the staff felt that there would be no difficulties with behavior management.  Maybe it was wishful thinking on their part, but boy, were they wrong!

Many students have time management difficulties that often affect others in the group.  As our whole group has to wait for “Richard” to complete his independent work prior to us moving on. This resource is a website that offers various online stopwatches available for use on your PC or smartphone. Instead of having the constant time-keeping responsibility, this site allows for the responsibility to be shared. Typically, I vocalize the amount of time that will be set, turn the monitor (or phone) to the students and begin the timer. 

Once the time on the stopwatch has elapsed, it will make a sound that will alert everyone that time is up. It is worth nothing that some of my easily distracted students spend their activity time watching the stopwatch count down rather than attending to their task. I recommend looking over at your group occasionally to ensure that students aren’t zoning out on the image.
Users are not limited in the type of visual they can utilize, the site offers an assortment of options, ranging from an egg timer, a bomb, a candle, runners, and even swimmers!

Site Compatibility:

I personally have an Android operating system on my phone and find that the site works well. This site however, would not be beneficial for iPad users, as the iPad does not have the Adobe Flash compatibility.

Well, that’s it for now. Let’s hope this week is quick and painless, as Friday is our last day of this school year!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Student Learning Objectives (SLO) Demystified

Despite being the end of the school year my districts administration is already gearing up for the start of the 2012-2013 academic year. These past two days have been devoted to introducing and discussing Student Learning Objectives (SLO) . This big change is planned to take place at the beginning of the next school year. Therefore it has created a great deal of discussion among the district, especially within the SLP department, as such I felt like it was an important topic to discuss with you guys. The state of NY is still hammering out the details therefore the role of SLP’s in the use of SLO’s is still up in the air (along with other support staff i.e. guidance, counseling, OT & PT). The following post is meant to dispense the knowledge I have gained these days as well as spark some discussion/debate.

As it was explained by the district, SLO’s are meant to account for 20% of the newly revised APPR.
Basically, SLO’s are academic goals for a teacher’s students representing the most important learning for the semester or course. Components of an SLO include:

  • Baseline performance data for each student
  • Benchmarks to assess progress
  • Growth goal targets.

SLOs are meant to be aligned to New York State’s Common Core, national or state standards. Teachers’ effectiveness scores for this component of their evaluation  (20%) will be based upon the degree to which their goals are attained.

This shift toward SLO’s is a part of the new teacher rating outlined by the new APPR which is based on a 100 point system: 60% of points are based on classroom observation, 20% based on local assessments (that our district will provide as to establish a baseline for formulating SLO’s for the present school year) and 20% based on student growth (measured in the form of teacher tests, portfolios, student work etc.). When combined these percentages will result in the teacher receiving a HEDI rating (Highly Effective, Effective, Developing and Ineffective).  It should be noted that teachers in grades 4-8 ELA and math do not have to do SLO’s as these teachers have a state measure in place already. 

I do like that the evaluation system of the SLO is focused on student growth, not proficiency, and allows teachers to demonstrate student growth through various measures of student growth and achievement.

Fingers crossed that we in NY do not have to be held responsible for these student learning objectives, as we already have IEP's that outline our targets and serve to measure growth. I hope this post served to clarify any confusion or misunderstanding regarding SLO's! 

It is way past my bedtime, 7 more wake-ups!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Hello World!!

Hi, this is Ms. Sohan sending out a warm hello to those interested in finding creative and motivational ways to engage their middle schoolers. Check back for ideas and resources on how to strengthen and reinforce your child's learning.

For now, I will be posting a few times per week. My posts will range from a quick post sharing an interesting link to a lengthy discussion on Common Core Standards. I hope this blog can be of help to teachers, SLP's and parents.  

In an effort to add a tad bit of structure to this blog, I have decided to establish a "Resource of The Week".  Once a week I will be posting a link to  a "Ms. Sohan Approved" resource that I hope all of you will find helpful.

I'll sign off by leaving you with a link to reading comprehension strategies. Thanks for stopping by and stay tuned!

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