Thursday, November 15, 2018

Impact Story

This year i focused on achievement challenge 5: 
Improve the achievement of students with additional needs in the learning areas of English/key competency using language symbols and texts

My inquiry question was:
Will increasing the Key Competency “Managing Self” improve student achievement in reading?

This year i continued my inquiry from the previous year but implemented the process I undertook with a new group of learners. Last year i had a group of high functioning boys with Autism, this year i had a group of new entrant students with a range of disabilities. Due to the nature of my classroom where some students spent a short period of time with me before transitioning out to a satellite class (at a mainstream school), my focus group of students changes each term which made my inquiry more challenging.

- All students increased their ability to remain seated.
- All students were able to engage in self selected reading (SSR) independently.
- All students learnt pre reading skills such as turning the page, pointing to the words and using visuals.
- Non-verbal students were able to attend to their AAC (augmentative and alternative communication).
- 2 students were able to recognise some high frequency words by the end of the year.
- All students were able to follow the classroom routine.
- 1 student in my focus group transitioned to a satellite successfully and moved up 1 reading level.
- Parents commented on how they were able to enjoy a reading book at home with their child.
Due to the nature of my students, much of this year was spent building a rapport and transitioning them into school routines. I wasn't able to do much formative assessment as they were not able to sit and attend to the assessment. Many of them were not sure how to point so i was unsure of how to test their current skills. However as the year went on I was able to find out how each student could be tested and that is how i gathered my data. I also gathered evidence by noting how long they were able to attend or sit for as well as follow classroom routines.

- Built strong relationships with both the students and their families by sending home a questionnaire.
- I used this information to make personalised books about their hobbies and interests.
- I implemented a sensory curriculum to engage them in learning tasks (a transitional programme from kindy to school).
- I put structure and routines in place so that the routine in class was predictable, this took out any anxiety about what was going to happen at school each day. All students were introduced to an individual timetable.
- Reading packs were set up: 1x book per week with individualised activities that went home each day.
This year went very differently to last year as my students last year already had foundation reading skills. This year i have had to teach them alphabet knowledge and for some students, how to use a book. While many of my students were not able to move up a reading level, their pre reading skills improved.
My wanderings about where to next is, how do we test those students who are nonverbal? How can we tell if they are reading in their head? How do we teach them to point in order to answer comprehension questions. This is one of the biggest challenges i have faced this year as the majority of my class are non-verbal or have restricted language.

As i write my end of year reflection, I feel proud of what my students have accomplished but also how i have grown as a teacher. I feel fortunate to have been a part of this journey for two years. I hope you have enjoyed being part of the ride and learnt something from my blog this year.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

What have i implemented this year?

Here is a short video summary of what i have implemented this year as part of my 2018 inquiry.
This year has been a huge learning curve for me. I have always had students who had come to me with foundation reading skills but this year i have had the opportunity to teach those skills to students who have not had much exposure to a structured class setting. While much of the year has been spent on teaching skills such as engagement, communication and increased work time, I have still seen huge shifts in my students reading. As i write my end of year reflections I am proud of all the students who have hit so many milestones, not only starting school but gaining skills in areas where they have not previously excelled.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Making words

This week a group of students in my class worked on making words. These students all have letter sound knowledge but are unable to recognise high frequency words.
I found these alphabet blocks in the library and I made up some word cards where they could practice making familiar words. This week we did CVC words from the "at" family.
This activity could also be done with Lego blocks or cubes.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Reading Sucess

One student in my focus group has done particularly well this year. At the beginning of the year he was unable to attend to a task for long periods of time. He is now able to sit and work for up to 20 minutes (previously he wasnt able to sit longer than 1 minute at a non-preferred activity).

Through predictable classroom routines, implementing a visual schedule, a work/reward system and regular sensory breaks we saw a huge increase of on task engagement.
While he has stayed on level 1 Magenta he has learnt many foundation pre reading skills which are the building blocks for learning how to read. Skills such as:

- pointing to the words
- reading aloud
- turning the page
- recognising high frequency words
- looking at the pictures for decoding words
- attempting to read words that look the same (eg look and like)

One of the biggest achievements for this student has been feedback from his family who are now able to enjoy reading a book together at home.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Where to next?

Where to next???
Term 4 is a short and very busy term. I will have a new student starting school and my class will have grown to 9 students which is the most i have had in a special education setting.
I will need to work on my classroom management to ensure that i am able to manage the amount of students in the class. I have decided to split my class into two groups during work time to see if i can spend more 1:1 time to work on individual literacy goals.
I also have 4 new students in the class, some have started taking reading packs home and the others will start this term.

Oliver: implement behavior programme outlined by the student who was working with Oliver last term. I also want to see how many letters of the alphabet he can recognise as I have tried testing multiple times but all my testing has come up with different results.

Benjamin: work on reading aloud, learning high frequency words and comprehension.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Progress update - Term 3

This term has been a hectic and busy one and unfortunately i have not been able to trial as many interventions as i initially planned. I have had a huge influx of new students who started during term 3 and each child takes a few weeks to settle. My programme has been disrupted and i haven't had the opportunity to develop behavior strategies to improve my students reading practice.
Here is a brief outline about what i was able to achieve this term in regards to changing my practice and what strategies i put in place to improve the key competency "managing self".

Oliver: This term Oliver has been unsettled due to his family going away for a few weeks of the term and having his routine out of place. In the classroom he is not able to attend and focus like he was during term 2. However a behavior therapy student has been working with Oliver 1:1 to find the cause of his behavior and to set up a behavior plan for the remainder of the year. We are continuing to follow the behavior plan we have put in place and it continues to work well for him. I am looking forward to trialing more interventions for him next term.

Conner: Conner progressed so well during term 1 and 2 that he has been moved to a satellite class in a mainstream school. He has transitioned well to his new class.

Benjamin: Benjamin has made the most progress this term. He is calm, happy, settled and compliant. He is started to vocalise as he is reading rather than just pointing to the words as an adult reads. This is huge progress to Benjamin being able to read by himself as he can already recognise many high frequency words.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Interest Based Learning

Interest Based Learning is a strategy that Special Education Teachers naturally become quite skilled at. When so many students are difficult to engage then you will use whatever you can to spark their interest.
I had a student last year that enjoyed writing about lawnmowers. On challenging days where i wasn't able to get him to do any writing, we would research his favourite lawnmower and write a story about it.
When i get a new student in my classroom, the first thing i do is send home a questionnaire asking about their special interests, hobbies, important people in their lives and places they like to go. I then use this information to create activities and resources to use to teach them new skills.
One of my students enjoys watching things fall. This can often be a barrier to his learning as he will continuously drop materials instead of using them in a activity (eg puzzle pieces).
As part of my inquiry i am using a Interest Based Learning approach to engage and motive my learners. In this video you will see a alphabet activity i made based on my students interest of things falling. I gave him a choice of 2 letters and when he chose the correct one he could put the letter down the tube which then splashed into water. This activity was a highly motivating activity for this student who was so keen to choose the correct letter that he was able to focus and engage for the whole session.