Pod Cast for Preschoolers…

There is a lot to think about when trying to create something simple enough for a 3 year old to wrap their growing minds around.  Luckily, there are a great many ideas to tap into and tweak right here on the internet.  My favorite sources have got to be You Tube and Google Images.

This idea started with COW, CHICKEN and SHEEP.  With preschool talking points in mind, I created the following images:

Image Cow

Featured in this image is a Holstein cow standing in a field of grass. In front of her is a stack of hay. Above her are 2 more photos, one of a glass and pitcher of milk, the other of a big red barn.

Image Chicken

This image is composed with a chicken walking towards a nest with three eggs on a cropped field of grass. The chicken is saying, “BUCK”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image Sheep

This photo shows a sheep standing in a field of grass. Near the sheep is the same haystack that appears with our cow. Above the sheep is a lovely wool sweater and a pair of wool socks. The sheep is saying “BAAAA”.

Next I went to You Tube to find a quick tune that would serve my purposes. The search was quick, and turned up the perfect song written and performed by A. J. Jenkins in 2010.  The following picture is a link to the original song.

Image Animal Song YT

This image shows a highly stylized drawing of a cow, with “moo moo moo moo” written in the blue space beside her.

I simplified it, found the chords with my guitar, then created a recording which included actual animal sounds I found on the website called:

FindSounds, Search the Web for Sounds

My composition is intended for a group of preschoolers with a teacher who can model actions, sounds,  singing along and responding to the narrator as needed.  Enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UZbb9xfWEC8 

 

 

 

 

Web Design for Preschoolers….

This is the week! The week that starts with me wondering how I can use (mostly) free technology to create a learning tool for the preschoolers I will be working with this summer and through the next year.

Technology for preschoolers?
How can that be useful?

The truth is, I don’t know. But what I do know is… just about all of them are attracted to it (cell phones, games, screens filled with movement and color, sounds, etc). And, aren’t we all interested in pictures of ourselves, and people we know? I believe there is potential here that is waiting to be tapped.

I want to find ways to engage the most challenging students, the ones that have not discovered the value interacting with other humans, who may not have grasped the power of language. I’m chasing ideas for activities that will help these kids put names with faces, colors, shapes, letters, emotions. I want them to scan the screen, whether it is an iPad, or a smart board. I want them to want to interact with the screen, touch it to make things happen. Most of all, I want them to experience success!

That doesn’t sound too difficult, does it? HA!
I’ll keep you posted!

Butterfly Life Cycle Learning Unit for 2nd Grade

This science unit was designed to augment the existing butterfly unit utilized by the Second Grade in Tyngsborough Elementary School. It is Universally Designed Learning (UDL) which means that the learning activities are accessible for a variety of learning styles.

If the links are working, the main, BIG IDEA powerpoint will connect with all the others, please start there. If the links aren’t working, just find and click through power points.

Many contain printable materials as well as activity ideas.

Thank you for taking the time to look through this work,
please let me know what you think!

Baby Butterfly Why are there no baby butterflies?

Thank you,

Anna Szok

Butterfly Life Cycle

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The Butterfly Life Cycle book features Monarch Butterflies.

Every spring, the second graders at our school study the life cycle of butterflies.  They watch caterpillars grow, change into  chrysalises, and become butterflies.  To enhance this unit, I created an electronic book that presents the scientific information in pictures, written and spoken words, and a few Youtube videos.

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At the end of the unit, students release the butterflies.

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Click on picture to see the book!

Touch Math… easy as

 

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The Touch Math program has been helping Early Childhood Students make the connection between numbers and the numerals that represent them since 1975.  It does this by utilizing a multi sensory system of touch points (as seen in the picture on the left).  

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Small numbers contain touch points that are tapped one time, larger numbers utilize points that are touched twice (as shown in the picture to the right).  Students learn these touch points first to count.  Then they learn to use these points to add, subtract, multiply, divide, solve story problems, tell time, deal with money and even fractions.

 

 

 

 Click on the picture below to see 3 videos, each less than 2 minutes, which were taken right of the Touch Math Website.  They give a brief explanation of what Touch Math is, and how it works.          

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This program is myredschoolhouse approved because it can be used by general and special education students.  It seeks to provide a solid foundation in number sense that is essential for all other number operations.  I have been working with a student who may never be able to memorize her math facts, but she can memorize the touch points which has made her less dependent on her hundreds chart in classwork, and on tests.

For more information on this program, visit the website:

https://www.touchmath.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=about.whatIs

 

 

Thinking about Social Thinking…

………………………………………………………………………….……….What is Social Thinking??

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What is going on in this picture?

A social faux pas.  

To understand the humor in this photograph, we must first understand a series of complex social concepts…  When talking about people, which topics are OK to talk about, and which are more sensitive?  What does it mean to hurt someone’s feelings?  and even, What do other people think and why? 

Many of us understand these things without ever being explicitly taught.  Others of us have no clue as to what other people are thinking or feeling… or why.

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Most children pick up on human social subtleties and patterns as they grow and interact with their environment.  But there are those whose brains are not wired to grasp such abstract concepts.   In school, these students may have a disability, like autism, that blinds them to the connection between behavior and thinking.  These kids may have trouble making friends, or interacting in a group.  A weakness in this area can look like a behavior issue and become a distraction for the student as well as his or her peers.  

Can lack of social skills interfere with academic learning? Absolutely!

These issues were percolating in the brain of Michelle Garcia Winner who began to develop a program back in the 1990s to explicitly teach students to be more aware of their own behavior and thinking as well as the behavior and thinking of others. 

She designed the Social Thinking program to:

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1. make the abstract concrete

2. provide a scaffold of language support

3. foster self-awareness and self-esteem

4. provide opportunities for programmed generalization and ongoing practice

And all this is taught in a sequential and progressive manner, and it is all research based!

 

………………………………………………………………………….………….Why it Works
The Social Thinking program fits into the Universal Design Guidelines because what it teaches is accessible to all learners.  It consistently uses vocabulary that is explicitly taught not only to the students who need it, but to everyone (including peers) who work with the student.

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What would you think if the teacher suddenly got up on the teacher’s desk and began talking, or dancing, or who knows what?  This is not expected behavior.  This may give you uncomfortable thoughts like ‘what else will this teacher do?’  ‘how worried should I be about this?’ and ‘how should I react?’.  

The italicized words are part of the social thinking lexicon.  After a live demonstration from a teacher or service provider, most children understand these concepts.  Once staff understands these terms, they can utilize them turning real social situations or behavioral challenges into teachable moments.  Consistency in language is a powerful tool in helping these children learn the value of expected behaviors. 

………………………………………………………………myredschoolhouse Approved

I have seen this program in action at the lower elementary school where I work.  The guidance counselors and speech pathologists directly teach it to the students who need it most.  They also practice the concepts with the students, and motivate them to be more aware.  Teachers and paraprofessionals in the school have also been trained to use the vocabulary of the program. They, in turn, pass these concepts along to the general population of students during morning meetings.  Everyone gets practice as the inevitable bumps and bruises of social interaction and behaviors that pervade each school day occur.  

While there are some elements that may not work for every learning community, (Ms. Winner uses the words “weird thoughts” instead of “uncomfortable thoughts” and she has a rubber chicken that she bops students with when they make mistakes)  utilizers of this program are able to pick and choose the elements that work for them without sacrificing efficacy.  

Here is a link to the website where there is plenty of information:

https://www.socialthinking.com/?view=featured

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Click on the picture to hear Marcia Garcia Winner speak about her program:

 

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Click on this picture to 

see a lesson in action.

Why I Love the Lively Letter Program

………………………………………………………………………….…………………..how it BEGAN

Lively Letter Sisters

Back in the 1990’s, Nancy Telain, a Speech Pathologist in Boston, MA drew began drawing pictures on letters to help her students remember what to do with their mouths in order to produce the letter sounds.  This multi-modal process began to prove itself useful not only for speech students, but for all students learning to decode and encode as well.  With input from her sister, Penny Castagonozzi, an entire program was developed.  It is now utilized all  over the nation by General and Special Education as well as RTI programs.

…………………………………………………………….……………….………………how It WORKS

Each letter picture comes with a story, accompanied by a movement that work together to cue the child to produce the correct phoneme for that letter.

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This letter t provides a visual cue as the picture is drawn in front of a tongue with a row of teeth, which reminds students that this letter makes a tongue tapping sound.  This concept is reinforced by the tapping shoes.  As it dances, the letter holds its arms out to either side, which the children can mimic as they recreate the little tapdancing story and movement as well as the shape of the letter  with their own bodies, repeating the sound, /t/, /t/, /t/.  The program comes with a CD full of songs for each letter which adds another mode of learning.

Toe Taping T

Here is a student showing the toe-tapping movement and arm position for T.

letter F sound with Lively Letters

This little boy bites his lip and blows like the friendly dragon whose lip caught fire.

……………………………………………………………………………………………..for EXAMPLE

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As the teacher holds this 8 x 10 inch picture up for her students to see, she reads the story from the back:

Q – Quacking Sound  “This is a duck that’s swimming along in the water.  Do you see that big circle?  That’s the duck’s head, and the little line coming out at the bottom is the duck’s little tail.  Do you know what ducks say?  That’s right! ‘QUACK’ Let’s try it again, but this time when we start to make that quacking sound, I’m going to put my hand up.  We’re going to saying it right away! Do you think you can stop quickly?  Here we go, ‘Qu-‘ STOP! (put hand up) That’s what this letter says, ‘kw’.  Use your hand like a duck beak while we just start to make the quacking sound, ‘kw’.  That’s the sound!”

Hand cue: Open and close your index finger and thumb in front of your mouth, imitating the action of a duck’s beach opening and closing.

………………………………………………………….…………it starts with PRESCHOOLERS

While it is not developmentally appropriate to expect preschoolers to learn to read, we do need them to begin to learn to hear the different sounds or phonemes that are used to build the spoken  language they use.  A set of capital Lively Letters was created just for this age group.  The music, movement, and visuals are right on the money for many pre-reading students.

…………………………………………………….…………………………onto KINDERGARTEN

Many districts introduce the lowercase alphabet to students at this age, as well as some consonant blends and sight words.  Lively Letters has this covered, too, with the lower case alphabet.

…………………………………………….………………………………mnemonics for READING

Sight Words You Can See use the picture and story cues to help students remember how to read words that do not follow common encoding and decoding words.  Example:

Who

who – “This word looks like it should say ‘whoa.’ (open syllable rule already taught) Do you see that owl? He’s awake all night in the forest, and when he hears a scary sound, he says, ‘Whoa! Whooooooo is that?’”

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Consonant and vowel digraphs and diphthongs are all covered by various versions of the Lively Letter program.  I find the vowel mnemonics particularly helpful with my second grade students.  If they just aren’t getting the correct sound, I act out the movement connected with the sound, and they correct themselves.  This program has provided a consistent language for all of us lower elementary teachers to use with our students.

………………………………………………………….…………and its all RESEARCH BASED

The Lively Letter Program has been piloted in several locations throughout the country including, Las Vegas, Nevada, York County, Maine, Pittsfield and Boston, Massachusetts.  It has been used to help students with reading difficulties, at risk children, and those that are learning the English Language.

Written results, as well as graphs can be found on this link:

http://www.readingwithtlc.com/Clinical-Studies-html.html 

Research supporting the various elements of the program are available through this link:

http://www.readingwithtlc.com/Supportive-Research.html

……………………………………………..…………….myredschoolhouse APPROVED

While no one program will work for every learner, I see this one working for many of my students.  It incorporates all student senses (except for taste) into the encoding and decoding processes which I know to be helpful for a classroom full of differing learning styles.  I like that it can be used as its own curriculum, or be a supplement to existing curriculum.  Most of all, it is FUN for the student and the teacher!

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………………………………………..…….………..………………………check out some VIDEOS

Explaining the Lively Letter Program:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6PiLe8t3tTw

Teaching with the Lively Letter Cards:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EZEbOvzYYYc&list=PL3CB70C105ED41D53&index=1

……………………………………………….…………………………REFERENCES for this post

The Lively Letters  and Sight Words You Can See Website:

Reading With TLC. Retrieved February 8th, 2014 from  

        http://www.readingwithtlc.com/lively-letters.html

Gately, S., (2011). South Shore Entrepreneur: Reading with TLC.  The Patriot    Ledger.  Retrieved  February 8th, 2014 from http://www.patriotledger.com/x1078554464/SOUTH-SHORE-ENTREPRENEUR-Reading-with-TLC.