Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Students that Can't or Won't Participate?

Students that Can't or Won't Participate (engage) in School? How to Work with Students Who Have a Hard Time Engaging in School! Teachers may not be able reach and engage all students, and this is not the teachers fault. Many teachers have years where all their best tricks won't budge some students. What do you do? 

My Top Ten List to Engage ALL Students! 

  1. Cooperative Learning Groups
  2. Brain Breaks
  3. Token Economy 
  4. Model, Model, and Model desired Academic Behaviors!!! 
  5. 75% 25% Rule      Academic 75%/Enrichment 25%
  6. Beg, Beg and Beg Students to Ask Questions and Engage with the Learning!!! "My Special education teacher told me, "stupid people don't ask questions and dumb people don't ask for help"
  7. Get everyone involved with the goal of engaging the student! Calls home, parent conference, letters home, and positive administrative contact. This is virtually impossible in many schools.
  8. More Bribes! Teachers helper, Class Runner, Snack Helper, Safety Patrol, Free Time, and Yes CANDY!
  9. Close the Learning Gap! Students shut down very fast when they are socially promoted and have a 2-7 year instructional deficit!
  10. Get Tough! 

The Amazing Bill Cosby has the Solution!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Science, Technology, Engineering and Math: Resources

STEM Teacher Resources | S.T.E.M Teacher Lesson Plans | Science, Technology, Engineering and Math: Teacher Resources 

STEM Curriculum is the academic disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and Mathematics. The push for more STEM curriculum is addressing education policy and curriculum choices in schools from k-12 through college to improve competitiveness in technology development in a global environment that the US finds they are behind in. It has implications for workforce development, national security concerns and immigration policy! STEM is the future of public education and teachers need to develop project based and problem based lessons that incorporate STEM disciplines. 

A powerful message from 16 year old Jack Andrake that demonstrates the power of STEM!

Top 25 plus STEM Science Websites for Kids and Teachers

Free Science and STEM lessons and Booklets
Helping Your Child Learn Science
Carbon Cycle Booklet
The Water Cycler Booklet
Global Warming
Investigating The Climate System
Mars Activity Book

Fast Fun Mini SMARTBoard Science Lessons and Activities for Science Brain Breaks! The Smart Board Science Activities are not the deepest activities for learning science but they are FUN!

Discovery Kids :: Games - WhizzBall! a Rube Goldberg game that lets you make your own machine and test it out.

The Solar System Students position the planets in correct order after the solar system has been desolarized

Gravity Launch A fun math geometry based lunar lander type game.

Your Weight on Other Worlds Exploratorium Ever wonder what you might weigh on Mars or The Moon? Here's your chance to find out.

CBBC Kids Science Great Science Smart Board Ideas and fun interactive science lessons for the primary and intermediate grades.

Mutt Maker: Animal Planet a fun and silly simulation combining dogs of different breeds.

Nova Science NOW A collection of great free science videos for your classroom lessons.
Bill Nye The Science Guy Home and School Science Demos! Many easy activities to try with simple household objects and materials.

Water Education for Teachers Project Wet "Discover water.org: The Role of Water in Our Lives" is a new interactive, online learning tool that enables Project WET to bring its lessons to an even broader audience of schools and students in a format today's high-tech students will find engaging.

Traditional Science Websites for Academic Content!

Science Glossary All Grade levels 4th Grade Harcourt Brace: The online glossary is a mini science encyclopedia with pictures and audio pronunciations of each term.
BBC Bite Size Science Clips Ages 5-102 Great Science Smart Board Ideas and fun interactive science lessons for the primary and intermediate grades.
Magic School Bus Scholastic: The Magic Schools Bus is a great way to introduces science to the youngest students in a fun interactive way. The website has science games, quizzes, printable lesson, and stories.
Free Federal Resources for Educational Excellence more than 1600 federal teaching and learning resources organized by subject: art, history, language arts, math, science, and others -- from FREE, the website
SciShow Where the science goes. The official Google | YouTube science education channel.
Science Buddies is a free science fair website and productivity tools and mentoring to support K-12 students in science and engineering research projects, especially for science fairs.
How Stuff Works The Discovery channels science portal. The website has science dictionaries, videos, articles, games and many hundreds of activities for teachers, students, and parents.
Green Revolution features 10 fast-paced videos on alternative energy -- wind, solar, hydrogen, biomass, green roofs, smart grid, microbes, electric vehicles, and the CityCar project. (National Science Foundation)
Art Zone invites children of all ages to design a virtual mobile; create a collage, painting, or a geometric sculpture online; design and texturize 3-dimensional shapes (and see how artists create these effects without a computer); create a "pixel face"; and orchestrate an array of colorful shapes and patterns online. (National Gallery of Art
Tree of Life offers photos, descriptions, and other information documenting the diversity of the world's organisms. Learn about animals, arthropoda, eukaryotes, flowering plants, fungi, and terrestrial vertebrates. Explore genetic relationships among organisms. (Tree of Life Project, National Science Foundation)
NASA Education Rocketry is a website devoted to learning about rockets. There's a beginner's guide to rockets, a pictorial history of rockets, an index of rocket topics (including math and science fundamentals), and more. It offers interactive features, including one on "building a rocket." (National Aeronautics and Space Administration)
USGS Videos and Animations offers animations and videos for teaching earth science. Topics include earthquakes, earth's magnetic field, landslides, plate tectonics, tsunamis, urban growth and land use, volcanoes, water, wind and hurricanes, energy sources, earth's crust, glacier changes, coral reefs, wetland loss, sea floor, hydrocarbons, rock-water interactions, Antarctic fly-over, plate tectonics, polar bears, salmon, ducks, grizzly bears, whooping cranes, alligators, bats, how scientists "do science," and more. (U.S. Geological Survey)
Teachers' Domain is a free digital media service for educational use from public broadcasting and its partners. You’ll find thousands of media resources, support materials, and tools for classroom lessons, individualized learning programs, and teacher professional learning communities.
Bioed Online features lessons on the water cycle and global warming, the X chromosome, sleep and daily rhythms, muscles and bones, and food and fitness. Experts offer presentations (streaming videos) on classification, cloning, viruses, infectious diseases, animal behavior, Mendelian genetics, genomes, sleep and performance, body systems, childhood obesity, asthma, ecosystems, populations, nutrition and energy, and more. Articles discuss biology news -- stem cells, bird flu, and more. (Baylor College of Medicine, Multiple Agencies)
Science Education includes booklets on cells, genes, health, chemistry, and medicines. The booklets explore advances in the development and delivery of drugs, links between genes and diseases, how genes work, the body's reaction to medicines, and the hundreds of thousands of molecules that perform specialized functions inside the fundamental unit of life (the cell). One booklet, "The Structures of Life," features stories designed to inspire young people to consider careers in biomedical research. (National Institute of General Medical Sciences, National Institutes of Health)
Microscope Imaging Station Gallery shows what blood is, what happens when the immune system goes awry, what are stem cells are, and more. See videos exploring cell structure and function, cell development and motility, plankton, plants, and protozoa. Learn how the sea urchin helps us understand genes, reproduction, and cancer. (Exploratorium, Multiple Agencies)
Life Sciences at Science360 features 120+ videos on bats, bed bugs, bird wings, butterflies, brain mapping, evolution, football science, genetics, gorillas, jellyfish, mitochondria, orangutans, red-eyed tree frogs, scorpions, water beetles, and more. (National Science Foundation)
Biology Classroom Resources provides lessons and resources from the National Science Digital Library. Learn about cells, slugs, whales and dolphins, lions and tigers, turtles, biotechnology, biodiversity, genomics, paleontology, and Tyrannosaurus rex. Find online references, fast growing plants, images of animals, and interactive games on evolution and the animal kingdom. (National Science Foundation)
Engineering Is Elementary provides lessons and overviews on acoustical engineering, agricultural engineering (insects), civil engineering (balance and forces), environmental engineering (water), industrial engineering (simple machines), materials engineering (earth materials), mechanical engineering (air and weather). (Museum of Science, National Science Foundation)
Smithsonian National Zoological Park provides fact sheets and photos for many of the 2,400 mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians, fish, and invertebrates at the National Zoo and the Zoo's Conservation and Research Center. Learn about cheetahs, flamingos, hummingbirds, elephants, gorillas, pandas, snakes, butterflies, and many more animals, including the nearly one-fifth of the 400 species at the Zoo that are endangered or threatened. (National Zoo, Smithsonian Institution)
Map Collections: 1544-1996 offers thousands of digitized online maps. The collections are broken into seven categories, cities and towns, conservation and environment, discovery and exploration, immigration and settlement, military battles and campaigns, transportation and communication, and general maps. (Library of Congress)
Nationalatlas.gov is a primary source of U.S. maps and geographic information. Zoom in on your state and make your own map by selecting features to display: cities and counties, roads and rivers, population and 109th congressional districts, crops and livestock, amphibians and butterflies, air and water quality, earthquakes and land cover, forest types, and more. Print a U.S. map (with or without names of states and capitals). Find an aerial photo of your neighborhood. (Department of the Interior)
National Science Digital Library provides access to resources in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education and research. From video clips teaching cell division to simulations demonstrating plate tectonics, NSDL showcases Pathways through the collection that consist of content or audience specific resources provided by NSDL partners. These materials are supported with digital tools and services such as interactive science literacy maps. (National Science Foundation)
Investigating the Climate System: Weather helps students learn how to find, interpret, and describe weather data. Students learn also about drought, flooding, wind and dust storms, hurricanes, and lightning, as well as the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite -- the information it provides and why that information is important. (National Aeronautics and Space Administration)
Investigating the Climate System: Energy offers problem-based lessons that focus on questions: Does ground surface influence temperature? How important is water evaporation to the cooling of a surface? If my town grows, will it affect the area's temperature? Why are summer temperatures in the desert southwest so much higher than at the same latitude in the southeast? (National Aeronautics and Space Administration)
Motions and Forces provides video clips and interactive resources for learning about electricity and magnetism, forces between objects, gravity, objects in motion, tension and compression, and velocity and acceleration. Find lessons on electric circuits, Galileo, gravity and falling objects, kinetic and potential energy, making waves with the electromagnetic spectrum, and shapes that make structures strong. (Teachers' Domain, Multiple Agencies)
ABC's of Nuclear Science introduces the object that contains almost all of the mass in the universe, the atomic nucleus. Antimatter, beta rays, fission and fusion, the structure of the atomic nucleus, how elements on the earth were produced, how we use the nucleus in every day life, and the effects of radiation in the environment are among the topics. The site includes nearly a dozen experiments that can be done in chemistry and physics classes, along with "A Teacher's Guide to the Nuclear Science Wall Chart." (Department of Energy)

NEA Top Ten! 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Teaching Students with Down Syndrome

Teaching Students with Down Syndrome to Read and Write

Exceptional and quality special education that includes life skills and personal care education will vastly improve the quality of life and success of children with Down syndrome. Students in the U.S, with Down Syndrome are often under educated in a typical public school environment without more specialized education that must be continued at home during with vast time practicing skills learned at school. 

How do you teach students with Down Syndrome to read and write?

Are children with Down Syndrome or severe learning disabilities really able to learn how to read?

The simple answer is yes, when the child, parents, and school all seek to make the goal of reading a priority. My personal teaching experience in a self contained cross category classes taught me all students can read. The reason my first principal hired me was in-part, my difficulties learning to read in the primary grades due to severe dyslexia and dysgraphia. My road to literacy was hideously tedious to say the least. Endless hours running single word flashcards through a tape recorder with no chance or choice of reading quality literature. When I did get a book in my hands it was a baby book with no real literary value.
     After fourteen years of teaching all kinds of learning abilities plus a Masters in Special Education, I am still learning from my students better ways to teach reading. The methods that I use are all placed in Reading Boot Camp (a literacy philosophy developed by a dyslexic teacher) they were developed to help the most sever learning disabled students learn to read. The method and philosophy is an all inclusive fun intervention that shows that most LD students can gain two years ability in reading in twenty days. Please read more about Reading Boot Camp,

My Story,
Written and spoken English (Morpheme-based grapheme to phoneme) was a bunch of cuneiform squiggles that swam around on the page. My disconnect was the morpheme grapheme to phoneme conversion. I was unable to make a bridge between the auditory and visual patters, rules of reading phonetically. Most of my teachers including special education teachers had no clue what I was experiencing. The schools solution for my dyslexia was modification, accommodation and very infective remediation, that left me illiterate and always two or three years behind my peers.

My special education teacher used a Bell and Howell tape machine that read flash cards to teach me how to sight read, most of my early memories are sitting with that infernal machine running cards through over and over. My grandmother bought me a record player with read along stories like Jungle Book and Journey to the Center of the Earth. This was superior to the flash cards. I would were-out needles and records listening so hard to make sense of the hieroglyphs on the page that I knew made up great stories.

At home I could read high adventure with the help of my record player, at school I was reading books that I believed and thought were for the stupid kids!

For parents and teachers of exceptional learners I would suggest a listening lab with books on tape also lots of music with lyrics in any form. Please stop buying into hyped programs and get help from a education professional not a salesman before you use or buy software programs. Most of the programs that I tried failed and many seem recycled ideas that are just a modern Bell and Howell tape machine devised to develop rote phonics learning.
     Students must learn and practice tracking text with their finger with all reading activities even if they cannot sight read or decode at the beginning! They need to read along out-loud as much as possible with a partner. The repetition of the songs and the books on tape will eventually make a bridge. And always the reading material has to be high interest. I was bored to death page flipping my easy read books and using my tape machine.


107 words make up over 50% of the words you read!
1000 words make up 75-80% of the words you read!
5,000 words make up 85-90% of the words you read!
Start by assessing reading levels!

Children that qualify for remedial reading programs have a 500-1000 or even a 2000 word deficit. Children need a crash coarse in phonics, sight word recognition, and fluency/automaticity all while developing strong vocabulary knowledge. Many programs will refocus on phonics and slowly move into sight words then finally reading comprehension. Reading Boot Camp is a crash coarse for struggling readers that hits all 5 domains of reading.

1. Vocabulary: The four types of vocabulary.
auditory, spoken, reading, writing

2. Phonemic Awareness: is a subset of phonological awareness in which listeners are able to hear, identify and manipulate phonemes, the smallest units of sound that can differentiate meaning. Separating the spoken word "cat" into three distinct phonemes, /k/, /æ/, and /t/, requires phonemic awareness.

3. Phonics : refers to a method for teaching speakers of English to read and write that language. Phonics involves teaching how to connect the sounds of spoken English with letters or groups of letters (e.g., that the sound /k/ can be represented by c, k, ck, ch, or q spellings) and teaching them to blend the sounds of letters together to produce approximate pronunciations of unknown words.

4. Fluency: is the ability to read text accurately and quickly. Fluency bridges word decoding and comprehension. Comprehension is understanding what has been read. Fluency is a set of skills that allows readers to rapidly decode text while maintaining a high level of comprehension (National Reading Panel, 2001).

5. Reading Comprehension: is defined as the level of understanding of a writing

General Education Students can easily learn to read about 800-1000 words per year! Mentally retarded students can learn 300-500 per year.


Dolch Sight Words
Sight words are English words that cannot be sounded out using phonics.

PRESCHOOL: a, and, away, big, blue, can, come, down, find, for, funny, go, help, here, I, in, is, it, jump, little, look, make, me, my, not, one, play, red, run, said, see, the, three, to, two, up, we, where, yellow, you

KINDERGARTEN: all, am, are, at, ate, be, black, brown, but, came, did, do, eat, four, get, good, have, he, into, like, must, new, no, now, on, our, out, please, pretty, ran, ride, saw, say, she, so, soon, that, there, they, this, too, under, want, was, well, went, what, white, who, will, with, yes

1st Grade: after, again, an, any, as, ask, by, could, every, fly, from, give, giving, had, has, her, him, his, how, just, know, let, live, may, of, old, once, open, over, put, round, some, stop, take, thank, them, then, think, walk, were, when

2nd Grade: always, around, because, been, before, best, both, buy, call, cold, does, don't, fast, first, five, found, gave, goes, green, its, made, many, off, or, pull, read, right, sing, sit, sleep, tell, their, these, those, upon, us, use, very, wash, which, why, wish, work, would, write, your

3rd Grade: about, better, bring, carry, clean, cut, done, draw, drink, eight, fall, far, full, got, grow, hold, hot, hurt, if, keep, kind, laugh, light, long, much, myself, never, only, own, pick, seven, shall, show, six, small, start, ten, today, together, try, warm

Nouns: apple, baby, back, ball, bear, bed, bell, bird, birthday, boat, box, boy, bread, brother, cake, car, cat, chair, chicken, children, Christmas, coat, corn, cow, day, dog, doll, door, duck, egg, eye, farm, farmer, father, feet, fire, fish, floor, flower, game, garden, girl, good-bye, grass, ground, hand, head, hill, home, horse, house, kitty, leg, letter, man, men, milk, money, morning, mother, name, nest, night, paper, party, picture, pig, rabbit, rain, ring, robin, Santa Claus, school, seed, sheep, shoe, sister, snow, song, squirrel, stick, street, sun, table, thing, time, top, toy, tree, watch, water, way, wind, window, wood

Dr Suess taught countless generations to read using whimsical rhymes, fanciful tales, and kid friendly absurdity. With no more than 300 words we learned phonemic awareness, fluency, sight words and how to read and love books. Today we kill any desire to read and learn as we parse reading into so many boring bits.

Please share your stories or questions about teaching reading!