Tuesday, November 16, 2010

ESL tidbits

Homework Tips for Parents

By: Reading Rockets (2010)

Study the same things in different ways and places

Help your child learn about new words or content in a variety of ways. Talk about new vocabulary words several times over the course of the week, in different settings. This will help enrich your child's understanding of the word.

Mix up the study time

If your child prefers to do a little math, a little reading, a little word study and then back to math, that's okay! Mixing up the practice time may leave a greater impression on your learner.

Space out the learning

If your child has a big test coming up next week, help her study a little bit each day rather than cramming it in the night before. An hour or so every other day, spacing out the learning, is a better way to really learn the material.

Help your child get organized

Help your child pick out a special homework notebook or folder, and make sure your child has homework supplies, such as:
  • pencils
  • pens
  • writing paper
  • a dictionary

Show your child that you think homework is important

Ask your child about her homework each day, and check to see that it is completed. Tell your child that you are proud of the work she is doing.

Help your child without doing the homework

It's important to answer questions if you can — but remember that homework is supposed to help children learn and that doing your child's homework does not help in the long run.

Talk with your child's teacher

Find out what the teacher's homework rules are. If your child has a problem completing or understanding homework, call or e-mail the teacher to talk about the issue.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Auditory Processing- Possible Characteristics Checklist

 Auditory Processing Characteristics Checklist

Place a check next to the characteristics that you view in the student.

_____   Trouble paying attention to and remembering information presented orally
_____   Problems carrying out multistep directions
_____   Poor listening skills
_____   Needs more time to process information
_____   Confuses syllable sequences and problems developing vocabulary
_____   Difficulty with comprehension
_____   Trouble associating sounds with their meanings
_____   Misunderstand a lot
_____   Easily distracted
_____   Slow response to verbal instructions
_____   Trouble remembering things they hear
_____   Difficulty remembering people's names
_____   Trouble finding the right words to use when talking
_____   Unusual sensitivity to noise
_____   Difficulty sounding out new words
_____   Hearing clearly in noisy environments
_____   Confuses multi-digit numbers (such as 74 and 47)
_____   Confusing lists and other types of sequences
_____   Distinguishing difference between similar sounds (such as seventy and seventeen)
_____  Verbal (word) math problems are difficult
_____  Conversations are hard for student to follow
_____  Uses vague words such as "thing", "stuff", "whatever"
_____  Misinterprets verbal messages
_____  Tends to spell words phonetically
_____  Reads slowly and has poor reading comprehension
_____  Poor fine motor skills (using scissors, writing neatly, holding a pencil)
_____  Difficulty with concepts involving time, direction, or sequence
_____  Poor personal organizational skills
_____  Appears to make noise for noise's sake
_____  Talks self through a task, often out loud
_____  Appears confused about where a sound is coming from

Friday, October 29, 2010

A Dr. Jean Give-A-Way!!!

Dear Teachers,

What teacher doesn't like a free item? None!  Today we are announcing a give-a-way.  Every person who leaves a comment for the next week giving ideas for topics they would like to see more information on will be entered in our give-a-way.  We will be sending three lucky winners a copy of either Best of Dr. Jean Reading & Writing, Best of Dr. Jean Science & Math, or Best of Dr. Jean Hands-On Art.  Would you like more information on interventions in math, phonics, sensory issues, or working with ADHD/ADD students?  You let us know!
Academic 911 Team

Friday, October 22, 2010

Response to Intervention: Information for Parents

Response to Intervention (RTI): A Primer for Parents

By Mary Beth Klotz, PhD, NCSP, and Andrea Canter, PhD, NCSP
National Association of School Psychologists

A major concern for parents as well as teachers is how to help children who experience difficulty learning in school. Everyone wants to see their child excel, and it can be very frustrating when a child falls behind in learning to read, do math, or achieve in other subjects. Children who have the most difficulty are often referred for an evaluation to determine if they need and qualify for special education services. The term "learning disability" has been used for many years to explain why some children of normal intelligence nevertheless have much difficulty learning basic skills such as reading.

Some new federal laws have directed schools to focus more on helping all children learn by addressing problems earlier, before the child is so far behind that a referral to special education services is warranted. These laws include the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 and the Individuals With Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) of 2004. Both laws underscore the importance of providing high quality, scientifically-based instruction and interventions, and hold schools accountable for the progress of all students in terms of meeting grade level standards.

What Are the Essential Components of RTI?

Simply, "Response to Intervention" refers to a process that emphasizes how well students respond to changes in instruction. The essential elements of an RTI approach are: the provision of scientific, research-based instruction and interventions in general education; monitoring and measurement of student progress in response to the instruction and interventions; and use of these measures of student progress to shape instruction and make educational decisions. A number of leading national organizations and coalition groups, including the National Research Center on Learning Disabilities and the 14 organizations forming the 2004 Learning Disabilities (LD) Roundtable coalition, have outlined the core features of an RTI process as follows:
  • High quality, research-based instruction and behavioral support in general education.
  • Universal (school-wide or district-wide) screening of academics and behavior in order to determine which students need closer monitoring or additional interventions.
  • Multiple tiers of increasingly intense scientific, research-based interventions that are matched to student need.
  • Use of a collaborative approach by school staff for development, implementation, and monitoring of the intervention process.
  • Continuous monitoring of student progress during the interventions, using objective information to determine if students are meeting goals.
  • Follow-up measures providing information that the intervention was implemented as intended and with appropriate consistency.
  • Documentation of parent involvement throughout the process.
  • Documentation that the special education evaluation timelines specified in IDEA 2004 and in the state regulations are followed unless both the parents and the school team agree to an extension.

What Are the Key Terms?

Response to Intervention (RTI) is an array of procedures that can be used to determine if and how students respond to specific changes in instruction. RTI provides an improved process and structure for school teams in designing, implementing, and evaluating educational interventions.

Universal Screening is a step taken by school personnel early in the school year to determine which students are "at risk" for not meeting grade level standards. Universal screening can be accomplished by reviewing recent results of state tests, or by administering an academic screening test to all children in a given grade level. Those students whose test scores fall below a certain cut-off are identified as needing more specialized academic interventions.

Student Progress Monitoring is a scientifically based practice that is used to frequently assess students' academic performance and evaluate the effectiveness of instruction. Progress monitoring procedures can be used with individual students or an entire class.

Scientific, Research-Based Instruction refers to specific curriculum and educational interventions that have been proven to be effective –that is, the research has been reported in scientific, peer-reviewed journals.

What Role Does RTI Play in Special Education Eligibility?

IDEA 2004 offers greater flexibility to school teams by eliminating the requirement that students must exhibit a severe discrepancy between intellectual ability and achievement in order to be found eligible for special education and related services as a student with a learning disability. This increased flexibility has led to a growing interest in using RTI as part of an alternative method to traditional ability/achievement discrepancy comparisons. IDEA 2004 addresses RTI procedures within several contexts.

Effective instruction and progress monitoring. For students to be considered for special education services based on a learning disability they first must have been provided with effective instruction and their progress measured through "data-based documentation of repeated assessments of achievement." Furthermore, results of the student progress monitoring must be provided to the child's parents.

Evaluation procedures. The law gives districts the option of using RTI procedures as part of the evaluation procedures for special education eligibility. Comprehensive assessment is still required under the reauthorized law, however. That means that schools still need to carefully examine all relevant aspects of a student's performance and history before concluding that a disability does or does not exist. As before, schools must rule out learning problems that are primarily the result of factors such as poor vision, hearing, mental retardation, emotional disturbance, lack of appropriate instruction, or limited English proficiency.

Early Intervening Services. IDEA 2004 addresses the use of RTI procedures is by creating the option of using up to 15% of federal special education funds for "early intervening services" for students who have not been identified as needing special education, but who need additional academic and behavioral support to succeed in the general education setting. The types of services that can be included are central to the RTI process, and  include professional development for teachers and school staff to enable them to deliver scientifically based academic and behavioral interventions, as well as educational evaluations, services, supports, and scientifically based literacy instruction.

How Can Parents Be Involved in the RTI Process?

The hallmarks of effective home-school collaboration include open communication and involvement of parents in all stages of the learning process. Being informed about your school's RTI process is the first step to becoming an active partner. Both the National Center for Learning Disabilities and the National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities advise parents to ask the following questions:
  • Does our school use an RTI process? (Be aware that your child's school may call their procedures a "problem solving process," or may have a unique title for their procedures, e.g., Instructional Support Team, and not use the specific RTI terminology.)
  • Are their written materials for parents explaining the RTI process? How can parents be involved in the various phases of the RTI process?
  • What interventions are being used, and are these scientifically based as supported by research?
  • What length of time is recommended for an intervention before determining if the student is making adequate progress?
  • How do school personnel check to be sure that the interventions were carried out as planned?
  • What techniques are being used to monitor student progress and the effectiveness of the interventions? Does the school provide parents with regular progress monitoring reports?
  • At what point in the RTI process are parents informed of their due process rights under IDEA 2004, including the right to request an evaluation for special education eligibility?
  • When is informed parental consent obtained and when do the special education evaluation timelines officially commence under the district's RTI plan?

What Are the Potential Benefits of RTI?

Perhaps the most commonly cited benefit of an RTI approach is that it eliminates a "wait to fail" situation because students get help promptly within the general education setting. Secondly, an RTI approach has the potential to reduce the number of students referred for special education services. Since an RTI approach helps distinguish between those students whose achievement problems are due to a learning disability versus those students whose achievement problems are due to other issues such as lack of prior instruction, referrals for special education evaluations are often reduced. Finally, parents and school teams alike find that the student progress monitoring techniques utilized in an RTI approach provide more instructionally relevant information than traditional assessments.

What Are Next Steps in Implementing RTI Approaches?

There are many specific issues that must be addressed in order to effectively implement RTI approaches. Schools must be prepared to offer a variety of proven instructional strategies; staff must be trained to measure student performance using methods that are sensitive to small increments of growth; parents must be kept informed of these new procedures and made partners in the process. Teams must also determine how they will define an "adequate" response to an intervention—how much progress over what period of time will be the benchmark to determine if an intervention is successful? While forthcoming federal regulations will offer guidance, each school district will need to develop its own procedures based on their state regulations, resources and the needs of its student population.


References and Web Resources

IDEA 2004: See the final bill posted at: http://edworkforce.house.gov/issues/108th/education/idea/conferencereport/confrept.htm

National Association of School Psychologistswww.nasponline.org
NASP's has a variety of resource materials and helpful factsheets for parents. Also see the report of the 2004 LD Roundtable posted on the NASP website at:http://www.nasponline.org/advocacy/2004LDRoundtableRecsTransmittal.pdf

National Association of State Directors of Special Education www.nasdse.org
See the document: Response to Intervention: Policy Considerations and Implementation

National Center for Learning Disabilities—www.ld.org
NCLD provides essential information, promotes research and programs to foster effective learning, and advocates for policies to protect and strengthen educational rights and opportunities.

National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities (NJCLD) — www.ldonline.org/njcld
The NJCLD is comprised of organizations committed to the education and welfare of individuals with learning disabilities. See the paper: Responsiveness to Intervention and Learning Disabilities http://www.ldonline.org/pdf/rti_final_august_2005.pdf

National Research Center on Learning Disabilities — www.nrcld.org
The NRCLD engages in research, develops recommendations, and provides training. See the article: Understanding Responsiveness to Intervention in Learning Disabilities http://www.nrcld.org/publications/papers/mellard.pdf

National Center on Student Progress Monitoring www.studentprogress.org
The National Center on Student Progress Monitoring provides information and technical assistance to implement progress monitoring techniques.

© 2006, National Association of School Psychologists, 4340 East West Highway, Suite 402, Bethesda, MD 20814, 301-657-0270, www.nasponline.org 

Monday, October 11, 2010

Critical Thinking Skills

Mission Critical: Reading Together to Build Critical Thinking Skills
As parents, we hope to develop many positive skills and traits in our children. Critical thinking, the ability to think deeply about a topic or a book, is an essential skill for children to develop.  Critical thinking doesn't develop overnight. It's something that develops and builds through conversations and experiences. It's also something parents can nurture by sharing quality books with their children.
Even though your elementary-aged child may now be able to read on their own, reading together remains just as important as it was when your child was younger. Family read-alouds provide great opportunities to tackle more challenging books together. These longer chapter books may have plots that are more complex and more demanding vocabulary. Working through these books chapter by chapter helps teach persistence. And by reading together, you are there as an important source of support and information.
Reading critically involves slowing down, and taking the time to help your child reflect on what you've just read. Depending on the book, discussions may involve talking about what a character's actions tell us about his personality, or how the book's setting is important to the overall message. It might mean helping your child recognize something about the plot and the conflict that exists. It also means asking more open-ended questions to which there can be
multiple correct answers.
Quality books enable you and your child to talk about the book in depth and with substance. All of this will help your reader develop critical thinking skills that will last a lifetime. Below are a
few recommended titles, by grade level, that you and your growing reader may enjoy reading together and talking about.
Books for second and third grades
Mr. Popper's Penguins, by Florence and Richard Atwater
Babe: The Gallant Pig, by Dick King-Smith
Half Magic, by Edward Eager
The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster
• Recommended titles from Deconstructing Penguins: Parents, Kids and the Bond of Reading, by Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone (HarperCollins, 2005)

For more information, read How to Increase Higher Order Thinking:  www.ReadingRockets.org/article/34655
Helpful information about learning brought to you by Reading Rockets, Colorin Colorado, and LD OnLine
Reading Rockets, ColorĂ­n Colorado, and LD OnLine are services of public television station WETA, Washington, D.C. Reading Rockets is funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Offi ce of Special Education Programs. ColorĂ­n Colorado, a web service to help English language learners become better readers, receives major funding from the American Federation of Teachers. Additional funding is provided by the National Institute for Literacy and the U.S. Department of Education, Offi ce of Special Education Programs. LD OnLine is the world's leading website on learning disabilities and ADHD, with major funding from Lindamood-Bell Learning Processes. 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Transitions between activities

I have had several interesting conversations with some teachers in
the last few weeks about how they have children in their classes
having difficulty with transitions. The children either don't want to
leave the activity they are currently engaged in or it becomes a power
struggle with the child wanting to choose what activity to do next.
This leads to frustration on both sides; the teacher and the student.
So here are some things to consider: One, think about using a picture
schedule. This is particularly helpful with children who may not be
reading yet or children who are very visual in nature. Keep the
schedule at child eye level. You would be surprised how many times I
have entered a classroom only to see the picture schedule located way
up on a wall out of the children's reach. Review the schedule with
the children throughout the day to help them see what will be coming
up in their day.
Two, give a five minute warning prior to the transition. I have even
used timers with countdown areas on the clock for children to see the
time elapsing and then used the picture from our picture schedule to
alert the children of the transition that is coming up. That way
children can "gear up" for the change in the routine.
Three, make sure to give simple but clear directions about the
transition. Remember the saying KISS? (Keep It Simple Stupid) It is
the same theory really. Some children have difficulty with multi-step
directions. It isn't that they are upset about the transition, it is
that they don't understand the directions you just gave to them. So
give directions in a simple format and with some children consider
restating the directions to ensure their success.
Those are just three suggestions for helping your transition from one
activity to another in the classroom. There are many others out
there. What have you used with success? Please share in the comments

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Strategies Students Use While Reading

Hello to everyone!  We are so sorry for the time lapse in writing.  As  many of you know, getting school started can be a time consuming process!  But now things have settled down and we can go back to our weekly postings.  
We have received questions from classroom teachers asking," What are some strategies that students can use while they are reading?".  There are several strategies that students can use while reading.  One strategy is for the student to adjust their reading rate.  The student can adjust their reading rate for the purposes of skimming, reading for pleasure, or reading to recall information.
Another strategy is for a student to predict or confirm information.  They can support their predictions with the text.  Students can also use prior knowledge to confirm information while they are reading. Readers can also raise questions while they are reading.  The student knows that the text may not answer all of the questions.
Students can reread text.  They reread the text to improve recall, revisit favorite parts, and/or to understand confusing parts. Another strategy students can use while reading is to self-correct.  The student knows when a word or phrase doesn't make sense and makes the correction in the reading without help.  
Finally, students can monitor their own understanding.  They can identify parts of a text that are or aren't understood and ask for help when needed.   These are just some of the many strategies that students can use while they are reading.  What are some strategies you have taught your students?