Category Archives: Accessing Education

Using Reader’s Theater During Intervention…

It was the first day of Autumn yesterday! As a teacher in the primary grades, I just wanted to read a good book with my class, bring in apples and make applesauce with them, which can of course, lead to a slew of writing activities after.  However, sneaking in a Fall-related activity can induce high levels of anxiety despite the positive effect it may have on a child.

The classroom has lost much of its pizzazz due to the overwhelming amounts of protocol teachers have to follow.  A teacher needs to be resourceful and manage his or her time wisely, which is a difficult feat when adhering to strict time schedules.  I have discovered that intervention blocks allow for some creativity and some lost pizzazz.  How?  One way to bridge learning gaps in reading is using Reader’s Theater, a research-based technique, in which students can act out parts.  It can become a truly fun activity that invites one’s creativity, in addition to honing on reading comprehension, fluency, and specifically prosody.  I particularly like using this strategy with children who have emotional and or behavioral disorders because it allows them to also focus on their socialization skills while improving their reading.

So, we might not all be able to make applesauce, but we can take out the puppets and create our own classroom theater!

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Resourceful Teachers in an Ineffective System

As the summer came to a sad end, the back-to-school hustle and bustle has been in full throttle.  You can’t go to any place that sells paper, composition notebooks, pens or pencils because the lines have been outrageous and the crowds unnerving.  Yet there’s nothing like that smell of school supplies.  Teachers are a significant part of those crowds buying their own supplies on a limited budget.  In fact, in certain districts, teachers are just being asked to confirm their addresses in order to receive supply money in a few weeks, which would put us in October and they’ve been in school since August and haven’t even received paper.  You do the math (just in case math isn’t your strong suit, by now some teachers have spent an average of $500 of their own money for this new school year alone).

Teachers have to constantly make magic happen for supplies and educational resources.  Many schools and classrooms have been without textbooks, but teachers are still being held accountable for the learning happening in the classroom despite not being provided with the basics needed to teach. Thank goodness for Google and that teachers are resourceful creatures.  There are websites that are major supports, and I would like to acknowledge them at this moment and perhaps explore their effectiveness individually at a later time.  Ed-Helper has a wide range of printables available in many subjects and many grade levels, which you can customize; this is a wonderful site and a huge life saver.   Pinterest provides a wealth of how-to’s to build your classroom, for lesson plans, you name it, Pinterest has it, and often it will take you to another useful site, Teachers Pay Teachers.  There’s also Discovery to help build and teach science lessons, Khan Academy to reinforce a variety of subjects, and  Read Think Write.org and Share My Lesson that offer a wide variety of standards-based lesson plans.  Let’s not forget the often unsung heroes who help tremendously: YouTube and Google!

So there you go…some useful sites if you’re expected to pull a rabbit out of a nonexistent hat!

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Nearpod: the wave of the future that’s here now!

Let me tell you about a little treasure I found, well I found it thanks to FIU and Dr. Patricia Barbetta. It’s called Nearpod.

Teachers have to conduct learning probes to see if their students are truly understanding the concepts being taught, so there’s a few steps teachers go through to do so.  Teachers:

  • are checking for understanding
  • are asking questions/have them ask questions
  • use a wait time to have students think before answering and also allow their students to answer so it’s not always the same students.
  • try to be fair in the calling order
  • have all-pupil response moments

Well, Nearpod does all that and more in one place.

Nearpod allows you to create presentations using your own library of PDFs or PowerPoints, as well as Nearpod’s library (teachers can ask to create lessons for them and it pays!).  Teachers then share the lessons with students and control their activity in real time, (which keeps them from surfing onto different webpages because the teacher has the nifty master control indicating students that are actively involved or not!).  This programs allows teachers to request all-pupil responses and assess their students’ understanding of the lesson without the students experiencing the pressures of answering out loud.  Students who need more time can be assigned this lesson as home learning, and they can review it independently at their own pace…because yes, Nearpod creates a flipped classroom.  This program is easy to use and has been picked up by some big school districts already, and given a variety of awards for the quality and effectiveness of their product.  Nearpod can be used on any platform, which is relatively unheard of.    A little more about Nearpod…the creators are based out of Miami, Florida, and they provide the best customer service; you run into any issues or have any suggestions, well these folks are very open to that because they are constantly improving their incredible product.  I’m a big fan as you can see…and I’m a fan that’s a parent, a teacher, and more specifically, a special education teacher.  This product meets the needs of many students so check it out!

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Katy Perry and the Prismatic World Tour

katy perry in b&W

Hmmm…where shall I begin…Okay, at the beginning.

I’m a huge fan.  I basically have the emotional maturity of a middle schooler, which is how I understand my students.  I blast “Roar” and “Wide Awake” when it comes on or any other Katy Perry song.  I once spent an entire karaoke-style evening singing Katy even though I shouldn’t have been (if you heard me, you’d understand).  So, you can imagine my excitement when I received tickets to her concert for my birthday!

My concert buddy (also known as my daughter) and I arrived at the American Airlines arena, headed straight to our area in the upper levels and then invested in cute t-shirts to remember the moment — I do love my pink tee: .

Then we sat down to listen to the first opening act — Ferras, who in retrospect was okay, but at that moment felt as though if I listened too long, I might fall into a deep depression.  An hour later, the second opening act, Capital Cities, came on; they are the ones that sing the catchy tune “Safe and Sound” and that is their ONLY catchy tune (the moment they tried to sing Madonna’s Holiday, I left to eat the world’s worst pretzel).

Moving on…as we sat and waited, I took notes like “Tick tock Katy. It’s 9:13 and it’s past your target audience’s bedtime…and mine”.  We were among a sea of pink, purple, and fluorescent green wigs on the heads of so many kids, one might think you detoured into Disney World.

Then at last, she came on with Roar…great performance.  The rest of the evening was a blur of scary animated cats that vogue and shop on Rodeo, her songs set to a mix Power 96 can use, and a lot of time speaking with the audience.

I was disappointed, but it made sense: she’s a pop star and her target audience is a younger one that likes that sort of performance with the really cool light show and visual effects…I guess I just really wanted to hear more of her.  However, I will not end this on a negative note, so here are the highlights:

  • As I mentioned, Roar was incredibly well done.
  • Her acoustic performance of The One that Got Away was amazing…it reminded me why I was there and nearly brought me to tears (but that’s another blog).                                                                                        katy perry singing the one that got away
  • Her final encore performance of Firework was outstanding…we wore special Prism Vision glasses and the entire arena became a kaleidoscope of colors and well, it was simply, awesome.
  • I also need to mention: #MakeRoarHappen;  Katy teamed up with Staples to donate $1 million to DonorsChoose.org to help teachers and students in the classroom.
  • I also liked the fact that she was telling a sea of girls and young women to love themselves first and foremost.

Set list (pardon any mistakes, but the cats may have confused me at times):

  1. Roar
  2. Part of Me
  3. Wide Awake (usually my personal favorite)
  4. This Moment
  5. Love Me
  6. Dark Horse
  7. E.T. (Supernatural)
  8. Legendary Lovers
  9. I Kissed A Girl
  10. Hot and Cold (with cats)
  11. By the Grace of God
  12. The One that Got Away – acoustic – amazing!!!
  13. Unconditionally
  14. Walking On Air
  15. It Takes Two
  16. This Is How We Do
  17. Last Friday Night
  18. Teenage Dream
  19. California Gurls
  20. (Encore) Happy Birthday
  21. (Encore) Firework

 

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Special Needs..using iPad on Pinterest

I will keep this brief, because what I want you to do is check out Amanda Butt’s Special Needs Classroom page on Pinterest, specifically, the one entitled Special Needs..using iPad.  Her main page will provide resources of all types that would be of great value to a parent, teacher, or anyone working with a child with special needs.  The main page has subdivisions that includes numerous resources including: teaching children with special needs, art accommodations, motor skills, sensory resources, and much more.  However, given our technology age and how one of the biggest assistive technological advances, in my opinion, is the iPad, I’m going to send you over to the subdivision mentioned earlier: Special Needs..using iPad.  This page will give you links to great apps for children with visual impairments, autism, for children in residential facilities, valuable apps for special education, for children with speech and language disorders, and much more.  If you’re trying to help a child in your life that has special needs, check this page out!

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