Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Modifications Checklist

It's almost that time of year for us...dun, dun, dun...report cards. IT'S THIS WEEK - I can't believe it! It feels like we started last week!

Anyway, one of the things we include with our report cards is a modifications checklist for every single child. Why do we this? Let me explain!

I work at a school for kids with learning disabilities. It is a unique private school in that every student enrolled has some type of learning disability or difference. Most of them do not have an IEP in a public school setting. But our kids need support, and when they come to us, they get it! Our mission statement is "If a child can't learn the way we teach, we need to teach the way they learn." Our specific mission states,

"Summit Academy of Greater Louisville provides a nurturing educational environment for children with learning differences, in which each child’s academic achievement comes to reflect his or her learning potential."

We are truly unique in that every child who attends our school has a learning difference! When they come to us, they have either been at another private school or a public school with minimal to no support, accommodations, or modifications. So one of our goals each term/semester is to maintain a list of modifications we provide for each student. We attach them to their report cards so parents can clearly see how their child is being helped in each class (in addition to their grades, notes, and comments from each teacher). 

This list is helpful to parents, but it's also extremely helpful to me. Here is why.
1. It helps me to make sure that I am truly providing the help that each of my students need. 
2. It helps me when I simply read the list when I need ideas of how to help each student get those extra little bits of support. 
3. It reminds me to make sure that I am truly modifying my teaching for each child. The checklist (done by me) for each child in the same class could be different. Most of them have the same actions marked, but for specific students/needs, I mark those specific actions that I take to help that child. 

Our parents have been told (usually) for so long, "Your child is not doing well in __" or "Your child needs to improve in __". But our principal reminds us to ALWAYS tell the parents, "Your child needs help in ___ (this) area, AND this is how we're helping them do/get __". The modifications checklist just supports this idea. 

I did not major in Special Education in college. I never thought I would be working at an all special education school, but I love it! The kids are amazing. The staff is amazing. I am always so touched by parent stories and even Summit graduates who return to tell us how awesome Summit was for them and their families. It feels so good to know that what you (and your school) are doing is truly helping a child - sometimes changing their lives!

Do any of you use modifications checklists? If so, I would love to hear from you. I'd love to know what you do to ease the parents' minds of those students who do need that little bit of extra support!

I have also made the Modifications Checklist a freebie in my store in case it can help any of you. You can check it out here!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Football Measurements

Ok, it's been a little while...again. I'm just gonna be honest with you all, I have taken on all KINDS of new roles this year and I am still a bit overwhelmed. I am teaching high school math and literacy, as well as high school technology, and 1st-8th grade technology classes. I do not have a regular planning time each day, and all of this is new to me. Since I've been teaching at the school where I am currently (9 years!), I have not taught the same two classes, and probably not even the same two lessons twice. Let that sink in for a minute.
It's really tough to get to know your material and get experience at teaching one area, subject, or skill super-well when you don't teach it every year. I haven't even taught a math class since 2010! Don't get me wrong, I love it! I have had a blast teaching it so far - finding new materials, fun games, and engaging hands-on activities for my math kiddos. It's surprising really, considering I was terrible at math growing up. It's much more fun to teach it than to learn it!

With all of that being said, I work with special ed students in a very unique school situation. My math class is a high school group and we're working on about a sixth grade math level. We're still reviewing some 5th grade level skills just to sharpen them before pushing ourselves!

Recently, I needed to review measuring to the nearest 1/16th of an inch. I teach Saxon math, and they titled the skill "Fractions & Mixed Numbers on a Number Line". Of course, my first place to look was TPT. (What did I EVER do without TPT????) Surprisingly, I didn't find anything dealing with measuring that small, so I had to create something. It had to be engaging and fun for my kiddos. Well, it's football season, and what better way to motivate them than to measure football items? I made a set of task cards with football items for them to measure.

As they went around the room measuring items, I played some college football fight songs on YouTube.

They loved it! They were roaming around the room humming and dancing - happily measuring, engaged, & active!

If you will be teaching measurement any time soon, you can get my Football Measurement pack here on TPT. It will be 50% off until Friday, October 9th. You can also get it by clicking on the picture below!

Happy Tuesday!!!