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Dr. Caroline Ramsey Musselwhite

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Literacy Research Monograph from Center for Literacy and Disability Studies

 Summer Reading!

I am often asked for research-based information regarding best practices in literacy instruction for students with significant disabilities.  This monograph, written by:  Dr. Karen Erickson, Dr. Gretchen Hanser, Dr. Penelope Hatch, and Eric Sanders is extremely helpful.

Research Based Practices Monograph

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Summer Movies: Phonics Phun + A Writing Prompt

Summer movies . . . are you ready?  Well, if you’re not, your kids probably are!!

I did a fun activity today – one of those ideas you get late at night that actually WORKS!!

Materials:  Here’s what you need:
• Photos representing trailers for 2 movies you think your student(s) would like
• Voting board + PostIts
• Letter writing prompt (below)

I picked Minions & Inside Out.  Here are screenshots that we used.

Vote by Letter:
We asked the students to vote by writing for the trailer that they wanted to watch first.  LOTS of excitement!  Students who typically aren’t excited about trying to figure out the sound/letter system were fired up!

Here are a few examples.  Most students used light tech alphabet displays to help them figure out the letters.  A few students were able to write their votes on the PostIts.  Each student then voted for their favorite movie trailer (Minion won).
-       One student chose M to represent Minion
-       One student wrote NSID to vote for Inside Out
-       One student chose MN to represent minion

As each student cast their vote (we wrote it on the PostIt for most students), we tried to figure it out, sounding it out.  Then we had each student place their PostIt under the correct photo.

We then watched both trailers (the winning one was viewed first!)

Letters to Parents:
Then we wrote the letters to parents as follows:
Movie Letter Short
1)   I modeled on the SmartBoard, using talk alouds (ex:  “Hmmmm, who do I want to go with me . . . I know, Robert!) and asking students to help me figure out some of the sounds.
2)   Then each student worked with a teacher, therapist, or aide to fill in the blanks on their letters home.  Students used their light or high tech communication systems to help with ideas as needed.  For example, Jess went to the ‘Describing’ page to pick COOL to tell what expected about the movie.
3)   Students could then find pictures or draw on their letters before putting them in backpacks to take home.

Changing This for Home Use:
If you want to do this activity at home, here are some ideas:
• Have siblings or friends participate in the voting part
• If you’re helping your child write the letter, have them write it to someone else (Dad, Grandma, older sibling, favorite aunt)


Making the Alphabet Useful . . . and FUN! Hangman!

WHAT:  I don’t think I need to tell you what Hangman is – we all know and love it! Thanks to Yvonne Adrienne Hamrick for reminding me of the power of Hangman!

WHY:  Hangman is great for helping students have FUN with the alphabet.  They can explore the alphabet and learn about letters, and where they go in building words.  Most importantly, this is an INTERACTIVE way to engage in alphabet exploration!

HOW:  Hangman can be played using:
1)   The student’s alphabet, whether light tech or high tech.  Whatever system the child is using is great.  For example:
a)    Jen uses an alphabet flipbook.  When she plays Hangman with her brother, she pics a letter, any letter.  He then puts it into the Hangman game and together, they cheer . . . or groan.  Her brother makes sure to name the letter that she picks, both from her system, and when he puts it into the game.

b)   Jesus uses the alphabet page on his iPad AAC app.  He plays Hangman with his Communication Circle.  When he picks a letter, one of his friends calls out the letter, then uses the Hangman app and types the letter in, naming it again.  The app they use is described in the Spedapps2 wiki: 

c)    Marcus plays hangman using the Melissa & Doug Travel Hangman set.  He plays with his Dad, and it’s big fun for both of them!  Every time Marcus picks a letter (using the alphabet page on his PODD), his Dad calls out the letter, then puts it into the Hangman set, calling it out again.  Marcus’s brother sometimes whispers clues to him, and Marcus is becoming adept at finding letters his brother suggests.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Modeling Core Language: A Tutorial for Beginners!!!

This post gives some simple ideas for:
• Adults who are beginners at modeling with AAC systems
• Students who are beginners at using AAC systems
• Students who are beginning communication circle partners

This was prepared for paras at a school in Brooklyn where I work, but I thought it might be helpful to others.

Please know that these sample 'scripts' are NOT for:
- SLPs or teachers who work with many students who use AAC
- parents who have been trained in modeling (ex:  people who have attended wonderful PODD training sessions).

This is for people who are working with students who have language rich systems, and don't have a clue where to start.  Hope it's helpful - let me know!
Model Core Language

Beginning Literacy Framework

The Beginning Literacy Framework was developed with the support of the Don Johnston Company to help educators:

• identify, create and modify text for beginning readers
• meet literacy goals of students with significant disabilities in their earliest stages of literacy
This document is highly relevant for teachers, parents, and therapists supporting students who are emergent readers.   Learn how to identify, create, and modify text at three levels:
- Enrichment
- Transitional
- Conventional
Download the document to learn more!