Tuesday, October 14, 2014

A Special Look at Data Collection from a Guest Teacher, Ms. Stephanie Kramer!

Today, I am welcoming Ms. Stephanie Kramer as a guest blogger to discuss a very important topic and one I am not very strong in...DATA COLLECTION!  

Ms. Kramer has come up with an excellent method to assess all her students in all developmental areas three times a year.  I could not be more proud and excited to share this post as Stephanie was my student teacher four years ago.  She is a phenomenal teacher, and wonderful friend & colleague who so passionate in her work with children.  So without further ado, it is my pleasure to share Ms. Stephanie Kramer’s expertise.

As a new teacher, I needed to create a progress monitoring/data collection system that was quick to administer.  I wanted it to provide valuable and reliable information that was easily read and understood by parents. I was really fortunate to have many, many resources to work from as I pulled my data collection forms together.  I utilized materials from college, the state standards, and various curriculum's that we use: Handwriting Without Tears, Read it Once Again, ZooPhonics, and some aspects of: Creative Curriculum, and High Scopemy Mom, past teachers, co-workers, and anywhere else I get my hands on data collection forms and ideas!  

Initially all of the many, many documents I collected were very overwhelming, but I slowly began to condense, combine, and reformat the stacks of pages to create an organized system that is teacher, student, and parent friendly.  The system works well in our classroom and the best part is it is included in our daily routine. 

First off, the three and four year old Curriculum Based Assessment (CBA) forms. If I had to select one part of my data collection process that I find most useful, this form would be it!  


To gather the data needed to complete each 9 week CBA, we have all the items and manipulatives in a small tote.  Below you can see what types of items we use. 

We have a tote for each quarter so that we know the students have generalized the skills and are not learning to the test. 

As you may have noticed on the CBA forms, all 4 quarters are listed at the top.  We use a new form for each quarter and simply mark which quarter the form is being used for.  This allows my staff and I to quickly compare data and note any changes in student performance, making for very parent friendly forms to share during conferences and meetings.  The goal is that by the end of the year, students will have been exposed to every concept on the CBA form and current levels of performance would be evident based on the students performance and data collected. 

So how do we keep it all organized and provide students with an opportunity to work on target areas on the CBA each day?  We have a morning and afternoon class so we use our school colors to designate between classes.  The morning class has yellow folders and the afternoon class has blue folders.

Each folder contains a sheet protector with the pages only the teacher should write on in the sheet protector.  These pages are our CBA forms and another set of forms I will get to at the end of this post.   

As the students complete their work samples/data collection forms in their data collection folders, we file them  into their portfolios so that the data collection folders stay very organized and student friendly.  In the page protector section, we also have the following forms to collect data in regard to gross motor, fine motor, personal information, body part recognition, name writing, self- portrait drawing and other specific things we track related to the curriculum and programs our district has choose to adopt. 
The front pocket holds pages for the student to work on. They are denoted with a green light as a visual prompt for student to know they need to work on the items in this pocket. 


The back pocket is labeled with a stop sign and contains pages that are to be completed within the quarter when a teacher moves them to the front pocket and the students are ready for them.  This system has been adapted and modified so that every student in our ECSE classroom participates and does so as independently as possible.  


We complete the data collection packet by doing our "folder jobs" as part of our opening routine.  With each student's name and/or photo on their folder, the students are responsible for locating their folder and pencil in our pocket chart and then getting to work.


Choice time is the following activity, which proves to be motivational when implemented in conjunction with our classroom behavior management system that encourages students to always do their best. It also provides my staff and I some time to help individual kids when needed while other students move on to choice time.  

NOTE: Some student worksheets require more one on one time with teachers than others so we'll only place 1 or 2 of those forms in the front pocket each day while other students work on independent forms.  We also support students in working on various concept worksheets during arrival job time, small group centers.

Then as students progress, we incorporate some folder work into our independent work time.  Here is what that looks like in the classroom. 


We have 3 drawers that contain a job for each student and if they need to do a folder job, we simply place a photo of a blue or yellow folder in the drawer.


Please feel free to ask me questions about this system at skramer20@gmail.com!  I've learned so much from reading blogs, observing, and listening to other professionals.  Although this system may not work for you exactly as I've explained, tweak it, make it your own and if you have time share the changes you've made with us.  We would love to hear your ideas! 

Now if you're still reading this, I'm done rambling.  I am incredibly humbled and honored to share my ideas with others and want to leave you with a huge THANK YOU for the infinite and invaluable time, endless dedication, and unrelenting passion you spend preparing and working with young children!  I wish you well in your data collection journey! 


Miss Steph

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Personalizing Communication Supports for Individual Success

In the past couple month, there has been a lot of interest and excitement around the mini communication book and aided language boards as featured on the blog in October of 2013.  I contribute their success to a presentation I heard from Linda Burkhardt regarding Pragmatic Organization Dynamic Display (PODD).  She made me think about language in a whole new way! 

As I began thinking about our limited language learners in a different light, it was time for me to give them the opportunity to communicate more than just requests.  They deserved the right to communicate their needs, wants, and opinions.   And thus, PODD books and aided language boards were born.  

At first, my own insecurity and inexperience limited my use of the PODD book. As much as I learned at the training, I still felt silly navigating the book and fumbling through the words.  But just as a baby or a toddler experiments with language, it was important for me to do the same with PODD books.   

I owed it to my limited language learners to get into their worlds and start communicating in a way that they could see and eventually start being a part of themselves. 

I say "eventually" because as you might remember from my October 2013 post, we speak to typically developing children for at least 12 months before they respond in a verbal fashion. It takes 12 months of modeling and speaking to them and not getting anything in return! And even when we do get something in return, it is inconsistent at first and in little one or two word chunks like "mama", "dada", and "bye-bye". 

So long story short, I was going to have to be patient with the process.  Patient with myself and my staff as we learned to communicate using the PODD books and patient with our students as they watched us model its usage and started to dabble in the communication process themselves.   

For those of you who know me, you know that patience is not my strong suit.  I want to see progress and I want to see progress quickly.  There is no time to lose!  So as my staff and I started dabbling in communicating with the PODD books, we also began carrying a core word sheet in our aprons to support our kids in communicating. 

We were much more fluent in using the sheet than the PODD book so our students were able to pick up on using it pretty quickly.  By December of our first implementation year, we noticed the kids needed more. They were acting out and behaviors were off the charts!!  

In that moment, I had to reframe the behavior.  I remembered from early trainings with TASN-ATBS that behavior is communication.  The kids were trying to communicate but they didn’t have enough words to do it so as you might remember from my earlier post, we created a 5 page mini-communication book.

Page One: Core Words

Page Two: Manners & Action Words

Page Three: Greetings & Feeling Words

Page Four: Food & Hygiene 

NOTE: Page five is not available as it is the people page 
with specific photos of staff and students.

Page Six:  Colors & Shapes

You can access the mini-language book in the Boardmaker Online Community.  NOTE: Boardmaker has recently changed it's look and features a bit to better meet the needs of educators.  Feel free to use and change this template under Boardmaker Share to meet your students' needs. You can get the coil spiral binding at Binding Depot.

You may also remember that from the 5 page mini-book came a little language cuff for one of our little gals.  She was in love with the 5 page mini-book and would try to take it from our staff aprons as she jabbered and pointed.  At first this made my staff and I reluctant to keep the mini-language books in our aprons as her behavior was such a distraction for herself and others, but then as my speech path and I were talking we began to reframe her behavior.  She was trying to COMMUNICATE and we would be doing her an injustice if we took her voice away.

So we changed our perspective.  We often reminded ourselves that although she had limited verbal language, her behavior of grunting and pull on any and all language boards she could get her hands on was a bit disruptive...However, it was her way to communicate! She had soooo much social communication in her just bursting to come out!  She was and still is a little social butterfly. She just needed a way to get it out.  And lucky for you, her parents have given me permission to share her journey with aided language supports. 

It's my pleasure and pure delight to bring you...Miss Lilly!  

This video is of Lilly the first time she attempted to use her language cuff.  Notice the cuff was Prototype 1.0. It was a toilet paper tube and in hindsight not the right fit.  It was not flexible enough for her little arm and it got wet every time she washed her hands. 

After recognizing the concept of the original language cuff was good but not functional, we moved on to Prototype 2.0, a very high-tech cutoff tube sock with the words hot glued to the outside. 

This version was function for communication purposes but did not fit Miss Lilly's very fashionable style so one of my fabulously talented paras, Miss Molly, created Little Miss Lilly this very high fashion cuff.  She knitted it with a plastic pocket insert in which we could change out the words as needed.  

It was such a hit that her mom asked Miss Molly to make her two more as Christmas gifts.  What a great idea, Mom!  There is no better gift than the gift of communication! :)  

At first, the words on Lilly's language cuff were just enough.   She used it to communicate she wanted to be "all done", wanted more, needed help, or was sad, happy or mad.  But in May behaviors returned, Lilly communicated with all her being that she needed more words.  She would touch sad or just continually tab the cuff in frustration with no functional means.  Lilly wanted and needed more words!  

To make the added words functional and purposeful for Lilly, we incorporated her interests and strengths.  Lilly's has a strong interest in interaction with others.  She likes to greet people, interact socially, sing, and go on functional walks in the hallway.  So purposely, we added communication pages to her cuff that would be motivating for her to use.

We added a social page in which Lilly could greet people, ask how they were, what their name is and tell them what her name is.

And then a page in which she could communicate her need to be all done, and move onto preferred activities such as delivering tools to the janitors room, delivering mail, or singing with teachers.

These additions are pretty specific and not necessarily general enough for her cuff at home.  They were created to motivate her to use her communication device and turn pages to get what she wants. As she starts to get the hang of it, more words will be added and then eventually she will move to a full PODD book as the language cuff is set up in the same turn-the-page fashion as a PODD book.  

As you can see by looking at page one of the language cuff, it has colored tabs for turning and a "more to say" icon in the upper right corner.  

The pages are ziploc name badge holders. (I purchased mine for $0.70 a piece at a local office supply store.) Then, I punched tiny hole punch circles on the sealed side of the holder to spiral bind together that way I can slide new communication pages in and out as needed.  

Note:  That my staff and I continue to model the PODD book alongside Lilly's language cuff so when she is ready to manage more words we can move to her own PODD book.  

In the beginning, we granted any request she communicated with her cuff but as time went on we set limits using the later and time to work icons on her cuff.  For example, if she communicated that she wanted to sing during direct instruction or small group learning rotations, we would honor her communication by saying you want to sing, then we would point and say "sing later, work first."

Here's Lilly in action again the first day she was given her cuff with more pages and words. 

WOW!  Right?? She is a rock star!!  And you haven’t seen anything yet.  On the second to last day of school (last May), Lilly surprised me with this amazing play session.  

For specifics about the play kit in this video click here.  

What a great way to end the year!  And for me who moved on from the classroom over the summer it was bittersweet.  I know that her amazing family and teachers will continue to help her grow and expand her communication skills but I am totally sad that I won’t be in the frontlines to witness her greatness.  Her love and enthusiasm to communicate and be social are contagious.  I would like to thank Lilly's parents for allowing me the opportunity to share her enthusiasm with all of you!!

Take her enthusiasm and run with it in your own journey with verbal and aided-language communication!


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Our ECSE Classroom Schedule: Part Six - Closing Large Group (10:45am - 11:00am)

Hello, Everyone!  It is time to say goodbye to our classroom schedule series.  As the children come in from outside time, they all find their spot in large group. We then close our day with a daily recap and goodbyes.  

This is done a few different ways depending on the needs of the students.  It changes throughout the year to support novelty and progress.  Just think how many behaviors of disengagement would occur if we used the same goodbye process all year.  That being said, we do have to have balance.  We need to stick with the same goodbye routine long enough for students to understand the pattern and gain skills, but we don’t want it to become predictable and lose student interest. 

Therefore, today I will share a few variations on goodbye time.  I apologize as they are acted out at our home instead of the classroom but I think you will still get the idea. 

Our first version of goodbyes was this goodbye book that encourage waving.  

We use construction paper hands attached with a brad to visually show children the waving process.  On each page the teacher moves the construction paper hand from side to demonstrate waving.  

Followed by the Goodbye Ritual song from Conscious Discipline’s I Love Ritual CD-Volume 2 .  Note: I paired the Goodbye Ritual Song up with a powerpoint and social narrative of my son and his friend doing the actions to the song so that our students that had difficulty imitating gross motor movements would have a still life visual. 

Originally, we had one large yellow book to share the gross motor movements for each animal in the song.  But as certain students struggled with the imitation activity and attending to task, we added a few blue mini-books for those kids to follow along with.  

After the Goodbye Ritual Song, each student is called up one at a time to pick the goodbye of his/her choice from the goodbye apron below.  

The icons on the apron were ironed after I printed them on t-shirt transfer paper

Following each student's choice, he/she is dismissed to get his/her coat and book bag, and then line up to go home.  Note: In all of my goodbye examples, I have the students strategically dismissing after they do something in the front of the group so that their dismissal is staggered and the cubby area does not get to crowded.  

I say "strategically" because I call kids that have the ability to wait in line longer first while kids whom are better at waiting in their spots get called later.  One para waits at the cubbies to help kids get their things to go home and the other sits near the kids at group whom have the hardest time waiting.  

Here is a video example of Goodbye Ritual #1.  Again, use your imagination as the videos in this post are done in my home with my boys and my husband as the videographer since I no longer have a classroom of my own. :(  That being said, I think with a little imagination you will totally get the idea!!

The second version was created last year when we were working on teaching students to notice each other and say goodbye.  Each student had a copy of this book. 

Note:  The children were working on a variety of skills.  First, they were learning book handling and literacy skills as they each had their own book to follow along with.  Secondly, each page had a colored tape tab to reinforce color recognition and support fine motor skills in turning the pages.  Third, they were working on social skills as they found their friends and teachers, and used eye contact, waves, and verbal skills to say goodbye.

One of our students, who struggled with large group activities and looking at books, used this put-in tub with all the students and teachers photographs as her strength and interest was in put-in tasks.  It kept her engaged and focused during large group.

Following the book activity, we sang the following goodbye song to each student as the staff modeled saying goodbye and the students learned how to do so.  Note the song also works on calling friends and teachers by name and using the appropriate pronoun with names- he/she and his/her. 
It's time to say goodbye to Timmy, 
It is time to say goodbye to Timmy, 
How was his day? How was his day? 
He had a ____ day today!

The students then checked out by putting their photo in the tin can that represent how they felt about their day.  Did they feel happy, sad, okay, or angry about their day?  

Note: We used tin cans for this activity as several of our students enjoyed and were very good at put in tasks.  I purchased the tin cans at our local hardware store for $0.99.  They are empty paint tins!  You can get them in pint and gallon size.  We also use them for magnetic games.  
Click below to see a video example of Goodbye Ritual #2.

The third version is one I created a few years back based on the literacy work of Patti King-Debaun and Creative Communicating.  At that time, our external doorway was magnetic so I posted these magnetic icons on the door.  They are Boardmaker files that were printed on magnetic paper.   

After the students lined up to go home we would sing these words to the tune of "She'll Be Coming Around the Mountain" using early literacy and problem solving skills to add the correct pronouns and people into the song for each child.  

When the students got used to this version, we then changed it up a little to discuss what type of vehicle the students would be going home in using the magnetic icon below.

Click below to see an video example how Goodbye Ritual #3 works.  

Note: A modification you could use if you do not have a magnet door is printing these icons smaller and using a cookie sheet.  If you would like either version, send me a message. :)

The fourth version I'll share was created for my afternoon students who were returning from the previous year and needed something a little higher level than the goodbye book.  In this example, the students worked on spelling their first or last names depending on their level.  

You can access the board for this activity on Boardmaker Achieve or by emailing me. The song is sung to the tune of "She'll Be Coming Around the Mountain".

To make for easy storage, I placed this goodbye version in a binder using page protectors. The other side of the binder had the morning classes goodbye waving book.  


The morning goodbye book was on the front of the binder going vertically and the afternoon goodbye book was on the back going horizontally.  

Following singing about each student, each student would come up one at a time and check out on an adapted version of a 5 Point Scale by Kari Dunn Buron based on the ideas of Conscious Discipline and the Feeling Buddies.

Click below to see an example of Goodbye Ritual #4.  

As the afternoon class matured and made progress, we moved on to other versions of checking out.  One was where the students worked throughout the day to earn gold tokens as a class and we then counted the tokens to see if we earned what was in the treasure box at the end of the day.  You can see more details about this version by clicking here.  

Following the token count, each student signed out at their level using this chart.  Some kids wrote the letters of their first name, some put the letters of their name in order, some did a combination of the two and others simply matched letters by color.   If they were past working with their first name, we moved them on to their middle and last name. 

 If you would like a copy of my sign out chart to revamp for your students, let me know!

And last but not least, here is a way I choose to have a K-5 classroom of students say goodbye at a week-long summer school program provided by TASN-ATBS.  Throughout the day, the students worked collectively to earn frog tokens.  Then at the end of the day, we put them all together and counted them as a class.  After seeing how many we earned, each child was responsible for reporting how many they earned using these leveled activities.  

Activity 1:  (the simplest level) Putting the frog tokens 
the class collected in the frog collection jar.  

Activity 2: The student reports how he/she feels about getting or not 
getting all the tokens using a modified five point scale.  

Activity 3: The student practices reading sight words to say if the class
 reached or did not reach their goal.  (Their goal was to earn 30 tokens.)

Activity 4: The student reports the exact number of tokens the class earned 
by circle the numbers on the chart and then filling then in the box. 

   Activity 5: The student finds the number the class earned on the 100s chart. 
Note that numbers 1 through 29 are red to show the class did not earn 
the amount needed for a prize and numbers 30 though 100 are green for go 

meaning the students get to open the frog pool with mystery prizes inside.  

Activity Six: The student graphs how many tokens were earned on a bar graph 
to compare the week's results. 

As I mentioned above if the class earned more than 30, they were able to open the frog pool and pick a prize.  Usually a choice between two items (bubble gum, fruit snacks, and small candies or party favors).  Note: the students do not know what is in the pool each day as there is motivation in the mystery of not knowing what the prize will be for the day!!

Each student comes up to report using their leveled activity and then gets to hang it on the chart below and pick their prize for the day (if the tokens were earned for the day).  After reporting and picking their prize, they get their belongs and line up for dismissal.  

You can see a video of this goodbye on the TASN-ATBS website under trainings on demand:  Leveling Large Group.  

That is it for now... See you later alligator! Until next time, make your goodbyes fun and functional for your students!!  Use the time to connect with your students as connecting always pays off.  CONNECTION=COOPERATION!  As shared by Dr. Becky Bailey, connections on the outside build connections on the inside!  Just what we want:)  

Goodbye For Real Now! Best Wishes,