I don’t usually just post one link that I think is terrific, but understood.org has posted some great information to support learning during the COVID-19 crisis. We certainly need some good information in these difficult times.
The website Understood.org is a website that I’ve used for years to support the needs of students that learn and think differently. However, I think there postings on Coronavirus are very well done and certainly continue to fit their mission of helping us to learn and think differently. I’ve added some links below, however, there are additional links on the site. I think it’s certainly worth a look by my blog followers.
A popular book study in our K-12 Professional Development offerings was Visual Thinking Strategies by Philip Yenawine. Teachers at all grade levels found this strategy helped expand student discussions. Special Education teachers found Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) very helpful to explore new content.
In VTS discussions, teachers support student growth by facilitating discussions of carefully selected works of visual art/photographs or media literacy. Teachers are asked to use three open-ended questions to engage student discussion.
What’s going on in this picture?
What do you see that makes you say that?
What more can we find?
Teachers use facilitation techniques to expand student responses. By pointing at the areas being discussed and paraphrasing student comments, teachers helped link and frame student answers. For those teachers being observed using an evidence-based tool, the following evidence can be seen when using Visual Thinking Strategies.
Students are engaged in exploring new content through effective questioning.
Engages all students in discussion.
Allowing “Think Time” before responding.
Topics can be expanded through follow up, rephrasing and applying student responses.
Engages Students in Learning
Examples are used to illustrate new learning.
New learning connects student knowledge, interests and culture.
Problem solving is highlighted as a technique in student learning.
Examples are differentiated to meet student needs.
VTS As An Assessment Tool
Teachers and peers comment on student responses.
Uses Non-verbal cues (nods, quizzical looks etc.) to encourage students.
Effective feedback is specific and descriptive.
Teacher comments help clarify student responses.
Feedback is immediate to support student learning.
Visual Thinking Strategies helps students to truly understand and transfer learning. It helps them explain, interpret and apply new learning.
This is the 4th part of a yearlong series of great artworks to share with your kids. Each month I share information about 3 great masterpieces to share with your children. My goal of these posts is to create a parent-friendly resource to share great masterpieces with your child. I’ve decided on this monthly series because I totally missed sharing the beauty of art with my own children. Better late than never, I guess.
Each post contains a photo of the artwork, the artist’s name, an interesting fact about the artwork and a link to explore more information. So far, I have shared the following: Mona Lisa (Leonardo da Vinci), The Starry Night (Vincent Van Gogh), Oriental Poppies (Georgia O’Keeffe), The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci, Four Freedoms by Norman Rockwell, American Gothic by Grant Wood, Water Lilies by Claude Monet, Irises by Vincent van Gogh and The Skiff by Pierre-Auguste Renoir.
My grandchildren’s love of playdough inpired by choice of sculptors this month. You never know, maybe one day they’ll become great sculptors.
In 1886, The Statue of Liberty was given to the United States by France to celebrate the friendship of the two countries that began during the American Revolution. The copper statue depicts the Roman goddess Libertas holding a torch above her head with her right hand and in her left hand she is carrying a table on which is inscribed the date of the U.S. Declaration of Independence. The Statue of Liberty has become an American symbol of freedom and democracy. It has been put on both coins and stamps.
It was designed by French sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi and built by Gustave Eiffel (Eiffel Tower). The Statue of Liberty is one of the most famous sculpture in the world. It is in New York Harbor on Ellis Island.
Mount Rushmore is a monument that was carved into the Black Hills of South Dakota. It was started in 1927 and was completed in 1941. Mount Rushmore stands 500 feet tall! The faces of four presidents are carved into the mountain: Washington, Theodore Roosevelt, Jefferson, and Lincoln.
The statue Pieta depicts the Virgin Mary holding the body of her dead son Jesus Christ. It is considered one of the great masterpieces of sculpture. The artist, Michelangelo was only 24 years old when he sculpted the piece Pieta. The piece is sculpted from a piece of marble. Pieta is the only sculpture Michelangelo ever signed. His signature can be seen across Mary’s chest. Today, the Pieta is in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
Right now, my favorite sculptors are under the age of 8 making “playdough masterpieces”.
RTI/MTSS (Response to Intervention and Multi-Tiered Systems of Support are an important part of intentional teaching. This multi-level system integrates assessment and intervention to maximize student achievement. The four essential components of an MTSS/RTI framework are screening, progress monitoring, multi-level or multi-tier prevention system, and data-based decision making. Each of these categories use multiple data sources to identify students at risk to provide focused instruction.
3 Great RTI/MTSS Resources
RTI Action Network: Great guidance resources to guide educators and families in the large-scale implementation of RTI. Their goal is to help educators have access to quality instruction and early identification resources.
Intervention Central – One of the oldest and most extensive resources in the world of RTI. Many tools and resources are easily accessible for both academic and behavior interventions in the classroom.
Center on Response to Intervention: Provides free resources to teachers, schools and districts to help struggling learners and implement Response to Intervention to attain learning standards.
Many schools maintain a yearly goal to continue to explore resources to help understand, implement, or refine their MTSS/RTI programs. I hope you find the resources above helpful.
Monthly newsletter archives front Threeringsconnections.org gives parents, teachers and adninistrators resources to support kids.
Three months down in 2019, how are you doing on those New Years Resolutions? If you are still working on catching up on professional development, take a look at this month’s newsletter. All 13 March posts are below, as well as ALL the posts since I started the blog in September 2018. My New Year’s Resolution to get the Threeringsconnections’ newsletter out on a timely, consistent schedule is accomplished: 3 down and 9 more to go! Have a great month!
One month down in 2019- how are you doing on those New Years Resolutions? Was one of your resolutions to fit in some professional development for yourself? If so, take a look at January’s archives and catch up on your resolution. All January’s posts are below, as well as, all 72 posts since I started this blog in September 2018. With this second Newsletter post I’ve achieved 2 months of MY resolution to post a monthly newsletter for Threeringsconnections.org. 2 down and 10 more to go! Have a great month!
What parent hasn’t questioned their child’s early language development? We are always looking at other kids to benchmark our child’s growth. It’s normal and we all do it! As a principal of a K-2 school, a child’s limited vocabulary seemed to be one of a parents’ biggest worries when entering school.
Studies conducted on the importance of vocabulary development certainly helps to heighten our worries. Research such as:
a child’s vocabulary growth is directly linked to his or her overall school achievement 
the size of a child’s vocabulary in kindergarten predicts his ability to learn to read 
WOW, that’s worrisome! However, I, like many other parents didn’t know about the research when my kids were young, and yet my adult children can talk. Don’t get me wrong, my friends and I all worried about their speech. We got through it by supporting each other by sharing ideas and using common sense. And yes, there was more than one of us who soon thought their child talked too much!
Early Language Development: Top 3 Strategies
From talking and singing to playing and reading, there are a variety of ways you can nourish early language development in infants and toddlers. Helping children remember the meanings of words and discover the meaning of new words is an important component in early literacy.
Talk, Talk, Talk. Yes, it is important to encourage children’s vocabulary development so that they develop the language and literacy skills necessary to succeed in school. However, through everyday conversations and interactions, children can learn unfamiliar words. Use lots of examples and use different more creative words as they get older. Be sure to repeat the words many times in different situations. Usually, children will understand the word before they can say it or use it in conversation.
The key to support your child’s speech and language development is in building language during every day activities. Verbalize what you are doing and try to engage her in conversation about your activities. A short walk outside will introduce your child to many new words along the route. Look for new words through your child’s eyes. A good strategy to introduce words is by finding new words through your child’s eyes. What does he see, hear, smell or touch along the path? Keep the tasting to lunch or a snack when you get home!
Engage your child in conversation rather than a “rapid fire” vocabulary activity. Talk about what you have done, doing and are going to do in the future. Follow their lead and don’t “push conversations” when kids are not interested. Slow down and let their talking begin!
Three more early language development activities
Sing and say nursery rhymes with toddlers. Be animated with your voice and actions when singing and saying nursery rhymes. Children will love the actions and it will help them repeat and remember some new words. Prepare yourself to read stories and nursery rhymes many times and perform multiple encores of songs.
Although you may not completely understand everything your toddler says, smile and nod to encourage her to continue talking. Try repeating what he/she says and add some more words for clarification or details.
Make games out of picture flash cards to reinforce words. Play hide and seek, find the cat card, turn over the apple, what animal barks. Be silly and have fun!
Reading books helps expand vocabulary
After reading the book, incorporate more open-ended questions into your conversations. This moves your child from naming things/characters in the book to thinking and talking about the story. Ex. why do you think the color of the house is blue??
When reading books be descriptive about the language in the book. Discuss the color of the grass or the size of the giraffe. Although you may read the book multiple times, your conversations can be different.
While you are reading, encourage your child to repeat a word for phrase from the book. Sprinkle in “what” questions and add more words.
Expanding your toddler’s vocabulary is all about exposure and fun. Parents are their child’s first teacher and play a major role in helping their child develop language skills. Start small by setting a simple goal to “language it up” at least one time each day. The bottom line is that by talking, reading, singing and playing with your child, you will see significant growth in their language development. Sit back and enjoy the journey.
Weitzman, E. & Greenberg, J. (2010). ABC and Beyond: Building Emergent Literacy in Early Childhood Settings. The Hanen Centre: Toronto.
Rowe, M. (2012). A Longitudinal Investigation of the Role of Quantity and Quality of Child-Directed Speech in Vocabulary Development. Child Development: 83(5), 1762-1774.
I was recently talking to a friend about some of the posts on the blog and realized that it would be good to create a Table of Contents for quick access. So here it is! All the postings for the September and October in a single post. One Stop Shopping! Enjoy!
What are Fine Motor Skills and why are they important?
Fine motor skills are those that involve using muscles which control the hand, fingers and thumb. With the development of these skills, a child is able to complete important tasks such as feeding oneself, buttoning, zippering and writing. These abilities gradually develop through experience and exposure to a variety of activities.
So this month I decided to create a GG Fun Kit to to strengthen fine motor skills. As many of you are aware, the kits are my attempt to create unique Christmas gifts for my grandkids. My goal is for each kit to support learning, be reasonably priced and full of GG/grandkid FUN! Last month, I created a Math Kit and this month I’m off to the Dollar Store with a $10.00 bill to find materials to support Fine Motor skills.
Fun Activities to Strengthen Fine Motor Skills
Sort pompoms in ice cube trays by color
Pick up pompoms with tweezers and put in ice cube trays
Put pompoms into storage containers
String beads using wire
Roll post its and put through beads
Build structure using beads and post its
Use clothespins to hang post its, baggies, rubber bands on wire
Wrap wire around ice cube trays
Write with small pencil on small post its
Use to make connectors between beads
Wrap rubber bands around fingers and practice picking up small items
Use to pick up small items in kit
Use to pick up small to medium items in kit
Ice cube trays (2)
Use trays to sort items by color, number and to make patterns
Use the bottom of the tray as a geoboard stretching rubber bands over the shape
Stretch rubber bands over the trays
Baggies with zippers
Use as a container and take out items using tongs or tweezers
Clear plastic containers
Use for storage
Put hole in lid and put small items from the kit through the hole using fingers
Put items from kit through the hole using tweezer or tongs.
Use to pick up beads, rubber bands, small pencil, post it.
Use to hang items on the wire
Plastic cupcake holder with lid
Used to store all items in the kit.
Ideally one with a handle is best so it can be carried by children.
As a building principal for many years, I had the pleasure of working with many classroom teachers and special area teachers. There was not a day that went by that I didn’t learn something from one of them! One group of teachers that I found to be an amazing source of information was the Speech Language Pathologists (SLPs). Our SLPs were exceptionally helpful in our school’s Response to Intervention (RTI) process. As part of our RTI process, they worked to find different ways to include language interventions to strengthen student skills. Collaborating with classroom teachers they were able to explain a child’s limitations based on testing and suggested interventions. Partnering with parents they explained test scores, program recommendations and shared progress reports.
Thank you, Holly and Connie!
The 2 sites below are good resources to support teachers, parents and caregivers looking for information on any speech concerns. Both are active sites with the Main Page having multiple links and search engines to ask specific questions.
Support is essential for every child but especially for students with special needs. Because teachers have classrooms filled with students that have many different needs, information is valuable to the learning process. Parents can help teachers by providing information about their child that supports their child’s learning. This communication helps to build a good parent-teacher relationship.
Understood.org- FREE Special Education Resource
Understood.org provides parents of kids ages 3–20 with learning issues a free, secure access to personalized information. Supports are included from experts as well as other parents to help ELL students in the classroom. As a result the site supports a common language for parent/teacher conversations.
A website that supports teachers and families of English language learners (ELLs) in Grades PreK-12. Colorín Colorado has been providing free information, activities, and advice to parents, schools, and communities around the country for more than a decade.