Specialist Update

March 2016

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GT Tech Ideas... more to come later

http://www.do2learn.com/ - This site is packed with strategies and activities for students with disabilities. (ADD, ADHD, Autism, Developmental Delays, Emotional Disturbance, Fetal Alcohol, Intellectual Disabilities, Speech / Language, Traumatic Brain Injury, Specific Learning, Twice Exceptional)

http://opendyslexic.org/ - Open Dyslexic is a new open source font created to increase readability for readers with dyslexia. The typeface includes regular, bold, italic, and bold-italic styles. It is being updated continually and improved based on input from dyslexic users.

· There is a Chrome Extension that will automatically change the font on your computer to the “Open Dylexic” Font. You can turn it on / off as needed. Here are the directions for utilizing that.

o Open Chrome Browser

o Click on the box in the top right corner with the three grey lines

o Click Settings

o Click on the word “extensions” on the left and scroll all the way down

o Click on “get more extensions” at the bottom of the page

o In the search the store box on the top left, type Open Dyslexic and hit enter

o Find the Open Dyslexic Extension and Click Add to Chrome (the blue box)

Once it has loaded, you will see a black O next to the grey box on the top right. If you click on it, there will be an option to turn Open Dyslexic On / Off. You have to have a webpage open for the Open Dyslexic Extension to change the font. **Try a webpage like cnn.com with a lot of text to experiment with using it for the first time


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Please remember as you meet with you mentor to discuss concerns you have regarding students with dyslexia. The End of the Year testing window will begin the 2nd week in May.

As you consider if a student is showing dyslexic tendencies consider both formal and informal data gathered and answer the following questions.

1. Are the difficulties in reading and spelling unexpected in relation to the student's

other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction?

2. Do these difficulties reflect a pattern of evidence for the primary characteristics of


3. Is there evidence of current or previous difficulty in phonological/phonemic


4. Have the results been interpreted in light of the student's language development,

educational history, linguistic background, or other pertinent factors that affect


5. Are there secondary characteristics of dyslexia evident in reading comprehension and

written expression?

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We hope that the strategies that we have been sharing have been helpful when deciding how to best approach instruction with your ELLs. J This month, we will be sharing a fourth strategy.

Check for Understanding - A great way to ensure that ELLs have thinking time and are prepared to answer with either oral or written responses is to use Total Response Signals.

Total = Total response signals include everyone in the classroom. ELLs, gifted students, at-risk students, etc.

Response = After questions are posed, students are given the opportunity to think through what they know and make a decision.

Signal = Students will give a visual signal when they feel that they are ready to answer.

Examples: Thumbs up, Stand, Pat Head, Hands on Hips, etc…

Research demonstrates that student engagement increases attention, which increases student achievement. Total response signals are a powerful way to ensure that students participate because they connect physical movement with mental processes. These signals also give students time to think about their answer and feel confident before they are called upon to give an oral or written response.

Thumbs up if you are ready to use Total Response Signals in your classroom!

~ Stacy Crabb & Shelly Shaltry, ESL Specialists


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Teaching Children Greetings and Good-byes

Conversational skills are the foundation for making friends and interacting with adults. Greetings and good-byes are very important aspects of a conversation since greetings set the tone for the conversation and good-byes leave a final impression. This article focuses on the critical components of greetings and good-byes and provides ways to practice these skills.

Tricky Components of Greetings and Good-byes

1. Wording – Many different words and phrases are used in introductions and greetings. The variations can be confusing for children who have a hard time generalizing skills. For example, “Hello” and “How are you?” for greetings or “Good-bye” and “Bye” for endings. Additionally, less common phrases or more subtle cues can be very difficult to recognize. For example, “I heard the bell,” or “It is getting late.”

2. Context – Children need to understand greetings and good-byes with regards to context. Two main determinates of context are the person being addressed and the setting of the encounter. For example, “Good morning.” and “Hey there!” are both greetings, but they are appropriate for different people. The same can be said for “Have a nice day.” and “See you later!” In addition to judging context with regards to the individual, children must also understand context with regards to settings. For example, a soccer coach may be greeted in a less formal manner than a teacher or an older person in the community.

3. Body Language – A glance from a familiar person, an outstretched hand to shake, and an approaching person are ways people engage conversations. These ‘pre-greeting’ behaviors may be understood naturally by some children but other children may need direct instruction in this area.

Strategies for Teaching Components of Greetings and Good-byes

Include variety- Activities addressing greetings and good-byes should include a variety of wording as well as people and situations. Variety helps children generalize the skills to new settings and people.

Discussions – Prepare children for an upcoming greeting by letting them know what will occur and reminding them how to respond. For example, “I am going to introduce you to our new neighbor. Please remember to say, ‘Hello, nice to meet you.” If a conversation has occurred that a child had difficulty with, review the situation. For example, “Bobby, I think when Todd picked up his bag he was starting to end the conversation. Next time, ask him if he has to leave.” Additionally, praise children to encourage correct behavior and be sure to say what they did correctly. For example, “Jane, you did a nice job of saying ‘Good morning’ to Mr. Allen.”

Role plays – Have children role play situations with a variety of wording and body language. Be sure to role play with peers and adults and use different words and settings for the role play. Role play is a fun way to teachnew phrases, body language cues, and appropriate responses in a comfortable environment.

Games – Use photographs or drawings of people talking to promote group discussions about introductions, body language, appropriate phrases for the person’s age and role, and conversation endings. Take before and after shots or correct and incorrect shots of starting and ending conversations to create a matching game.

Literacy activities – Use drawings of people talking to each other with speech bubbles. Include one person’s greeting or good-bye and have the child complete the other person’s response. Have children write a short story about people meeting for the first time, seeing someone familiar at a store, or leaving for a trip.