Dear Miss Rae,
I'm a special education teacher who teaches students in inclusion and pull-out academic support groups for reading. I'm not certified in any specialized reading programs. I have begged my district to pay for me to get certified in Wilson or Orton Gillingham, but they won't! I can't afford to pay for these trainings myself, but I want to be able to help my students. How do I teach reading to my special education students if I'm not certified in a specialized program?
Wilson Wanna-Be Teacher
Dear Wanna-Be Wilson Teacher,
You're a Special Education teacher! That's a superpower all in itself so no need to worry! You got this!
First, check out my blog on Special Education Guided Reading groups where I give you a step-by-step lesson plan format to follow! You can use this process for both the inclusion and academic support (pull-out) model.
Then, check out my blog on Readers Who Read Significantly Below Grade Level for comprehensive reading plans for your pull-out groups!
Next, read my blog on Reading Rubrics for progress monitoring ideas!
And finally, pat yourself on the back for being such a great teacher!
By Miss Rae
Dear Miss Rae,
Help! How do I write IEP goals for a student using Wilson Reading?
I see students in a one-to-one and small group setting for reading. I use the Wilson Reading System with all of my students, but I struggle to write IEP goals because I ONLY use this program with them. How do I write IEP goals for a student using Wilson Reading?
Goal-Less Wilson Reading Teacher
Students with specific learning disabilities in reading need specialized instruction.
Wilson Reading, Orton Gillingham, Spire, Project Read, and others are examples of specialized instruction. Such programs work for students with learning disabilities in reading because they provide direct and explicit structured, sequential multisensory teaching of the basic elements of language for improved decoding and encoding!
All levels of language, including sounds (phonemes), symbols (graphemes), meaningful word parts (morphemes), word and phrase meanings (semantics), sentences (syntax), longer passages (discourse), and the social uses of language (pragmatics) are taught in conjunction with each other. This can make it difficult to write a targeted IEP goal.
Here are some IEP goals and objectives to choose from:
Given specialized instruction using a multisensory systematic phonics-based program, XXX will increase his/her reading levels for comprehension, decoding,and fluency to an end of first grade reading level by the end of the IEP period.
Given a multisensory language based explicit instruction in developmental skills which lead to decoding and word recognition, XXX will increase his/her reading skills for comprehension, decoding, encoding, phonics, word recognition and vocabulary development, to at least one grade level above his/her current instructional text level (XXX) with at least 97% accuracy as measured by running records, anecdotal notes, and assessments by the end of the IEP period.
Given direct instruction using a systematic and scientifically based reading instruction program, XXX will demonstrate accurate knowledge of reading skills showing one year's growth (Fountas & Pinnell Level XXX) with 95% accuracy.
Given direct instruction using a systematic and scientifically based reading instruction program, XXX will increase his/her reading levels for comprehension, decoding, encoding, and fluency from his/her current level of being able to use 1 syllable type (closed) to being able to use all 6 syllable types as measured by the end of the IEP period.
Decoding: Given 15 words in isolation at his/her instructional level, XXX will correctly and independently decode 80 percent of the words accurately.
Decoding: Given 15 non-contextualized CVC, CCVC, CVCC, and/or CVCe words at XXX's instructional level, XXX will correctly decode 80% based on charts and teacher notes and charting.
Decoding: Given 15 words in isolation at his/her instructional level including words containing all 6 syllable types and learned prefixes and suffixes, XXX will independently and accurately decode 85 percent of the words.
Fluency: Given text and passages using controlled text at his/her independent reading level, XXX will be able to read 3-4 words together at a rate of 90 wpm based on charts, running records and teacher notes.
Fluency: When given text or reading passage at his/her independent reading level, XXX will use knowledge of decoding skills and word recognition to increase his/her fluency reading orally with appropriate rate, and expression at 90 words per minute with 90% accuracy.
Encoding (Spelling): Given dictation for spelling and grammar, XXX will correctly spell 75 percent of the words at his/her current instructional level based on student samples and teacher record.
Comprehension: Given sentences, paragraphs and reading passages at his/her instructional reading level (controlled-text), XXX will be able to independently use visualization and retell the facts/events with 90 percent accuracy based on teacher notes and benchmark assessments.
Comprehension: XXX will use learned reading strategies of summarizing, questioning, inferencing, making connections and predicting to answer right there and higher order thinking questions from text at his/her instructional level in 4 out of 5 opportunities with up to 2 cues.
Vocabulary: XXX will utilize decoding and context clue strategies to understand unfamiliar words when reading (orally and/or silently) content area texts with decreasing adult assistance in 4 out of 5 observations with 80 percent accuracy.
By: Miss Rae
Check out my other related reading blogs...
Check out my reading resources on TPT...
Dear Miss Rae,
How can I help a student who has ZERO coping skills?
My student is a sweet girl who greets her teacher with a hug every day. She can follow routines. She rarely shuts down in class, but when she does it is around academics. When things are hard for her, she completely gives up. Her shutting down is crying and quiet. She will cover her face with her hair, but she does not ask for help. She does NOT like making mistakes. Help me so I can help her! Because the truth is I don’t know how to help her!
Approximately 4.4 million students, aged 3-17 years, have been diagnosed with anxiety (Ghandour, et al., 2018).
So teaching coping skills in schools is a must!
Coping means to make a conscious effort to solve problems and master, minimize, and handle stress or conflict!
Here are some coping strategies that I teach to my students:
ONE: Deep Breathing!
Oxygen helps our bodies relax. Have students breathe in through their nose, expand their bellies, and then, breath out. Try using a pinwheel or bubbles! As students breathe out, get the pinwheel to spin or make some bubbles float into the air!
TWO: WRITE ABOUT FEELINGS!
Writing helps students get their feelings out and learn from them. Give students time to free write about their feelings. This is a private place to confess how they feel. Writing down anxious thoughts helps take them away and allows students a chance to vent their frustrations. Through writing, students are able to connect and listen to themselves as well. This self-reflection allows them to evolve and gain control over their own thoughts.
Try these writing activities for stress:
*Keep a worry journal. Have students write down the worries they are feeling, but then, end with one positive feeling. This helps to break the negative thinking cycle!
*Start a feelings journal. Students write one feeling (i.e. happy, mad, sad, scared) on a page. Students should then think of something that gave them this feeling. Write or draw about what happened.
*Write and Rip! In this activity, students write or draw their worries on a piece of paper. They can read them to themselves, a teacher, counselor, or peer (if they choose). Then, rip up the paper and throw it away.
*Use a question and answer activity to help students process and reflect on their stress experiences.
Three: FOCUS ON THE POSITIVE!
Get students to change their thinking! Oftentimes, when we are anxious, we engage in negative self-talk. How we talk to ourselves affects our outlook on the world. So help students change their mindset!
Teach positive self-talk! Brainstorm ways to revise negative talk.
I can’t make this any better.
What can I improve?
I can’t do this.
I have to practice.
This is too hard.
This may take some time.
I’m never going to get this.
I’ll use a different strategy.
I made a mistake.
Mistakes help me learn.
Create lists! Students can create gratitude lists of things they are thankful for. They can also create favorite lists. Creating a list of things students love to do gives them choices when they are stressed out.
Four: GET MOVING!
Exercise releases endorphins. These are natural painkillers that the brain releases. This helps to reduce stress. So get your kiddos moving! Students can walk in place, run in place, dance, do jumping jacks, stretch, take a walk, or do some yoga all in their classroom!
Relaxing helps students to calm their minds and thus, regulate their emotions.
Create a calming corner within the classroom. This gives students a place to go to for some relaxation time. Students can ask to go to this safe space within the classroom. Once there, they can use a sand timer to track the length of their stay. Then, they can engage in relaxing activities that are all available within the calming space. This could be fidgets, coloring books, clay, books, a mini sandbox, and more. Teach your students how to use these tools to relax prior to introducing the space.
Teach students a trick to release this stress from their bodies:
Tense all of your muscles in your body (really tight...make fists even). Hold your muscles tight for five seconds. Release. Notice how you feel. Repeat two to five times.
You can also teach tensing one muscle group at a time, holding for five seconds, releasing, pause to notice how you feel, and then, moving to the next group.
Let students create a character that represents their anxiety. Have them talk to their character about ways to feel strong and deal with their anxiety. Practice visualizing talking to this character. This will help students use this strategy in a moment of anxiety.
Have your students create video game remote controls for their anxiety. Each button can be a strategy that works for the student. Practice pressing a button and using this strategy.
Create a worry box for the classroom. Decorate a box for the classroom. Students can write their worries on a piece of paper and place them in the box.
Seven: TRACK THE DATA!
We use data to motivate our students in their academics so why don’t we do this with their stress. Students can track their stress in a notebook in order to analyze it. Does their stress have a pattern? Conference with your students to help them gain a deeper understanding of their stress. What was the catalyst for the student’s stress? What was the antecedent to the stress? What was the consequence of the stress? What can a student do to prevent this pattern from continuing
For the most severe cases of students who lack coping skills, teachers can help them by creating IEP goals for them!
Sample IEP Goal:
Given direct instruction, XXX will develop coping skills and strategies to manage frustrations in 3 out of 5 observable opportunities.
1. XXX will be able to use calming strategies when frustrated (breathing exercise or counting backwards) in 3 out of 5 observable opportunities.
2. XXX will be able to verbalize difficulties and accept when no further help can be offered for completing tasks or tests in 3 out of 5 observable opportunities.
3. XXX will put forth effort when confronted with perceived difficult tasks in 3 out of 5 observable opportunities.
Coping skills are skills that our students need to be successful in life - no matter where their journey takes them. Let’s help them to have success in life!
By: Miss Rae
Ghandour RM, Sherman LJ, Vladutiu CJ, Ali MM, Lynch SE, Bitsko RH, Blumberg SJ. Prevalence and treatment of depression, anxiety, and conduct problems in U.S. children. The Journal of Pediatrics, 2018. Published online before print October 12, 2018
TEACHER SELF CARE GUIDE
When students push, give them a hug.
The first day I met Jon, he entered my class followed by one of the school’s many Crisis Interventions. After exchanging some words, it appeared that Jon had not followed an instruction that he was given. The Crisis Interventionist was clearly angry, and Jon was clearly not. And most obvious to me was that Jon was in control of the entire situation. He made the situation go the way he wanted. I respected him for that. I saw the leader in him. I also saw the challenge of fostering the POSITIVE leader in him.
Over the next few months, Jon and I fostered a strong relationship. He was a positive leader in our classroom community. I made sure to allow him to always feel safe and in control when he could be. But then, one day, everything changed. He walked into class, told me he hated me, and then, proceeded to do everything in his power to show me how much he hated me.
Jon had been diagnosed with something called Reactive Attachment Disorder or RAD, as it’s known.
RAD is a condition characterized by markedly disturbed and developmentally inappropriate ways of relating socially in most contexts
When a baby is repeatedly comforted and cared for, an attachment forms with the caregivers. Baby’s who have their needs met learn to love and trust others, develop healthy relationships, regulate emotional responses to situations, be aware of others’ emotions and needs, and have a positive self-image.
On the other hand, when a baby experiences abuse and neglect at the hands of caregivers, attachments do not form. Failure to establish these expected bonds negatively impacts children, leading to possible depression, irritability, and mistrust and/or fear of trusting adults or peers.
Repeated abuse and neglect can leave children at-risk for RAD.
The signs and symptoms of RAD include the following…
-Failure to reach out when picked up or interest in peek-a-boo
-Unexplained withdrawal, fear, sadness or irritability
-Sad and listless appearance
-Not seeking comfort or showing no response when comfort is given
-Failure to smile
-Watching others closely but not engaging in social interaction
-Failing to ask for support or assistance
But RAD is a rare disorder. The majority of children who experience repeated abuse and neglect, including those that have been bounced around to multiple caregivers and experienced abuse and neglect with each, do not develop RAD.
Wait! What?! How is it rare when I can think of at least 3 students in my classroom that exhibit these symptoms?!
Modern-day students make this disorder feel like the norm, right?!
Some of our students have been hurt and let down by adults in the past. When something happens to someone over and over, it becomes an expected behavior. So instead of being let down by another adult who you have started to care about, why not push them away? Isn't that easier? Then, that adult can't hurt you. That adult can let you down like all of the others have.
Not only did Jon state in front of the whole class how much he hated me, he also continued to tell them why he hated me, including my stupidity and ugly appearance in his tirade. He refused to participate in morning meeting, getting two others to follow his choice after explaining how boring morning meeting is. During reading, he broke the picture of my puppy on my desk and twenty minutes later, threw a chair at me. And at the end of the day, I told him that I didn’t know what I had done to upset him, but I couldn’t change unless he told me. I also told him that I cared for him, I didn’t like to see him this upset, and tomorrow is a new day!
The next day he came in and quietly observed the class for the day, never once speaking to me.
At the end of the day, I told him that I was happy to see that he seemed less angry, but I missed the old Jon. Tomorrow would be a new day.
After that, Jon acted as if those two days never happened. He did push again at times, but never so intensely.
Trauma leaves an impact. No matter the trauma, a person’s brain is essentially altered in terms of thinking, emotional regulation, and response to fears.
So when a student pushes you away, don't let them. Instead, let them know that you are not like the other adults who have let them down in the past. Let them know that you are not going anywhere. They aren't going to be able to push you away - just give it up, kid
When students push, give them a hug.
By: Miss Rae
Band-aids are great right?! I mean hey - we're stuck on band-aids and band-aids get stuck on us. But that is exactly what they do. They stick on tiny cuts that have barely broken the skin. The real cuts need real help. And the same goes for school systems. A system built on band-aids isn't strong and won't last.
Band-aids don't make school problems all better!
Band-aids are meant to be temporary solutions and too many of today's schools are using band-aids to fix their problems. These aren't going to last. They are short-term solutions, and short-term solutions jeopardize any change efforts!
They do save time and money, though. And just like band-aids, they are quick fixes.
Schools need long-term solutions! Long-term solutions represent hope and knowledge, in that they are systemic, occurring over a long period of time. Long-term solutions provide tools for assistance for a broader depth of knowledge, addressing complex causes of serious problems. This leads to better understandings, communication, and problem solving.
Our schools need...
-robust meaningful current curriculums that are ever-evolving without the cost of continually having to purchase them
-continuous and supportive professional development focused on creating highly trained and skilled educators
-strong interventions for ALL students
-embedded social emotional learning
-respect and empathy for educators, students, and families
So let’s find the long-term solutions for these needs! Let’s reshape American education for the better with long-term solutions for long-term change and success!
By Miss Rae
About 4 percent of girls in the U.S. dropped out of school in 2016. While this number may not seem alarming, its repercussions are!
Educated women increase a country’s economy. Research has proven that by failing to educate girls, some countries lose more than $1 billion annually.
Research has also proven why students dropout of school. Many of their reasons are factors located within our schools
But what we don’t know is specifically why our girls are dropping out of school.
And why don’t we know this?
Because what there hasn’t been much research on is why our GIRLS are dropping out of school!
They say girls run the world so let’s tell them what we need to keep our girls from becoming dropouts!
Most schools have comprehensive plans to address crisis behaviors and bullying, but do these plans even consider that female students have different needs? Do these plans include targeted interventions for our girls? Do these plans address sexual harassment and rape?
Kudos to those who do!
Equal opportunity is a right for ALL, and ALL should be included in our schools!
And like ALL students...
Our girls need to feel safe in school.
Girl bullying has its own rules. Exclusion, rumors, gossip, verbal and written harassment, and rallying others to participate in the exclusion are just a few of the tactics that girls possess.
Boys tend to be bullied physically while our girls are excluded differently. Girls will share their friends secrets to purposely embarrass her. The next step in hurting another girl is to get others to join in your jealousy of your former friend and begin making mean comments about her clothes or looks. Finally, the former friend is ostracized into isolation.
Boys tend to mostly by only other boys while girls are bullied by other girls and boys. And research has shown that girls are more likely than boys to be bullied on school property.
So our schools are in need of some anti-discrimination and social emotional learning policies and curriculums. Policies and student and staff learning should include an understanding around students who become pregnant. Schools can include Title IX coordinators in their budgets to help adopt, teach, and enforce these procedures and teachings.
Girls tend to bully as a means to gain attention or control due to feelings of jealousy or a lack of importance or self-esteem. By fostering meaningful relationships with others, including peers, mentoring adults, and advisory, our girls can improve their self-confidence and empathy.
Our girls need these relationships to become stronger women!
“If you educate a man, you educate an individual. But if you educate a woman, you educate a nation.”
Empower our girls, giving them a voice to use to change the world!
By supporting our girls’ success in typically male dominated career and technical education courses, we are engaging them in an education and providing them with a future! The girls who are successful in these programs will have gained a stronger self-image as a result!
But how do we empower the rest of our girls?
Our girls need strong female role models! And our strong female teaching staff are the perfect solution! So, model and mentor away, ladies! But let’s make sure our ladies have the support for this too. Schools should train their staff on modeling and mentoring students.
Our curriculum should include strong female characters from present-day, history, and our best fictional works! Schools can create teams to ensure a strong female presence curriculum (vertically aligned ofcourse).
By giving our girls a voice, we help them stand up for themselves, give them confidence, and teach them to ask questions to grow and learn!
A voice also helps them say, “no” when they need to!
Schools need to teach our girls how to prevent teen pregnancy!
Pregnancy is the major reason for our girl dropouts. Thirty percent of girls who dropout cite pregnancy as the reason. But research has proven that the higher the level of education a girl has, the less likely they are to get pregnant at a young age. Therefore, schools must have comprehensive and quality sex ed programs and keep our girls in school!
Let’s face a reality, though, for a moment - despite our best efforts, there are many things that are out of our control so a student may become pregnant. And we still need to support our pregnant girls. Schools can assist students with social service engagement, provide child care (add an early childhood curriculum that doubles as daycare), and offer alternative schooling options and individualized graduation plans.
Schools can partner with social service agencies as well to offer classes in parenting skills, prenatal care, and child development.
Teen pregnancies can also result from social issues.
Address our girls’ silent behaviors!
Since our boys tend to be our ACTING OUT behavior problems, their problems get noticed. Our girls, on the other hand, exhibit silent behaviors.
Girls tend to express themselves through absenteeism. Schools can utilize data tracking systems to track attendance and address it early. Students at-risk for dropping out can be identified sooner and interventions can be implemented sooner!
Absenteeism can lead to academic problems and academic problems can lead to absenteeism. Much like the chicken or the egg debate, the point is moot. But the solution is simple - we need to engage our girls in school! Personalize the environment and instructional process for our girls. This can be done through accommodations, academic support, and enrichment.
Tutoring is one method of providing academic support or enrichment. And get more bang for your buck - tutors can be mentors too!
Mentors (peer or staff) act as advocates and targeted interventions for your at-risk female dropouts. Staff mentors should focus on engaging parents, advocating for students, and addressing academic and social barriers for students.
Mentors can also ensure that girls have equal opportunities to participate in sports and girl teams are treated equitably. And sports keep kids in school!
Alternative schooling options keep our girls in school!
-Career and technical education
A girl with an extra year of education earns 20 percent more! So stay in school and let’s go takeover the world, girls!
By: Miss Rae
National Center for Education Statistics, Current Population Survey (CPS), 2016
Hi! I'm Miss Rae! I'm a Special Education Coordinator with a passion for creating research-based resources for DiVeRSe learners and helping teachers make their lives easier! #teacherrealtalk #missraesroom