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Mar
31

Routines and Comfort Zones

I recently attended a Professional Development Webinar from edWeb.net the presenter is a high school biology teacher in Massachusetts named Bonnie Nieves. Check it out,  "Increase Student Engagement: Decrease Your Teacher Workload."

The very beginning of her presentation really got the wheels in my head spinning. Getting kids to have more ownership in their learning is an important first step - it gets students more engaged too. The hook for me was her discussion about routines and how vital routines, plans, and expectations are for students.

Students must feel safe before they can engage and learn. They need to know what content to expect, classroom rules/expectations, daily schedule, quiz/test schedule, modules of learning, and throughout all of these routines - there must be a clear beginning, middle and end. You can start with Visual Schedules - It's good practice. If your student has a visual impairment, review the schedule aloud or offer an accessible format.

Reach out to PATINS staff on our Educator Support page for assistance.

classroom visuals for schedule listed vertically. Each activity includes and image and word.  For example, the topmost item is morning announcement snad has computer winrdo with a magnifying glass.  Further down the list is pack up with a backpack.

We all have routines (e.g., wake up, (some exercise early), let the dogs out, start coffee, feed the dogs, get dressed, eat, brush teeth, go to work/school, etc.). Each of us has a morning routine and it's hopefully something that sets a good mood for the day. It's comfortable and known.

Alarm Clock

Routines can be stressful if they don't occur as planned. Morning routines can vary depending on planning from the night before, work schedule, and more. Stress can factor in when the routine is disrupted…overslept, allergies kicked in full force, spilled coffee, out of coffee filters (solution = use a paper towel), no clean socks, or forgot lunch at home. What if your students don't have exposure to positive routines at home (e.g., inconsistent food, disrupted sleep, minimal/no homework support, etc.)?

You can't control your students' routines outside of school but you can at school!

Discovering Your Inner Peace - rock cairn on water

It's a beautiful, sunny and warm day. You arrive at work early, find a close parking spot, all is well. Upon arrival to your classroom, it's clean and organized, you prepare for your students with the lesson you created last night. You feel good. You used the PATINS Project UDL (Universal Design for Learning) Lesson Plan Creator

Using the Lesson Planner can help with your teaching routine to ensure that you consistently consider the needs of all students in the areas of EngagementRepresentation and Action & Expression. Your students will feel safe because they know you have optimized your teaching and their opportunities for learning for every lesson you create. It's part of your routine and thus you have increased their independence and success.

Be clear in your routines (e.g., time, expectations, lesson format, options for response formats, access to Accessibility Tools, organization, etc.), use the resources that are available to you and you will also decrease your workload.

postcript: I did not initially follow the PATINS guidelines/routine for posting this blog as shown below:

Proofread, proofread, proofread

  1. Have your screen reader read it back to you
  2. Have at least 1 other staffer proofread your blog 
  3. Grammarly extension helps to identify mistakes
  4. Hemingway helps clarify wording
  5. Print it out and read it on paper

I had a fellow staff member proofread and was ready to publish...I thought I should review the guidelines!  Practice what I'm preaching here. Original word count in MS Word was 450...good. [updated word count is 595]. Below is a screenshot of me using Read&Wrtie to read aloud the content I was preparing to release. Yikes! Numerous errors, mostly you/your substituions. What an eye opener!

portion of text highlighted with Read&Write from Chrome. Sentence is highlighted in yellow and current word is blue.

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Mar
24

Did You Miss Us? Tech Expo 2022 is In-Person!

Did You Miss Us? Tech Expo 2022 is In-Person! Teacher and student smiling at one another. Tech Expo 2022 PATINS Project with IN*SOURCE. April 14, Carmel IN.

Almost one year to the date, I wrote the blog “PATINS Tech Expo 2021 with IN*SOURCE - Exciting Updates!” about our second virtual Tech Expo. Fortunately, we are back 100% in-person in Carmel, Indiana for PATINS Tech Expo 2022. We are excited to partner with IN*SOURCE for the fifth time!! It’s quite apparent over 400 of you are looking forward to hands-on time with assistive technology, face-to-face conversations with resource organizations, and fun and networking too!

The presentation schedule has been set with 20 excellent sessions from knowledgeable experts, including representatives from Apple, Don Johnston, Inc (makers of Snap&Read, Co:Writer, uPar), Texthelp, Microsoft, and many more! All sessions will show you how to boost accessibility in your classroom without adding more to your plate and provide valuable information to share with parents/families about their child’s future. Nearly all presentations tie into a big topic for educators - literacy!

In addition to the presentations, there are over 40 exhibitors available throughout the day! They will answer your questions, provide resources for supporting Indiana students both in and out of the classroom, and introduce you to their transformational products and services. Attendees will not want to miss the live Exhibit Hall to find out how to win educational door prizes from our generous donors!

Check out the presentation Schedule-At-A-Glance and Exhibit Hall List now.

There is still plenty of time in the school year to make an impact on that one student who needs better access to communicate, read, write, and/or socialize. Tech Expo 2022 is the spot to find your a-ha solutions.

Only two week’s left to register for a no-cost ticket. This includes free parking and complimentary breakfast and lunch, plus you can earn up to four Professional Growth Points (PGPs)/Contact Hours for attending.

I hope to see you on April 14 in Carmel, IN!


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Mar
17

How to Incorporate MTSS into What You're Already Doing

Welcome Cassie Weaver of Cowan Community Schools, as our guest blogger today!
We are fortunate to have Cassie share her experiences with us. Cassie is a military wife and mother of two children, which she adores. They lived in North Dakota for three years and Alaska for four years before moving back to Indiana. She currently works as a special education teacher at Cowan Community Schools and in the past she has worked at the K-12 level for about three years. Prior to that she ran a daycare for four years. She has a contagious passion for working with kids and teaching them through STEAM activities, allowing to spark their creative and involvement in their own learning. Cassie is an advocate for Universal Design for Learning, students in Special Education, and students who are English Language Learners. She shares that she decided to write about MTSS because she found lots of resources that tell what MTSS is but not as many resources that say how to use MTSS in the classroom. When looking at the big picture of MTSS it can be overwhelming and Cassie felt like many educators might not know where to start. So she wanted to try to put a resource out there that shows how to build off of what the educator might already be doing. She also wanted to talk about how to make material more accessible for all learners, since that aligns with her educational philosophy. We hope that our readers find this information helpful.  

How to incorporate MTSS into what you're already doing. 

Multi-tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) is a framework for making data driven decisions. When developing a corporation's MTSS framework, it’s important to take into account universal screeners that are already being used and utilize those as the first step in the process. 

Teachers are currently overwhelmed with making up for the learning loss due to COVID-19 and students being quarantined. This is why it is crucial to use the tools already in place to make MTSS effective. If your corporation gives NWEA in the fall that should be step 1 of MTSS. Use that data to identify the students who may be falling behind more than others and have not already been identified under IDEA. Additional assessments for the MTSS students need to be conducted to determine skill deficits. 

EasyCBM lite, is a free resource that allows you to assign benchmark assessments for K-8th grade students. When deciding what interventions or accommodations the MTSS teams would like to put in place it is important to make sure you are using evidence-based practice. 

Let’s talk about how to simplify MTSS. 

Adding in academic support to your daily routine doesn’t mean completely throwing away your current lesson plan. When examining your lesson plan, look for areas that you can add to it. For example, if you are preparing a lecture, you can add closed captions using Google Classroom, or add pictures to help illustrate a concept. Another option would be when teaching using multiple steps or directions, have each step listed out in order for students to refer back to. You could also add an extension for creating audio recordings, such as Mote, so the directions or content can be read aloud as needed. 

Use independent work time as intentional re-teaching instruction for students identified as needing MTSS. Rather than counting on the students to come to you for assistance, go to them. Engage with them 1 on 1 and have them explain what they heard from the lesson. This gives you the opportunity to correct any misconceptions or reinforce any positive behaviors or processes.  

Goal and progress monitoring

Create SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time bound) goals for your MTSS students. Don’t expect a student to produce a year's worth of academic growth in 6-8 weeks. Set a skill specific goal that can be met in the 6-8 week timeframe. For example student A will create a checklist of assignments and meet 8 out of 10 assignment deadlines per subject.  

Conclusion

Incorporating MTSS doesn't need to be time consuming, nor should it require you to rework your lesson plan. Use the resources you already have available. Make your material more accessible to students, by incorporating visuals, hands on materials, or written text paired with oral support. Use guided practice as a time to focus on breaking down objectives into smaller steps to help build students skills. I hope that this helps you in your journey with MTSS in the general education classroom.

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