Saturday, April 28, 2012

K5 Learning

I recently have been looking for help for my son, who is autistic and struggles with learning sight words. I found this great program:  K5 Learning.

I have been able to assign specific assignments to him and track his progress.  I have really enjoyed the program.  Read more below if you are interested in it.

K5 Learning has an online reading and math program for kindergarten to grade 5 students.  I've been given a 6 week free trial to test and write a review of their program.  If you are a blogger, you may want to check out their open invitation to write an online learning review of their program.
A note on the assessments
When kids start K5, their reading and math lessons are cued at their grade level.

Once kids become familiar with the system, we recommend they complete our free online placement assessments in reading and math.  The idea is to gauge skill levels in different areas (phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, site words, comprehension, numbers/operations, geometry and measurement) and cue the lessons at an appropriate starting point in each.  To do an assessment, or to change levels before or after the assessment, just submit the request form from the Parent Dashboard.

The assessments generally work pretty well, but occasionally throw out poor results – especially if kids stop paying attention part way through (giving scores which are too low) or parents start helping (giving scores which are too high).    The assessments are for placement purposes and are not a full blown diagnostic assessment, which would be much longer and potentially counter-productive with the younger kids.

A note on lesson selection
One feature of our system is our automatic lesson selection; most of our parents do not really want to be actively involved in selecting lessons each day, but want to know that their child is progressing through the material in a logical way (and not just repeating 'fun' or easy activities and so on).  To facilitate this, the system automatically chooses the next lesson each day for the student.   In contrast, some parents, tend to be more hands-on, and use our assignment function to a greater extent.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Paint Chips

I came across this idea on Pinterest.

Teachers we're using paint chips to test sight words and math facts.  I decided to put my own musical twist on it.  Instead of words, I used different rhythms.  The students are to match the rhythm to the correct time signature.  You will need to put all the time signatures you want to test on one paint chip.

I also found this unique Better Home and Gardens paint chips at Walmart with a hole in them.  If you get these you could play "Find the missing rhythm."  Students have to put the hole on top of the rhythm that completes the measure correctly.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Autism Awareness

Hi blog world!  I have been teaching an autism inclusion class for the last nine weeks for a teacher who was out on maternity leave.  It was an amazing experience and has kept me super busy.  So busy, I haven't been able to keep up with my blog.  I learned so much from these wonderful children.

1st:  Autism does not define the child.

The child has autism, but this is not the only thing you need to know about the child.  They each have distinct personalities and different challenges.  They are learning how to do their best, just like every other child.  Some just have some challenges that are more difficult due to their autism.  They have particular interests, hopes and dreams that make a uniquely, wonderful individual.

2nd: Each child is an individual

In my experience, I found children who were really friendly and some who more reserved and withdrawn.  Some children struggled with their emotions and some were very quite.  As I got to know each child, I understood their strengths and struggles.  I understood what motivated them and what they needed help with.

3rd: Repetitive Behavior

Some autistic children display some typical behavior.  You may see arm or hand flapping, rocking or repetitive behaviors.  They may repeat phrases they hear over and over again.  Some children are very easily distracted and need to be redirected to the task often.

4th: Social Aspect

Many children with autism struggle with how to connect socially.  Some children need to be reminded to look in your eyes when talking.  They have a hard time understanding another person's perspective.

Strategies that helped:


I used sticker charts or incentive cards to motivate my students to adapt their behavior.  Many autistic children are visual learners, so the chart reminded them to stay on task because they could see a sticker for each good choice.  For a specific behavior, like saying hello, you could have a hello chart, where the student gets a sticker or check mark for each time they say hello.  When the student has filled up the chart they can pick a small prize or get to choose a preferred activity, like playing computer or playing legos.


To keep focus I reminded the child to 'check in' with their eyes (look at me) and repeat the directions back to me.  I used direct instruction and short directions.  For example:  Teacher "Sit for sticker.  Stand, no sticker."  I counted to three to allow the child time to make the right decision.  I also used visual clues, like a picture of a child sitting to remind the student what the appropriate behavior is.  I praised the student for making good choices as well.


Children with autism sometimes take longer to understand concepts. Reviewing the material and repeating instructions is needed.  Give them time to process the material and think about it.  Talk to them about what your expectations are before you give them a task.  Some children get anxious easily.  Having a routine and schedule gives them a understanding of what is going to happen.  Students feel they have more control when they can predict what will happen next.

I have a student with autism in my piano studio and have a son who is also autistic.  Consistency, patience and love go a long a way in making things easier.  I continue to look for the best ways for them to learn.

For more information visit:
Autism Speaks
Autism Society


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