Bridges News — Curriculum

MEville to WEville Success Stories from Alberta

As part of an ongoing literacy initiative, Literacy for All -- A Community of Practice, Alberta teachers are sharing their experiences with MEville to WEville on a publicly readable Wiki. [caption id="attachment_900" align="aligncenter" width="546"]Complete Meville to Weville with (from L to R) core books for young students, extension book for older students and the Literacy Starters titles with computer versions. Complete MEville to WEville with (from L to R) core books for young students, extension book for older students and the Literacy Starters titles with computer versions for mid-high school students.[/caption] "We learned that ALL students can learn literacy skills through comprehensive literacy instruction in inclusive classrooms when we use the right supports and modifications," wrote one teacher. "The kids are really responding well and the lessons are so well laid out," writes another Individual Support Program Teacher.  "I am feeling very optimistic and I think this resource will prove to be a great addition to my classroom." Two years ago Alberta began their  the Literacy for All project, whose goal was to:
"enhance teacher capacity to meet the literacy and communication needs of Grade 1-6 students with significant disabilities."
The deployment of MEville to WEville -- a research based literacy and communication curriculum for students with moderate to severe disabilities -- was a big part of the initiative.   Designed to build a classroom community that promotes a sense of belonging, each of the three units -- Me, My Family, My School -- offers students literacy and face-to-face communication teaching about themselves, their home life, and their school community. For older learners at an emerging literacy level, there is a version of MEville to WEville incorporating the Literacy Starters supported books for older readers  as core texts. Over 20 schools across the province are participating and Edmonton Regional Learning Consortium (ERLC) is coordinating and supporting the project.
Writing Stories
"OK guy, you have 15 minutes of free time.  Chose your activity." "Will you help me write a story?" Are you serious?  Could I be more proud? Students who couldn't identify what they saw in a picture a few months ago, can now gather information, share and organize it and turn it into a coherent story.  With characters.  And action.  And a title!" --Alberta teacher in Literacy for All project using MEville to WEville.
With stories like these, it is not surprising Alberta Education is extending and expanding the Literacy for All project this year. Alberta also implemented a project that addressed mathematics teaching for students with mild to severe disabilities using the Equals curriculum also from Ablenet.  Stay tune for a Wiki sharing their learnings from this project. Along with the great blogs out of BC about their SOLO project, the Literacy for All Wiki suggests that the trend to share strategies that work on-line is no fad. The Literacy for All Wiki has implementation ideas, success stories, adaptations of the Four Block literacy model (that MEville to WEville is based on), assessment strategies and more. To take a look at MEville to WEville for early grades or the version with Literacy Starters for middle to high school aged students, contact a Bridges consultant to arrange for a demonstration or loan. Here are some of the comments by educators from the presentations archived on the Wiki, specifically about using the MEville to WEville curriculum.
All of the boys (gr. 4-5) participating in the program had great difficulty expressing emotion at the onset.  Thanks to the (MEville to WEville) unit on how we feel, they are all now able to give words to their emotions and have found strategies to deal with them! MEville to WEville helped my students:
  • Build confidence,
  • Bridge the gap between literacy in the home and literacy at school.
  • Recognize, read and utilize high frequency sight words
  • Progress in language acquisition skills
  • Grow emotionally and socially.
By using the pictures as their writing utensil, the students were able to independently put down their thoughts.  They were writing.  And once they realized this, they had instant confidence.  Soon they could work in pairs and prompt each other.  Could we BE more excited?!!! Due to the success of the program we intend to expand it next year to include 3 more students with high needs...  It has been a great success here and I would recommend it to all. [gallery ids="905,904,903"]
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SymbolWorld -- Free Symbolized Articles and Stories On your PC, iPad or Mac!

SymbolWorld is a wonderful resource from Widgit that we constantly share in our training sessions and workshops.  SymbolWorld has short articles – science, social studies, recipes, jokes and more -- carefully symbolized and written in a clear, simple style.  eLive magazine pages have current events, reviews, sports stories from around the world also symbolized and considerately written. Teachers have told us they use SymbolWorld articles for research, class discussions and modeling writing.  Readers of SymbolWorld vary from adults with cognitive challenges, to kids with reading disabilities to students who are new to English. Web-based SymbolWorld works beautifully on any browser, including iPads or other tablets. [slideshow] Now the eLive magazine is better than ever! New stories will be published instantly  and other popular categories such as 'People', 'Entertainment' and 'Sports' will be updated regularly.  All supported by the regularly updated 40,000+ Widgit symbol vocabulary. If you haven’t checked out SymbolWorld in awhile you may not have realized that you can now customize the settings for greater accessibility including colour, size, page layouts and heights for scrolling. Just register for free and you can change settings and even print symbolized articles.
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Equals Wins Association of Educational Publishers Distinguished Achievement Award

equals aep award finalist We were excited to learn that AbleNet’s Equals Mathematics curriculum was named the winner of the AEP Distinguished Achievement Award in the Whole Curriculum Program subcategory of Special Education. (You can find a detailed press release here.)  AEP Awards honor excellence and innovation in the education community. It is the longest running and most highly regarded recognition program in the industry. Bridges heard that Equals was nominated just before Karen Ross-Brown led a pre-conference on the adapted curriculum at the Bridges to Learning conference 2012, a few weeks ago.   Bridges "Canadianized" Equals and have been its exclusive distributor for Canada since it landed up here in the spring of last year. Equals has been quickly adopted in classrooms right across Canada including a province wide Ministry of Education led project in Alberta.  We've been doing a series of webinars on Equals all school year. We're doing one more webinar on Equals on Wednesday,  June 13th from 12-1pm.  To register for this free webinar just click on the link below or paste it into your browser.
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Equals Alignments to Provincial Math Standards, Now Available

Equals Canada BannerTables that demonstrate how the Ablenet special needs math curriculum, Equals, aligns to provincial standards are now available on the Ablenet website (under the tab, Province Standards).  These alignment documents for Ontario, Quebec and the Western Protocol spell out explicitly the connections between Equals and these curricula. One of the qualities that has made Equals so attractive to educators right across Canada, is the fact that it reflects the breadth of the mathematics curriculum covered by provincial standards. [caption id="attachment_352" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Equals Math Curriculum"]Equals Math Curriculum[/caption] Alignments are done very broadly to include the needs of students with significant disabilities and reflect the common core standards formulated by NCTM (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics).  The NCTM standards and recommended teaching best practices are the foundation of Canadian math teaching practice. Equals was Canadianized by Bridges and was published in mid-March of 2011. The Equals Canadian alignment documents are in Equals Math Lesson order.  But because these documents are spreadsheets, visitors can sort them by grade level, among other headings.
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BC School Reports on SOLO UDL Research Pilot

Birchland School in Port Coquitlam BC has just released their summary of a research/pilot running Don Johnston's SOLO with an unlimited school license. (birchland school solo research project) They tried several different reading and writing tools in a UDL context working with their interactive white-boards and found that SOLO worked best for their school community. "Last year, one of these students would barely write a word onto a page," the report observed. "He is now proudly declaring this year that he would like to be an author when he grows up!" The SOLO unlimited licence allows for take home rights for everyone in the school community -- teachers, students, even administrators and support staff.  Many of the students installed the program on their home computers and used it to complete homework assignments.  "Parents are thrilled to see the effectiveness of this program for their child," declares the Birchland School team that authored the report. Some key Findings:
  • Reading gains from October to March averaged at 9.5 levels and for the full year averaged at 13.8 levels in 2009-10 (with a score of 10 equaling about a gain of one year).
  • Applying the Kaufmann Test of Educational Achievement with a cohort of 5 grade 4 students, all students showed significant improvement in their reading comprehension. Four of the five students moved into the average range.
  • 100% of identified LD students reported that SOLO6 assisted them with their writing.
The report also noted that, "Though Assistive Technology is assumed to primarily support students with Learning Disabilities, we discovered through our UDL delivery of curriculum that 62% of our general population of students felt that SOLO6 helped them to become more proficient writers."
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