Bridges News — Curriculum


Accessible Text Repositories -- Canadian and International 1

Recently, a teacher in BC whose student just received Kurzweil 3000 called and said "Given that many students in BC use Kurzweil 3000, I have two questions:

1) Surely, I don’t have to turn a whole bunch of common Grade 6 novels and textbooks into .kesi files for this specific student?

2) Surely, someone else has already done this work and there is a source for it?"

I answered, “of course you don't,” and “of course there is.” (Bracketed by the phrases “reinventing the wheel” and “don’t call me Shirley...”)

New MEville to WEville Don Johnston Package 0

MEville to WEville has just been reintroduced as a complete in-the-box literacy solution for students with significant disabilities, and now there are two options to chose from;  one from Don Johnston and one from Ablenet. [caption id="attachment_1265" align="aligncenter" width="300"]meville 2 weville DJI package Don Johnston's Inc.' s MEville to WEville Literacy Curriculum Package[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1268" align="aligncenter" width="300"]pic of Ablenet's MEville to WEville package. Ablenet's MEville to WEville package.[/caption] Both versions have the same proven research-based literacy curriculum for students with mild to severe cognitive and communication challenges, in a boxed format with additional resources that make implementation easy. The Don Johnston version of MEville to WEville includes 30 phonics lessons and five additional sets of Start-to-Finish Literacy Starters accessible books with the accompanying comprehension lessons, plus a training DVD featuring Dr. Karen Erickson. [caption id="attachment_1272" align="alignleft" width="209"]Ablenet's Bookworm reading tool. Ablenet's Bookworm reading tool.[/caption] The Ablenet version of MEville to WEville has only three Start to Finish Literacy Starter packages.  Now each Start-to-Finish books have three titles for each theme, so that’s still 9 Start to Finish Literacy Starter books in the AbleNet package.  But the Ablenet version of MEville to WEville has a Bookworm book reader and the QuickTalker 7 communication aid also. So which MEville to WEville should you pick? [caption id="attachment_1273" align="alignleft" width="168"]Image of quicktalker 7 from Ablenet QuickTalker 7 from Ablenet[/caption] If it’s for a new DD or MID classroom where your equipping them from scratch, the devices in the Ablenet package would probably be really appreciated by any teacher.  Open the box and you’re ready to go! On the other hand the DJ version might be particularly attractive to a teacher working with older students.  There are still the six Bookworm adapted literature books in the DJ version too.  With their lively pictures and fun stories, they’re attractive and engaging self-selected reading for students of a wide age range. [caption id="attachment_1270" align="alignleft" width="155"]Additional Start to Finish books in DJI's ME2WE package. Additional Start to Finish books in DJI's ME2WE package.[/caption] But in the DJ version you’ve got an additional 5 sets of Start to Finish Literacy Starters  – that’s 15 more books!  And like all Start to Finish Literacy Starter packages they include a switch accessible computer version with recorded narration and tonnes of useful resources for teachers.  There are also 30 Systematic Sequential Phonics Lessons to get students making words. Whichever MEville to WEville package you chose, your students will be served well with a proven, research driven literacy curriculum for students with significant disabilities. In a research study, led by Dr. Karen Erickson at the University of North Carolina, students between the ages 8 to 14 (all with moderate to severe/profound intellectual impairments) improved generalized development in reading and writing skills by an average of 40% (Cohen’s d=.44) after completing 40 instructor-delivered lessons from the MEville to WEville with Literacy Starters Program. And the research results showed that students were able to generalize their skills, too. To see the full results visit and click on the Research Tab. 

--Bogdan Pospielovsky

MEville to WEville Success Stories from Alberta 0

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"]

SymbolWorld -- Free Symbolized Articles and Stories On your PC, iPad or Mac! 0

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.