“If a child can't learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn.”
-- Ignacio Estrada

Monday, April 18, 2011

MeVille to WeVille

I have tried a variety of reading/language programs over the years. Some years trying to adapt the grade level and phonics materials which often didn't meet the needs of the students. Some years I created all "teacher made" sight word based curriculum. This was time consuming and again, didn't quite meet the needs of all the students the way I had hoped. Finally, a couple of years ago, I found MeVille to WeVille as I was searching AbleNet's website for wireless switches. I purchased it and that next fall I went on maternity leave so needless to say...it was put on the shelf and not used that year. I looked through the curriculum again the following year, but wasn't sure how I could make it work in the classroom. The students were so diverse. Could this one program meet their needs and my expectations in a literacy program? After that, I made a commitment to myself that I was going to try it out this year.

And so begins this year's journey from MeVille to....well, MeVille. The literacy program is broken into 3 units: Me, My Family, and My School; each unit containing 3 parts. Due to the structure of each unit, the extension activities, 'game' activities, and the interactive lessons I created for use with the Smartboard, we only made it through Unit 1: ME.....thus MeVille to MeVille. Next school year maybe a challenge as I will have some new and returning students. My summer project will to figure out how to make it work with both groups, extending our MeVille to WeVille.

This year, I decided to set up the schedule so that I could tailor the reading/language portion to the communication needs of the students. Group #1 is comprised of my non-verbal, assistive tech users. In this group, 2 students use their personal Vanguard devices (see technology tab for more info on the Vanguard) and 2 students use a variety of low tech options, such as PCS symbols and a Big Mack switch. We also introduced some simple sign language as we went through the unit. In this group, our focus was on increasing AAC use, developing picture/word associations, participating/utilizing an interactive whiteboard, and attending to a group. My verbal students (using that term in a vary broad sense) made up Group #2. We used mostly verbal speech, sign language, and occasionally some of the low tech options. In this group, we focused on reading the words, identifying the pictures, taking turns, categorizing items, and attending/following along in a group.

As it grows near to the end of the school year, I think back to where the groups began and where they are now. It is amazing the growth in language each student had made and I know that it is because of this program. No matter how big or how small the growth, we have seen growth - from tracking the picture of the word of the week to the ability to read a sentence with a blank and input the missing word. The systematic lessons, the consistency with the PCS symbols, the repetition, and the focus of the student has helped make this year's reading groups a success. The school SLP, who is in my classroom 3 days a week during this literacy time, has also commented on the students growth in language and vocabulary skills.

A special thanks goes out to the parents for supporting the program by sending in photographs and filling out several questionnaires. Without that information, the personal touch, that I believed help make this program appealing to the students, could not have happened. Thank you!

For more information about the MeVille to WeVille program, visit the Ablenet site listed below.


1 comment:

  1. I'm a special education teacher too. You should try the Stevenson Reading Program. Although its materials are simplistic, it uses mneumonic clues to help children read from a wide range of disabilities. I've had great success with it. Students have made from 1-2 years growth using this program. Of course I pull in other materials with it as well.