Category Archives: Literacy Activities

Guess Who?

guess-whoRemember this game!? it has been around since 1979 and is still going strong! For those of you who aren’t familiar, here is the gist.

Guess Who is a 2 player game, where each player starts the game with a board that includes cartoon images of 24 people and their first names with all the images standing up. Each player selects a card from a separate pile of cards containing the same 24 images. Players alternate asking various yes or no questions to eliminate characters, such as “Does this person wear glasses?”

I LOVED THIS GAME!!!guesswho-old

The good news is that is has evolved from 24 white people with chubby cheeks and towards  little more of a diverse crowd. This game is a great game for developing skills like asking questions, but also visual referencing and comprehension. It’s manipulative nature and little words also makes it vary accessible to a lot of the kids that we work with.

Because of this, we incorporated this game as an activity in our “ALL ABOUT ME” unit, which we implemented at the beginning of each year…with one little modification.

IMG_3374Who says we need to ask questions about chubby white people, when we can ask questions about EACH OTHER.

We changed every person on the cards, into a person in our school. Our Guess Who game went from a generic boring irrelevant game, and into a situated, authentic and fun way to learn more about each other, while still developing some of the skills mentioned above.

The student love seeing pictures of themselves on the playing cards. We just took pictures and taped them directly to the cards.

For students who need communication support, with a visual board developed specifically with the students features in mind.

IMG_3375 copyWe included both students, educational assistants, teachers and administrators on the board, with the intention that this game would also help students with conversation starters when interacting with people in real life.

An easy activity, that the students LOVED! AND you can often find these games for cheap at second hand shops or craigslist.

IMG_3376

Goals: Asking questions, turn-taking, visual referencing, processing/analyzing, process of elimination, learning names, matching, word work, reading

Unit: All About Me!

Activity: Guess Who?

Other All About Me! Activities:

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Arrival to Canada: First Contact

Strategic Instruction: Humanities 9

I had the opportunity to collaborate with Linda Watson, a Humanities 9 teacher, and together we planned the unit: Arrival to Canada: First Contact.

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The Essential Questions for the class were:

  • Who were the major players of early settlement in Canada
  • Where did they come from and where did they go? and
  • What were the consequences of their arrival?

Screen Shot 2014-02-06 at 1.06.17 PMFor Lisa and Jack, the 2 student who were modified in the class, their goals were to answer the first 2 questions. As a part of a text set, I wrote a book for these 2 students with the information they need to answer the questions.

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To incorporate literacy, as an extension activity, the class also had to prepare a mind map of the information. A scaffold was made for students, as well as a template built into the book for Jack and Lisa.

Goal Area(s): social studies- terms and vocabulary, Literacy- main idea and details/mind mapping

Literacy Level(s): Emergent (red print), Transitional (Black print)

Text: Arrival to Canada

Extension Activities: Mind Map (Emergent)Mind Map (Conventional)

The Periodic Table

Strategic Instruction: Science 9

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While James’s grade 9 science class was learning about the periodic table of elements, he was too! At first one might think, “why does James, a student with Down Syndrome, need to learn about the periodic table of elements?!” and my response, “because every student does!”

I didn’t know this, but the Periodic table of elements is not just about memorizing symbols, numbers and formulas, there is actually a big idea to this coloured chart!

Screen Shot 2014-02-03 at 9.54.58 PMThis book is about the big idea of organization, and how it is applied to the scientific elements. The book is written at two levels, at the conventional level for reading out loud to James, and at the transitional level for James to read independently. To differentiate the difference, James knew that his words were red.

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If only I knew this information back in high school, what a good reminder about how teaching to big ideas can help us connect details that can sometimes get lost or forgotten.

Let me tell you…. all, the students in the class were fighting over this book!

Goal areas: science- sorting and classifying, organizing

Literacy level: transitional, conventional

Text:The Periodic Table of Elements

What do I already know?

Explicit Instruction: Literacy

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There are great resources already out there in terms of age appropriate and interesting texts at levels accessible to all types of learners. One of those resources is News2You. News2You publishes a weekly unit on engaging topics and current events. Based around differentiated texts, this resource also develops extension activities. One additional aspect that I wanted to include, however, was a lesson that helped me see what my students already knew about the topic. With many of them having so many gaps in their learning, a background knowledge lesson also helped calibrate the group and get everyone on the same page.

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In keeping with the inquiry theme, I tried to develop a prior knowledge activity adapted from the KWL strategy (What do I know, want to know and what did I learn).

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Using the pictures as visual supports, students chose  pictures that finished the sentence, ‘I know that Monarch Butterflies…..’ At its most basic, this was just a choice activity. But as I scaffolded the lesson, picture boards contained additional distrators, or students had to find pictures and words on their own. If additional challenge was needed, I asked students to think of their own responses without visual prompts. Once each student had a collection of pictures and words to describe their thinking, they made a title page for the unit. By the end of the lesson we had a compilation of title pages filled with words, pictures, symbols which all met the same goal!

Goal Area: Literacy-Activating prior knowledge

Literacy LevelEmergent

Support Link: News2You

SuperHeroes!!

Explicit Instruction: Literacy

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Peter is in Grade 10 and his team wanted to work on developing his literacy skills. Being a BIG FAN of Superheroes, we made a theme incorporating this interest. We started with a book of his favourite characters and then built on from there. Because peter is an emergent reader, we included super hero toys as a support to help Peter interact with and engage with the pictures and word in the text.

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As an extension word work activity, Peter used letter stamps and match letters to spell out each super hero name. Individual stamping boxes were used to support his reference matching, but we hope that we will eventually not need them. In the template attached, I have included both the letter and the word boxes. We used stamps, but yo could use markers or glue and sparkles!

Goal Area: Literacy- motivation and engagement, joint attention, matching, print referencing

Literacy Level: Emergent

Text: Superheroes book

Extension Activity: SUPERHEROES word work

It’s Okay to be Different

Strategic Instruction: Language Arts 3

Screen Shot 2014-02-02 at 8.09.44 PMAndy, with his class, worked with a text set focused around the author Todd Parr.  An Adapted text was created to match Andy’s literacy level, and his goal was to match the words to the pictures in the text. Accompanying Board Maker symbols attached with velcro supported Andy’s comprehension and interaction with the text. An augmentative communication device assisted Andy to read the predicted text, “it’s okay” on each page.

Goal Area: Literacy-Sight words, matching picture to word

Literacy Level: Later Emergent

Text:It’s Okay to be different

Visual Supports: It’s Okay to be Different