by: Carmen Willings
March 15, 2020
We are in an unprecedented time in our lives where many schools are closing or moving to online instruction.Most of us are new to providing instruction online to students for extended periods of time. While my school district has provided online learning days during inclement weather, long term instruction is new to me. I put together this page as a way to support you as you transition into this new means of providing instruction. I will share strategies and resources I am using that you may find helpful for virtual or distance instruction. As I discover and develop new resources, activities and instructional strategies I will add those here for your reference.
Preparing Your Student
I had an advantage of having a week to prepare for this shift to online instruction. While I spent the week bringing home resources I thought I may need, I didn't bring everything home. It was difficult to determine what all to bring home as we don't know how long this mode of instruction will need to last. If your schools have not yet closed, here are my words of wisdom for you. Spend this time connecting with each and every student. Make sure each student is able to access educational platforms the classroom teachers will be using. Talk with classroom teachers and teams. What instructional strategies will they be using? How can you best support the student? Remind teams to use information and platforms that are accessible. If students use assistive technology, the family will most likely need to complete an Extended Use Form to take materials home (If your program doesn't have a form, I have one you may use on the free printables page).
Planning for Instruction
Find out what platform will you be expected to use and how administrators want you to document your time spent with each student and account for your time. In my school system we use ITS Learning platform. I have added a message to parents on the opening page as well as activities and resources specific to IEP goals. I have provided access to the page to students (restricting access to only areas that apply to their individual goals) and also provided access to my supervisor and administrators so they can see what activities are being provided. Additionally, I created a Google doc where I will add my daily contacts with team members, activities, and additional projects I am working on to support my students, teams and VI colleagues. You can also share using Microsoft 365. This is a nice option as you can work on or offline - ideal if your internet service is affected.
During the first day of online learning, I experienced an internet outage. If possible, notify families that you are without internet and will be there to support them just as soon as possible. In the meantime, work to create activities with your students and document your time.
If you have purchased a copy of the TVI's Guide to Teaching the ECC, remember I have given you permission to use this with all of the students you serve on your caseload (I ask that each teacher purchase their own copy). You are welcome to copy the activities within the book that align with the student's learning goals and send them to parents - or adapt them as appropriate for the student. This will provide a way to continue to support students and help them work toward meeting IEP goals while they are at home.
Preparation for Functional Braille Learners
There were speculations for a week that we would be transitioning to an online format. We were advised to send resources home with students. As I said, I met with each student and team. For students following a modified curriculum who are functional braille learners, I sent home the following items based on student interest and that would allow for the most flexibility in lesson creation using materials available at home.
Activities for Braille Learners
Ideally, you had notice that your schools would be closing and could send home alphabet tiles with braille and other manipulatives. You may not have had time so if your student does not have braille reading resources at home or a notetaker, hopefully they have access to a braille writer. If they do, you can provide activities for the student to write, then build reading fluency by having the student read back their writing. If you have purchased a copy of the Keyboarding and Braille Fluency Sentences, you may copy and send passages for students to produce in braille. The pages include both print and simulated braille so caregivers who may not know braille, can still support the student. I ask that each teacher purchase their own copy of the book but you have my permission to send copies of passages and pages to students you serve on your caseload. If your student has a refreshable braille display, email to the student and encourage the student to access the file and read it. You may also want to send a braille reference chart home to families. I have a couple charts available on my Free Printables page that you are welcome to download and send home with families.
Preparation for Students Using Switch Access
For students with severe and profound disabilities in addition to a visual impairment, I use switch activated activities. If possible, see if you can loan a switch interface and jellybean switch to the families. Also provide a Power Select if at all possible. I have created a number of interactive sensory stories and choice making activities for my students. If you have purchased The TVI's Guide to Teaching the ECC complete set, you have access to the page entitled Interactive Sensory Stories. Here I provide PowerPoint shows I have created that are can be used with switch access (or a caregiver or sibling can advance the slides). I currently have 5 interactive sensory stories on the page along with materials to use with the stories. I also included directions to creating your own choice making activities. If the student has an iPad, or the school can loan an iPad, provide the families with suggestions of free or low cost apps that can support learning objectives.
Students Developing Keyboarding Fluency & Learning Keyboard Commands
I have many word lists and passages in the Keyboarding and Braille Fluency Grab & Go Workbook. If you have the book, copy the passages into a Word doc or Google doc (Remember, I ask that each teacher purchase his or her own copy but you have my permission to copy passages and activities for every student on your own caseload.). Provide the student with a list of keyboard commands. Encourage the student to edit and format the passage.
Students Using Low Vision Devices and Visual Efficiency
If you have students practicing using low vision devices, hopefully they brought their devices home. You can continue to support students by providing suggestions on how the student can practice using his or her device. If the student is using a magnifier, have the student use the magnifier to read environmental print throughout the house. If the student is practicing using a monocular, provide activities that will encourage the student to use the monocular. Activity suggestions to encourage use of vision and use of low vision devices are included in the TVI's Guide to Teaching the ECC and can be shared with parents.
Thank you to the following companies that are working to support teachers and students during this global pandemic!
Interactive Sensory Stories
The first resource that I put together was a series of Interactive Sensory Stories for my students who are blind or visually impaired with additional disabilities. I had used these types of stories with my students, but felt the need to create ones that were focused on activities that can take place at home and using materials that are commonly available in homes. I created a series of 16 Interactive Sensory Stories that are now available to purchase separately or are included in the TVI's Guide to Teaching the ECC Complete Set. Each story was created using PowerPoint and available for download on the Interactive Sensory Stories page. In addition to the stories, I created a manual that includes a page for each story that lists material suggestions, passages from the story, and suggested sensory experiences for each page. At the end of the book I included a step-by-step picture tutorial on how you can create your own stories for your students!
In an effort to help teach students about using good hygiene, I am including a complimentary copy of one of the sensory stories for you to use with your student and decide if you would like the additional 15 books I've created. I hope you enjoy this resource and it supports you and your students!
Good Hygiene Sensory Story
Good Hygiene Matching Activity
I created these interactive matching activities to support my students who are working on visual discrimination visual scanning and using a visually directed reach (eye hand coordination) with a touch screen or using a mouse with a computer. I am providing a complimentary copy of the Good Hygiene matching activity for you to try with your student(s). There are 16 interactive stories that are now available for free in the ECC Complete Set Bonus section on the Interactive Matching Activities page for those who have purchased the TVI's Guide to Teaching the ECC Complete Set. They can also be purchased on their own on the Interactive Matching item page.
I created these interactive visual efficiency activities to support students who are working on higher level visual discrimination skills. I am providing a complimentary copy of the Good Hygiene visual discrimination activity for you to try with your student(s). These 16 activities are available for free in the ECC Complete Set Bonus section on the Visual Discrimination Activities page for those who have purchased the TVI's Guide to Teaching the ECC Complete Set. They can also be purchased on their own on the Interactive Visual Discrimination Activity Product page.
Keyboarding & Braille Sensory Stories
My newest resource is the sensory story passages in print and simulated braille (similar to the passages found in Keyboarding and Braille Practice Sentences). They are available for free if you have purchased the ECC Complete Set and are located on the ECC Bonus Printables page. You are welcome to send these pages to parents so they can help support braille instruction during distance learning. I send home a copy of the passage of the day via email to the parent. We then set up a Google Meet where I talk my student through the steps of loading a piece of paper in the braillewriter, and brailling the passage as I read it to her. I then have her remove the page and read it back to me. This builds fluency and it adds to her collection of stories to read at home! I am attaching a complimentary copy of the Good Hygiene page as a sample and to use with your students.
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Purchase the TVI's Guide to Teaching the ECC Complete Set and immediately unlock the pages within the ECC Complete Set Bonus including bonus printables, interactive sensory stories, interactive matching activities, interactive choice making activities, job task box activities and MORE! This is my way of continuing to support you and say "Thank you!" for choosing to purchase the Complete Set.
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