I am not sure when I have ever seen a curriculum program better meet the needs of my diverse students with significant special needs!
The program, which retails for $599.95, is an adapted and age appropriate English Language Arts Curriculum that uses stories about environmental print to teach both the signs and reading/listening comprehension. The symbol set used is SymbolStix which is wonderful since we also use News-2-You, Unique Learning, Tobii Communicator and an ALT-Chat in our classroom and all of those use SymbolStix.
The program includes:
- 160 scripted lessons (and the scripts are detailed but not overwhelming and perfect for having paraprofessionals take over a lesson)
- 16 Units each have a story book on two different levels detail
- 48 large signs (I mean LARGE)
- sequence cards and a retelling mat for each story
- activity sheets pre-printed and on a CD in PDF format
- home follow up activities
- 16 interactive map posters
- 16 unit assessments that assess the current and previous units
- teacher's guide
- cardboard storage box
There are a lot of great materials in that box. A fellow special needs teacher and I opened it up and it was like Christmas morning. First of all this is the most differentiated program I have ever seen. All lesson instructions give two way to answer, speech or symbols. There is a yes/no/maybe response board for students who need it and the option to have students point to separate symbols or those in the chapter book. The symbol cards and response boards large and colorful and I haven't needed to enlarge them for my low vision students. (If you are keeping track so far students with vision and speech difficulties have been accommodated.) Every story is offered on two different levels. (Check off differentiation for developmental issues.)
My favorite thing about the program is how it integrates life skills with standards based academics. The stories are about safety and environmental print is taught and at the same time English Langauge Art standards are addressed through teaching about things like plot, characters and details in a very accessible way.
In fact, as of right now, I only have two complaints and they are so minor that I hesitate to mention them. Really, you are going to laugh, my complaints are that the velcro doesn't follow the "Soft Stays" rules (always put the soft or loop side of the velcro on the thing which stays put like the communication board, the wall chart, the adapted book and the hard or hook side of the velcro on the thing that moves like the picture symbols or star for the star chart) and the symbols on some of the interactive map posters aren't in the same order as the character met them in the story. I told you that you would laugh, I mean that's pretty petty!
If I were going to look for improvements I would like to see ways to integrate assistive technology more and my dream of dream would be that there would be communication boards for SymbolStix using communication devices (the Tobii, the ALT-Chat, the AMDi products). It would be so awesome to just download boards for my students devices. (Of course that is a dream of mine for Unique Curriculum too.)
It would also be nice if PCI's next endeavor was a math curriculum with all the same features as the Environmental Print Program. Then maybe a level two of the Environmental Print Program?
If you want to find out more you can check out the slide from the CEC presentation or this video.