Academic Level Experience Books
As discussed elsewhere on this site, experience books can come in many forms. As an individual's experience expands, their perception of concrete information may also expand. These books are examples of more complex experience books that use concrete elements (in the form of pictures that show exact representations of the concepts) to explain larger concepts. The rule of thumb of one concept per page is still a good idea to follow even at this level.
The volcano book, pictured left, was created for a young man who loved science and was fascinated with how the world works. The images which were borrowed from online sources are simple and display the concepts clearly. This project was partly about developing greater world concepts and vocabulary but was also a hidden comprehension test of recent printed vocabulary.
After exploring the vocabulary in many contexts and with plenty of exposure, he was provided a copy of this book with blanks replacing all the key vocab words. We discussed what was happening on each page and he was then asked to paste the words in from a word wall. He was highly motivated to find the correct answers and worked diligently to display his understanding of the words adding in his own narrative as we went.
The bowling book, pictured left, was a fun and motivating way to lead up to a dry math activity. The book started as an experience book for a bowling experience that ended up incorporating math concepts into a game at the end. The individual or the Intervenor would take the ball and pretend to knock off a few pins. The pins were placed into a fire frame (a common number concept building strategy). Once the numbers were placed, the individual needed to select the numeral from a subset offered to him.
This activity was augmented by offering plastic bowling pins and a ball in the classroom as another way to keep the game fresh as the concept was being developed.
Simplified - Manipulative Visual Language of The Deaf (MVL)
Manipulative Visual Language of the Deaf is a system that assigns symbols to the various parts of speech. For example, nouns are represented by black triangles, verbs by red circles and prepositions by green crescents.
The system can be quite complex and teach complex grammar, however I have found it to be very effective for working with an early sight word approach. I have seen students start to understand better how language is structured and why we join words together.
The images on the left show some vocabulary boards with cartoon scenes and caricatures I created. The vocabulary is split into nouns, verbs, prepositions and adjectives. This was used with a student to begin the process of building simple subject, verb, object utterances initially but grew quickly to include the more advanced prepositions and adjectives.
The symbols can be used in play to build language concepts or can placed as a template for the individual to work to 'fill in.' This flexible, experimental process is fun for the individual and motivating. Best of all there are no wrong answers, just silly ones you can both laugh about as you try to recreate it.
This system complemented the sight word approach below and the symbols from this system can be associated with that system as they are being taught.
The sheets pictured on the left are some quick templates I created to keep up with one student's rapid development with the system. They allowed us to print out one page of matching cards and the vocab for the word board.
Sight Word Mini Curriculum
I developed this mini curriculum when starting to identify a common stalling point for literacy with individuals who are struggling with transitioning from reading a few single, isolated sight words to putting those words into action and observing how they can be strung together to create a bigger meaning. In order to do this the individual needs to learn how to, and be motivated to, scan their eyes over two or more words.
This is an area where I very often see a breakdown in the development of reading skills. This strategy is designed to teach an individual a small common vocabulary set through a fun matching activity. These words will eventually grow to become subject verb or subject verb object combinations. If successful the individual will be able to make the leap required see how 2-3 words change the bigger meaning by matching the appropriate photo.
The fist step is teaching a critical mass of consistent nouns and verbs that can all be used together, e.g., boy jump, girl drink, fox swim. This simple matching game is fun for some individuals. They match the picture of the boy to the word boy.
Then several sets of cards are created with those pairings. Not every combination needs to be used, just several. The idea is that the system will show the individual through generalization and process of illumination how the words relate to each other.
Finally, the third set of cards are introduced. These cards now have complete subject verb object sentences on them which are composed of all known vocabulary and should be readable by the individual. At this point many people I have worked with are scanning all three words and able to match the appropriate photos to the sentences.
Math Concept (Movement is Magnitude)
I created these sign language cards to work on several concepts. The individual they were created for was very motivated by clipping clothes pins and would work diligently at the task. The student had the concept of sight counting (1:1 correspondence) up to 5 using numerals and signs with manipulatives. He could, for example, with 100% success take a card which had a picture of four things on it and match it to a card with the numeral four. He could also arrange the numerals from 1-20. However when provided with an opportunity to demonstrate the math concept of ‘movement is magnitude’ (the concept that the last number counted represents the total number you have counted) the student would count far past the desired number without stopping. A very common challenge. An example of this error would be if a student was asked to “put four frogs on the lillypad” and the student uses all ten frogs available to them.
I created the photo cards activity with a hope of visually showing the number of fingers on the hand. I hoped this would help when asking the student to place individual pegs on the card until he reached the number, then learn to stop without prompts. At first it was just a matching task, but it allowed us to discuss the concept and move to numerals eventually where he could demonstrate the concept without that visual clue. This is a more challenging concept than it may seem for many children but the cards allows both a visual representation of the number and the need to stop on the specific number. Learning this basic concept, allows for a more natural transition to the more abstract numeral. The key however for this student was integrating it into a motivating routine they wanted to engage in.
The individual was successful in demonstrating the concept and also used the cards for other purposes eventually like starting on the numbers 6-10 in sign language.
The bottom photo on the left shows a custom ‘five frame’ (a common math organizational strategy) I created to help with the transition of this knowledge into the grade level curricular expectation. Attaching the number to the side of the five frame and making it a routine to work through the cards as a game provided the motivation to generalize the concept of ‘movement is magnitude’ to being successfully used in a standard grade level activity.