Monday, November 26, 2012

The Yes/No Series - Part One

Ways to Indicate Yes and No

There are so many ways we all say yes and no every day.  None of us is limited to just one means and our students should be either.  In teaching our students a yes/no response we aim for the most universal - verbal and/or head nod/shake (at least in the USA, in English) but if those are not possible any other system is better than none at all.  Here is a list of some I have seen used by people with significant special needs over the years:

  • Verbal response (yes/no, ok/no, yeah/nah, si/no, uh ha/ut ah)
  • Head Nod/Shake
  • Body Language (smile/frown, look/look away, reach/push away)
  • Pointing to symbols with
    • Finger
    • Hand
    • Foot
    •  Head
    •  Eyes
    • Other
  •  Activating a voice output switch
    •  Finger
    •  Hand
    •  Foot
    • Head
    • Eyes
    • Other
  • Activating a speech device
  • Yes/no wrist bands – raise hand or look at hand
  • Yes/no symbols on arm rest with hand movement or eye gaze to symbols
  • Sign yes/no (or sign approximations)
  • Eyes up for yes, eyes down for no (and vice versa)
  • Eyes left for yes, eyes right for no (and vice versa)
  •  Facial expressions – smile for yes, frown for no
  • Thumbs up/thumbs down
  • Look at partner for yes/look away for no
  • Yes/no cards
  • Yes/no wearable tag/necklace
  • Hold up fist for yes/open hand for no
  • Tongue click for yes, none for no
  • Eye brows up for yes/down for no (vice versa)
  • Lip raise for yes (smile) and nose wrinkle for no (sour face)
  • Point to chin for yes and nose for no
  • Clap for yes, tap tray for no
  • There's an app for that

Or any combination of a yes and a no from above!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Virtual Manipulatives for Math

Virtual Manipulatives for Computers

Virtual Manipulative Apps for iPad/iPod

Instead of Counters
Instead of Unifix Blocks
Instead of Geoboards
Instead of Base Ten Blocks

Instead of Pattern Blocks
Instead of Fraction Rods
Instead of Beads or an Abacus
Instead of Pencil and Paper

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Windows and Mirrors in Action

Cross Post from Welcoming Schools 

I was observing a kindergarten class and the teacher was reading to the children from a book about healthy habits. About half way through the book I heard a little boy call out, “Hey, that’s a wheelchair!”. The teacher looked at the picture and saw the photograph was of a girl using a wheelchair while brushing her teeth. The teacher said, “You’re right, she is using a wheelchair just like you.” The other children smiled at their friend and one girl flashed him a thumbs up. The little boy grinned from his seat in his wheelchair for the rest of the activity. – Kate Ahern, a Special Ed Teacher in Massachusetts

 In our Welcoming Schools workshops we often talk about providing students with windows and mirrors: mirrors to help students see themselves reflected in a positive way and windows to help them understand experiences beyond their own.*

This might be an abstract intellectual idea until you observe a boy become delighted by a simple photograph that sends a message that who he is matters.  All students, especially those who may be marginalized for any host of reasons, deserve these moments.

You can find an excellent list of children's books which depict diverse individuals at

*This concept of Windows and Mirrors comes from an article by Emily Style.  You can read this article at:

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