UDL and SiLAS in Action:

The chart highlights the integration of each of the three principles of UDL with SiLAS.

Universal Design for Learning (UDL): UDL is a teaching approach offering learners equal opportunities to succeed. Flexibility in lessons provides alternate ways for students to access information. 

UDL is Comprised of Three Principles:

    1. Provide Multiple Means of Representation-Content and information is Presented in Different Ways
    2. Provide Multiple Means of Action and Expression-Differentiate the Ways Students Can Express What They Know
    3. Provide Multiple Means of Engagement– Stimulate Interest and Motivation for Learning

User Spotlight – Cheryl Fitzgerald, MS, CCC-SLP, Tenafly Public Schools

Cheryl using SiLAS with two of her students.

SiLAS Spotlight: Meet Cheryl Fitzgerald, our newest SiLAS Spotlight practitioner. Cheryl is a Speech Language Pathologist.  We love the creative and meaningful ways SiLAS is implemented to help students in everyday situations.  Below are Cheryl’s thoughts on SiLAS:

  1. In what setting do you implement the program? (ex. General Education Classroom, Special Education Classroom, Small Group, One on One, etc.) 

I work with students in small groups and individual sessions.

2.   What was your first impression of SiLAS?  

When our district first introduced SiLAS, I was very eager to try it with my students. I felt like there was finally a system that would target exactly what my students need to work on most.  When we had our introduction training with Chris, I was amazed at how much was covered in the curriculum and how many things you could do with the program.  

3.  How do your students/clients feel about SiLAS?  

They are very motivated by it.  They really love working together to create the scripts and then record their movie.  I think their favorite part is watching the movie back and sharing that with their classroom teachers and peers.  They also feel a confidence boost when they can “teach” the skills to other students.

4.  What component of the curriculum is your favorite?  

I love that it is broken down to target specific areas and is user friendly.  I think it is great that it covers such a variety of different age ranges/abilities and that it has so many things I haven’t seen from other materials I have.  

5.  What has been your favorite SiLAS story or experience?  

I had two students make a video about what makes them angry.  They came up with when someone touches them on their back. They created the scripts for the “wrong way” and the “right way” to handle the situation.  They loved acting out the wrong way and were able to identify that it wasn’t the appropriate way to handle the situation. One of the students (who has been working on improving his intonation) really got into character and expressed himself so well and I feel like he got so much from hearing the movie playback.  He was very proud of himself.

6.   Is there anything else you would like to share?

I recently used SiLAS to prepare some students for their school play.  We talked about all the speech skills they would need to use during their performance and we were able to practice these skills with SiLAS.  The students could watch their movies back and see if they spoke slowly, said their target sounds correctly, and used a louder volume. When they watched the movie back, they were reinforced with the quality they demonstrated.  They loved showing their teacher the “right way” vs the “wrong way” to perform. It’s great that the software can be used for many different targets.

Holiday Tips and Tricks

We are in the midst of the “Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” That is unless you are just trying to keep your head above water and your students from climbing the wall. While the season is full of magic for some, for others, the holidays bring anxiety and frustration. Students with developmental delays, social emotional deficits or other environmental stressors often struggle with the disruption and unpredictability that accompanies the season. Below are some strategies to help both students AND teachers enjoy the month of December. 

Helping Students Through the Holidays

Prepare the Student Each Morning

  • Update visual schedules each day. Knowing what to expect throughout the day will reduce your students’ Anxiety. Be sure to create an image such as a star or “detour” sign, for example, to indicate a change or surprise in the day’s routine. 
  • Create a list of acceptable responses when an unexpected change occurs during the school day. 
  • Using SiLAS, create an animation with the student that focuses on how to deal with changes and surprises in our routines. Review the video each morning. 

Give Your Students Brain Breaks  

  • Incorporate movement into your students’ day. After each activity, allow the students the opportunity to get the wiggles out. Gonoodle, yoga and stretches are just a few options to use with students. 
  • Assigning students with a job, such as delivering a letter to the office, will provide him/her the opportunity to move and serve a purpose is a great way to keep a student engaged in the day’s activities. 
  • Build in sensory breaks before and/or after an undesired or lengthy activity or task. 

Design Activities Using the Students’ Interests

  • Assign the student a familiar “high interest/low stress” option to help prevent over stimulation during classroom celebrations or unstructured activities. 
  • Choose an app a student can access and navigate independently to reduce anxiety and periods of wasted time. 
  • Provide intentional and specific positive reinforcement several times throughout the day to encourage the student to continue making good choices. 

December Survival Tips for Teachers

Consistency is Key 

  • Following daily classroom routines will make your life easier. Providing students with visuals they can easily access gives you a break from answering the same questions all day long!  Adding images to accompany each expectation makes the agenda accessible to all students
  • Much like following classroom routines, keeping consistent behavior expectations is equally important. Students have a tendency to push limits and cross boundaries. Continuing to reinforce the positive behaviors and carryout consequences for inappropriate behaviors will save you some headaches and students attempting to argue. 

Be Intentional

  • During this time, even those who don’t work with children have a million and one things on their plate. Set clear boundaries for how you spend your evenings. Implement a “cut-off” time for completing work tasks such as grading papers, answering emails or lesson planning. 
  • Learning to say no can be a big stress relief. As educators, our nature is to want to help anybody anyway we can. Often, taking on more responsibilities adds more stress to this hectic time of year. 
  • Do something for yourself. Having a full plate makes it next to impossible to even entertain the thought of doing something for ourselves. Our internal dialogue often tells us to feel guilty for taking time out to just “be.” No guilt! You deserve it. 

Enjoy the Season!

  • Eat
  • Drink
  • Be Merry!