PERSONAL PAGES ARE THE BOMB…MORE TIPS!
I’LL SAY IT AGAIN…PERSONAL PAGES ARE THE BOMB. Free, easy-peasy, takes 5 minutes, kids love them, fabulous tool for generalizing vocabulary…what more can I say? Plenty, as it turns out. Here are some more TIPS and some FAQs from parents and educators…
BACKSTORY on the “Todd” page:
This was real. His name wasn’t Todd, but he was mad as heck over something that had happened in the family just before he came into my room. He sat on the floor and refused to do anything. “NO!” was all I got.
So I got out paper and (what I hoped was) his favorite color marker and started to write, reading it aloud as I wrote. Before I got half way through the page, he was so engaged with what was happening that he hopped into his chair at my teaching table.
Exactly what I wanted to happen. The rest of the lesson went normally. I wasn’t trying to talk him out of his bad mood; I was acknowledging what he was feeling and giving him the idea that it was important enough to write about.
This was an unusual personal page topic; usually, we’re writing about something the child loves or is excited about going to, etc. Holidays, favorite food/drink, big sister, pet dog, etc. But my point is that no topic is off limits. If, for example, a child is addicted to devices, I’ll write about devices. Will that hook him? You bet.
- Equipment: regular paper, colored markers (let the child choose which color you write with that day)
- Recommended additions: 3-ring binder, 3-hole punch
- Make just one a week
- Date the page unobtrusively as I did in the “Todd” sample; this is great for record-keeping
- Make a photocopy of that week’s personal page: one for home, one for school (regardless of whether you are a parent or teacher)
- Handwrite neatly in the SIZE and reading level that fits the child’s needs. Remember the brain-friendly format of double-spacing between words, putting extra space between lines, and using LARGE type, whether you’re on computer or handwriting.
- Pick a topic that directly relates to that child’s life at the moment. Sources: your own observations (as in our example about Todd); questioning the child if he/she’s verbal; if you’re the educator, get parent suggestions as to “what’s up” for that child currently.
- Write about that topic in correct grammar, always matching the vocabulary level of the learner.
- Photocopy the page and send it to school (if you’re the parent) or home (if you’re the educator.)
- Home work/School work assignment: the child will read that page to someone—anyone—every day that week, both at home and in the classroom.
- End of story.
Q. Does the child dictate what I write?
A. NO. We are teaching language and grammar. Your job is to write the topic not only at the child’s current reading level, but in correct language/grammar. The child might give you the idea, but you are the writer and editor!
Q. Do I read the page to the child? Or does s/he read it to me?
A. If you’ve written it at the child’s reading level, then the child will read it except for new content words which YOU’ll read as you go along.
Q. How often do I write one of these? Every day?
A. Once a week is perfect.
Q. Do I keep the past weeks’ pages?
A. Yes. Collect these consecutively in a 3-ring binder. This collection makes for fabulous review of vocabulary, and incidentally, of events and feelings in the child’s life.
Q. Do I sometimes review past pages?
A. You betcha. This is a fabulous review tool.
Q. Is it okay to type the pages?
A. Of course. It just takes a bit longer to arrange computer-and-printer-nearby and isn’t as spontaneous. Just remember to double-space between words and allow extra “leading” or space between lines of type.
One of the challenges in teaching our learners with Down syndrome to read is their ability to quickly memorize text associated with a picture in books. Can they actually read those words? Often not. So how do we wean them away from memorization/association and into genuine reading? We need to help them learn to generalize that vocabulary. Personal Pages is a terrific way to help them do this.
Markers out, paper ready…go for it!!!