Monday, March 26, 2018

Using Unique Learning Systems Part 1: Math

Image result for unique learning system math

This program is something I feel as though some teachers love or they hate. The intentions of this blog post is not to give it a review. I'm going to share how I have taken a curriculum that I have had access to for the last 3 years and tell you how I have made it work for my middle school classroom. Most of the pictures you are going to see are coming from the middle school grade band. They are adapted a TON to help my students that function at more of a kindergarten to third grade level.

I will be honest. This was hard, but the realistic thing to note is that any curriculum that a teacher of a student with a disability is trying to use is not going to fit perfectly. That is WHY we work with these kids because the traditional curriculum doesn't fit their needs and in some cases, this curriculum won't fit your students needs either. That is the reality of what we do and sometimes the most frustrating. If you are looking for an end all curriculum that works for every student in your classroom every year, then you might as well start hunting for Bigfoot, the Bermuda Triangle, and the Lochness Monster. 

I started out honestly using very little of this curriculum my first year because I was SUPER overwhelmed. I loved the idea that this curriculum provided a lot of options for students but then, when I got it I was overwhelmed that it had so many options. So I decided that first year I was just going to take pieces of it and try it out, it really was the only way in my mind that I could figure it out. 

If you are unfamiliar with this curriculum here is how they describe it on their website which I have also linked.

"A living curriculum with high-interest educational content that’s always up-to-date and aligned to all state standards."

"Unprecedented meaningful access to the general education curriculum, current events news and communication tools that are modified to meet Individualized Education Plan (IEP) goals."

The way this curriculum works is there are language arts materials and math materials every month. The type of material doesn't change so it provides consistency for our students but the content will change so that every month there is either a social studies or a science theme to it. So when you do a math worksheet you might be adding together telescopes because we are tying it to the scientific method. This part of the curriculum I LOVE because it is so hard to get all subject areas in during the day!
Image result for unique learning system

So, I started diving in my first year without using any of the data collection tools that are on the website (they are pretty amazing now that I've watched a few webinars). I grabbed the math materials first. It seemed simple enough to take those and just try to make them work for my students. Here are a few pictures of what some of those materials look like.


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Like I said before, every month you get a TON of materials that you can choose to do as paper and pencil or utilizing your smartboard or iPads. I chose to go with paper and pencil and I noticed that the math materials gave so many options but it was hard to sort them out and feel like I was giving each student what they needed. I also had a wide range of abilities in my classroom and I had students working on counting and there were no counting materials or there was one worksheet. This was not going to last me for a month!! 

Here is the list of lessons that you get every month with the program at the middle school level. The lower levels have some phonics and other concepts that are more commonly done at those grade levels. The high school and transition grade bands have more job and vocational skill activities.

For my higher functioning students these materials were good because there were options for computation, money, measurement, reading graphs, and geometry and that worked nicely. I would take the materials every month sort them by the student that needed them and put them into the student's work binder. (The student binder is a whole other post.)

So, in conclusion the math did not work out well for my classroom and that is okay. It may work great for you but, it wasn't so great for my classroom this year. This doesn't mean that next year the students I have will benefit from the math program. I may have more students that have IEP goals that go along with the content that is taught in the grade band I have access to.

In the next post I have planned we are going to talk about the success story I had with Unique Learning Systems and their reading curriculum. I can't wait to share more about this with you all!

1 comment:

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