Tuesday, July 28, 2009

EdMark--Part I

***Disclaimer: This blog entry contains statements of my personal opinion and should be treated as such. I am not trying to advertise for a product, just share my experiences.***

As a teacher of students with significant cognitive disabilities one of the most important skills you can teach is literacy--whether it be decoding, sight word recognition, safety sign recognition, etc. One of my favorite programs to use in Edmark. Edmark teaches sight word recognition--students learn to read whole words and later in the program learn to read endings and add endings to the whole word. It is pretty scripted and requires minimal teacher preparation--which is a double edged sword. To teach comprehension, it uses picture matching, short picture supported stories and matching phrases to pictures. There are also supplemental worksheets that reinforce comprehension and I loved to use for homework or work to do with substitutes. It's great to not have to create something for every minute of every day but there was a year when I had about 4 kids doing Edmark and I did them one after another and I would go into an "Edmark coma".

That being said, let's talk about some ways to reinforce, spice up and bring some variety to Edmark. These are all things that I've done in my classroom (or things my assistants came up with)

Let me first say that I went to a workshop last year and got the idea from another fabulous teacher to write down the word the student learned during the session on an index card. This is a great idea because it provides record keeping for number of words learned and your students can see their pile of cards grow. They are also great for several activities and fairly cheap if you have to buy your own index cards.

1. Typing Edmark words on a picture word processor--This reinforces the spelling of the word, gives a visual of the word (for most words), teaches typing skills and bonus if your word processor speaks to give auditory feedback.

2. Creating Edmark words with stamps or letters--This reinforces the spelling and works on fine motor skills. I've used Lakeshore Learning's Lace-A-Word Beads, Uppercase version and found them to be a good investment.

3. Playing memory with Edmark Words--If you are already writing down the words for each session and know you want to play memory, simply write another at the same time. Or have your students write a second one as a practice activity. Or use their print out from the picture word processor. Or have them type the word into Google Images to find a picture for their card. (And the list goes on...but you get the idea.) Of course memory is about matching but if you want to up the ante, tell the kids that they need to read the word to keep the match or have them match the words to a picture. This reinforces sight word recognition, fine motor skills, turn taking, sportsmanship, language skills, and memory.

4. Writing Edmark words on the chalk/white/Smart board--Everyone loves to write on the board! For artistically inclined students, their reward for doing it well can be drawing a representative picture. This again works on sight word recognition and fine motor skills.

5. Alphabetizing Edmark words--You can adapt this activity to vary the amount of support given to your student. Higher functioning students can alphabetize by first letter, second letter and line the cards up in order on a table. Students just learning the skill may benefit from using a filing box with the alphabet on the tabs. If that is still overwhelming, take out the letters not in use at the time. This will teach first letter alphabetizing. You can then decide when and how to up the ante. This activity reinforces letter matching, sight word recognition, sequencing, fine motor and vocational skills. In addition, you might be able to use this for your state assessment to cover a standard about alphabetizing!

6. Flashcards--You can have your student read the card standard format, play Around the World (two kids compete the read the word correctly first, the winner moves on to compete against another competitor until they have mastered the whole room or "gone around the world"), have a proficient student coach/test/teach a peer, use the flashcards in a group and give the kids the card if they read it correctly and go around and see who has the most flashcards at the end. You can also send them home for homework.

7. Using the Magic Answer Machine--This is a product I purchased from Lakeshore Learning (something similar to this). You would need to prepare cards with the word on one side and the picture representation on the back. Basically you could put the word on the front of the card, have your student read the word, put it in the magic answer machine and then when the card came the student would see the picture. This would reinforce fine motor and word recognition skills.

8. Book Making--I have found that some words are more abstract in their meaning or harder for my students to remember because they don't have much experience with them. (Position words, for example) I've also found that some words are really high interest for my students. (One student was a fan of the Florida Gators--so he really liked the word orange) You can find a variety of fun templates on Vicki Blackwell's Website. I will do another post on book making later. I've found that students really enjoy these books and they are great to send home to Mom and Dad. Book making reinforces sight word recognition, fine motor, language, writing, and speaking skills.

I'm going to stop here but rest assured I have more ideas for keeping you out of the "Edmark Coma".

***Disclaimer: Again, this blog entry contains statements of my personal opinion and should be treated as such. I am not trying to advertise for a product, just share my experiences.***


  1. Great ideas, Diana!! Thanks so much for sharing! I'm spreading the word about your blog - am so excited to hear more of your terrific ideas.

  2. Hi Diana :). Just wanted to add to this as I just posted some activities made with Boardmaker for the Edmark Level 1 words. If you want to take a look, here is a link: http://redlights.typepad.com/building_a_program/2009/08/edmark-level-1-file-sharing.html

  3. Thanks for the ideas! I've enjoyed reading your blog and look forward to more posts during the school year.