Special education resources
At the moment, the resources on this site focus on literacy. While literacy is a key issue for students with disabilities, we recognize that there are resources for many other topics related to the work you do in schools. We will add resources as they become available. It is our goal to have the resources we post reviewed by one or more trusted professionals in the area before posting.
We invite readers of this website to share resources they have found helpful.
- Educating Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders
A book available for purchase provides guidelines for educating children with Autism Spectrum Disorders: The ASD Next Model: A Framework for Inclusive Education for Higher Functioning Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder.
LibraVox makes books in the public domain available, for free, in audio format on the internet. It is noncommercial, nonprofit and ad-free. Its catalogue is organized by author, title, genre/subject and language. Offerings include over a thousand non-English works in languages ranging from the usual western European languages to Belarusian, Bengali, Cantonese Chinese, Chinese, Hindi, Korean, Yiddish. There are many selections of children’s fiction and non-fiction categorized by general subject.
- Make Beliefs Comix
Use this site to create comic strips. Choose from a diverse cast of characters. Select objects, scenes and emotions. Use talk balloons and thought balloons. Write in English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese or Latin. With suggestions for teachers, parents, and those who work with students with special needs, this site is a gem. Users of the Make Beliefs Comix for students with disabilities explain how they used the site to teach children with autism: "I sat with Cole for several months in front of the computer showing him how the words 'angry,' 'sad' and 'worried' matched the characters' facial expressions. Today, Cole can express his feelings verbally without acting out. This is a huge breakthrough for me to have him talk about what he sees and feels." "I almost always use three panels in this way: In panel 1 a problem or situation is introduced, in panel 2 the character, often in the thought bubble, lays out what he thinks is the problem or knows about the situation, and in panel 3 he makes a decision and acts. For instance: Panel 1 - Girl and man with park background. While picking flowers, the girl has wandered a short distance from her family who is having a picnic. Man asks girl to help him find his lost dog. Panel 2 - Girl considers that she is not supposed to talk to strangers, but the man needs her help. Panel 3 - I would either show the girl turned around and returning to her family thinking, 'Just run away, there's nothing to say' or else I would show characters and leave it blank and we would discuss the options the child comes up with."
- My Vocabulary
Looking for vocabulary lists for a Shakespeare play or classic novel? Searching for lesson plans and fun activities to use when teaching root words? Want to help your students prepare for the SAT or ACT? Ever thought about teaching character education and leadership through vocabulary? Searching for a resource to help you teach math vocabulary? My Vocabulary offers all this and more. Activities are aligned with Common Core State Standards.
Tip for teachers and parents/caregivers from our friend and literacy RTI and AIS expert Esther Friedman: While parts are a bit hokey, there are many activities on this site that will be appealing to your students. Best suited for grades 4-12, students can choose activities that provide practice vocabulary, word derivation, thematic linkages in words, vocabulary related to pieces of literacy, test preparation, and more. For example, for SAT practice, they can select a set of words and then choose from a variety of activities (crossword puzzles, word finds, etc.) to practice the words, moving on to the next set when they or you decide to do so.
- National Library of Virtual Manipulatives
The NLVM, a National Science Foundation supported project, is a library of uniquely interactive, web-based virtual manipulatives or concept tutorials, for K-12 mathematics instruction. The manipulatives are designed to support learning and understanding of mathematics through student engagement. The library is extensive. Topics are broadly organized into the following categories: number and operations, algebra, measurement, and data analysis and probability. Activities in all five areas can also be accessed by grade level. The program is available in English, Spanish and French. Unlike most other resources on this webpage, the NLVM application for home or school use must be purchased. The cost ranges from $39.95 for an individual station license to $1,199.95 for a large school license. A free trial version is available for those wishing to explore the site.
Newsela is a tool to build reading comprehension using daily news. The amazing feature of this website is that it automatically adjusts to provide a version of the article that is "just right" for the student’s reading ability. An easier or harder version is just a click away. The articles are accompanied by common core aligned quizzes to provide teachers with "quick and powerful" feedback.
A shout-out to former UFT Speech Chapter Leader Mindy Karten Bornemann for sharing this wonderful resource.
The mission of ReadWriteThink is "to provide educators, parents and afterschool professionals with access to the highest quality practices in reading and language arts instruction by offering the very best in free materials." The International Reading Association, National Council of Teachers of English and Verizon Thinkfinity have partnered to develop this rich site where every lesson plan is aligned to the NCTE Standards for English Language Arts and Common Core State Standards. Resources include K–12 lesson plans, student interactives and printouts; strategy guides for a variety of topics including reading in content areas, differentiating instruction, teaching literacy across the gradual release of responsibility, and performing literature to promote fluency and comprehension; videos and a variety of parent and afterschool resources.
WordSift was created to help teachers manage the demands of vocabulary and academic language in their text materials. This program helps anyone easily sift through texts. After cutting and pasting text, the program identifies important words that appear in the text. It is integrated with other functions, such as visualization of word thesaurus relationships (incorporating the amazing Visual Thesaurus® and Google searches of images and videos.) It also has a reader that will "say" any word that the student clicks on. Teachers can use it to 1) review assigned text to identify challenging words or concepts prior to a lesson; 2) identify images and videos to use in class; 3) preview text to improve comprehension; 4) help individual students as they read text or write responses or summaries. The creators of WordSift think of words like soccer balls and classrooms as playgrounds in which words can be kicked around for fun and learning.
- Word Girl
Word Girl, part of PBS Learning Media, has word-based games, videos and activities for elementary age students.
Tip for teachers and parents/caregivers from our friend and literacy RTI and AIS expert Esther Friedman: Word Girl is a PBS program that supports vocabulary development in elementary students. I previewed it on the web link above (it’s also available as an Android or iPhone app) and think you will find it useful and engaging. Some of the words that are targeted will be just as useful for some of your secondary students. Because the platform is clearly for younger students, this might be presented as something secondary students might explore in order to expose younger siblings to the great videos, games and other resources on the site. In any case, who wouldn’t like a superheroine who vanquishes her enemies with the use of some pretty powerful vocabulary?
Wordles describes itself as "a place to have fun with words." It includes two "word search" machines. The first, "Word Search," allows you to find words that have the same ending or beginning, like "all words that end in 'gry,'" for example. "Words in Words" finds all of the words hidden within the word, name or phrase you enter.
Tip for teachers and parents/caregivers from our friend and literacy RTI and AIS expert Esther Friedman: First present the word to the student. This can be a word that has sounds in it that you are stressing in decoding. Have him find all of the words he can inside of that word. Then have him enter the word into the box in the Word in Words and he can match those he came up with against the ones shown.
- Video Playlist: Nine Strategies for Effective Classroom Management
In short video clips, teachers from across the country, including three from New York City, share their strategies for creating a positive classroom culture. Find out how these teachers got beyond "don’t do that," set the tone from day one, manage routines and transitions, and survived their first year in the classroom.
- Vocabulary Spelling City
This is a game-based educational website and mobile app used by students to build vocabulary, writing, spelling and language arts skills. Teachers and parents/caregivers choose from existing word lists or create their own lists to promote vocabulary development, provide writing practice and differentiate instruction. Word lists include Dolch sight words as well as math, science, social studies and literature word lists. The games are fun, spoken in a natural voice and have fun sound effects to encourage students. The site also has video language arts lessons, articles, parent letters and a forum where users can share their lists.