Paths to Literacy

for students who are blind or visually impaired

Virtual Expanded Core Education Learning (ExCEL) Academy for Students with Visual Impairments

Banner for Virtual ExCEL Academy

In this time of need, if you are looking for ways to provide virtual services or activities for your student or child who is visually impaired, please join us for the launch of free nationwide programming. We hope to offer engaging lessons for students with a variety of abilities. We also hope to model ways that online learning could be used for services. We understand that children’s needs are unique and that lessons may not apply for all kids, but we are dedicated to working out a plan to provide as much as we can. We will continue to update the list of instructors’ names and topics as the schedule evolves.  

 

Join the Virtual Web Classes!

Use this link to join our webinars:

https://aph.zoom.us/j/211970785

Featuring daily lessons for students with visual impairments.  Paths to Literacy is collaborating with APH (American Printing House for the Blind) and CalState University to present this programming.  Qualified teachers from around the country will be presenting a range of lessons.  You can call in via Zoom or connect via the Internet.  

All web classes will take place at the following times:

  • 8:00 a.m. (HT)
  • 10:00 a.m. (AKT)
  • 11:00 a.m. (PT)
  • 12:00 p.m. (MT)
  • 1:00 p.m. (CT)
  • 2:00 p.m. (ET)

Please note that these will be posted as soon as they are closed captioned.  That process takes several days and we appreciate your patience in the meantime!


Schedule of Presentations

Click on presentation for details.

 

SCHEDULE

Flyer for Week 2 of Virtual ExCEL Academy

Week Two:  March 30-April 3

All web classes will take place at the following times:

  • 8:00 a.m. (HT)
  • 10:00 a.m. (AKT)
  • 11:00 a.m. (PT)
  • 12:00 p.m. (MT)
  • 1:00 p.m. (CT)
  • 2:00 p.m. (ET)

 

Monday, March 30, 2020

Slide of Self-Awareness Sucess with teacher in classroomTitle of the Lesson/Activity:  Self-Awareness Success (Part 1)
Instructor:  Robbin Keating-Clark
Instructor’s Title: Expanded Core Curriculum Coordinator
Instructor’s Affiliation: Utah Schools for the Deaf and the Blind
Instructor’s email: robbinc@usdb.org
Primary Core or ECC Area: Self-determination 
Target Audience: Upper elementary, middle & high school; moderate to typically developing ability level
Pre-requisite knowledge: None
Lesson Plan Goal: Students will define self-awareness. Students will be able to analyze their thoughts & feelings.
Materials Needed:  Students will need a device for journaling. 
 

 

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Gwyn McCormack slideTitle of the Lesson/Activity:  Marvin's Market Adventure and Grandma's Special Birthday Picnic (Part 1)
Instructor:  Gwyn McCormack
Instructor’s Title: TVI
Instructor’s Affiliation: Positive Eye (UK)
Instructor’s email: gwyn@positiveeye.co.uk
Target Audience: Pre-school - 2nd grade or students with moderate additional disabilities
Pre-requisite Knowledge:  None required
Lesson Plan Goal:  To participate in a fun meaningful literacy experience and enjoy creating some of the story items following the session
Materials Needed:  A purse, a shopping bag, some coins, a boy doll for Marvin (if possible but not essential) a carrot and a potato and a flower (all not essential, but great if available)  
 

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Self-awareness slideTitle of the Lesson/Activity:  Self-Awareness Success (Part 2)
Instructor:  Robbin Keating-Clark
Instructor’s Title: Expanded Core Curriculum Coordinator
Instructor’s Affiliation: Utah Schools for the Deaf and the Blind
Instructor’s email: robbinc@usdb.org
Primary Core or ECC Area: Self-determination 
Target Audience: Upper elementary, middle & high school; moderate to typically developing ability level
Pre-requisite Knowledge: None
Lesson Plan Goal: Students will define self-awareness. Students will be able to analyze their thoughts & feelings.  Today’s lesson is based on the ILSA (Independent Living Skills Assessment) and the self-awareness unit. You can buy the self-awareness unit or  Self-Awareness Social Emotional Learning Unit for Elementary from Teachers Pay Teachers.
Materials Needed:  Students will need a device for journaling.
Download handout: Me Vacation Resources.
 
 

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Fun with Braille slideTitle of the Lesson/Activity:  Fun with Braille
Instructor:  Tammy Reisman
Instructor’s Title: Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments
Instructor’s Affiliation: UMass Boston and Newton, MA Public Schools
Instructor’s email: Tammy.Reisman@umb.edu
Primary Core or ECC Area: Compensatory: braille
Target Audience:  beginning braille readers/learners (or anyone that wants some fun braille enrichment activities)
Pre-requisite Knowledge:  use of braille writer, beginning reading skills
Lesson Plan Goal: To reinforce and practice beginning braille reading and writing skills
Materials Needed:  play dough or clay, braille writer, braille paper, favorite braille book
 

Friday, April 3, 2020

Slide for Time for TotsTitle of the Lesson/Activity:  Time for Tots
Instructors:  Renee Ellis, Mary Shore, Kate Borg, Kathy Garza, Deanna Peterson
Instructor’s Title: Early Childhood Consultant
Instructor’s Affiliation: Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Outreach
Instructor’s email:  ellisr@tsbvi.edu
Primary Core or ECC Area: Literacy, Social, Motor, Cognitive Development
Target Audience: Ages 0-5 years
Pre-requisite Knowledge:  None required
Lesson Plan Goal: Using songs, music, and movement to support literacy, motor and cognitive development.  Note that this session will be a bit different from others, in that we will do activities for the children for the first 30 minutes (approximately), followed by discussion with the parents and caregivers.
Materials Needed:  2 bandaids (optional!)
 
 

Week 3:  April 6-10

Monday, April 6, 2020

Slide for Marvin's Market AdventureTitle of the Lesson/Activity:  Marvin's Market Adventure and Grandma's Special Birthday Picnic (Part 2)
Instructor:  Gwyn McCormack
Instructor’s Title: TVI
Instructor’s Affiliation: Positive Eye (UK)
Instructor’s email: gwyn@positiveeye.co.uk
Target Audience: Pre-school - 2nd grade or students with moderate additional disabilities
Pre-requisite Knowledge:  None required
Lesson Plan Goal:  To participate in a fun meaningful literacy experience and enjoy creating some of the story items following the session.  Join us to continue with Marvin's adventures, and chapters 3 & 4 of the story.
Materials Needed:  A purse, a shopping bag, some coins, a boy doll for Marvin (if possible but not essential) a carrot and a potato and a flower (all not essential, but great if available)  
 

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Staying Home: How to CommunicateTitle of the Lesson/Activity:  Staying Home: How to Communicate and Act on Our Wants and Needs with Everyone at Home
Instructor:  Kate Katulak 
Instructor’s Title: TVI
Instructor’s Affiliation: Perkins School for the Blind
Instructor’s email: kate.katulak@perkins.org
Primary Core or ECC Area: Self-Determination
Target Audience: Academic or functional academic students from elementary through high school
Pre-requisite Knowledge:  Listening and communication skills; ability to self-reflect
Lesson Plan Goal: This is the first of four lessons in a unit on Staying Home. The goal of the unit is to help students and families thrive in their home environments during this time of uncertainty. Topics in this lesson include strategies for enabling students to identify their wants and needs, promoting their independence, and communicating effectively despite heightened stress and closer quarters that they and their families might be experiencing.
Materials Needed:  Students may consider bringing something with which to take notes (not required).
 

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Slide of Lightbox Story HourTitle of the Lesson/Activity:  Lightbox Story Hour! Literacy activities for students with visual impairments and additional disabilities
Instructor:  Adam Wilton
Instructor’s Title: Program Manager (TVI and COMS)
Instructor’s Affiliation: Provincial Resource Centre for the Visually Impaired (PRCVI) - BC, Canada
Instructor’s email: awilton@prcvi.org
Primary Core or ECC Area: Literacy/Sensory Efficiency
Target Audience: Students with visual impairments and additional exceptionalities of all ages who use lightboxes for literacy-based activities
Pre-requisite Knowledge:  None
Lesson Plan Goal: The goal of Lightbox Story Hour! is to share some early-mid primary level stories that have been adapted for use with an APH Lightbox. Visual and auditory features of each story are adapted or designed with students with more complex profiles (including visual impairment) in mind. Following our stories and activities, the PRCVI outreach team will be available for questions by students, colleagues, or parents/caregivers in attendance. 
Materials Needed:  None 
 

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Slide for Staying Home: Making ConnectionsTitle of the Lesson/Activity: Staying Home: Making Connections in the Face of Social Distancing with No or Limited Vision
Instructor:  Kate Katulak 
Instructor’s Title: TVI
Instructor’s Affiliation: Perkins School for the Blind
Instructor’s email: kate.katulak@perkins.org
Primary Core or ECC Area: Social Interaction Skills
Target Audience: Academic or functional academic students from elementary through high school
Pre-requisite Knowledge:  Listening and communication skills
Lesson Plan Goal: This is the second of four lessons in a unit on Staying Home. The goal of the unit is to help students and families thrive in their home environments during this time of uncertainty. Students who participate in this lesson will receive tips and strategies for creating and maintaining connections despite social distancing and regardless of visual ability.
Materials Needed:  Students may consider bringing something with which to take notes (not required).
 

Friday, April 10, 2020

Slide for infant massageTitle of the Lesson/Activity:  Intro to Infant Massage for Kids with VI: Shared Joy, Body Awareness, and Touch Communication
Instructor:   Kimala Rein
Instructor’s Title: EI TVI/COMS
Instructor’s Affiliation: A Shared Vision of Colorado Bumblebee Vision Impairment Services of Alaska
Instructor’s email:  kimaladay@gmail.com or krein@asharedvision.org
Primary Core or ECC Area: Orientation & Mobility, and Social Communication 
Target Audience: Caregivers of children who would like to be coached in how to provide Infant Massage  that is specifically geared for our kids with vision impairment.    Children tend to be ages 0-3, but we have found that children with multiple disabilities who are over 3 and have limited independent movement have really enjoyed it as well.  
Pre-requisite Knowledge:  Parent should know their child's personality, their child's medical conditions and what techniques their child likes for being regulated when distressed (holding, rocking, cooing)
Lesson Plan Goal: Parents will be introduced to Infant Massage by Certified Infant Massage Instructor and TVI COMS, Kimala Rein.  We will use touch cues, co-regulation, hand-under-hand, and simple words during movements to allow the child and massager to closely read each other and enjoy the benefits of touch communication.  This is an excellent way for young children who are visually impaired to gain confidence about their body and trust in others which will help them become more independent travelers (even if the first traveling is to roll/reach).  
Materials Needed:  A handout will be provided which shows participants what the strokes look like in diagram form.  Parents will need to have their child, or a doll to practice on, a edible oil for the massage (like olive or coconut), a blanket, and a quiet, warm place to practice. 
 
 

Week 4:  April 13-17, 2020

Monday, April 13

Title of the Lesson/Activity:  Multiplication on the Abacus
Instructor:  John Rose
Instructor’s Title: Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments
Instructor’s Affiliation: Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Instructor’s email: rosej@tsbvi.edu
Primary Core or ECC Area: Grade 4 Math (TEKS) -- solve with fluency one- and two-step problems involving multiplication; ECC, Compensatory Skills, Abacus 
Target Audience: Elementary, typically grades 4-5 but open to younger and older students, families, and teachers
Pre-requisite Knowledge:  Abacus Basic Concepts, Abacus Addition, Counting Method helps but not required, Multiplication facts helps but not required
Lesson Plan Goal: This lesson will review abacus basic concepts in the context of multiplication and will address multiplication with one- and two-digit multipliers.
Materials Needed:  Cranmer abacus (a virtual abacus may be fine for teachers and for students if it is accessible)
 

Tuesday, April 14

Title of the Lesson/Activity:  Staying Home: Processing Our Feelings During Uncertain Times
Instructor:  Kate Katulak 
Instructor’s Title: TVI
Instructor’s Affiliation: Perkins School for the Blind
Instructor’s email: kate.katulak@perkins.org
Primary Core or ECC Area: Self-Determination
Target Audience: Academic or functional academic students from elementary through high school
Pre-requisite Knowledge:  Listening and communication skills; basic vocabulary of feeling words; ability to self-reflect
Lesson Plan Goal: This is the third of four lessons in a unit on Staying Home. The goal of the unit is to help students and families thrive in their home environments during this time of uncertainty. Students who participate in this lesson will gain practice identifying their emotions and learn strategies for managing their feelings surrounding issues related to being out of school, having more time on their hands, being away from friends, and other anxieties/uncertainties about COVID-19.
Materials Needed:  Students may consider bringing something with which to take notes (not required).
 

Wednesday, April 15

Title of the Lesson/Activity:  Marvin's Market Adventure and Grandma's Special Birthday Picnic (Part 2)
Instructor:  Gwyn McCormack
Instructor’s Title: TVI
Instructor’s Affiliation: Positive Eye (UK)
Instructor’s email: gwyn@positiveeye.co.uk
Target Audience: Pre-school - 2nd grade or students with moderate additional disabilities
Pre-requisite Knowledge:  None required
Lesson Plan Goal:  To participate in a fun meaningful literacy experience and enjoy creating some of the story items following the session
Materials Needed:  A purse, a shopping bag, some coins, a boy doll for Marvin (if possible but not essential) a carrot and a potato and a flower (all not essential, but great if available)  
 

Thursday, April 16

Title of the Lesson/Activity:  Tips for Staying Busy and 5 Fun Things to Do at Home with No or Limited Vision
Instructor:  Kate Katulak 
Instructor’s Title: TVI
Instructor’s Affiliation: Perkins School for the Blind
Instructor’s email: kate.katulak@perkins.org
Primary Core or ECC Area: Recreation and leisure, self-determination
Target Audience: Academic or functional academic students from elementary through high school
Pre-requisite Knowledge:  Listening skills, body awareness, ability to follow multi-step directions
Lesson Plan Goal: This is the fourth of four lessons in a unit on Staying Home. The goal of the unit is to help students and families thrive in their home environments during this time of uncertainty. In this lesson, students will gain tips for staying busy at home while learning five activities to do regardless of visual impairment. 
Materials Needed:  Comfortable clothing, yoga mat or room to safely move around, something with which to write
 

Friday, April 17

Title of the Lesson/Activity:  Wacky Web Tales: An Introduction to JAWS and Fun with Parts of Speech
Instructor:  Nina Wibbenmeyer
Instructor’s Title: Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments
Instructor’s Affiliation: Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Instructor’s email: wibbenmeyern@tsbvi.edu
Primary Core or ECC Area: Assistive Technology
Target Audience: Upper Elementary through High School; academic or functional academic students
Pre-requisite Knowledge:  Have a basic understanding of parts of speech.
Lesson Plan Goal: Introduce JAWS screenreader and practice listening skills
Materials Needed:  None, but students are welcome to follow along on their laptops if they have JAWS installed.
 

INSTRUCTORS NEEDED!

If you are interested in being an instructor, please fill out this form.  You can also contact us if you would be interested in being a presenter or if you have questions.
 

FAQs

How can I sign up?

At this point we don't have a mailing list, so it's up to you to follow the Zoom link to the sessions you want to attend.

Are there sessions available for specific ages or grade levels?

At this point we are just trying to set this up and establish basic service one hour per day.  The sessions will be open to anyone who wants to attend.  If the school closures continue and we are able to find enough volunteer instrutors, we will try to expand the offerings.

What is the schedule?

This is evolving.  We are planning to start with sessions appropriate for students of any age.  We will continue to add more content as it becomes available.

What materials will my child or student need?

Each lesson specifies what materials, if any, will be needed.

 

Zoom Questions and Accessibility Tips

I have never used Zoom.  How do I connect?

Zoom is a web-conferencing platform and you can connect via the phone or the internet.  Please download the app before joining the web class.  

You may also find these resources helpful:

 

Online Tips for Participants

  • Participant list includes your name 
  • Video/audio disabled upon entry 
  • We encourage active participation 
  • Use the chat feature to comment or ask questions
    • Windows - Alt+H: display chat
    • Mac – Command+shift+H
  • We will monitor the chat room.
  • Raise your hand if you would like the microphone to be enabled
    • Windows -Alt+Y: Raise/lower hand
    • Mac – Option+Y: Raise/lower hand
  • Mute or unmute yourself
    • Windows - Alt+A: Mute/unmute audio 
    • Mac – Command+Shift+A: Mute/unmute audio 
  • Announce yourself when speaking.
  • Each session will be recorded and posted to Paths to Literacy and APH’s websites in a few days.

Download the tip sheet.

 

Etiquette Guidelines for Participants

From Tessa McCarthy, Ph.D. University of Pittsburgh

  1. Log in to the web conference early. Try to log in five or ten minutes before the scheduled event start time. Zoom conferencing software requires a download and install on your computer, and you want to give it time to take place. You may be required to update Flash or another underlying utility. Some of the lessons presented may require you to collect household items to fully participate. Even if none of these apply to you, logging in early gives you time to enter your identifying information, ask questions that you want to see covered during the session, and be part of the “quorum” that the host sees as sufficient audience size to start their content delivery.
  2. Mute your audio if lines are open. If your webinar host opens the phone or computer audio lines to let audience members speak, keep your audio muted whenever you are not speaking. This helps avoid unwanted background noises that can distract other participants. And never, NEVER push the “HOLD” button on your phone. That often plays music over the line, which stops a webinar dead in its tracks.
  3. Be an active participant. Provide your inputs to polling questions. Respond to requests for comments or questions. To notify the presenter that you would like to speak, simply type in the chat box or "raise your hand" by clicking on the Raise Hand icon at the bottom of the zoom window. You can also use Alt+Y in windows or Option+Y in Mac to raise and lower your hand.
  4. Be respectful. These lessons will allow a publicly-visible chat. Please keep your contributions helpful and considerate of the host and other participants. 
  5. Provide feedback. It can be very hard for hosts to tell how the experience was from the audience viewpoint. Help them improve their lessons letting them know what worked well and what didn’t work for you. Were there audio problems? Difficulty reading slide content? What was the most interesting thing you learned?  We will be sending out a survey at the end of each session to get your feedback.
  6. Provide individualized support.  It may be helpful for the student’s TVI to log on and participate at the same time and then call the student after the lesson to review or answer questions pertaining to that student’s educational needs.  * Please note that this service is not a substitute for consistent structured individualized instruction given by highly qualified Teachers of Students with Visual Impairments (TSVI) or Orientation and Mobility Specialists (O&M), and that instruction with students’ primary TSVI and O&M should occur regularly as specified in the students' IEP. These lessons should be considered as alternative extension activities and are NOT a substitute for direct instruction toward meeting IEP goals.   
 
 

Tips for Instructors

Log in 30 minutes ahead of your scheduled time.

Helpful Tips for Instructors for Online Learning Via Zoom

 

For more information contact:

 

Virtual Expanded Core Education Learning Academy flyer
 
Collage for Virtual Learning Academy
Posted on March 25, 2020
Updated on: April 1, 2020