Submitted by Mark Lyons,
BAISD - REMC 6
When you say “web based curriculum”, for some individuals in the education world those words sound very scary. But terms like interactive lessons, aligned to state educational and transition standards, and lesson plans done for you, tend to change the minds of the opponents. The program is called Unique Learning System, run by News-2-You. It’s a cloud-based system. They develop the special education curriculum, lesson plans, and materials so the teachers can spend their time teaching. The system has three branches. One of those branches is News 2 You (N2Y), which is a weekly newspaper with current events. Another branch is SymbolStix that provides access to 26,000+ symbols and allows the user to create grids or choose from multiple device templates. The third, ULS, is the heart of the program. This is the online curriculum that supports preschool through transition aged students.
The ability to have some type of interactive display or wireless devices really makes this program a true hands on curriculum. In return, it cuts down on the usage of paper and printer ink. With that said, you still are only a mouse click away from having the ability to put the curriculum in hard copy form. Depending on the subscription package ordered, there can be many options built into the software. Currently we are utilizing all three branches and focusing on monthly lessons, benchmark testing and transition passports.
The benchmark portion of the program provides online assessments which can be given on the computer or a wireless device such as a tablet. Again, you can print the tests for students needing a physical copy. The benchmarks cover 6 different domains with each domain typically having 7 levels. The students’ results from the benchmarks are saved into the system. This provides a baseline to work from. Each time the student takes the benchmark it’s graphed to show improvement or regression. Data drives instruction, and because of this teachers can write academic IEP goals from the results. With our first set of benchmark tests complete for the 2015 school year we witnessed a very positive response from a majority of the students. Due to the testing being on the computer or tablet seemed to really create a more “game like” feel to the testing. Some students were upset because the testing was complete. I’m eager to see if we get the same type of reaction from the students for the second testing window which is scheduled for January.
Taking the time to get everyone trained and comfortable using a web based curriculum has been a slight challenge. But the feedback we have received from the supervisors, teachers, support staff and most importantly the students has been very positive. Below are the links to the official home page of News 2 You and a short video on the programs. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns.