I received the Equals curriculum from AbleNet yesterday and have eagerly been going through it. It came in two huge boxes plus a giant tube. So far I'm impressed. They provide everything needed to implement the basics of the program including a step-by-step and an All-Turn-It spinner. There are a ton of manipulatives and they seem really high quality. They are the kinds of things I've seen at educational supply stores for the most part, although I've never seen the nifty hands-on/manipulative numberlines included in the package. There are lots of posters and other print materials. While I think I read somewhere (the website?) that the printed materials came laminated, these were only poster-quality paper and I will definitely be laminating everything, hopefully with 7-10 mm laminate to help them last as long as possible. I've only read through the Overview manual so far and it looks really good. I like how they've differentiated for all levels of students and all the helpful hints and suggestions for adapting for different needs and activities. The Action Dictionary is very comprehensive and will be great for my paras to refer to. I also liked how they found unique ways to use the manipulatives as well as multiple uses for the different items in the kit.
I haven't had time to read through the curriculum guides but am really hopeful that I will be just as pleased with them as I already am with everything else. It looks like they've even differentiated for low vision, or at least made it easy for me to do so. There is a CD which appears to contain a whole bunch more print materials (communication boards, Super Talker overlays, worksheets, etc.). There is a comprehensive assessment piece as well that again appears to accommodate a wide range of needs and abilities. The curriculum itself is even contained in one of those fancy boxes "real" curriculum comes in (basal readers, etc.; harkening back to my student teaching days). It truly looks like we finally have a curriculum for the severe/profound population that actually meets the needs of students with the most severe disabilities. YAY!
At this point I think my only suggestion for AbleNet would be to provide a la carte pricing for the items in the kit so replacements can easily be ordered. Over time posters will get worn or torn, work mats damaged, manipulatives lost, etc. It would be nice to be able to replace them as needed. And there might be programs that would like to order multiples of the manipulative kit to be able to spread the wealth between multiple classrooms.
I'm looking forward to implementing the program this fall. I'm having to hold myself back from starting it now. We only have three days of school left, after all, and one of those is a promotion celebration for three of my students who are moving from the middle school level to the high school level. I really don't have to push my kids that hard do I? They are all just glad that we finally finished the Hatchet unit. I'm sure I'll be writing more about our experiences with Equals as we add it to our daily activities.
Disclaimer: I am writing this review under my own volition. AbleNet has not provided me with any kind of remuneration or compensation for sharing my thoughts nor do I seek such. My desire is simply to share information about a program others who do what I do might find interesting.