Friday, May 14, 2010

Equals


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.

4 comments:

  1. I would love to try this curriculum. How on earth did you get your distrct to purchase it, however? The price tag made me gasp... I cannot get these kinds of supplies or manipulitives unless I find them myself in a garage sale and pay for them myself. Most of my equipment comes from DB funds but not all my kids qualify.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hey Marian! I get the majority of my "big" stuff from deaf blind funds too. I have two students who qualify and that meets most of our assistive technology and some of our curriculum needs. I was able to purchase Equals, however, using a local grant as I have one student who qualifies for it. These folks have been beyond generous to my program and have helped us purchase a number of things that DB funds and/or the cooperative wouldn't/couldn't. Most of the sensory equipment and some of the positioning equipment we have was purchased using this grant funding.

    As for the price tag on Equals, given that it's a comprehensive K-12 curriculum differentiated for all abilities and contains nearly everything you need to implement it in one package, it's actually a pretty good deal. If you think about how much curriculum packages in general ed. cost, I'm sure it's at least comparable. It's also designed to complement a general ed. math curriculum.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Wow! I have looked at this and am thinking it might be my "big ticket" item for the 2011-12 school year so I'm looking forward to reading about how it is working for you through this next school year. Please keep us posted.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I have great resources within my district, but even I was a little scared when I saw the price tag on the Equals curriculum. Hearing how successful it can be with students may help convince me that it is worth the cost, so I look forward to hearing how this program works for you! I look forward to reading future posts regarding the Equals curriculum!

    ReplyDelete