Captain America stood on a pink wall

Image of peanut butter, jam and bread.
Students earned sandwich ingredients by writing a paragraph using the “paragraph sandwich” model.

Activities in the Reading Strategies for Success class have included silly sentences and paragraph sandwiches, as well as more traditional activities like vocabulary quizzes and writing assignments.

In the silly sentence exercise, students were given strips of colored paper and asked to write different parts of speech on each one—for example, someone’s name (Joe) or a title (the bus driver) or a person (my brother) on the yellow strips, a thing (the wall, a submarine) on the blue strips, a place (New York City, downstairs ) on the green strips and a time (yesterday, this afternoon) on the red strips. The words were randomly selected to create grammatically correct, but ridiculously nonsensical sentences, like “Captain America stood on a pink wall in Antarctica in the year 3000.”

Paragraph sandwiches were introduced as a fun way to help organize students’ thoughts while completing writing assignments. The paragraph’s thesis, or main topic, was described as the top piece of bread. The bottom piece of bread makes the transition, or tells how the paragraph is related, to the rest of the writing assignment. The middle of the sandwich is the “good stuff,” the supporting sentences that bridge the gap between the thesis and the rest of the paper. Students had the opportunity to “earn” sandwich ingredients like bread, peanut butter, jam and banana slices by writing a paragraph.

“The purpose of the functional reading and writing class is to help students understand the essentials of communication, from reading a bus schedule to making a grocery list to writing a cover letter,” said teacher Sarah Stone.

And while assistive technology can make many reading- and writing-related tasks easier for the students, it can’t actually communicate for them.

“Communication is the transfer of information from one person to another, and it is essential to independent living,” said teaching assistant Sue Reeves, who presented the modules on sentences and paragraphs. “Learning to construct a sentence or organize thoughts into a paragraph are foundational skills, whether a student types on a keyboard or dictates into a talk-to-text iPad app.”

*****

Aggies Elevated at Utah State University believes that all individuals, regardless of ability, have the right to meaningful employment, lifelong learning, self-determination and full community inclusion. Utilizing the MyCLIMB (My Career Ladder to Independence, Maturity & Balance) person-centered planning model, Aggies Elevated students, along with invited family members and/or other stakeholders, will chart their own paths toward independence within an individualized framework of supports that identifies challenges, builds on individual strengths and encourages personal responsibility.

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