Summer is upon us! And that means you are either preparing for next school year or getting ready to provide Extended Schooly Year Services. This year, that probably looks a bit different than the usual! Unique Learning System (ULS) offers a great summer themed unit for each grade band that includes all their usual components. The best thing about the ULS summer unit is they usually offer it for free. Such a great resource! In this post, I will share some great ways to navigate and implement the lessons, how to adapt for virtual learning, and how to supplement activities to reinforce skills.
This post contains my opinion of Unique Learning System and Boom Learning, as a sources of activities for special education students int he classroom and during distance learning. I am not a sponsor or affiliate of Unique Learning System or Boom Learning, and this post does not include affiliate links.
What is Included in Unique Learning System?
Unique Learning System is a curriculum designed for special education students. This curriculum is comprehensive and differentiated for the various ability levels of special education students. ULS offers monthly themes on standards based science and social studies topics and includes lessons for six different grade bands from preschools through high school and transition. Units contained lessons in reading, writing, math, science, and social studies, and also incorporate life skills.
ULS also offers other components in addition to their monthly units of lessons. News 2 You offers activities and lessons based on news articles and current events. Symbolstix is a software for creating visuals using their symbols or pictures. Additonal components given access to educational games and behavior management.
Unique Learning System also has a Student View which students can access from home. Through Student View, teachers can assign activities based on the current unit for students to complete independently or at home. The News 2 You activities have also just been made accessible from home, which is helpful during this time of virtual learning.
How Do You Use Unique Learning System?
When you first begin, you will fill out an observational profile for each student. The results of this profile will give you each student’s ULS Level. There are three different levels which are based on the amount of support students need. This will help you determine which materials to use with which students. Level 3 students are fairly independent, Level 2 students need some support, and Level 1 students need maximum support. I explain these levels in more detail in this post. Each lesson plan gives you different objectives for each student level to help you determine the level of support each student will need.
Unique Learning Systems provides 30 lessons per month to go along with that month’s unit. Each lesson contains multiple activities, as well as materials to provide support for each student level. The easiest way to get started is to follow the Suggested Monthly Plan provided by ULS. This gives you a plan for the whole month that includes all lessons and activities. I followed this plan for the first couple of years I used ULS, and then started to adjust to my own plan based on how I used the lessons and the student needs I had in my classroom. The curriculum allows you to adjust the schedule as you need to. However, if you are new to ULS, I highly suggest following their plan at first, so you can try out each lesson and activity.
Another great resource when you are getting started with ULS is the Teacher Reference Materials section. This section provides scripts, guides for teaching lessons, and additional activities for reading and math. Additionally, check out the professional development area for webinars and training videos. There is an amazing amount of information available to help you!
What is Included in the Unique Learning System Summer Unit?
The Summer Unit contains 30 lessons, all pertaining to one theme, that address skills in ELA, Math, Science, and Social Studies. This summer’s theme is “At the Amusement Park.” This includes all of the lesson plans and activities for each lesson, extension activities, suggested monthly plan, and Powerpoint files of the books. If you sign up for the free trial, you will have access to these lessons for free. I believe you can also have access to each grade band during your free trial as well. If you have a subscription through your school district, you will still have access to all grade bands for the summer unit.
Can Unique Learning System Used in an Online Platform?
There are several ways Unique Learning System can be used in a virtual, or online, platform. This can be useful for when we need to provide distance learning or to provide extra practice at home.
ULS Student View
Unique Learning System offers student access onine through Student View. Teachers can go into the GPS portion of the ULS dashboard and set up student work and access to assignments. Students can then access the lessons online and data is taken through the Student View platform. The lessons available to students directly corresponds with lessons on your classroom schedule for that day, so if you want them to have access to more lessons, you need to set that up yourself.
During our Covid-19 school closure, I have success uploading activities, PDFs, documents from my Google Drive, and teacher-made videos and lessons to Seesaw. I find this online platform to be very easy to use as far as creating activities. My students and their families also expressed it was very user-friendly. I made videos of myself reading the ULS stories and completing the monthly science experiment. I was also able to use Seesaw to work on student IEP goals and collect data.
ULS can also be incorporated into your google classroom activities. I found this to be a bit trickier than Seesaw, but I think each teacher finds their niche as far as technology so you may want to try using Google Docs or Google Slides if that is your area of expertise! There are some great tutorials on Youtube showing how to make interactive Google Slides.
Have you tried Boom Learning? I finally got on the bandwagon and it is so great for our students! I find it easiest to make activities on Powerpoint, and then upload them to Boom Learning. You can easily make interactive tasks for your students. You can use them during virtual instruction, or in the classroom. I can’t wait to try them out on the SmartBoard once we are back to school! I will go into this option more later on in this post.
How do I Set ULS Student View and How Can Students Access This From Home?
If you have a subscription to Unique Learning System, you will also have access to many webinars and training videos that they provide. You can find step by step instructions on how to set up and use Student View from there. They also provide resources for parents for help accessing the Student View activities.
From your ULS dashboard, you will need to go to the GPS area and click on your student. Select “Configure Student View” and this will bring you to the page where you can set reading levels, adjust accessibility settings, and add library books to their assigment pages.
Next you will need to set up the username and password for each student so they can log in from home or on their own devices. To do this go to the “My Students” area from your dashboard. From here, click on your student and scroll down to login settings. Under this tab you can choose the type of username and password you prefer to use for each student.
Once their username and passwords are set up , and you have configured the Student View for each student, each student can now log in and complete assignments. They just need to go to www.N2Y.com, click on “sign in” and choose “student.” This will take them to their login page. As they compete assignments, data will be taken and you can access this data through the Data Forms and Observations button on your ULS home page.
ULS and Boom Learning
Boom learning is a great resource for any interactive activities, both at school or through virtual learning. It is fairly simple to make activities through Boom Learning. You can either make them directly on the Boom Learning site, or create backgrounds on Powerpoint and upload them into their slides.
Another great feature of Boom Learning is that you can incorporate these activities by linking them through your Google Classroom or Seesaw Classroom. This makes it an easy supplemental activity that you can add right in to what you are already doing.
Visit my Boom Learning Store for some great resources for students with disabilities!
How to Pull it All Together- Planning During Summer Services
Extended School Year (ESY) services looks different from district to district, and state to state. On the west coast I taught during summer and I had a class of students for 19 days, from 9am to noon each day. During this time students also recieved speech, occupational therapy, and physical therapy services. This was my favorite form of summer services. It was much more effective in maintaining skills over the summer break.
In my current school district, there are more strict criteria to quailify for ESY services. For those students that do qualify, they are assigned a particular number of hours to be completed during the summer. In my experience, this has not been a large number of hours, so the services could be provided in a variety of ways. Sometimes they start the week or two before school starts to help with transition, for example. Although the hours provided seem small, there is more flexiblity for when and where services are provided to best benefit the student.
Depending on the structure of ESY for your district, planning will be varied! Either way, there is probably too much content within the Summer Unit to use every single lesson during ESY. But I think you’ll agree that having too much is better than not enough! Look at your student’s IEP goals and what the goal for ESY is, and utilize the components of the unit that will address those goals. You don’t have to feel like you need to use everything, or every part of each lesson.
I also utilize the Summer Unit when we first return to school in the fall as we are getting used to being back in a routine.
Other Online Learning Platforms
It seems like I am learning about another online resource we can use with our students every week! As we transition to school in the fall, we may still be relying on some of these distance learning resources. I hope you found these suggestions useful as you are providing instruction over summer, or utilizing ULS when we return to school. Please comment below if you have found additional resources to help provide instruction to students virtually, using the ULS curriculum. Let’s continue to help and support each other as we proceed through this distance learning experience!