n2y Blog

Using SymbolStix® to Create Symbol Resources for the Scottish Children’s Book Awards

Written By Joanna Courtney

Speech and Language Therapists at CALL Scotland have been creating symbolised resources to accompany the 3 shortlisted ‘Bookbug’ books for early readers (ages 3-8) in the annual Scottish Children’s Book Awards competition.  Digital copies of the books have also been made accessible for children with additional support needs and communication difficulties resulting in a print disability.

Since 2009, CALL Scotland has produced accessible versions of the shortlisted books to allow children with print disabilities (which make it hard for them to access a standard book) to take part.

The Bookbug books are available as Adobe PDFs, PowerPoint files with recorded narration and switch prompts and, from this past year (2014/2015), Keynote files for the iPad®.

For the first time, this year CALL also created a pack of symbolised resources to accompany the Bookbug category of shortlisted books, which can be used for pupils with additional support needs and those with communication difficulties. These resources include a Go Talk 9+ overlay or printable symbol board to go with each story, or to be used for general shared reading, as well as for voting for the winner of the competition! There are also vocabulary sheets to go with each board to help with recording the messages.


GoTalk 9+ Device by Attainment Company pictured here.

Image used with permission from Attainment Company and CALL Scotland.

As well as resources for reading the stories, CALL also provides a symbolised teaching activity and vocabulary sheet to go with each story book, adapted from the Scottish Book Trust’s Teacher Pack.

We hope this pack makes the Book Awards into a fun and inclusive project for all Scottish pupils to enjoy and really take part in!

For those using iPads in the classroom or for pupils using an iPad as an AAC device, SoundingBoard app versions of the boards, using SymbolStix symbols © 2014 SymbolStix LLC, are also available for download. There are 5 boards in total, one for each story, one for shared reading and one for voting, which are all linked together and pre-recorded, ready to go. Pupils just needed to have the free app installed on their devices and they will be ready to join in the fun!

voting board

Screen capture of voting page from SoundingBoard app.

Image used with permission from AbleNet and from CALL Scotland.

CALL Scotland’s Books for All website received countless downloads for each individual symbol resource!

We hope to increase awareness for the resources, alongside the Scottish Book Trust, so that the symbol materials we produce for this year’s Scottish Children’s Book Awards, available in Scotland in early September 2015, will receive even more downloads and be used by even more pupils across Scotland.

We were also very happy to attend the awards ceremony at The Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh in March 2015, where we met the authors and let them try out the symbol resources for themselves!

The winner was Robot Rumpus, by Sean Taylor and Ross Collins. Check it out!

Ross Collins

Photo of Ross Collins, author.

Image used with permission from CALL Scotland.

A big thank you to SymbolStix for being a partner in this innovative new project from across the pond!

                   reading with symbolsbookread itguided reading

  SymbolStix from n2y available at n2y.com



© Copyright 2015 n2y, LLC. All Rights Reserved


Find n2y and SymbolStix on Facebook! @n2yinc on Twitter  and @n2yinc on Instagram. To chat with us by phone about Unique Learning System, News-2-You, SymbolStix or Training, 800.697.6575 or n2y.com

News-2-You® New Lesson Planslogo

Interview with Allison Vice, Director of Products for n2y

Written by Anne Johnson-Oliss
August 20, 2015

From n2y this September… new lesson plans for News-2-You®! Printable and interactive, the new lessons plans accompanied with a weekly suggested plan paces material for a week! With so much material available with each News-2-You subscription, the lesson plans establish an organization and order to instruction.

Interactive documents (iDocs), support classroom instruction by hyperlinking to other News-2-You pieces such as recipes and main worksheet pages. The new weekly lesson plans incorporate Class News and Joey’s Locker activities for more integrated and dynamic lessons.

joeys locker

Joey's Locker. Retrieved from n2y.com.

News-2-You has been used in classrooms for reading instruction since the first publication 17 years ago. Now with guidance for professionals in reading instruction and vocabulary building, News-2-You as a classroom favorite, is now even more functional. Additional activities for News-2-You will include a Lapsed Time page and a Geography page, both of which will be integrated into the weekly plan. 

News-2-You publishes several versions of each paper weekly. Preferred practice in reading instruction suggests that practitioners read the Advanced Level, pictured here, of the paper with all students then shift to instructional levels of the paper for each individual. Students receive all of the benefits of read-aloud experiences as they listen with purpose to relevant news stories. Doesn't look familiar? Perhaps you usually access the Regular Edition or Simplified Edition with SymbolStix support. The Advanced version is available as well for the first reading of the news story each week.

Every Kid in a Park advanced version

 Every Kid in a Park. Advanced Version of News-2-You. (2015). Retrieved from n2y.com.

Vocabulary instruction is vital for all students. The new weekly lesson plans for News-2-You encourages vocabulary growth by selecting key words throughout the materials.

word wall

SymbolStix for word wall. (2015). Retrieved from n2y.com.

Class News is now aligned to English Language Arts Standards! This interactive activity generating a customized newspaper, also has its own lesson plan for each grade band. Using Class News has always been fun and informative for users. Now, Class News claims its place as a staple of language instruction in classrooms all over the country.

class news

Class News. (2015). Retrieved from n2y.com.

The Extension Activity in News-2-You is also aligned to English Language Arts Standards in the areas of listening, speaking, comments and vocabulary. A popular way to continue language and learning from News-2-You, the Extension Activity not only lengthens lessons but adds depth and content as well.

  extension activity cover pageextension activity page   extension activity quiz page


© Copyright 2015 n2y, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Find n2y and SymbolStix on Facebook! @n2yinc on Twitter  and @n2yinc on Instagram. To chat with us by phone about Unique Learning System, News-2-You, SymbolStix or Training, 800.697.6575 or n2y.com


n2y globe

Unique Learning System® – A Complete Reading Program

Interview with Allison Vice, Director of Products for n2y

Written by Anne Johnson-Oliss

        August 06,2015

Unique Learning System® (ULS) has been a cornerstone in classrooms for students with complex needs since its inception. With six grade bands of content and differentiation within those bands, the volume and quality are unparalleled.

Now, ULS includes all vital components of a reading program in each grade band from preschool through transition. The National Reading Panel cites five components as evidence of a complete reading program, (Ambruster, Lehr, Osborn, & Noonis, n.d.).

Five Components of a Complete Reading Program:

  • Phonemic Awareness
  • Phonics
  • Fluency
  • Vocabulary
  • Comprehension

Phonemic Awareness

"Phonemes are the smallest parts of sound in a spoken word that make a difference in the word’s meaning," (Ambruster et al., n.d.). Awareness means the ability to hear, identify, and work with the component parts of spoken words (phonemes). Students begin demonstrating phonemic awareness in print and in spoken words when they recognize beginning sounds and string together lists of word with the same beginning sound or when they exaggerate the separation of sounds in word play. Children with solid phonemic awareness tools have good building blocks for reading and spelling, (Ambruster et al., n.d.).


"Phonics instruction teaches children the relationships between the letters of written language and the individual sounds," (Ambruster et al, n.d.). Assigning and recording letter and sound relationships helps children in the future with less familiar words and patterns when reading. "Systematic phonics instruction is significantly more effective than non-systematic or no phonics instruction in helping to prevent reading difficulties among at-risk students and in helping children overcome reading difficulties," (Ambruster et al., n.d.).



"Fluency is the ability to read a text accurately and quickly," (Ambruster et al., n.d.). Fluency bridges the gap between word recognition and comprehending what is read. Fluent readers do not have to focus on the mechanics of the phonemes or each word, but recognize the words and tie together the concepts as they read with some automaticity. Students begin to show these skills when they read with expression or laugh at logical points in text. An important point made by the  National Institute for Literacy publication, Put Reading First, is that fluency changes over time, (Ambruster et. al., n.d.) as it should based on practice, type of reading material, and level of text. One of the most important ways to teach fluent reading is to model reading fluently. Use the leveled books within each lesson, n2y Library books, trade books, library books, or other reading material and model fluency!         

snap of lesson plan

Unique Learning System, Elementary Leveled Book, Lesson 1. September, 2015. n2y.com.


"Vocabulary refers to the words we must know to communicate effectively," (Ambruster et. al., n.d.). Exposure to new words happens in many different ways including but not limited to: direct and indirect exposure, oral communication, grade-level texts, and books read aloud. some vocabulary is learned by indirect means of exposure by some students, but providing students with specific word meanings, word groupings, and word strategies is helpful. "Direct vocabulary instruction aids reading comprehension," (Ambruster et.al., n.d.). 


"Comprehension is the reason for reading," (Ambruster et. al., n.d.). If students do not understand the words, the level of text may be too high which maximizes frustration levels. As instructors, we want children to understand and enjoy reading activities with low frustration levels and appropriate comprehension to actually call it reading.


Easy Read Book ELEMENTARY, SymbolStix® ONLINE, n2y.com.

Verified by reading experts, each element of a full reading program is evident in each grade band of ULS. Further, the five components are visual and adapted to meet the needs of students with complex cognition needs.


To further support practitioners in classrooms, n2y provides training to subscribers with Detailed Lesson Plans on reading instruction and all of the components of a full reading program.

lesson plan

Unique Learning System, Elementary Leveled Book, Lesson 1. September, 2015. n2y.com

The lesson plans that are provided in ULS tie the entire program together for delivery in daily classroom instruction.

Read-aloud leveled books in each grade band are provided with text-to-speech so that all students can hear the book. Read-aloud experiences provide purposeful listening and reading opportunities for students.

                coverlevel b page

Unique Learning System, Elementary Leveled Book, My Teacher. September, 2015. n2y.com

Self-selected reading opportunities based on interest are also included in the ULS lesson plans. As essential learning experiences in the classroom, self-selected books give practitioners a window into the interests, desires and curiosities of learners who may not be able to articulate their choices by any other means. Choose from the n2y Library’s nearly 1,000 online books including classroom books, trade books, library books, leveled books or easy read books. Search for a topic, a title, category, recently added title, or level.

n2y library graphic

n2y Library. September, 2015. n2y.com

Guided reading is intended for small groups of students reading at the same level, but the same strategies can be applied to individual students. In guided reading, the student(s) read and the teacher supports the reading.

guided and shared

                Unique Learning System, Elementary Leveled Book, Lesson 1. September, 2015. n2y.com

ULS is giving students new ways to show what they know with a focus on comprehension in the Detailed Lesson Plans provided. With multiple ways to demonstrate comprehension, students with various learning styles and strengths will be able to exhibit excellence!

after reading

Unique Learning System, Elementary Leveled Book, My Teacher. September, 2015. n2y.com

Vocabulary instruction will closely link to reading lessons with context, capitalizing on natural and repeated exposures to the words and concepts.

topic words and vocab words

 Unique Learning System, Elementary Leveled Book, Lesson 1. September, 2015. n2y.com.

Coming later this school year, in the higher grade bands, middle school, high school and transition, n2y will be adding Skill Builders to continue to address phonemic awareness and phonics with age-respectful materials. Some users require more practice with these skills even though academic standards no longer reflect such targets for these grade levels. Skill Builders are essential in order to meet some students’ needs.

Coming this school year from n2y in the middle school and high school grade bands, Power Words! Power Words are high-frequency words and vocabulary play that play key roles throughout the lessons providing increased exposure to words and multiple activities. Power Words may be high-frequency words and exist on different lists, but they are valuable across settings to both literacy and understanding. For each lesson, there will be specific, key vocabulary words for understanding.

power words

 Unique Learning System, Elementary Leveled Book, Lesson 1. September, 2015. n2y.com.

With these enhancements for students as well as practitioners, ULS provides both the depth and breadth required of a complete reading program. Unique Learning System is a dynamic and robust system of learning and instruction!



© Copyright 2015 n2y, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Ambruster, B., Lehr, F., Osborn, J., & Noonis, L. (n.d.). The Research Building Blocks for Teaching Children to Read Put Reading First (R. Adler, Ed.). Retrieved August 3, 2015.

Hollowell, Karen. "Five Components to a Comprehensive Reading Program." Education.seattlepi.com. Demand Media, 2015. Web. 28 July 2015.

Moore, S. & Gardner, T., (2015). My Teacher. Huron, OH: n2y, LLC.

"Teaching Children to Read: An Evidence-based Assessment of the Scientific Research Literature on Reading and Its Implications for Reading Instruction." Http://www.nichd.nih.gov. National Reading Panel, 2000. Web. 28 July 2015. 

Unique Learning System Reading Standards for Foundational Skills [Elementary Lesson Plan]. (2015). 
            Retrieved from n2y.com.

Unique Learning System Elementary Grade Band [Elementary Lesson Plan]. (2015). 
            Retrieved from n2y.com.




Find n2y and SymbolStix on Facebook! @n2yinc on Twitter  and @n2yinc on Instagram. To chat with us by phone about Unique Learning System, News-2-You, SymbolStix or Training, 800.697.6575 or n2y.com

newsletter back to school 2015

Chart Your Course for Classroom Success! 


Did you say Tablet Compatibility?
Unique Learning System and News-2-You

The lessons and materials for Unique Learning System and News-2-You can be accessed on a variety of platforms including a computer/laptop, interactive whiteboard and are now optimized for tablets, including the iPad! 

There is no need to download an app or extra software! Simply open the interactive document from the website through a supported web browser and enjoy. The interactive features also have a fresh new look, making accommodations for your students even more friendly and easy to use.


The following video series will help you quickly get aquainted with the interactive features for the curriculum and newspaper.


September Unit is Online!
Now Available as Interactive Documents and PDFs

New Lesson Plan Activities
Individual Lessons are now broken down into Activities, with each Activity building on specific skills.  The Activities contain consistent, instructional routines outlining how to introduce, model, practice and review skills. Each Activity includes a student-centered learning goal and provides teachers with instructional guidance on how students with differentiated levels are expected to participate.

Updated Suggested Monthly Plan
The updated Suggested Monthly Plan now suggests when each Activity in a lesson should be taught.  It also includes scheduled times for Monthly Checkpoints and provides suggestions for whole and small group instruction.




n2y Library 1000th Book Contest Winner

The Winning Book Title is
"We Communicate in Many Ways!"

This submission is from Katherine Fischer of Wilder Elementary School



NEW in News-2-You

Coming in the first paper of the school year!
News-2-You brings current events into the classroom to address non-fiction and ELA standards. 

Log in and see our new features
Aug. 24th.

New features this year include:
  •      Updated interactive lesson plans
  •      New suggested weekly plan
  •      Associated Press
    breaking news stories
  •      Tablet compatibility

Three Free Webinars Added to This Months Calendar
Just Click & Sign Up!

Aug. 12th 3-3:45 PM Aug. 19th 12-12:45 PM Aug. 26th 8-8:45 PM


Look at what's coming...

SymbolStix ONLINE has been completely redesigned for ease of access and functionality.  Don’t miss out on the New SymbolStix ONLINE and remember that your access is Free with your n2y subscription. 

Improved Search:
SymbolStix ONLINE now offers an enhanced search experience allowing you to quickly locate any symbol you need from our library of over 24,000 symbols, which continues to grow on a weekly basis.  Save and categorize your symbols into the My Symbols symbol bank.

Board Editor:
Create differentiated boards for your learners.  SymbolStix ONLINE has added the ability to quickly build your own boards.  Select a template and simply add symbols or text. Boards for activities and AAC devices are created just as easily by adding SymbolStix.

NEW Templates:
SymbolStix ONLINE has added more templates to meet your educational needs.

My Boards:
Save and use your boards immediately. Boards are accessible from your device with an internet connection.



Back to School
Customer Support Hours

n2y's customer support staff will be available for extended hours, starting the week of August 3, 2015 and continuing through the fall. We are here to support your staff and can help with a variety of requests, including support for all n2y products, website walk throughs, account management needs and subscription ordering.

Call n2y Toll-Free: (800) 697-6575
  • Monday: 8:00 am - 4:30 pm EDT
  • Tuesday: 8:00 am - 6:30 pm EDT
  • Wednesday: 8:00 am - 6:30 pm EDT
  • Thursday: 8:00 am - 6:30 pm EDT
  • Friday: 8:00 am - 4:30 pm EDT
Or, shoot us an email: support@n2y.com

FREE August Webinars

August webinars will provide an open forum to discuss trending topics in SymbolStix ONLINE and eXtras. Webinars will be 30 minutes in length.

Topics Include:
  • n2y eXtras
  • SymbolStix ONLINE

Upon completion, all LIVE webinar attendants will receive a certificate of completion for attending the entire session.  Webinars will be hosted by n2y's  Anne Johnson-Oliss, M.Ed.

Click here to view the schedule and register!

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PO Box 550
  Huron, OH 44839

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newsletter summer 2015

We Get All of Our News From n2y! 

n2y Summer Editions Are FREE!
-A Special Thank You From CEO Jacquie Clark-

After a long, cold winter and very rainy spring, it is finally time to relax and enjoy the benefits of summer!  n2y is offering something special for you this summer!

Turn your summer into an exciting, interactive, educational adventure with
n2y’s suite of products!


Lesson Plans Are Getting a New Look     
2015-16 School Year


New lessons plans for Unique Learning System and News-2-You will focus on expanding the instructional direction of curriculum and newspaper materials. The end result paints a picture of a tighter alignment to state and educational standards and the identified learning objectives of students with disabilities.
The new format establishes each instructional opportunity for revisiting the lesson, as suggested in the Monthly Plan for Unique Learning System (Updated Format for 15-16!) and the Weekly Plan (Brand NEW!) for News-2-You.

Each activity outlines the steps to effectively introduce, model, practice and review the instructional targets of the lesson. Reading lesson activities provide a map for adequately using leveled and chapter books in a before reading, during reading, and after reading routine.

Additionally, each activity provides a specific section to check the understanding of each student after the lesson is completed, based on their designated differentiated level. The Check Understanding section will allow teachers to easily identify and collect information to be used for progress monitoring within the monthly lessons.

The new lesson plans will be easily accessible within each interactive (iDoc) lesson. Educators will be able to quickly link to the Standards Connections, Instructional Tools and Instructional Guides right from within the lesson they are working on. 


n2y 1000th Book Contest

n2y is having a book writing contest!  We will be celebrating the publishing of our 1,000th book into the n2y Library!  To participate in the library book contest, simply write a 7 – 10 page book and submit it to n2y.  The book can be at any level and be comprised of one to four sentences per page. Please include a title as well as the name of the author.  To be fair, there can only be one book submission allowed per teacher.  The winner of the contest will have their book illustrated and added as the 1,000th book in the n2y library!

To submit your book please download the book template below and use it to write your book.  Please submit your book by July 1st to the following email address: travis@n2y.com

Book Template


The contest rules and regulations contains a copyright assignment that must be completed before your submission can be evaluated for the contest. Please return your submission and signed release before the contest deadline of July 1, 2015.


Summer News-2-You Schedule

News-2-You switches its delivery of current issues from weekly to monthly for the summer break. Here's a sneak peek at the schedule of monthly topics this summer:


JUNE (available May 28) Cooking Up Change
available June 25) -  Special Olympics
available July 30) -  Every Kid in a Park

Do you want to keep up on current events all summer? Exciting AP current events articles can be found in Breaking News. 


Go ahead! Get outside this summer!

SymbolStix ONLINE has a new collection of symbols for summer fun! See the various symbols for active kids and adults on the go. Search for: swim diaper, shallow end, deep end, traveler, trip, and travel. It's impossible to sit still when you see the SymbolStix for run through sprinkler

Laminate your creations and use them outside! Want to share your photos of summer fun? We're on Instagram @n2yinc and Twitter @n2yinc and Facebook!


June Webinars

June webinars will provide an open forum to discuss trending topics in Unique Learning System, News-2-You, SymbolStix ONLINE and eXtras. Webinar lengths range from 30-60 minutes.

Topics Include:
  • n2y eXtras
  • Closing Up Shop
  • SymbolStix ONLINE
  • Summer Curriculum
  • Core Materials

Upon completion, all LIVE webinar attendants will receive a certificate of completion for attending the entire session.  Webinars will be hosted by n2y's Alicia Favreau, M.Ed., NBCT, Anne Johnson-Oliss, M.Ed. and TJ Triola, M.S. Ed.

Click here to view the schedule and register!

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Copyright © n2y - All rights reserved.
PO Box 550
  Huron, OH 44839

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