n2y Blog

Driving the GPS Highway

By Amanda Noss


You’re on the right track. You’ve added your students into the GPS, created a brand new profile on each and have even started administering the monthly pre- and post-assessments for units of instruction.

Your next stop – Benchmarks. You need to administer assessments and collect baseline data on each of your students, but where do you start? How do you choose which assessments each student takes?


Benchmark Assessments are provided in a variety of areas and should be selected based on the current needs for assessments and instruction.


Purpose of Benchmark Assessments


·         To provide baseline data on student skill areas in areas of academic learning  (assessment 2-4 times/year).

·         Modified assessment in skill areas that cannot be assessed in typical tools.

·         To show growth in identified student skill areas.


·         To determine effectiveness of instruction.

·         To determine program and material needs.

·         To show class growth in skill areas.


·         To show alignment to standards.

·         To make decisions and evaluate materials and programs.

What can help drive the decisions for the selection of assessments with a student?  


The results of the Student Profile will help guide the educational team in this selection.  The Profile provides a brief description of an individual student's current abilities and skills in relation to standards-based learning tasks.  The Profile also provides suggested instructional strategies that will increase levels of skill performance in areas of standards-based learning.   The descriptions and suggested instructional strategies should be key factors in the decision-making process for selecting assessments in Unique GPS.

Tracked Skills

After completion of a Profile, teachers can select skills to be tracked for each student in the GPS. These skills are most likely chosen from the student’s IEP and in conjunction with the results of the completed Profile. The educational team should decide on the appropriate skills to be tracked for each individual student.  Tracking a skill gives an appropriate recommendation on which Benchmarking Assessments the student should take in the GPS.


Benchmarking Assessment Administration Planning Guide

The Benchmarking Assessment Administration Guide is a form provided in Unique GPS that the educational team could use to select the assessments for each student in Unique GPS.  The planning guide is designed to be used for planning with each student when the assessments should be administered throughout the school year, which assessments will be administered and to list any goals and objectives that are related specifically to the student. 

Click here to download the Benchmark Assessment Administration Planning Guide.


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

Where to Start with Unique Learning System?

by Darlene Brodbeck


Frequently we are asked, "Where should I start with Unique Learning System (ULS)?"  Is there a right answer?   The answer is dependent on many factors.  Are you a part of a districtwide deployment or the sole practitioner/purchaser?  What instructional technologies such as tablets or whiteboards do you have to use?  In terms of priorities, where does data collection fall?  Are you writing student learning objectives (SLOs) or student learning targets (SLTs)? A list of questions for implementation could be innumerable.

I like to tell teachers to start just by logging onto the website at n2y.com and start clicking.  Explore and delve into all of the carefully constructed, readymade materials included with your subscription to ULS!  Explore all of the interactive features with your students. Activities that speak, move, highlight, and more will encourage them to participate at unforeseen levels.


Each month, K-12 educators receive 30 new lessons to engage students using the new interactive iDocs or print them out to provide another format.  Unique Learning System (ULS) has many layers of content included in your subscription.  It is important to remember that you do not need to master everything at once.  Start small. The most important message- please do not reinvent the wheel.  Familiarize yourself with the ULS curriculum so you know when to start bringing in specific layers. For example, The Core Materials in ULS provide the foundation for a working classroom to accomplish those everyday skills such as attendance, snack time, student goals and a daily communication book between home and school. The Core Materials will save you time!


How many times have you searched for a symbol of a quarter to teach money or a blank analog clock to teach time?  Have you seen the Instructional Tools and Resources in ULS? Dozens of prepared content pages provide a wealth of resources for subscribers to assist and support students as they address learning objectives.  The Instructional Guides are designed to support educators as they strive to deliver best practices with standards-based curriculum to students with significant special needs.  These are also great conversation starters to share with your support and related service providers.  The Instructional Guides can assist in putting everyone on the same page in moving forward with the belief that all students can learn.

ULS contains a powerful set of data collection tools within the GPS.  Some schools with SLO/SLT mandates may launch ULS with strict deadlines for teachers to administer the Benchmarks and establish their baseline data. Other districts may mandate monthly data collection by teachers using the Checkpoints to drive instruction with data. Either way, subscribers have access to extensive and details reports in ULS. With new visibility to the progress by each student,  standards-driven content and data-driven instruction, ULS helps you connect all of the dots!
It is less important where you begin with ULS than it is just to get started! So go ahead and begin!  If you have any questions on your journey, n2y is here to help.  You can reach out to us through our online support center, email us support@n2y.com, or call 800.697.6575.


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

What Does Bullying Mean to You?

By Anne Johnson-Oliss, n2y

When you hear the word bullying, what picture does the word conjure in your head? Do you see a playground with two children of disparate heights, one towering over the other making demands of some kind? Certainly this outdated image is one type of bullying, but abusive behavior takes many forms.

Even as researchers and legislators cannot yet agree on a definition of bullying, these behaviors must be addressed, (Blad, 2014). The situation becomes more complex when a potential victim has an intellectual or another impairment that creates a communication barrier.

So how do we help individuals with disabilities identify, stop, and communicate about bullying behavior?

Here are some supports that could help.

1)    Identify bullying behavior.

Bullying can include repeated overt physical aggression such as physical intimidation, pushing, kicking, or tripping. Helping children with impairments understand the vocabulary of bullying can help them identify it later. Using SymbolStix, photos, or videos, assist students in understanding the words paired with the images or actions.


In addition to physical intimidation, bullying can include verbal abuse such as insults, cruel directives, commands, criticisms, or lies. These can be very difficult concepts for children with intellectual or speech impairments. Pairing SymbolStix with audio or video examples from YouTube could aid understanding with more subtle forms of abuse.


Even more subtle than verbal bullying is bullying by isolation or encouraging isolation. Exclusion of the victim from conversations, activities, or projects creates a harsh environment for the victim who suffers both identifiable and invisible signs of emotional abuse. Helping children understand how friends behave through social stories could help them identify exclusion when it starts.


2)    Prevent bullying whenever possible.

Explaining the vocabulary of behavior and relationships including the positive and the negative will help with prevention. Incorporate the vocabulary into social skills stories, photographs, and activities. Use specific positive praise in all situations to identify examples of positive interpersonal behavior so that students understand what appropriate actions and words look like and feel like. If a story about bullying is required, n2y’s, I’m Being Bullied in the n2y Library contains several examples of inappropriate behavior for discussion, (Knople, 2011).


When more directness is required, consider using okay/not okay language and visuals to represent the two categories of behavior. A t-chart poster activity could be a great small group activity that involves the children listing okay behaviors and the not okay behaviors. Discussion can ensue about what those look like and why they are inappropriate.


You have educated the group about what bullying looks like. You have incorporated positive social behaviors and rewards into the discussion. You have shared examples of bullying to help prevent it from happening, but bullying episodes can still take place. What can you do?

3)    Facilitate reporting.

Teach students what to do if they identify bullying behavior. Reporting and getting help are two of the main ways to fight back against bullying. Help children understand and access symbols for talking to an adult or bullying before the need arises. Make those symbolic representations available to children on their communication devices across environments. Programming self-advocacy communication is as important as teaching other self-care skills.


4)    Stop it as soon as it starts.

On first sighting, report, or intimation of a bullying episode, take action to care for the victim, the bully, and the group as a whole.



Assuming the victim does not have any immediate medical needs, he or she needs to hear and understand that:

-what took place is not his or her fault                    

-it is not okay behavior

-the situation will be different


Assuming the bully is not in custody of law enforcement, he or she needs to hear and understand that:

-what took place will not happen again

-it is not okay behavior

-consequences are in place


If there is a group of people affected by the bullying incident, the individuals need to hear (and see) consistent messages that positive, pro-social behaviors are rewarded and bullying or abusive behaviors will not be tolerated.


Attached are files to help discuss bullying with your class.


 Blad, E. (2014) Researchers and Schools Diverge in Definitions of Bullying - Education Week. Retrieved from http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2014/10/08/07bullying.h34.html?cmp=ENL-EU-NEWS1

CPI. (2014). Crisis Prevention Institute (CPI Training) | CPI. Retrieved from http://www.crisisprevention.com/

Harris, E. (2014, October 13). Cruel's Not Cool | CPI. Retrieved from http://www.crisisprevention.com/Blogs-CPI/Blog/October-2014/Annie-Fox-Cruels-Not-Cool

Knople, N. (2011). I'm Being Bullied. Huron, OH: Unique Learning System.

Petro, L. (n.d.). Emotional Abuse Signs. Retrieved from http://www.teach-through-love.com/emotional-abuse-signs.html



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

13 Awesome Classroom Habits

By Anne Johnson-Oliss, n2y

Before instruction!

1.    Plans. Even though, the best-laid plans may be disrupted or interrupted, having a plan charts a course for the hours, days, weeks, months, and in fact, the entire year. Daily schedules, plans, and routines help goal-driven people and classrooms stay on course.


2.    Materials. Acquire materials and supplies for lessons before the day of the activity. Although daily life is busy and resources are tight, make it a priority to collect supplies so that lessons are delivered in the way you originally conceived them. Educators and parents are typically eager to share and trade resources including different sizes of paper, craft items, and household goods. Planning ahead allows you to ask for donations you need via newsletter or email.

3.    Tools. Of course, we have to keep our tools of our profession ready for classes! Keep the crayon box fresh, pencils sharp, and the highlighters nearby. If possible, keep a collection of scissors all in one place for ease of use during fine motor activities. There’s no harm in having several boxes or baskets of glue options around if you are able. Having these items together and within reach puts the focus on using the materials instead of locating them.

4.    Technology. With more types of technology at our disposal, setting aside a few minutes to maintain these tech-tools becomes more important. Consider putting a 15 minute technology check on your calendar each month to do the following (if you have IT permissions): update your browsers, clear your computer’s cache and history, delete unnecessary files, and clear the desktop. Charge the devices assigned to your students or classroom so they are ready when needed. Use care when inserting the chargers to avoid stretching the port. A stretched port causes the charger to be loose and intermittently fail to give devices their juice!

5.    Team. Design a quick and easy way to communicate with all of the team members who come in and out of your classroom each day. Is that email? Maybe. Could it be a hanging shoe bag? A folder system on a bulletin board? A cubby system? Whatever you devise, encourage all of the staff and parents to check and use the system so that two-way communications are deeper, richer, and more meaningful with team members. 

6.    Visualize. Take two minutes in the quiet of the morning to visualize how you want the day to unfold. Think about the main goals and objectives for each child and how they fit into the daily schedule. You will be amazed at how this simple visualization helps you focus for the whole day.

During the school day!

7.    Praise. Take the time to praise students with specific language about what they are doing well. Too many times, our behavior is shaped by negative consequences when positive reinforcements and strategies should be our first tools! 

8.    Listen. Model good listening behavior by truly listening to what is said and what is not said throughout the day. Use wait time to really listen for students’ responses as you try to elicit more participation, more thorough responses, or higher level thinking from students. Inculcate attitudes of respect by listening, waiting, watching and learning.

9.   Captivate. Use multi-modal instruction and learning strategies to capture students’ attention. Learning is an active process involving all of the senses. Incorporate any pieces of technology and all resources in order to plant the seeds of learning with all students. Can you include physical movement? Could you incorporate video or music? Are you able to use text-to-speech, white boards, or tablets?

After instruction!

10.  Tidy. After the buses leave for the day, spend a few minutes tidying up the space. Set a timer if need be and spend time readying the learning space for the next day.

11.  Wipe. Leaving nothing to chance when it comes to health and safety, wiping and disinfecting surfaces at the end of the day provides one more safeguard. Your building or district may have guidelines for cleaners and methods. With electronics, be sure to use only cleaners approved for those sensitive tools, but do think about cleaning the white board, the stylus, tablet computers and keyboards.


12.  Reflect. Recall the successes and opportunities of the day while tidying and disinfecting the space. Are there open items for documentation? Is there anything left on the task list for tomorrow?


13. Student. Be a student of your profession. View live or recorded webinars for training on methods or tools that you use daily. Subscribe to blogs that deliver quality, relevant content to you. Scheduling professional development weekly or monthly puts learning on your list! Make it a priority to enhance your knowledge and skills.



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



skill tracking tip 


Skill Tracking Tip #4
Add Goals to Skill Areas

Current and specific information on student performance as well as suggested strategies for the targeted skill are provided, as indicated by the Profile. Use the Skill Goal area to write the goal for the student as it relates to the selected skill area. This is a great place to write the student’s IEP goal.

Click HERE to Get All 10 Skill Tracking Tips



uls spotlight


Download All Lesson Plans & Activities
Click Monthly Lessons in the Left Menu

Did you know that Unique provides the monthly unit materials in multiple formats?

To download a PDF document of all the lessons plans and materials for Unique, click Monthly Lessons in the left menu.  Select your correct grade band and the current month, then scroll down to the very bottom of the web page. The bulk download is available under Lesson Plans: All Lesson Plans and Activities.

Additionally, each individual lesson has an option to be downloaded as a PDF version or to be opened in an online format with interactivity and text-to-speech. To access these options, click on the lesson number from the center column of Monthly Lessons.




news-2-you spotlight


Are you our friend on Facebook?

Keep up with In the News articles that are placed online by following us on Facebook. In the News articles cover World, Sports and Entertainment news stories 3-5 times per week! The articles are provided in two levels of difficulty and often contain extra video and web resources to support the news topic. You won't want to miss out on these current events opportunities for your classroom!






Don't miss out on extras like "Apptacular Tuesday" and other free activities that are available to our Facebook friends.

 Add us to your friend list today!




the latest from symbolstix


Search. Find. Use. SymbolStix.
New searches in SymbolStix support professionals as they support students!

You know SymbolStix. They are the symbols used in Unique Learning System curriculum and in the 
News-2-You newspaper and materials. Access to thousands of symbols and SymbolStix ONLINE is free with these subscriptions!

Did you know that searching SymbolStix is as easy as typing in the search box? Let’s type: oral motor. Here is an ever-growing collection of oral motor exercises and tools. 

Let’s search for: heavy work. Here are a few examples of what you will find!

Hmmm.many students require symbols of sensory items and activities. Can I search for the word sensory? Yes!




check out this cool idea


One of n2y’s new features is Skill Tracking. 

Skill Tracking allows for the tracking of specific targeted skills.  This new feature can be particularly helpful to Speech Therapists.  Skills such as communication for self-advocacy and conversation, phoneme segmentation, various language skills, and more, can be tracked for a student using the Individual Tracked Skills feature. The Tracked Skills feature allows you to track targeted skills and graph student's performance using Benchmark Assessments.  These assessments are associated with specific skills and any related Monthly Checkpoint test data. 

Not sure which test will measure a targeted skill?
The Tracked Skills feature will provide a list of Benchmark and Monthly Checkpoint Assessments that are associated with that skill.  

Need to know what educational standards are associated with your target goals or objectives? 
The Tracked Skills area will auto populate all standards associated with a specific targeted goal. 

Unsure how to integrate therapy targets with the students using the Unique Learning System curriculum? 
Tracked Skills will inform you of specific lessons that contain the skills you are targeting. 

Have News-2-You?
If the student also uses the Unique curriculum, the Tracked Skills area will guide you to specific sections of the paper, supporting activities and worksheets that will address specific targeted skills.  The Tracked Skills area will also recommend templates that can be used in SymbolStix ONLINE to create activities in order to practice the targeted skills.  The new Tracked Skills area puts everything together and helps integrate the therapy goal with academic content! 

To learn more about Tracked Skills, watch this quick tutorial:




n2y Webinars & How-To Videos


Are you looking for some online help?

n2y has you covered with dozens of how-to videos and pre-recorded webinars to get your started with your subscription.

Click here to access these videos on our training site.



upcoming events...


Stop By and Visit Us

Closing the Gap  -  October 15-17  - Minneapolis, MN
Click here for more information

Ohio Special Ed Leadership Conference  -  October 14-16  - Columbus, OH
Click here for more information

ASHA  -  November 20-22  - Orlando, FL
Click here for more information

OCALICON 2014  -  November 19-21  - Columbus, OH
Click here for more information

n2y Connects It All

Description: We made all of the connections! Explore our standards-based curriculum with differentiated interactive lessons written specifically for students with significant disabilities across six grade bands. Access our collection of summative and formative assessments. Discover the newest features, including the ability to track individual or group skills with comprehensive reports and graphs. Investigate the accessibility options in our interactive iDocs. View the administrative features, including ability to run reports to ensure implementation with fidelity and monitor progress. Lastly, check out our extensive graphic library and search our large collection of resources, including our weekly newspapers with additional interactive activities. Come learn how we made all of the connections for you while providing the perfect solution for educators who work with students with significant disabilities.

Presenter: Darlene Brodbeck



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