n2y Blog

internetDigital Literacy Day 2015

By Anne Johnson-Oliss

Digital literacy has many widely accepted definitions. The skillset includes using digital technologies, accessing communications and digital tools, evaluating information, and producing materials in various formats. In 2015, digital literacy is an essential component of both education and life beyond the classroom. To those in our field, this brings about a fundamental question:  Is digital literacy a process or a product? 

Digital literacy is more than having the technological tools to get online. Sure, having computers, tablets and interactive whiteboards is a great start!  But after acquisition of the tools, digital literacy means that users know how to put information into the devices, as well as receive information from them. So how do we help students develop digital literacy in tandem with the lessons we teach daily?

Here are some ideas to help education professionals infuse digital literacy tactics and concepts into everyday learning:

Ideas for Using Digital Equipment:

-Use the tools you have available. Don’t be afraid to turn on the whiteboards, swipetablets, and computers. Everyone needs a little help sometimes. Shared knowledge of resources and problem-solving strategies makes each of us better professionals.

-Sign up for your turn. If your facility has tools you can access, like tablet collections or laptop carts, work those into your plans routinely. Don’t allow your turn to pass without using the tools.

-Enlist peer helpers. Identify some peer students who are proficient with technology and ask for their help.

-Charge and maintain equipment if at all possible. Trying to teach a lesson with faulty tools will only create frustration for students and staff.cart


Ideas for Infusing Digital Literacy and Digital Citizenship:

-Define and state the purpose for using digital tools in the classroom the same way that we talk about writing or math tools.

-Employ Universal Design for Learning (UDL) strategies throughout instruction.

-Teach the shared symbol system indigenous to digital tools, e.g., save button, print icon, pan tool, or magnifier, to name a few.

-Include digital tools and experiences when discussing manners, bullying, friendship, and communication.

-Teach citizenship online and offline as prosocial behaviors usually translate in everyday and digital spaces.

-Use technology while teaching students so they can pair actions with language. During Unique Learning System curriculum lessons or News-2-You work, describe what you are doing with the technology.

-Include language about mistakes you make using technology. Consider a script to use when mistakes are made and corrected. Some script examples are listed below, however always be sure to modify to grade level and subject area.

For a website or window: “Uh, oh. I touched the wrong button. I just have to exit that by touching the x.”

For answering drag and drop questions: “Oops. I dragged the wrong answer. I   will just drag the one I wanted.”

For answering multiple choice questions: “Oh no. I selected the wrong one.       That’s not what I wanted. I just need to select the one I wanted.”

Ideas for n2y Products and Digital Literacy:

-Search SymbolStix ONLINE for images to introduce new vocabulary and skills into the classroom. Search for tablet, swipe, scroll, left, right, mouse, Internet, and more.

-Share n2y eXtras pages with parents to help reinforce symbol use and technology skills on home equipment. For classroom use, look for the communication board called, Let’s Type an Email in Communication/Behavior or the certificate for tablet users in Fun Stuff.extras

-Pair actions and language when navigating the News-2-You newspapers or Breaking News stories. Tell students what you are doing. Show them and tell them which tools you are using to read the articles. Help students understand which tools perform operations on the site.

-Encourage critical thinking and evaluation of news stories. Ask what students think about stories. Help them find more information to investigate further by following the video links at the bottom of the news story pages.

-Orient students to Unique Learning System (ULS) materials online by showing them that some vocabulary remains the same from a paper book with pages to a digital book.

  read   For orienting students to n2y Library books or ULS leveled books, consider “Let’s read the title," or “Turn the page,” or even “The end”.

- Help students make connections between print books and digital books by using similar strategies. Employ the same techniques for ULS books online as you might for print. Try to walk through a story before reading it. Consider guessing what the story might be about prior to turning a page. Point to illustrations or symbols as possible clues to the content. 


Teaching digital literacy requires professionals to have similar learning opportunities to enhance their skills. Using digital tools and virtual interaction for professional development can only serve to better advise instruction with and for students.

Ideas for n2y Training Opportunities:

-Click the video links on most pages of n2y.com for on-the-spot training.

-Check out our free webinar schedule for times that work with your schedule.

-n2y.com’s training pages have free training materials available at any time and on any schedule. Stop and start as many times as you like in order to digest the materials at your own pace.

-Consider face-to-face training with our professional trainers. On-site, on your equipment, on your schedule, our training staff will come to you.  n2y trainers have assisted thousands of educators infuse technology into their daily practices.

Digital literacy has a social component.  In fact, “…acts of literacy are always embedded in social practices of communication, in which members of a community seek to construct particular identities, relationships, or valued activities and objects.” (Myers, 2006.)  All of us use digital tools to physically navigate our homes, neighborhoods, and societies, but also to socially navigate relationships, jobs, and all forms of communication. Digital skillsets are essential learning for all students.

So is digital literacy a process or a product? Is it both? Digital technologies are not isolated tools. They are embedded in the process of everyday life. Is there a new set of skills with each new piece of equipment or application? Probably not, but over time, each of us will develop a set of competencies that transfer among digital tools wherever we find them. Proficiency with digital tools as an outcome might be called digital literacy.



For more information about News-2-You, Unique Learning System, SymbolStix or n2y Training, visit us at n2y.com or give us a call. We like to talk. 800.697.6575.

Find us on Twitter and Instagram @n2yinc. Facebook users can join in the fun with n2y and SymbolStix pages.call center



Myers, J. (2006). Literacy Practices and Digital Literacies: A Commentary on Swenson, Rozema, Young, McGrail, and Whitin. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 6(1), 61-66. Retrieved March 10, 2015, from http://www.editlib.org/

Saljo, R. (2012). Literacy, Digital Literacy and Epistemic Practices: The Co-Evolution of Hybrid Minds and External Memory Systems. Nordic Journal of Digital Literacy, 7(NR 01), 5-19. Retrieved March 10, 2015, from https://www.idunn.no






n2y eXtras site logon2y eXtras!

n2y.com Click on the block!

You do so much in a day! You help students with core subject areas using Unique Learning System. You help students with language, comprehension, and connections with the world using News-2-You, but you do so many extra tasks as well!

n2y created eXtras to help you with the many areas throughout the day that require symbol-supports. eXtras free materials page at n2y.com houses a growing collection of professionally created, symbol-supported materials  
that we share with you for free! 



Behavior and communication are undeniably linked. Time on task
with engaging 
Communication or chat boardcurriculum and activities is step one, but if you need some additional supports for communicating and addressing behavior, see if one of these might help!


Fine Motor

Holding, tracing, pinching, buttoning, opening a locker door, tying-fine motor skills exist throughout the school day! Use this growing group of activities for school or home practice.


Gross Motor

Individual gross motor activities and small group activities
can incorporate language, symbol-supports, and many group
directions. Access these pieces for on-screen or offline use
to help kids move!

                                               parachute activity

Lunch rules

Classroom Engineering

Engineered spaces aren't new, but these SymbolStix-supported materials are clear, consistent, fun, and helpful in the environment. Yes, they speak, and they are printable as well.

Fun Stuff

We couldn't resist adding a category of fun materials that
can be used by students, parents, and educational staff to connect using humor, fun, praise, and pure enjoyment. 

All of our collections will grow over time! In March, ten new pieces will be added each weekday for the first two weeks. See what you need? Love what you see? Snap a quick photo and tag us on Twitter or Instagram @n2yinc!


eXtras free materials are just one of the ways we thank you for all of the extra effort you use each day! We hope you love eXtras!

For more information about n2y's Unique Learning System, News-2-You, SymbolStix or professional training, contact support@n2y.com or call us at 800.697.6575. 

newsletter  february 2015

Wanna see a photo from your classroom here?   |  Send one to our newsletter team today.

Transition Planning

New Online Format Available! 

Transition Planning is designed as a data collection center for Middle School, High School and Transition students and is now available in an online format inside Unique GPS!  

Keep all student assessment records and provide a summary of student preferences and goals with this tool!

The Transition Planning area is a fantastic data collection center for tracking student success and dreams for the future. The tool assists students and their service providers in identifying personal preferences in various areas, which include: Vocational, Community, Personal Life, Lifelong Learning and Daily Living.

Take a Look at the New Transition Planning
FREE Webinar!

Come explore how to collect student-driven data to write successful transition plans.

Click here to register

Skill Tracking Tip
Skill Tracking Tip #8

Add Students & Skills to Groups
Students and their skills can be added to groups from the Profile, Benchmark Assessments and Transition Planning areas. To add a new student to a skill, select "Add individual to a skill tracking group" from the Track Skill button.

The Track Skill button is located in the student's Profile Details and is also on the Benchmark Assessment administration page.

After adding a student to a skill tracking group, select the group you wish to add the student to. You can also create a new group from this area.

Click HERE to Get All 10 Skill Tracking Tips


news-2-you spotlight

Keep It Current with News-2-You
Are you taking advantage of the abundant resources provided each week in News-2-You? Breaking news articles are added to the website daily and enrichment activities are provided weekly to enhance the content of the current issues online.

Breaking News
News-2-You has a special area for quick articles that cover current events in World, Sports and Entertainment News. Each week, these articles are added to and can serve as additional news coverage activities in the classroom or at home. 

Enrichment Activities
Each weekly article is supported by more than 50 activities to enhance content understanding of the news topic. Activities are provided in
an iDoc format, with
text-to-speech and interactivity in order to help practice standards-based skills across different subject areas.


the latest from symbolstix

Winter and snowfall provide great opportunities for different outdoor activities and vocabulary!

Search SymbolStix ONLINE for snow words such as: make snowball, snowball fight, snow fort, or hit by a snowball. We have cold weather clothing too, like boots, hats, and snowsuits. Search for weather-related chores too! We all have to do them. Why not talk about them with SymbolStix! Find: clean off car, shovel snow, and even snow blower! 
Stay warm and have fun out there! 


n2y eXtras
Need some FREE, fun and interactive materials for your classroom?

n2y has responded to your requests!  We have created n2y eXtra’s, an interactive collection of materials for you to use, which include:
Click here for eXtras!
  • Communication and Behavior Tools
  • Classroom Engineering
  • Fine Motor Activities
  • Gross Motor Activities
  • Fun Stuff 
Please take a moment and explore n2y eXtras!  Let us know what you like or would like to see us add. We look forward to hearing your suggestions!


FREE February Webinars!

Live, Open-Forum Topics

n2y will be hosting live webinars open to the public during the month of February.
The webinars will provide an open forum to discuss trending topics in Unique Learning System, News-2-You and SymbolStix ONLINE.
Topics include: 
  • The New Number Journal and Mathematics Guide
  • Taking a Look at Transition Planning
  • Reading With Unique Learning System and News-2-You
  • How Do You Work With Level 1 Learners?
And more!
Upon completion, all LIVE webinar attendants will receive a certificate for attending the entire session.

Click here to view the schedule and register.

Can't make one of the live sessions?
Don't worry! n2y will be hosting an archived version for viewing at your convenience. Check back to the n2y Training Site for recorded webinars from these scheduled events.

Teaching is social!

Everything about education requires us to connect with colleagues, students, parents, and the community! Those connections help us serve our students better through communication, information, and mutual growth! Be social with us!

We're on Twitter @n2yinc for quick news, announcements and fun tweets.

Like Facebook better? We're there too, for n2y and SymbolStix.

Check out Instagram @n2yinc if you are more visual.

We are looking forward to seeing you!

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PO Box 550
  Huron, OH 44839

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newsletter  january 2015

Unique Science Fair in Collier County | Click here to view the gallery of photos from the science fair.

Unique Science Fair
Students Become Scientists for 2nd Annual Unique Science Fair

Interactive Number Journal

Now Supporting January's Math Activities!
Number Sense, Math Story and Algebra Monthly Lessons

The Number Journal is an interactive companion to the Mathematics Guide designed to help students achieve their differentiated task expectations virtually, assist in working out problems or create additional practice problems on specific math skills.
Click the Number Journal icon on the top right to open. 

Or access the Number Journal within the Teacher Reference Materials / Instructional Tools / Math Journals.

skill tracking tip
Skill Tracking Tip #7
Benchmark Testing Performance

The Group Tracking area reports the Benchmark testing performance of a defined group of students and is associated with a designated targeted skill. Group tracking provides a view of each student's performance in the Benchmarks, which assess targeted skills. This allows for quick data interpretation and identification of students in need of support. Detailed performance information can be gathered by clicking on the student name above the graph.

To access your groups, click Group Tracked Skills from the GPS and select the group from the Groups tab on the left. Click on a skill to view the intuitive graphs.

Click HERE to Get All 10 Skill Tracking Tips


news-2-you spotlight

New Craft Activity - Online NOW!

A new craft activity is available in "The Elephant Sanctuary" paper. The craft activity will be included in the first newspaper of each month until the end of the school year. The craft will follow the same format as the recipes and science activities, including a list of items needed, a teacher note with additional information, and step-by-step instructions with symbol support.

Open the craft activity from the Worksheets section of News-2-You, below the weekly science experiment.

Send us your feedback!
News-2-You wants to hear how the craft activity has impacted your classroom.

Email us your thoughts by clicking this link.

Flat Joey Visits the White House

Ashley Davis, from McDowell County Schools, shares her classroom's display from Flat Joey. Joey went to the White House and President Obama hosted him for the day. Davis' classroom received a big package in return with pictures and a letter. Thanks for sharing, Ashley!


the latest from symbolstix

Happy Birthday SymbolStix!
10 Years of SymbolStix

Coming in 2015...Happy Birthday SymbolStix! Ten years of SymbolStix as a set of symbols! Look for celebrations throughout the year, including new symbols, new functions and more fun!


Goals for the New Year

It’s that time of year again. Time to make a New Year’s resolution.  Making a New Year’s resolution is a great therapy activity.  Having students identify a need and set a goal to achieve it can improve self-confidence and provide an opportunity to advocate for themselves. 
Play the Goal Game
Create a sentence starter strip.  The strip can be one
for the group or one per person depending on preference.  Using the 12 Place template located in SymbolStix ONLINE, create symbolized options for resolutions (exercise, read a book, eat healthy).
Add other options that would not make viable options for a resolution (meet an alien, climb a building, etc.) Before the game begins, define resolution, or goal, for the students.  Have the students take turns filling in the sentence starter strip with a resolution choice.  Then encourage a discussion to decide if it would be a viable resolution.
What Is Your Goal?
Unique Learning System provides materials that encourage conversation and goal setting.  In the Core Materials Section, Unique offers the My Goal activity.  This activity encourages students to evaluate what skills they can do and those that they would like help with.  My Goals
includes a communication section that may be of particular interest. 
For students who are in the High School and Transition grade bands the Transition Planning area, located in the n2y GPS also addresses goal setting.  Transition Planning now includes an online version and communication abilities in various settings are addressed.

Enjoy reflecting on past skills and setting goals for the future! 


Need Help with Your Subscription?

n2y has a variety of online training videos to assist you with Unique Learning System, News-2-You and SymbolStix ONLINE.

Click here to go to the n2y Training Site!

upcoming events...

Stop By and Visit

ATIA Orlando  -  January 28-31  - Orlando, FL http://www.atia.org
Booth #612

Providing Access to Standards Based Curriculum

Date: 1/29/15

8:00 to 9:00 AM

Curacao 7/8

Connecting to Educational Standards with Interactive Lessons and Data
Date: 1/30/15
9:20 - 10:20 am
Curacao 4

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

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Supporting Highly Mobile Students with Traveling Data

By Amanda Borer


The road map for highly mobile children can be difficult to manage, especially when it comes to ensuring a quality education to our students with disabilities. Highly mobile children include those students who experience frequent family moves into new school districts, such as military children, children in foster care and homeless children. The periodic educational changes present many challenges to our students learning abilities and can be a data tracking nightmare for the educational team.


The coordination involved in assessments and exchanging records for highly mobile students must be prompt, as it is critical to the student’s educational needs. This prompt exchange is supported under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which mandates that all children with disabilities receive required special education and related services in a timely manner.[1]



How can Unique Learning System support highly mobile students?

Unique Learning System’s data collection center, Unique GPS, provides an array of formative and summative assessments designed specifically to support students with significant disabilities. GPS stands for Goals, Preferences and Skills.  While each student’s goals, preferences and skills are unique and the most important factors contributing to educational success, the educational team must continually measure, monitor and adjust instruction to assure that the individual student is optimally participating and making progress within the educational program. The educational program must also have a common format for identifying, assessing and directing a student’s goals, preferences and skills.

The assessments in Unique GPS provide a platform of continuity for special education staff – common assessments, common language, common goals. With this commonality, the educational team can gather meaningful data to drive instruction and chart progress within the Unique Learning System curriculum framework.



What happens to data collected when my student moves?

The GPS is designed to capture data on students that will travel with them throughout their academic years. As students move from one grade level to the next, the data collected will remain in the same student profile, allowing teachers, parents and other members of the team to view progress over time and have one consolidated picture of the student’s academic history.

The data travels with the student as they advance through the grade level bands.


Additionally, the GPS allows student data to transfer from one district to another with the simple press of a button. If a student is transferring to another location that uses Unique Learning System, administrators can request n2y support to move all of the student’s data into the new account, which takes a matter of minutes.

With Unique GPS, there is no need to compile folders or records of information – everything is electronic and in one place. If you oversee a highly mobile student and use Unique Learning System, you can get ahead of the game by becoming familiar with the process for managing students in the GPS and the steps to transferring a student to a new location when ready.


1.    Managing Students & Data Fidelity

Teachers and administrators can learn more about managing students in the GPS with this quick video tutorial:


2.    GPS Records Release Form

Administrators can download a records release form for transfer of student to another district. The present school must complete the form, obtain parental consent and send to n2y support for student transfer.



3.    n2y Customer Support

Contact n2y’s customer support team to transfer a student or receive more information about this process.

Toll Free: (800) 697-6575

Email: support@n2y.com


[1] Highly mobile children with disabilities are also protected by two other Federal laws: Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504), which prohibits disability discrimination by entities, such as public schools, that receive Federal financial assistance (29 U.S.C. § 794, 34 CFR part 104); and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (Title II), which prohibits disability discrimination by public entities, including public schools, regardless of whether they receive Federal financial assistance (42 U.S.C. §§ 12131-12134, 28 CFR part