Ahern Academy Curriculum
Ahern Academy uses a variety of curriculums and resources to help provide our students with every opportunity to be reach for their undeniable potential. Each day includes literacy, math, shared reading, shared writing and an AAC skills class called Talker Power. Social and Emotional Learning and Life Skills are embedded into every class.
Ahern Academy is dedicated to using the Science of Reading to ensure our students learn to read and write. We work diligently to ensure we address the five pillars of reading instruction as listed in the National Reading Report: Phonemic Awareness, Phonics, Fluency, Vocabulary and Reading Comprehension. We use the UFLI Foundations Curriculum from the University of Florida Literacy Initiative to address Phonemic Awareness, Phonics and Fluency during literacy class. UFLI is a systematic, sequential program addressing phonemic awareness, decoding, encoding, segmenting, blending, phonics, high frequency words and reading connected text. We use concepts from Comprehensive Literacy for All to address Vocabulary and Reading Comprehension in our Shared Reading Classes. Writing skills are addressed during Shared Writing class. One framework for ensuring we address all of the skills needed to become fluent readers is Scarborough's Reading Rope, seen below. We work on Language Comprehension during Shared Reading and Word Recognition during our UFLI based Literacy Classes. Families need to augment our classes with daily practice of the skills learned in UFLI, reading together every day and daily experiences writing with the alphabet.
Math class in Ahern Academy is highly differentiated. Our foundational instruction is based on the Erikson Institute of Early Mathematics. We work on skills such as time, money, counting, and addition at least once a week. We spiral through other mathematical concepts including computation, geometry, measurement, and basic fractions. We specifically work on connecting mathematical concepts with communication ensuring students are able to use the skills they learn in functional communication.
Communication skills are , addressed across all classes, but also, specifically within the Talker Power class. Talker Power is designed to be taken by a dyad of an AAC user and a communication partner. It focuses on five communication competencies: emotional well being & self advocacy, operational skills, linguistic skills, strategic skills and social competency.
Social and Emotional Learning (SEL)
Ahern Academy embeds social and emotional learning or SEL into all classes and activities. We know that the ability to regulate oneself and be in a state that is able to learn and enjoy the world around you is vital to long term well being. Therefore we teach regulation and similar skills explicitly during our Talker Power classes and embedded those skills across the school day. Students are taught to recognize feelings in themselves and others. They are taught the Zones of Regulation (tm) and coping skills to assist them in feeling safe and strong in all sorts of situations. We also spend a great deal of time on self-advocacy, saying no, and other abuse prevention and reporting skills. We make great efforts to be trauma informed in our approach, especially as so many individuals with complex needs have been treated poorly or abused. We feel that social and emotional wellbeing comes before any other educational task.
Embedded Skills (Life Skills)
Embedded skills and life skills taught include communication skills and social and emotional learning (SEL) as described above. Cooking is offered during the Friday session of Talker Power and focuses on safety, following directions, sequencing routines and basic food prep. Money and time skills are embedded into math classes weekly. Friendship is promoted between class members to every extent possible. Students are encouraged to make connections with each other and be in touch outside of class.