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The Inspirational Teacher Series – Nicole Eredics

April 30, 2012 in Inspirational Teacher Series by Dennise Goldberg

We have started a weekly feature on Special Education Advisor called the “Inspirational Teacher Series“. Our goal is to help SEA readers understand the hard work and dedication educators put forth every day. We also want to highlight the positive experiences of educating our students with a disability.

Today is our very first installment of the Inspirational Teacher Series and I couldn’t think of a better person to start with than inclusion specialist, Nicole Eredics. Read the rest of this entry →

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The Inspirational Teacher Series

April 30, 2012 in Inspirational Teacher Series by Dennise Goldberg

About once every couple of months I receive an email, tweet or facebook post accusing Special Education Advisor of being Anti-School. These comments almost exclusively come from Teachers. I don’t mind receiving these comments because normally the ones making these statements turn out to be some of the most passionate, inspiring teachers in the profession. I almost always respond in the same way; Special Education Advisor loves Teachers and we would love for you to submit a guest post about what you are doing in your room, School or District and we will post it. Over the weekend I had another one of these types of exchanges on twitter with a Special Education Teacher. It started like this: Read the rest of this entry →

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Why Teacher Education and Supports Matter for Children with Autism

April 27, 2012 in Special Education Advisor Blog by Doug Goldberg

The other day I read a blog by Phillip Hain, the West Region Director of Autism Speaks, called Why Awareness Matters that deeply disturbed me. In this blog Phillip shared a letter so ignorant, so abhorrent it made my skin crawl. It also made me angry, not only with the people who wrote the letter, but with the School this child attends. As you are all aware I am a Special Education Advocate and I spend my days championing for every child’s needs and writing Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) to meet those needs. Before we get into exactly why I am angry with the school and what IEP’s have to do with my anger I think it’s important for you to read the letter: Read the rest of this entry →

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Emails to the Rescue

April 26, 2012 in Special Education Advisor Blog by Dennise Goldberg

About a month ago I posted a blog about my son’s upcoming transition IEP meeting. He will be graduating from elementary school this year and moving to middle school in the fall. My husband and I had concerns about our neighborhood middle school but we were told by our IEP Team, they did not have the authority to discuss alternative school options only alternative classroom types. We disagreed and sent a letter to the School District. You can find a sanitized copy of that letter here. Many of you commented how this is an invalid IEP if there is no one at the IEP meeting that has the authority to bind the District. You are correct but how do you prove that.

At the same time we sent the letter, we also opened a complaint with the School District’s Parent Complaint Unit. We really didn’t expect anything to come from it but we wanted to cover all of our bases prior to filing for due process. Over the last month both the Parent Complaint Unit and my Son’s current school started communicating and emailing with the District about my Son’s upcoming IEP. I know this because they both told me. The Parent Complaint Unit would call me every few days and ask me if I had heard from the School District yet. Every time I said no, they were surprised because they had communication from the School District acknowledging our concerns and that the School District would call us. Read the rest of this entry →

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by Jess

Algebra without Numbers

April 25, 2012 in Special Education Articles by Jess

This post began with this Tweet from a high school math teacher (and “Ed Leadership” student)

“Had 8 out of 9 stdts not complete an Alg I test 2day. Said we never did it b4. Unit started Jan 2. Had flash cards and cheat sheet. What now”

I responded

“Algebra is a method for finding unknowns from knowns in a logical way. You could use numbers, or real things… mysteries are solved through algebra. Kids don’t get it because we disconnect it from reality”

The answer?

“or because they don’t do homework, take notes, participate, or pay attention”

Me again,

“I always say, kids make rational micro-economic decisions. If they see no value in the course, they will not invest in it”

And this response,

“then maybe they will see value in it when they take it again next year”

followed by

“I shouldn’t have to reteach because they were to lazy to try or participate this time. It sucks.”

Obviously I could write about many things here, from public disrespect for students to a bit of unfortunate egocentrism (“I shouldn’t have to reteach”), but I’m going toward the math here, first, repeating an old joke… Read the rest of this entry →

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Graduation is a Rite of Passage

April 24, 2012 in Special Education Advisor Blog by Doug Goldberg

As second semester nears completion many high school seniors are getting ready to graduate. Included in that group are many students in special education that might be receiving a regular diploma or some other form of alternative diploma. The number of alternatives are mind numbing. I started to do research and found that some States, like Nevada, have as many as 7 different types of diplomas. According to the Diploma Options, Graduation Requirements, and Exit Exams for Youth with Disabilities: 2011 National Study:

The alternative diploma options include a standard diploma, honors diploma, IEP or Special Education diploma, certificate of attendance, certificate of achievement, occupational diploma, and others. All 51 respondents (including DC) indicated that they offer a standard diploma. Of these, 13 offer an honors diploma, 11 offer an IEP or Special Education diploma, 19 offer a certificate of attendance, 15 offer a certificate of achievement, 3 offer an occupational diploma, and 8 offer other options. Read the rest of this entry →

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by Jess

Fight or Flight: Anxiety in the Classroom

April 23, 2012 in Special Education Articles by Jess

Fight or Flight. Those are the two typical responses we have to a threatening situation. It is a basic response we humans share with other species and can be quite adaptive in a real life dangerous event. As the human brain has developed, we have gained thinking skills. This has been quite an advantage in many ways, but has become a liability as well. It has brought on anxiety, the fear of the unknown and the anticipation of negative outcomes.

Even anxiety can be helpful. It is what keeps us driving slow in a snowstorm and motivates kids to study for the spelling test on Friday. In moderate doses, anxiety keeps us on the straight and narrow and helps us make choices that are helpful to us. I joke with some of my clients that someone with a complete lack of anxiety is also called a criminal!  Read the rest of this entry →

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Beware of the Color Chart

April 22, 2012 in Special Education Articles by Jess

While the use of Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) is becoming more widespread in public schools across the nation, teachers are still struggling with how to deliver “consequences” for inappropriate behavior. I often hear things such as, “I do provide positive reinforcement, but what message does it send to children if we do not also punish them when they engage in negative behaviors?” Or my favorite: “What message does it send to other students if this child is allowed to act this way?” The problem is that there is a misinterpretation of PBIS in many classrooms. Consequences do need to be delivered when problem behaviors occur; however, the term consequence is not synonymous with punishment or aversive treatment. Read the rest of this entry →

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Tying the Science of Special Education to the Law

April 17, 2012 in Special Education Articles by Jess

Special education is a highly regulated process with some stringent requirements of which most parents are not aware. Sadly, many educators are not aware of these requirements, either, and our institutions of higher learning don’t do the best job of communicating these requirements to credential program students, whether they are future teachers, administrators, or specialists.

Tying the science of educational psychology and related disciplines to the legal requirements of special education is a delicate art. There are plenty of people trained in the science of educating people with handicapping conditions and there are a fair number of attorneys who understand special education and related civil rights law, but there is little expertise in tying these two domains together. Read the rest of this entry →

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How Sign Language Helps Children With Special Needs

April 16, 2012 in Special Education Articles by Etel Leit, MS

Children with special needs are very unique and they have their own pace in understanding and responding. Most of the children with special needs are visual learners. They need to see what a word is in order to get the meaning or sense of the word. http://www.signshine.com/article/how-does-sign-language-help-children-with-special-needs? Read the rest of this entry →

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