Process of Modifying or Adapting a Test

If you haven’t had a test by now in a general education class, we kinda wish we were you honestly. Tests happen. They are a fact of school. Whether they’re called ‘assessments’, ‘quizzes’, or something else to decrease stress, it’s still a test. One is literally tested every day if you think about it. There’s the test of getting up to do the job every morning (Will you, won’t you, or do you have an extraordinarily good reason –sick, need to visit health professional…) There is the test of “do the right thing”, could you have smiled at someone who needed a smile that day, did you walk away before you said something unkind, or did you try your best and you still created a mess?

But in academics, a test is pretty much a summary of everything that is reflected upon. For students with disabilities, this is quite a challenge because of the range of students and their abilities. Let’s look at a few things. Today we’d like to specifically look at unit testing and not district mandated tests nor state mandated testing.

  1. Officially: paraeducators/paraprofessionals should not be making a test. This will probably cause you to pause and wonder why we are posting this topic at all. There are some wonderful reasons why. A paraeducator, unlike a case manager or some special education teachers, are probably in a classroom day in and day out and see the attempts a student may be making in a specific area of learning. They know what the student has seen and has not seen, have access to notes, and experiences of the student. Having argued this point, a paraeducator should not be making a test in a vacuum. Partnering with the GenEd teacher and/or the student’s case manager for every test is important. Giving both a chance to check the test too for material content is important for feedback.
  2. The test should be primarily about the academic material. However, if a student has a goal to write their name without additional prompts on their paper, this is also technically part of the test. It should not be graded on the test, but can be noted for IEP goal reporting.
  3. The modified test should mirror types of questions that students would experience if they took the general test for the class. If there is an essay question, the student should at least write or complete a sentence. Multiple choice? Select from two or three answers, even if they are given as picture based answers.
  4. Look for something the student can do independently. Many students may have an accommodation to have the test read aloud to them. This means the student is directly one on one with a staff member. Giving them the time to process and try things before they ask is important.
  5. If a student is taking an unmodified test, try to cut back on the number of problems answered. Typically, this is easiest in math class if there are twelve problems, perhaps the student only does six. Additionally in English, one good essay question answer is better than three essays answered with a sentence each. This does vary from student to student and from teacher to teacher, but these are really good rules of thumb to have in your back pocket for a student who may just be a slower test taker.
  6. Use the general education test if at all possible to base your questions you are creating. This keeps your focus on the topic at hand.
  7. Don’t under estimate the power of a visual. Charts, tables, or maps, as appropriate to the testing material can help a student show what they know or how they can reason through questions. The test may be longer than their peers physically, but the visuals may be cues from other parts of the unit which is useful.
  8. For some students, value their notes. Keeping track of papers is a task for students who need help with their executive functioning. Valuing the student’s notes by allowing them to use their notes on the test gives them an incentive to keep doing the activity and learn how to follow through and find the use in notes.
  9. Demonstrate and show study methods prior to the test. How to use flash cards or apps like Quizlett is important for a student to gain study skills. With some students, the process of looking things up for a note card is also beneficial.
  10. Visually, as you create the test, keep in mind font size (go larger), provide lines for students to write on, and avoid cramming too much on the test. Realize the white space around a question is useful to a student to have the least amount of distractions. Some things may just need to be highlighted or bold to draw the attention of a student. This is an opportunity for the student to demonstrate to the teacher their connection to the material.

Tests are a part of the deal in school. They are not meant to be busy work, nor should they require herculean effort. Constant conversations with the general education teacher and perusal of the test material should be helpful to create a test for a student with a disability. And do you need help getting a student to take a test? Check out this post from 2014!


Did you know?

Renay is literally on her way right now to Santa Barbara. We’ll post pictures from the trip soon! Hope to meet some amazing new folks.


Do you have any comments about this week’s blog? Do you have a question for us? Would you like to be a guest blogger? Would you like to have an opportunity to pilot some materials at your campus? Find ParaEducate online herehereherehere, and on our website. Paraeducate is a company interested in providing materials, information, and strategies for people working in special education inclusion settings for grades K-12. ParaEducate, the blog, is published weekly during the academic school year on Thursdays, unless a holiday. ParaEducate shares their findings at conferences, through their books, and their academic adaptations.

Posted in Campus, Classroom, Disabilities, General Education Students, General Education Teachers, Modifications, ParaEducate, paraeducators, Skills Lesson, Special Education Teachers, Students, Tests, training | Leave a comment

Giving Choice and Respecting the Choice

This week snuck up on us, we’re afraid. Grade reports came out and it’s a little hard to see over the weeds right now, but we’re treading water with our students trying to make it to the first quarter grades which will be around the corner now that progress reports have been issued.

But last week, we talked about skills and that got us to thinking about the skills we want our students to walk away with being able to do. One of the most often talked about skills for students is making a choice. For typical elementary students, often this is something more like, “Do I play with a ball or do I play on the structure.” For students with disabilities, this may be an internal natural dialogue but for some of the students this is not a natural event.

For elementary students, ways to introduce choice might be playground activities during recess or free time, include a social story or a visual icon associated with approved activities. The next step is harder, honoring the student’s choice. Outside of rearranging icons to increase reliability that the student is honestly choosing the activity they are doing, giving older elementary students a chance to change their minds is also important.

As a student moves into junior high, middle school, or high school, these opportunities for choices feel more limited, but they aren’t always. “Will you read in the library or will you read in the classroom?” Or perhaps, “Will you work with the [general education teacher] or your classmates on this project?” Sometimes it’s even more simple as referring to the sample pamphlet the teacher wants the student to construct and asking the student which parts they want where in their document, the font they are using (if it is possible to change it), if they want pictures printed or hand drawn, and then if they want to color with marker or color pencil. In this manner, even if it is directed, the little bit of control a student can have in their life may help the student make other choices in their lives. And the unique issue that sometimes is over looked: just because the student has the least restrictive environment does not mean the student is capable of sorting through the process of understanding there are these steps built into an assignment beyond “do the assignment”. A student’s disability may be a processing delay or an executive functioning issue because of their disability that prevents them from understanding the choices in making a project happen.

But the last part, especially with an older student, is respecting the choice. The science project isn’t graded less because the student typed the assignment out of order. This is what glue and scissors are for, but the student got to choose the order that the parts are cut out and had control over where to place the items. Recognizing that ultimately the student’s ownership of their own project is the most important element to the process of learning.

Renay was asked years ago with a student in a computer class how the student chose what pieces to include. The student had a list of icons of shapes and all of them were used intermittently. They were often purposely scrambled, but the choice was clearly made by the student. The student had the opportunity to control their presentations or activities and they got the assignment done.

“Just put down three, the student will tell you.”

“Well is there a right way?”

“Just put down three,” she repeated, “The student will tell you. And that’s the right way.”


While We Have You Here…

If you didn’t know, October is Anti-Bullying Month, National Down Syndrome Awareness Month, and National Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month. It’s quite a packed month but we’re very excited this month! We will be sharing Awareness/Acceptance events and pictures as we come across them.


Do you have any comments about this week’s blog? Do you have a question for us? Would you like to be a guest blogger? Would you like to have an opportunity to pilot some materials at your campus? Find ParaEducate online herehereherehere, and on our website. Paraeducate is a company interested in providing materials, information, and strategies for people working in special education inclusion settings for grades K-12. ParaEducate, the blog, is published weekly during the academic school year on Thursdays, unless a holiday. ParaEducate shares their findings at conferences, through their books, and their academic adaptations.

Posted in #BetterTogether, 8 hours, Behavior Strategies, Campus, Disabilities, paraeducators, Processing Delay, Recess, Skills Lesson, Students | Leave a comment

Skills that All Paraeducators Need

It doesn’t matter if you work with preschool students or high school students: most paraeducators work for the district not their campus, and not the families of the student. At a moment’s notice, you could be working with kindergartners or high school students. This is more true of new hires as they try and place the hires with the most need and best fit, but most of the time, we’ve seen districts just put people in places and hope they will adapt.

There are many, many skills paraeducators need, but there are three we feel are pretty invaluable.

  1. Making a task sheet or visual schedule. This is a bread and butter basic. The challenge is in understanding what a student doesn’t understand. The classroom board may say “Planner: HW due this week” but this implies several steps:
  • getting the planner out,
  • getting a writing tool out,
  • identifying what needs to be written
  • processing the act of writing.
below eye level picture looking up on white board at date written two ways in blue white board marker "September 25, 2017, 9-25-2017" Under, "Math Agenda" with an underline in faded black marker Green marker with large square bullet points "Planner HW due 9/29, Communication book" date written in red white board marker, "Math talk 'Adding 9's" 'adding 9's written in black', "Math Work".

A visual schedule on a white board, hand written green pen check boxes with actions written in red

small white board with purple edges, metal corners. Visual schedule written in black for separated with solid black line between tasks. "Take out planner", "Write in planner" in red: "HW due Friday", "Put away planner", "Math Talk", "Math page 29 & 30", "Clean Up"

Personal visual schedule

Commonly, paraeducators, like other educators, have gone over to a student an exasperatedly declared, “Why haven’t you done it yet?” A visual schedule cuts down on the verbal prompting a feature especially important to a student who has an audio processing delay. Even a student who doesn’t know how to completely read yet is reminded by a visual schedule and icons can replace words for some students.

While I’m on this: it is a big deal to run out of cue colors. Always have back ups of that red marker or purple support sheet.

Realize some tasks for a student are a big deal and others aren’t nearly as a big deal. Document the frequency of prompts, count to twenty before reinforcing the prompt, and finally result only to hovering if the student hasn’t made progress in 5 minutes.

  1. How to read for content in under a minute.  There are things that happen in reading text books or even copied readings that are useful.
  • Scan the page quickly
    • You’re looking at font size
      Worksheet, black text on white paper. Blue lines "Ok" with signature through problems 1-5.

      Worksheet page adapted for student

      • What can you do make it bigger, find more space between paragraphs?
    • Look for headings/vocabulary words (these are the words for the reading, not words that will stop your student)
      • Can the student find definitions? What words are important? Do they give key ideas?
    • Look at pictures
      • Are the pictures useful to the student? How do the illustrations convey information? Can the student follow the illustration instead?
  • Think specifically about your lowest student.
    • What might attract that student’s attention to the content?
    • What can they take away to their attention to the content?
    • What key ideas/terms need to be reinforced to grow in the unit of study?
    • What can the student do independently?
    • Most important: the answers to the first four questions cannot be ‘nothing’, you can find something, even for the student most likely to need the most help
  1. How to relax after a full day. We can’t help you with this, but remember all the things you do for a smile, the ways you need to let go of the day. Just remember taking care of you at the end of the day is better in the long run.

These skills make you successful in the job in the long term. The skills get better with time and practice. These are three of many. Which skills do you think are necessary?


Do you have any comments about this week’s blog? Do you have a question for us? Would you like to be a guest blogger? Would you like to have an opportunity to pilot some materials at your campus? Find ParaEducate online herehereherehere, and on our website. Paraeducate is a company interested in providing materials, information, and strategies for people working in special education inclusion settings for grades K-12. ParaEducate, the blog, is published weekly during the academic school year on Thursdays, unless a holiday. ParaEducate shares their findings at conferences, through their books, and their academic adaptations.

Posted in 8 hours, Campus, Class Specific Strategy, Classroom, Disabilities, General Education Teachers, paraeducators, Skills Lesson, Special Education Teachers, Students | 1 Comment

Why You Actually Don’t Need the Answer Key(s)

For the past fourteen years, Renay sometimes wished for the answer key for certain activities. Sometimes, ultimately though, academics is not about the answer. For example name a river in Europe that changed lives for all who lived along it? We can guess you reached for a search engine to find the answer.

We assure you the answers are actually important. So let’s look directly at modifications of academic subjects and why you shouldn’t need the answers.

  1. The questions are literally over the student’s head. If the kid isn’t reading or seriously struggles with reading the assignment is too hard for the student to do independently. Things to help get some students over the hump: highlight keywords that will be found in the text to answer. Remove questions that ask for inference answers or ask those questions orally and scribe for the student.
  2. You should be modeling looking information up. For all students, and especially those students with the most severe of disabilities: looking up information either in the textbook or using the internet is the skill that will most benefit them long term. Formal assessments can capitalize and ask students to use their resources to look things up.
  3. The action of writing things down is a useful skill for most students. Even for the student who may have dysgraphia, highlighting and working on key words can help a student work on skills they could be working on for OT.
  4. When you have an answer key you refer to, you’re sending the value that answers are more important than action. You deny the intelligence that a student may have to help solve the problem. Should you have a vague idea? Certainly. If the lesson is asking about doing two step algebra you probably shouldn’t introduce the finer points of Chinese History.
  5. You don’t have time because the student has all this other work to do. Yes, during the day the student may have had a pull out for PT or a visit with a counselor, this has bumped their math progress or some other class. But here’s the story: the points are made up and it’s just school. Those extra services are more important than academics. It’s okay. We promise you the students you support won’t be bad people for not knowing what lessons of the day.
  6. Because you modified the assignment for the student and it’s super rough, but the student is going to use something else to find the answers. Sometimes you spit ball and just try to see if the student can do something. And you don’t know what will come out of the student’s mouth, it just sometimes may be an answer.

The answer key does not make you a more efficient paraeducator, nor does it make you a strong teacher. It may certainly relieve your mind of the chaos of switching from subject to subject, but the ultimate rule of thumb is to provide students with skills beyond the doors of academics, even if they will grace the halls of a university or college one day. If you’re hitting the wall and need the answer key, take a step back and look at the whole student and progress. Not everything needs to be done. It’s okay not to know the answers. That’s why you’re there to help.

While I have you here…

ParaEducate is coming to a campus near you. Listen for our travels coming soon!


Do you have any comments about this week’s blog? Do you have a question for us? Would you like to be a guest blogger? Would you like to have an opportunity to pilot some materials at your campus? Find ParaEducate online herehereherehere, and on our website. Paraeducate is a company interested in providing materials, information, and strategies for people working in special education inclusion settings for grades K-12. ParaEducate, the blog, is published weekly during the academic school year on Thursdays, unless a holiday. ParaEducate shares their findings at conferences, through their books, and their academic adaptations.

Posted in 8 hours, blog, Campus, Classroom, Conferences, Disabilities, ParaEducate, paraeducators, PT, Skills Lesson, Students, Support Services, training | Comments Off on Why You Actually Don’t Need the Answer Key(s)

Settling in For the Marathon

Those initial days when you were trying to figure out how to deal with behaviors, social anxiety, and you’re perhaps making a dent in decision making for academic adaptations. It’s the pattern of enforcing preferred behaviors, modeling academics, keeping track of concerns, and connecting relationships of teachers and students.

But for new folks, this is pretty easy. For veterans, this is harder. It is far too easy to become complacent, especially with students that are familiar. It is all too easy to dismiss reoccurring behaviors, or expectations. But the thing is, while most adults can regulate their behaviors, students with disabilities may not be able to do so as easily.

Complacency is a scourge of professionalism. Sometimes it takes a moment. A behavior that requires intervention, an expectation that continually falls short between what a student does and what you think they can do, or you feel useless in a class.

Here are some tricks veterans use to stay on top of things

  1. Remain observant. Watch how students interact, watch how students approach situations. Are they independently attempting? Are they uncertain of their peers? Are they refusing an activity?
  2. Debrief with a co-worker. Either the classroom teacher or the case manager.
  3. Watch other co-workers in action. Learn how they ask questions of students who are participating. Ask them what they are working on in the notebook. Ask how they scan a text and teach students to isolate information.
  4. Be consistent. Find the patterns that work best for you in your workday. Know which students you can walk away from to increase their independence.
  5. Learn a new academic trick. Sentence starters even for the student who is still learning to write. Increasing vocabulary for a student who is learning to communicate. Increasing settle time for a student who has a lot of energy. Connect with the student who is reluctant to start.
  6. Reward students. It’s not all about the work they produce, it’s about their relationships with their peers. Let them have that moment by the door. Let them have their secretes.
  7. Find your life beyond the doors of work. Bike, hike, camp, spend time with your family.

No matter where you are in your marathon, the race has just begun. Realize that veterans learn from each other and are willing to share what they know when things settle down. Keep an eye out for each other as the year starts ramping up.


Do you have any comments about this week’s blog? Do you have a question for us? Would you like to be a guest blogger? Would you like to have an opportunity to pilot some materials at your campus? Find ParaEducate online herehereherehere, and on our website. Paraeducate is a company interested in providing materials, information, and strategies for people working in special education inclusion settings for grades K-12. ParaEducate, the blog, is published weekly during the academic school year on Thursdays, unless a holiday. ParaEducate shares their findings at conferences, through their books, and their academic adaptations.

Posted in 8 hours, Begining of the Year, Behavior Strategies, blog, Campus, Disabilities, General Education Students, General Education Teachers, ParaEducate, paraeducators, Special Education Teachers, Students | Comments Off on Settling in For the Marathon

“Wait, We Do Inclusion?”

It usually surprises Renay when she walks into an established district with a veteran teaching staff who have no clue that what they provide is an inclusive education for students with disabilities and who may also be learning a second language. The part that has been hard to discern though is if the teachers had no idea that was what it was called or that it was an option. For newer teachers, it’s a hit or miss depending on their education if they understand what inclusion is and potentially could mean for a variety of students.

The variety of inclusive settings is a contributing factor for many, parents, educators, and students alike. Then coupled with an IEP that looks specifically at one student’s needs, that level of Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) also looks very different.

So some basics as it comes with the territory with paraeducators and general educators.

  1. Not all inclusive settings require paraeducators. There are actually a few scenarios that work without paraeducators. Some students may not need one. (This is dramatically different than a student that does not want one.) Some schools use a co-teaching model. It works wonderfully but the entire staff must be onboard and special education teachers need to have enough flexible time to do things like IEP meetings, preparing academic modifications, and behavior interventions for students. Additionally, the special education teacher needs to have a solid background in a variety of subjects and be comfortable not just with scaffolding but also with the actual academic end for students who are beyond learning foundations.
  2. The number of stories Renay could fill that start with, “I had a student with [insert disability] years ago and they weren’t like this at all…” While there are many collective similarities between specific disabilities, how they manifest in an individual looks very different for every individual. Hence the saying, “If you’ve met one person with a disability, you’ve met one person with a disability.”
  3. Sometimes when a paraeducator brings or comes into a class with a student with a disability, they may not know a whole bunch about that student either. They may have a loose idea of expectations, they may even have a goal in mind, but that can either be raised or lowered as the year progresses. It’s okay, have faith, the paraeducators that stay are really good at long term problem solving and look at ways to help get a student, or group of students, to where they need to be socially, academically, and behaviorally.
  4. Ignoring the student that doesn’t fit your model of inclusion isn’t helping anyone. There are planned ignoring of specific behaviors, but finding that the student is unable to control noises or finds they need a lot more movement during class, is a lot harder, especially in the first few weeks of the year. Certainly, disruptive behaviors are disruptive.
  5. Sometimes your conversation and directives may be too much for a student to process. Extra words like ‘Do you understand me?’ can be as disruptive as trying to get a student back on task. It can be especially hard when students who are already behind don’t use every second of their time in class, but not all students do. Many students, with and without disabilities, disengage from class discussions or activities because they have a thought or something is more important than what is going on in class at the exact moment. For students with significant disabilities, the world can potentially be a disability.  This gets more complex as a student ages and enters adolescence.
  6. Every day is a new day. And for some students, particularly those who act out as their defense to save face in the prospect of something that is too hard, this is the hardest to remember. Renay doesn’t advocate putting on a fake smile or pitying the student who is struggling. Every day have a plan. And let the student know, even a student who may not always understand every word that they are welcome as a learner in the room. And smile when they ask to leave. Check in and see what they are coloring in class, or if they are flipping through a book on the topic that is being studied.

When a student is in the room, it is our student. And we won’t always have the answers, but we will try to figure this out together. And by the end of the year, it just may have been an experience you’ll know and be ready for next year.


Do you have any comments about this week’s blog? Do you have a question for us? Would you like to be a guest blogger? Would you like to have an opportunity to pilot some materials at your campus? Find ParaEducate online herehereherehere, and on our website. Paraeducate is a company interested in providing materials, information, and strategies for people working in special education inclusion settings for grades K-12. ParaEducate, the blog, is published weekly during the academic school year on Thursdays, unless a holiday. ParaEducate shares their findings at conferences, through their books, and their academic adaptations.

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Building Rapport And Moving to The Next Place in Student/Educator Relationships

Paraeducate, the blog, was moved to Friday because of a special event in Renay’s life that she swears she’ll tell you all about in October. As a part of our back to school series, we’re looking at the process of building a working, professional relationship with students.

Paraeducators have a unique relationship with a student. For some they may be the only other adult contact or translator for events in their day. But this does not mean you are their friend. You are an adult hired in a capacity to be a specific asset to a student in their educational process. You may have to help the student with health care or other self-care. There are times when you may have a student that requires a lot of supports for a variety of reasons relating to a disability.

What about the student who needs less physical support? How about a student with less needs? A student who purposely pushes your help away at every turn, or perhaps the student who doesn’t understand the material but doesn’t want to be seen as lesser in their eyes of their peers whether actual or perceived. Rapport with this student is hard won. Every slight is a mark against your potential relationship with the student.

Rapport only comes one way: through slow building over time. Some students are very ‘easy,’ they are used to meeting many different adults and resist little against any change. They may embrace every chance to meet someone new, literally and figuratively. Other students take years.

So how do you cut out the ‘time component’? You can’t. There are a lot of reasons any student acts unreachable.

  1. Remember all things with students will take time. You’re asking them to trust a strange adult. Go over, get in their height, maybe you will have to kneel. Offer your right hand to shake theirs and introduce yourself. Explain you are there to help them. Doesn’t matter if the student can understand a word you say, this is how we demonstrate we are adults. This is how we keep the relationship professional
  2. Connect with things that interest the student. Look for their notebook covers, what they draw their teachers, colors they reach for when they make a poster, who their friends in a class may be. Even if those are bad choices, the student makes the choice.
  3. Be consistent with rewards and punishments. Reward genuinely. Notice the things you want to have happen. This isn’t to say you ignore the bad. Rudeness, off task behavior, causing grief with classmates all need to be addressed. Some privately, but always honestly.
  4. For the student you have had before, recall that they have grown and changed. Give them the benefit of the doubt, let them see that their trust within you matters.
  5. Every day is a new day. No matter what happened the day before. This is the hardest of all. Some behaviors or events are hard to put out of your mind.

Rapport is what all students want from adults in their lives. It helps to create a classroom that is safe and trusting, especially for students who may push back.

While I have you here…

Building a rapport with students still needs to be professionally acceptable. Speaking about drinking, drugs, or dangerous illegal activities should not be a way to build rapport with students. Your life, even if the student lives in the same apartment complex, should not unnecessarily cross with any student.


Do you have any comments about this week’s blog? Do you have a question for us? Would you like to be a guest blogger? Would you like to have an opportunity to pilot some materials at your campus? Find ParaEducate online herehereherehere, and on our website. Paraeducate is a company interested in providing materials, information, and strategies for people working in special education inclusion settings for grades K-12. ParaEducate, the blog, is published weekly during the academic school year on Thursdays, unless a holiday. ParaEducate shares their findings at conferences, through their books, and their academic adaptations.

Posted in Begining of the Year, Behavior Strategies, Campus, Disabilities, General Education Students, paraeducators, Students | Comments Off on Building Rapport And Moving to The Next Place in Student/Educator Relationships

Keep Calm and Don’t Break The Copy Machine

Renay wants to tell you first thing: the copy machine was already broken when she arrived in the copy room at 2:00pm exactly at the time when she was supposed to be checking out due for the pre-service day. So when the drawer to the copy machine refused to return on the lovely slides back into the machine that had been removed so the paper that had gotten jammed would stop getting jammed, it was pretty much a done deal. But there are some key elements no person wants to be caught doing especially on the first day of work.

But this little adventure even for a veteran like Renay reminds us that the funny things make boring topics so much better.

  • Ask the freest secretary or person in charge of the copy room for a real training. You need to know where the machine jams, what information will tell you, how to put in your code, how to print to the copy machine, how to load the machine, and most importantly how many copies you may be allotted. We will say that special education sometimes gets a pass on the copies much to the jealously of other teachers or grades, but have you ever carried a 50 page IEP, because you know they do happen. And if you do get a jam, find out how to take care of it so you don’t leave someone else stranded.
  • Meet with the library staff. Find out how to check out materials, when the library will be available for student use, find out what alternative materials may be in the library for use with students who are not able to access what their peers can.
  • Find out where you can store your lunch. Of all the things that can help make or break a specific day, this is probably it. It’s probably also helpful to know if the school service dog is a counter surfer and will eat your sandwich… (We love you Frostytips… we wished you loved our food a tad less)
  • Find out how your campus deals with absences that are planned. Do you have to tell the principal? Do you just tell the case manager? Do you tell everyone? Are you running around verbally confirming with everyone?
  • What is the means of communication? Texting? Email? Loud speaker? How do we know what is up.
  • What to do in the event of an emergency. Especially with those first days and students that you may not know about.

Choosing these activities when you know nothing else gives you a place to start. Finding someone to mentor you would be best, but this is a great place to begin.


Do you have any comments about this week’s blog? Do you have a question for us? Would you like to be a guest blogger? Would you like to have an opportunity to pilot some materials at your campus? Find ParaEducate online herehereherehere, and on our website. Paraeducate is a company interested in providing materials, information, and strategies for people working in special education inclusion settings for grades K-12. ParaEducate, the blog, is published weekly during the academic school year on Thursdays, unless a holiday. ParaEducate shares their findings at conferences, through their books, and their academic adaptations

Posted in 8 hours, Begining of the Year, Campus, paraeducators, training | Comments Off on Keep Calm and Don’t Break The Copy Machine

Ring Ring Goes the Bell

Whether that first bell has sounded for you or not, we’re back for the 2017-2018 academic school year. We hope your summer has been relaxing. We’ve been working away at plans all summer for this year’s blog.

With that said, it’s been four years of blogging (with only three years of archives due to the great blog disaster of 2014), and five years of ParaEducate. So it’s time for a brief history lesson.

ParaEducate started out as just an idea for a book in June 2011. The book would help new paraeducators find their way in their academic setting.

By October 2011, the book was solidly in the first round of edits and an idea crept forward: what if we took all the academic modifications and actively made them available for others? Not just the lessons, but entire units…And then ParaEducate the company took off from there. Since the publication of ParaEducate in 2012, we’ve published seven additional texts for use with K-12 students on a variety of academic topics (Science, History, US Government, PE, Shakespeare, and Geography). Additionally, we prepare units or materials and make those available for purchase.

In 2012, we started the weekly blog during the academic year to reach out and connect with professionals and parents on a regular basis and remind each other of the importance of constantly connecting with other professionals to refine our work, even for those who may only be in the classroom for just a year.

All along the way, we’ve gone to conferences to meet up with teachers, professors, self-advocates, allies, and other paraeducators. We share back what we’ve discovered, research and experiences are too rich not to share.

ParaEducate has grown, and continues to grow as a company started to be a resource for Special Education Teachers, Paraeducators, and advocates for people with disabilities. We have provided a variety of information through our books, blog, and conferences.

We appreciate your continued support through social media, meeting us at conferences, and supporting our materials. For 2017-2018, we are looking forward to meeting new folks through our blog.

What do I need for the first week of school?

If you’ve not started, this is awesome. We asked on our Facebook page and we will tell you: we got a lot of suggestions.

  • Have fun. Do the silly ice breaker. Take the photo with the neon glasses.
  • Learn the routines, find out where it would work best for the teacher to have you, scan the classroom for the students who might need help, be noticeable and invisible all at the same time.
  • Read the IEP. We assure you, the teacher hasn’t had time to read them, know five things for every student you work with. Scan quickly and pick up those things and realize, you’ll have missed something but it’s okay.
  • Read notes that the parents pass on to you about their child. Doing so acknowledges the tradition that parents are the first teachers of any child and they’ve known their child for far longer than you.
  • Give the student a chance to have a few inches of space to be independent, even in the first days. It may be a chance for that student to grow.
  • That first week is about understanding the school year is a marathon, not a sprint. Everything is not needed “right now” and it’s about making those connections that may not otherwise get a chance to develop. The smile between professionals
  • Not to forget the basics: a couple of pencils, a notebook, tissues, hand sanitizer, and a pen.

“Paraprofessionals & Teachers Working Together” Third Edition by Susan Fitzell, M.Ed.

It is rare that ParaEducate gets materials and reviews them on the blog. We’ve known Susan professionally for a few years, and the opportunity to take a look at her new book came our way.

A little aside, we received a free copy of the book pre-publication.

One of the first things we noticed that excited us: Susan has made this a workbook. It’s not just simply to highlight and refer to, it’s a starting place for teachers (both general education and special education) to start a series of conversations about professional expectations in the classroom between both the teacher and paraeducator(s). The book also moves into behavior analysis and interventions, providing concrete examples of academic adaptations, and ultimately how to give students independence.

We found this book to be a good resource. We can only imagine the power of combining this with ParaEducate and from there, the teamwork that would be created on a campus could easily be unstoppable. “Paraprofessionals & Teachers Working Together” is available starting 8/18.

While I have you here…

You may be wondering what’s on our list this year for blog posts. We’ve been working on a series of strategies for academics and behaviors. We have an interview with Renay, the Co-Founder of ParaEducate and her professional life. But always for the first month, expect our beginning of the school year tips.


Do you have any comments about this week’s blog? Do you have a question for us? Would you like to be a guest blogger? Would you like to have an opportunity to pilot some materials at your campus? Find ParaEducate online herehereherehere, and on our website. Paraeducate is a company interested in providing materials, information, and strategies for people working in special education inclusion settings for grades K-12. ParaEducate, the blog, is published weekly during the academic school year on Thursdays, unless a holiday. ParaEducate shares their findings at conferences, through their books, and their academic adaptations

Posted in Begining of the Year, blog, Campus, Disabilities, Modifications, ParaEducate, paraeducators, parents, publications, Students | Comments Off on Ring Ring Goes the Bell

Summer Is For Announcements

It’s been over a month now since we signed off for the academic year and we have something to share with you all. This week, we announced our newest book Reading for the Field became available for purchase through our publisher and amazon. We’re very excited to share it with you all.

PE should be the easiest class to be with peers, even if ones ability is not nearly as exact as some others. However, with today’s standards, PE is so much more than an activity based class. Some classes will venture into taking notes for understanding human anatomy or rules of games. Sometimes, certain activities have scoring rules. And other times, because weather prevents safe use of the PE areas, students will be indoors exploring aspects of a sport or activity that would not be otherwise explained to the class.

Through several units of activity, Reading for the Field looks at not only equipment that may be used by the activity, but how to use the equipment and why that equipment may be there. Using real pictures taken over three years, users of Reading for the Field can see the differences in set up for equipment and utilize reminders to help improve cooperative gameplay.

All the units are short and focused to get at highlights of information to the student. The book is primarily driven for PE units but can also be used by students in ELA classes. Included in this book after every unit is a selection of comprehension questions based on the reading and experience that a student may participate in.

We’re very excited to bring this book to our followers and hope you find it is very useful.

While we’re here: we owe a great deal of gratitude to Danielle Dauenhauer for being willing to get up early one morning and supply us with the softball gear photos that we were so sorely missing.

In Summary

The list of books published by ParaEducate include:

ParaEducate

Finding It In the World Level 2 Second Edition

Just the Words: World Geography

Just the Words: Science Level 1 and 2

Just the Words: Government

The Bard In Stick Figures

Reading for the Field

Other summer things

We’ve been planning all summer for our blog this year. We’ve got a line up we really hope will be useful in the upcoming months. Part of the series we’re looking at is due to the fact that it’s been six years since we started the original outline for ParaEducate. It still is our number one selling book and we’re proud to extend the book’s direction through the blog.

In case you’re wondering what we actually are thinking about: strategies for technology, understanding Health classes, professional limits, and more class specific strategies.

If you missed it, six years ago on June 24th, Renay approached Megan about writing a book for paraeducators. As legend has it, Megan didn’t quite believe Renay until in her email the outline showed up. A five hour session at a local sandwich shop later, the first draft was finalized and then the next six months were about refining and preparing a book for publication.

Future publication

We’re still slowly getting through some major illustrations for three upcoming books. Due to the nature of these books, they are quite demanding. We are looking at books that can help with math, English, history, and science right now and have plans over the next few years to finish and release the books. We’re also still preparing more single use materials for our teacherspayteachers and our teachersnotebook store.

What is Renay actually doing this summer?

Renay will have a whole blog dedicated to this probably in October. It’s a huge professional step, and one she is currently enjoying. Stay tuned!

One more thing while we have you here

We return for regular postings August 17. Until then, relax, try not to think about the upcoming school year, and maybe look at the school supply sales once or twice. We’ll see you in August.


ParaEducate returns August 17, 2017 for the new academic year. Do you have any comments about this week’s blog? Do you have a question for us? Would you like to be a guest blogger? Would you like to have an opportunity to pilot some materials at your campus? Find ParaEducate online herehereherehere, and on our website. Paraeducate is a company interested in providing materials, information, and strategies for people working in special education inclusion settings for grades K-12. ParaEducate, the blog, is published weekly during the academic school year on Thursdays, unless a holiday. ParaEducate shares their findings at conferences, through their books, and their academic adaptations

Posted in blog, ParaEducate, publications, Summer | Comments Off on Summer Is For Announcements