Better Go And Get Your Armor…

School started for Renay on Wednesday with the students arriving at 8:30 in the morning. Like the start of every year, and probably especially for those who are veterans, there are lingering memories of students who were just there only three months ago, some fond, some not quite as fond. There are familiar faces, maybe just a little older than they looked in your head when you first met them. And most importantly, there are the new faces of new students.

Even though there was a meeting before the school year officially started, descriptions of the new students may only share a partial picture of expectations of a student, their abilities, or even medical changes. Those first days are so focused on trying to get to know folks, catch up on the summer, and just falling into a pattern that will be the most useful for everyone. It’s quite a learning curve, no matter how many times a specific student may have been “the new student” or how old a student may actually be.

And more distressing are the students who give you no signs of being welcomed to campus. The ones that will fight you tooth and nail over every little hill. Some give you at least twenty minutes, others go right for the tender spots hoping to get a reaction right away. These behaviors are sometimes very distressing, especially within hours of their arrival on campus. It exhausts staff who work with the student, in some cases, especially a student who is quite capable of reaching the requests that a general education teacher asks of the class, makes it very difficult to find a way to appreciate the student and their skills.

The phrases the student uses also sometimes sends a veteran alarms.

  • “I’m stupid.”
  • “I don’t have to listen to you.”
  • “You’re dumb.”

There’s the body language.

  • Posturing to gain attention.
  • The snicker when they think no one was looking.
  • Threatening adults, especially adults in authority
  • Trying to “split” two different staff or case managers

Here’s what you need to do for a minute: with the new student, realize you’re laying the groundwork. Hopefully by the end of the year you’ll have a student who at least trusts you, and realizing your authority is in their best interest. Testing boundaries is part of every student’s career. For a student with a disability there are more folks who come into contact with the student, thusly more people in authority to push against.

What can you do:

  • Be consistent. Be there for that student, even when they’re trying their hardest at avoiding work to drive you up the wall.
  • Use your co-workers if you can.
  • Redirect for the positive, do more than catch a student doing the right thing, find reasons to praise them for being good, especially those staff who don’t get along with the student. Reward them honestly. This is probably the hardest part of catching the ‘good’ a student does as well much as being genuine that you’re excited they’re doing great things.
  • Speaking of rewards, as a staff member you really need to pick your battles. Not everything needs to be a fight. Student won’t write in pencil, hand the an erasable pen. Not willing to write notes, “will you copy these notes later?” or, “If I give you a copy of the notes, will you highlight the vocabulary words for the unit?”
  • Realize that staff can be overwhelmed at being shoved away even when they know it’s not personal. Let them take the breaks to walk away from the student, to sit in the hall for a moment and use their own calming techniques so when the battle matters, they know the student may actually listen. Help each other out, give them a shoulder to lean on. As an observer, don’t rush to rescue your co-worker without waiting to hear from them, especially if you might be a preferred staff member.

As a caveat to being that shoulder to lean on: make sure you’re both in a safe place to vent. No other students around and the room isn’t subject to others walking in.

The students are all settling in. It’s going to be a great year. Once you get past these little speed bumps.


Do you have any questions about this week’s blog? Do you want to offer a guest blog? 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, Campus, Disabilities, General Education Teachers, paraeducators, Special Education Teachers, Students | Leave a comment

A Letter to the Students

Welcome Back! We are so very excited for the 2016-2017 academic school year blog for ParaEducate.

As of a week ago, voting was open for a conference that ParaEducate, The Inclusive Class, and National Board on Full Inclusion, with Sheryll Zellis, and Rob Rummel-Hudson are participating in. Your vote helps our summit get selected.

As always, we’ve prepared a few entries that discuss beginning of the year activities. This year’s first blog was actually inspired by something that transpired at the end of last school year. We had noticed the recent rise of students who were reluctant to receive help and at the end of the year, with the help of a general education teacher, we asked a segment of the youngest grade why they didn’t respect the paraeducators on their campus.

There were some pretty varied and uncensored reasons but the heart of the matter: the students who had been the most troubled by paraeducators were students who had no positive experiences with paraeducators prior to arriving on the campus.

This shocked us a little and immediately we could list the positive interactions that paraeducators on this campus had provided all students, not just the students with disabilities. But that got us thinking about how to intervene this upcoming school year, to provide these students at this particular campus a better sense of what that staff was really about. Not just that the Principal said they were a part of the team. Not just that the teachers said they were as influential and beneficial to the classes they supported, and not just to the specific students they had to work with.

I give you, a letter to read to students.


Dear Students,

You don’t really know me, but I’m a paraeducator. By definition, my job is very specific. In some classes, I may float around a lot and get to meet a lot of you. In other classes, I may have to stay in one place, no matter what, and work with a specific student.

Your previous campus may also have had paraeducators, but here at this campus, we really are a part of your education. We’re here to help you learn. Sometimes learn about students who may think or act quite differently from what you’re used to. Sometimes it’s to help you learn that your voice matters. And sometimes it’s to help you learn that you have staff members on your side.

I am an extra set of eyes in a classroom and in the hall. Yes, sometimes you may ‘get in trouble’ by me. But I did see that other student pick on you, and while you didn’t think I didn’t do anything, I promise you I reported it, I may have also intervened and talked to that student about their behavior. That classmate that has been depressed, I asked them how they were doing today. I want you to know, that you may be in a stage where you wish to disappear into the floor, but I see you and I will get to see you do amazing things this year.

Sometimes I may not do anything to help a specific student or situation, because that’s a part of growing up. You have the right to rise and fall by your own merits. If you don’t know it, I’ve already been in the grade you have been. I’ve sat in that seat, I’ve been the student too shy to raise my hand, I’ve been the student that didn’t know what question to ask first, and I’ve also been that student who didn’t know how to start.

I will be here all year. Myself, and my other paraeducators on your campus are all here for all the students.

Sincerely,

Paraeducator


Do you have any questions about this week’s blog? Do you want to offer a guest blog? 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, General Education Teachers, ParaEducate, paraeducators, Students | Leave a comment

A Busy Summer 2016

We’re back, for a little while. It’s been a busy summer at ParaEducate.

We just got our copies of the Brookes Publishing Company’s Inclusive Calendar for the 2016-2017 academic calendar right as July started. We are included in this calendar as are tips from us about paraeducators. We’re very honored to be included with The National Catholic Board on Full Inclusion, The Inclusive Class, Think Inclusive, The Sparkle Effect, National Center for Learning Disabilities, National Bullying Prevention Center, Inclusive Schools Network, Maryland Coalition for Inclusive Education, Removing the Stumbling Block, TASH, and Together We Rock. You can get your calendar free here!

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Calendar from Brookes Publishing, featuring ParaEducate during April and the whole year is filled with information about inclusive education.

But two weeks ago now, we officially approved our new book for publication. Another Just The Words, this time World Geography. In early drafts, this was supposed to be a part of “Finding It In the World”, but due to publishing constraints, it was actually easier and cheaper for buyers to have the two books split, which developed the Just the Words series. Just the Words: World Geography is more than just vocabulary that pairs with “Finding It In the World”, it has grown and been updated including locations and concepts that were not used in “Finding It In the World”. Like all our “Just the Words”, Just the Words: World Geography, encourages the option of either having a student type the words or hand write to work on fine motor coordination depending on the student. The work is meant to be instead of a warm up or notes for a student, giving a time for a student to really look at the material that is being discussed in class.

Final cover of "Just the Words: World Geography"

Final cover of “Just the Words: World Geography”

If you’re interested our complete works are listed as the following available through Amazon.com:

If you’re looking for other materials, check out our TeachersPayTeachers Store or our TeachersNotebook Page. We do have some free materials! Check them out!

Other things we’re preparing: we’re looking ahead at our series for the beginning of the school year. Yes, we agree: we’re not ready for it to start either, just starting to relax over here at ParaEducate. We’ve had some lessons from the end of last school year that just did not fit with the end of the year, and we did want to address the topics at the beginning of the school year, because they merit conversations all academic year.

But there are events coming up on the horizon that are just too good not to share. First of all, we’re pleased to announce that we have partnered with The Inclusive Class for another webinar, date and time being finalized currently. We will be talking about what it means to be including students by case study. The venue will eventually be on YouTube, but more information is coming soon. We will be joined by Beth Foraker of the National Catholic Board on Full Inclusion, Shelley Moore and her book “One Without The Other”, and Antonia Hirson from SpEd Blog. We’re excited and hope you will be too.

As we finish, we’d like to remind everyone to stay hydrated, relax and enjoy themselves, and keep an eye on those early back to school sale bins because you never know if there’s a great fidget or a notebook that can better support a student. School is just around the corner.


Do you have any comments about this week’s blog? ParaEducate returns for 2016-2017 on August 18. Look for our annual summer blog! 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, Begining of the Year, Summer | Comments Off on A Busy Summer 2016

End of the Year Wrap Up

We dragged our feet on finishing this blog post. It’s our last one for the 2015-2016 academic year. It’s reliably warm outside on the West Coast. Even the cold snap we had parts of last week haven’t dampened the students’ excitement. Ten days and counting. Less for some districts. Perhaps that’s why our students don’t want to do anything academic. But as much as the distractions of the world are permeating into the classroom, there are still things that require our attention.

While the gauntlet of finals, final projects, text book turn ins, field days, special assemblies, teaching students how to sign year books, teaching students to say ‘good-bye’, teaching students about their next year’s campus, reaching those last milestones, and doing all the normal parts of your job is difficult.

We’ve had a full year at ParaEducate looking at behaviors, paraeducator professionalism, and tips for working with students with disabilities. We’ve traveled, we’ve been a public voice, and we’ve trained. Over the summer we’re working on three to four books. If we get to publishing them this year, we’ll let you know in our summer blog. (Keep checking social media and our blog because it’s an unplanned blog entry!)

Students have surprised us with great things and then some not so great things. We’ve seen a year and grown from that experience. We’ve seen general education teachers learn from the students and the classes they’ve had with students included and grown from that experience and learn how to adapt their assignments. We’ve also learned a lot from teachers who are not as flexible with students with disabilities, from classmates who have needed some introduction to students with disabilities.

And then while you were out on the class picnic, a student was asked to join in the Frisbee game with some of the students without prompting. The students are eagerly talking about their summer plans and when a student offered that he was going to a camp for students with his disability, all the kids in the class wanted to know what that sort of camp was like because they were heading to different camps. All of these things you’ve been able to see because you’ve been invisible and visible.

So before you leave for the year, check for phone numbers you may need from co-workers, make plans to meet up for coffee, thank a co-worker who made your day a little brighter, and say good-bye to your students who are graduating. Know that the work you’ve put in this year has paid off. Stay safe and enjoy your time off.

Whether you stay with your campus, transfer to another campus, or leave paraeducating behind for other career opportunities, ParaEducate plans to return to blogging for the 2016-2017 academic year August 18, 2016.


Do you have any comments about this week’s blog? ParaEducate returns for 2016-2017 on August 18. Look for our annual summer blog! 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, Campus, Classroom, Conferences, Disabilities, End of the Year, General Education Teachers, Inclusion, ParaEducate, paraeducators, Students | Comments Off on End of the Year Wrap Up

Wait, I know you can do this….

As the end of the academic year approaches, two phenomena happen and no matter how prepared you are, it’s a little startling. The first are the great surprises, the ones where your student who has never done the “thing”, usually something independent, suddenly does the “thing” without prompting or demonstration. That all your work you’ve done has been worth it. And you celebrate. Maybe it’s a big deal to the student and maybe it’s not, but this is what you’re working for. The second, and less elating phenomena is the student who has learned the “new thing” and has successfully demonstrated the “new thing” all year without problem and today, they see the “new thing” maybe for the first time in a while, and they fall apart because this is a “new, new thing”. And you’re standing there stuck because it’s not a “new, new thing”.

The “new thing” could be anything. A social strategy, an academic concept, a self-help activity, a demonstration of independence, or a calming strategy. But the student is breaking over this. There may or may not be a full intervention needed because the student is screaming on the floor.

Sometimes this is an expression of anxiety. The end of the school year can be really hard. The count downs, the special schedules, and unusual activities that have no explanation all contribute to that emotional whirlwind of saying ‘good-bye and see you next year’.

There are also students, both general education and special education, who sincerely believe that now testing is over, nothing matters. This is horribly false, even for the teachers who may not have serious work from now until the last days of school. Truth be known, grades aren’t set into stone until they are turned in. Some students’ grades could easily flex 10-15% depending on the class. Okay some high school classes don’t have that much movement, but for some students, even those who do not seek the golden “A+”, this may mean the difference between passing a class and repeating it one more time. For a student who thinks they might not pass, this is a last chance to do those little pieces to keep things together.

There is also the weather to consider. Whether regular or not, warmer weather has arrived for most of the United States. If not totally arrived, it is on the horizon. The students just want to check out and think about anything but school.

So you have four students all unable to move on right now because one has anxiety, another checked out, a distracted student, and a student who just “can’t.” What strategies work best?

  1. Use a visual schedule. Even if you may have faded, giving this back brings some comfort. It doesn’t have to be a big production, it could just be a sticky note that sits on their desk that reminds them that today they may not have a service or that recess will be shorter.
  2. Help the student work for smaller chunks with more frequent breaks. Be clear that the break is the reward. If breaks aren’t rewarding, try something like a small package of a favorite food item. Whatever the reward really is: it should be quick, should be often as every day, and positive for the student.
  3. Realize that opposite of fading is a privilege. Sometimes, as the anxious student amps up, it’s nice to just sit within their eye sight and let them know you’re there to help them out. This requires none of the normal interactions, it’s just about being a parachute without verbally offering.
  4. Q.-T.I.P. Quit Taking It Personally. That student who didn’t do any work all year, did they really deserve to earn back those five to six points to get them into passing? And for the students who are having a full tantrum, they’re not planning on picking a fight right now. (Unless they are and that’s a different strategy to begin with.)
  5. Go moment by moment. Those special schedules that are breaking up the days are eating into your limited patience reserves. Just don’t look at the whole day. Worry about the bit before lunch and then look at the schedule again after lunch.
  6. Most important of all: enjoy because students are alike with or without disabilities. You never know when an invitation to go do something cool during lunch may come a student’s way or those moments that are real and sincere standing at the end of a long grade level hike at the cliff and being thrilled about the journey looking out and watching the scenery.
  7. Lastly: most important, document the refusal or tantrum to the “new thing” that they’ve been successful at. Either with a comment on a data sheet or setting up a data sheet specifically to track this at the end of the year. Having this may help next year or even help re-evaluate whether or not a student could be ready for the next levels of activities in a specific subject. Most of the time this starts innocently and you think it “may be something else” but suddenly you’ve felt like you’ve been doing this a lot lately. And just getting data helps put it in perspective. You may even be able to enlist the help of an OT for some things.

The end of the year is coming, and the students still need to focus on what is at hand. Though the books may be heading into the library and the technology may be away for the year, the year is going to continue to need the attention of everyone until the final bell.


Next week, we sign off for this 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 8 hours, Assembly, Behavior Strategies, Campus, End of the Year, OT, ParaEducate, paraeducators, Students, Support Services | Comments Off on Wait, I know you can do this….

Dear Student Teacher

Before I get too far into this week’s actual blog, we had a wonderful opportunity this week to go off and inspire some future teachers at a major university this week about Inclusion. We were there at UCDavis with Nicole Eredics from The Inclusive Class (Yes, the same person who wrote us a blog in October!) and Beth Foraker of National Catholic Board on Full Inclusion. While Nicole and Beth did most of the talking, sometimes it’s interesting to observe, especially since the observation is the key skill of any paraeducator. While I sat back and observed, I had time to start writing a note, a note I wish I had shared with many of the wonderful student teachers I have made contact with over the years (nearly 20!) in both general education and special education.

But focusing on the general education teachers, is of primary importance not only to raise the expectation to want inclusion in any given campus, but to let the general education teacher know that there will not just be this moment of swimming without help as they start teaching, and especially if they are participating in inclusion.


Dear Student Teacher,

I honestly can’t see all of you right now. I know and respect the amount of energy you have in being here, so maybe I should actually explain a few things. Teaching, at least at the level you’re focusing on completing right now, this is an Olympic Swimming Pool. There may be a diving board at one end, and maybe cameras checking if you really did touch the wall, but this is it. It has definite size, shape, and while large, it is possible to cross to the other side.

Your engagement in the topic of inclusion is critical. You may not have been aware that you may have been doing it a few times already. You may not have been attempting to do ‘something different’. Wanting this, doesn’t help just one student, or a short line of students, it helps all the students. We’ve talked a lot about community and the microcosm of community that are reflected in our schools. We’ve talked a lot about how this is following a law that was written well before the years most of you were born.

Inclusion is simple and complex. It is slightly more than opening the door, but it is not a second less than providing everything you can possibly provide to every student.

I also am all too aware that in your first two years of employment, once you wander away from the institutions, are weighing heavily on your shoulders. That you shall not have time to rock boats and enforce change as we have given it to you. But that doesn’t mean you cannot provide change. It does not prevent you from forging a relationship with a special education teacher that comes to your campus nor the students who may wander past your door, sometimes lost in a sea of other students. Being a willing partner for when the moment is right, or even for that student who no one else thought was “going to do anything”, makes that difference.

There is a lot to learn. And when you’ve learned that, you’ll find for a specific student, you’ll need to learn more. And I hope you remember right now, today, because for two hours, you looked at this reminder of inclusion. It’s not some shiny unattainable ideal. It’s just a part of this Olympic sized swimming pool. And if you remember today, even a little bit, even tomorrow, you’ll find that maybe someone else will be ready to see you practice inclusion because it is the way communities have been working for a while.

Thank you,

ParaEducate


Only two more weeks before we sign off for this 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 #BetterTogether, Campus, General Education Teachers, ParaEducate, paraeducators, Special Education Teachers, student teachers, Students | Comments Off on Dear Student Teacher

Snippets of thoughts from ParaEducate

We have to say, it’s been a hard few weeks at ParaEducate. But we think you’d like these snippets of blog set ups we have this week.


It’s Teacher Appreciation Week. And we are proud of many of the teachers who helped us to get here as we stand and the teachers we work alongside.

We all have that teacher, the one that got us going or said the one thing that reminded us of our reality. Formal or informal, all school staff, should be honored this week. Everyone does something for the eight hours a student is at school.


We mentioned earlier that ParaEducate has been having a rough time lately. We’ve been responding to campuses with crises. Fortunately, most of the campuses in question are having specific issues and we’re providing some background training to those campuses.

Just to give some perspective on responding to crisis issues that come up with students:

  1. Before an issue comes up, make sure to know the campus flow chart for who handles what sorts of issues. If you need to get student help, knowing who to speak to helps speed the process along.
  2. You are a mandated reporter. Even if you need to be in the office when you fill out the appropriate paper work, you need to fill it out.
  3. Schools have a response chart for after school incidents. How and when staff get contacted is important. Even if the message that needs to be passed on is “be twenty minutes early on [this day] to receive important information regarding a student on this campus.” Everyone should be involved. You should know what this chart is and where you are on this chart. And this chart needs to be available somewhere you can find easily at home and on the road as necessary.
  4. In the event of a crisis, sometimes you aren’t the person who is going to fix it. You are here to learn from this event, be aware of rumors on campus, to help facilitate appropriate conversation if necessary. And most of all you’re there to support the others who this affects the most.
  5. In the event of a crisis attracting media attention: be aware of social media. Follow up on the event if you must but avoid comments, reading or adding to the comments.
  6. Staff should never talk to media outlets. Leave the comments to any legal entities representing the district. You are entitled to your opinions, and they, and you, deserve your privacy.

It’s the end of testing this week or perhaps the mandated tests have passed you by, and we’re going to remind folks that as the year winds down, it’s not time to stop reinforcing preferred behaviors or following a visual schedule. Have plans in case of the activity isn’t going to work out.


Before we totally sign off for the week, ParaEducate will end the academic year on May 26. We have a public event on May 9, check our Facebook and Twitter accounts to find out where we land!


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, Appreciation, Campus, Crisis, General Education Teachers, Inclusion, ParaEducate, Special Education Teachers, Students, Tests | Comments Off on Snippets of thoughts from ParaEducate

From The ParaEducate Mail Bag 2016

Okay, so we got really distracted this year and our mailbag is overflowing. We plucked one for this week because we’re a little wrapped up here at ParaEducate with baby news (co-worker just became a grandma again within the last few hours so we’re fawning over new baby pictures and important thing: family is doing wonderfully right now).


Dear ParaEducate,

What Apps do you suggest to have an on an iPad for middle school students with disabilities?

Signed,

Technologically curious

Dear Technology,

Well a few years back we actually learned of a whole campus on iPads but they were so tightly monitored, students couldn’t get apps that hadn’t been batch approved by their district. So that’s a bit of a trip hazard when issuing out technology.

Before we list the apps: we do not receive any compensation from any of the companies that have created these apps. We also have mostly success with iPads, and have very little experience with Androids, most of our Apps are universal, but a few do not have ones available through the Google Play store.

App Why you Want it Notes
Numbers/Pages/Keynote This is an Apple Store specific product. It’s free on all current iPads, and it’s the basic Word/Excel/PowerPoint equivalent. It’s pretty important to getting materials ready quickly especially if your campus internet is spotty. Apple products only
Word/Excel/PowerPoint This is the gold standard. However, without Office 360, it’s a little hard to get your files to transfer. But you still want it! Even if you can’t edit a document, you’ll be able to read the document which is pretty important sometimes. You can get the files through email and make comments back.
Google Docs/Slides/Sheets/Drive This is a very great solution in a pinch and helps to keep the space on your device free and clear. The items save to your Google Drive and are accessible as long as you have internet access. You can share with students and other teachers on campus especially if Google Drive is supported on your campus. No internet = no access and not all features are available (ex: currently you cannot make a graph with Sheets on mobile devices, though you can comment on a graph a student shares with you) Will not work at all without internet access
Adobe Reader Why not? It’s been a go to PDF reader for years. Some things come in as PDFs, this is pretty reliable.
Goodreads We haven’t played too much with Good Reads, but they also provide audio books so we have used this with some of our students with less demanding needs.
iBooks The library of the Apple iBook is pretty accessible. Almost every major book available is on Amazon and on iBook. This is a great way to have an ereader. Will also let you read PDFs. Apple Store only
Dictionary.com A reliable, free reference. Provides both Dictionary and Thesaurus. There is a free and a paid version. The web one will work through any browser, but the app is more reliable.
Newsela Access the entire collection of news articles written at multiple reading levels. The news does tend to be 2-3 weeks after publication, but the leveled reading makes up for this. Find articles for students to read for current events here.
Periodic Table & Nova Elements Almost every periodic Table app we’ve seen has been great. We like the tie in with Nova Elements, but look for an app with reliable ways of layout and that give Families good contrast.
Easybib This app has evolved a lot in the last two years since its release. It now lets you login and connect to your ongoing projects. Cite sources reliably with this app. We paid for our original app, but most recently at a campus set up when we went through to get iPads ready for staff to use, we found it free. Check before your download!
Evernote This particular app is great. While it encourages writing, it will also record audio while you take notes. It can help students review their notes. The Free version locks up after 1-2 pages. You will want to pay for this. On a plus side, some of the notebooks and pens that belong to Evernote tie into the app and takes back the work that may be involved in transcribing.
SnapType We were introduced to this app two years ago. And we still love it! Take a picture of the worksheet and this lets you zoom in on the section you want to focus and type in yellow boxes where you need to put an answer. When you need to turn it in, you can create a PDF to email to a printer or to the teachers. Free version lets you only have 3 items at a time. If you want to continue to use it, pay for the app or delete a lot.
A specific planner If you can use calendar app to mark up your due dates, that’s great, but we’ve found specific planner apps out there to be much more useful and take advantage of color coding. Free ones exist.
Doceri This is an alternative to a white board app. It would project through wireless or an Apple TV connected to a projector.

Why you need this? Sometimes you just really need to hand write something and save it. This allows a student to even draw or do some digital illustration

The free trial will let you have 1 project. You can add more frames, or even record in free, but it’s nicer to get to many different presentations
Educreation Also a whiteboard app. We found this recently and we liked the limited selection, it’s great for someone just starting to use whiteboard apps. Buying this app allows you to have access to more backgrounds.

 

That’s a lot, but for middle school and high school students, it’s not all about work. You can have access to games and any other distraction. The importance of teaching a student when and how to use technology is key in integrating the academics and technology. Best of luck!


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, Campus, ParaEducate, paraeducators, Students, Technology | Comments Off on From The ParaEducate Mail Bag 2016

The Commodity of Time

Yet again, thanks to years of practice with not only content, but familiarity with the curriculum, Renay was able to turn a lesson plan that was given at the start of class for students who are working below grade level. But this isn’t always the story for most paraeducators.

Time is such an important idea. Time runs through the day in uneven chunks. Some classes run quickly, others drag on forever. And no matter what you do as a paraeducator you are at the mercy of Time. There is never enough and there is always too much. And you’re also having to respect the pace of the class, the pace of the students, the student’s breaks, and honoring the IEP and other goals.

So what are things you can do?

Well, there’s always On the Fly Adaptations and Modifications. You can cut down the number of problems, you can look for lower complexity, and you can work from the book issued by the class and look at pictures. If your student has access to technology, you can look up videos that may be relevant to the topic.

You can talk to the teacher about getting you materials before you walk through the door. You can even get your case manager to help advocate for you if your repeated requests aren’t being honored. Please also be aware there are certain times of the year that just are crazier. These are usually the first weeks of the new academic term and then whenever your state testing starts.

You can honestly wait out a year in any academic class to learn the specific nuances the students are learning. Seeing how the material is presented and the explorations that are encouraged by the teacher help shape the way you might lead a student through an activity. This is an option for those who are willing to put in the few years.

You can have short conversations with the classroom teacher about the goals for each covered unit or goals they want for students to accomplish and what those goals might look like for any students with disabilities. You need to be well aware of any accommodation a student might be able to receive to make their academic day easier. Great times to meet are usually centered over lunch or those first five minutes going out to recess or passing period. Be focused, be respectful, have some ideas what you think the student can contribute to the class.

Other places to get time, if a student is absent or if you can get someone to cover your place for a time. Those are great times to review upcoming sections or to understand the needs of a specific student. Team up with someone who works well with a student to see what they are offering the student and how successful those strategies are.

Time continues to be the enemy and the friend depending on the student and where they are in their academic years. Time is slipping away from us but enjoy the moments you have with your student. There is a lot of school year left, you may miss a chance otherwise to see how far your student has come.


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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When LRE Appears to Do A Disservice

It’s a great day if you are working on a campus that has inclusion. You’re seeing it move in actual time. Teachers and administrators are on board and make consistent plans for the success of all students, classmates genuinely care for one another, and all students and producing and contributing to work that is meaningful to their progress. For some schools, I know this is still a utopic goal, but they’re working their way toward this practice. For others, this is a nightmare, and I’m referring to the students.

Why? The issue lies in the speed at which the material is now presented. While initiatives of Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards are increasing the depth, reducing the number of topics covered and actively recognizing common IEP goals held by many students, and encouraging access and alternative production in ways that had not previously been recognized as a universal way of connecting students to the materials. However, as the depth has increased, the time for students to connect with the material has lessened. While the majority of the class may get the material or understand at a basic level, students with disabilities may not connect to the depth because they need more processing time.

So what can you do?

  1. Really cut back on production
  2. Move on with the class
  3. Realize: it’s okay it’s just school

All right, we get it number three is a little hard and requires some introspection and reflection. So when faced with this, what do most people really need to learn? Do they need to memorize all one hundred eighteen elements and symbols, or do they need a strategy for finding a few key elements on the periodic table? Do they need to see the rationality for Newton’s Laws of Motion, or do they need resiliency when they think their classmate is “annoying” (okay that classmate may be annoying and that’s an entirely different blog). Do they need to run that mile, or need to remember they are a part of a class and they need to at least try to participate?

The students who are included from preschool through grade 12 programs: they are just kids. They get to make mistakes. They can lose an hour, a few days without honestly hurting anything important in their lives. The world won’t stop, the world doesn’t end. They get to have that choice, that’s part of Lease Restrictive Environment. They do learn. They do achieve. Maybe not this week. But we’re going to ask them to try every single time. And we’re going to keep trying too.


 

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, Adminstrators, Campus, Disabilities, General Education Teachers, paraeducators, Special Education Teachers, Students | Comments Off on When LRE Appears to Do A Disservice