Since signing off from regular weekly blog posts, ParaEducate has been frantically working to get a huge to do list done for the upcoming school year in addition to personal traveling.
Of the most importance, we’re so very proud to announce the publication of “Just The Words: Science Vocabulary Activities for Students with Disabilities in General Education.” This book is a collection of black line masters to use as a replacement for some activities in science classes specific to vocabulary that will be taught in certain topics. There are fill in the blanks, word writing, and a glossary for staff use.
Why the vocabulary focus? Did you know that the average science and history chapter introduces over twenty new words or concepts? Did you know that average is more than the number of new words a student would be expected to learn in a second language class per chapter? Gaining insight to the vocabulary and focusing heavily on the vocabulary can give a student with a severe disability a chance to learn the concept as their classmates find other means of demonstrating the same topic.
“Just The Words: Science” joins ParaEducate and the former publication of “Finding It in the World” as materials we’ve released as a hard copy to be used with students.
Speaking of “Finding It in the World,” we’re working on a second edition. In the initial publication, we found things that we just did not like with the final product. And coupled with feedback, we are working on a re-release. It’s not ready yet, but we’ll let you know when it goes through the final stage of publishing. And for those of you who purchased the first edition, I have something special for you. So stay tuned to find out how that will work.
“Just the Words” has also become a focus for another project for ParaEducate. We’re working on a 6 volume series dedicated to History topics. We’ve been cruising through volumes of texts preparing this one for release. We had hoped to be able to release some of this series this summer but it is looking like we might prepare it for summer of 2015.
We’re also adding to our Shakespeare in Stick Figures series, preparing “Hamlet”, “MacBeth”, and a yet unnamed comedy. If you have a suggestions for a comedy written by Shakespeare you would like to see adapted into our stick Figure Series, please send us a comment or an email. Our release date for “Shakespeare in Stick Figures” is slated for potentially later this year; we’re hoping for an August release, but we had also hoped for a June release for “Just The Words.”
We’re very excited to share these new texts and images with you as we come across them.
I was reminded of stepping stones this past week. A friend of mine from college has a child with a life threatening illness. Two weeks ago, his wife dropped their child off for the first time at sleepaway camp for children with the same illness.
And in that week, pictures were sent home to parents of their children, like any other child at a sleep away camp. Making friends, going on walks, doing silly activities, meeting professional athletes with their disability.
I appreciate that it would be hard to see the forest if you had to deal with each and every tree. But for that moment, when I talked with them after those photos came back, “That is really cool.” came from them. And then not five minutes later, “Well, if she wanted to do sports, then we’d have to do [all of these things to ensure her health].”
I had mentioned to them, based on other readings I have done of the importance of self identity outside of ones self. The child who identifies with the ball player because they both have the same sort of curly hair; the child who sees the actress dress in jeans because they don’t like pink that much either. All of those subtle issues aren’t necessarily marketing. Those are part of building the idea that other people are “just like me”. And that can be a good thing.
Equally empowering, are knowing that you aren’t the only person learning to live with your disability. And it may cross your mind several times a day, but to know that life does go on is important. Sometimes more than one might ever really value in the heat of the moment.
In a completely different vein, I need to talk about something rather tragic at heart. The truth at heart: with or without disability, part of the nature of teenagers is to take risks. Whether by peer pressure or just pure curiosity, teenagers push limits. And regardless of ability, risks get taken by all teenagers. Some of these risks are sweet and innocent: asking a peer out to the dance or just to dance at the dance, jumping off a curb on a skateboard after grinding for a few feet, trying paint gun battles for the first time, or getting up in front of the school to give a speech.
And then there are the ones that there are no rescue from.
A former student that I was familiar within the special education department is in an ICU for a very serious accident. Initial reports were that the young person had already died; the text/phone tree in our school was initiated.
While I’m very glad to hear the former student is being treated well for the severity of injuries, when we believed the young person had passed, it was a moment of a hard swallow. This would not be my first student death, unfortunately. I have been to other funerals for former students. It is no less tragic. There is that same tremble when you get the hug from the student’s parent in the receiving line. There is the confused looks on the little brothers, sisters, and cousins. And you get to tell them about the time the student said something funny in a class that had the whole school talking for a week. And you get to tell them that you appreciated working with the student. And there is sometimes an apology, but it doesn’t matter because that person was in your life for that window.
This is the part of the job that no one likes to talk about. It is a life reality some of our students both with and without disabilities, no matter our attempts, will find their way in life no matter how long they are expected to stay in our lives. As a reminder to paraeducators others in special education: there are services built into schools now for crisis and whenever these arise, please feel you can use them and encourage students who know the student at the center to use them as well. Far too telling are statistics that show that death begets more death in teenagers grieving for one another.
We are still waiting and hoping to hear good news from this accident. Our thoughts are with this young person and the family who sits in the ICU waiting for a familiar smile.
Please stay safe. Enjoy your summer and your time with your loved ones. Summer is to be enjoyed by all. Stay connect to ParaEducate this summer as we will be continuing to post old blog entries over the remaining weeks before we return to regular postings.
Do you have a question for us? Find ParaEducate online here, here and here. ParaEducate is 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.