We went to EdRevSF this last weekend. Mostly to meet the awesome Amanda Morin of Understood.org. If you’ve never visited Understood, they are a great resource for folks who have children or students with learning disabilities, ADHD, dyslexia, or dysgraphia. They also offer a weekly chat about all sorts of topics related to specific strategies to use with students with these disabilities through a podcast and a Twitter chat (@Understoodchat).
So some things we saw there… First of all, EdRev is incredibly family friendly. Children under twelve are free and there were a variety of activities on the day of EdRev allowing children and families to experience the ball field at AT&T park. There were many vendors and education opportunities for students with the variety of disabilities that were highlighted at this event.
We enjoyed listening to Shelley Haven and her “Technology Tools for Diverse Learners” presentation at 9 am. She shared her information about different technology that would all be previewed later by different vendors at the Technology Preview. She separated all the technology into categories. The following devices/add ons we found the most interesting:
- Read & Write for Google
- Snap & Read Universal (for Chrome)
- Converts text to speech, highlight web and copy to cite sources
- G(Math) is now “equaiO”
- Speed math equation and chemistry formula
- No vertical or stacked math
- screen for sensory feedback on a tablet or phone
- Sonocent Audio Notetaker
- Bundle slides, audio, and notes
- Graphic task management
After Shelley, we went out to the Keynote event. Some of the keynote is introducing the event that led up to EdRev: RevUp for students with learning disabilities where the group taps into the unique abilities of people with learning disabilities and encouraging that all the things they struggle against while in school to use and make good use of the talents and gifts that come with having a brain that works differently than most other folks.
After the keynote, there was only time to attend two sessions, we chose “Collaboration is the Key to Success: How to Establish and Sustain Effective Relationships with our Children’s Team” with Jessica Corrine and “Story of Self: How and When to Tell Your Story” Luke Hayes (from Understood.org).
Jessica’s session was filled with interesting insights into how different people approach issues and how to be more welcoming, especially at the IEP table. Taking a survey in the middle addressing personality types was a fun activity.
Luke Hayes led his session through an exercise in learning how to tell a personal story. Of most relevance because the importance of understanding the story of how someone understands themselves or a part of their life is a life long process, that the story itself has a chance to enrich and change the mind of people through the direct honesties of the elements of self-story.
EdRev was an adventure. There are many things that could potentially happen and it is a young conference with lots of potential. While ParaEducate was not a partner nor slated to speak at this event, we had a few physical takeaways about the movement of folks in the Learning disability community and have high hopes for many people who spoke and the drive to help make certain that appropriate supports are given to students with learning disabilities so they can better be prepared for life after high school, whatever path that may take.
While I have you here:
Something came across our attention this week and it’s been eating at us. There is a natural fact that most paraeducators are not given any sort of certificate declaring themselves as competent paraeducators. Most paraeducators aren’t often college educated either. However, saying all of this—paraeducators are the most likely informed on the job and care about the job they have and reaching the students they have. This does not mean they are not qualified individuals to support any student, regardless of need.
There is a certain amount of irony in the idea of inclusion does not mean certain individuals on a school campus. A paraeducator is a person who sees a variety of behaviors every day, deals with students with and without disabilities, and works with hundreds of students over the course of a day. Simply because they may have learned through the classroom and expectations in a less than ideal manner does not dampen the contributions they may have to a school or a student.
Next week, we start our End of Year Series, we are literally four weeks away from ending our blog for the 2016-2017 academic year. Do you have any questions about this week’s blog? Do you want to offer a guest blog? Find ParaEducate online here, here, here, here, 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.