What Are They Getting Out of It?

We want all our parents advocates who follow our blog to take a minute before they send us an onslaught of comments. This isn’t the blog post where we talk about limitations of students with disabilities. Or the argument some schools have against doing things differently. Or any of the arguments that keep parent advocates up at night.

This is an honest post about what some students with disabilities get out of inclusive academic expectations.

We have not really in recent years been directly expressive about the variety of students with disabilities. We’ve worked with some students who have processing delays and we have worked with students with multiple disabilities that include disabilities that directly affect the student’s health and overall cognitive function. At any one time, any student, regardless of disability, can be engaged and not engaged in a classroom. There are a lot of factors that challenge a student’s attention. Some factors are genuine and cannot be mitigated (forgot medication, challenges at home). Some are the student teacher connection; for some students this really matters, for others, less so. There are the expectations of the classroom teacher, the expectations of the curriculum, and the filtering through unwritten social contracts of being in proximity to more than thirty other people.

It is potentially possible to observe all of this at any one time in any classroom at any grade with any number of students who all have needs in pursuit of academic achievement at any specific level. It is not easy to herd all the minds in one general direction when the carrot is technically intangible. Especially when a student has a disability.

This is where advocates for students usually start talking about fish climbing trees and reaching a student’s strength. But not all skills are about mental strengths and demonstrating strengths.

Sometimes it’s about building a weaker skill.

Sometimes it’s about learning that doing the thing you least like to do but doing it because you were told.

Sometimes it’s about learning compromise and turn taking.

Sometimes it’s about building self esteem.

Sometimes it’s about kindness to someone else.

Sometimes it’s about learning to be sarcastic.

Sometimes it’s about learning to be a kid your age.

Sometimes it’s about finding a way out of disappointment.

Sometimes it’s about learning to ask for help.

Sometimes it’s about doing it differently for the same result.

Sometimes it’s about doing it again even though you thought it was done.

Sometimes it’s about learning that you are held to the standard like your peers though you thought you could slip under the radar.

Sometimes it’s about learning that maybe this isn’t what you really wanted, but living with the decision.

Sometimes it’s about appreciating that there are always going to be hoops to jump through.

But most of all, it’s about learning from that experience.

We can’t adapt these lessons. We can’t modify this opportunity. This at the heart of everything else: is the process of life. Going to school is about developing skills for any job, for any potential future.

That test for the student who has a disability is coming just around the corner. Certainly the test will be modified for the student, but it will still be a test. It will be on Volcanoes. It will be a small group testing experience with other students with disabilities. As proctors of tests, we know that the student will not choose the first answer ever in a list of questions. As proctors of the test, we know that the student’s name will not possibly be on the line. We probably can’t promise you that the student will even independently read the word ‘volcano’ in a sentence. We also can’t promise you that the student truly cares a thing that you’ve said ‘volcano’ for three weeks.

But the general education teacher did say, “I want them to know lava comes from the ground. I want them to know it comes through a volcano. I want them to know that volcanoes can be found all over the world. I want them to know that lava makes igneous rocks.”

I can’t promise you that the student will do any of that in the test either. I can’t promise you the student who does not appear to care for school can tell you that truthfully and honestly. But we’re here to try. The student we support will get something out of your class.


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 #kindness, Campus, Classroom, Disabilities, General Education Students, paraeducators, Reframing, Resources, Students | Leave a comment

Hoops

Before we get to the bulk of what we want to talk about today, we really need to recap the amazing time we had at AZTASH last week. While we were on the road, it is hard to appreciate the immense task of preparing and reaching out to so many advocates, educators, and self-advocates at this event set up for hundreds. But we had a really wonderful time. The last time we were at AZWINS, it was six years ago, and some folks, we recognized from that first visit.

Unfortunately, because of the nature of this AZWINS, Renay did not visit any sessions, but she also knew that Nicole Eredics and Adiba Nelson Segal hit their presentations out of the park. Adiba spoke about Rebellion as an act for providing her daughter the life she deserved as an eventual self-advocate. And Nicole introduced quality modifications and inclusive directions. The stage was clear, we were going to build up all our folks, meet new people, and exchange ideas.

Different Sorts of Hoops

Renay has been dealing with the paperwork associated with pending triennial IEPs. Every three years, a student with an IEP goes through a series of evaluations with all the members of their IEP team. During this time, work samples are especially important. But more important that the work samples are the notes that accompany the work samples.

Notes on work samples should talk about things like, how much help did a student receive? Did you talk line through line on the essay? Did you spend time reteaching each math concept during the test? Did the student copy from their notes or the textbook? Did the student use the glossary in the textbook independently? Did you provide the student with a chance to edit their work? Does the student provide information about how to revise their written work?

All of these stories help give the IEP team a clearer picture of the student through their day as academic demands are asked of them. We strongly suggest using sticky notes to share with the General Education Teacher and the Special Education teacher. We also use copies of the final graded effort by the student as samples to share with the IEP team instead of originals. The evaluations that the different members of the IEP team gave–this is in class in comparison to their peers even with modified or adapted instructions for the student’s performance on a task or series of tasks.

If the student is working on behaviors, how long did the student engage in behaviors? Survey the class, are other students as off task as the student with an IEP? How about their disruption of the entire class? Does the student use their sensory breaks? Can a student ask for their breaks appropriately?

What strategies do teachers use to get students prepared to learn? Does it engage the student or prepare that student to learn?

A triennial IEP is a pretty major chunk of IEP. The Team uses this information to determine what the next steps for the student might be, compared to just little steps that happen at other IEPs for the student.

One More Hoop

We’re now gearing up for CalTASH 2019! Once again Adiba Segal will be there, and we can’t wait to share with other educators from all over the state of California. Find Renay there. She’ll be tweeting and documenting her connections for us.


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, Conferences, Disabilities, IEP, ParaEducate, paraeducators, Skills Lesson, Students, The Inclusive Class | Leave a comment

Things You Might Want to Know From the Road

Renay will not mince words: writing the blog on the go is not her favorite activity while traveling for a conference. After all there are a lot of things to think about: audience demographics, presentation time, presentation type, how to best engage (typically adults) with the material. These are, after all, difficult concepts to process, but what really is important is not the content but the walk away. What will the audience remember?

Renay is pretty used to being the only paraeducator at conferences. There are conferences geared to paraeducators (CSEA  Paraeducator’s Conference in California, specific to the districts that have union representation and wish to educate their teams, and then there is the biannual Paraeducator’s Conference on the National level), but they don’t talk about the expanse of the special education world.

There are many parts, most often we’ve lumped them together as ‘teacher’, ‘paraeducator’, and then ‘not either of those two’. But there are specialists.

  • Advocates: folks who have been there, seen that, and are helping districts and parents work to a student’s best outcome in pursuit of their education
  • OT: Occupational Therapists, folks who understand sensory needs for students. Additionally, OTs address how the mechanics of the human body affect the behavior of some students when doing activities like typing, writing, or other fine motor coordination
  • PT: Physical Therapists, folks who work with students who have specific needs with regards to stretching or other gross coordination. Often can work with APE.
  • AT: Assistive Technology advisors, folks who understand technology and how to help students have access to do activities. This can be in the form of a switch to operate say a blender in Home Ec or a tablet or computer to communicate.
  • Behaviorists: folks who understand how to read observations of students and their reactions to consequences. They help build strategies for students to buy into their education through many different sources.
  • APE: Adapted Physical Education, folks who take students to their general education PE class and help the student with learning physical skills at their ability level to become better coordinated in doing physical activities. Often can work with PT.
  • Mental Health: Someone trained who helps students meet their emotional needs. This is typically a licensed therapist who helps to build trust and work with the student’s needs to be addressed to stay mentally healthy.
  • SLP: A person who is a Speech and Language Therapist. Not only does an SLP address the way someone may speak, they also help students navigate their communication devices (both technology and low tech), learn social skills to better connect with peers in school, or decode some things that are typically found in the domain of English Language Arts.

All of these other folks, aren’t ‘extras’ or truly ‘other’. They get to work and advocate for a student just like everyone else.  With direct exclusion to Mental Health and some of the work a PT may do with a student, most of these ‘other folks’ can push in and help a student in the natural setting of their classroom or observe and make corrections to help the student access the most of their education.


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 AAC, Advocate, APE, AT, Behavorist, blog, Conferences, General Education Teachers, Mental Health, OT, ParaEducate, PT, SLP, Special Education Teachers, Students, Support Services | Comments Off on Things You Might Want to Know From the Road

In The Pilot’s Seat

If you happened to look at Renay’s notebooks, you’ll see five distinct zones on any given page. The center between the official margins are typically focused. They relate to the material that is probably an observation or maybe even notes for the class. The top margin is dedicated to a variety of sketches. Usually related to the topic in the center or pictures about engaging in the material. The left margin are additional notes, usually reactionary. And finally the right margin, where normally things would be spilling over, this is where Renay has notes about how to approach the material for a student with a disability. From this one inch strip, we find all the information we need to translate and prepare for our new books across an entire notebook of at least one hundred pages.

But this leads us to the process of piloting new school materials. If you time it right, you might actually be in a district that is piloting materials for a specific department or subject matter.

Being brutally honest: as a paraeducator, even if you have information about how to best select programs for a given subject, most paraeducators do not have any final say in how materials are selected. But you do get to use the materials with the students.

Some things to consider:

  1. Do the materials have multiple modalities of input? Does it rely on lecture/computers?
  2. How do students with disabilities access this information? (Can they access this information?) Visually impaired students are usually left out of most piloting materials. Getting the teachers to advocate the need for those materials at the top is usually the best way to get materials available.
  3. How do students return the information they now understand to the teacher? Digital turn in? Self-reflection?
  4. What vocabulary is introduced? How is it introduced? What words does the program assume students know already? Especially considering some students are not on grade level and can be lower by more than two grades.
  5. How is the material fare under conditions of student use?
  6. What graphics are available? How does this help connect the student to the material? Are there missing graphics?
  7. Who will listen to your concerns about the material and regards for use with students with a variety of disabilities? Sometimes you might need to press the case manager to check the materials out. Keep the case managers informed of the material.

A Celebration Seven Years…

It was our Twitter anniversary yesterday. Seven years ago, in preparation for the official release of our book ParaEducate, we opened a Twitter account and began those steps out in social media. What surprised Renay then was how interconnected all the social media truly was. Now we have lifelong professional friendships. We can be found rather regularly talking about special education and practices we see. The majority of our posts are still about our blog or our books in progress, however, we really do connect with a large network of professionals and are eager to help support others. We are totally #BetterTogether because of our social media connection. Thank you.


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, blog, Campus, Classroom, Disabilities, General Education Teachers, ParaEducate, paraeducators, publications, Skills Lesson, Students | Comments Off on In The Pilot’s Seat

Meet Me Half Way

ParaEducate was a mess earlier this week. We had to finish preparation on upcoming presentations and we were also doing some observations of students in their classes. It was reassuring to know we have been struggling with some of the same instances other folks have been struggling with: what to do about students who will not put up as much effort and just expect that they will just ‘get’ the things they will be need be poked to do the things they absolutely have to do.

We offer a radical decision for you to consider: teach the student to meet you half way. Notes? The student needs to engage in the conversation (whether demonstrating listening or actively speaking and commenting) in class or try to take notes in class. Student wants an answer? Did you read the instructions before you came running over? Copying from the board? Are you wearing your glasses for class?

This strategy is important for secondary, especially for students who may be going on to college classes, but all students, of all disabilities, can take away lessons from this strategy. It can be painful to watch in action. A student who is turned in the other direction, even after prompts from you (the paraeducator), the classroom teacher, and their peers. The student who glares at the teacher with contempt because they were told to get out their classroom materials. To get over this pain, we do politely remind you that this starts from a place that all students can learn and that students can choose their academic progress.

Some key points before you choose this method:

  1. Know the student you implement this strategy. Avoid this strategy cold turkey on a student with a lot of anxiety.
  2. While you can build a student up to this, also be willing to teach that the student needs to have a strategy to not just expect answers given without some attempt on their part.
  3. If a student is uncertain of processing their needs, reassure them that if they ask and put in effort, that they will get their needs met.
  4. If a student has an academic failure, whether it is an ‘F’ or a loss of points in general, avoid doing a 100% bail out. Have this as a teachable moment to help improve their skills.

Where to Start when It’s Mid Year

We got an connection this week from someone who is a brand new hire this week. And this was great. Someone who really wanted to find out more and find a place to start when they start on day one.

We do love when people at all levels of paraeducating reaches out to us and are excited about the job.

If you are new, remember the following things:

  1. It’s the students’ first day with you too.
  2. No matter if you’re assigned small groups or one or one, you’re going to need to take some small steps: ask questions, observe others, pause and then smile.
  3. Find a few professionals you’d like to model yourself after, but realize this will be a process
  4. Know it is ok to not know everything on that first day.
  5. You will be ok. The student will be ok. It is easy to get ‘lost’ in school (academic) and forget school is also social and emotional.
  6. Read up on any information you are handed, but treat it all as confidential until you hear otherwise.
  7. It is okay to feel overwhelmed.

That first day, there is little like it. Enjoy it for what it is. The world did not stop spinning. The yelling does stop. The smiles are genuine.

On day two, when you really know the questions you need answered, ask your case manager first. Figure out how to channel your energy.

Now, please do not think we are at all about passing off our expertise. One of the issues at hand the fact that honestly, we do not know why you were specifically hired. We would love to be a part of your journey as a professional. Becoming a paraeducator is about balance. And if you have a lot of general information initially, it may not work for that very first day. But we assure you, that day, whenever it is, will be great.


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, Behavior Strategies, Campus, Classroom, Conferences, Disabilities, General Education Students, ParaEducate, paraeducators, Professionalism, Skills Lesson, Students, training | Comments Off on Meet Me Half Way

ParaEducate 2019

Committing to the Long Haul

The part that gets frustrating is paraeducators expect to be trained. Most are tossed into the fray and the results are hope for the best. For some people trial by fire works because the only way to know if one can really handle what might be happening is to really experience it. And this creates a level of either those who can or those who find that this method is not the best way to go about helping students along the educational process.

But every time Renay goes out to give training to paraeducators, there’s a small problem. When planning for twenty to fifty people for a training, suddenly at start, there are only five. And of veteran staff one person if we really looked at the numbers. All too often veteran staff feel disenfranchised and do not attend trainings.

But how to fix this?

  • Offer Professional Development, or chance to increase payment.
  • Build presentations that help veterans teach a campus culture to new staff.
  • Offer smaller trainings (1-2 hours) specific to awareness/tips for working with a specific student
  • Have general ed teachers teach the highlights of specific upcoming units.
  • Have a specialist (OT, PT, or Behaviorist) come in and teach specific skills to staff for collecting data or interventions. Perhaps while it may be directly suited to one student, the skills learned could help other students

We resolve…

Every year at this time, we talk about things we’d like to accomplish over the upcoming year at ParaEducate.

We’ve been looking at our publishing list, the books we have in process, and we’ve looked at the books we’d like to start. We aren’t certain but we know we will keep working on our books. We’ll get it right.

We appreciate our supporters all around the world.

We want to connect more people. Beyond just social media. We’re looking forward to sneaking a few #BetterTogetherIRL moments.

We want to keep making skills review for paraeducators on line.

How can I do all of this?

Often we are asked “Wait, you did this all on day one?” Actually no, Renay managed to learn this all by about day 400 and is still learning. What is right for one moment is not right for the EXACT same reason twenty minutes later. And not just because it’s a different student or a different relationship with a general education teacher.

What we suggest though: do one thing.

Choose:

  • Demonstrate that you believe the student can do the things asked of them.
  • Demonstrate that you believe your co-worker is ready to take that leap and work with the student
  • Stick to one task with a student and praise them for following through
  • Stay organized, keep things in one place so you can find them.
  • Have more patience for students who need more time to process speaking, let them find their words themselves

There are many others, but try one of these. Resolve to keep one of these suggestions for a week. See what happens to your life professionally.


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, #BetterTogetherIRL, 8 hours, Behavorist, blog, Campus, Disabilities, General Education Teachers, Inclusion, OT, ParaEducate, paraeducators, Professionalism, PT, Skills Lesson, Special Education Teachers, Students, Support Services | Comments Off on ParaEducate 2019

When Will I Use This?

The space that ParaEducate operates in is pretty much stacked in an assortment of gifts and ribbons this time of the year. And like our students, we have only one thing on our mind: vacation. The upcoming break is much wanted right now. There was a lot going on this week at work: students have abundant access to sugar at this time of year and even if the air in California is not tinged with the potential snow in every corner of the state, it is at least tinged with the knowing expectation of a break from school. Every adult on campus knows without a doubt that the students are about to explode with every moment thrilled that school will let out for days.

But sometimes at this time of the year, there are things that make us stop and remember that school is still in session. So when the question that came up from someone, “When am I going to use this?” snapped us out of our stupor of trying to maintain a hold on the little bit of world we were trying to control, we had to take a moment.

We have issues with this question when it comes from a student. Academically speaking, all of “this” curriculum is necessary. It’s training about thinking, it’s the challenge that broadens the mind. Even as we, ParaEducate, like to look at big ideas and not the factoids that drive some ideas.

Individually, however, the answer is much more complex to a student. Adults, both in and out of education, recognize that the life that awaits all of us can be complex and we will not know what skills any one person will need.

It is fundamentally possible that a person can legitimately avoid ever needing the quadratic equation outside of a direct math class. However, the quadratic equation teaches many skills. The process of using the equation, including keeping track of multiple variables, understanding multiple symbols of math, tracking multiple answers, is the real goal. For some people, even knowing and applying an existing equation to a solution is far better than trying to develop an answer with limited resources. This yields also to the skills of understanding to know when the answers inside the box are as important as having an unusual answer.

The world is changing. Having more skills and being able to flex those skills is important for all students of all abilities. And perhaps the skill of learning to waiting out the answers for not peering into the mountain of one’s future should not always come as an ascent but as a single step.

On the other hand, is the lesson so indirect students are unable to reach quick conclusions about academic relevancy? The pursuit of knowledge is a goal and finding the questions to fuel individual curiosity is the challenge at the root of every lesson in school. But all too often the option of ‘not teaching this topic’ is too easy to separate out some students from others. This raises other issues of equity in education.

There is, of course, the immediate response: is the student annoyed or is the student rude? There are ways to derail class with the tone and suggestion that class is not relevant to just one single person, that even though few people may directly use a specific skill sometimes is limited to only a specific industry. But the investment in “now” should be ‘figure this out’, and wait and see. It is hard to deal with students who seem jaded by the education system—many students with disabilities are legitimately jaded by the never ending following of being challenged by things that are too far over or too far below their skills. The rallying cry then becomes “teach the way they learn” or engage the students at their level and the push back is from other educators and parents demanding to keep students accountable. It is a very strange place to be in the middle whether or not any student has a disability or not. Teaching students that patience is the skill. That one day the skill could matter.

Skills look different for all students and skills need to be varied. Not all students will learn all the information for the long haul, no matter how the information is taught, explored, or built. But the process remains. And so we continue on.

One last bit…

Before we close out, if you celebrate Winter Solstice, Festivus, Christmas, Kwanzaa, other holiday, or calendar New Year’s: enjoy the celebrations.

We are signing off until January 10, 2019. May you and your loved ones have time together, however you define it.


ParaEducate will sign off for Winter Break, next week, December 20. 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 Behavior Strategies, Disabilities, General Education Students, General Education Teachers, Holidays, ParaEducate, paraeducators, Students, Winter Holidays | Comments Off on When Will I Use This?

Pause and Celebrate

The Storm

The week here at ParaEducate started pretty normal. Monday came and went. Nothing seemed out of place. And then the absences started flying. People were sick. People were sharing germs. It got messy pretty quickly.

Sick days are meant to be sick days. That is why they are built into the system. It may often feel like you cannot be absent, it is pretty important to take the sick days so you can recover. While we know many paraeducators work more than one job to make ends meet, one of the features of the job involves being able to take a sick day for being sick. This does preclude those who take a lot of sick days, that’s a different problem for some folks and it may address another need they have with supervisors.

But it is not just the missing coworker, some districts have a pool of substitutes ready to go in and fill the gaps. The information given to substitutes varies. But some information should be given to the substitute to best work with the student(s) they may encounter and the staff members they will work with.

Being sick is not fun at all. Things are always going on. But everyone works better when everyone feels well. And we all appreciate when our coworkers return healthy ready to tackle the challenges of every class every day.

Celebrations

There are two parts. The first is it’s the season of celebrations. There will be a staff party. There will be staff expectations: a potluck, a gift exchange, a white elephant gift. These events all happen pretty much during December, no matter which December holiday you partake in, if any at all. Be willing to participate. If you are not willing to participate, prepare for the ribbing for non-participation unless you have a religious reason.

The second is that we have an announcement this week: not only will we start our February off in Arizona for AZWINS, we will be found in San Diego for Cal-TASH. We cannot wait to share our presentations with you in those venues.

Who is your #EduHero?

This week, The National Catholic Board on Full Inclusion ran across #eduhero. We started exchanging heroes online via twitter. And there’s quite a list of heroes, especially when you go to our Inclusive list of special education minded folks. And they’re not just teachers in the trenches. There are professors whose research is helping to improve inclusive practices for all students. There are consulting professionals: doctors, OT, PT, SLP, APE, and Technology specialists. There are parents of people with disabilities and people with disabilities of all types.

The list is huge. And it’s growing. Heroes come from all over. And all heroes look out for each other.


ParaEducate will sign off for Winter Break, next week,December 20. 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, #kindness, APE, AT, Behavorist, Campus, Conferences, Holidays, National Catholic Board on Full Inclusion, OT, ParaEducate, paraeducators, Professionalism, PT, SLP, substitutes, Support Services, Winter Holidays | Comments Off on Pause and Celebrate

To The Strengths

What a student brings into the classroom can vary on any given day. Some bring tools to be able to do school. Others bring personal trauma and challenges that they can and cannot share.

But when we look at the things we enjoy about our students.

The student who comes in, every day and asks how you are. And no matter what, you find it in yourself to find a smile for the student because even when you aren’t working at your full capacity, you find something to be happy about to respond to that student.

The student who has been giving you the most unkind behaviors all week turns around when another student is being rude and says, “You don’t get to tell an adult working with you that!”

The student who has been fighting the entire year over a school policy has written five complete sentences on how the school policy is wrong.

The smile on the student’s face when they got a win at the wrestling tournament.

When we celebrate the strengths, we remember that students are just students. While we also have to remember the things we have to help a student with, because ultimately they are not able to do everything that may be asked of them minute to minute and day to day. School is hard for many students with a disability. Find a smile in every hour to enjoy.

Before we leave this week…

Happy Hanukkah to those who celebrate! Enjoy the season and the spirit!

National Inclusive Schools Week

It is National Inclusive Schools Week. We are often still struck sometimes when we walk onto a campus in another area and we realize that they are happily chatting with us and they are not an inclusive campus. But to the normalcy of segregated classes for students with disabilities for the majority of their day makes us twitch. We can point out the research that supports life long benefits for all students with inclusive education, but we also recognize that even within each student: their academic pursuits will vary.

We have lots of thoughts about inclusive schools and we have some more plans soon to keep this discussion going. And as always, we keep looking for ways to make education #BetterTogether. Stay tuned!


ParaEducate will sign off for Winter Break December 20. 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 ourwebsite. 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, Campus, Disabilities, Hanukkah, Holidays, Inclusion, ParaEducate, paraeducators, Professionalism, Reframing, Students, Trauma | Comments Off on To The Strengths

Talking Through the Rough Draft

Two weeks ago we broke down the parts of a five paragraph essay and how to modify the expectations of doing early essays in their secondary academic career. This week, we are working on “How do you get a student to write anything [let alone a paragraph or essay]?” There are many ways, and we know working through ideas that can be bouncing around in a student’s head about the topic is not exactly intuitive for most guiding another person.

Before we get started: source material is the research or in the case of a literary response, the book or reading specifically chosen for the essay.

The talking through

There are two paths to take with talking a student through the sentences to write down the paraeducator can scribe physically pen to paper or type in a computer to get the essay in.

Writing the words as the student says them is probably quickest, especially for the rough draft. If there are graphic organizers, use them from the student to help direct their sentences. But be direct. “Well what do you want for your topic sentence” is not nearly as useful as, “The topic sentence for [this topic from your thesis] covers these quotes of your evidence. Why was [this topic] important for you to talk about?” In the second method, you are helping a student find words to put down and drawing attention to the material they need to reconnect with.

If it is not an essay for a test, ask clarifying questions. Offer options especially for transition sentences. Writing tip: look up transition words. There are many lists for the transition words.

The stumbling that happens, especially for young writers, is that an essay is not a conversation or a blog post. An essay follows some academic conventions:

  1. No pronouns used unless it is within a quote from the source material. A pronoun is a word that includes the following: I, she, he, it, they, we, our, zer, zey, and so forth. Phrases to avoid include, “I felt that …”, “In my opinion…”, “She was so heart broken when he…”, “They found the rock samples…”
  2. No contractions. “Can’t”, “Won’t”, “Didn’t”, and“I’m” unless it is a part of the source material.

Keeping that in mind, most folks do not naturally speak in conversational academic language, but because you are scribing, write specifically as the student speaks unless they correct you. It is important to keep the student’s voice in their essay. Outside of an essay for a test, you can prompt for a complete sentence after the ideas have traveled out of the student. Be aware there are some nuances, while outside of the rule of academic writing that are a part of learning a method to write an essay. That part will be corrected through editing and revision. Too many students get hung up on the fact that five paragraphs seems like a lot, the important part is getting the words out and down.

If the student directly type in, expect a slower progress than sometimes just speaking.

There is Technology…

We are often asked about text to speech. While the technology has progressed quite a bit and is available in more platforms than ever, text to speech requires a few more skills that some students may not have including enunciation. Text to speech also requires to ‘get to know’ the user.If Text to speech is a system that is to be utilized by the student in place of physically typing separate the skill of learning to write from the first text to speech attempt. Make it a point that the ideas need to be the foundation to writing. Then have the student go through and read the work into the device.  Over time, ideally, text to speech will get easier for the student to use, especially reviewing the rough draft for use of academic language. It is also important to know that text to speech formatting will require a lot of work in the end to get any document into a teacher’s preferred format.

The goal is to get the words down. Academic communication is really wrapped up in the pattern of statement, evidence, and analysis. This can be daunting for a student who may have recently mastered writing a sentence or struggles with reading. Essays are not about the wall, they are about the path getting to the wall and describing the climb over that wall no matter which version of a modified essay your student attempts.


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 ourwebsite. 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, Class Specific Strategy, ELA, Essay Writing, History Class, paraeducators, Skills Lesson | Comments Off on Talking Through the Rough Draft