Cal-TASH is home. Six years ago, Renay and Megan introduced ParaEducate to a Cal-TASH audience. So having skipped last year in favor of SXSWEdu 2017, we were glad to be back with a very familiar venue and familiar faces.
One of the things we like about Cal-TASH is not that we’re fighting for inclusion, we can spend the message about successes with inclusion and how to bring the world of inclusion for students in K-12 even bigger than just their campus. Of course there’s always the Cal-TASH Bash, an open dance that bridges the evening between the first and second night. It’s a great way to network and enjoy the company of many folks. Admittedly, we typically don’t spend a lot of time at the Cal-TASH Bash, but it is a nice event that is low intensity to meet up and discuss things that are not about anything serious and to get to know other people that come to Cal-TASH and hear stories.
The opening keynote had a great discussion about housing issues for adults with disabilities. We had been aware it had been a growing issue in California, and that steps need to be taken to make sure that people with disabilities are included when addressing housing needs for communities. And with that closing, the sessions were open for two days of a full schedule.
4 Things You Can Do Right Now To Stop Disabling Your Child or Student
Adiba Nelson is a energetic speaker. She is a parent of a child with cerebral palsy. Her daughter did not come, but it is clear through Adiba’s story about raising her daughter the past eight years that her daughter is a very accepted member of her school.
Adiba has also realized there is a lack of books of people of color with disabilities. She is the author of ClaraBelle Blue, a book for young readers about a girl who has adventures but happens to need to use a wheel chair. She also made the book available for purchase at the conference. We were glad to meet ClaraBelle Blue.
From the Amazon description: “”Meet ClaraBelle Blue” is the first book in the ClaraBelle series, and introduces you to a snazzy little preschooler with major moxie – and a hot pink wheelchair! In “Meet ClaraBelle Blue”, you see ClaraBelle face the naysayers in her class, and show them all the things she CAN do, and how LIKE THEM she really is, regardless of her challenges. Keep with the series to see what sorts of “adventures” ClaraBelle gets herself into!”
Inclusive Education Speakeasy
On the schedule, there were several events we wanted in the next session but the other sessions were full and then we found that this was also the session that held the Speakeasy. We were introduced to them two years ago and the Speakeasy was a wonderful session this time around as well.
We share strategies to help other teachers connect and we will be working with many teachers over a year sharing modifications and working to help support the teachers over the state of California continue to provide inclusive opportunities for students.
Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Early Childhood Special Education Students and Families
Diana Montejo and Saili Kulkarni shared their research from Cal State Domingus Hills about finding research to help support strategies in education for young children (Preschool-Pre-K). The rake away: there needs to be more research done in this field. Especially since resources for families who are culturally diverse (Immigrants, English Language Learners, homelessness, distrust of authority, and students with disabilities) are at a premium. Barriers are immense and difficult for families who may be culturally likely to believe doctors and teachers without question.
Implementing Emergent Literacy Instructions for students with Disabilities in General Education Classrooms
Pam Hunter, Kathleen Mortier, Damielle Fleming, and Lakshmi Balasubramanian shared a program that connected with many students improving over the course of a year with direct fidelity to a reading program. Videos of an inclusive model of learning to read helped engage many students who were all between kindergarten to the second grade both with and without disabilities. It was quite a successful program.
The participants used the program with direct fidelity, but the data was still being understood at the time, so we’re hoping to revisit these students in a few years and see how they are doing.
How to Select and Use E-Books to Support Students with Reading Difficulties
Dr. Sung Hee Lee from Cal-State Fullerton shared some information we were not surprised. Since 2010, the number of kids that have read a digital book has gone up from 25% to 46%. E-books, especially for students with disabilities, and targeting young children is very popular with many specific groups. Partially because e-books offer audio recordings, some more human sounding than previous generations of electronic readers, access to resources like dictionaries, note taking, and highlighting. Dr. Lee shared with us three other subscription based offerings: Raz-Plus, Tumble Book Library, and Project Gutenberg.
University-School Partnerships for Inclusive Practices
Amy Hanreddy and Kathy Peckham-Hardin were pretty much the reason to attend this session. Both professors with Cal State Northridge, Amy and Kathy’s work with LAUSD since 1996 to help make the district more inclusive has helped give many students with disabilities success. Specifically, with the Chandler Learning Academy, representatives from this program spoke about their successes, students, teachers, and administrator have participated and worked on raising quality of education to move to a more collaborative model to support all learners. And we know it works. We’ve seen it first hand. But the road was long and still there is more to go.
If LAUSD can become inclusive, there’s no excuse for other districts in other states.
State of School Inclusion in California: Why do School Districts Vary so Greatly?
This session was highly interesting. Brought to us by the Chapman University of Policy and Planning, they took a GIS model (Geographic Information System) to map inclusion for students identified with Intellectual Disabilities or with Autism [We know that these identifications can be found in one student, but the data doesn’t reflect that for this particular research] and their districts which were asked to participate and look at students with the specific disabilities by participation of at least 80% of their school day. Of the 241 school districts that were offered a chance to participate, 32% returned information.
While we did take pictures of the maps offered, we are going to refrain from sharing them here. But what we saw, shocked us as a whole for a moment, and then we weren’t surprised by the results either. We know that California is better than some areas about providing inclusion. The areas that did not light up as densely or did not have data can reflect that there may not be inclusion or they chose not to participate. Imagine comparing this data across the country. Realizing there are a lot of factors specific to California that can account for the data too, we highly suggest you find out more about the Third Annual Disability Summit at Chapman University.
The official release of the data from Chapman University will be on May 7, 2018 at the Marybelle and Sebasian P. Musco Center for the Arts. Please register with chapman.edu/tpi for more information.
The Rigorous and Accessible Middle School Inclusion Classroom
Our last session, our last moments for Cal-TASH 2018. And we were not disappointed. From Camino Nuevo Charter, a collection of schools in Los Angeles, the MacArthur Park campus is a charter that made inclusion an priority and they demonstrated the ways they accomplished it. Included in their campus came a consoler and they are on their fifth year of inclusion.
Demographics at this campus the majority of the campus is Hispanic, the majority of the campus is socially economically disadvantaged, with 13% of their nearly 600 students identified with a disability.
Their co-teaching strategies are meeting with great results. Their campus devotes time and resources into getting staff to meet and it is a priority for the campus. It clearly shows and the additional costs of having six special education teachers to manage the students and balancing the multiple age groups of a full K-8 campus has benefitted many students.
And then, as we walked out of the last session, Cal-TASH was over. Until next year. Oh? Our session? Yes, we presented. Yes we did quite well. Yes, at Cal-TASH, paraeducators can come to the table. We are at the table because not only we are contributing to the education of students because we also need to hear what is coming on the horizon.
If you need our session handouts, check out our website and find the links to our handouts there.
Next year: San Diego. Unless we get swayed again by another conference, but not likely.
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 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.