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:
- Do the materials have multiple modalities of input? Does it rely on lecture/computers?
- 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.
- How do students return the information they now understand to the teacher? Digital turn in? Self-reflection?
- 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.
- How is the material fare under conditions of student use?
- What graphics are available? How does this help connect the student to the material? Are there missing graphics?
- 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 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.