Monday, March 30, 2015

Study Reveals Shocking Effect Of Poverty On Children's Brain Development

Study Reveals Shocking Effect Of Poverty On Children's Brain Development

       By Caroling Gregoire       The Huffington Post
       March 30, 2015

        While it's been well known that children from affluent households have an advantage over their peers from low income families, we don't know all the factors that cause this advantage. This article discusses research which has discovered a physical difference in brain size. The findings, published in the latest issue of Nature Neuroscience, are the result of  research conducted at 9 different universities across the country.  1,100 individuals ranging in age from 3 to 20 years old were studied and the results revealed a strong positive association between family income and brain surface area, largely in those brain areas that are linked to skills instrumental in learning and academic.

Young Girls Are Much, Much Better Readers Than Boys,

Young Girls Are Much, Much Better Readers Than Boys, And Have Been For A Long Time

Working with One iPad

I really liked how this teacher has found a way to use her only iPad in her classroom. She uses an app called "Show Me" to write math problems on it then pairs students up. She has a student who is strong in math teach their partner how to do it on the iPad. Then the other student does a similar math problem. The teacher then saves it and gives it to another pair of students while the rest of the class does a worksheet or a similar task on paper. I thought this would be relevant because not everyone has access to a classroom set of iPads or laptops and this was a creative way to include tech in the classroom with limited resources.

Raising the Bar for State Special Ed Programs

This article from June 2014 explains how the U.S. Departmant of Education announced a major shift in the way it oversees the effectiveness of state special ed programs. In addition to meeting timelines for evaluations, due process of hearings and transitioning children into preschool services, states are now collecting data on student performance on tests. Before this new requiement 41 states met requirements and now only 18 do. Oregon falls in the "needs assistance" category. This is important for us as educators because this will push us to set high standards for our students yet also be realistic.
New accountability framework raises the bar for State Sped Programs

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Keeping an open mind with sped students

This video fro 2012 is pretty moving, and although content is a little older, it is an awesome representation of a population on nonverbal students.

The narrator doesn't utilize people first language, which gets me a little bit, but the message behind the video shows many different things. It is important to keep an open mind and also the amazing possibilities when you find devices that work for children. I also think that it breaks down a lot of barriers for people with disabilities, because, like it was said in the video, people think they are "stupid" or will never have the ability to do certain things. This breaks that notion for many people, and shows that although this girl in particular, and other people who have disabilities; they are people too, and have immense feelings, thoughts, and wants just like every other human out there, with or without a disability.

Employers Learn to Embrace Disability Hiring

I found this article on Disability Scoop.  It was written on March 23, 2015 by Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz. The article talks about how businesses are starting to hire people with developmental disabilities.  Some key points of the article  include stories of adults who are working jobs where they are not underemployed.  Many businesses with the support of the organization "Best Buddies" are hiring disabled workers and becoming examples to other businesses.  The intended audience for this article would be teachers of older disabled students and business owners.  This is an especially relevant article because we do need to think about how we can best serve the population of disabled adults.   Many times we discount what they can do and do not provide the opportunities for them to be successful.  One thing I did not know was that Walgreen's specifically hires adults with disabilities and that 21% of their work force is made up of disabled adults.  That is huge!!! It really makes me want to patronize their store more often!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Teachers Pay Teachers

Website Review

Teachers Pay Teachers is an open K-12 market for sharing or accessing resources that are either free or for cost. Whether you are just looking for resources or feeling ready to share your own, the basic free account is probably worth signing up for just so that you can have a look to see for yourself. For example, a quick search for SPED revealed quite a few available resources both free and for pay starting at $1. Resources are rated and Apps for both iPad and Android are available.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Feeling Alone As the Opportunity Gap Widens for Kids

Source: Mindshift

Author: Holly Korbey

Date: 3-15-15

Link to Article

Key Points: This article touches on how poverty is affecting children in their schooling.  The author talks about a teacher who is a High School english teacher who has 185 students.  Most of these students live in impoverished situations.  She has no textbooks to give these students yet they are expected to still pass state tests.  She mentions a student who wanted to make up work she had missed because she moved out of her house and has been sleeping on a friends couch.  A common story for the children she teaches.  The article suggests that today, children who grow up poor have a smaller chance at success because they don't have the built in supports that children who come from richer families have.  No one is there to cushion the blows of life for them. Although these kids are on social media and "well connected" they really don't have "connections" that matter.  Schools need to have adequate supplies for all students.  They need to look into and support early childhood education initiatives and community school partnerships.  Mostly we need to look around and realize that this gap occurs and do what we can to close it.

Intended Audience: Educators, adults, administration

Relevance: This article is especially relevant because a lot of us will be teaching in schools with a significant population of students living in poverty.  If we can understand and know where our students come from we will better be able to understand and have compassion.  It will ultimately help us as educators to understand our own and our student's positionality.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Powerful Teacher

This article The 4 Properties of Powerful Teachers was written on March 15, 2015 by Rob Jenkins. The author brings to light 4 things that powerful teachers have. Personality, presence, preparation and passion are the four things that this author argues powerful teachers have. The key point I took away from this article was that even people who do not inherently have the four properties can still be powerful teachers as long as they work on improving their teaching. This article was intended for teachers looking to improve and possibly those looking to inflate their egos. I feel that it is relevant because it inspires people to do better and really be an action researcher.

What is the best way to teach communication?

Toward Functional Augmentative and Alternative Communication for Students with Autism: Manual Signs, Graphic Symbols, and Voice Output Communication Aids.

The article is a review on research conducted on functional augmentative and alternative communication tactics for students with autism. The author’s method of determining the “best” plan for learning independent communication was by researching all of the methods that Speech Language Pathologist use for helping students with autism. The best tactics determined from the author are in need of more research, though the best plan must be individualized based on the students strengths and weaknesses.

The article can be found from the Language Speech Hearing for Students in Schools Journal:

One example of a VOCA (Voice Output Communication Aid) is the LAMP (Words for Life) app. This is the link for the website that describes the features of the app:

iPads keep students connected, even on snow days

iPads keep students connected, even on snow days

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Bias in Special Education Identification

Bias in Special Education Identification Rarely Flagged by States

By Christina Samuels on March 16, 2015 12:05 PM

Relevance: This article is a review of a report that looks at how we identify students needing special ed services and looks at numbers that seem to indicated that minority students are often over identified. It raises the question of whether a national standard needs to be created.

Audience:  The article is directed to special educators at all levels.

Friday, March 20, 2015

The "Top" Rated Elementary Schools in Oregon?

Best Public Elementary Schools in Oregon March 2015 Url:

Relevance: school ratings Audience: public, parents

       I am often intrigued when I see the "rating" lists that come out in news and blogs. Generally, I like to look at them so I can see where the schools in the neighborhood fit and I feel fortunate that the schools where my son will go not only get rated well, but I know as an educator they are good schools. Quickly after looking at the neighborhood school I look with great skepticism at the ratings. This rating came out recently via a feed on my Facebook page by a website group called Niche (
       I found there information to be heavily biased to high socioeconomic status areas and schools in metro/suburban areas. When looking at the data they provide one might only think you have a great school if you are in Lake Oswego, West Linn, or more affluent areas of Beaverton. There are so

Monday, March 16, 2015

In researching articles for my inquiry question I came across this article which has 5 key steps to best practices in successful transition planning that guarantee student success... I am looking at ways to have students lead their IEP meeting and how to better plan for transition
student success

Saturday, March 14, 2015

WI athletes defend cheerleader with Down syndrome

WI athletes defend cheerleader with Down syndrome

link to article

Awesome video to watch!

During the keynote presentation at an inservice we had, we explored what it meant to give our students opportunities to take risks, and why that is beneficial for them.  We also discussed how we observed that happening in our daily interactions with the students that we work with.

These conversations were set up after watching a video of a boy named Ben Underwood who had lost his eyes due to cancer at a young age, and how his mother fostered opportunities for him to take risks from a very young age. Through the positive support from his parents, he supported his other abilities, and taught himself how to process the world around him through echolocation. Following the video we discussed how differently Ben's life could have been if his mom hadn't taken the positive approach with his differing abilities. 

The concepts that we discussed surrouding this video are some that are so relative to what we do on a daily basis, and give us a positive example of methods to foster that same positive growth in our students.

The video is fascinating, and definitely worth the time, but if you don't have the time, at least watch a few minutes of it! 
TEACHING TOLERANCE-- What Change Looks Like: Notes From Ferguson 
Author: Amanda Blaine
February 11, 2015.

In Teaching Tolerance, I found an article called "What Change Looks Like:Notes From Ferguson". Since this has been such hot button lately, I thought this would be an interesting article. She points out that the media only covers bits and parts of the situation, and a lot of it is left out. She points out that by the time of that first protest shown on tv, activists in Ferguson and areas surrounding Ferguson had been working tirelessly to confront institutions with structural inequalities. She touches on the importance of members of a dominant group supporting an often-oppressed group. The importance of this in relation to teaching is that as teachers, we should be able to help our students realize how to get involved in important issues, and help them realize how accessible participation in social movements can be. 

Keeping students involved even when they are not at school

This article from eSchool News by Samuel Speciale brings to light ways to engage students even when they are unable to attend, like snow days. This article was posted on March 12th 2015.   Here is the article!

The article is intended for teachers, parents and students interested in learning. It is relevant because it
I looked at an article in the Washington Post about the incredible difference in the amount of books at different schools in DC. At one school, Lafayette Elementary School, they have nearly 28,000 books in their school library. Only 12 miles away, at Drew Elementary, there are only 300 books that fill their shelves. The district doesn't fund annually for library collections, so schools such as Drew Elementary are literally only getting books as donations from parents and strangers. Studies show that two thirds of at-risk students are in schools with below average book counts. The reading proficiency rate for poor students was a shocking 37% as taken last year, but has remained relatively unchanged since 2008. There is a serious inequality here, and access to books really does matter. This article talks about parents reactions to the unequal learning opportunities, faulty inventory checking, and even protesting a ribbon cutting ceremony because it was celebrating something that was generally inaccurate and misleading. I thought it was a great article, here is the link:


I wanted to share with everyone a little more in what I am involved in with teaching dance and colorguard. The groups below is called the Northern Lights and they were based in Vancouver, WA. Enjoy!!!

Titled: In Memory of John Lennon

Friday, March 13, 2015

High School Girls in STEM

MindShift, Want to Get More Girls Into STEM? Give Them Real-World Work
Katrina Schwartz | March 13, 2015

This article describes a group of girls who have taken on the job of help desk at their high school - no experience necessary and learning on the job. Attracting girls to try STEM fields is an ongoing challenge. DIrect encouragement, role models, and sometimes taking the boys out of the room help. Check out these techie ladies’  youtube video.

TED Talk

TED Talk, Alan Kay: A Powerful Idea about Ideas. 2007

Alan Kay is a well respected visionary with a history of providing good insight. He conceived on laptops and graphical interfaces years before they were realized. This TED Talk is a little older when measured in technology years, but its interesting given his history.

"We cannot see until we admit we are blind."

He makes an interesting observation that over the last 400 years, mankind has been developing Brainlets: things that augment how we see the world
Sensory - telescopes, microscopes
Reasoning - math, reasoning

Alan Kay goes on to talk about perception and learning, with examples of a hands on discovery of pythagorean principles as well as computer aided science modeling where the student explores scientific principles through geometric relationships showing velocity, acceleration, and more.
He finishes with a plug for providing low cost laptops to children in second and third world countries as well as software in order to provide these learning opportunities.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Benefits of No-Tech Note Taking

This article shared important information for educators related to the topic of student retention of information in relation to hand written vs. typed note-taking in class. Studies show that because writing longhand requires encapsulating highlights [as it is virtually impossible to write everything verbatim] it is actually better for processing and learning. The article states, "A study published last year in Psychological Science showed that students who write out notes longhand remember conceptual information better than those who take notes on a computer. "Whereas taking more notes can be beneficial," the article’s abstract reported, "laptop note takers’ tendency to transcribe lectures verbatim rather than processing information and reframing it in their own words is detrimental to learning."

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Some States Put Parents in Charge

Some States Put Parents in Charge of Student Spending
Education Week
Ariana Prothero
February 24, 2015

The article from Education Week highlights a trending education among states like Florida and Arizona that monies for education are being put into the hands of families to decide what school is best for their students. The programs may be taken to look like voucher programs, but there is a nuanced difference between the Learning Scholarship Accounts in Florida and the Education Savings Accounts in Arizona. In Florida the programs are aimed at low to low-middle income students and those with disabilities. The Arizona program is similar and focuses on those with disabilities and exceptional learning requirements. Vouchers have received some negative push back from public school advocates and teacher's associations. This seems like an interesting approach to individualizing the needs for students, but diverts public money to private interests. The intended audience is educators and educational policy makers. The article is particularly of interest to new teachers since this is some of the job reality we possibly may be looking at.
This is a copy of an Oregon House Bill from this year:
Oregon: HB2770, “Oregon Empowerment Scholarship Program”
Students who previously attended public school and have either disabilities, are wards of juvenile courts or the state department of human services, or qualify for free and reduced-price meals would be eligible.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Making Connections: Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain

Making Connections: Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain

Edutopia/Elena Aguilar/Feb. 25,2015

Making Connections: Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain

Key Points:

Being Culturally Responsive is simply a process that a teacher goes through learning the "cultural capital and tools" students of color bring to the classroom.  Teachers can mirror these tools in their classrooms thereby increasing learning. It is suggested that teachers use tools such as music, repetition, physical manipulation, etc to reach the students. The neuroscience comes to play in the recognition that there is a connection between stress and cognition.  Culture is also the software used to program our brains. Our parents cultural values and learning processes are transmitted to us and guide how the brain wires itself to process information.

Intended Audience: Teachers, Administration

Relevance: This is a highly relevant article since our classrooms are made up of many different cultures.  In the article it says that minorities are now the majorities in our schools and we need to be able to understand and use this in our teaching.

Common Core

This article gives some information about common core. What I liked most about this article was that it actually talks about some of the things that Oregon schools have already done to align with common core standards. This is especially important for classroom teachers, but I know that the special ed teacher I work with also tries to include some of our new math curriculum into our groups as well.

Smarter Balanced

This is a great article that I found about the new smarter balanced assessment that students will be taking this spring. It gives a brief introduction to what the new smarter balanced test is, compares it to the old OAKS test, and shows some sample questions. I found it interesting and also scary that Oregon officials estimate about two-thirds of students will fail this test the first year.

Why I Teach: “Radical Optimism”

by Chad Donohue
Teaching Tolerance number 49 Spring 2015

This was a great article about the importance of including optimism with your teachings.  With cynicism and drama at the forefront of pop culture, it is important not to lose sight of the beauty in everyday life.  Donohue practices what he preaches.  He strives to make himself approachable and accessible to his students and I think that is something we as future educators should be mindful of.  He wrote this article from his perspective as an educator, but I think this article would appeal to students and parents as well.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Politics that Impact the Classroom

Education Week 
Partisan Hurdles Ahead on K-12 for some GOP Governors 
Andrew Ujifusa, 3/4/2015
Audience: Educators, Education Politics readers
Key Points: 
1) That three traditionally Democrat-leaning states (Massachusetts, Maryland, and Illinois)  have recently elected Republican Governors, and that this has implications for the education policy of the state. 
2) The issues in Maryland and Massachusetts focus on the role that charter schools play in serving the needs of the student population as well as their political implications. 
3) In Illinois, the foremost issue is that the new Governor plans to erode or eliminate the power of the public-sector unions.  He is also looking at options to close and consolidate school district administrative functions.   
Working in public schools is an inherently political position.  Teachers are not meant to be overt partisan actors in the course of their typical day, but our professional lives and educational positions are most certainly political footballs.  It is important not only to develop ourselves pedagogically, but also to stay aware of, and to act on policies that will have implications for issues we care about. 

NEA - Advice for New Special Education Teachers

Advice for New Special Ed Teachers...

The Title sums it up pretty well.  I found this article very interesting, Glenn's tips and tricks come from 28+ years of teaching.  A good reminder if you are feeling unsure, frustrated or.....

Get Deeper Learning with Tablets!

Conn, C. (2013). Get Deeper Learning With Tablets. Learning and Leading with Technology,41(2), 34-35. This article was very interesting, and discussed how a teacher used tablets to enhance and deepen the learning of the students in her class. The students in the class used live streaming websites to complete an extended observation of habitats of different animals living in the wild as well as captivity. With use of this technology, Conn discusses how excited the students were about the lesson, as well as how engaged they were. Aside from how effective the lesson proved to be within this first grade classroom, the article also discusses how efficient it was to have the means to utilize technologies in the classroom as opposed to taking the whole class to the lab every day. Getting Deeper Learning with Tablets is relevant because it allows us to see the importance as well as how effective lesson plans can be with the use of technology. Utilizing the resources and seeing that they have worked really well for others can help to effectively foster creative learning, and allow students to broaden their learning “outside” the four walls of their classrooms.

This kid is phenomenal

I came across this today while researching and it reminds me of what we are learning about in this class as well as EDU604.  Good Stuff!!!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

A Balanced Approach to Social Media for Teachers
Staff, 6/27/2014
Audience: Educators
Dean Gustavson shared this and when I read it not only did it resonate for me but I thought it might for some of you as well.
Key Points: the visual says it all...
1. Niche: one step at a time. Pick one thing and try it. Give it time and don't pressure yourself about having to know it all.
2. Be Yourself: my takeaway is whatever the media you zero in on, use it as it fits whether that be for teaching or professional development
3. Mission: this connects to my approach which is do a little action research. Ask what you want to accomplish, do a little research and playing, try it out, then assess how it went.
4. Don't Break: again small steps, take on what you can. Don't compare to what others are doing. Just set an achievable, enjoy reaching out and learning from others when you can.

Relevance: in this day of overload and so much to do as an educator, this article provides some words of wisdom.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015


Through the Lens of Filmmaking
Merle Huerta
February 24, 2015

Through the Lens of Filmmaking (click for link)

Key Points:
Studies show that kids with disabilities do better in academics and life when they are involved in some form of art.  It is will documented that art integration improves comprehension and retention.  Filmmaking is a great way for kids with disabilities to connect with their peers. Collaboration, critical thinking and problem solving are all skills that are used by students to plan and create films which strengthens the skills of kids with disabilities. The inclusion of kids with disabilities in our mainstream classrooms is crucial and so beneficial on many levels. There are many resources available for teachers to use to help initiate these kind of projects in their classrooms.  With the prevalence of IPads for student learning, this is a very doable thing.  Students of all abilities can work together to plan, create, edit and share their movies.

Intended Audience:
Teachers, Administrators, Autism Specialists

Relevance: I think inclusion is a very important issue facing education today.  Up until recently I never gave it much thought or questioned why or how inclusion for SpEd students was planned.  I think we as educators need to make sure our SpEd students are included with their peers appropriately.  This article is a great example of how it can be easily done in a classroom setting.

Here is how they do filmmaking at a summer camp.

Hunger in Schools

A Whopping 76% Of Teachers Say Kids Come To School Hungry. Here's What's Being Done

In Huffington Post Education
By Eleanor Goldberg
March 4, 2015  

Click Here for Article

 Key Points

This article is written in conjunction with a recent survey done by No Kids Hungry. It focuses on the importance of proper nutrition for students and shows a shocking result that more than half of public school students are from low income families.  It touches on the social aspect of free lunches and why so many students refuse services for fear of judgement from peers or inability to get to school during breakfast hours. The article finds that schools that serve lunch at the beginning of class in the classroom ease these pressures and give students a higher chance of success both physically and emotionally in learning environments. The video is published by No Kids Hungry and is related to the article posted by Huffington Post Education.

Intended Audience

The intended audience of this article is educators, teacher researchers, lawmakers, and policymakers.


This really tied together a few points for me especially in relation to the Iceberg Model and understanding that what we often see as educators is just the surface of matters that are deeper than that. Hunger is something that isn't always visible. Yes there is a physical aspect of it (weight and malnutrition) but there's also an emotional aspect that isn't present to the blind eye. Hunger becomes an emotional hindrance in learning and a very serious, and real one at that. It also raises the ethical question as to whose responsibility is it? Ultimately it's the parent or guardian who plays the sole provider but what happens when that isn't the case and those needs are being met? I just wonder how we as educators and teacher researchers can help alleviate the pressures that hunger in students bring to learning and what options are there to ensure that students don't lack basic needs?

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Common Core

What is the Common Core? A guide to Oregon's new education standards
by Betsy Hammond
Oregon Live, November 13, 2014

This article explains the changes that have are taking place in the curriculum standards throughout the state.  Oregon, along with 43 other states, has voted to use Common Core standards which is an attempt to create a national curriculum.  There are a lot of mixed feelings about these changes. The intended audience for this article the general public, but certainly appeals most to educators and parents of school aged children.  These new standards are extremely important to understand so that we can best support our students.  I for one am looking forward to the possibilities and opportunities that these new standards creating for students.  

Monday, March 2, 2015

Beautiful Differences

I read a pretty awesome article for my weekly post from Teaching Tolerance. The article is called Beautiful Differences, and is definitely worth the read!

Beautiful Differences By: Joe Hansen
Teaching Tolerance Summer 2014

This article was about a teacher who taught in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago, and had an idea one day for a way to incorporate disability awareness into his curriculum. He wanted to teach social studies based on accessibility for people with disabilities. Because in diversity conversations, people with disabilities are often times overlooked, and his school wanted to represent “core values of community and diversity” so he started a program for his students. He brought people with disabilities in to talk to his students, and grew community-wide awareness through different activities he facilitated with his class.

This article is relevant to almost anyone, but in the field of education is important because it shows others that its not hard to create acceptance within a classroom, and not necessarily hard either.

“We are deliberately composed of a diverse group of people so that we can learn how to honor the dignity and experience of every human being.”

 Challenging White Privilege From the Inside

Intended Audience:   general public, educators

Key Points:This article presents an interesting look at how some of the most privileged students in NY schools are taking a look at identity, power and privilege and showcases some discussions of the meaning and repercussions of what has come be know as white privilege. It also points out that diversity teaching is becoming aware that life is not lived in a bubble but is global and needs to be inclusive to all.

Relevance: It corresponds to the  chapters we have read and discussed in Critical Perspectives