Sunday, May 31, 2015

STEM/CTE Programs

STEM/CTE Programs
OEIB Bulletin
May 8, 2015

This is a short post about how beneficial Science Technology Engineering Mathematics programs are for students. STEM programs teach through hands on activities that address real world problems or situations. The idea is that students will be more engaged in their learning and learn valuable skills for the work force. They claim that " last year, 85.7% of Oregon students who took one or more CTE credit graduated from high school compared to 72% in the overall student population."

Albertina Kerr

Albertina Kerr

While I was looking for a non-school setting for our practicum observations, I decided to check into a website. I remember hearing about Albertina Kerr in the past because one of our students received services from them a couple years ago. This is a great video showing a family's experience with their mental health services.

School blocks speech by valedictorian declaring he is gay - Education Week

School blocks speech by valedictorian declaring he is gay - Education Week
Education Week May 31st, 2015
Key Points: A Colorado charter school refused at the last minute to allow the valedictorian to give his speech where he was planning to come out. The student claimed he had been in contact with school officials but they said they did not receive any revised versions.

Relevance: As a special educator working with students directly we need to make sure that students understand that their graduation speech is not the time for them to "push their personal  agenda on a captive audience." It is important for students to understand that they will be supported and respected for their sexual orientation but this venue is not the acceptable place to share such information.  The school officials could have made the situation better by notifying the student and their parent(s) of your concerns and giving them a chance to revise the speech. 

Making “A Place in the Middle” in Every Classroom | Teaching Tolerance

Making “A Place in the Middle” in Every Classroom 
Teaching Tolerance May 4, 2015 by Dean Hamer
Audience: educators, principals, administrators, parents, school leaders, students
Key Points: Prejudice reduction and classroom practice, how schools serve diverse students can change the outlook and those students become respected and admired for their important role in perpetuating cultural knowledge and traditions. The story follows a transgender teacher in Hawaii for 2 years  and it's a jumping off place for students to think and talk about how every person's identity is comprised of multiple interacting facets. 
Relevance: As educators seeing how Hina's teaching to K-12 schools, which led to the production of  a youth-friendly, short version of the film called A Place in the Middle that has been excerpted for the Perspectives for a Diverse America  anthology can be used to  help students appreciate the value of inclusion, the strengths they inherit from their cultural heritage and their own power to create a school climate of honor and respect.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Literacy Expert: Weak Readers Lack Fluency, Not Critical Thinking

May 28th, 2015
By Liana Heitin

Audience: educators, principals, administrators, parents, school leaders

Key Points: Struggling readers don't lack the ability to think critically. The are constantly thinking critically about topics they enjoy whether that be sports, art, music, (and even about their own teachers). The problem, literacy expert David Liben explains, for students unable to read at their required grade level is fluency and vocabulary. He also argues that "Fluency doesn't guarantee comprehension, but lack of fluency guarantees almost all the time a lack of comprehension, especially with more complex text."

Relevance: This is important when trying to find out why students aren't meeting goals. We see numbers (test scores) but not the solution. This article helps articulate that what test scores show is never the full story. Students have the abilities and skills (critical thinking) to do what is asked of them but not always the resources (fluency/vocabulary) to do so. 

Diverse Students, Diverse Books

NEA Today
May 28th, 2015
By Anita Merina

Audience: librarians, educators, school board, students, parents, authors, publishers

Key Points: Students need to be offered books in classrooms that resemble their lives. This diverse selection of books should include (but not limited to): race, gender diversity, sexual identity, people with disabilities, and ethnic, cultural and religious minorities. Offering this type of selection empowers a wide range of readers and stirs up their interest toward reading. 

Relevance: Shows how to get students from many diverse lives interested in reading. Students already come to class with their own understanding of the world around them. If the world they read in books is nothing like the world they live in there is no connection to the story. Diverse books not only reflect the lives and experiences of the students but teaches them about those of their peers as well. 

Creativity and University Entrance Requirements

In another class I am taking we were discussing creativity and specifically it's decline in today's schools and I wanted to share my ideas about it in relation to an article I read. We watched this Ted video and Ken Robinson discussed how schools (K-12) are set up to fulfill university placement requirements. The article I wrote about below discusses how some university requirements are changing to bring in more humanities and arts majors into the medical field. It made me think about what this means for schools and will there, if ever, be a domino effect that will waiver down to the k-12 levels? Since universities are changing their entrance requirements and asking for students to be more creative and personable will these ever become a priority or at least be given higher importance then they currently hold when compared to other subjects like math and science?  Below are both the video and my overview of the article.

Embracing Differences

I'd like to share two articles I found that are both related to the idea of embracing cultural differences. They both have excellent ideas for integrating a variety of subjects and tools into a balanced lesson of identity and culture.

First Article:

Celebrating Skin Tone: The Science and Poetry of Skin Color
Rethinking Schools Vol. 29 No. 3
Spring 2015
By Katharin Johnson

Friday, May 29, 2015

Feds Rethink Stance on Speech Devices

Disability Scoop/Halle Stockton/May 15, 2015

Link to Article

Key Points: About a year ago, CMS (Center of Medicaid/ Medicare Services) took steps to narrow coverage of speech generating devices, including phones, tablets, etc.  However after over 2000 people submitted comments to the agency about how these devices allow them to communicate, they have rethought their stance.  Now they will include such devices recognizing that they serve the same as someone speaking verbally.

Audience: Parents, Educators

Relevance: As teachers we need to be aware of the difficulty that our families might have obtaining speech devices for their child.  If we know current laws we can help assist them or at the very least give current information to help them when making requests.

Calming Chair for Kids On the Spectrum May Be Headed to Market

Disability Scoop/ Dugan Arnett/ May 18, 2015

Calming chair article

Key Points:  A school district CAPS program in conjunction with a local business man are working out particulars to get a calming chair to market that is modeled after the squeeze machine Temple Grandin talks about.  The chair is built with inflatable tubes provides constant pressure to those students who crave pressure.  It is meant to decrease self injurious behaviors.  Stuart Jackson, the creator and investor came up with the idea to help his own son who is on the spectrum.  He will offer internships to students in the CAPS program as well as employing individuals with disabilities.  After some brief initial testing it was apparent that the chairs did what they are supposed to do.

Audience: Parents, Educators

Relevance: New ways to help our sensory kids feed their sensory needs are always a good thing!  I know many students who would be helped by this kind of thing.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

As More With Autism Near Adulthood, Clues to Success Emerge

Disability Scoop/ Michelle Diament/ May 14, 2015

Link to article

Key Points: "The ability to do everyday, self-care activities like bathing, cleaning and cooking trumped other factors like symptom severity and intellectual functioning, according to findings from a new study being presented this week at the International Meeting for Autism Research in Salt Lake City" It was found that adults with more self care skills were more successful and independent in employment.  We as educators need to think more about teaching self care rather than concentrating solely on social and communication skills.

Intended Audience: Educators, Parents

Relevance: With the increase in adults with developmental disabilities, we need to make sure they are being taught self care skills as young children.  This is something we sometimes don't think about as teachers.  We need to introduce more of these skills into our curriculum.  

Monday, May 25, 2015

"You Only Get One "First Day of School""

I found this article when searching for tips for a new teacher. It is, You Only Get One "First Day of School" by Lisa Mims from August 21 of 2013. While this article is a bit old I do feel that it has some great pointers for new teachers and even veterans. This article is written for teachers and educators. In this article it points out seven things that are important on a first day. Like, smiling, dressing up, being prepared, having expectations, classroom management, having a plan and not prejudging the students. Here is a link!

Vindication for Fidgeters: Movement May Help Students with ADHD Concentrate Anya Kamenetz/ May 14, 2015

Link to article

Key Points: Students with Adhd can be more successful learners if allowed to move while working.  The results of a study point to the success students with adhd have while "fidgeting" and learning.  Basically, children were asked to complete a task while spinning on a swiveling chair.  Students with adhd were able to do it while neuro -typical kids could not do it.

Intended Audience: Teachers, Administrators, Parents

Relevance: I referred to this article in my last blog post so I thought I'd share it.  Again, as teachers we need to be prepared to understand and help accommodate our students who might have these kinds of needs in our classroom.

What Do Yo Do With a Student Who Fidgets?

What Do You Do With a Student Who Fidgets? Kamenetz/ May 19, 2015

Link to Article

Key Points: The article gives some great ideas to use for kids who do a lot of fidgeting in our classrooms. This article was a result of an article published earlier regarding the connection of ADHD, movement and learning.  I also see the same thing occurring in the classroom and when we take time to provide fidgets to our students, more learning occurs.

Intended Audience: Teachers, OT therapists, parents

Relevance: As teachers, no matter what type of classroom we will be working in, we will all encounter students who suffer from ADHD or symptoms of it.  These are some tools we can use to help learning occur.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

This is something fun to check out! It is a Pinterest board surrounding the ideas of using Assistive Technology in the classroom. There are a lot of different ideas, as well as many tutorials on some DIY assistive devices for students. It is collaborative, so many different ideas from many different people, and definitely worth some time exploring!

Expanding mobility for people with special needs

This article is written by Andrew Leibs who is an assistive technology expert. It is a very informative article about Paratransit services. Paratransit is a transportation service for people with disabilities. The article outlines the options for increasing mobility in a really affordable way. The audience could be people with disabilities who are looking for methods to get around, or people who are wondering what the options for people with disabilities are.

Oak Brook resort introduces SpEd students to business

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This article is written by Chuck Fieldman and is about a hotel that presents opportunities for special education students to come and work and develop business skill sets and grow confidence in their ability to work and accomplish business related tasks. The resort offers placements for these students in the following areas of their company: food service, housekeeping, lobby service, shipping and receiving, and conference/event services. This article is really awesome because it shows that students with disabilities CAN be productive members of a company and achieve success in many different areas. Unfortunately, there are still people who believe that students with special needs won't ever be able to obtain a "real" job. Programs like these show that it is not the case; students with special needs are still people that have the same capabilities as typically developed peers, and even some better than that of their peers.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Let the Kids Learn through Play

Let the Kids Learn through Play

David Kohn      May 16. 2015

Link to article

The author of this article has collated much of the current research  probing into the effectiveness and value of exchanging play times in early childhood education with structured learning  This is a pet peeve of mine, how the  current philosophy of early childhood education advocates more learning and less play.   Research continues to indicate that extensive early education does not necessarily help students in the long run and may actually be detrimental . Child learn by playing and they need  time to play.

This article is relevant for parents and educators .

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Awesome video!

Here is a pretty great video that shows how easy it is to bridge the gap that is unfortunately still there between some typically developed people and some with disabilities.

It is pretty uplifting, and wanted to post just to pass on the smile today! This video is about an employee of a restaurant who be came familiar with a woman who came in that has a disability. The video basically shows the man helping the woman get situated with her meal, then goes above and beyond in order to make sure that she could eat her meal; when asked to help her eat, the employee didn't hesitate. He helped her. This video is really intended for anyone, and is relevant because it shows how easy it is to break down barriers. People often overlook those who aren't exactly the same as we are. This restaurant employee showed, by his lack of reluctance to help the woman, that we are all kind of the same.


Want something uplifting? See why people across the country are inspired by what this Kentucky man did for a customer. It shows that an act of kindness doesn't have to be big to make a difference.

Posted by FOX 12 Oregon on Monday, May 18, 2015

Sunday, May 17, 2015

"It takes courage"

While it is late in the posting game I thought I should still share my findings. This article: It Takes Courage to Make Schools Better, is from Edutopia. It was written by Maurice Elias on April 27th of this year. This article seems to be focused towards educators. This article points out that educators need to be courageous in standing up for the things that they believe need to change in schools. On that note it also points out ethical things that all schools should support when implementing courage in a school.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

New York City’s Small-Schools Revolution

Breaking up large high schools improved graduation rates

By  05/12/2015

link to full article

 This article chronicles the steps taken in New York City to learn how to make small schools effective. It summarizes the studies, grants, political and administrative supports  that the reformers brought together in order to create successful small high schools.

It details the time and cooperation it took to make lasting changes that produced significant results.

This article is aimed at parents, teachers, administrators and politicans

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Standardized Testing (HBO)

Had to share this interesting commentary on the lunacy of our current standardized testing!

Nancy's Post

Key point: The earthquake in Nepal has left nearly a million students without schools to attend. The remaining schools with infrastructures still intact are used as shelter, and UNICEF has intervened and provided education for students that have been displaced. More than 24,000 school have been damaged or destroyed, and UNICEF's director fear that with the displacement of students they will eventually drop out of school all together versus reenter once the buildings have been rebuilt.

Key point: In a recent survey posted in the UK, schools have been found to be lacking resource for students that are partially deaf. Students with hearing problems are not performing up to par, and are often overlooked in the classroom. Due to their hearing problem and assisted hearing aids, they often need to be placed in a speech optimal area of a classroom.

Key point: In Germany, a famous orchestra group has moved into the same campus as a secondary school that was falling behind. Ever since the cohabitation last year, the school drop out rate has decreased by 1%, and students as well as the community has transformed.

Publisehd July 20, 2014
The Myth of Having Summers Off

Key Point: Summer is around the corner and a teacher has taken initiative to publish an article debunking the glorious rumor that teachers had three months off for the summer!
Learning Expeditions: Rethinking Field Trips
Key Point: In Chattanooga, Tennessee a school revolutionizes the ideas of field trip by having them become "learning expeditions". Through these learning expeditions, community outings involve the curriculum that they are learning in school. These trips are short, and can range from begin half an hour to two hours long.

Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel: Rez Ball - Shoni and Jude Schimmel Web ...

Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel: Rez Ball-Shoni & Jude Schimmel

Key Points: This article presents life off the Umatilla Indian Reservation in Pendleton, Oregon.This article expresses how the Native American community travels to support the success of the Schimmel sisters at Loiusville.

Published: March 24, 2014

Intended audience: sports enthusiasts, educators, administration 

Relevance: In education, especially in the Portland metro area there is a large population of Native Americans.  The Schimmels being from Umatilla and playing HS basketball at Franklin HS in Portland, Ore. being immersed in the American"white" culture.  The Schimmels earned a Division 1 scholarship at Louisville.


Understanding Others: Latino/Latina Americans

Here is the link to our presentation!  Latino/a Americans

Here is our google document!   Google Doc

Understanding Other: African American Topics

Understanding Other: African American Topics- Alesha, Jane, Jeff - Google Doc resource from

Understanding Other - Asian Americans

Asian American immigrants slides, click here.

And here is our supporting google doc, click here.

Katie Pratt - all blogs, 1-12


Understanding Diversity Arab and Muslim Americans

Here is a link to the Prezi we created! Also, here is the supporting google doc.

Understanding Others European Immigrants

Understanding Others: AI/AN

Understanding Others: American Indians and Alaska Natives

Study plans for students with Down Syndrome

NIH Resets Study Plans for Down Syndrome

Key Point: This article shares "an expanded focus on how to improve students' learning and memory and help them participate more in K-12 and higher education" (Sparks, 2015). The article touches on all the difficulties that students with down syndrome go through in their education. 

Intended audience: educators, general public, families of students with down syndrome

Relevance: We have a student in our transition program with down syndrome, and this article was very interesting to read. It opens up the mind to see how students with down syndrome learn and work. It helps to relate more to the struggles that he goes through with this learning and work experiences. One thing that the article talks about is the ability of speech for students with down syndrome. Our student struggles with speaking clearly and getting his points across. Is it something that he struggles with every day and that we work on. It takes a lot of patience for us to let him slowly speak clearly. He is learning to not get frustrated and to work on it daily in order to get his points across verbally.


Nonverbal Students

Nonverbal Special Education Students

Key Points: This article expresses ways to help nonverbal students in the classroom. It explains first what it means to be a nonverbal student. The article goes through ways that you can help nonverbal students succeed in the classroom experience.

Published: December 10, 2014

Intended audience: general educators, special education educators, administration 

Relevance: On a personal level, the relevance of this article is an everyday one. I work with two non-verbal students who we are working with the be more expressive. The ways this article expresses to help in the classroom can also be used in our community transition program as well. 


Collaborative Learning

Collaborative Learning

Intended Audience: teachers, administration

Key Points: This video shows the transformation of a classroom from a cramped space to a collaborative open learning space. It was very eye opening to see how you can transform a classroom to be the learning space you know it can be.

Relevance: I think this is something all teachers struggle with. It is important to make your classroom a safe learning environment that students feel that their learning styles are being met.

Life on the Reservation - Running in Place

Intended Audience: General public

Key Points/Relevance: This is a personal story about a ten year old boy named Legend Tell Tobacco, and his life living on the reservation. His story shows the personal experiences that the students go through who live on the reservation and attend Native American schools. Students such as Legend could end up in the public school system, and it was very interesting to see his point of view on his situation. There is a video about his story as well below.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Slashing Dropout Rate Key to Turnaround in Mass. District

Education Week/ Denisa R. Superville/ May 5, 2015

Article Link

The graduation rate for this district was abysmally low until the state took over and launched an intensive intervention, graduation rates are now climbing.  A lot of this success can be attributed to the hands on support given by the districts "scholar re-engagement manager". She will visit and help each student create a plan to lead them to graduation.

Intended Audience: Student Services Directors, Administration, Superintendents

Relevance: After looking at dropout rates for Russian students, and other students in general, I understand how important it is to seek out those who might have felt alienated from school and get them into programs to get them to graduate so they can find success.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

‘This really isn’t kindergarten anymore’

'This really isn't kindergarten anymore'
Washington Post May 4th, 2015
By Valerie Strauss

Link Here

Key points: Valerie Strauss provides insight to today's kindergarten classrooms with a blog post from Angela Hanscom. The point of the article is to show the transformation of kindergarten classrooms from 30 years ago to today. Kindergarten used to be a place for young students to engage in storytelling, imagination, play, creativity, and sensory/fine motor skills but today's classroom has neglected most of these to rush students along with reading/writing/math. The push to get students ready has come at the cost of making school anything but interesting, engaging, and overall fun. Parents are expected to teach all of the other things that aren't being taught anymore and students are expected to come to Kindergarten with these skills already prepared.

Advocates for Spec. Ed., Gifted Weigh In on ESEA Rewrite - Education Week

Advocates for Spec. Ed., Gifted Weigh In on ESEA Rewrite - Education Week

May 5, 2015

Audience: Policy Makers, Educators, TAG & SPED Teachers and Families

Key Points: The United States Senate Education Committee on April 16 approved an amended and bolstered revision to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. The next step is the Senate Floor. There would be an increased push for talented and gifted education funding and higher/better provisions for teacher support in TAG through federal funding of teacher training. It hopes to reduce the "excellence gap"