Staying Connected During COVID-19 [Teacher Spotlight]: Karina Tran

In partnership with eSchool News, Illuminate Education is spotlighting teachers in a series recognizing educators, the way they have moved instruction online during COVID-19, and how they have prioritized the needs of their students.

Karina Tran
SDC K/1st-Moderate Severe Disabilities
Woodcrest Elementary School
Fullerton School District

“Don’t compare yourself to others, and just stay true to who you are as a teacher, and it will all fall into place.”…Read More

Online summit for all special education stakeholders

The 2020 Special Kids International Summit, presented by Kidskintha in partnership with UNESCO’s New Delhi Office and MindRocket Media Group, is a free online conference set to take place April 7-11. Session videos will also be archived for later viewing. The event is for all education stakeholders, including teachers, administrators, counselors, and special educators. Presenters include 30+ experts from the fields of neurology, psychology, teaching, entrepreneurship, and medicine, who will cover topics such as understanding ADHD and autism, supporting emotional regulation, advocating for the rights of your learners and much more. Register for free at https://www.kidskintha.com/kidskintha-spins-2020

 

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How student-created VR can enhance SEL and special ed

Quality social-emotional learning (SEL) and effective special education (SpEd) programming look remarkably similar. Each relies on a positive, safe learning environment and touts activities geared toward student strengths and weaknesses. Both types of programming facilitate a group experience where individual outcomes are designed to be disparate, be recorded, and used to track growth. Because these two types of programming are similar in philosophy, it should come as no surprise that both SEL and SpEd can be enhanced and expanded by innovative edtech solutions—most notably, student-created virtual reality (360 VR videos).

The benefits of VR

VR is proving to be an effective engagement tool in diverse ways: visiting museums around the world, blasting off into space, etc. But VR does not have to be limited to geography and science classrooms. By using student-created, perspective-taking videos, VR can be a powerful experiential tool that aligns with and augments both SEL and SpEd outcomes.

When students put on a headset to view these types of videos, they are stepping into another life, another story. They will find connection in the familiar and discover meaning in what they perceive to be different. Students then begin to develop perspective-taking skills, resulting in newfound levels of relationship skills (communication), self-management (emotional control in response to a story), and social awareness (empathizing with the storyteller). As a bonus, viewing VR films is an incredibly immersive experience, making student engagement—often a legitimate challenge—easier to achieve.…Read More

Watch out for these red flags to help identify dyslexia

Children cannot grow out of dyslexia. Rather, the dyslexia will only have more severe consequences over time with lack of intervention. It is critical to keep an eye out for all possible red flags at every grade level to understand when intervention is needed. In their recent edWebinar, Kelli Sandman-Hurley, Ed.D., and Tracy Block-Zaretsky, co-founders of the Dyslexia Training Institute, reviewed the potential warning signs of dyslexia.

There is no definitive list of symptoms for dyslexia, Sandman-Hurley explained. Every individual is completely different, so educators must figure out each student’s strengths and weaknesses. In addition, depending on the severity of the symptoms, it’s possible that they could show up at different ages, which is why it’s critical to watch for these red flags throughout all grade levels. There is also a misconception that students cannot be screened for dyslexia until as late as second or third grade. In fact, early screening, if possible, is key.

Preschool- and kindergarten-level red flags
These may include:…Read More

3 ways to improve special education outcomes

When you combine a steady growth in the number of students receiving special education services with rising expectations for the educators who serve these students, all of whom have very diverse needs, you get a “perfect storm” of challenges for K-12 leaders.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, 6.6 million students in U.S. public schools—or 13 percent—received some form of special education services during the 2014-15 school year, and this number is on the rise. For instance, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the percentage of children diagnosed with a developmental disability rose from 5.76 percent in 2014 to 6.99 percent in 2016—and the number of students diagnosed with ADHD increased from 4.4 million in 2003 to 6.1 million in 2016.

As the number of students who qualify for special education services continues to climb, the high bar for the standard of education for these students has been reiterated by the Supreme Court. In the landmark case, Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District, the Court affirmed that school systems must be “appropriately ambitious” in designing an individualized education program (IEP) that meets the needs of every child with a disability.…Read More

Thriving special ed programs have these 7 elements

Focusing on inclusion, using data, and forming partnerships are among the practices that can help make special education programs successful in schools, according to a report.

Meeting the Needs of Every Student Through Inclusion,” from the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA), details the special education program philosophy behind 10 California charter public schools, how they implement best practices on their campuses, and what policy arrangements have allowed them to succeed.

The qualitative study offers new insights into the best ways to serve students with disabilities in all schools, in particular the benefits of inclusive education. These practices have have also yielded incredible results for the schools, with boosts in enrollment and performance in both ELA and math.…Read More

7 steps to success in work and life for all students

As educators, we have a responsibility to all students to not only help them achieve academically, but to also prepare them for life as productive, contributing, global citizens.

For our students with disabilities, this is a more involved and comprehensive process. These students require repetition and hands-on experiences to acquire the skills necessary for success beyond school walls.

At Salem High School in Virginia, we’ve developed a comprehensive approach to educating our students with cognitive delays. In doing so, we have implemented a program that strives to send our students across the stage equipped for the working world and prepared to live as independently as possible. Here are the seven steps we take to make this vision a reality.…Read More

10 apps for students with special needs

High-quality, effective teachers know how to use technology to engage students and elevate their learning—and they also know students of all abilities can use technology to assist with learning.

A variety of tools and resources, including apps for tablets and mobile devices, can meet the varying needs of students with disabilities and other special needs.

The apps in this list can be used by students with autism, students with communication challenges, those who need social assistance, and more.…Read More

How to have true inclusion

Too often, an “inclusive education” for students with complex support needs means helping them take part in a single class activity before they go off to a different classroom or focusing on a single learner while other similar students remain on the outside. Cheryl M. Jorgensen, Ph.D., an inclusive education consultant and co-founder of the National Center on Inclusive Education, offered participants in the recent edWebinar, “Inclusion is More Than ‘Just Being In,’” a new way to define the term. She explained that inclusion should not be a practice but should be a transformational educational philosophy based on social justice principles, where the first tenet is that all students are presumed competent.

Presuming competence means that in the absence of conclusive evidence teachers assume that all students can participate in an age-appropriate general education curriculum as well as form meaningful relationships.

Although students with complex needs may require additional help to achieve the same goals as typical students—aides, learning tools, accommodations during assessments, etc.—Jorgensen argued that there should be no prerequisites, especially regarding communication. “We construct students’ competence by providing them with a way to communicate all the time every minute of the day about the same things that their peers without disabilities are communicating about,” said Jorgensen.…Read More

5 insightful webinars for Autism Awareness Month

A typical school day can be difficult for students with autism. They often struggle with communication and transitions, and crowded school hallways and different class schedules present challenges.

School districts need all the resources they can get if they are to best support students with autism and the teachers who are with those students each day.

Many educators—general classroom teachers and special educators as well—also are looking for resources to help neuro-typical students better their peers with autism.…Read More