What parents of special needs children should know about the school year — from mlive.com by Martin Slagter

Excerpts:

Embarking on a new school year can be daunting if you’re the parent of a child with special needs, even under normal circumstances.

But navigating a child’s Individualized Education Program or 504 Plan while he or she begins the year with remote learning, as many are doing this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, can add multiple layers of stress, education experts say.

This makes a parents’ understanding of their child’s learning experience more important now than ever, the experts say.

“Many students did not receive services and supports that were outlined in their IEPs (including) services related to specially designed instruction, speech and language, social work, occupational therapy and physical therapy. Now we enter the next school year with a high level of uncertainty.”

 

From DSC:
Below are but some of the changes to the learning ecosystems out there. Certainly, more are coming.


Ex-Google employees form virtual tech ‘school’ for gap year students amid college closures — from cnbc.com by Jennifer Elias

KEY POINTS
  • Current and former Google employees are forming an online program aimed at preparing students for the workforce if they’re taking time off school due to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • It comes as many college students defer school as universities shift learning models to mostly online amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Google execs past and present have volunteered to mentor college students on topics ranging from career trajectory to how to stand out in virtual Zoom interviews.

Along these lines, see:

  • Google has a plan to disrupt the college degree — from inc.com by Justin Bariso
    Google’s new certificate program takes only six months to complete, and will be a fraction of the cost of college.
    Excerpt:
    Google recently made a huge announcement that could change the future of work and higher education: It’s launching a selection of professional courses that teach candidates how to perform in-demand jobs. These courses, which the company is calling Google Career Certificates, teach foundational skills that can help job-seekers immediately find employment. However, instead of taking years to finish like a traditional university degree, these courses are designed to be completed in about six months.

From DSC:
Also, to see some more changes to the learning ecosystems out there, set up a Google Alert (or something similar in Feedly or via another tool) for “Learning Pods,” “Pandemic Pods,” and/or the “growth of homeschooling.” Here’s but one recent example:

Zoo Knoxville to start virtual learning pods for students

 


 

Check out the Academic Warriers website

About Academic Warriors:

Life can be very hard for autistic, gifted and special needs learners.  Autistic and gifted learners often times struggle in school because they learn very differently than their peers. These special learners need a personalized approach to their education that allows them to learn in their own way at their own pace.

Many times parents and students feel as if they are the only ones like them in the world. This can often times lead to isolation and frustration. It is important for all autistic, gifted and special needs to unite in order to support one another. We are named Academic Warriors because all our students are superheroes in a world that doesn’t always understand and/or appreciate them. We help our students to become strong, independent and positive learners despite what the world may think of them.

It is the mission of Academic Warriors to help create positive learning experiences and communities throughout the United States for autistic, gifted and special needs learners. We offer online courses, programs, private school and in person events that foster an unique learning environment that promotes unity among all our students and families. We strive to create online and in person learning communities in every state that will provide educational opportunities for all families of autistic, gifted and special needs students. Together we can create a better world for the autistic, gifted and special needs learner.

 


From DSC:
As part of a homeschooling-based situation, my wife received the following item for one of our daughters (who needs additional/personalized assistance to learn). Simultaneously, she and our daughter sent them a Michigan Exchange Box. Very cool.

My wife and one of our daughters received this set of things from a homeschooler in Mississippi! Very cool!

I believe my wife found this out at the following group in Facebook:

 


Some channels out on Youtube that have to do with learning:
(and by the way, according to Jane Hart’s recent Top 200 Tools for Learning, YouTube is in the #1 spot for the 5th year in a row!)

Snake Discovery -- videos out on YouTube

Bondi Vet - videos on YouTube

 


 

From the Off-Trail Learning website, here are some self-directed learning centers

 


The Barn for Equine Learning

“Horse Sense Tutoring Services is a unique resource that combines the power of Equine Assisted Learning with evidence-based reading and math strategies that engage the mind, body, and emotions in learning.  We use the principles of discovery, experience, movement, reflection, and connection in partnership with our horse friends.

Based at The Barn for Equine Learning…my program offers targeted reading, math, and basic horsemanship tutoring for students in grades K – 8. Horses become teaching and learning partners as students experience academics and social-emotional learning in a whole new way.

If you are looking for a unique tutoring and confidence-building experience for your child, PM for more information.  Sessions are held outdoors and/or in an open barn setting.

(Small group field trips with an introduction to basic horsemanship skills are also available).

 


From DSC:
So these are just a few examples of how the learning ecosystems are changing out there! Surely, there will be more changes coming down the pike.


 

 

Why art is so helpful for children with anxiety — from differentbydesignlearning.com; with thanks — and a shout out — going to Colleen Kessler for sharing this out on Twitter.

Why art is so helpful for children with anxiety -- from different by design learning.com

 

Learning ecosystems across the country — especially those involving K-12 — are morphing once again.

Have you heard about the explosive interest and potential growth involving “learning pods” — also called “pandemic pods”!?! It’s amazing to see how quickly things are changing in this fluid situation. This is another great example of how the macro-learning ecosystem for K-12 is changing — as well as the changes happening at more of a micro-level. (To see how true this is, put a Google Alert or two out there for “learning pods,” “pod learning,” and/or “pandemic pods.”)

For some information about these changes, see some of the example articles below:


From DSC:

Though very interesting to see what occurs here, I, too, am concerned about the inequalities and the potential for expanding the learning gaps across the country (between the folks who have the resources and those folks who do not). For example, consider that the cost ranges from $1,500 to $2,500 dollars per studentper month — in the San Francisco Bay Area. (See COVID-19 learning pods: Here’s how they work and what Bay Area schools say about them by Luz Pena.) Or see

On the other side of things…maybe this will be a new area of opportunity for the student teachers and education programs out there.
 

From DSC:
My dad is hard of hearing and the issue continues to get worse, though his hearing aids do help some. I’ve been looking for an app that could take what’s being spoken — in real-time — and write it out for him on a device (iPad, iPhone, other). But the WiFi network is not available at the retirement home where he’s at. So this needs to work off of a cellular connection. If you know of some solid apps in this regard, please leave a note in the comments section. Thanks!

Items mentioned in a video I saw the other day, but may have different applications:

 

 

The 2020 Kessler Foundation National Employment & Disability Survey: Recent College Graduates — from kesslerfoundation.org; with thanks to Nicky Miller for this resource

Per Nicky:

In a nutshell, this first-of-its-kind survey revealed factors that help people with disabilities find employment, including the importance of higher education, advisory services and networking. Also discussed in detail, are myths and barriers that people with disabilities often face. Learn about our survey, visit: www.kesslerfoundation.org/kfsurvey2020

To highlight factors in our survey, we’ve interviewed three young adults with disabilities, who share their college to work experiences. They discuss in detail the ups and downs of their academic and employment careers. Watch here: Webinar Part 2 – The ADA Generation and the Workplace: Recent College Graduates with Disabilities Speak Out

In some cases throughout the years, people with disabilities were told they shouldn’t further their education, and in other instances, they are discouraged from working. This survey dispel these ideas. People with disabilities are conquering barriers and broadening their education.   

 

COVID-19 Intensifies Need to Tackle Digital Accessibility — from campustechnology.com by By Glenda Sims
More learning content than ever before has migrated online, bringing accessibility concerns to the forefront. Here’s how higher ed institutions are making progress toward equitable access.

Excerpt:

Accessibility lawsuits in education are not new. However, with colleges and universities undertaking their own digital transformations (moving more content and services online), lawsuits targeted at equitable access to physical facilities (like bathrooms) have logically expanded to digital offerings for students relying on assistive technologies to access them. The current COVID-19 crisis is likely to exacerbate this, as more learning content than ever before has migrated online in these unprecedented times. Persons with disabilities will demand nothing less than completely equitable access, particularly when it comes to their safety. While many higher ed institutions still have much to do for their accessibility initiatives, there have been many promising developments…

 

 

ECAR Study of the Technology Needs of Students with Disabilities, 2020 — from er.educause.edu by Dana Gierdowski and Joseph Galanek
Technology in higher education can be both an aid and a challenge for students with disabilities. Institutions and instructors can take steps to ensure that these students have equitable access, and those same measures can help all students, particularly during the era of emergency remote teaching.

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

We asked students, “What is ONE thing you would like your instructors to do with technology to enhance your academic success?” In our analysis of their responses, we identified two overarching themes, as well as prominent patterns within those themes:

  • Online Access to Materials and Resources
    • Class notes and slides
    • Assignments, tests, and quizzes
    • Recorded lectures
    • The LMS and the user experience
  • Teaching with Technology
    • Mobile devices in the classroom
    • Training students and faculty in using technology
    • Multiple methods of presenting course materials
    • Engagement through the use of technology

Read full report: PDF | HTML

Access other materials: Executive Summary | Infographic

 


Also see:

ADA -- Disability and Covid-19

 

Remote Therapy for Special Needs Students Finally Viewed as Viable Option — from thejournal.com by Dian Schaffhauser

Excerpt:

“If there is a silver lining to this terrible virus, it is that out of necessity school districts have become more open to remote learning,” noted CEO Geneve Milne in a blog post. “This is a really important evolution because now school districts that have struggled to recruit speech language pathologists are likely to be more comfortable offering teletherapy to their students. This will help ease the lack of trained, licenses speech-language pathologists available to districts and help districts be more prepared when external forces keep students away from their special needs educator.”

 

From DSC:
Here’s an idea that I’ve been thinking about for quite some time now. It’s not necessarily a new idea, but the seed got planted in me by a former colleague, Quin Schultze (which I blogged about in January of 2018). I’m calling it, “My Learning Journal.The purpose of this device is to promote your metacognition  — helping you put things into your own words and helping you identify your knowledge gaps.

I realize that such a learning strategy/tool could take some time to complete. But it could pay off — big time! Give it a try for a few weeks and see what you think.

And, with a shout-out to Mr. James McGrath, the President of the WMU-Cooley Law School, the article listed below explains the benefits of taking the time for such reflection:

Reflective learning – reflection as a strategic study technique — from open.edu

Excerpts:

Rather than thinking of reflection as yet another task to be added to your ‘to do’ list or squeezed into a busy study schedule, view it as something to practice at any stage. The emphasis is on being a reflective learner rather than doing reflective learning. 

Developing a habit of reflective learning will help you to:

  • evaluate your own progress
  • monitor and manage your own performance
  • self-motivate
  • keep focus on your learning goals
  • think differently about how you can achieve your goals by evaluating your study techniques, learning strategies and whether these best fit your current needs, identifying your skills development needs or gaps in knowledge
  • think about and overcome what may be blocking your learning by using a different approach, or setting more pragmatic (realistic/achievable) goals
  • support and enrich your professional practice ensuring that you are better placed to respond to and manage new, unexpected and complex situations – a key requirement at Master’s level.

From DSC:
Pastors, trainers, K-12 educators, student teachers, coaches, musical teachers, and others: Perhaps a slightly modified version of this tool might be beneficial to those with whom you work as well…?

And for educators and trainers, perhaps we should use such a tool to think about our own teaching and training methods — and what we are (or aren’t) learning ourselves.

Addendum on 5/14/20:

Perhaps someone will build a bot for this type of thing, which prompts us to reflect upon these things. Here are some examples of what I’m talking about or something like Woebot, which Jeremy Caplan mentioned here.

 

10 Tips for Supporting Students with Special Needs in #RemoteLearning — from jakemiller.net by Jake Miller

Excerpt:

How can we support learners with special needs in remote learning?

While, certainly, some educators are doing great things to support these students, from my observations, this has taken a backseat to other elements of remote learning.  And these students NEED OUR HELP.

Unfortunately, I am not an expert in special education, accessibility features or assistive technology. I am, however, skilled at asking other people to share their expertise. ? So, in episode 40 of the Educational Duct Tape podcast and in the 4.8.20 #EduDuctTape Twitter Chat I asked educators one simple question:

How can we support learners with special needs in remote learning?

And they DELIVERED. I mean, the awesome suggestions and resources, all from a perspective of support rather than judgment, POURED in. And so, here they are.

10 Tips for Supporting Students with Special Needs in Remote Learning

 

 
 


Special education and accessibility resources for remote learning — from education.microsoft.com

Excerpt:

For special educators, diversity demands they provide inclusive, accessible learning environments that inspire confidence and encourage independence differently for each student. Learn about how to create a personalized and engaging remote learning experience for all of your students through the resources provided in these pages.

These resources are intended for all educators, but will be especially helpful for educators and support staff who work in the following areas: special education, assistive technology, blind and visually impaired, deaf and hard of hearing, occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech language pathology, early childhood special education, behavior, counseling, school psychology, language interpretation, literacy, autism, and many other areas that assist students who need specially designed instruction.

 

From DSC:
NOTE: The K-12 education system that I’m talking about in this posting is the pre-COVID-19 education system.



What Cory Henwood describes here…

The paradigm of one -- as described by Cory Henwood

is what I describe as the quickly moving K-12 education train that stops for no one!

K-12 education in America is a like a quickly moving train that stops for no one.

(image source)


This becomes especially troublesome for those on either side of the 80% bell curve.
I know about this, as one of our daughters has been living through this phenomenon for years. We are seriously considering homeschooling for her as we want her learning experiences to be more positive ones for her. We want to provide more choice, more control for what she wants to learn about — and the pace at which she can go through those experiences. We want there to be more joy in her learning experiences. This will hopefully help her build more positive perspectives about learning in general.

This is not a mute issue…nor is this a topic that’s focused on just students with special needs. In fact, this topic is relevant to every single student in America — as everyone is now required to be lifelong learners these days. Grades need to diminish in importance. The enjoyment of learning needs to rise.

Note: There were some times in public and charter schools that provided courses and topics of great interest to her, and provided some great joy to her. Plus, there were some incredibly-dedicated teachers and staff that created a team around our daughter. I’m very grateful for them and for their efforts. But positive learning experiences were becoming too few and too far between. The train left the station *for everyone* at such-and-such a time, and stopped *for everyone* at such and such a time. The education system required that she and her classmates move at a certain (high) speed — regardless of their mastery of the content. Teachers know what I’m talking about here…big time.

We need to get to what Cory discusses about when he discusses competency-based education.

We need to get to what Cory discusses about competency-based education.

Plus, we need to get to a place where there is:

 

Educating all learners during COVID-19: An alliance emerges to provide support for virtual special education services — from gettingsmart.com by Rachelle Dene Poth

Excerpt:

One group that is developing a supportive space for educators looking to support students with disabilities during this time is the Educating All Learners Alliance (EALA), a group dedicated to equity and aimed at providing resources that students with disabilities need. The EALA is a collaborative project between a number of education groups to curate education resources specifically for schools that serve the nearly 7.5 million special needs students in America. Lauren Morando Rhim, co-founder and executive director of founding partner the National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools, explains the motivation for the project: “We’re already seeing schools finding creative and innovative ways to ensure teachers and students with disabilities can engage in teaching and learning remotely—our goal is to help educators share those strategies broadly with their peers.”

 

 

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