Showing posts from August, 2011

Friday Five: Five Things that Resonated With Me at the Linda Burkhart P.O.D.D. Workshop This Week

I had the amazing experience of not only attending a workshop delivered by Linda Burkhart this week but also of being able to do a morning long consultation with her related to one of my students.  It was an amazing learning experience and I'm excited to start using P.O.D.D. communication books with my students.  I could see within minutes of her working with the student we did the consultation around how having this method of communication is going to open up a whole new world for this student.  I'm sure that I will be writing more about this as we go through the process of figuring out how to use this tool with our students.  Right now I'm just very excited.

There is much to say and think about but I think I will start with a "Friday Five" and just go with five things that resonated with me during this learning experience...
"Input before Output": In order for students to learn we need to provide the input before the output and sometimes we need to pro…

Let the Games Begin!

We don't officially go back to work until next week but I am going to be attending a PODD workshop and student consultation for the next three days and then Monday is a staff day and kids are back on Tuesday so basically I'm back to work starting tomorrow.

Very excited to be starting this year... looking forward to some great things including:
PODD Workshop and Implementation - I explained PODD in an earlier post.Elementary Students will be Included - I'm going to be co-teaching for stretches of time in three classrooms as well as helping to coordinate their programs in those classes.High School Students will be at the High School (some of the time) - Still some work to do around getting this up and going but we will make it happen.Working on my Masters... looking to do research related to UDL, AT and Smart Inclusion for my fall course... will see what the spring brings.School Based Pilot Projects - as our province is in the middle of some changes, our school is involved in…

Wednesday's Weekly Comments - August 10-16, 2011

Metacogniton: What it is and how can we harness it in the classroom on Teacher Space.  (August 14, 2011) - This whole area is really exciting me.  I'm going to find it hard to stay focused in one area with all this extra information coming in as a result of my Masters degree.

Circumference: The Evolution of a Lesson on Love of Learning Blog.  (August 14, 2011) - This post may have given me a bit more of an idea as to what to do with my action research project that I mentioned a couple of weeks ago.  I love the idea of focusing on novelty for the project.

Vacation on A Unique Way of Learning. (August 13, 2011) - Some really great ideas to make visual modifications on this website (and always love to find someone else who uses news-2-you products).

The Transformation of Education on Teaching With Passion and Leading With No Title.  (August 13) - Great to find someone else who will be blogging about the changes that are being made to Alberta's "special education" model …

Smart Inclusion

So I was looking around for some tools to put in my belt so that when we get this party started I will have ideas on how to ensure that my students are able to participate in general education classes.  It's going to be change for all involved (and probably one that will move too slow for me at times).  Then I came across the Smart Inclusion Wiki and got to thinking that this looks like a great starting point.

Smart inclusion integrates the Smartboard with what has traditionally been though of as "special needs software" and is set in a framework of (1) Universal Design for Learning (UDL), (2) Differentiated Instruction (DI), (3) Aided Language Stimulation and (4) Participation Model.

As I dig deeper I get more and more excited because this has such great potential.  The recommended "special needs software includes Classroom Suite 4 (with Intellitools as needed), Boardmaker Plus, Clicker 5, Inspiration or Kidspiration (dependent on age of students), Kurzweil and Wo…

Monday's Motivation: Inclusive Employment Model

And now, Proctor & Gamble opened a packaging facility this week in Auburn, Maine where at least 30 percent of employees will be people with physical or developmental disabilities. Check out the story on Disability Scoop.

Designing to Address Sensory Processing Challenges

It's a topic that we seem to come in contact with often but one that I've been researching a bit more thoroughly lately in the hopes of finding ways to design learning experiences to address sensory need rather than trying to use only stand alone on the side responses.  So I'm summarizing what I know about sensory regulation as well as including some articles at the end that I thought had some good ideas around ways to think about needs during planning.

Lets start at the beginning.  We have seven sensory systems:
tactilevestibular proprioception visual auditory gustatory olfactoryFor each sensory system, people will fall on a different place on a threshold continuum.  At either end of the continuum a person would have a high threshold (take a lot before they notice sensory stimulation) or low threshold (take little to notice sensory stimulation). When someone falls on an extreme end for these thresholds support it is important to recognize it and ensure that things are set …

Global Public Inclusive Infrastructure (GPII)


Friday Five: Five Must Read Inclusive Education Experts

This post will have two parts because as I got to deciding who should be on the list I realized there were more than five (which is exciting).  There is no particular order to this list as I feel each of these authors/researchers has impacted my views in their own unique way and none more than another as I learn different things from each.

Cheryl M. Jorgensen
“Cheryl never accepted the status quo—she instead challenged us to evaluate our roles and practices and consider ways to work effectively and efficiently to ensure that every student is presumed competent and supported to be successful in general education. As long as we continue to ask ‘What worked?’ ‘What didn’t?’ and ‘How can we do things differently?’ with our eye on the prize of full inclusion, Cheryl’s presence will carry on.” (Vision and Voice - IOD Newsletter Spring 2011)
Beliefs: high expectations of all students related to learning general education curriculum, assuming competence, quality supports, full time inclusion in…

Video: Dr. David Rose on Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

This video gave me a deeper insight in to the concept of UDL and how it applies to all students rather than just to students with disabilities. Love the concept of learning being more than one thing but traditional teaching only being one thing and how the two don't match up.

When Mikey (my son) was little I researched inclusive education and felt I had a pretty solid awareness of it.  A few years back when Alberta Education had their first round of "Setting the Direction" meetings I started researching inclusive education again but this time from both a parent and teacher perspective. As "Setting the Direction" evolved in to "Action on Inclusion" I have continued to read and gain deeper insight in to what inclusive education.  What I have come to realize over the last little while is that inclusive education is nothing more than just good teaching.  It has left me wondering at times if there really is a difference between inclusive education, educat…

Wednesday's Weekly Comments: August 3 - 9. 2011

Supports & Services or Eliminating Barriers?

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is not a new concept to me.  I've read about it, I've talked about it, I've tried to use the concept.  Still I've sometimes had a hard time around taking the physical idea of curb cuts and ramps and apply it to the active process of learning.  Recently I've begun digging in to the concept in a bit more depth in order to prepare for the class I will be taking this fall that includes UDL as one of the major topics.  I'm coming to a deeper understanding and wanted to share a couple of things I've been thinking about related to UDL>

Today I was reading the book "A Policy Reader in Universal Design for Learning" (David T. Gordon, Jenna W. Gravel, and Laura A. Schifter, Editors) and it suddenly struck me where I might be getting stuck in trying to understand the concept and how it applies to education.  I think the difference is as simple as thinking in terms of "eliminating barriers" rather than thinking…

Monday's Motivation: 30 Tips of Dignity and Respect

This comes from a great website with a simple inclusion definition: inclusion = dignity and respect.  Check it out and take the pledge at

Friday Five: Five Quotes About Including Students With Significant Disabilities

"To make sense of having students with significant learning differences as members of the inclusive classroom, we must carefully rethink our assumptions about intelligence, ability and aptitude.  It is not uncommon to hear someone say, "What is a student with an IQ of 45 going to get out of a biology class?"  We must question what it means to have an IQ of 45, and we must evaluate the testing that yielded that score.  And we must wonder: What if we're wrong about this student's capabilities?  Which would be the worse mistake: to have had high expectations and exposed the student to much more than he could actually understand, or to have falsely diminished expectations and deprived the students of learning opportunities?"  

- Widening the Circle
by Mara Sapon-Shevin

"There are at least five reasons why we believe that the least dangerous assumption is to presume competence. Human intelligenc…

Wednesday's Weekly Comments: July 27 - August 2, 2011

Inclusion and Standardized Tests on Cooperative Catalyst (Commented on July 28, 2011)Engaging Students: Teachers' and Principals' Work at Steve Barkley Ponders Out Loud (Commented on July 29, 2011) - Great thoughts about the paradigm shift from planning lessons to designing for student learning.

Monday's Motivation: Above and Beyond

Great video!  I followed the link at the end of the video to the Partnership for 21st Century Skills website and found some great gems there.  The image that was the most interesting was this one:

We are doing a lot of work in our province and division around figuring out "supports and services" for students as part of this movement towards a more inclusive education system.  I thought the pools around the bottom of the rainbow summed up really nicely the supports and services that we need to provide for all students in our schools.  I feel like an image like this gets me a bit closer to figuring out what inclusive education means to me.