Saturday, September 1, 2012

2012-13: A Brand New Year

We are in the middle of transitioning the way that we serve the students that I have had on my caseload for several years now.  The last couple of years I have kind of lived between two worlds while we have done some testing of the waters.  This year I feeling like what I'm doing is a bit more focused.  There will still be lots of change and growth but the difference now is that I can focus on facilitating inclusion by offering both direct and indirect supports rather than coordinating a self-contained program.  My students have been dispersed to their age-appropriate schools and this means that I will be traveling between schools to oversee their programs.  It is not "perfect" inclusion but rather an exploration of how we can increase routine, social and academic participation in general education classes and settings for these students.  We are looking to find and grow the things that work.  As we begin to understand what works we will be able to apply it across other areas of these student's education.  I'm excited to continue with this learning process that started a few years back.

Focus areas right now include...
  • Exploring with primary classroom teachers Daily Five and CAFE as a possible inclusive literacy structure.  This is exciting as we are talking about inclusion from a design perspective rather than from a retrofitting approach.  How can we set things up right from the get-go to ensure that all students are learning at an appropriate level... including students with significant disabilities. The other area we will step in to with this project is exploring assessment for all students - again, including those with significant disabilities.  
  • Exploring iPads and personal computers to increase communication opportunities and to increase academic participation.  We are planning to further explore curriculum connections we can make with communication apps and a variety of software including Read and Write Gold, CoWriter, Dragon Dictation, Clicker and Classroom Suite.  We are also just looking to use these devises as sources for visuals to modify assignments that the other students are given. 
  • Starting to create a Comprehensive Literacy Course at the High School Level that incorporates both Literacy and AAC concepts and skills.  Developing this course is going to take some time and it will need to be flexible enough to meet each student's needs.  At this point I'm imagining this as a course that students would take as part of their schedule some day. 
  • Creating a "Community Connections" approach for Community Based Programming.  This is instead of something like work experience in that we would be focusing on finding connections in the community rather than building independent work skills.  The ideal would be that one of those connections would lead to possibilities around an assisted work placements but the focus is to extend the approach of looking for and nurturing social connections in the school setting to doing the same in the community as these students get older.  
  • The across the board focus areas that we will continue to work on include facilitating social opportunities and relationships, increasing independence in routines through the use of appropriate and only-as-special-as-necessary supports and increasing awareness about disability.  
I think it's going to be a great year!