Articles

My Learning Journal – Spec Ed Part 1

ENTRY 1 – Tuesday, October 2nd, 2018

This is my first entry into my Learning Journal for the Special Education – Part 1 Additional Qualification course that I am taking online via Queen’s University. Yahoo! Here, I have been asked to look forward at the final task and choose between two options for the culminating assignment. After reading about the choices, I have chosen to complete Task B: Transition Plan.

Why Task B: Transition Plan?

I have selected the transition plan because, as a secondary science teacher, I feel that I will benefit most from this assignment as I will be able to better understand how I can help students with exceptional abilities plan and transition into the next grade or post secondary education. It is easy enough to say “You have to work hard and study”, but actually developing and creating a transition plan will better enable me to suggest and implement strategies that can help both the student, their family and future educators who they may come into contact with. I think this will especially help with grade 12 students.

The best part about this? I can change my mind later! This task was designed to help guide my focus throughout the course. I am super pumped to start this learning journey! 🙌

ENTRY 2 – Wednesday, October 3rd, 2018

Record 3 things that you have learned from each reading:

An Introduction to Special Education in Ontario

  1. I learned what the acronym IPRC actually stands for: Identification, Placement, and Review Committee (IPRC). Silly, I know!
  2. I learned that Ontario’s Education Act or Bill 182 was implemented as recently as 1980. It blows my mind that an act so important and crucial as this was only developed and enforced in my lifetime!
  3. Finally, I learned that “In the 2014/2015 school year (the most recent figures available) more than 178,500 students were identified by an IPRC as exceptional pupils.”

Questions and Answers Parents May Have Regarding Special Education

  1. This article provided me with a link to a very useful guide on creating/developing IEPs. I am familiar with accessing and following IEPs, but have never created one from scratch. I think this will be a useful resource for the future!
  2. I also learned that both a parent and/or principal can request an initial IPRC. I was under the impression this was mostly done by classroom teachers, so this is good to know.
  3. Finally, I learned that there is an alternative to the OSSD, the Ontario Secondary School Certificate (OSSC) and those students with special needs can request these if they leave school before fully completing their OSSD.

Essential Advice for the Teaching Profession

  1. This reading really put my teaching practice into perspective. All of the various strands and links between them made me realize the various connections between our duties and responsibilities and the expectations of us as teachers
  2. After reading through this article, I know have a better understanding about the ethical obligations of educating professionals
  3. I am a visual learner so all the brain maps/concept maps in this reading are very appealing and help me get the ‘big picture’. I am definitely saving this for future reference!

ENTRY 3 – Thursday, October 4th, 2018

Five main points that I took away from the readings are:

  1. The analogy of the butterfly and the learning of children literally blew my mind. So true and inspiring!
  2. Bill 82 was a crucial step by the government to place the responsibility for children with special needs in the hands of the boards of education
  3. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms was only implemented in 1982 (I was 4 years old!)
  4. “A special education program is defined as an educational program that is based on and modified by the results of a continuous assessment and evaluation of the pupil and that includes a plan (now referred to as an Individual Education Plan) containing specific objectives and an outline of the educational services that meets the needs of the exceptional pupil”
  5. It was interesting to learn how different provinces refer to exceptional students i.e. those with special needs, exceptional, gifted, etc.

After reading through my school boards annual special education plan, three topics that I want to learn more about include:

1.The Identification, Placement and Review Committee (IPRC) Process

2. Individual Education Plans – the development and implementation

3. Categories and Definitions of Exceptionalities

ENTRY 4 – Monday October 8th, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving y’all!

Today I am well underway with module 2. As part of the Human Rights section for this module, I was asked to “review the Ethical Standards of the Teaching Profession and the Standards of Practice for the Teaching Profession from the Ontario College of TeachersWhen put into practice, how do they relate to the information in this document: Human Rights Law and Policy in Ontario?” They relate in that as a teacher, you are expected to treat all students equally, with both dignity and respect, despite any disabilities that may affect them.We know from a historical perspective, school boards and individual schools were able to refuse certain students based on their disabilities, whereas now that is not tolerated. It is a teacher’s duty to not only act professionally, but to have an ethical obligation to teach and treat all students equally, especially those students with exceptionalities.

Indigenous Awareness

For the next section of module 2, I was asked to review two articles:

Aboriginal Perspectives, A Guide to the Teacher’s Toolkit

Teaching Resources and Strategies for Elementary and Secondary Classrooms

What resonated with me was the fact that not only are these strategies great for using in classrooms with indigenous students, but they are also great to incorporate into any classroom for that matter, increasing awareness for the Metis, Inuit and aboriginal peoples of Canada.

ENTRY 5 – Tuesday, October 9th, 2018

As part of module 2,we have been asked to connect and collaborate with a colleague on the course – sounds fun! I reached out to a fellow science teacher and she agreed to work together.After watching the 2 videos, these are the strategies we brainstormed:

  1. Hey Politicians! We need to decrease the funding gap so that proper support can be provided. Need to make better learning environments (i.e.clean water), introduce more resources to improve attainment and increase graduation rates
  2. Indigenous Education – need to educate teaching staff and support staff to Aboriginal ways and needs (no more ignorance). Remove stereotypes and stigmas,same as with special needs students
  3. Incorporate Indigenous students into mainstream curriculum and regular boards of education (if so desired). Is this too controversial?
  4. Promote a Dialogue – encourage discussions between parents and students and strengthen the trilogy between parent, student and teacher. Involve administration as often as possible. Is the school meeting your child’s needs?
  5. Abandon a ‘one size fits all’ mentality – All students are unique no matter what their religious, cultural or intellectual/behavioral/developmental background.

ENTRY 6 – Wednesday, October 10th, 2018

After doing my readings, the elements that these 4 documents have in common include:

  • The need for dignity, equity and respect throughout all classrooms and for all students, no matter what their ability
  • The importance for differentiated instructional strategies in schools
  • One size does not fit all – in order to accommodate students needs, a diverse range of teaching styles and modifications and curriculum adaptations are needed, especially for students with special needs

I absolutely loved the images provided! I have totally saved these for future reference

After looking at the images, the examples convey the message that equity and inclusion benefit students with learning difficulties because they stress one key theme: removing barriers. If we ensure that all students are on an even playing field, then there are no barriers to learning.

ENTRY 7 – Monday, October 15th, 2018

With your partner, present 5 strategies related to special education that can help solve some of the issues faced by Indigenous students in Ontario…

5 Strategies:

  1. Hey Politicians! We need to decrease the funding gap so that proper support can be provided. Need to make better learning environments (i.e.clean water), introduce more resources to improve attainment and increase graduation rates
  2. Indigenous Education – need to educate teaching staff and support staff to Aboriginal ways and needs (no more ignorance). Remove stereotypes and stigmas,same as with special needs students
  3. Incorporate Indigenous students into mainstream curriculum and regular boards of education (if so desired). Is this too controversial?
  4. Promote a Dialogue – encourage discussions between parents and students and strengthen the trilogy between parent, student and teacher. Involve administration as often as possible. Is the school meeting your child’s needs? Advocate for your child! Many aboriginal adults are uneducated themselves
  5. Abandon a ‘one size fits all’ mentality – All students are unique no matter what their religious, cultural or intellectual/behavioral/developmental background.

ENTRY 8 – Wednesday, October 17th, 2018

Module 3 – Section 1 – My Observation (from my secondary LTO last year)

Danny has an IEP and has been diagnosed with autism and in some classes, he can be confrontational with his teachers. In grade 9 applied science, he prefers to sit alone at the back of the classroom and does not like collaborating with his peers nor does he participate in class discussions. He rushes through his class work and just wants to get things ‘done’ and his assessments show this. Danny understands where photosynthesis occurs in plants and why plants are important for the environment, but when he completes an activity about the word equation for photosynthesis, he often confuses the products and reactants. He also fails to connect photosynthesis with cellular respiration and how they are related/the opposite of each other.

Category Observation
Knowledge and Understanding Danny understands where photosynthesis occurs in plants, but when he completes an activity about the word equation for photosynthesis, he often confuses the products and reactants
Thinking Danny fails to connect photosynthesis with cellular respiration and how they are related/the opposite of each other.
Communication Danny does not like collaborating with his peers nor does he participate in class discussions.
Application Danny understands where photosynthesis occurs in plants and why plants are important for the environment
Behavioural/Emotional Danny is on the autism spectrum. He doesn’t like to interact with his peers, nor does he participate in class discussions. He rushes through his work and often doesn’t apply himself to his best ability. He is often confrontational with some teachers.

In what category do most of your observations fall?

Most of my observations fall under the knowledge/understanding and behavioural/emotional categories. This make sense as for this particular student, their reading comprehension was often negatively affected by behavior and attitude towards learning.

ENTRY 9 – Thursday, October 18th, 2018

Today I read through an interesting article on developing student profiles. Here are my thoughts:

  • What do these assessments, combined with your observations, tell you about your student? They provide us with the ‘bigger’ picture which includes all data from the past and present which is key in developing a plan for the future!
  • How will that influence your practice? Using this information will definitely influence my practice and allow me to modify teaching and learning strategies
  • At what point do you contact the student’s parents/guardians? I would reach out if I had any questions or concerns at any point, including before they even step into my classroom

ENTRY 10 – Friday, October 19th, 2018

While working as a FT secondary science teacher last year with a local board, I consulted and collaborated with several members. My in-school team included:

  • Head of Special Education
  • Special Education Resource Teachers (SERTs)
  • Educational assistants (EAs)
  • Social worker
  • Student Success Teacher
  • Child and youth counselor
  • Guidance counselors
  • Fellow teachers/colleagues
  • Administration
  • I may also link with external professionals such as educational psychologists, etc.

What information can these assessments provide?

Speech and language assessments: 

  • Providing assessments based on classroom
    observation, review of the Ontario Student
    Record, interviews with teachers, parents,
    other professionals involved, informal
    tasks, and formal testing according to the
    student’s needs
    • Providing teachers, parents and other
    participating professionals with an
    understanding of the student’s oral
    language and social communication needs
    as related to language learning, literacy
    development, behavior and general ability
    to participate in the classroom program.
    • Developing recommendations and
    programming suggestions resulting from
    observation and assessment in
    collaboration with teachers, other
    professionals involved, parents, and in
    some cases, the capable student
  • Often taken for granted, the ability to communicate effectively is essential to achieve and maintain quality of life. Speech, language and associated cognitive disorders can adversely affect academic performance, workforce integration, and social interaction. Treatments that speech-language pathologists are uniquely qualified to provide can help individuals with expressive and receptive language, articulation, fluency, voice, resonance and cognitive communication disorders (e.g., memory, organization, problem solving) reach their full communicative potential.

    Also of concern: individuals with untreated swallowing disorders can find themselves at risk of dehydration, malnutrition, and pulmonary compromise. Speech-language pathologists are trained to provide therapies that lead to improved swallowing safety, function, and independence.

    As a result, referral to speech-language pathology services ensures early identification and management of both communication and swallowing disorders, which in turn enables optimal social, academic, and vocational integration.

  • OSLA website

Psycho-educational assessments:

  • “A psychological assessment evaluates thinking, learning and behaviour. The assessment may include interviews, observation, testing and consultation with other professionals involved in your child’s care. Testing includes pencil and paper tasks, puzzles, drawing, and games. The assessment covers many skill areas, such as general intellectual level, language, memory and learning, problem solving, planning and organization, fine motor skills, visual spatial skills, and academic skills (reading, math, spelling and writing). It also includes an examination of behaviour and emotions.”
  • “A psychological assessment is helpful in identifying your child’s strengths and weaknesses and will lead to recommendations for both academic and behavioural intervention. By detecting problems, an assessment can be used to assist in planning your child’s school program, to identify needs for special services in school, and to help you access resources in your community.”
  • Sick Kids Website
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