Friday, April 14, 2006

here are a few essays i have been working on for my special education class...

The earliest form of work related to speech and language disorders was done in Europe in the early 19th century and it dealt with those that were deaf. Soon, professionals realized they needed to expand their interests to help those with other kinds of speech problems like stuttering for example. A lady named Mrs. Leigh wrote about a method of curing stuttering by placing rolls of linens under the tongue so that it would be in the correct position for speech. Other people began to come up with similar models and they were working to cure speech problems through unusual treatments and surgeries that often had no proof that they would actually work. Because people didn’t want their ideas to be stolen, they were usually not written but passed down. By the end of the 19th century speech clinicians came to address speech and language problems and were educated either as teachers or as doctors or had successfully overcame speech problems themselves. The first formal training for speech clinicians came in the 1930’s and most interventions took place in public school settings where a classroom of children would have to repeat sounds, words, and sentences as well as go through a series of relaxation exercised because it was thought that speech problems had a lot to do with the students having anxiety. As time progressed, clinicians began to realize that communication had more to do with just learning sounds and repeating words.
With the passing of the PL 94-142 in 1975, speech and language services were greatly influenced and changed. There was a reduction in the amount of students one pathologist was allowed to teach at a time. The idea of the least restrictive environment came into the picture and it made the general education setting a place where speech and language services were able to be offered. The most common traditional speech and language service was the pullout program, similar to how it was in the early 19th century but with highly certified pathologists. The professionals would come to the child’s home or school and pull them out of their setting to give the child services in a separate area. This has the benefit of getting rid of any distractions for the child, but it also removes him from his natural environment which could stigmatize him. Instead of the pullout program, some pathologists came to the students classroom environments so that they could receive special education in the context of their early childhood center, preschool, or kindergarten. This allows the pathologist to see the child’s ability in the student’s natural environment; however, it can also make the student feel singled out.
Inclusion is being used to make an approach that combines separate service, in class service, and indirect service. Using inclusion, the pathologist periodically may work directly with a student in a separate setting, often to check their progress, to address particularly complex problems, and to make decisions about subsequent steps in intervention. Some of the services are also offered within the classroom and lastly the pathologist is to meet with the early childhood teacher to discuss interventions and problem solve about the students needs. This form of collaboration is a great help because the pathologist may only be available for direct services on a very limited basis. Nearly all students with speech and language disorders receive their education in a typical classroom setting (more than 87%) and they have speech once or twice a week with the speech pathologist. The teacher tells the speech teacher what to work on with the students. One new way of helping those students with speech problems is through the use of co- teaching, where there are two teachers in a classroom, one being a speech and language pathologist. The students don’t know that one of the teachers is offering special help but think they are just another teacher. The students that need extra help in speech, however, get that chance because whether they know it or not, they are around a speech teacher the whole time.
Because speech and language problems affect every part of a student’s life, inclusion seems the best way to go. The general education teacher, the speech teacher, and even the parents can get involved since they see the child in different environments and can give input on different ways to help them. There are two main reasons why I feel that inclusion is better than other programs such as pullout programs. Inclusion allows students to be with their peers most of the time whereas pullout programs isolate them. The social context of school is extremely important in my opinion and all students need to have as much time in the general education setting as possible. Also, I feel that inclusion is more effective because it gives the student help in many different areas, including the classroom, the playground, and even the lunchroom. Secondly, inclusion measures the child’s success through individual expectations and through real life, not through tests and grades. I firmly believe that inclusion is more effective in treating students with communication disorders and plan on using it in my classroom.

Parents and families play a crucial role in special education procedures. In order to collaborate with these families you have to have an understanding with them. Because there is so much diversity in our society, being able to understand and thus collaborate with them is often quite challenging. The diversity you might find in the classroom could be that some parents may have had negative experiences in school, are of poverty, come from another country, or view teachers as authority figures and therefore are scared to share information with them. Some parents may not have means of meeting teachers due to lack of transportation or child care. There could be language barriers and cultural differences as well. It is important to foster relationships with these parents despite the hardness that it is going to be. To encourage parent participation you could provide the parents information about what is going to be talked about at a meeting before the actually meeting. This way they will have time to prepare. If you are experiencing cultural differences it is important to remember three things; 1. What you know of a culture in the past might not still stand today, 2. SES affects people just as much as culture does, and 3. No cultural group is homogenous. Asking these parents of cultural differences questions that only they have the answer to, like what their child’s interests are at home for example, invites their input and participation. Most importantly, unless you yourself have a child with needs similar to their child’s needs, you need to remember that you will never know just what they are going through and how they feel.
One idea that I have to foster better relationships with diverse families of elementary students would be that maybe once or twice a month there could be a family reading night. It could be at like seven on maybe a Tuesday or Thursday so that the families are more than likely not at work. The students could bring their parents and siblings and everyone would meet either in the classroom or in the library and socialize and read and the kids could get points or something for coming or for reading books to make them want to do it as well. I think that if this reading night happened monthly or twice a month, then the parents would have many opportunities to come. It would also be a more relaxed setting encouraging them to talk with the teacher and other parents and then maybe they would come participate in class more since they felt comfortable.

Positive behavior supports are supports that are incorporated into a behavior intervention plan. Professionals look at the student in their natural environments and carefully define their behaviors in the context of the situation that it occurs. They design ways to reduce the negative behaviors and increase more desired behaviors. This way the student will have a better academic and social quality of life. For example, if a student is often frustrated with their work, a teacher can make sure that the child’s work is at their level and could give rewards for when they don’t become frustrated, such as a sticker to add to a chart, and when they reached a certain amount of stickers they receive a prize of some sort. This positive reinforcement works best when parents collaborate and form a reward system at home. Consistency is key in the process, especially for those with emotional and behavioral disorders. The expectation for students with EBD is to teach them appropriate behaviors that will help them not only succeed in school, but in their future lives. Negative consequences or punishment are only used in partnership to positive behavior supports and if no other approach is effective.
Positive behavior supports are extremely important because it is through early intervention like this that could cause the child to eventually not experience later problems. In middle school, incorporating PBS into the classroom has led to an increased use of rewards for students by teachers, decreased aggressive behavior by students, and decreased discipline referrals. I think the behavior support that I would implement in a middle school environment would be through the use of no homework passes. Whenever doing groupwork I would pair some students with EBD with students who don’t have it since working with others is often hard to do without disruption. I would keep an eye on the students with EBD and if they started to act up I would get closer to them because sometimes just being in a closer proximity to them will make them behave. At the end of the group work, I would give a no homework pass to the group that I didn’t have to speak to for misbehaving. This way, the EBD students would want to behave so that they could receive one.

Authentic assessment is assessment that looks more like the actual curriculum and instruction that students experience in schools. Writing essays, debating, and creating portfolios are included in authentic assessment. Instead of relying only on intelligence and achievement test scores, other criteria are used and this form of assessment recognizes if minority students and girls are gifted and talented. Dynamic assessment identifies the ongoing process of a student’s learning needs and abilities. It is an approach used to assess cognitive abilities that aren’t apparent on standardized tests. In this form of assessment students are tested, taught skills, and then tested again to see how big their improvement was. The measure of giftedness is how much the students improve based on the skill instruction. They say that this is a promising approach because students who are overlooked on traditional tests will perform well on this type of task.
I think that authentic assessment most accurately identifies gifted individuals because I think that it works with more of an array of criteria. Dynamic assessment focuses on testing and retesting which, in my opinion, is not good because some students may simply not test well or could become sick of testing. Authentic assessment allows the students to express themselves in different ways and show their strengths and passions more. They might be an excellent writer and show that by writing papers and stories, they may have a passion for articulation and debate well, or they might be creative and love to draw and create portfolios and other such things. The way that this form identifies minority students and girls is also a big reason of why I feel that it is the most effective form of assessment. All students are not the same and express themselves in many different ways. I think it is only fair to let them express their gifts and talents in a wide arrangement of ways, not just testing and retesting.

Twice exceptionality is when a student is gifted and talented but also has a disability. These students are entitled to special education services because of their disabilities, but they are also entitled to gifted and talented programs. Some common disabilities of those that are 2E are learning disabilities, physical disabilities, ADHD, emotional and behavior disorders, Asperger syndrome, and visual or hearing impairments. It is often under diagnosed because students with ADHD and students who are gifted and talented often display similar characteristics and behavior. They may be restless, challenge adult authority, and be socially immature. Students with Asperger syndrome also display similar characteristics to that of gifted and talented students in that they have advanced vocabularies, intensity of focus, and excellent memory. Because these disabilities share characteristics, they often do not get diagnosed with both and just accredit all of their behaviors to either ADHD or Asperger syndrome.
A classroom teacher might have issues in working with a student with 2E because they will have to have collaboration with the special education teachers and the gifted teachers. The child would be taken out of the classroom a lot to receive these services and would probably miss a lot of class time. The teacher is not allowed to let them lose recess to make up the work, as we saw with Dr. Trammel’s daughter not being allowed to complete math work during recess. Teacher would also have to alter their curriculum to make it more advanced for their giftedness, but would also have to make special accommodations for their disability. If the student has ADHD and giftedness, for example, the teacher might find it hard to make the child stay on task and keep them motivated and not bored. A teaching strategy that could be used for high school kids might be allowing the students to all teach class on different days, this way they could focus their attention on that one task and show the other kids their talents. If they had some kind of physical disability, it would allow the other students to see that they had strengths that outweighed the physical disability and it would make the 2E student feel more involved.


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