Wednesday, December 29, 2010

My List of 10 for 2010: 10 Books I've Read This Year

This has been a year where I've been working hard to figure out exactly what it is I believe in as a teacher.  In doing this I've done a lot of exploring and I wanted to share some of that exploring in a few posts related to what I've read and done this past year as far as "professional development" goes.  My first list is a list of the books that I read this year that helped me to better define what I believe in. 
  1. Dymystifying the Autism Experience: A Humanistic Approach for Parents, Caregivers and Educators by William Stillman: Early this year my 11 year old son who has Down syndrome was given a second diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder.  When I came in to my room 4.5 years ago I had one student with Autism who had a pretty established protocol that worked.  When you teach one student with ASD... you teach one student with ASD.  In September 2009 we added student number 2 with ASD, in November 2009 we added student number 3 with ASD, in February 2010 my son was diagnosed with ASD and in September 2010 we added student number 4 with ASD (my son) as well as gaining student number 5 with ASD on a part time basis (assisting with including this student in a regular grade 1 room).  All of this has propelled me to learn a lot more about ASD and to come to discover that I'm extremely humanistic in my beliefs and appraoches.  This book offered me written words for my feelings and beliefs and was transformational in moving me forward.
  2. Thinking in Pictures: My Life With Autism by Temple Grandin: In my quest to find information about Autism I started reading blogs and articles written by people on the spectrum and you can't do that without reading Temple Grandin.  As I read all these other accounts by people on the spectrum I began to realize just how broad the spectrum was.  It really speaks to need to not buy in to a "one approach fits all" type of approach with any disability.  I'm going to a workshop on the SCERTS model in January that I'm really looking forward to because from what I've read it respects the fact that different approaches will work with different students.  I guess I will know more after I've been at the workshop.
  3. Teaching Conversation Skills to Children with Autism: Script and Script Fading by Lynn E.; Ph.D. McClannahan; Patricia J.; Ph.D. Krantz:  Three of my students on the spectrum are in that process of moving from scripted to spontaneous talk and so when I found this book I had to buy it.  There is some great stuff in here - not just about the process of scripting and script fading but also about prompting and prompt fading in general.  I would like to say that I've implemented a load of stuff from this book but I haven't gotten there yet.  I am hoping to use this process in 2011 :).  It is never wasted a read though as even if you don't formally implement things you change approaches from what you read.
  4. Including Students with Severe and Multiple Disabilities in Typical Classrooms: Practical Strategies for Teachers by June E. Downing: As we moved in to the 2010-11 school year I had a new challenge before me.  We had decided to not move our youngest student in to our room but rather to leave him with his peers in the grade 1 room.  This has been going great (more on that later).  Within about 6 weeks we decided to put another student from our room back in to the regular classroom for core academic time and this has also been successful.  There is so much more I can post about all this but I'm going to try to be breif today.  What this did was move me back to a time when inclusion was more important to me and then it propelled me forward to start thinking about a more workable model of inclusion.  Although there is much to do I'm starting to dream again of more inclusive school - but one that stems from making the school fit students not students fit the school.  I'm thinking the next few years will be exciting.  This book was great!  I thought it was very practical and from it I could start to see how it could be done. 
  5. Teaching Language Arts, Mathematics and Science to Students with Significant Cognitive Disabilities by Diane M. Browder and Fred Spooner:  I continued my quest for information on inclusion.  I did not find this book to be as informative or inspirational as the one I had just put down but it did help all the same.
  6. Just Give Him the Whale! 20 Ways to Fascinations, Areas of Expertise and Strengths to Support Students with Autism by Paula Kluth and Patrick Schwarz:  It was around this time that I started reading articles on Paula Kluth's website.  I had gotten this book some time earlier but had not sat down to read it and so I did it at that point.  The book was that first baby step towards thinking about inquiry based learning as one of the paths towards inclusion for all students.  It was a good read more in that it reconfirmed the need to work with student interests/passions rather than to try to fit them in a box.  It certainly did not apply only to students with ASD :).
  7. Making RTI Work: How Smart Schools are Reforming Education through Schoolwide Response to Intervention by Wayne Sailor:  You can't read about inclusion without coming up to the concept of RTI.  I can't put my hand on how much school divisions are in to this in the States in comparison to Canada.  Its really not a buzzword here - although the concept of universal supports certainly is.  I have to admit that I did not get all the way through this book.  Perhaps I'm still at a point where I need to think in fluff and theory rather than practicality.
  8. Collaboration for Inclusive Education: Developing Successful Programs by Chriss Walther-Thomas, Lori Korinek, Virginia L. McLaughlin, and Brenda Toler Williams:  Another okay read but also quite frustrating.  As you begin to really think about inclusion and how far reaching change has to be to make it work you can sometimes get a little bogged down and start to wonder if its worth making the first steps.  From this book I see a real need to ensure that our whole school is onboard with the tiny steps that we started making this year.  Some days I would just like to close my door and teach in my own room.  I am not a face to face "collaborative" person but I'm starting to realize that this is something I'm going to need to get over!
  9. Ask and Tell: Self-Advocacy and Disclosure for People on the Autism Spectrum by Ruth Elaine Joyner Hane, Kassiane Sibley, Stephen M. Shore, Roger N. Meyer, Phil Schwarz and Liane Holliday Willey: Just a few weeks ago a group of us attended a workshop where Stephen Shore was one of the keynote speakers.  He talked about a topic that is near and dear to my heart: self-advocacy.  He went through a process of including the student as part of the IEP team as a way to teach self-advocacy skills.  I was so impressed I bought the book and it did not disappoint. 
  10. The Integrated Self-Advocacy ISA Curriculum: A Program for Emerging Self Advocates with Autism Spectrum and Other Conditions by Valerie Paradiz and Stephen Shore:  In fact the first book was go great that I went digging to find more about teaching self-advocacy skills and found this book.  This book is fantastic!  It is written by someone on the spectrum herself.  I would love to see a course like this offered to students in our highschool (and again not just ones on the spectrum as I'm pretty sure everyone would benefit from learning some self-advocacy skills).  Highly recommend this book.

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