Friday, September 16, 2011

Friday Five: Five Areas I Will Learn More About This Year

We are now three weeks in the 2011-12 school year and there have already been a lot of successes.  It is going to be a busy year, probably with a lot of ups and downs.  But there will also be a lot of great learning opportunities as we go through these changes.  Just wanted to use my "Friday Five" this week as a place to document the areas that I see as my focus for learning this year.
  1. Low Tech Communication System (P.O.D.D.):  We did our training on P.O.D.D. three weeks ago and are up and running with using the system with my four oldest students.  My intention is to use it with at least 2 of my 4 younger students and we will be getting that going soon.  One of my younger students is currently using his P.O.D.D. book as a tool when doing assignments in class and it is working great as a tool for him to have a larger vocabulary to do all sorts of assignments.   I am currently working on Pragmatic Profiles for each of my students so that we have some baseline data to compare to after we have used this system for a year.  I believe it is going to open up some great social and academic opportunities for my students.
  2. Literacy for All:  I am part of a pilot project that Alberta Education is currently facilitating around "Literacy for All".  Although we have not gotten too far in to the project, it has inspired me to do a lot of research around developing literacy skills with students with significant disabilities.  Literacy and communication go hand in hand and focusing in this area will obviously have huge benefits for my students.  I'm looking at doing some small group and co-teaching work with some of the classes that my elementary students are in during this school year.  We are already seeing a change in literacy skills in some of our students as a result of our renewed focus in this area.
  3. Collaborative Team Process:  Our school is in the process of adopting a new model for how the professionals that support students work in our school.  We are looking at a much more collaborative approach with all team members coming together once a month and then making plans as well as addressing specific student and classroom needs.  We have just started and its going to be a learning process but I'm sure it's going to create a more inclusive culture in our school.
  4. Inclusion Facilitator/Coaching Role:  My role is changing and changing fast as my students move from being in a self-contained setting in to classrooms.  My four younger students are already in general education classrooms.  It is going to take some time to make this transition.  I'm referencing the Beyond Access Model as a way to start thinking about what my new role will be.  In a few weeks we will start the process of moving my high school students to the high school.  This is going to probably be a much slower process than what we are seeing with the elementary students.
  5. Assistive Technology to Support Inclusion: One of the areas that I've always been fascinated with is AT.  I do have some background in this as we have used AT in our self-contained setting.  Now the focus shifts to the AT that will support inclusion.  I'm starting the process by looking in to Smart Inclusion philosophy and approach and we will see where things grow from there.
All in all, I'm looking forward to a very exciting year of growing and learning! 

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