Showing posts from August, 2012

The Life Skills That Matter...


Favorite Reads of the Summer

As summer winds down, I thought I would share my favorite reads of the summer.  I am leaving out the books "The Daily 5" and "CAFE" as I feel they warrant a completely separate post because of everything that is in them that encourages student agency and because we will be working with them through the Literacy for All project this year and so I will be writing about them as we learn more.

Seeing the Charade: What We Need to Do and Undo To Make Friendship Happen by Carol Tashie, Susan Shapiro-Barnard and Zach Rossetti

This book takes a hard look at how the special education system as it is designed right now plays a role in the social isolation of students with disabilities.  It works through the barriers to friendship for students with disabilities and give some suggestions related to how to overcome these barriers and support the development of meaningful, authentic relationships for students with disabilities.  I thought it was a great book but it is a book of ch…

Find Joy in the Journey

Skrtic proposes that schools evolve into problem-solving organizations where the fundamental structure of the classroom is replaced with more flexible structures that are more adhocratic in nature or focused on problem solving – organizations in which educators customize programs for individual students.For Skrtic, in a problem solving school, disability becomes an opportunity to innovate and improve.“Regardless of its causes and its extent, student disability is not a liability in a problem-solving organization; it is an asset, an enduring uncertainty, and thus the driving force behind innovation, growth and knowledge.” (Effective Inclusive Schools, 2012, Thomas Hehir and Lauren Katzman) Summer is quickly coming to an end and it is time to start thinking about another school year.  My job is different this year as the students who are on my case load will begin at their age-appropriate schools this fall.  Rather than being in one classroom in one school, they are going to be in sever…

Contribution of Being

We know the research is out there to show that other students do not miss out when students with disabilities are included but what matters more is what others gain when students with disabilities are included.  The Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network website ( outlines that there are two ways for people to contribute.  The first is one that we are all well aware of and one that many "life skills" programs are built on and that is the contribution of doing.  We give students "jobs" around the school or classroom so that they are contributing.  This is a tough one because this approach can be taken to the point where we are actually defining the social status of a student by the jobs that we assign them.  It also doesn't get to the heart of contribution as it is often action without the affective component that is so vital to contribution.

PLAN also talks about the contribution of being and defines it as
These are contri…

How about calling it community building instead of classroom management?

This was a great statement made by @AmyRass on twitter today.  It reminded me of this video about empowering people and how important the way we frame things is.

I am remembering back to when I first started to wrap my head around what "inclusion" actually means.  So often we go to the idea that inclusion means belonging but in the end belonging happens on a spectrum and it seems to be that at times this definition can actually work against the development of meaningful relationships for people with disabilities.  So I go back to my original idea of inclusion meaning being part of a community.  I think the extra that comes with being part of a community is that when you are part of a community you don't just take from it, you also give to it.

So back to that twitter question.  What if we authentically looked at community building instead of classroom management?  Would people then see the students that I serve as assets rather than liabilities in this kind of classroom?

Creating Resource Lists by Using Pinterest

I have been on pinterest for some time but have really not been motivated to use it.  This past week, my son ended up in the hospital with a terrible intestinal bug and I ended up with a lot of time on my hands while he slept, rehydrated and got back to being the healthy, happy little boy that he is.  So - I explored pinterest on my iPad a lot and came up with an idea.

What I'm looking to do is create "Boards" that link to each of the grade level units that the students on my caseload will be a part of in inclusive classes.  The ideas can be used either with the whole class if the teacher chooses or they can be used as a modification so that my students can actively engage in the curriculum objectives.  I'm including mostly hands on, non-writing activities as these are the ones that the students on my caseload need (and I believe there are many others who also need these types of activities but we don't always have time as teachers to find them and set them and l…

Steve Barkley Videos - Types of Coaching