Archive for August, 2012

EDSP 6644 Educating Exceptional Students–Artifact # 2

LITERATURE REVIEW–Laurie James

The second artifact I’ve selected for this course is an assignment entitled: Self-Advocacy for Secondary Students: A Literature Review. My choice to expand and elaborate on my peer review topic was primarily due to my high interest in this topic, the need for information, and the fact that I was able to locate a number of very helpful and interesting articles during my original search. The encouraging and surprising conversation this week with a former student from twenty years ago, provided a perfect case-in-point–supporting my desire to promote further education for my students.

Laurie~

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EDSP 6644 Educating Exceptional Students–Artifact # 1

SE PEER REVIEW. Laurie James

The first artifact I’ve selected  to post for this course, Educating Exceptional Students, is my peer review assignment, entitled: Promoting Self-Advocacy in Secondary Students. My reason for selecting this topic was primarily due to the fact that I see a great need in my current school to further develop opportunities for building self-advocacy skills in my students. Our high school’s special education team has already begun to work on a number of projects designed to address this need and I wanted to examine the latest research to bring back to the team in the fall. (I must say that I was surprised to find the terms “self-advocacy” and “self-determination” missing from the index in the textbook for this course.)

Laurie~

EDSP 6644 BLOG 4 Principles of HOPE

EDSP 6644     BLOG 4         Principles of HOPE

HOPE PRINCIPLE: E – Exemplify service to the teaching profession.

E1 – Exemplify professionally-informed, growth-centered practice.

Teacher-candidates develop reflective, collaborative, professional growth-centered practices through regularly evaluating the effects of his/her teaching through feedback and reflection.

As a long-time educator in my community (over thirty years), my professional goals are to increase my awareness and application of current research, strengthen my communication and interactions with colleagues and community members, and to inspire students to continue with their education.  Reflecting on my own educational journey, both as a teacher and now as a graduate student, I can see patterns of growth and change. I see how God is at work.

About a year and a half ago, I was discouraged to see that two of my students had dropped out of school–mid-year. Coincidentally, later that week, I received an unexpected phone call from a former student.  The woman on the other end of the line had been a teenager in my class–eighteen years earlier. She called to let me know that despite the difficulties and severe challenges encountered in her life (both as a child and well into adulthood) she would be graduating from college—with honors.  In the midst of our conversation, she offered that she would like to “pay it forward” and that if I felt it was appropriate, she would like to come to the school to share her story with my students. “Mrs. James”, she said, “I want to let them know that if I can graduate from college—so can they.” Even more surprising than the apparent transformation in this individual was the fact that this phone call–from a student whom I thought I had “lost”—inspired me to call Seattle Pacific University to inquire about graduate school.

Now, just today, at the close of my sixth quarter of graduate coursework –ironically as I am finalizing my article review on self-advocacy for the class entitled, Educating Exceptional Students—she called again. Once again, we engaged in enjoyable and encouraging dialogue concerning the ways we are each interacting with others in our respective roles—promoting life-long learning. We are making plans to have her return for her second time as a guest speaker in my classroom. I must indeed take action on my plans for promoting and increasing self-advocacy skills in my students—preparing them to hear and receive her story!

EDSP 6644 BLOG 3 Principles of HOPE

EDSP 6644     BLOG 3         Principles of HOPE

HOPE PRINCIPLE: P – Practice effective teaching: inquiry, planning, instruction & assessment.

P1 – Practice intentional inquiry and planning for instruction.

Teacher-candidates plan and/or adapt standards-based curricula that are personalized to the diverse needs of each student.

Should school districts implement Response to Intervention to improve academic outcomes for students?

Based on my understanding of the Response to Intervention (RTI) process as described in this week’s readings, as well as my experience as a high school special education teacher, I would have to say that it would be difficult to effectively implement “true” RTI at the secondary level, so would answer with a qualified “no”. However, I do believe that a range of interventions can be offered to students within a school, and therefore throughout a given district. As authors Vaughn and Fletcher state with regard to reading interventions: “Secondary students do not need to “pass through” successively more intensive interventions as in early elementary grades; rather, they can be assigned to less or more intensive interventions based on their current reading achievement scores (L. S. Fuchs, Fuchs, & Compton, 2010). Thus, it is technically current performance and instructional need rather than “responsive to intervention” that places them in a secondary or tertiary intervention” (2012, p. 10). Although this reference specifically discusses progress in the area of reading, “current performance and instructional need” are often the primary indicators used across skill and content areas when determining appropriate interventions.

Generally, in my high school setting, most students who qualify for special education have been identified prior to entering 9th grade, although we do have instances of new referrals for special education services. With regard to school-wide interventions, however, we currently endeavor to offer a three levels of interventions to “most” students. All students in 9th and 10th grades as well as “selected” students in 11th and 12th grades are placed in one of three levels of twice-weekly tutorial sessions. As designed by our staff, students who are performing satisfactorily are assigned to the largest group tutorials. The “secondary” or mid-level tutorials are comprised of 20-30 students and offer time and assistance for students to focus on skills and assignments in any subject area. The “tertiary” or smallest tutorials of approximately 10 students offer intensive interventions in either math or English skills. The student placement decisions are made by teams of teachers within both the math and English departments, as well as each of the four “Pods” within our school. The data examined and used to determine placement are semester grades as well as teacher recommendations based on ongoing classroom performance. Data is evaluated each quarter so that changes to placements can be made as needed.

Communication and collaboration between teachers and counselors allow for addressing the needs of students. The process of making the determination and assignments was outlined by our school’s leadership team and appears to be in line with the HOPE principle of “P” – Practicing intentional inquiry and planning for instruction. I find that students seem to respond gratefully when they realize that a team of teachers is working together on their behalf and discussing together how to best meet the needs of students.