Archive for May, 2013

Capstone-Standard 04 Meta-Reflection: Pedagogy

Capstone-Standard 04 Meta-Reflection: Pedagogy

Engages students in learning experiences that are meaningful, stimulating, and empirically proven to promote intellectual growth.

Initial reflection during C & I Orientation:

The learning experiences I provide for my students should be interesting, inspiring, and research-based. Instruction to promote thinking skills should be delivered in the student’s least restrictive environment. Additionally, I must keep up-to-date and aware of methods and techniques to actively involve my students in the learning process.

Meta-Reflection following completion of EDU 6526 Survey of Instructional Strategies

Amazed by the Gifts of my Colleagues~

As I reflect on what I have learned in this course entitled Survey of Instructional Strategies, I have much to consider. Reflecting on this past week, filled with reading the papers written by my colleagues and the corresponding comments from our peers, I am filled with a sense of amazement. The quality of their work as graduate students, their professionalism as educators, and their integrity as individuals who desire to give of their best to others is overwhelming. I believe the richness of their gifts, the creativity evidenced in their endeavors, and their dedication as lifelong learners will continue to impact the future in positive ways. I feel privileged to have shared this quarter with these outstanding people of character. A few of the many highlights, according to the “research”, noted in Blackboard Discussions: Final Papers for Peer Review—Seattle Pacific University (2012) are as follows:

Positive Student Behavior—Cara Botz, Collaborative Learning in the Resource Room–Amy Guatelli, Cooperative Learning & Middle School–Connie Taylor, Cooperative Learning–Josh Auckland, Character Education–Keri McManus, The Use of Direct Instruction in Response to Intervention Models–Sara Mirabueno, Josh’s Final Paper–Joshua Hollingsworth, Cooperative Learning in the Classroom–Allison Shannon, GRR–Mackenzie Quartly, DI and Constructivism–Elle Sauro, Inductive and Inquiry Models and My Teaching–Chris Howell, Developmentally Appropriate Practices in Kindergarten–Amanda Burke, Nonlinguistic Representations–Melissa Klein, Constructivism and Concept Attainment–Philip Benson, Concept Maps for All–Laurie James, Nonlinguistic Representations for English Language Learners–Meagan Wilson, Vocabulary Instruction in the Elementary Grades–Kami Cottrell, Project Based Learning–Jessie Scanzon, Nonlinguistic Representations–Julie Schocken, Reciprocal Teaching–Taylor Hansen, In Defense of Direct Instruction–Aimee Chew, Cooperative Learning–Emily Whitten, The Power of Feedback–Alison Brynelson, Homework Purpose and Considerations–Jim Mendes (2012).

If time and energy permitted, I would create concept maps representing themes from each topic and show the interrelationships between key ideas, create connections between old and new learning, etc… and these would serve as a powerful review strategy for this course!

I would like to call particular attention to a comment from Keri McManus, who was my peer review partner for the final paper. Within her paper entitled, Character Education: An Effective Instructional Model to Promote Student Well Being, Cultural Competency, and Academic Achievement she states, “I integrate character education through teachable moments as they arise in my classroom…”(McManus, 2012). Indeed, a worthy goal I hope to strive for each day.

Our professor, Dr. Tracy Williams, set high academic standards for us to reach. She has successfully led us through times of “wind, rain, and snow (with or without power)”, and has maintained continuity for us—despite her own encounter with grief in the loss of a family member. I am grateful for her as a person and am thankful for her vital encouragement along the way.

On an even more personal level, I wonder: Has the greatest learning and revelation during this course come to me as a learner? as a teacher? or as a wife, mother, and grandmother striving to maintain a sense of balance in the midst of learning and teaching? Perhaps the revelations have come in waves—encompassing all three facets of my life. At times, the waves have threatened to overtake me, but as I’ve prayed (without ceasing), I’ve come to understand (and remember) that I can tread water and breathe at the same time. God’s power has provided the courage needed to persevere. He never changes, and will never fail to bless beyond measure. Laurie~

“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you.

When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown”.

The Bible, New Living Translation (©2007)


Artifacts for Standard 4

Paper: Concept Maps for All–retrieved and scanned Please note: The digital form of my original paper was lost, due to a computer virus, therefore, I scanned and attached my hard copy. In the process, the formatting became very distorted.

Module 1 Reflection:Cultural Competence–a work in progress~

Module 2 Reflection:Encouraging words…”Reinforcing Effort and Providing Recognition”~

Module 3 Reflection:Discovering “Induction/Inquiry” processes in our midst~

Module 4 Reflection:The “Big Idea” of Concept Attainment~

Module 5 Reflection:Announcing…Advance Organizers!

Module 6 Reflection:Excellence in Constructivism~

Module 7 Reflection:Encouragement with Respect~

Module 8 Reflection:Character Education: In the midst of this process called “life”~

Module 9 Reflection:Direct Instruction—With Flexibility~


Capstone-Standard 05 Meta-Reflection: Assessment

Capstone Standard 05 Meta-Reflection: Assessment

Assesses students’ mastery of curriculum and modifies instruction to maximize learning.

Initial reflection during C & I Orientation:

With regard to assessment, I must ensure that I am monitoring progress toward each student’s IEP goals and make any necessary adjustments required to keep them moving toward the general education curriculum–while also addressing the unique needs presented by their disability. Not only does this include measuring progress in the classroom, but also ensuring access to and administration of any alternative assessments to state testing. Examples include: High School Proficiency Exam—Basic (meeting standard at Level 2 versus Level 3), Developmentally Appropriate Proficiency Exam (DAPE), Locally Determined Assessments (such as the Woodcock-Johnson III). Currently, I am not directly responsible for preparation for and administration of the WAAS-Portfolio administration or Collection of Evidence (COE)/

Reflection following the completion of EDU 6613 Standards-based Assessment

Why is assessment an important part of the teaching and learning equation? What have you learned about assessment that you will likely transport to your teaching career?

As I reflect on my experience during this course, I am delighted to share that as a special education  teacher, I have learned wonderfully new methods and strategies for involving my students in the assessment process. Working together with both special and general education teachers, we collaborate on the designing and implementation of formative assessments defined by Dell’Olio and Donk as: “Assessment integrated with instruction to provide a feedback loop that allows teaching and learning experiences to be modified as needed. In short, they guide instruction as it is occurring” (p. 464). This ongoing process allow us to keep informed of our students’ progress as we help them prepare for “Summative Assessments: An assessment typically used at the end of a unit of instruction; often  and such tools as unit tests, portfolios of student work, final projects and state-mandated assessment instruments”(Dell’Olio, p.417).


I have always believed that self-assessment was vital for my students to engage in, however, in recent years—the topic of “standards-based-assessment” has led me to focus primarily on the idea of helping them to reach standard on the state assessments—in the areas of reading, writing, math, and now Biology—and I have felt that the “self” of my individual students has been somewhat diminished. And yet, regardless of the subject matter my students are working within,  my students’ communication skills become an integral factor in their progress, performance, and assessment. For this reason, see great benefit in including the use of Performance Assessments and agree with Stiggins, Arter, & Chappuis as they clarify,

We made the case for reserving performance assessment for those learning targets that really need it: some forms of reasoning, performance skills, and products….but other factors may argue for its use as well: The age of the students (and) reading and writing proficiency. Other assessment methods might not provide accurate information in certain contexts, such as with English Language learners, or students who don’t read or write sufficiently well to answer test questions (p. 195).


Assessment has always been a critical part of the teaching equation in my years in education, yet I have gained a far deeper understanding of its importance to the learning process, as well as the “why” behind both. As authors Stiggins, Arter, & Chappuis, have clarified, the distinction between assessment of learning vs. for learning places the emphasis on helping students answer the three questions, “ ‘Where am I going?’; Where am I now?’; and ‘How can I close the gap?’”…and I am most eager to begin using the authors’ “seven strategies for using a scoring guide as a teaching tool (so that I may) watch as (my) students become competent, confident self-assessors and improve their performance in any subject” (2006, p. 231). Unfortunately, my students are well acquainted with “gaps”—so anything that I can do to increase their ability to understand and participate in the process of “closing the gaps” will build their confidence. I have greatly appreciated learning more about the development of rubrics and effective use of portfolios.

Growth portfolios show progress toward competence on one or more learning targets….(and generally include) the student write[ing] a self-reflection to summarize growth: ‘Here’s how far I’ve come and here’s what I know and can do now that I couldn’t do before’ (Stiggins, Arter, & Chappuis, 2006, p.340).


I am very inspired to begin the new school year with a strategic plan for helping my students to integrate their Individual Education Program (IEP) with their coursework in such a manner that they become effective self-advocates and life-long learners. Truly, this course has been an encouragement to me—both in validating convictions that I’ve come to hold over the years, as well as to provide fresh insights and strategies for assessment implementation.



Unit Pre-Test Assessment–LaurieUnit Pre-Test Assessment

Unit Test Post Assessment Laurie JamesUnit Test Post Assessment




Arter, J., Chappuis J. & S., & Stiggins, R. (2006). Classroom Assessment for Students Learning. Doing It Right, Using it Well. Boston, MA. Pearson Education, Inc.

Dell’Olio, J. M., Donk, T. (2007). Models of Teaching. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.


Capstone-Standard 10 Meta-Reflection: Technology

Standard 10 Meta-Reflection: Technology

Integrates current technology into instruction and professional communication/collaboration activities where appropriate.

Initial reflection during C & I Orientation:

I am responsible for utilizing technological means to ensure that my students have access to materials and resources available to all general education students. Not only does this involve receiving presented information, but students must also be provided instruction and opportunity to use assistive technology to express and effectively convey thoughts and information to others. As a teacher, I must keep up with communication methods used to interact with my parents and colleagues. (Online IEP programs, Skyward Information system, email, etc.)

Reflection following the completion of EDTC6433: Teaching with Technology

As stated in the syllabus for EDTC 6433:The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) and National Educational Technology Standards (NETS) for Teachers will be used to trigger inquiry into how technology can be used to improve instruction, assessment, and professional productivity.


ISTE 1: Facilitate and Inspire Student Learning and Creativity

ISTE 2: Design and Develop Digital-Age Learning Experiences and Assessment

ISTE 3: Model Digital-Age Work and Learning

ISTE 4: Promote and Model Digital Citizenship and Responsibility

ISTE 5: Engage in Professional Growth and Leadership

Reflective thoughts noted at the beginning of this course: As I consider the question of how I might demonstrate competency on the ISTE standards and how this process will enhance my instruction, assessment, and professional productivity, I am immediately inspired and eager to begin. Not only do I see multifaceted benefits and practical application as I participate in my district’s pilot for the new teacher evaluation system, but I see tremendous opportunities for creatively relating with other colleagues and sharing “best practices” with my students. I am particularly drawn to the visual nature of Google+ and am pleased to learn of so many options for communicating ideas, thoughts, and information in such creative ways.

In the article, Rethinking Education in the Age of Technology1, authors Collins & Halverson (2009), state: “The revolution that is occurring in education will alter not just the lives of students, but the entire society”. I am continuing to realize that as a public school educator who has served for over three decades, the changes I have already witnessed may be just the beginning. Thankfully, I am not dismayed by this fact, but rather, encouraged.

Throughout Module 3, I found myself drawn to posts referencing organizational tools for teachers, however, I noted that again this week I was becoming overwhelmed by the volume of available resources. In one of our readings, the need to be discerning was especially noted by author, Louise Starkey. In her article, Evaluating learning in the 21st century: a digital age, Starkey shares, “Relatively quick access to a wide range of information means that the user needs the ability to critically evaluate the validity and relative value of information accessed (2011, p. 6).

While reading Millennial Learners and Net-Savvy Teens? Examining Internet Use among Low-Income Students, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that there appears to be less of a difference in internet usage between high and low income students than teachers originally believed (Greenhow, Walker, & Kim, 2009, p. 67). Despite this good news, the authors acknowledged that teachers will need to be mindful of how they might “minimize what still exists as a participation gap” [Jenkins, 2006, p. 13] in level and sophistication and duration of technology and Internet” (p.67).

In this Teaching with Technology course, I experienced the opportunity to engage in the process of creating a WebQuest as one way to address ISTE Standard 2: Design and Develop Digital-Age Learning Experiences and Assessments. The particular focus for my WebQuest is to assist students in completing the preliminary steps for their senior portfolio and culminating project required for graduation. I am intending to use this tool for each of my students with IEPs because the process creates a wonderful way to address their Transition Plan–a legally required component of their IEP. The beauty of a WebQuest format is that it provides a wonderful guide for students that can be customized as needed to address a wide variety of needs.

When selecting a focus for my Digital Storytelling Project, I made the decision to create a story for my grandchildren to document a very exciting event in our family. In the spring of 2012, my husband, Gary James, and I made the decision to sell our family home after 28 years and through joint ownership with our oldest daughter and her husband, build a new house that would be large enough to accommodate the collective nine members of our combined families.

As I reflect on ISTE Standard 1: Facilitate and Inspire Student Learning and Creativity, I believe that this project will indeed continue to impact the individuals who are currently the most important students in my life—my grandchildren. It is certain that as they grow older and enter into formal classrooms, the technologies available to them will be far different than those I have used in this project, however, I believe they will reflect on the process they participated in with me regarding a pivotal time in our lives. With regard to my students in my classroom “away from home”, I will be more ready and able to teach processes, support creative endeavors, and understand their needs as learners.

Within the first couple of weeks of this course, EDTC 6433, I noted that our district was in the midst of selecting software for creating and managing online Individual Education Plans (IEPs). I also shared a screen shot of one of the options, Goalview. As of today, I am now in the midst of training to become a trainer for other teachers within our district on how to implement Goalview. Having served on the software adoption committee 15 years ago and teaching others to use the software from then to the present, I am delighted to have once again been selected to represent the high school team of special education teachers. I am eager to move beyond the “test site” we experienced today. Due in part to what I have learned within this course, today I was able to ask insightful questions during the training, move ahead to see a sneak preview of the benefits of this program, and envision ways that I will provide support to my colleagues as we go “live” within the next month. I definitely see myself actively engaging in part b. of ISTE Standard 5.

ISTE Standard 5.Teachers continuously improve their professional practice, model lifelong learning, and exhibit leadership in their school and professional community by promoting and demonstrating the effective use of digital tools and resources.

  1. Participate in local and global learning communities to explore creative applications of technology to improve student learning.
  2. Exhibit leadership by demonstrating a vision of technology infusion, participating in shared decision making and community building, and developing the leadership and technology skills of others.
  3. Evaluate and reflect on current research and professional practice on a regular basis to make effective use of existing and emerging digital tools and resources in support of student learning.
  4. Contribute to the effectiveness, vitality, and self-renewal of the teaching.


Collins & Halverson (2009). 1  Excerpted from our book Rethinking Education in the Age of Technology: The Digital Revolution and Schooling in America. New York: Teachers College Press, 2009.

Greenhow, Walker, & Kim (2009). Millennial Learners and Net-Savvy Teens? Examining Internet Use among Low-Income Students, Journal of Computing in Teacher Education, Vol. 26, Number 2, Winter 2009-10.

Starkey, L (2011). Evaluating learning in the 21st century: a digital age learning matrix Retrieved from:

Artifacts for Standard 10:

Artifact 1 :      ISTE 1-Creative Connections—Linking students through blogging~

Artifact 2:       ISTE 2-Technology to Individualize Writing as an Intervention

Artifact 3:       ISTE 3-Communicating with Confidentiality to meet Individual Needs

Artifact 4:       ISTE 4-Technology–From Mimeograph to Digital and Beyond~

Artifact 5:       Digital Poster: Watch your Step and Stay Safe~

Artifact 6:       Webquest: Career Interest-Quest for the Best

Artifact 7:       Participation in an Online Educational Community –Blog

Artifact 8:       Digital Storytelling Project: The House at Windmill Loop

Artifact 9:       ISTE NETS for Teachers-Engage in Professional Growth and Leadership

Capstone-Standard 11 Meta-Reflection: Inquiry/Research

Standard 11 Meta-Reflection: Inquiry/Research

Competently consumes and produces where necessary empirical data to guide educational practice.

Initial reflection during C & I Orientation:

It is my responsibility to effectively use data at every level in my job including: selecting research-based curriculum, researching best practices for delivering services to address IEP goals, and collecting data on student performance. Equally important is to examine district records and track information to ensure that classroom goals are based on current IEPS which are in turn based on current evaluations.

Meta-Reflection following completion of EDU 6976 Interpreting and Applying Educational Research I and EDU 6975 Interpreting and Applying Educational Research II:

Please note: The requirement for EDU 6976 Interpreting and Applying Educational Research I was fulfilled via transfer credits through another university. I am grateful for SPU’s acceptance of credits for EDD/569 Introduction to Action Research and QNT/575 Measurement, Evaluation and Ethics in Research. Two of the artifacts included below are from these courses.

The need for data:

When our district’s new high school opened up in 2007, our principal wanted our team to implement a full-inclusion program….Our special education team felt strongly that “a continuum of services” needed to be offered, therefore, we took data. We carefully monitored every student’s progress in any way possible. We talked with teachers, met with students, checked and recorded online grades, and listened to concerned parents. Data became the magic key. Within three weeks, we were able to discern enough of a pattern and shared this data with our administrators–respectfully requesting that we be allowed to create a few class sections for SE  Math, English and Learning Strategies. Our request was granted and this model has since become our status quo. (Although now, the students with the greatest needs can be served in SE starting from the beginning of the year, but others are encouraged to spread their wings, knowing that we have a safety net with alternative approaches if needed). (excerpted from EDSP 6644 BLOG 2 Principles of HOPE, James, 2012)

EDD/569 Introduction to Action Research and QNT/575 Measurement, Evaluation and Ethics in Research.

The first two of the artifacts for Standard 11 provide examples of Artifact–Data Collection, Artifact–Descriptive Statistics. Please note: In the process of scanning and uploading hard copies, some distortion occurred within these documents.

Within these courses, a primary emphasis was the use of multiple data collection methods, regarding student performance in school settings at every grade level– leading to a more complete and composite picture of students’ strengths and weaknesses. A variety of data sources ranging from existing school electronic database, self-collected teacher observations, as well as responses to surveys collected directly from studentscan provide educators at every level with valuable baseline, target and progress information. It was noted that  among the most widely used methods for collecting more individualized responses are in-depth interviews, observations, surveys, questionnaires and document analysis.

EDU 6975 Interpreting and Applying Educational Research II:

In the context of this course, we wrote weekly reflections, although these were not required to be posted in WordPress. I am choosing to include these original reflections, in this meta-reflection, as this format allows me to retrace my steps in a way that is most beneficial for my learning within this C & I Capstone class.

Module 3 Reflection:

Within this module, I learned of the importance of looking at the differences between the percentages in studies versus the numbers, as well as the importance of always going back to the research question. Also, this week’s lecture helped to clarify for me that the sampling distribution is centered on “zero” as noted on the graph and that this represents the null hypothesis.  Additionally, I am learning of the importance of distinguishing between random assignment and random sampling; In analyzing the study regarding the “Murderous Nurse”, I found myself getting caught up with thinking about all the other potential variables instead of looking at the lack of randomization. The class notes indicate that “this study does not implement random sampling nor random assignment”. Lack of random sampling prevents generalization to the larger population. The lack of random assignment, prevents drawing a cause and effect conclusion.

This may be a stretch, but I created a visual in my own mind to help me differentiate the two terms. To associate sample with generalization, I visualize offering cookie samples to a larger group or population. The visual in my mind to associate assignment with cause and effect is; When I give an assignment to a student (cause), I anticipate that the student will complete it (effect).

In previous modules, we have discussed the fact that other variables can and do influence both the results and the interpretation of statistics. I am reminded that there can be correct statistical analysis, however, these results must also take into consideration the type of  study, number of trials, etc. so that appropriate inferences can be drawn. (ie Good data but incorrect procedures)

Module 4 Reflection:

In the midst of trying to grapple with significantly heavy material this week, I must admit I know I have SO MUCH more to absorb than I would have hoped by the end of this unit, however, I learned how to write up the results of a study. The example write-up (Sleep Deprivation Study) provided a tangible and very useful tool for guiding me through the critical steps in the process. Also, through the process of working with Group 1 on the Homework 2 assignment, a particular explanation from Laura Zylstra helped me to get a better understanding of how to calculate the p-value. (My understanding is still fuzzy and tentative—but at least her explanation made sense for the specific situation. Now if I can learn to apply the procedure…I’ll be moving in the right direction!) Her explanation (related to question #10 in the Latin American Study) is as follows:

”P-value is found by using the difference of the means of the educational achievement levels (5.92). This number (5.92) is then located on figure 2, the plot of the differences in means from the 500 simulated trials. All numbers at 5.92 and above are added together and divided by the number of trials. Since there is only one (1) dot at or above 5.92, and there are 500 trials, divide 1 by 500, and that is the p-value. Therefore the approximate p-value is 0.002.”

Module 5 Reflection:

While reading this week all about ANOVA and Tukey’s Post-Hoc tests (along with several others) I learned that “the F ratio is the resulting statistic” (Sprinthill, 2012, p. 367). A few basic concepts: High F ratio—high variability, low F ratio—low variability. One way ANOVA—one independent variable, effect size determined through using eta squares Factorial ANOVA—more than one independent variable, effect size determined through use of partial eta squares.

When considering the relationship between samples and populations, higher F-ratios suggest samples are from different populations whereas lower F-ratios suggest that the samples represent a single population.

Module 6 Reflection:

In the midst of studying the material for this week on Chi-square studies, I learned of the importance of this type of statistical analysis and its very practical application to many everyday situations. The textbook refers to this type of nominal data as ‘nose-counting data’ with ‘no shades of gray”. Perhaps this type of simplicity is relatively refreshing—in light of the complexity of the content of this course! In addition to the specific details of chi-square as a non-parametric procedure, I learned of the value of the added personal communication I experienced this week: 1) The honesty expressed by many of us when we are confused, 2). Dr. M’s compassion expressed in the discussion thread –especially when she posted the very applicable scripture to encourage us, 3) the follow-up email and subsequent phone appointment I made with her this week to discuss my mid-term results, 4) the blessing of working together in a small group on the homework, 5) the helpfulness of participating in the optional Tuesday afternoon “live-chat” session.

The specific details articulated throughout the lecture and discussion threads this week regarding chi square procedures have offered clarification of similarities and differences between these and previous tests we have been learning about such as the t-test and ANOVA. This type of contrast and comparison as well as spending additional time re-listening to lectures helps to bring more clarity to my thinking (although I still have much, much more to learn and understand). I am so grateful to God for His never-ending faithfulness and promise to be with me when I go through “deep waters”.

Module 7 Reflection:

Among the new concepts I learned about this week was that of the scatterplot. I learned that a pair of scores can be found on each point within the plot and that in correlational studies, the slope on a scatterplot indicates whether the correlation represented on the plot is positive or negative. (Lower left to upper right- positive. Upper left to lower right-negative). In previous units, we looked at experimental methods for determining cause and effect relationships (such as t-tests and ANOVA) whereas this unit focused on methods for effectively examining relationships between variables within the same group.

Module 8 Reflection:

During this week, I learned many new terms related to the concepts of correlation and prediction. Bivariate—two variable scatterplot, residual error—difference between actual values of Y and their predicted values, multicollinearity—when variables are “too highly correlated” as in the text’s example of income and unemployment, spurious correlation—a correlation that can be quite misleading, canonical correlation—two or more x variables correlated with two or more y variables (ex. several personality tests to predict several measures of leadership) Also, the standard error of the estimate relates to the interval where a true score might be located, and that the wider the interval—the higher the level of confidence. I wonder if this is like the larger a target is, the more likely you will hit it? I see the concepts surrounding correlation research as more applicable to research in educational settings than experimental research—and yet both can involve independent and dependent variables.

Module 9 Reflection:

Throughout this module I’ve finally learned to understand that one of the primary reasons for confusion between the terms standard error (SE) and standard deviation (SD) is that according to the article by Altman, “the standard error is a type of standard deviation”(2005, p. 903). A larger sample size decreases the standard error perhaps in the same way that a “closer look” at an object (making it appear larger) brings it into sharper focus and increases clarity and accuracy. If I want to obtain a clearer and more accurate “picture” of a situation (or sample mean), I need to ask more people. By contrast, regardless of the number of people I ask (size of the sample) the measure of variability or changes in what I am studying or looking at will not be apt to change.These concepts are important to understand when endeavoring to use inferential statistics to draw the most accurate-as-possible conclusions regarding what is “true” for a given population.

In conclusion and on a personal note:

In the midst of my measurement class, my mom became ill and passed away just two weeks before the end of the course. I can relate to Parker Palmer’s words in The Courage to Teach, as he describes the sudden loss of his father at a particularly stressful time in his teaching career; “I was devastated” (p. xi) Years earlier, just before taking my first statistics course, my dad had passed away. Thankfully, during the time I took EDU 6975 in the fall of 2012, I did not lose a family member, however, our family was in the midst of a major move and “in-between houses”—staying with family, and I became very sick and depleted. The reason I share these personal details in this meta-reflection, is that perhaps one of the greatest “life lessons” learned in the process of taking these research courses under particularly stressful situations is that of identifying even more with my students who struggle. As one who has always been blessed with high grades and success in school, I choose to “document” these vulnerabilities here in this reflection—that I might never lose sight of the importance of having empathy for my students who struggle. Palmer reminds us; ”Identity and integrity have as much to do with our shadows and limits, our wounds and fears, as with our strengths and potentials” (p. 13).

Artifacts for Standard 11:

UoP:  Artifact–Data Collection

UoP:  Artifact–Descriptive Statistics

SPU:   Homework 1:Homework 1 (second version)

SPU:   Homework 2:Sleep-Deprivation–Revised–Group Copy

SPU:   Homework 3:HW3 Group #1 graded

SPU:   Homework 4:Homework 4 Laurie James (graded)

SPU:   Homework 5:Homework5 Estimation Final



Altman, D. (2005). Standard deviations and standard errors. British Medical Journal. (p. 903)

Palmer, P. (2007). The courage to teach: Exploring the inner landscape of a teacher’s life. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Sprinthall, R. C. (2003). Basic statistical analysis (7th ed.). New York: Pearson Education, Inc.

Capstone–Standard 09 Meta-Reflection: Cultural Sensitivity

Standard 09 Meta-Reflection: Cultural Sensitivity–Capstone

Establishes a culturally inclusive learning climate that facilitates academic engagement and success for all students. 

Initial reflection during C & I Orientation:

Regardless of the range of differences in race, class, gender, religion, ethnicity and exceptionality represented by the students within my care, I must model respect for diversity and promote a learning environment that is free from bias. Specifically within my school setting, I must be especially mindful and responsive to the unique interests of students who belong to one of the two Native American tribal communities represented within our school district.

EDU 6525 Culturally Responsive Teaching

Please note: The requirement for this course was fulfilled via transfer credits earned through another university. I am grateful for SPU’s acceptance of my petition, however, regret not having the opportunity to take EDU 6525 Culturally Responsive Teaching*. I earned an A in the SEI/500 course entitled, Structured English Immersion which focused on the following: ELL Proficiency Standards for Listening and Speaking, Reading and Writing, data analysis and application, formal and informal assessment, learning experiences with SEI strategies, parent/home/school scaffolding, and Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP).

*In the context of taking Survey of Instructional Strategies through Seattle Pacific University, however, I briefly addressed the topic of Culturally Responsive Teaching in a blog, entitled: Cultural Competence—A Work in Progress:

As a special education teacher in a largely inclusive high school where nearly 40% of our students qualify for free or reduced lunch, I am currently working with special education students —ranging from the context of individual student appointments to one or more class periods per day—based on their IEP needs.

Over 10% of our total student population represents families from two local Native American tribes which have teamed together with our district in multiple ways within the past three decades to facilitate significant progress toward many of the goals highlighted within the readings this week.

While I have had the privilege of participating (both as a teacher and a parent) in a wide variety of creative activities designed to bridge the cultural gaps, including parent conferences held at tribal education centers, community dinners, reading celebrations, etc. –I still feel the personal need to improve my ability to connect with and embrace cultural differences within my own school and community (we live right on the boundary of one of the reservations).

Within the Synthesis of the Recommendations for the 2008 Achievement Gap Studies, many suggestions are offered for developing relationships between school districts and tribes. One particular thought that caught my attention was, “Teachers, educators and school administrators need to understand that disengagement from the school or not understanding how to help their children with homework does not mean “a lack of commitment to education” (section III, #2). This helps me to see some of my current students’ challenges in a different light. Perhaps it is like having a goal in mind, but not knowing how–or not having the tools to create realistic steps to reach that goal. For example, just because someone is struggling to create or maintain a workable plan to become physically fit, does not automatically mean that a person does not value or desire a healthy lifestyle.

As a teacher working to help my students to make progress and complete steps toward graduation and beyond, I found the following characteristics noted in the Synthesis of the Recommendations for the 2008 Achievement Gap Studies to be familiar…”(a) provide encouragement, support and respect for their cultural identity; and (b) be flexible and adaptable to help Native students make up for absences and missed assignments due to family issues, losses and cultural opportunities outside the classroom” (p. 12).

I am encouraged to see so many resources highlighted to address the cultural competency need and look forward to gaining new insights.  I so often feel like I’m “just beginning”—despite my status as a veteran teacher. My number one goal is to see my students as individuals in the context of “their world”–and to be willing to try to see “the world of school”, through their eyes.

In another SPU course, EDU 6655: Human Development and Principles of Learning, I responded to an assignment prompt by suggesting a service project through which students might work together with local fisheries personnel and local Native American tribes to assist and monitor the restoration and health of fish-bearing streams of North Kitsap County.In the midst of researching the benefits of organizing a community effort on this nature, I noted that according to Smith (2008):

Service learning presents many opportunities for adult participants to:

  • develop and maintain close relationships with other people,
  • give care to those in need
  • balance one’s needs with a responsibility to care for others
  •  …(possibly) contribute to an “ethic of care” as a consequence of being in a helping, caregiver, or service provider role (Smith, p 10).

I believe a project involving the local Native American tribal community with students in my school could strengthen existing and create new, healthy connections for all involved. I have often observed among the families of my Native American students, a strong emphasis on bonds between generations and sharing traditions with others in our community. Not only would this project reflect cultural sensitivity, but it would also serve to address the psychosocial needs of my students. “A particularly relevant dimension of psychosocial maturity is development of generativity among adults… Generativity concerns the ability to care for and provide for the next generation” (Smith, p. 10).

Artifacts for Standard 09:

I have selected two artifacts for this standard—both from University of Phoenix, however, since digital copies are no longer available, hard copies of these papers have been scanned and uploaded. Please note that in the conversion process, some of the formatting has been distorted.

Artifact 1: Artifact–Assessments for English Language Learners

Artifact 2: Artifact–Make a Difference Proposal


Closing Opportunity Gaps in Washington’s Public Education System

Cross, T. L. (2001). Gifted children and Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development. Gifted Child Today, 24(1), 54-55,61.

James, L. G. (2011). EDU 6655 Human Development and Principles of Learning, Seattle Pacific University. Service Learning for Gifted Students and Adults  Retrieved from

James, L. G. (2012). EDU 6526 A Survey  of Instructional Strategies, Seattle Pacific University. Module 1 Reflection: Cultural Competence—A Work in Progress. Retrieved from

Smith, M. (2008). Does service learning promote adult development? Theoretical perspectives and directions for research. New Directions For Adult And Continuing Education, (118), 5-15.

Capstone–Standard 08 Meta-Reflection: Exceptionality

Standard 08 Meta-Reflection: Exceptionality–Capstone

Addresses the unique learning and behavioral needs of all children, collaborating with other educators and professionals where necessary.

Initial reflection during C & I Orientation:

The concept of addressing exceptionality is “where I live—day to day and moment by moment” as a special educator. Regardless of the unique needs presented by each of my students who qualify for special education services, I must ensure that they have access to the general education curriculum to the greatest extent possible. In the process, I must serve as an advocate for each student and coordinate the delivery of services required for offering free and appropriate public education on their behalf.

Meta-Reflection following the completion of EDSP 6644 Educating Exceptional Students

(Please note: A meta-reflection was not a requirement for the original course, EDSP 6644, therefore, this meta-reflection is a compilation of the six module reflections written and posted in throughout the course.)

Having begun my teaching career in 1981 as a young Seattle Pacific graduate with degrees in both Psychology and Special Education, I have a rather long-term view of special services being delivered in the public school setting. Although I did not have the specific words of the HOPE principles before me as do today’s teacher candidates, I do believe the essence of their meaning was inherent in the teachings of my SPU professors at the time. As I reflect on the years, I continue to see evidence of the following HOPE principles as noted and expressed below:

HOPE principle “H”–“Honor student diversity, development, and their right to learn” H3—Honor the classroom/school community as a milieu for learning. Teacher-candidates implement classroom/school centered instruction, including sheltered instruction that is connected to communities within the classroom and the school, and includes knowledge and skills for working with others. 

I remember well the days when the high school I started teaching in offered parallel classes in nearly every subject area—certainly SE English, SE Math, but also SE Science, SE History. For a couple of years, we even offered SE Keyboarding! In practice, anyone with an IEP was “eligible”—regardless of what specific areas they qualified in. Decisions were often based on what we thought the students were capable of. Also during that time, the regular program offered “lab” classes in each of the core areas that were known to be a little less intensive than the standard general education coursework. For example, Practical English, General Science, Consumer Math and History Lab were more suited for students who might not be academically strong. Many students with IEPs were able to be quite successful in these classes. If not, we brought them back to our Special Education classes. However, right about the same time the law required special education to move away from the parallel classes toward full inclusion, general education did away with the “lab” classes. Unfortunately, what had previously been a choice of a range of three “levels” of classes–became instead a huge jump—especially for students who had taken all core classes in special education. As special education teachers, we struggled greatly with how to successfully encourage our students to adjust to these changes, but somehow we all made it—thankfully improving with time and experience. We still maintained SE Math and SE English as well as SE Learning Strategies classes–and for a while, maintained the option of SE Science and History, based on deficits in reading and writing.

When our district’s new high school opened up in 2007, our principal wanted our team to implement a full-inclusion program. Also by this time, all students were required to take Algebra and that same year our district was moving from a junior high to a middle school configuration. The combination of these changes resulted in 58 9th and 10th grade students with IEPs (many of whom had been served in special education classes in junior high) being newly enrolled at the high school level into ALL general education classes. Not only were these students brand new to us, but an additional factor was that no official staff training had been offered to prepare us for full inclusion. Our SE team felt strongly that “a continuum of services” needed to be offered, although this view was not shared by our administration. Therefore, we took data. We carefully monitored every student’s progress in any way possible. We talked with teachers, met with students, checked and recorded online grades, and listened to concerned parents. Data became the magic key. Within three weeks, we were able to discern enough of a pattern and shared this data with our administrators–respectfully requesting that we be allowed to create a few class sections for SE Math, English and Learning Strategies. Our request was granted and this model has since become our status quo. (Although now, the students with the greatest needs can be served in SE starting from the beginning of the year, but others are encouraged to spread their wings, knowing that we have a safety net with alternative approaches if needed).

So, when considering the question: Is inclusion in the general education setting the best placement for students with disabilities—and the best way to honor my students’ diversity, development, and their right to learn? I would have to say, it depends on the needs of the individual students. My experiences have shown me that a relatively small number of students I work with still need to have the option of placement in one or more special education classes, yet I have also observed a significant number of students rise to the occasion when presented with the opportunity to take all general education coursework. I have learned to embrace full inclusion for many—but not for all.

As noted within the text: “Content-area instruction assumes that students have mastered the basic skills of reading, writing, and math. For many students with special needs, this is simply not the case. For these students to benefit from instruction, modifications must be made…changing the criteria for task performance (speed, accuracy, amount of work, or) task characteristics (which) in contrast, refer to the basic skills necessary for performance (Lewis & Doorlag, 2010, p. 203). Lewis & Doorlag also state: “General education placement is considered optimal for students with disabilities if they are capable of making progress in the standard school curriculum…(p.203).” however, The Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) by law must be “To the maximum extent possible…” and “Their placement must be feasible; they must have a good chance of successful performance (p. 12).”  Based upon the student’s area(s) of need and the degree of modification required, individual decisions must be made by the individual IEP teams for individual students.  In order to successfully and legally provide appropriate services, a range of options must be available from which to choose when considering how to best address a student’s needs.

HOPE principle “O”–“Offer an organized and challenging curriculum”O2—Offer appropriate challenge in the content area. Teacher-candidates plan and/or adapt curricula that are standards driven so students develop understanding and problem-solving expertise in the content area(s) using reading, written and oral communication, and technology.

My focus as a high school teacher who works primarily with students who have a learning disability, is often centered on helping each student know their strengths, understand what they have difficulties with, and be able to articulate and access the type of support they require to engage in the general education setting. Often, these accommodations may be to address reading, math, or written language or behavioral needs and may or may not include the use of assistive technology. At times, I find that students have a tendency to rely on accommodations that may have been put into their IEP in earlier grades, when in reality they have “outgrown” the need for a specific support. As a teacher, I find it very satisfying to watch students “re-frame” the way they view themselves—learning that they are more capable than they had previously believed. This transformation within—derived from “self-acceptance”–can have a dramatic and positive impact on promoting social acceptance by their peers.

In a recent discussion post, one of my colleagues articulated some very good questions: How do you give your students a more realistic view of their abilities? How do you help them see what they are truly capable of and what they still need work on? How do you keep students motivated to grow and improve when they are so focused on what they can’t do?

Even after my years in the classroom, I continue to wrestle with these very questions and find that the answers are never as cut and dried as I might like. Instead they are often as individual as my students. For example, last year one of my students –who has a disability in math–wanted to take Chemistry and signed up for it during registration. His mom called me within the first few days of school and was very concerned that he would not be able to handle the course. The solution we arrived at (based on discussion with the student and teacher) was to arrange for the option of a Pass/Fail grade. When we offer this option, we always include that if the student is able to achieve the level of a letter grade by the end of the course—the student may select the grade they prefer. Often, the presence of the “safety net” gives the student the extra courage to exceed everyone’s expectations. This particular student ended up with a C-/D+ (with accommodations) and was very pleased with his experience and what he had learned.

Another classic example of the safety net I encounter with my 11th graders pertains to state testing. If as a 10th grader a student has reached a Level 2 status in their area of need (which counts as “passing” if addressed in their IEP)—but their score is only a few points away from a Level 3–I will present the student with the option of taking the test again. For some—the experience of retaking the test is so stressful that they opt to not retest. Other students, knowing that they have already attained what is required for graduation in terms of state standards, make the decision to try to raise their score. This is especially appealing for students who may only qualify in one area such as writing, for example. If they have already scored at a Level 3 in Reading and Math and are only a few points away in Writing, a raised score could result in earning a Certificate of Academic Achievement versus a Certificate of Individual Achievement.

Although I always inform students and their families of the various options available to them–based upon their IEP goals–solutions to many of the problems students encounter in the school setting are dependent upon what the student feels comfortable with.

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 (2012) 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 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.

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, 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!

Artifacts for Standard 8:

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.)

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.


James, L. (2012). EDSP 6644Educating Exceptional Students, Principles of Hope: Blog 1,WordPress Seattle Pacific University. Retrieved from

James, L. (2012). EDSP 6644Educating Exceptional Students, Principles of Hope: Blog 2,WordPress Seattle Pacific University. Retrieved from

James, L. (2012). EDSP 6644Educating Exceptional Students, Principles of Hope: Blog 3,WordPress Seattle Pacific University. Retrieved from

James, L. (2012). EDSP 6644Educating Exceptional Students, Principles of Hope: Blog 4,WordPress Seattle Pacific University. Retrieved from

James, L. (2012). EDSP 6644Educating Exceptional Students, Artifact 1,WordPress Seattle Pacific University. Retrieved from

James, L. (2012). EDSP 6644Educating Exceptional Students, Artifact 2,WordPress Seattle Pacific University. Retrieved from

Lewis, R. B. & Doorlag, D. H. (2011). Teaching students with special needs in general education classrooms (8th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.

Vaughn, S. and Fletcher, J., (2012). Response to intervention with secondary school students with reading difficulties. Journal of Learning Disabilities: 45(3) (pp. 244–2 56). doi: 10.1177/0022219412442157