Week in Review - January 7, 2011
WEEK IN REVIEW
New NASET Publications and Articles of Interest in Special Education and Disabilities That Were Reported This Week
January 7, 2011 - Vol 7, Issue 1
New This Week on NASET
The Practical Teacher
Games, Contests & Puzzles: Entertaining Ideas for Educating Students
Teachers can take heart in the good news that students are likely to make meaningful progress toward instructional goals when they engage in regular drill, practice, and review of academic material. Instructors must also face the bad news, though, that students often find such activities to be tedious and not motivating. One powerful strategy that successful teachers use to lend interest to academic drill, practice, and review is to structure these learning opportunities so that they contain elements of 'fun.' Like most of us, students are engaged by game-like tasks that are novel or unexpected, include various rewards, foster a safe level of competition, or promote positive and cooperative social interactions.
The focus of this issue of the Practical Teacher will be to present some ideas on how to adapt common games to promote student learning, to change quiz formats to make them more enjoyable, and to introduce other classroom activities that educate students in an entertaining manner. While these strategies may appear to be designed simply to be fun, don't be misled. Each strategy has the potential to push students to take a more active role in recalling and applying previously taught academic content.
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Parent Teacher Conference Handouts
How is autism diagnosed?
In this issue:
Many parents want to understand how a specific disability is diagnosed. This issue of the Parent Teacher Conference Handout provides a description of how autism is diagnosed.
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Classroom Management Series
Research Based Strategies for the Classroom
Generating and Testing Hypotheses
In this issue:
Across content areas and grade levels, inquiry in the classroom turns native curiosity to the learner's advantage. Effective teachers create these opportunities to guide students through the process of asking good questions, generating hypotheses and predictions, investigating through testing or research, making observations, and finally analyzing and communicating results. Through active learning experiences, students deepen their understanding of key concepts. This issue of theClassroom Management Series presents research findings and implementation for generating and testing hypotheses.
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Flushing Out Lead, Metals with Chelation Therapy
Sherri Oliver lives in a small town on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. It's a two-hour bus ride to get to the Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital in Baltimore - and she's brought her daughter, Katie Dail. Katie has dangerously high levels of lead in her blood. She's a fast-moving first grader with copper-colored hair. Katie has bright brown eyes, but has trouble making eye contact. She also has autism - and she doesn't really speak, but she makes a kind of whooping sound when she's happy. But Katie is not here for autism treatment. The treatment she has been getting - chelation therapy - is to get her lead levels down. Although hospitals offer the treatment, some desperate parents are turning to home-based chelation kits and over-the-counter pills, which doctors say can be more dangerous. Lead can cause serious behavioral problems in kids and lower their IQs. When Katie's lead levels are high, she gets irritable and has more trouble learning, her mom says. "She takes all my time," Oliver says. Katie was first diagnosed with an elevated lead level at age 2. Lead in the body is notoriously hard to get rid of. It seeps into the bones to hide, and sneaks across the blood-brain barrier, affecting mood, focus and sleep.
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Acclaimed Children's Books Have Fewer Characters with Disabilities
If you're the parent of a young Samoan boy with a reading disability, it may be difficult to find an acclaimed children's book with characters he can relate to. A new BYU study found that Newbery Award and Honor books from 1975 to 2009 feature a disproportionately smaller percentage of children with disabilities and ethic diversity than actual classroom numbers. In fact, BYU graduate Melissa Leininger and professors Tina Dyches and Mary Anne Prater found that specific learning disabilities were depicted in only two literary characters (8 percent), yet occur in American classrooms in 45 percent of students. "That's totally understandable because Newbery Books are judged on their literary merit, not necessarily (because they are) dealing with hot topics," said Dyches, who teaches special education. "But we would like to see a better representation of the kinds of kids that students in our American schools will typically encounter." To read more, click here
Autism Insurance Mandate Begins with New Year in Missouri
Several thousand children will become eligible for insurance coverage of their autism therapies as a Missouri law takes effect Saturday. For thousands of others, their parents will continue to have to pay out of pocket or simply forgo the costly treatments. Missouri's autism insurance mandate is among the most prominent new laws of the new year. It's intended to save money on health care for some Missouri families. Some of Missouri's other new laws are meant to save money for the state by merging police agencies and forcing new government employees to bear part of the cost of their pension plans. Advocates for the autism insurance mandate had been stymied in the past because of concerns it could cause insurance premiums to rise. But they gradually gained momentum at the Capitol, culminating with the successful passage of legislation signed by Gov. Jay Nixon in 2010. The bill contained a 2011 start date to coincide with the renewal period for many insurance policies. To read more, click here
Diploma Likely Out of Reach for Some Students with Disabilities in Michigan
A push to boost academic achievement for students in the state could rob kids with disabilities of the chance for a diploma. The Michigan Merit Curriculum, which took effect in 2006 for the 2011 graduating class, requires four years of math, including geometry and algebra, four years of English and three science classes as well as one online learning experience. A foreign language requirement is being phased in. "No Child Left Behind is just a joke," said Shelia Graham of Lansing, Mich., referring to federal legislation designed to improve schools. "States are leaving behind a big group of kids." Her 14-year-old son, Breck, is doing his best to learn and even meets with a tutor after school to build his reading skills. School districts can choose to offer a certificate of high school completion instead of a diploma to students who don't master the curriculum. To read more, click here
In Japan, Wheelchair Pioneer Out to Change Public Perceptions
"You can't keep a good man down" is the darkly applicable phrase that springs to mind when listening to Yasuhiro "Mark" Yamazaki. The energy, conviction, sense of mission and utter absence of self-pity in this soft-spoken man is humbling. In 1979, the Tokyo-born Yamazaki, now 50, was attending high school in Massachusetts. It was about a year into his studies, and the students had opened the dorm windows to let some air into the building after curfew on an unseasonably warm February night. Yamazaki was sitting on the low ledge of the hallway windows, a place students often gathered. But when he leaned back against the window grate, it broke and he fell three stories to the ground, breaking his back, fracturing his skull and severing his spinal cord. Unconscious for 10 days, Yamazaki awakened to find himself paralyzed from the waist down. At a time when such an accident in Japan would have likely meant a three- to seven-year hospital stay, he was out and about in just four months. Unbowed by fate's blow and determined to live as full a life as he could, Yamazaki remained in the U.S. and went on to complete high school and college before returning to Japan. To read more, click here
Did You Know That......
Multicultural education is an approach to education that includes perspectives from and content about diverse groups, embraces diverse cognitive styles, and promotes equity in a diverse society (Friend, 2008).
Club Drug Ecstasy May Help Certain Individuals with Disabilities
The club drug ecstasy may help people who have trouble connecting to others, according to a new study. The drug, also known as MDMA, has long been known to encourage feelings of happiness and playfulness in people - despite its dangers. But now doctors say, in addition to encouraging casual hookups, it also can help increase sociability in people with a variety of conditions, according to the study published in the Biological Psychiatry Journal. "These 'empathogenic' effects suggest that MDMA might be useful to enhance the psychotherapy of people who struggle to feel connected to others, as may occur in association with autism, schizophrenia or antisocial personality disorder," the journal's authors said in a press release. To read more, click here
Project Teaches Fourth Graders About How to Perceive People with Disabilities
Two fourth-grade classes at the Lafayette Elementary School in Chatham had a special holiday mission this year. While Marilyn Kelly's class filled Christmas stockings for the 23 disabled adult residents of Morris ARC in Whippany, Katie Erezuma's stocked Christmas gift baskets for the people who work there. The project, part of a month-long good citizen cycle, has taught the 48 9- and 10-year-olds how to perceive people with disabilities. There is one person with a disability they've gotten to know well, even though they've never met him. He's Eddie, 31, the big brother of Michael Raguseo, the special education teacher who is the third part of the co-teaching triangle. To read more, click here
Making the Grade: 'Special' Students with Big Hearts
Hope, passion, determination and standing up for peace were four qualities and lessons that stood out to me in the past six months when meeting the youth of Salinas as I covered schools. Recognizing students for their academic achievements, service to the community or athletic abilities are the best ways to encourage and motivate them to keep on keeping up the hard work. But when students with special disabilities are recognized, the encouragement is extended to others and life lessons are learned. What makes these students "special" to me is not their learning disabilities, but their personalities and desire to help others - the simplicity to be good, kind-hearted people. To read more, click here
Did You Know That....
Teaching with a multicultural perspective is a challenging approach that permeates every aspect of teaching (Friend, 2008).
State Set to Review Special Education Programs
The Scotts Valley Unified School District will go under the state's microscope in January when representatives from the Department of Education investigate whether the district is following state and federal laws in educating special needs students. A team of four or five state education consultants plan to begin a "verification review" Jan. 17 that entails combing through the records of the district's 250 special ed students kept by administrators and talking with parents, teachers and district officials, said James Johnson of the state's Focused Monitoring and Technical Assistance program. The review, which Johnson said was partly prompted by complaints from parents in the past two years but also because the district has not been reviewed in more than eight years, will mostly focus on whether the district is adhering to each student's Individualized Educational Plan - federally required plans designed to meet the unique educational needs of each child with a disability. To read more, click here
TRIVIA QUESTION OF THE WEEK
Guess the answer to this week's trivia question and we'll recognize you in next week's Week in Review.
Congratulations to: Dashonna Bullock, Julia Godfrey, Karen Bornholm, Amie Wong, Ellen Karnowski, Luba Vanyo, Maryanne Fiadino, Ross Jones, Christie Miller, Heather Benson, Ellen E. Conrad, Jay Nickerson, Jessica L. Ulmer, Gretchen van Besouw, Debbie Innerarity, Rajasri Govindaraju, Brian Merusi, Tina Theuerkauf, & Mary Roberts
who correctly identified the answer to last week's trivia question: When literally translated, what neurological disorder means "paralysis of the brain"? ANSWER: Cerebral Palsy
THIS WEEK'S TRIVIA QUESTION:
Research suggests that African American males are overrepresented in special education programs, yet they are severely underrepresented in the special education teaching force. Approximately what percentage of the elementary and secondary special education teaching force in the United States is comprised of African American males?
If you know the answer, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
All answers must be submitted no later than Monday, January 10, 2011 at 12:00 p.m.
NASET Sponsor - Drexel Online
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Braille Used Less in Today's World
The seven keys of the Perkins Braille Writer have unlocked a new world for Caleb O'Neal, an 8-year-old Beechwood Elementary second-grader. "It's like you get to function well," Caleb said. "The keys are kind of like writing and seeing, and they teach you how to learn." Caleb is one of four visually impaired students learning Braille at the school with special education teacher Lina Jones. The Braille writer is a little like a typewriter. "He comes home talking about the letters he's learning and the words he was able to put together and his numbers," said Caleb's mother, Nichole O'Neal. "I really like the program. I just want Caleb to be able to learn as much as he can." Jones is certified in teaching children with visual disabilities and said Braille is an important skill for them to have. About 80 percent of what most people learn comes through their sense of sight, she said, and the visually impaired have to find other ways. "You can imagine how hard and how long we have to work in order to learn," said Jones, 56, who was born with congenital cataracts and has limited vision. "You have to be strong, to fight every day. We've had to fight to keep Braille alive. Large print isn't always feasible." To read more, click here
When the Brain Knows No Fear
Researchers at the University of Iowa have pinpointed the part of the brain that causes people to experience fear -- a discovery that could improve treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other anxiety conditions. Published December 16 in the journal Current Biology, the study investigates how the emotion of fear depends on an almond-shaped brain region called the amygdala. The patient in the case study has a rare condition that destroyed her amygdala. UI researchers observed the patient's response to frightening stimuli such as a haunted house, snakes, spiders, and horror films, and asked her about traumatic experiences in her past -- including situations that had endangered her life. They found that without a functioning amygdala, the patient is unable to experience fear. To read more, click here
Brave New World: Teachers Find Benefits of Using Digital Technology
The sign on the classroom wall prohibits the use of handheld communication devices, yet on this December morning all 28 students in Lori Hunt's algebra II class are texting on their cell phones. But these Middleton High School students are not a defiant bunch of teens. With Hunt's blessing, they're using their cell phones to text answers to math problems. Every answer appears, anonymously, on a wall-mounted, interactive, electronic whiteboard all students can see. For Hunt, it provides an instant way of knowing how many students understand the problem and can calculate the answer. For the students, it allows them to use a familiar technology to explore challenging new concepts. These Middleton students are lucky: Besides the cell phones they're using in math class, they also have a school that's set up for wireless Internet communication and a classroom that's equipped with an electronic whiteboard. Most important of all, they have a tech savvy teacher. To read more, click here
A Wilderness Paradise for Individuals with Disabilities
Danny Wein finds his freedom on the wilderness trails of a Kananaskis mountain resort. In the nine years since he recovered from a nearly fatal motorcycle accident in Bogota, Colombia, he has made William Watson Lodge in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park his annual destination.Under swaying lodgepole pines at the foot of spectacular mountains and the crystal-clear lake, the disabled, 34-year-old former scuba diver, skier and soccer player can be independent. "He has an electric wheelchair and he just takes off. You get him up, you get him breakfast and he's gone," says his father, Ross W. Wein. "He's visiting people. He is travelling along the trails." To read more, click here
Forgotten Hero: Gutsy Toledo Man 'Changed the World' for People with Disabilities
When Lena Bunker gave birth to a boy in 1901, rumors raced through her North Toledo neighborhood about the pitifully deformed child delivered from her womb. As he grew from childhood to adolescence, Alva Bunker, who lacked fully developed arms and legs and had no hands, was dismissed as "mentally deficient." He was taught neither to read nor write. His sad life was confined to his Michigan Street home and the adjacent alley, where he rode up and down by pushing a skateboard fashioned from a piece of wood and rollerskate wheels. Had it not been for the intervention of a group of Toledo businessmen, he likely would have remained in that alley. Instead, Alva Bunker became a kind of poster child -- one of the first -- for the promotion of education and public assistance for Americans with disabilities. To read more, click here
Did You Know That......
The use of instructional strategies that embrace the learning characteristics and cognitive styles of diverse populations is known as "equity pedagogy" (Friend, 2008).
Can Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Reduce Level of Disability?
This time of year is for miracles. And 49-year-old Claudine Lanoix-Fox of Montreal, Canada, has one to share. In 1995, she learned that her twin, 18-month-old boys, Mathieu and Michel, were legally blind and had cerebral palsy. The latter was caused by brain damage at birth that affected the boys' abilities to control muscle movement. They were born premature at 27 weeks and in intensive care four months. "I was devastated," Lanoix-Fox said. "For me, it felt like the hand of God had reached down into my chest and ripped out my soul." It was the week before Christmas, she said, and she had visions of spending all her life in a hospital or at home caring for the twins. At 3, Mathieu, who had a brain hemorrhage, was using a walker inside and wheelchair outside. Michel couldn't sit up or feed himself and barely spoke. That year, Claudine learned through an Internet friend about hyperbaric oxygen therapy, which employs a pressure chamber to greatly increase the amount of oxygen available for healing tissue and organs. For therapy, they had to travel to Bedford, England. Within a month of the boys having regular treatments, a miracle seemed to occur. To read more, click here
Visual Skills Required for Independence Are Impaired in Children with Autism
The ability to find shoes in the bedroom, apples in a supermarket, or a favourite animal at the zoo is impaired among children with autism, according to new research from the University of Bristol. Contrary to previous studies, which show that children with autism often demonstrate outstanding visual search skills, this new research indicates that children with autism are unable to search effectively for objects in real-life situations -- a skill that is essential for achieving independence in adulthood. Previous studies have tested search skills using table-top tasks or computers but none, until now, has tested how children with autism fare in a more true-to-life setting. In a unique test room, 20 children with autism and 20 typical children of the same age and ability were instructed to press buttons on the floor to find a hidden target among multiple illuminated locations. Critically, these targets appeared more on one side of the room than the other. To read more, click here
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Food For Thought..........
The foundations of character are built not by lecture, but by bricks of good example.