Showing posts with label IEP. Show all posts
Showing posts with label IEP. Show all posts

Why a Comprehensive Special Education Evaluation?

The Framework

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires that special education evaluations be sufficiently comprehensive to make eligibility decisions and identify the student’s educational needs, whether or not commonly linked to the disability category in which the student has been classified (34 CFR 300.304). Comprehensive evaluations are conducted in a culturally and linguistically responsive manner; non-discriminatory for students of all cultural, racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, and other backgrounds. When conducting special education evaluations, IEP teams must follow all procedural and substantive evaluation requirements specified in IDEA. 

The BIG Ideas

  • Special education evaluations must be sufficiently comprehensive for IEP teams to determine special education eligibility or continuing eligibility and to identify the educational needs of the student, whether or not commonly linked to the student’s identified disability category(ies).
  • A comprehensive evaluation is a process, not an event. IEP team participants work together to explore, problem-solve, and make decisions about eligibility for special education services. If found eligible, the IEP team uses information gathered during the evaluation to collectively develop the content of the student’s IEP.
  • A comprehensive special education evaluation actively engages the family throughout the evaluation process.
  • Comprehensive evaluations are first and foremost “needs focused” on identifying academic and functional skill areas affected by the student’s disability, rather than “label focused” on identifying a disability category label which may or may not, accurately infer student need.
  • Developmentally and educationally relevant questions about instruction, curriculum, environment, as well as the student, guide the evaluation. Such questions are especially helpful during the review of existing data to determine what if any, additional information is needed. 
  • Asking clarifying questions throughout the evaluation helps the team explore educational concerns as well as student strengths and needs such as barriers to and conditions that support student learning, and important skills the student needs to develop or improve.
  • Culturally responsive problem-solving and data-based decision-making using current, valid, and reliable (i.e. accurate) assessment data and information is critical to conducting a comprehensive evaluation.
  • Assessment tools and strategies used to collect additional information must be linguistically and culturally sensitive and must provide accurate and useful data about the student’s academic, developmental, and functional skills.
  • Data and other information used during the evaluation process is collected through multiple means including review, interview, observation, and testing; as well as across domains of learning including instruction, curriculum, environment, and learner.
  • Individuals who collect and interpret assessment data and other information during an evaluation must be appropriately skilled in test administration and other data collection methods. This includes understanding how systemic, racial, and other types of bias may influence data collection and interpretation, and how individual student characteristics may influence results.
  • Assessment data and other information gathered over time and across environments help the team understand and make evaluation decisions about the nature and effects of a student’s disability on their education.
  • Comprehensive evaluations must provide information relevant to making decisions about how to educate the student. A comprehensive evaluation provides the foundation for developing an IEP that promotes student access, engagement, and progress in age or grade-level general education curriculum, instruction, and other activities, and environments.

The Balcony View

Comprehensive evaluations must provide information relevant to making decisions about how to educate the student so they can access, engage, and make meaningful progress toward meeting age and grade level standards. Assessment and collection of additional information play a central role during the evaluation and subsequently in IEP development and reviewing student progress. 

A comprehensive evaluation takes into account Career Readiness, a growing awareness of the relationship between evaluation and IEP development, and the need for information about how special education evaluations and reevaluations can be made more useful for IEP development.

The 2017 US Supreme Court Endrew F. case also brought renewed attention to the importance of knowing whether a student's IEP is sufficient to enable a student with a disability to make progress “appropriate in light of their circumstances.” Finally, updated guidance, including results of statewide procedural compliance self-assessment, IDEA complaints addressing whether evaluations are sufficiently comprehensive, and continuing disproportionate disability identification, placement, and discipline in student groups who traditionally are not equitably served.

A comprehensive evaluation responds to stakeholders’ requests for more information and reinforces that every public school student graduates ready for further education, the workplace, and the community.

It seeks to ensure a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) for every student protected under IDEA. It guides IEP teams in planning and conducting special education evaluations that explicitly address state and federal requirements to conduct comprehensive evaluations that help IEP teams to determine eligibility, and thoroughly and clearly identify student needs. 

Planning and Conducting a Comprehensive Special Education Evaluation

An Individualized Education Program (IEP) is the key to addressing a student’s disability-related needs. It describes annual goals and the supports and services a student must receive so they can access, engage, and make progress in general education. 

A well-developed IEP is a vehicle to ensure that a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) is provided to students protected under IDEA. A comprehensive special education evaluation provides the foundation for effective IEP development. 

A comprehensive special education evaluation is conducted by a student’s IEP team appointed by the district. The IEP team must include the parent as a required participant and essential partner in decision-making. Special Education evaluation is a collaborative IEP team responsibility. During the evaluation process, the team collectively gathers relevant information and uses it to make accurate and individualized decisions about a student’s eligibility or continuing eligibility, effects of disability, areas of strength, and academic and functional needs.

Data and other information used to make evaluation decisions come from a variety of sources and environments, often extending beyond the IEP team. Guided by educationally relevant questions, both existing and new information is compiled or collected, analyzed, integrated, and summarized by the IEP team to provide a comprehensive picture of the student’s educational strengths and needs.

A comprehensive special education evaluation is grounded in a culturally responsive problem-solving model in which potential systemic, racial, and other bias is addressed, and hypotheses about the nature and extent of the student’s disability are generated and explored.

Conducting a comprehensive special education evaluation requires planning. Each team has its own methods for planning and conducting comprehensive special education evaluations with guidance from the state and district.

Why RIOT/ICEL Matrix?

The RIOT/ICEL model comes from Jim Wright and is one way to look at RTI/MTSS.  RIOT is the top horizontal row of the table and includes four potential sources of student information: Review, Interview, Observation, and Test. Teams should attempt to collect information from a range of sources.

ICEL is the left column of the table that includes key areas of learning to be assessed: Instruction, Curriuclum, Environment, and Learner. A common mistake that teams often make is to assume that student learning problems exist in the learner and underestimate the degree to which what the classroom teacher is providing in class ie., accommodations, curriculum, and environmental influences that impact the student's academic performance. The model ensures no rock is left unturned. 

The matrix is an assessment guide to help teams efficiently to decide what relevant information to collect on student academic performance and behavior and also how to organize that information to identify probable reasons why the student is not experiencing academic or behavioral success.  

The matrix is not itself a data collection instrument. Instead, it is an organizing framework that increases teams' confidence both in the quality of the data that they collect and the findings that emerge from the data. 

An editable RIOT/ICEL form is below for you--just click the picture. Be on the lookout for a blog post sharing how I use this model with grade-level teams. The object of this model is to remove bias, it is a good way to look at multi-lingual students (ELL or ESL). It can be a great way to have collegial conversations about students.


Chat Soon-



Wait...Orton...What????

I came across Orton-Gillingham during a field placement as an undergrad. The special education teacher was using Wilson with her small groups to help them build reading skills. Mind you--this was not something taught in my program but she opened my eyes to something I would keep in my teaching bag. 

The Orton-Gillingham approach is a multi-sensory way of teaching reading, spelling, and writing skills to students who struggle with language-based learning difficulties, including dyslexia. Lessons focus on mastery of the smallest units of language first, including phonemes and graphemes, and then build to whole word, phrase and sentence level instruction. 

Important to note: Orton-Gillingham refers to an instructional approach, not any particular program or curriculum.

A Quick History Lesson

The term “dyslexia” first appeared in texts in the early 1870s. The Orton-Gillingham approach has been in use for the past 80 years and is the oldest dyslexia-specific approach to remedial reading instruction. It was developed in the 1930s by neuro-psychiatrist Dr. Samuel Orton based on his work with children who struggled with language processing issues but were of normal intelligence.

Dr. Orton proposed a neurological basis for the problem and developed a series of activities that combined right and left brain functions, predicting it would positively impact the ability to read and spell.

Dr. Anna Gillingham focused her efforts on training teachers in the approach, creating materials and expanding the instruction to include essential features of the English language, such as prefixes, suffixes, and even spelling rules.

Encouraged by Dr. Orton, she compiled and published instructional materials as early as the 1930s which provided the foundation for student instruction and teacher training. This collaboration became known as the Orton-Gillingham Approach.


What is Orton Gillingham?

This is where there seems to be a communication gap between parents and schools. OG is not a program, course or curriculum. There is no official “Orton Gillingham certification” for teachers. Your child does not get pulled out of their classroom an hour a day and taken someplace else to learn OG.

So what is OG then? First, it’s usually called the Orton Gillingham Approach.

And that’s what it is–an approach or way of teaching.

Orton-Gillingham places an important emphasis on multi-sensory approaches to learning. But it is more than that.

Orton-Gillingham is a highly structured approach, that breaks down reading and spelling into letters and sounds, and then building on these skills over time. OG was the first approach to use multi-sensory teaching strategies to teach reading.

This means that educators use sight, sound, touch, and motor movement to help students connect and learn the concepts being taught.

This multi-sensory approach helps students understand the relationship between letters, sounds, and words.

For example, an OG teacher a student to learn a letter by:

  • seeing it
  • saying it out loud
  • sounding it out
  • singing it
  • writing it with pen or pencil
  • writing it with fingers in shaving cream or sand
  • forming it with clay or play-doh
  • making the letter with your body or blocks

What is dyslexia?

Dyslexia is the most commonly diagnosed reading disorder. Dyslexia is also found on a continuum of severity, ranging from mild characteristics of dyslexia to profound difficulty with reading and writing. In its most severe forms, it is a learning disability. In its mildest form, it may be a source of puzzlement, frustration or mild inconvenience. 

Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurobiological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities.

As a result of this span of difficulty, the exact prevalence of dyslexia has yet to be definitively determined. It has been suggested that perhaps as many as 15% to 20% of the population as a whole have some of the symptoms of dyslexia (IDA, 2017).

Orton-Gillingham works because it enhances phonemic awareness in dyslexic individuals by examining common language patterns. Learners experiment with blending sounds, looking at letters and word parts in isolation and in various configurations, and studying language features, including diphthongs and silent letters.

The goal of Orton-Gillingham based instruction is to enable learners to decode words on their own and improve literacy skills in order to achieve their full potential at school.

Every state has its own special education legislation for the identification and special education support for students with a specific learning disability.

In Colorado, during the special education evaluation process, the team must document any characteristics of dyslexia. Be sure to look at your Department of Education--Special Education for what the team must do.

What the Orton-Gillingham Approach Can Teach Reading

The OG Approach can teach:

  • Decoding: break words into their syllables and phonemes (the smallest unit of sound) to be able to read the word. Develops automaticity and fluency at the word level.
  • Encoding: break down words orally into their syllables and phonemes to be able to spell the word.

However, an OG program requires supplemental programming to teach fluency and composition.

Can a Parent Teach Orton Gillingham?

Well, in the loosest form of OG, anyone can teach OG. All you need is a multi-sensory approach and you can say you’re OG. But just like too many behaviorists say they are using ABA (when they’re really not), OG is not for everyone either. This is where you have to be careful.

I’m not a BCBA, but I can reinforce ABA principles and activities at home with my son. I would say for most parents, you can reinforce tasks and lessons from school or at private tutoring. But unless you are a teacher or reading specialist, I would leave it to the experts.

Getting Orton Gillingham on your IEP

Want OG added to your IEP??? Ask the Team. 

Ok, here’s where the troubles are, right? You asked for OG on your IEP, because it helps kids with dyslexia learn to read.

They said no. Ask for the progress monitoring data. So, what about trialing a change and getting back together in 30 days with data? 

Have data??

Questions to ask:

  • What is the data looking at? spelling (Encoding), reading (decoding)
  • Is there improvement? How big?
  • Ask the classroom teacher, what do they see? 
  • Ask the team, who is trained in which program? (Programs Accredited by IDA)

Fact is, many reading programs designed for students with dyslexia are based on the Orton Gillingham Approach. But the OG approach alone may not be enough to get them there.

Learning OG has been a wonderful and overwhelming journey but I have had students who are very successful with this approach and others who need a different approach to help them learn to read. It always comes back to the data. 

Parents, always ask for it if the team doesn't bring it! Don't be afraid to push back on the team if they don't have it and ask questions about it and what it means for your child.


Chat soon,





PSSS.... Parents here's a freebie for your next IEP meeting. Need IEP Help CLICK HERE!!






Organizing Student IEP Data

I'm not sure how much-colored paper I go through but all I do KNOW is that when it comes to students taking ownership of their data and it NOT being part of my mess--is a HUGE deal.

Ever been buried in IEP goal paperwork and wonder where daylight is??? Well...this was me after my first year of teaching. I was spending more time wading through data trying to figure out what was what and who needed what and yeah. '

This was the last time I was going to let the paperwork of the job kill me! So what did I do!!

Out of the flames of burning data rose my student data binders! My Student Data Binders organized all my IEP needs. Need I say more! Let me take you back to the beginning of my teaching career. I kept ALL my IEP data in one huge binder on my desk.

The problem--I couldn’t find anything. It would take forever to plan and write an IEP and taking the data to meeting--don’t even get me started.

My Student Data Binders began with my must haves--IEP data. I did the progress monitoring--UGG! As I simplified how I was collecting data, I made my students do it! This solved like 2 problems--student motivation and giving me back time.

Over the years, I added more for the students to do like attendance, goal setting, and feedback. Soon, that big binder I keep was no longer needed. (Yeah, to getting my desk back!)

One of the special education teachers shared she also used individual binders for everything related to the student's IEP. She kept the current IEP, notes from meets with the classroom teacher and conversations with the student's parents.

As my student data binders started, started to take form I went from black & white to color. (HINT HINT for all your language kiddos, ADHD kiddos, yourself)  But before I went with color paper, I had to get my students to do their own data collection, reflection, and have a voice in their IEPs. This was WAY easier said than done. It’s always a work in progress.



As my student data binders started, started to take form I went from black & white to color. (HINT HINT for all your language kiddos, ADHD kiddos, yourself)  But before I went with color paper, I had to get my students to do their own data collection, reflection, and have a voice in their IEPs. This was WAY easier said than done. It’s always a work in progress.


I started with reading fluency with graphing with just coloring to the correct number. Then came reflection and voice. I slowly added to student responsibles as the year went on. One at a time. First the colors. The colors were chosen as they matched the dividers and the order I wanted to put things in.

Then came SLO. My Student Data Binders make SLO data collection a breeze! (a huge deal in Colorado)


Teaching students to graph is like learning to walk on water! It's not easy but graphing reading fluency or something like that makes it easier. Once students can work the basics they can graph anything but IT TAKES TIME!

I LOVE these graphs--there is enough space to create trend lines and a line for grade level benchmark. (Which in my district is how we look at adequate progress.)

All these lines lend themselves beautifully to student conferences. Goal setting is KEY to not only giving students voice and choice but it is also how you MOVE students and help them to take ownership of their learning.
It's equally as tough to teach and guide students to do anything that resembles self-assessment and reflection. I'm very lucky I get to keep my students for a couple of years before sending them on--this gives me the chance to get them to master self-assessment and reflection.

Everyone starts the year off with the assessment graphs they need (sometimes I put the teacher assessment in there as well) but as the year progresses each student's binder really become theirs.

Student Voice & Choice (Personalized learning) becomes more prominent. Students decide on what IEP goals they wish to focus on as well as set a SMART goal for that goal. This plus the progress monitoring makes the portfolio to share at their IEP meetings. The information in their binders informs present levels of performance and next steps. While providing my students with a critical life skill.

My Teacher Data Binder holds all the assessments I need to progress monitor IEP goals and extra graphs. Gone are the days my IEP assessments are in 3 different places and they are nowhere to be seen. All in one place and ready for me. I love I can grab and go. I don't have to bring a student back to my office to progress monitor.


I love that my student data is all in one place and I can manage it with a 5-minute conversation with the student about what they are working on. Teachers appreciate that I can bring a student binder to a meeting to talk about the whole child. This makes RTI and classroom intervention planning a breeze.



Until Next Time,


How I Create my Student's Data Binders

I'm not sure how much colored page I go through but all I do KNOW is that when it comes to students taking owner ship of their data and it NOT being part of my mess--is a HUGE deal.

This is the third year, I have created data binders for my students and created a current assessment binder for myself.

Why you might ask--did would I go through all that drama to create data binders in color. Well because I wanted NEEDED to tame the mess of student data which had over run my desk.

Let me take you back to the beginning of my teaching career. I kept ALL my IEP data in one huge binder on my desk. The problem--it was a pain to locate a specific student's data or to take to a meeting.

Fast forward a couple of years, I began to keep student's progress monitoring data in group binders. I kept data, lesson plans, and IEPs here. I could find a student's data but it was a pain to lug to any meeting.

A fellow Special Education teacher suggested using file folders as she did the same. Well, let me tell you-my student's data was easy to find and take to meetings BUT it OVER TOOK my desk. I couldn't do anything on my desk without having to move 300 things. (HUGE PAIN)

Then I crossed paths with someone who used individual binders for everything related to the student's IEP. She kept the current IEP, notes from meets with the classroom teacher and conversations with the student's parents.

This is where my data binders started. Over the next couple of years, it went from black & white to color. (This was a hint from my ESL teacher.)  But before I went with color paper, I had to get my students to do their own data collection, reflection, and have a voice in their IEPs. Way easier than said.

I started with reading fluency with graphing with just coloring to the correct number. Then came reflection and voice. I slowly added to what students did based on their IEP goals. One at a time. Last year, I added the colors. The colors were chosen as they matched the dividers and the order I wanted to put things in.

The bonus that comes using the data collection to beat SLO (Student Learning Objectives) (these are huge deal in Colorado)

I LOVE these graphs--there is enough space to create trend lines and a line for grade level benchmark. (Which in my district is how we look at adequate progress.)




 All these lines lend themselves beautifully to student conferences. Goal setting is KEY to not only giving students voice and choice but it is also how you MOVE students and help them to take ownership of their learning.

Everyone starts the year off with the assessment graphs they need (sometimes I put the teacher assessment in there as well) but as the year progresses each student's binder really become theirs.

Student Voice & Choice (Personalized learning) becomes more prominent. Students decide on what IEP goals they wish to focus on as well as set a SMART goal for that goal. This plus the progress monitoring makes the portfolio to share at their IEP meetings. The information in their binders inform present levels of performance and next steps. While providing my students with a critical life skill.

My Teacher Data Binder holds all the assessments I need to progress monitor IEP goals and extra graphs. Gone are the days my IEP assessments are in 3 different places and they are nowhere to be seen. All in one place and ready for me. I love I can grab and go. I don't have to bring a student back to my office to progress monitor.

I love that my student data is all in one place and I can manage it with a 5 minute conversation with the student about what they are working on. Teachers appreciate that I can bring a student binder to a meeting to talk about the whole child. This makes RTI and classroom intervention planning a breeze.

Click here check out my Student & Teacher Data Binder: Progress Monitoring Made Simple & Easy


Until Next Time,


Thank you for your interest-this offer has expired. 
You can find my Student & Teacher Data Binder HERE.




How to Tame your IEP Data Mess!

If you walked into my office and looked at my desk you would fall over. My desk by day 5 of the school year--OMG! I know I'm not alone. With all the paperwork, files, reports, and student data well--it's a wonder that any of us are organized. #amIright?


After 14 years of trying everything from one binder for all my students, (mind you that 1 large binder with 40 students) to buckets to file folders. Nothing worked to keep each students data, work, progress monitoring, teacher conference notes. So last summer, I decided to try student data binders and make my students responsible for everything. My students LOVED them. FYI: It was these binders moved my students more than a year. #SWEET #studentmotivation


Why keep a Student data binder?

Well… the answer to this is different for everyone, so I will just share why I keep one… and it’s a super simple reason: It keeps me organized. In this data obsessed age (ahh me), there is so much to keep track of. Compiling it all into a portable binder makes my life easier. No more running around to three or four different files to find current information on my seconds! I can just grab and go at a moments notice! (Who can remember all those student meetings, anyway?!) I love having my data in one place to show teachers and parents. #perfect

My idea Teacher and Student Data binders hold all things IEP in 1 place. All the IEP goal data and progress monitoring together, organized that IEP writing is a grab and write. Grade Level meeting grab and go!

Data binders are an essential component of a strong classroom learning community. Every student has their own binder.

We set goals for everything and so far it has changed the look of my classroom. We use a data binder to keep track of all the goals (think SLO or Student Learning Objectives).
Students keep guided reading books, attendance, work samples, IEP snapshot and more in their binders. 

Data binders can take many forms, but the goal is the same: to drive student performance, improvement, and self-awareness. Students can document their learning and growth over time which increases their growth by years end. #morethanayearsgrowth

Students tracking goals and their data building more intrinsically motivated students who track and met their goals.


My Teacher and Student Data Binders include:
  • Binder labels
  • Sounds/Letters both upper & lower case
  • Number Identification 0-30
  • Fry Sight Words
  • Oral Counting
  • Letter writing
  • Basic Shapes
  • Phonics Survey
  • I Can Early Math Statements
  • Graphs for all assessments included
  • Marzano’s Student Self-Assessment Rubric & Poster Set (Robots)
  • 2 different Phonics Surveys 
  • Weekly Self-Assessment
  • Reading level/Running Record Trackers
  • 2017-2018 Calendar
Other Ideas: 
  • IEP snapshots (for easy access for goal setting sessions)
  • Student/Teacher Created Rubrics
  • Anchor Charts
  • Goal Setting and Conference Sessions
  • SMART Goals
You can add what you need and make it your own.  I use my Student Data Binders to push students to challenge themselves and grow.

My Teachers Binder has ALL the formative assessments I use to track IEP growth or progress monitor. I add assessments as IEP goals change.  I don't have time to look for it. Grab and go. The best when you're being pulled in 100 different directions.   #Iknow

This system has been extremely intrinsically motivating for all my students.

Until Next Time,



Thank you for your interest-this offer has expired. 
You can find my Student & Teacher Data Binder HERE.








PLAAFP?? What...?

I don't know about anyone else but my school district LOVES to change things all the time. Well, in this case, a major tweak for many. Last year, my state formally rolled out Present Level of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance or PLAAFP. (The soft rollout started several years ago.)

You might be telling yourself not another acronym. #not new just added too

In all the IEPs I write I always describe, tell, report my student's current level of function across all areas. In most case behavior and academic. PLAAFP adds a new layer. My building special education writes (really it's a draft) them as a team--this is the hard part but helps the team look at the whole child. It also very the student a strong voice in their IEP.

By the time the PLAAFP is finished, it informed strengths, needs, and interests. It makes things very clear and its written in a way that all stakeholders understand where the student is and where they need to go and where the student
                                                                                    what's to go.

The PLAAFP should include the following:
The student’s strengths, interests, and preferences
The area of concern and how it manifests academically and functionally
How the disability impacts the student’s participation and ability to progress in the general education curriculum
Objective data collected from testing, teacher observations, evaluations and information from IEP team members or others who know the student

A focused IEP is a much more useful than one that lacks congruity and with tons of unrelated goals. (True you can write an IEP with lots of goals to cover everything the student needs to work on but let's get real can we really target all of them with the depth needed to achieve true mastery? I myself write goals to target the root cause of those needs.)

The ability, however, to direct attention and resources to the most relevant needs the student has, in the vital context of the student’s strengths, interests, and preferences, is what gives each goal the punch it needs to meaningfully support the student in their day-to-day academic and functional pursuits.

If a goal exists in the IEP that cannot be linked back to some portion of the PLAAFP, then either the PLAAFP is incomplete or the goal does not relate to what the team identified to be the most important areas of need the student has. Cross checking each goal with the PLAAFP is a great way to check if the plan is focused and appropriate. Many times I will do this when just working formal testing data to determine strength, needs, and what more information I need to gather.

Although the term “academic” is fairly self-explanatory, the term “functional” is not as well
understood. Functional achievement speaks to the age-appropriate activities in which a student engages that are not academic: dressing, eating, grooming, working, playing, socializing, etc. These are activities and skills that will facilitate the student’s success in actively contributing to and being a valued member of his or her community.

The PLAAFP is an opportunity. It's the careful consideration in its development and the commitment to use it to guide goal writing and the identification of other supports and services is invaluable in developing the most useful and effective IEP possible.

Why does my building write them as a team--well, to get a true picture of the student. When your testing everyone does their part. Writing the PLAAFP as a team allows us to take all the pieces of the puzzle and build the puzzle together.

You can grab a copy of the template my team uses with an example here.


Until next Time,




 photo PLAAFP Instagram_1.png

November Pinterest Pick 3

 I can't believe the year is almost over. Between planning for Christmas and working through the 4 C's, things have been crazy. You ask what the 4 C's are? Well, in many places the 4 C's are used in STEM, STREAM, or GT thinking but is some districts in the States its becoming a way of planning. In many ways to takes Common Core outcomes and challenges teachers to think about education as what it takes to work for company's like Google or  Instagram. The big thing: Backwards Planning to cover the standards and IEP goals.



My picks this month are to help provide a way for me to connect more dots as I plan the next 8 weeks for my instruction.




Thinking for working with the STEM or STEAM world when planning to meet IEP goals pushes you to thinking. Wrapping one of these into daily instruction and planning to do it with purpose as with Backwards Planning is not as easy as one thinks. I have decided to met the current IEP goals communication is key for where they are in their DRA reading goals. My district then wants me to create a communication rubric with my students. I'm not worried--they have done one with me already and several with their teachers. The nice thing, I will not have to assess this 4 C every week just as an interim and/or a summative assessment. 
 This website has tons of great ideas that they use in real classrooms. Finding real examples of Project Based Learning with videos talking about what worked and how students grew from the projects is well worth a visit. I don't have the time to do projects for the sake of a project they have to have a real impact and provide real growth on those IEP goals.


I have messed with creating a whole PBL experience for my groups but I'm not sure how to do it. This list of questions will help me create PBL over Christmas Break. I have added pits and pieces to their groups like presenting their retells like reporters and putting together a sentence in their notebooks that will make a short story in eight weeks. But these are little pieces--I would really like to try taking the cake.


Have a great week!









An IEP Meeting--What Parents Should Know

It is important that parents become informed and involved in their child’s education. There are many sources of information and support in your state. However, the more skills you have and the more information you learn, the better you can advocate for your child. Over the past few years we have found that parents tend to make some common mistakes during the Individual Education Program (IEP) meeting. The following is a list of the common mistakes and some suggestions for avoiding them:

1.  Believing the professionals are the only experts.
It can be very intimidating to sit at a table with several educators and professionals. Professionals and Educators do bring a great deal of knowledge and experience to the table. Although most parents do not have a background or degree in education, they have a great deal of knowledge and experience regarding their child. Parents are experts in their own right; they also provide historical information and the big picture from year to year. They know what works and does not work with their child and can be a great asset to the IEP team.

Parents have an intuitive sense as to what is appropriate for their child. After working with parents for eleven years, I'm still amazed at how parents are usually intuitively correct about what will work for their child. I encourage parents to follow their hunches. If something does not sound right, check it out.

2.  Not making requests in writing.
Any request a parent makes needs to be in writing. This includes requests for assessments, IEP meetings, correspondence, related services, etc. Written requests are important because they initiate timelines that the school district must follow in response to your request. This will also create a paper trail. When you write a letter be sure to send it certified mail. When you have a discussion by phone with a school official, write a letter that briefly outlines what you talked about. Documenting your conversations helps prevent miscommunication.

3.  Not being familiar with Prior Notice of the Procedural Safeguards (34 CFR 300.503)
All sections of the Procedural Safeguards are important to parents. This particular section gives parents some leverage during the IEP meetings. Whenever parents make a request for their child in the IEP meeting, the IEP committee is required under Prior Notice to provide the parents with written notice with a reasonable period of time. The notice must include the following:
A description of the action proposed or refused.
An explanation of why the agency proposes or refuses to take the action;
A description of any other options that the agency considered and the reasons why those options were rejected;
A description of each evaluation procedure, test, record, or report the agency used as a basis for the proposed or refused action;
A description of any other factor that is relevant to the agency’s proposal or refusal.

Prior Written Notice is sent home every time the Service Page is changed. This page holds all the information that changes a child’s time in and out of the class, as well as the types of services. This also includes any changes to a child’s Least Restrictive Environment (LRE).

4.  Allowing the assessment information to be presented for the first time at the IEP meeting.
Parents are entitled to have the assessment information explained to them before the IEP meeting. I encourage parents to have the person who administered the assessment give them a copy of the report and meet with them to explain the report several days before the IEP meeting. I go so far as send the reports home three days before the meeting. This enables the parents to think through the information before making decisions for their child. If all IEP decisions are based on the information from the assessment, it only makes sense for the parents to be knowledgeable and informed about the assessment results in a way they can understand.

5.   Accepting goals and objectives that are not measurable.
Measurable goals and objectives are paramount for your child’s IEP. Without measurable goals and objectives, it is difficult to determine if your child has had a successful school year. In working with parents, we have encountered many IEP goals and objectives that are not measurable.

All goals and objectives should come from assessment data. Assessment has four different components: 1) Formal assessment (i.e., WIAT, Woodcock-Johnson, Brigance), 2) Informal assessment (i.e., classroom work), 3) Teacher/parent observation, and 4) Interviews. After the information has been collected about the student it is compiled into an assessment report. Recommendations on how to work with the student are listed toward the end of the report.

After the assessment has been completed, the IEP committee determines the student’s present level of performance (PLOP) and states what the student is currently able to do. The committee then develops the IEP goals and objectives. The goals state what the student is expected to accomplish by the end of the year. Objectives break the goals down into increments. For example:

PLOP
Based on the Brigance and classroom work, Johnny is currently able to read on a fourth grade level with 90% mastery.

Goals
By the end of the school year Johnny will be able to read on a fifth grade level as measured by the Brigance and classroom work with 80% mastery.

Objectives
By October 1, Johnny will be able to read-on fourth grade, second month level with teacher assistance as measured by the Brigance and classroom work with 80% mastery.

By January 1, without teacher assistance, Johnny will be able to read on a fourth grade, sixth month level as measured by the Brigance and classroom work with 80% mastery.

A method of determining if your goals and objectives are measurable is to ask someone who is not on your IEP team to read them (i.e., a teacher, another parent, advocate, etc.). Then ask “Hypothetically, if you were to go into the classroom, would you be able to see my child working on these goals and objectives?” If someone outside of your IEP team cannot answer “yes”, then the goals and objectives are not measurable.

6. Allowing placement decisions to be made before IEP goals and objectives are written. Many times after assessment is discussed, the IEP committee will determine the child’s placement. Goals and objectives are always written before placement is discussed. To ensure that the child is placed in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE), the IEP committee must determine: Which of these goals and objectives can best be met in the general classroom?

With any remaining goals and objectives that cannot be met in the general class-room, the committee determines: Which of these goals and objectives can be best met in the general classroom with modifications and support?

This line of inquiry continues until all placement options have been decided upon for all the goals and objectives. The committee must always start with the LRE and then work toward a more restrictive environment only as necessary. IDEA is very clear that the IEP committee must always consider the general education classroom as the first option for students with disabilities.

7. Allowing your child’s IEP meeting to be rushed so that the school staff can begin the next child’s IEP meeting.

This practice is particularly common at the end of the school year when we are frantically trying to have IEP meetings for all the students who receive special education services. IEP meetings may be held one right after another. There is no problem with this practice as long as the members of the IEP team feel that all issues have been adequately discussed. Many times, however, parents feel rushed. It is important that all issues are adequately addressed before ending the IEP meeting. When the teachers have not planned adequate time to address all relevant issues, request that the IEP team meet again at a more convenient time to further discuss your child’s education.

8. Not asking a lot of questions.
It is very important to ask questions and lots of them. Educators use many terms and acronyms specific to special education. Parents may become confused when these terms are used during the IEP meeting. This can add to the frustration that a parent may already be feeling when they do not under-stand what is being said. It is important to ask what the terms or acronyms mean. Unless a parent has a background in special education, they are not expected to know the terms and acronyms.  Informed decisions cannot be made when parents do not understand what is being discussed.

At some point in time everyone has made all the mistakes listed above. I have developed the habit of debriefing after every IEP meeting to discuss the team performance during the meeting. As a team, we have gradually accumulated information and developed skills and we continue to trust our intuition. This has helped our team at all our IEP meetings. It’s well worth the extra time. If you have questions talk with your IEP team.


Supporting Parents with IEP process

As a parent, you have the right to participate in all of your child’s IEP meetings. In fact, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the federal law governing special education, lists parents first on the list of required members of a student’s IEP team.

They play an important role in decisions about where and how their child will be taught. This is referred to as “placement.” This term covers not only which classroom or school your child is placed in, but also which services will be included in their IEP. Services can include things like one-on-one sessions with a speech therapist or the use of assistive technology.

“You may not be an expert about special education, but you are an expert about your child.” IDEA says that the IEP team cannot change a child’s placement without giving a parent a chance to challenge that change. During the process (which is called dispute resolution), the student has the right to remain in their current placement.

Parents participate throughout the IEP process. A parent’s input is important throughout the IEP process. This starts with their child’s first evaluation and continues right through to the transition plan in his high school IEP. The school knows your child as a student. Some members of the team may only know him “on paper"—through test results, for instance. But a parent represents their child in a very personal way.

Helping the team assess your child’s skills: The IEP is based on something called “the present level of academic achievement and functional performance” (known as PLAAFP, PLP or PLOP). In short, this means they need to how your child is doing now so they can measure his future progress. A parent’s input about how your child functions at home is valuable to PLOP. Parents might share that their child has meltdowns while doing algebra homework but has no problems with other kinds of math. These observations help the IEP team figure out weaknesses, strengths and level of academic skills.

Coming up with educational goals: Once PLOP is established, parents with the rest of the IEP team are required to write measurable annual goals for your child. Your input can help define and refine goals so they’re realistic but still ambitious. Annual goals give students and teachers something concrete to work toward. They also help hold the school accountable for addressing student’s needs.
Parents--Keeping an eye on services and supports: Your child is supposed to receive supports and services that are tailored to his needs. But it’s easy for a busy special education department to apply a “standard” set of supports and services to all students with a certain disability. As a parent, you can make sure the IEP is designed with your child in mind.

What if you’re concerned that the promised services and supports aren’t being provided? Follow up with someone on the team your child’s teachers, special education director or anyone else you feel comfortable talking to. Approaching the school in a collaborative spirit is usually the best way to start. But you can take more formal steps (such as writing a letter of complaint) if you don’t get the answers and action you believe are necessary.

Parents create continuity.

Parent’s role as a member of the IEP team is valuable from start to finish. Your child’s teachers, special education providers and schools may change. But as a parent you remain a constant in your child’s life. You’ll watch him learn, stumble, adapt and succeed.

When your child reaches high school, he’ll be expected to participate as a member of his IEP team and help develop a transition plan. He’ll take the lead as you shift from being his primary advocate being his “coach.”
Through it all, you can support your child and help him develop the self-awareness and self-advocacy skills he’ll need in the future.

What is Progress Monitoring?

Progress monitoring is a scientifically based practice that is used to assess students' academic performance and evaluate the effectiveness of instruction. Progress monitoring can be implemented with individual students or an entire class.

What is progress monitoring?

Progress monitoring is a scientifically based practice that is used to assess students’ academic performance and evaluate the effectiveness of instruction. Progress monitoring can be implemented with individual students or an entire class.

How does progress monitoring work?

To implement progress monitoring, the student’s current levels of performance are determined and goals are identified for learning that will take place over time. The student’s academic performance is measured on a regular basis (weekly or monthly). Progress toward meeting the student’s goals is measured by comparing expected and actual rates of learning. Based on these measurements, teaching is adjusted as needed. Thus, the student’s progression of achievement is monitored and instructional techniques are adjusted to meet the individual students learning needs.

What are the benefits of progress monitoring?

When progress monitoring is implemented correctly, the benefits are great for everyone involved. Some benefits include:

  • accelerated learning because students are receiving more appropriate instruction;
  • more informed instructional decisions; documentation of student progress for accountability purposes; 
  • more efficient communication with families and other professionals about students’ progress; 
  • higher expectations for students by teachers; and fewer Special Education referrals

Overall, the use of progress monitoring results in more efficient and appropriately targeted instructional techniques and goals, which together, move all students to faster attainment of important state standards of achievement.

Who should be practicing progress monitoring?

Anyone who is interested in improving results for children should be implementing progress monitoring. Whether you are a regular educator, special educator, related service provider, administrator, or family member, you should be interested in implementing research-based progress monitoring practices. It's always a good idea for teachers and special education teachers to have it ready to show to parents or other stake holder. It's great to show parents and students.

What are the challenges of progress monitoring?


  • Educators and families need information about the effectiveness of progress monitoring that would encourage them to adopt the practice.
  • Teachers and other practitioners need support in translating progress monitoring research into easily implemented, usable strategies.
  • Technical assistance on progress monitoring must transfer knowledge in ways that accommodate differences in background, training, and beliefs, as well as differences in the nature and philosophy of the instructional programs and practices already in place.
  • This information dissemination must take place in a variety of formats, in usable forms, and at different levels of specificity.

It’s also call:

Progress monitoring is a relatively new term. Some other terms you may be more familiar with are Curriculum-Based Measurement and Curriculum-Based Assessment. Whatever method you decide to use, it is most important that you ensure it is a scientifically based practice that is supported by significant research.


What does a Speech therapist do?

What Do Speech Therapists Help With?

Speech therapists help people of all ages with different speech and language disorders. Here are some of them:
  • articulation disorders: This when a kid has trouble saying certain sounds or saying words correctly. "Run" might come out as "won." Or "say" may sound like "thay." Lisps are considered articulation disorders.
  • fluency disorders: If a kid repeats certain sounds and has trouble saying the complete word, he or she may have fluency disorder. For example, a kid trying to say "story" might get stuck on the "st" and say "st-st-st-story." Or he or she might draw out certain sounds and say "ssssssstory." A stutter is a fluency disorder
  • voice disorders: A kid might have a voice disorder if people have trouble understanding him or her. The kids might start a sentence loud and clear, but it's quiet and mumbling by the end. Sometimes these kids sound like they have a cold or like they're talking through their noses.
  • language disorders: A kid who has trouble understanding people or has trouble putting words together to express thoughts might have a language disorder.

Who Needs Speech Therapy?

It's a great way to learn to speak more clearly. Sometimes students have a medical condition that makes speaking more difficult. Here are some of them:
  • hearing impairment
  • weak muscles around the mouth
  • cleft lip or palate
  • vocal nodules/ hoarseness
  • autism
  • breathing disorder
  • swallowing disorder

What's It Like?


Visiting a speech therapist for the first time will take a speaking test. This test is a way of finding out what types of speech problems. The student will be asked to say certain sounds and words. These may be recorded and the therapist might write some stuff down during the test. The test will help the therapist figure out the student's needs and decide what treatments are needed.

The "treatment" for speech problems is practice. If a student has trouble with articulation or fluency, the therapist will spend time showing him or her how to make the proper sounds. The therapist will demonstrate the sounds and ask the student to try to copy them. That means copying the way the therapist moves the lips, mouth, and tongue to make the right sound.

Mirrors can be helpful here. The therapist might ask the student to make these sounds while looking in the mirror. Some therapists use games to make this practice more fun.

If your therapist is helping you with a language disorder, your sessions may seem a little like school. He or she will help you with grammar — how to put words together properly to form clear statements and thoughts. If you have difficulties with understanding what you hear, you may play games that work on these skills, such as Simon Says.

How Long Will Treatment Last?

Some treatments are short and others are longer. It depends on the problem the student is working on. A student might see the therapist once a week or a few times a week. Treatment can take a few weeks, a few months, or a few years.


If you have speech problem, the best advice is to practice, practice, practice. Find time to work on the skills the therapist has shown you. Maybe spend some time before bed practicing in front of a mirror. Ask your parent to work with you.

I hope your summer break is break is restful. I can't believe that its half over.

Back 2 School Sale & Freebie

I reported this past Monday. Things have been nuts. I have a new team mate and new leadership again this year. So I'm little CRAZY right now. I've spent my week in training but I have a little freebie to help out your classroom teachers know a little about their IEPs. Yes, they should read the IEPs but we all know how nuts those the first week is.They don't have time to talk, since they have to get rooms ready before Back to School night. But knowing something of them as they are getting up and running is huge. I leave this with them and get back to them by the end of the first week. By Friday they are a little less nuts.

Everything in my store will be on sale Sunday and Monday. Make sure to check out the Special Education Binder (it has all the forms you you need and is editable) http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/The-Special-Education-Binder-Editable-746955and the first 2 units for 1st Grade Math Investigations Units are backwards planned and ready for daily lesson planning http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Investigations-Mathematics-Adding-and-Subtracting-within-20-to-Solve-Problems-794139 and http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Investigations-Mathematics-Counting-Large-Quantities-and-Making-Ten-809094.

My fellow Colorado Bloggers and Pinners are also selling on TpT have some great products that you should check out:

Jean Martin's best selling novel study for Wonder by R.J. Palacio.  It is is wonderful book and teaches kids of all ages about tolerance and acceptance for kids who are different. Also promotes the understanding that who we are on the inside is what really counts.  This is a 5-8 novel study.
http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/A-Novel-Study-for-WONDER-by-RJ-Palacio-395229

Kristy Morris's kindergarten one and second grade writing journals are a big hit with her students.

Naomi O'Brien's Common Core Main Idea unit is perfect for 1st and 2nd graders. Main Idea can be tricky for some kids! I used these sheets for morning work and had my kids confident about knowing what the main idea of a story was. 

Kristin Holmquist's "Find Someone Who" Math Bundle. Is perfect for 2nd to 4th graders. http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Find-Someone-Who-Math-Bundle-627087  It's a great way to review math concepts at the end of the unit, or as a "refresher" anytime throughout the year. The best part is kids are up and out of their seats, working together, and learning from each other. 

Cecelia's, First Grade ELA and Math Common Core Morning Work. This is one of my top selling products.  It is so easy to use and assures teachers that students will be working on many Common Core Standards. For Math, it addresses 1. O.A.,1. N.B.T, I.M.D. and 1.G and in language arts,  the Common Core ELA Standards this morning work addresses  are 1 L.1, 1L.2, 1 R.L. 7, 1R. F. S. 1, 1R. F. S. 2, 1R. F. S. 3, and 1R. F. S. 4.  The product is is mostly back and white, so it will cost less to print. This 24 page product is what you need to keep kids busy while practicing skills so you can do all that you need to in the a.m. without interruption.
http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/First-Grade-Common-Core-Morning-Work-Literacy-and-Math-1st-Month-297277

To save money, you can purchase the entire year's worth of morning work at a 10% discount {not including the TPT Back to School Sale discount of 28%}.  So on August 18 and 19, using code BTS13, it will be an amazing 38% off:
http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Common-Core-Math-and-Literacy-Morning-Work-for-the-Entire-Year-First-Grade-649987

Pamela Kranz's Math Games Galore Bundle.  It's a collection of my favorite math computation, order of operations and place value games.  I love these games because they're easily differentiated, work well in a variety of learning situations (centers, solitaire, team challenges, whole class, homework), and are easy to leave for a substitute once the class knows how to play.  They're appropriate for grades 4-8.

Brenda Martin's language review week to week is aligned with Common Core.  It is an interchangeable bulletin board that helps students practice skills in a center type style. I really like this product because it covers so many standards and is so easy for teachers! 
http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Language-Review-Week-to-Week-The-Complete-Set-442491

Wanting ice cream, then Ashlyn Ellsworth's states of matter pack fits the bill. I love this product because first off I use it with my first graders and made this because there wasn't much out there to meet my science needs! The pack is easy to use and the kids love it. The science experiments are great.

Have fun shopping. I have a great week coming up and looking forward to seeing my students again. Enjoy the end of school and getting back to school.



Part 2: Who Will be at My Child's IEP Meeting?

On the School's Side

Guidance Counselor: Your child's counselor may be pulled in to attest to problems, coordinate class selections, or sign off on a plan. If you've already met and talked to the counselor on a regular basis, this shouldn't be a problem, unless you've clashed. Even then, though, you'll know what to expect.

Transition Coordinator: If your child is moving from one school to the next, a representative of the future school may want to be in on the planning meeting. You may want to arrange for this. You may want to talk to this person in advance.

Paraprofessional: The good part -- Having your child's aide in the meeting can provide another firsthand source of information from someone who likely has your child's interests at heart. The bad part -- If your child's aide is in a meeting, your child's aide is not with your child. And who is, exactly?

District: This probably means you're in trouble, you pushy parent, and someone's come from the home office to apply the smackdown. Whether this individual has any particular knowledge of your personal child and his or her needs is another matter entirely.

On Your Side

Your Spouse: Presenting a united front as your child's parents makes it apparent that you're involved, concerned, and participatory.

Your Child: This is the person the plan is being made for, after all, and having him or her present as a living breathing human and not as a list of deficits can keep everyone on track, not to mention giving your child an introduction to self-advocacy. Still, would you want to be in that room, as a child, with people talking about you? It freaks some kids out. It freaks some adults out, too.

Your Friend: Having a sympathetic companion can make you feel less ganged-up-upon, and can also serve as a second brain to remember what went on and corroborate bad treatment. Don't spring the extra person on the team, though; let them know in advance you're coming with an entourage.

Your Paid Advocate: A hired gun who knows the law better than you do and isn't afraid to call the house's bluff can put you in a powerful position. There may be times when the stakes are so high that you'll need to go this route. If you're not there yet, though, the presence of an advocate may be seen as a sign of bad faith and a threat, and close the door to cooperation.

And now, the star of the team, the number-one MVP.

You.

Yeah, you, the parent. You are the most important member of your child's IEP team, far and away. Don't let those suits convince you differently. You are the expert on your child, and your child is the reason all those people are sitting there. You are the only one to have seen your child in multiple settings, in multiple school years, in multiple moods. You are the only one who has talked to the doctors and the specialists. You are the only one who has traced your child's development from early days until right now. And you are the only one who will still be involved in your child's care years from now, when the decisions made at this table will bear fruit.

Since that last one is the only thing you really have control over, consider these three questions:

Do you dress the part? If you're showing up at meetings in jeans, a T-shirt and sneakers while everybody else is in business suits and shiny shoes, you're sure giving off a "just here to sign, ma'am" vibe. You don't have to drop a month's salary at Brooks Brothers or anything, but grown-up attire wouldn't hurt.

Do you make a professional presentation? Whatever you expect of the school personnel at that table, expect the same from yourself. If you expect them to document their observations and recommendations, document yours. If you expect them to report from records rather than memory, bring records of your own. If you expect them to deal in specifics and facts rather than platitudes and preconceptions, watch what you say, too.

Do you do anything but go to meetings and sign papers? Think about how infuriating it is when some district upper-up who has never met your child drops in on a meeting and, on the basis of a light scan of your child's file, starts setting policy and goals and expectations. Then think about what teachers and administrators must feel about parents who make no contact at all during the school year, then descend in a meeting to throw questions and judgments and orders around? Keeping up a constant dialog throughout the school year will not head off all problems, but it will squash the stupid little ones that get going due to lack of communication and connection.

The bottom line is, if you want to be a member of the team, then act like a member of the team. Your child will come out a winner.

Besides Me, Who Will Be at My Child's IEP Meeting?

As a parent you are the first member of your child's IEP team. But there are other members who come and go depending on the needs of your child.

The Core Team Members

While there are a stunning array of people who will move onto and off of the IEP field, three players will probably do the largest amount of ball-carrying for students with special needs. They're the ones who will send you letters announcing scheduled meetings, and the ones who will hand you the 5,000 copies of the booklets on knowing your rights. They'll be responsible for evaluating your child on arrival in the system and periodically thereafter. One of these individuals will probably be assigned as your child's case manager.

The School Psychologist: Back before RTI, the psychologist is the person who will give your child IQ tests and other psychological surveys as part of the evaluation portion of IEP planning. The psychologist may make observations during the meeting about your child's psychological state or concerns. If your child is having problems during the school year that require counseling, this psychologist may be able to help, or there may be another school psychologist who handles counseling of students.

Special Education Teacher: The special education teacher is the person who will give your child tests that assess level of educational achievement and ability. The special education teacher may make observations during the meeting about the appropriate educational placement for your child. Should your child need special learning techniques, modifications and accommodations in the classroom, the special education teacher will be able to strategize those with you and the teacher, and help monitor progress. This teacher will be charged with outlining your child's educational progress and prognosis for the IEP, and with gathering opinions from all other teachers as appropriate. What you hear from the teacher at the meeting should be consistent with what you've been hearing throughout the year. If not, ask why. If you haven't been talking with the teacher throughout the year ... well, then I'll ask, why not? Don't be a stranger.

The Social Worker: The social worker is the person who will take down a family history during the evaluation process. The social worker may make observations during the meeting about your child's relationships with other students and general participation in the school experience. Should your child need special assistance with peer relationships and conflicts, the social worker may be able to arrange appropriate programs.

The Regular Education Teacher: From the school's point of view, nobody knows your child better than the teacher. So it's natural for the teacher to be involved in the planning of the IEP. Your child's regular education teacher will always be at the meeting. That's good news for you if you've built a rapport with a teacher, or if a teacher has a particularly good feel for your child's abilities and needs. If your child has multiple teachers in the course of a school day, they won't all crowd the meeting.

The Speech Therapist: The speech therapist works with your child on receptive and expressive language. In clear language, what that means is that what your child understands of what people tell him, how she is able to make that understanding clear, and how she is able to make her own self understood are all within the speech therapist's area of interest. This includes both types of articulation -- the proper production of speech sounds, and the proper forming of thoughts into words. Be sure all your concerns for your child's language usage and understanding are being addressed, not just her ability to move lips and tongue properly.

The Physical Therapist (PT): The physical therapist works on your child's gross motor skills -- no, not the ability to burp impressively or spit across the room, but the movement of major muscle groups to make big movements like walking, running, catching a ball or kicking it. Once your child is in school, there may be a particular emphasis on skills that enable a student to make it untroubled through a school day, like walking without jumping or flapping, participating in gym class, or carrying a lunch tray or a binder. You should listen to the goals set by the PT and make sure they're meaningful to your child's life and priorities.

The Occupational Therapist (OT): As the PT looks at gross motor, the OT deals with fine motor skills, those small precise movements we all take for granted and our kids can't do if you paid them. Things like printing and handwriting clearly. Tying shoes. Coloring in the lines. Turning a combination lock. Did I mention printing and handwriting clearly? The occupational therapist will, and writing is likely one of the things that will pop up in OT goals. If your school therapist happens to be trained in sensory integration therapy, you may be able to have some of that calming, organizing activity written into your child's plan as well. It will have to be undertaken in a way that makes it important to schooling, however. (Like being able to remain seated, or keep from disrupting the class.)

Turn in for Part Two, Who Will Be at the IEP Meeting?



About Me

Welcome to my all thing special education blog. I empower busy elementary special education teachers to use best practice strategies to achieve a data and evidence driven classroom community by sharing easy to use, engaging, unique approaches to small group reading and math. Thanks for Hopping By.
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