Sunday, March 8, 2015

MzTeachuh's Classroom: Take a Walk With Ludwig

MzTeachuh's Classroom: Take a Walk With Ludwig: Vienna Woods, lessing-photo,com A picnic would be lovely. A class can illustrate the music after a brief introduction to Beethoven...

Take a Walk With Ludwig

Vienna Woods, lessing-photo,com
A picnic would be lovely.


A class can illustrate the music after a brief introduction to Beethoven's habit of walking through the Vienna woods to plan his music. The music presents birds, thunder, water sounds, even frolicing deer.


Beethoven - 6th Symphony - Pastoral


Toscanini Conducts Beethoven Symphony No. 6 "Pastorale" (1/7) 


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OC-EPsvdi6E&list=PL955763D26B1B9865

MzTeachuh's Classroom: What Is Up With That Kid?

MzTeachuh's Classroom: What Is Up With That Kid?: Classroom problems are obvious: the student is not successful academically or has behavior issues. The solutions are not so obvio...

What Is Up With That Kid?


Classroom problems are obvious: the student is not successful academically or has behavior issues. The solutions are not so obvious. Here is how GenEd and SpecEd can work together for solutions for the student (and the classroom.) Honesty, transparency, clarity between colleagues will produce true solutions for students. Be ready for candid interaction, my GenEd and SpecEd colleagues! There will be questions!

Scenario #1: The student makes an effort, but remains well below standards despite effective interventions.

SpecEd will ask (or should) for documentation of the intervention. The parent should already know how many hours per day for how many weeks the student has been in the intervention--and have products of the work accomplished. The data of the student's further need should not be a mystery to anyone. Parent contact should be regular.  GenEd needs to be organized for this. Hopefully, the intervention classes at the school site are coordinating and use the same result templates so a parent or SpecEd teacher can readily identify the strengths and needs of the student during a specific time period. If there is other, more unusual input over a period of time about the student, GeEd needs to document this with type of behavior, date, and class activity.

An anecdotal report might go like this:

10/5/-- Margaret began classwork, but after 10 minutes was drawing rather than writing the assignment. The picture was of a child, but it was one big circle with a smile. She did this for 10 minutes, then sat still, not working, despite many prompts to write.

With accurate data, Admin, GenEd and SpecEd should meet with the parents and may then suggest Special Education testing to the parent, if the parent has not already requested it.

A situation once arose at a Middle School where I was RSP for Grade 6. The structure was four teachers on a team, and I worked in the classrooms of Math and ELA. A Soc. Science teacher clued me into two transfer students she noticed may be SpecEd but perhaps their paperwork hadn't arrived yet.

One student had created an illustration for an essay that struck the teacher as disturbing. She showed it to me, I was able to observe and speak to the student. I contacted the Ed. Psychologist, and the Grade 6 Counselor. After getting contact info from his previous school across country, we discovered the parent had not informed us the student had been identified as ED (Emotionally Disturbed) and had a serious incident the previous school year. We couldn't clarify why the parents did not inform us, but because the Social Science teacher actually checked and read her classes' assignments every day we could get him to the proper placement quickly.

Another student was not able to understand the work at all, but was very popular despite a stutter. Again, the team of Counselor, Ed. Psychologist, SpecEd and GenEd did a search of his records, spoke to the parents (who needed a translator, the Ed. Psychologist was fluent in Spanish) and we found that due to frequent school changes, he had never been tested for SpecEd, or Speech Therapy. I tested him from my end, the Speech Therapist from his end, the Ed. Psychologist from her end, and we were prepared for a meeting which resulted in a better placement.

Scenario #2: The student has shown grade level ability, but is too disorganized to function in the class.

Again, do we have a record of  this behavior?
An anecdotal report might go like this:

Luis does well when he has his supplies and brings his homework and outside reading book. But he is missing important items at least 3 times a week. Dates of missing work for March: 3/3, 3/5, 3/9, 3/10, 3/14 etc.

Has GenEd contacted the parents about this lack of functioning? Is there something unusual at home that might be the cause of the disorganization? Now I'm going to get personal, only because I have had to ask myself this question. How organized is the class? How's your classroom management? Are enough cues and directives given to end one activity and start another? Is the class tidy and organized so this student has an appropriate amount of space to function? If the lack of function is not the result of parents or teacher--there could be a Special Ed. reason. Executive functions (ability to be organized) can be impaired by learning disabilities. But not always. If the student's previous teachers are available for comment, ask how little George did last year. So if previous answers to these questions show a need for testing, the SpecEd team will find out--is it ADHD? a learning disability? or just a future Absent Minded Professor who needs a personal assistant? (Kind of kidding about the last, but sometimes parents and teachers feel like they are in that role.)

In my experience as RSP (Resource Specialist) we tested many more students for learning disabilities than qualified for Special Education programs, particularly in Grade 6. That is due to the fact that the huge change in schedule created a perfect storm of confusion for awhile until the kids got their sea legs. But a lack of executive function could well show a need for Special Education support, so please document the need so the student can be fairly evaluated.

Scenario #3: The student is a behavior problem.

Now we are to the real issue to solve. Why do students act up? For attention, for control of the class, or to escape the class through disciplinary action that takes them to the office or maybe to the ramp outside the door (btw, that last strategy is an illegal move and should not happen. Students need supervision.) 
 
Again, do we have a record of  this behavior?
An anecdotal report might go like this, and not necessarily only in a referral:

Student (Kayleigh) got out of seat three times in fifteen minutes, and moved around the classroom. She then whacked Angelica on the back of the head, disrupting class.

For a behavior referral for Special Education, you record all instances, and contact with the parents. The team of professionals that is your school and includes you, will research everything about the student, test the student, while effectively managing a positive behavior contract. 

At the first, and I mean first, sign of defiance, contact the parent and document. The most effective teachers I worked with, and later emulated, did this simple thing, and ran a peaceful classroom. Also, document the conversation. Is this tedious? Yes, GenEd, it is. I know, I was GenEd, too. But a behavior issue is the most vital to document. If, deep in your heart, you feel this student has an emotional or serious behavioral issue--contact SpecEd, the Counselor, or the Ed. Psychologist. Maybe the student doesn't have serious problems that may lead to self injury or injuries to others. But maybe so, and you could save injuries and lives if the student gets help early.

In one high school class during a reading intervention, a student was doodling on his work one day. We discovered it was a rather graphic picture of  two young people, one threatening the other with a knife. Taking the picture to the Ed. Psychologist, and having a meeting with the parent led to counseling for the student who had been bullied and assaulted the previous year. His uncle had been murdered in a gang initiation 18 months before. The student was affected. He received counseling.

To be transparent, a positive behavior plan is the most challenging to coordinate with a team of teachers for effective implementation. Really hard. But we don't give up. Good results help everyone. 

When GenEd and SpecEd collaboration really works, there's nothing finer in the school system.

MzTeachuh's Classroom: Principal's Suggestion Box Letter #5

MzTeachuh's Classroom: Principal's Suggestion Box Letter #5: These letters are absolutely fictional (to protect the innocent and not-so-innocent.) But, with the hint of truth, maybe we can make som...

MzTeachuh's Classroom: Principal's Suggestion Box Letter #5

MzTeachuh's Classroom: Principal's Suggestion Box Letter #5: These letters are absolutely fictional (to protect the innocent and not-so-innocent.) But, with the hint of truth, maybe we can make som...

Principal's Suggestion Box Letter #5

These letters are absolutely fictional (to protect the innocent and not-so-innocent.) But, with the hint of truth, maybe we can make some adjustments. Principals have the best chance to do that.

Dear Principal,


Thank you, thank you, thank you for this school year. My daughter Yolanda had the best year ever. Mr. --- ran such a fun, interesting class, her Fifth Grade couldn't be better. Her grades were up and her IEP goals met. We are so grateful.

Yolanda loves to help, and Mr. --'s style of classroom management gave her lots of chances to be busy, up and about, not just in her desk. She loved the projects in class and activities outside. The school garden was heaven to her. And she was so excited to meet the PE goal in the fifth grade mile.

Her previous teacher (in another district)  felt that the active kids needed to learn to be quiet and controlled, and Yolanda's desk was lined up facing out the window with about six other students. When she told me, I wasn't sure if that was really happening until I brought treats for the holiday party, and there there they were, segregated from the class, and couldn't even see the board. It wasn't just the Resource kids, or the bad kids, either. Just the talkative ones who had trouble focusing on the workbooks. I am so relieved to have found your school.

I hear great things about the Sixth grade teachers--projects, PE, afterschool clubs. Yolanda is interested in computers (her older brother has a computer business.) I understand the kids learn to code.

Thank you again, from the bottom of my heart. I will volunteer as I can. Yolanda's brother, Angel--the computer guy--is interested in helping also.

Your Truly,
Yolanda's Mom


Why Is Project-Based Learning Important?


http://www.edutopia.org/project-based-learning-guide-importance 


Teaching Techniques for Inattentive and Overactive Children 

http://www.education.com/reference/article/Ref_Teaching_Techniques/ 


Physical activity may help kids do better in school, studies say 


http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/physical-activity-may-help-kids-do-better-in-school-studies-say/2013/10/21/e7f86306-2b87-11e3-97a3-ff2758228523_story.html 



My suggestion: Creating a well-balanced class is crucial for kids, they are like Renaissance learners and need daily experience in STEM, ELA, the Arts, PE, and throw in a school garden while you're at it. All learners (IEP or not) deserve a well-rounded, healthy experience. A sedentary, punitive classroom does them harm.


If a teacher has active kids, diagnosed ADHD or not, the classroom management needs to match the need. The very opposite of what active kids needs is isolation--it makes matters worse as their brains crave activity. Teachers can collaborate by grade level or subject to provide resources for the classroom all kids need. Special education teachers have important strategic input for kids with ADHD as well.


Principals must be aware of the functioning of all classrooms. That is surely part of  leadership. I have observed both classroom scenarios described above. The brilliant classroom outcome was a direct result of staff working hard together under the leadership of a good principal. The other was the isolation not only of the kids, but the teacher from schoolwide and district resources to aid in the design of a better schedule of activities for this specific group of kids. The principal didn't have a clue what was happening.

MzTeachuh's Classroom: Helpful Hints for When Teacher Is Overwhelmed

MzTeachuh's Classroom: Helpful Hints for When Teacher Is Overwhelmed: Time Saving Tips for Teachers    http://www.educationoasis.com/resources/Articles/time_saving_tips.htm   Replacing Classroom Chaos with ...

Helpful Hints for When Teacher Is Overwhelmed

Time Saving Tips for Teachers 
 http://www.educationoasis.com/resources/Articles/time_saving_tips.htm 

Replacing Classroom Chaos with Control
http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/coach_gs_teaching_tips/2010/10/going_from_classroom_chaos_to_control.html 

Understanding the Common Core
http://www.centerforpubliceducation.org/commoncore


Understanding the Common Core
Dealing with Angry Parents
 http://www.educationworld.com/a_admin/admin/admin474.shtml

The Teacher’s Guides To Technology And Learning

http://www.edudemic.com/guides/ 

How to Get Along With ANY Teaching Colleague

http://www.weareteachers.com/blogs/post/2012/06/15/how-to-get-along-with-any-colleague Classroom Management: 10 Ways to Deal with Difficult Students 

http://www.teachhub.com/10-ways-deal-difficult-students 

Solutions for Teachers Bullied by Colleagues

http://www.edutopia.org/blog/teachers-bullied-by-colleagues-2-todd-finley 

A Curriculum of Concerns

 http://www.edutopia.org/blog/a-curriculum-of-concerns-mark-phillips