Monday, December 5, 2016

Student Assessment

When I think of assessing a student the first thing that comes to my mind is a grade. Students go through school, most of the time trying to earn the best grade possible. However, just like not everyone learns the same way, I believe not everyone should be graded the same way. I know that isn't "fair" but the definition of fair doesn't mean giving every child the same thing it actually means giving the child what they need.

As a future special education teacher I have thought about some different ways of grading than grades. One way is to grade based on the progress of a students IEP goals. If you grade a student on what they are learning right now they might not understand if they are a slow leaner but grading based on IEP's helps the student to achieve a goal that will benefit them down the road.

Another way to grade is to make assignments worth more than tests. Some students get really bad test anxiety and fail the test even when they know the information. Some students have failed classes because of this, by making the assignments worth more than tests it allows students to show teachers what they really know without having all the pressure and anxiety that tests can provide.

Here are a few other ways to think about grading other than using grades!!

Another thing I have though about as a future special education teacher is the way things have been created. Most things have created for "normal" or "average" students. When testing who is average test showed the no one is average at everything, and only a very few are average at even a couple things. So when we create something for the average student, we are actually creating it for no one. That is where Universal Design for Learning comes into play. That is when you create something that everyone can use, not just the "average" There are three steps to Universal Design Learning:
Multiple means of representation
Multiple means of engagement
Multiple means of expression

I got this image from this website, it may be a good idea to go check it out since you probably can't read what it says.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Traditional Classroom VS. Constructivism

When you think about an elementary classroom what do you think about? There is a different between what we think of as the traditional classroom and a Constructivism classroom. When I was in elementary school it was more of a traditional classroom but what kind of classroom are the elementary students of today in?

A Traditional Classroom is one in which the majority of the time the students are working alone, there is an emphasis on their basic skills, and most of the work is done out of a textbook or workbook. Most students do okay working along but how much more could they understand something if they worked in a group. Basic skills are important but is that what we should be focusing on as teachers, making sure the student as skills to go onto the next grade? When teachers start relying on just the correct answer to validate a student lesson what is the child actually learning. I believe they are learning that to achieve in school and life the only thing that matters is earning a good grade and getting the right answer.

In a Constructivism classroom it isn't about always getting the good grade or right answer but learning is about making a meaning out of things. The students need to be able to fully understand something to get something out of it. In Constructivism classroom's students work on projects together. They are able to help teach each other what is going on, which means both students are continuing to learn. Students need to learn though experiencing things, not doing a worksheet and forgetting what they learned. True learning isn't just knowing something but it is knowing it well enough to teach it to someone else and that is what students get in a Constructivism classroom.

Constructivism can be a complicated topic with it becoming a newer thing. Here is a website that might help fully understand what Constructivism is.

The left side of this picture is what I think of when I hear traditional classroom, everyone working separately and quietly. The right side of this picture is what I think of when I hear constructivist classroom, everyone is working together and creating new ideas and ways to solve problems.

I got this image from

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Why Science is for Girls

Right now in science most people see boys but there are girls out there that are and that want to be a scientist. There are many reasons why there should be more girls that go into science, but this is not to say that we are trying to eliminate the number of boys. Science isn’t something that just boys do or something that just girls should do, there needs to be a balance.
There are six key reasons why more girls should join a science career. The first two are economic reasons. One science pays well and girls shouldn’t have to miss out on that and two new innovations and inventions are being created. I believe that girls will create something that boys might not. What are we missing out on because of this? The third is equity, the male model isn’t the human model. The fourth is questions, women ask different questions than men do. This is a good thing we can go so much farther the more questions we ask. The fifth is citizenship, science informs decisions. The sixth is personal fulfillment, science is personally rewarding and girls should be able to feel that reward as well.
There are many different kinds of strategies that a teacher can do to help girls know and have what it takes to become what they want. This is focused on science at this point but many of these things can be used in the classroom with different ideas. The first is curriculum strategies to increase advancement, one example is to have real world problems that interest girls or are gender neutral. The second is Instructional strategies in increase achievement, one example is to have student centered instruction. The third is Strategies to Enhance Self-Efficacy, one example is have an environment where risk taking is encouraged and some failure expected. The fourth is strategies in increase participation, one example of this may be to have female role models that are close to the girl's age. The last strategy is young science learners, one example of this would to have non fiction books about the natural world in your classroom.
All of these things will help us to help girls know that science isn’t just for boys and that if they want to go into science they are just as welcomed as the boys. We as teachers need to help break the cycle of gender careers. Girls can go into science if they want just like boys can be nurses. This will not be an easy task to do but a necessary one.
Here is a twitter page about science for girls!
Girls can do science just as much as any boy can. Science isn't for a specific gender. 

I got this image from Hufffington Post

Sunday, November 13, 2016

10 Ways to Improve your Personal Learning Network (PLN)

As a future educator I was looking at what resources i had to become a great educator and mentor to students. I didn't have much at the beginning but with friends help we made a list of what our PLN's could look like. This is what we came up with!!
At first I didn't believe that all of these things could be used to really help my PLN and it seemed really overwhelming as a college students trying to focus on my schooling as well as think into the future and start becoming the educator that I wanted to be. So I made a list of 10 ways that I could start and use now to begin my educator dream while still in college.
This is what I came up with:

I have been on pinterest for many years now but never thought how it could help me better my education strategies. I now follow a special education board. This board shows how we as teachers can help children with special needs be successful in the classroom. It gives advice for teachers, parents, and sometimes even what students can do to help themselves. This is a great board and I will definitely use some of there ideas in my own classroom.
Education Pinterest Board 
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Special Education Video: Psychotropic Drugs and Children
I watched this video about ADHD students and the benefits and risks that taking medication to lead to. This can be a very touchy subject for most people but I think he does a good job of giving us the facts behind taking or not taking medication for ADHD which is becoming and bigger and bigger thing in the topic of special education and behavior in the classroom. This video was very helpful to me and even though I don’t have children or work directly with children that do have it I think this video was very helpful for me to know what these students and parents are dealing with at home and in the classroom. This video gave me ideas about how to teach students that have it and what I can do differently to help.
YouTube Video
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Twitter Chat:
The twitter chat that I did was about how to right the wrong. The general theme was how to right a wrong. They talked about what to do when you discipline a student based on inaccurate information or how did you handle a situation that didn’t end well with a parent. I loved joining in on these talks, they are very useful and present to what is happening in classrooms across Iowa. I enjoyed hearing how educators are making mistakes and that as an educator I don’t have to always be perfect. It can relieve a lot of stress!
Twitter Chat
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Following educators on Twitter:
I am currently following a special education board on twitter. It has given me many ideas for my future of special education. There are many great articles on their page like “fixing” Autism and Learning Disabilities. Following people that are doing what you want to is a great way to learn from their mistakes and get ideas about how to teach children with disabilities. 
My Twitter

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Special education Edutopia Blog:
This special education blog has really helped me with many things. The one thing from the blog that I really like were the articles on education and technology. They were articles specifically about how to use technology to help teach special education kids. It also had an article about how we as teachers want to keep teaching the kids despite the hardships that we will go through as special education teachers.
Special Ed Blog

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I am following a lady named Erin on Instagram. She taught preschoolers in autism and now she is teaching kindergarten and first graders with autism. She has shared some great ideas with how to help them. I found many projects and fun ways to set up your classroom so that the students will get the most they can from being in your room. How you run your class and the setup of it can have a big effect on how well your students will perform. She also had some great seasonal craft projects which I really enjoyed. It gives the kids a little break from all the work and you can still check progress on certain things without the kid realizing what you are really doing.
My Instagram
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During Ed Tech and Design was the first time that I had ever used zoom, although I had heard about it before. It is a great ways to meet with people without having the sometimes inconvenience of meeting in the same place. It can be one on one or it can be a very large group of people. While we were doing it I thought it would be a great way to do parent teacher conferences in a parent had children at home it is was not convenient to come in and meet, however, I would not replace the face to face meeting it would simply be a back up. It is really easy to use.
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I “liked” the National Associated of Special Education Teachers (NASET) on facebook. It has great articles about everything special education. On of the articles talked about people with learning disabilities and how they can still go to college and succeed. It’s not about what the children can’t do yet it is about the progress that they make. This page helped me to understand that many people look at special education and what the kids can’t do instead of the progress that they make with the right group of teachers and supporters.
My Facebook
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Tedtalk: Ali Carr-Chellman: Gaming to re-engage boys in learning:
This ted talk was great when thinking about not only special education but the “normal” classroom as well. Ali talked about how boys are treated differently, what they like isn’t always allowed in the schools and it makes them behave differently. Many times being put into special education just because  they are more rowdy or refuse to write or read in the class. Ali shared that if boys were allowed to write and read what they wanted things might be very different then they are today. This helped me to imagine how I would setup my classroom to help not only the girls but the boys as well.
Great Ted Talk
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Podcast: Rafranz Davis: The Five Words That Can Change a Student’s Life

As teachers we need to be a mentor to someone but we also need a mentor of our own. They can help bounce ideas off of and make sure you are looking to help students in the right way, not to get tunnel vision but to keep a very open mind and to help students individually. She told teachers that one thing that teachers can do to help themselves in the classroom is to read something that someone else is writing every single day, books are not the only way to read. A small thing that can have a big impact on students lives is the words “I am proud of you” do it when it matters. When you don’t think it matters is when it probably matters.
Great Podcast
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I have created a new PLN that has what I used throughout just this semester to stretch my PLN to much more that I had ever dreamed possible while still in college! As you can see some of the things came off the list but even more went on for ways a received. I learned more about certain networks through my Education Technology class that became really important to becoming an educator that I want to be! 

Saturday, November 12, 2016

HyperDocs in a Special Education Classroom

Many special education students have to take classes to get them to grade-level rather than taking elective classes that they want to take. One option that I just learned about from Kathryn Nieves's blog is to create an elective time within the child's mandatory special education class. Kathryn Nieves came up with this great idea of using google classroom for choice and personal learning through a Hyper Doc, which is a digital lesson pan that also incorporates choice in student learning. If you ask me I'm not sure how to plan a digital lesson or how to set up a HyperDoc so I had to seek some help from the internet. 

She creates tasks that a student is required to do along with tasks that they can choose to do at their own pace without due dates. By creating a variety of tasks it keeps the students engaged with different types of learning. It also makes them feel not so different from the other kids that may get to take classes that are not required but having none required projects of the child's choosing within their class. 
I didn't know anything about Hyper Doc until reading Kathryn Nieves's blog. I though it would be a google doc with a bunch of hyper links explain the project to the kids but I was wrong. 

I will definitely try to incorporate something like this in my future classroom, it is fun and engaging for students.  I hope you will give Hyper Doc a try and see how it can help in your special education classroom!! 
*I got this image from Karly Moura's Blog

Friday, November 4, 2016

My Life

I don't know how this blog thing is going to go but here goes nothing!