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    What Everyone Needs to Know About Special Education and Inclusion

      Special Education today is much different than it was 20 or even 10 years ago.  For example, most students receiving special education services today have been identified as having a learning disability.  That means that their IQ scores are in the average or gifted range but their school performance is lagging far behind.  The reasons for learning problems vary with each child and it has been left to special educators to oversee and provide individualized instruction to help those students succeed. 

       Parents of learning disabled students and students with other types of disabilities have long been advocating that their children be educated with their same aged peers in their neighborhood schools.  These parents  have been successful in seeking relief through state and federal courts and legislatures in making sure their children are included and not segregated when it comes to their education.  The result has been "Inclusion" of students with special needs in regular education classrooms. 

      Unfortunately, there are a lot of misconceptions about what happens in inclusion classrooms.  Inclusion classrooms are NOT places where a "dumbed down" curriculum is offered because not everyone in the class is working to grade level.  It is not a class for students with chronic behavior problems that disrupt instruction.  Most importantly, it is not a class where all students need help and are working below grade level.

     An Inclusion Classroom when run properly strives to :

     

    • Create an environment where everyone's differences and talents are accepted and valued.
    • Provide individualized instruction to meet the needs of all students.
    • Provide all students with challenges at their levels and the opportunity to experience success.

      To meet these challenges, Inclusion Classrooms may often look different compared to other classes.  You may find the classroom teacher and special education teacher team teaching the whole class or teaching children in small groups. Students may do fewer worksheets but more class projects and presentations.  Cooperative learning, hands on activities, learning centers and varied use of technology are also common.  

        

        Inclusion classrooms are always a work in progress as students and their needs are ever changing but they are exciting places to teach and learn!!  If you have any questions or concerns about Inclusion Classrooms, please e-mail me!

       
    • Phonemic Awareness  
       
      What is Phonemic Awareness and why is it important? Phonemic Awareness is the ability to listen to and process the sounds of language. Children usually develop these skills as they listen to and learn the langauge that is spoken around them. Phonemic awareness skills are also commonly taught in kindergarten through second grade. When children have difficulty developing these skills, it is a strong indication that they will also struggle with learning how to read. This is because children who cannot process the sounds of language experience even more difficulty when the sounds are paired with letters (Phonics). Children with reading disabilities often have difficulties processing the sounds of language because their brains process sounds using different path ways that are not as efficient. The good news is that every child can develop better phonemic awareness skills with systematic instruction and practice. Reading poetry, learning poems, nursery rhymes, tongue twisters, and jump rope songs are all ways children can begin to improve their phonemic awareness skills. Check with your child's teacher to find out how your child did on the most recent phonemic awareness assessments here at school and if your child needs extra help with these important concepts.
    •  Learning Center
       
      Did you know that there is a learning center in our area that provides free tutoring to students with dyslexia who are having trouble learning how to read? The 32nd Degree Masonic Learning Center for Children, located on the Eastern Star Campus in Oriskany, NY, provides reading instruction to children as well as free training to tutors who have been accepted into their program. If you are interested in becoming a tutor or in getting help for a child you know, you can contact me for more information or call the center directly at(315) 736-0574.
    • The following sites have important information about topics in Special Education that you may find helpful at some point! 

      www.SchwabLearning.org has good information about learning disabilities especially in reading. 

      www.vesid.nysed.gov/specialed/ has information for parents about special education law and services in New York State. 

      www.ldonline.org has information on learning disabilities and ADHD.