Special Needs – 1 – Developing an Individualized Plan

Basic Math

Developing an individualized plan and/or being able to understand an individualized plan is another important aspect of helping our special needs students.  Consider these two plans Plan-A and Plan-B.  Which plan is better for the online environment?

I would choose Plan-B because it is laid out very well as addresses all the needs of the fictional student Sally Student. Plan B specified the extended time.  It mentioned making sure Sally knew how to use the text-to-speak and zoom features on her computer as well as gave Sally the opportunity to “record oral responses when possible/appropriate to reduce strain to her eyes”.

There are a few aspects of my preferred plan (Plan B) that I would change to be better suited for the online environment.  I would change the extended time for assignments from  “the following school day from the original due date for full credit” to “two days from the original due date for full credit”.

Plan A was too general.  For example, we know that “Sally’s anxiety disorder does surface when she feels she may not have enough time to complete a task and panic sets in” so extended time is a definite accommodation.  Plan B specifies how much extended time on a test or quiz by stating 100%.  Plan A mentions extended time but leaves it in the open.  Plan B specifies that “Sally may turn her work in the following school day from the original due date for full credit” whereas Plan A simply states “Extended time on assignments and classwork”.  Finally, Plan A mentions “preferential seating” which is not an accommodation necessary to the online environment.

These are just a few things to consider when creating an individualized plan for a student in the online environment.  Are there other things you would consider?

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Special Needs – 1- Accommodations in an Online Environment

Teaching Tip Tuesday

As we continue to discuss accommodations for students with special needs one can’t help but think, how can you make accommodations in an online environment?

While I agree that not every child is cut out for online learning, you might be surprised at how well the online environment can support learners with special needs.

Take my student Haley (not his/her real name) for example.  Haley has been diagnosed with ADHD.  This means that Haley has difficulty with: following directions, following open ended writing assignments without clear requirements, turning in assignments on the correct due date, task completion due to issues with focus and time management, organization in general and finally not completing all questions or rushing through a test/quiz.

The online environment would be beneficial for Haley’s disability for three reasons.  First, it would help her with her tests and quizzes.  Second, it would help her focus.  Finally, it would help her with open ended writing assignments.

The online environment would help Haley with her tests and quizzes because since she has a habit to rush through the questions or not complete it, the teacher/parent can enable the show clock feature to show the time left in timed quizzes or tests.  If Haley has the accommodation of extra time, and in this case she does, restrictions could be set up to give her extended time.  Haley gets 50% extended time in my math class and her grades are soaring in the As.

The online environment would help Haley focus more simply because she would be doing her work at home or outside of the regular classroom environment.  Haley and her family would be able to control the environmental factors more, thus helping her to focus.

Finally, the online environment would help Haley with her open ended writing assignments if the teacher enables the rubric feature which allows the student to see precisely what would be graded and how it will be assessed.  Haley might also have the option to submit the assignment orally or by video.  In this case, Haley did not need that accommodation in mathematics.

There are a few challenges Haley might experience if not managed well.  She might experience trouble turning in assignments on the correct due date and time management issues.  As a teacher I post the assignments weekly and reminders.  There are several outside resources that she can use to support her.  If she has a smart phone, utilizing a digital calendar with reminders that pop up would be helpful as well as a schedule.

Haley seems to have managed potential challenges very well and continues to excel in my class with her extended time accommodations.

Are you considering online for your child?  What do you think might be the challenges they would experience?

Special Needs – 1- Applying Strategies and Best Practices

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As an educator I am constantly learning and growing.  I would like to share with you what I am learning through my Special Needs 1 training to help you as a parent or educator think of strategies and best practices to help your child(ren) reach their academic potential.  The following students are fictional characters.

Scenario 1

Imagine that you are Joyce.

Joyce has accommodations for an Emotional/Behavioral Disorder. Her mother informed you that Joyce’s specific diagnosis is Anxiety and Depression, and she sometimes does not respond well to correction. She plagiarized a large section of her essay for your class this week.

How would you handle this situation?

Let’s first think about the difficulties Joyce might be experiencing as an online student with Emotional/Behavioral Disorder.  She has a hard time adhering to acceptable rules of online etiquette, etc..  She might also be struggling with feelings of depression over low grades or feelings of being overwhelmed with work when viewing the schedule all at once which is why she might have plagiarized.  Since she is online and as a teach you are unable to read her facial expressions or body language in class, it would be hard to know that unless the student told you and with her anxiety, she would NOT want to tell you because of the internal struggles she might be dealing with.

So how can we help Joyce?  

We can help Joyce by avoiding direct confrontations: rather, state the issue
objectively and provide them with a choice or suggested course of action to correct it . Suggest strategies to get started on doing the essay again and communicate what she should do in the future if she needs help so that she does not feel the need to plagiarize again.  I would then address it, document it, and move on.

Scenario 2

 

How about if you were Hopper?

Hopper has an IEP with accommodations for Dysgraphia. Your class requires written reports in each unit on various topics. Hopper expresses concern over his grade in your class because of the written reports. You know Hopper is putting forth effort, but he still is not passing your class. He asks what he can do to improve his grade.

How do you respond?

Since Hopper has dysgraphia Hopper has difficulties such as omitting words or letters, not completing words or sentences once started, not following proper grammar and spelling conventions, difficulty copying written items or diagrams or taking notes or thinking while writing.

So how can we help Hopper?  

To help Hopper I would allow him to use the video or audio tool in the online course to present projects, assignments, or assessments orally.  I would encourage him to show mastery using other modes rather than written expression.  Finally, I would provide copies of instructional materials not included in the content specific to helping him with the written reports.

Does your child or student struggle with a learning disability and you need specific strategies to help them?  Click here to check out the Specific Strategies Chart.