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Saturday, January 22, 2011

“Special” Education

Although classes are divided by grade level to ensure that the students are as similar as possible, there is often a challenging variety of ability levels, learning styles, and personalities in each classroom. Some students may come into your classroom with labels, IEP’s, and even instructional aids that are intended to help teachers best serve their needs. Other students will need special teaching techniques for their optimal learning, even though they haven’t been identified as a special education student. As I researched resources for special education, it got me thinking about the goal of this type of education. Successful special education is individualized for each learner’s needs. Wouldn’t it be great if we could create this type of individual instruction for every student? All education should be special education…It’s a lofty goal, but definitely food for thought.

In the meantime, teachers with identified special education students in their mainstream classrooms need tools and resources to create a successful learning environment for these students. Most teachers don’t have a whole lot of time to devote to customizing every lesson for the special education students in their class, and the way they divide their planning time may determine which type of student is most successful in that classroom. With the right tools, teachers can modify their classes to meet every student’s needs more easily. They can customize their teaching without using up all of their free time.

Joann discussed special education resources in her post this week, and she will continue to post valuable resources throughout the next week on our Facebook and Twitter pages. Staying connected with other educators and educational resource providers on these social networking sites can be a great way to stay up to date on the best current ideas and techniques of teachers around the world. Even if you don’t have a Twitter account, you can search for #spedchat on Twitter to follow the weekly special education chat session and related posts throughout each week. If you want to take part in this live discussion, it takes place at 8:30 PM EST every Tuesday. Looking through the links on a chat thread like this can turn up all kinds of interesting tools and ideas. The discussions and resources I found there could be very useful for a teacher with special education students integrated into a mainstream classroom, an instructional aide, or a teacher in a self-contained special education classroom.

The Gateway is full of tools and resources you can use in both special education and mainstream classrooms. As always, you can use the Standards Suggestion Tool to check the resource’s state standard alignment in your state, or the alignment to the Common Core Standards. I highly suggest starting your search for quality resources here. There are a lot of other tools and resources throughout the web that will be very useful to you as well. A great collection of these tools can be found on Jerry Blumengarten’s Cybrary Man’s Educational Websites: Special Education. His links include a huge collection of helpful websites, blog posts, and articles relating to the subject. I particularly liked the fact that he included links to Gifted and Talented websites. This type of special education should not be overlooked as teachers are trying to customize their teaching to meet the needs of all the students in the class.

Each educator has different struggles with best serving the special education students in their classes. We would like to help you find the resources you need, so if you have particular questions or needs, please let us know by posting comments on our blog site, Facebook, or Twitter. We choose each weekly topic to fit your needs, so please let us know!

~Peggy's Corner - 1/13/2011~

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