Saturday, March 1, 2008

Special Education Law Blog Excellent Resource

I have had several comments, emails and conversations come up recently that have led to issues of special education law. I know enough about it to (hopefully) stay in compliance when I am working on cases within our schools and regional programs but there are probably things that we do as professionals unknowingly that are on the edge. I know I have been to state meetings where we all ask what is the actual definition of the law in a certain case to make sure we know what we should be doing. To me that implies that maybe we weren't quite in-line with what we should be doing. It is a learning process for professionals and parents alike.
I have some great administrators I work with that know the federal and state laws as they apply to Early Intervention, IEP's, etc. I am finishing up a two-year school administration program through Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon. My School Law class was taught by a former principal who is now in a District Office in a supervisory role. He was witty, knowledgable and a great example of what I think a school administrator should be like. he taught me a lot about how to think in cases that could be full of potential landmines.
So where can we go for legal information? If you have an attorney in the family, that's nice, but special education law is a niche that needs specific knowledge. I refer to a blog site called: "Special EducationLaw Blog." This blog is a resource for case examples, advice, news and parent advocacy by Charles P. Fox, an attorney in Chicago, Illinois. He has other guest authors as well. I am putting his link on my important links list on the sidebar. I would highly recommend going there if you are researching something of a legal nature.

All the best to you!


Timberland Teacher said...

Great post Lon. Congrats on finishing up the admin. program. I used your post at my blog, The Edjurist Accord, if you are interested.

Mandy Sauser said...

LOVE Technology!!! For 10 years, I taught students with mental disabilities, during which I primarily used technology to increase communication for my students, but also to help them access the general education curriculum. Technology helped my students with disabilities communicate with their classmates. One of my non-verbal students was able to participate in a speech class by creating power points on the computer which included voice output software. This student created the power point using switches and a scanning program. The assignment was to write and present a “how-to” speech. The student chose to show “how to make pudding”. This student used a digital camera (activated by yet another switch) to take pictures of the “steps” he uses when making pudding. The pictures were downloaded onto the computer, and the student helped decided how to use them in his power point. He presented the material using a switch connected to the computer to cue the power point. In this specific case, technology not only allowed my student to do something differently in a variety of ways. It allowed him a different portal for communication, but also allowed him access to a skill he couldn’t physically do without technology. The power point helped him present his ideas in combination with a “voice” and pictures.

This year is my second year teaching students with behavior disorders. The challenge for me here is finding ways to keep my students motivated and on-task. We recently completed a Unit on Of Mice and Men. I originally tried to have the students do a “jigsaw” research project to investigate some of the historical connections (Dust bowl, migrant workers, mental retardation). It was a disaster!! Then, desperately searching on the internet I stumbled across webquests! These were excellent for my students. We used a computer lab and the students worked in groups to complete the webquests on different topics. It was a highly motivating activity, and it guided the students through the research process by providing web links to specific sites where they could get their information. This was a perfect example of doing something different. These webquests allowed my students to focus on the specific task (research) not the “how” (where do we find all this information).

The frustrating part was that I simply “stumbled” across these webquests. One of the problems with education and technology is that teachers are not given adequate professional development opportunities. None of our staff development days deal with technology. It would have been wonderful if teachers were even given a quick “here’s what’s new on the internet” staff development training. This is one of the main reasons I am taking these classes, I think increasing my knowledge of technology will help me to be a better teacher because it will update me on what is available.