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Additional Special Education Blogs

Over the past year, many individuals including teachers, parents, professors, and special education students have taken the time to post comments on the MangoMon blog.  Many of these individuals are also bloggers themselves.  On their own time, they write to share their knowledge, provide tips and tricks, along with valuable online resources to spread their knowledge to the Internet community.  I have read and followed many of these sites and have found them insightful in providing meaningful ideas and resources for use in my own classroom.  Below you will find an annotated list of a few of the blogs who are also readers of this blog.

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Love That Max

Love That Max is a blog written by Ellen Seidman, a mother whose son has Cerebral Palsy.  She shares her son’s story from the very beginning of her pregnancy to the current day via her blog.  She also includes various posts about current special education topics and trends along with making connections with her friends, family, and readers.  Some of the posts are light-hearted and fun – cute trials and tribulations of raising kids. Other posts are inspirational and informative providing readers with ideas and feedback about raising a child with special needs.  Be aware however, some of the posts will make you cry, especially the first series of posts that allows readers to relive her experiences of her son’s struggles.  This blog gets a lot of hits and comments which make the conversation on going and also a great place to make PLN connections.

Lillie’s Pad

Lillie’s Pad is a blog resource for special education uses, tips and tricks, and other resources for the iPad and iPhone.  This blog is written by a father, Kevin, who is inspired by his daughter Lillie who has cerebral palsy and CBI.  His posts are short, sweet, and to the point. In the past few weeks, he has also shared video of his daughter using various apps on the iPad to communicate and learn.  He also shares resources like videos, links, articles, and reviews about apps (and other technology) that can be used to help special education students learn and communicate.  Through Kevin’s blog, I came across a blog resource he enjoys reading called Teaching Learners with Multiple Needs.  This blog is updated by a special needs teacher.  Recent posts on this blog include using switches with iPods, learning through smelling, and iPads for communication.

Teachers at Risk

Teachers at Risk is a blog I came upon while searching and reading through the blogs above.   This blog is written by a special education teacher in Ontario named Elona Hartjes.  She shares her tips  along with her daily highs and lows as a special education high school teacher.  Her blog really resonated with me and the struggles and triumphs that I have gone through during a challenging school year.  Her insightful posts include her differentiation of instruction, raising the bar with student (and teacher) expectations, and rants and raves about the day-to-day realities of teaching (that you may not always be able to find written honestly through a public blog.)  This is definitely a site to check out for high school special education teachers.

Do you have any other favorite blogs that you follow?  Are you a regular reader of the MangoMon blog that also writes a blog?  Feel free to comment!

Article By Laura Ketcham

Free Teacher Resources | Special Education by MangoMon by MangoMon

Picture By Bombardier

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The Write Stuff – Encouraging Writing in the Classroom

Encouraging Writing Across the Curriculum

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Struggling readers and writers who exhibit developmental delays may benefit from authentic and meaningful reading and writing experiences on the web.  The Internet has been denoted as a tool that encourages students to participate and interact actively with their learning.  Various reading and writing disabilities include dyslexia and dysgraphia, along with difficulty with vocabulary, reading comprehension, decoding, spelling, or expression.  As part of a balanced language arts program, teachers should be encouraged to teach both phonics and whole language lessons.  These lessons can be infused with technology to increase student motivation.  Below are examples of ways that teachers can incorporate authentic reading and writing experiences incorporating web-based applications.

Email Pen Pals

There are many different ways to get started with email Pen Pals in the classroom.  One way would be to connect with another teacher who teaches approximately the same number of students.  They could be local, in another city, state, or even country.  Depending on your goals for connecting with Pen-Pals, you may want students who are the same age, older, or younger.  For students who are struggling with reading and writing it would be imperative that the students they are corresponding with are good writing role models for the students.

One student and teacher friendly site that helps to make school safe pen pal connections around the globe is ePals Global Community.  Teachers and students can sign up for this free service to be connected with other teachers, students, and classrooms for authentic learning experiences.  Classrooms can complete projects together, become email pen pals, or interact via video chat software like Skype.  The students can share their experiences, lessons, and lives in a safe environment.  This type of activity infuses reading, writing, and expression.

Another resource that I just found as I was browsing through the twitter-sphere is a Google Doc Spreadsheet that was created as part of a presentation at ISTE 2010.  This ‘live’ document has a list of teachers who are interested in making connections this fall with other teachers and their classrooms for pen pal interactions either via email or video chat software.

Blogs

My very first post on MangoMon was about encouraging students with special needs, including reading and writing deficits, to blog.  This is definitely a great way to get your students to read and write.  Students can create their own blogs, respond to a blog that their teacher creates, or read and comment on other blogs that interest them.

One student and teacher friendly blogging site is Edublogs.   This site offers a management system for classroom to create and review your students’ blogs.  This service also has extra safety features including blocking adult content.  It will also be easier for students in your classes to connect with one another along with other students around the world in a safe environment.

Online Reviews

Students can actively be involved online with reading and writing by creating and/or reading online reviews.  Many sites allow users to post a review on products, books, movies, and services.  For a classroom assignment, students can post online book reviews of the books they have recently read.   The most popular book sites including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Borders all have sections for reading and posting reviews.  Here is an example of a book review by teachers, students, and other readers of a top children’s book for 2010:  Al Capone Shines my Shoes.  Another way that this idea can be implemented into the classroom is to have students read reviews of a book before they decide to read it.  This way the student can make an informed decision based on their preferences if they believe they will enjoy the book.

Final Note

By incorporating the various online resources above in your classroom to encourage the development of reading and writing skills, the teacher will have to put on the “facilitator hat” on.  However, the teacher should be actively involved in assisting the students by building the skills needed to close their learning gaps.  Activities should also be infused with phonics instruction during these different activities.  Strengthening phonic skills will help with overall reading and writing development.

Other Resources for Authentic Reading & Writing Online

1.       Wikispaces – easy to use site that encourages online collaboration

2.       Google Books – read and preview popular magazines and books

3.       StoryJumper – create free online children’s stories (you can include your own pics & art too!)

4.       StoryBird – create collaborate online books

 

-Article by Laura Ketcham

Picture By: pedrosimoes7
Free Teacher Resources | Special Education by MangoMon

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