Special Education with Care

Inspire Special Education Department Newsletter

Welcome to the October 2018 Newsletter!

We hope you are settling into your daily routines with your students and are off to a great school year start. We have received a lot of positive feedback from you about the Newsletter and are hoping to continue to provide content that is meaningful and diverse to support you and your students.

We are grateful for the opportunity to serve you!

In This Issue:

  • Hot off the Press: InspireCares Website Resources, iReady Diagnostics; Learning Ally;
  • Transition Services Corner: DOR Student Services;
  • Did you know: Holiday Season: Halloween;
  • Math Help: Make Math Fun With a DIY Dry Erase Board;
  • Behavior: 8 Tips to Help Your Child Follow Directions;
  • Caught on the Net: Free academic and behavior websites/apps.


InspireCares Website Resources

Our brand new website - InspireCares has been up and running with a lot of positive feedback from Inspire parents and staff! One of the purposes of the website is to share various resources for academic and behavior support with our families. The resource library is being updated continuously throughout the school year. Please continue to provide your feedback via a feedback survey on the website.

iReady Diagnostic Assessment

Inspire Special Education Department is excited to continue offering a Math & Reading intervention program i-Ready this school year. This program is offered to all students whos IEPs indicate Specialized Academic Instruction as a special education service. The first step in starting with the iReady intervention programs is to complete the Reading and Math Diagnostic Assessments.

The i-Ready Diagnostic is an adaptive assessment that adjusts its questions to suit your child’s needs. Each item a student sees is individualized based on his or her answer to the previous question. For example, a series of correct answers will result in slightly harder questions, while a series of incorrect answers will yield slightly easier questions. The purpose of this is not to give your child a score or grade, but instead to determine how best to support your child’s learning. If completed with integrity the Diagnostic is a marvelous tool that gives the school staff and the parent current and reliable information on levels of performance. After the assessment, your child can look forward to online lessons customized just for him or her, conducted by the adorable i-Ready characters you’ll surely come to know.

To help prepare your child for the i-Ready Diagnostic, encourage them to:

  • Get a good night’s sleep and eat a full breakfast the day of the diagnostic;
  • To try their best on each question and try not to rush;
  • Explain to them that it might take a few sessions to complete the i-Ready Diagnostic assessment. He/she can start and stop as often as it takes to keep them happily engaged;
  • The Diagnostic assumes students will not know the answer to every question. Please explain to your child that it is OK to not know every answer and to just do his or her best on each question.

Please look for an email from your special education case manager with the instructions on how to log in and get started on the Diagnostics in iReady. As always, thank you for your continued support and for being a partner in your child’s learning! It is much appreciated.

Learning Ally - a New Reading Support Program

Inspire Charter is happy to announce its partnership with Learning Ally, a national non-profit organization dedicated to helping students with print disabilities, including blindness, visual impairment, and dyslexia. Learning Ally improves the way students learn at home and in the classroom by offering human voice audio books for students struggling with reading. Learning Ally has over 80,000 books including test prep books, popular fiction, classic literature, textbooks, and study aids.

If you feel that your child would benefit from the Learning Ally subscription please let your HST or Sped Case Manager know and they will assist you.

Please watch this short video on how Learning Ally can benefit your child's learning:


Department of Rehabilitation (DOR) - Student Services

What are DOR Student Services?

DOR Student Services provide job exploration and other services in the early stages of the transition process to assist students with disabilities to begin to identify and prepare for post-secondary education and employment.

Student services include the following activities:

• Job Exploration Counseling

• Work-Based Learning Experiences

• Postsecondary Enrollment Counseling

• Workplace Readiness Training

• Self-Advocacy Training

Who is Eligible for Student Services with the DOR?

  • Students must be enrolled in school (high school or college)
  • Students must be between the ages of 16 and 21 (including 16 and 21).
  • At least one of these options is true:

- The student has a 504 Plan, or you’re eligible for one if you want one.

- The student has an IEP.

- The student has a disability.

- Others think the student has a disability

To get more information or sign up for DOR Student Services, please contact your Inspire Transition Teacher for your region.


Holiday Season: Halloween!

Halloween is a holiday that many children look forward to but for a child with special needs, it can be an overwhelming event because of the unpredictability of this holiday (along with its sights, sounds, and smells). Please consider our tips on how to have a Spooktacular Halloween with your child:

  • Select a costume that combines comfort with fun. If your child tends to be sensitive to certain fabrics or textures, it may be a good idea to plan ahead and really look into how your child can have the coolest costume while making sure he or she can comfortably stay in it for the evening.

  • Review positive behaviors early, before trick-or-treating with “pre-teaching”.That means reviewing expectations before actually engaging in a task. If you want your child to ring the doorbell and say “trick-or-treat!” and “thank you,” you’ll need to practice it at least a couple of days prior.

  • For some children with special needs, trick or treating may not be an option. And that’s okay. You can easily host a trick or treat night at home with the family. This is easier to control and is often a less overwhelming experience for everybody. It’s also a great family bonding activity. To make the even extra fun you can do a trick or treat scavenger hunt around your house or bake tasty treats together as a family.

You can include this fun Halloween song in your festivities with your child:


Make Math Fun with Dry Erase Boards

Want to make Math more fun and engaging for your child? Create your own dry erase board to make worksheets exciting and scrap paper more interactive. Creating the dry erase boards is easy and inexpensive. You can use this dry erase board in helping your student play math games, complete worksheets, and practice math facts. You can make this dry erase board together with your child to increase their engagement. Create a math binder full of different activities so your child can choose which activity she/he wants to complete. You will certainly find that children of any age love to use dry erase boards and markers!

You will Need:

  • Plastic sheet protectors (The heavy-duty ones work best, but any kind will work)
  • Dry erase markers
  • An eraser (or paper towels)

Once you have the plastic sheet protectors, you can put anything inside them to create a flexible, interactive dry erase board: math printables, blank paper, etc. Here are 3 options of how to use your dry erase board:


8 Tips to Help Your Child Follow Directions

Kids with learning and attention issues might have trouble following directions. Here are 10 ideas for helping your child improve:

1. Ask For Your Child's Attention

Giving directions when your child isn’t focused on you could set both of you up for failure. Ask for your child’s attention by saying, “Look toward me, please. I need you to listen now.” Some kids have a difficult time with the nonverbal aspects of language. Asking your child to look toward you, instead of looking you in the eye, takes that into account. You can make it easier by moving into your child’s line of sight.

2. Minimize Distractions

Once you have your child’s attention, you want to keep it. It can be hard for him to hear and follow directions while he or she is playing video games or when the TV is on in the background. Minimize any distractions before giving directions. Turn off the TV. Ask your child to put down his/her game or book. Make sure he/she is looking toward you. You can model this behavior by giving your child your full attention when giving instructions. That also shows your child what you’re saying is important.

3. Speak Quietly

It may be tempting to speak louder or speak over your child when there is something you need to say or get done. But you may capture his/her attention better by speaking in a softer voice. Give directions in a calm, even tone. Your child may be able to focus more easily on the substance of what you have to say when he/she doesn’t have to process the tone and the volume, too.

4. Use "Wait Time"

Teachers often use “wait time.” So do educational TV shows for kids. “Wait time” is that three- to seven-second pause after you say something or ask a question. Research shows that kids process better what you have to say—and respond to it appropriately—when they let it sink in. Your child still may not follow directions or answer your question after that pause. If so, it’s OK to repeat what you said.

5. Check For Understanding

Checking for understanding goes hand in hand with giving your child some “wait time.” Ask your child to repeat your directions back to you. Or ask him/her to explain your directions in their own words. It gives your child a chance to ask questions if he/she has any. It also gives you a chance to clarify what you said in case your child misunderstood anything.

6. Dive Directions One At A Time

Younger kids with learning and attention issues may have trouble following a sequence of steps. You may say, “Please set the table, wash your hands and tell your sister it’s time to eat.” Your child, however, might get stuck after setting the table. Give directions one at a time, when possible. If you can’t break directions down into steps, try to group things together in ways that make sense. For example, “While you’re upstairs washing your hands, please tell your sister it’s time to eat.”

7. Number Your Directions

Help your child follow multi-step directions by actually putting a number to them. Typically, people can hold up to four things in their working memory at a time. This is easier to do when they’re connected or there’s a way to make them more memorable. Say things like “There are three things you need to do,” or use words like first, second, then, next and last. That can help your child keep all the steps in mind or at least remember there’s more to the directions than what he’s done.

8. Use Visual Ques

Kids who have language processing issues can have a hard time following spoken directions. Consider using visual cues, too. For example, point out what needs to be cleaned. You can also demonstrate what you’re asking him/her to do. For instance, “Please set the rest of the table the same way I’m setting this spot.”


Helpful Websites and APPs

With so many educational resources available online it is at times challenging to decide which ones to try. In each Newsletter issue, we will highlight several free educational websites or apps that support the core academic subjects as well as behavior and come from reputable organizations. We hope you will find them helpful!

Questions? Suggestions? Feedback?

If you have questions or feedback on how we can help to support you, please let us know!