Special Education with Care

Inspire Special Education Department Newsletter

Welcome to the December 2018 Newsletter!

We hope you have a great winter break with your children, family, and friends. We look forward to continuing to work together as a team with you to provide your students with the best educational experiences here at Inspire Charter Schools. Have a wonderful restful winter break!

In This Issue:

  • Hot off the Press: New InspireCares Website Resources, Lending Libraries Parent Resources Section; iReady Instructional Lessons; State Testing updates;
  • Transition Services Corner: Transition Workshops;
  • Did you know: Holiday Challenges; How to Teach Your Child to Tie Shoes;
  • Reading Support Resources: 4 Steps to Choosing Books at Your Child’s Reading Level;
  • Behavior Bits: Group Work;
  • Caught on the Net: Free Academic and Behavior Websites/Apps;
  • AMC Sensory Friendly Films;
  • Alternatives to the Phrase "Calm Down".


InspireCares Website Resources

We are continuously updating our InspireCares website's Resources section with new resources. Please look for a "NEW" indicator next to the updated resource. The indicator will stay active next to each new resource for one month.

We have added a lot of new resources under all Resources categories on the website. To name a few we have added two newly recorded parent trainings on the Zoom Classroom Features and Understanding Dyslexia.

Please explore and continue to provide your feedback via a feedback survey on the website!

Lending Libraries Parent Resources Section

Inspire Lending Libraries are uniquely designed locations providing homeschool families with quality resources, advanced technology, and educational support. The "heart and soul" of local communities, our Lending Libraries are gathering places - relaxing and creative environments which promote discovery, encourage creativity, and unite teachers, parents, and students. In addition to a wide selection of books, our Lending Libraries offer a variety of returned enrichment products to use for a day at the location or borrow for a period of time.

We have included a selection of books related to learning and behavior challenges in our "Parent Resources" section at your local Lending Library. You can find the list of the available books here. Please check them out and tell us what you think!

i-Ready® Individual Student Reports

The report pinpoints students' abilities and areas of need down to the sub-skill level and provides teachers and parents with a detailed and easy-to-read analysis of every student’s proficiency levels. Reports detail which skills students have mastered and those skills to prioritize next for instruction, thereby supporting reading and math success for every student. You can request to obtain and go over the reports in Math and/or Language Arts for your student with your special education case manager. Let's look at an example of the Math report for a mock student:

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Friendly iReady Reminders:

1. If you feel that your student's iReady lessons are too easy or too challenging you can always reach out to your special education case manager to adjust the lessons in iReady. You can request a Zoom session and review the lesson sequence with your case manager via Zoom screen share function.

2. Please remember to use the program 45 minutes a week per subject area.

3. The program is available to you and your student over Winter break so please feel free to utilize the program to keep up your student's academic skills and study routines.

CAASPP Testing Preparation Resources

Testing can be intimidating for first-time students, especially if they are not comfortable working with computers, reading, or answering questions on a screen. There are multiple ways to help reduce your child’s anxiety without teaching to the test or spending extensive amounts of time practicing. Working with the test interface and becoming familiar with the available tools on the practice test site along with regular typing practice can make a huge difference.


Transition Worksops

One of the featured services the SPED Transition team is offering this year is workshops. SPED Transition Workshops are being planned and are taking place all across the state. These Transition Workshops allow our Transition Teachers to engage our students in intensive discussions and activities on a particular subject or project. This also provides our students and families with the opportunity to ask questions on topics that are of high interest to them. The workshops are being offered in addition to the regularly scheduled Transition SAI ( specialized academic instruction).

Some of the workshops that have already taken place include:

  • Social Skills in the workplace

  • Self Advocacy

  • Career Workshop-Job Shadowing

Some of the workshops are part of a monthly running series and include:

  • Social Skills

    • In the workplace

    • Greeting others and conversation topics

    • Enhancing verbal communication

Some of the workshops that are in the works include:

  • Getting your Driver’s license

  • Social Skills ( continuation of a monthly series that explores different aspects of social skills).

  • The 4-Parts of Executive Functioning. Each part will be explored in a separate workshop.

    • The first workshop will focus on Task initiation.

If you have an idea for a workshop or would like to see something specific, please contact your SPED Transition Teacher!


Holiday Challenges

Navigating the holidays can be hard for many kids with learning and attention issues. Kids often face demands during holidays that they might not normally face. Large gatherings. Long meals. Interactions with different people in new situations.

These demands don’t only make holidays stressful. They can also behavior issues. One way to avoid problem behavior is to help your child identify holiday challenges and brainstorm strategies ahead of time.

This downloadable worksheet can help your child do just that. It includes a checklist of common holiday challenges. Your child can go through the list and mark off ones that apply—or come up with additional ones. If your child is young, you can work on it together.

The worksheet also includes strategy charts. Have your child fill out one for each challenge marked on the checklist. These charts have three sections: My Challenge, What Usually Happens, and What I Can Do Instead. (See the bottom of the worksheet for an example.)

You may have to help your child come up with strategies. For ideas, explore tips to help with: gift exchanges, social situations, food allergies and sensitivities, restrictive clothing, cabin fever, understanding and participating in holiday traditions.

Thinking through challenges (while also recalling holiday successes from the past) is a great way for your child to build self-awareness. And planning strategies in advance can help your child feel more in control when holiday challenges come up.

How to Teach Your Child to Tie Shoes

Is your child struggling with tying shoes? Some kids have trouble because of motor skills or coordination challenges. Others can’t remember the order of the steps or struggle with following directions.

No matter why your child is having difficulty, this unique shoe-tying method can help your child learn to tie shoes on his own. Watch this informative video from Undersood.org which explains how and why it works.



4 Steps to Choosing Books at Your Child’s Reading Level

Choosing books at the right reading level will help your child improve her or his literacy skills and learn to enjoy reading. Books that are too challenging may discourage them while books that are too easy won’t provide enough opportunity for practice and growth. Follow these simple steps to find books at the right level for your child. Start by asking your child’s special education case manager or your HST for his/her reading level. You can also get a rough idea at home by using the San Diego Quick Assessment of Reading Ability



Working in a team can be really hard work for students with autism and other social or processing challenges. It’s emotionally, socially, physically and mentally draining for some, downright scary for others. And the effects of this stress and exhaustion can last longer than one lesson, it can impact learning for the rest of the day or even all week. In fact, for some students who find teamwork activities to be daunting, even the mere possibility that they’ll have to do it at some point can increase their anxiety about being at school.

Why is group work difficult?

  • Unpredictability

For many students with autism, it can feel like group work happens without warning. Suddenly hearing the words “Find a partner” can trigger anxiety or panic before the task has even begun. Teammates usually change with each activity, so it’s difficult for them to predict ahead of time who will be in their group. This lack of control over the task or its outcome can be especially stressful for students who need routine, or for those who have high standards of perfection for their own work.

  • Group selection

This task places huge demands on language, social skills and executive functions like planning and attention, which are all areas that can be challenging for kids with autism and other special needs.

  • Shared physical space

Huddling together on the floor or around a desk can be intimidating and overloading for students who are hypersensitive to touch and smell. This kind of work also changes the rules for personal space, which can be confusing for some and overwhelming for others.

  • Transitions

Every time the group splits into teams requires a shift in attention, environment and sensory input which can be uncomfortable and demanding for some students. They have to disengage from what they’re doing and adjust to a flood of new information.

  • Sensory overload

Group work is often noisy and chaotic. There might be close body contact, chairs being moved in and out, the smell of paint or markers, many voices talking at once and visual distractions. Which all adds up to a lot of additional sensory information to cope with on top of all these other additional demands.

  • Reliance on social skills

Collaboration places heavy demands on the ability to negotiate social situations. Students need to quickly form a bond with their teammates, understand what the group expects of them and when it’s their turn to talk. They also need to accept the potential limitations and mistakes of other students in their group, and not only resolve their own conflicts but find a way to cope with those between other group members. All of this can be very stressful for those students who are still developing these kinds of complex social skills.

What can you do to help?

This simple prompt below is a mini task analysis of the steps of working together in a group and can make a world of a difference in making this abstract and mysterious activity manageable for students. If your child works in pairs or groups in your independent study environment you can:

1. Review this prompt before every instance of group work;

2. Provide modeling along with reviewing the steps;

3. Keep these posted in your room for easy access and so your students can reference this sheet as well!


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!

AMC Sensory Friendly Films

AMC is proud to partner with the Autism Society to offer unique movie showings where we turn the lights up, and turn the sound down, so you can get up, dance, walk, shout or sing! AMC Sensory Friendly Film program is available on the second and fourth Saturday (family-friendly) and Tuesday evenings (mature audiences) of every month. Please check your local theatre listings for specific showtimes.

Alternatives to the Phrase "Calm Down"

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Questions? Suggestions? Feedback?

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