Special Education with Care

Inspire Special Education Department Newsletter

Welcome to the February 2019 Newsletter!

The month of February is upon us and that means we are comfortably into the second semester and are moving right along with teaching and learning. We appreciate all your feedback and support and encourage you to write to us if you have a particular topic you wish us to cover.

In This Issue:

  • Hot off the Press: New InspireCares Website Resources; iReady resources; State Testing updates;
  • Transition Services Corner: Transition Speaker Series;
  • Did you know: California Department of Education Grades K-12 Financial Literacy Resources; 504s vs IEPs;
  • Academic Support Resources: Story Sequencing including hands-on resources;
  • Behavior Bits: Anxiety Logs;
  • Sensory Corner: Valentines Day Sensory Bottle;
  • Caught on the Net: Free Academic Websites/Apps.


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. Please visit our newly created Extended School Year (ESY) Services Parent Resource.

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

Create an i-Ready Expectations Anchor Chart

Creating an anchor chart about i-Ready expectations can contribute to the overall success of your student in the program. Follow these tips on how to create a successful iReady Expectation Chart:

  • Create your chart with your student. Their engagement in the process helps with creating ownership in the learning outcomes.
  • Discuss each point with your student and get their perspective. Include items that are most relevant to them.
  • If you are using a reward system for completing the lessons consider adding that visual to the chart.
  • If needed follow this exercise with modeling an i-Ready lesson so that your student can unserstand your expectations fully.

STATE TESTING: Physical Fitness Testing

We are looking forward to seeing all 5th, 7th, and 9th-grade students at Physical Fitness Testing (PFT) in February and March! An Activity Waiver is required for each student participating. You can make the check-in process go more quickly by arriving at your PFT event with your waiver already completed. Click HERE to access the waiver. Thank you for your participation!


Transition Speaker Series

SPED Transition is offering a very unique opportunity to our students and families this year in the form of a “Transition Speaker Series”. Several guest speakers were invited to speak to our families this year. The guest speakers are well regarded in their chosen fields and have a passion for working with students!

The speakers have not only shared informational material, they have also shared inspirational stories with our students!

SPED Transition has hosted have speakers from the Military, TNN Beauty Cosmetology, Department of Rehabilitation, and Job Corps speak to our families. This has allowed our families to engage in meaningful dialogue and ask questions.

Speakers for the rest of the school year include representatives from:

  • Vocademy

  • Pathway at UCLA Extension

  • Department of Rehabilitation

For information on dates and times, please contact your SPED Transition Teacher!


California Department of Education Grades K-12 Financial Literacy Resources

This electronic resource library for grades K–12 provides links to programs that are appropriate for use in the classroom or at home as a resource for students, teachers, and parents who want to increase financial literacy. This is a partial list of the wide spectrum of resources available on the website.

Banzai This free resource offers teachers and students lessons in financial planning using real-life scenarios such as paying auto insurance, dealing with an account overdraft, paying a parking ticket, and budgeting for travel. These hands-on activities develop an understanding for students in grades seven through twelve as they face the challenges of planning for life’s expenses.

CompareCards The goal of these free, downloadable lesson plans is to educate children between the ages of 6-18 about building credit and credit card ownership while emphasizing the importance of building good credit and maintaining good credit standing.

The FDIC’s Money Smart for Young People curricula for Pre-K–12 includes an educator guide and student guide for grades 3–12, PowerPoint slides, and a parent/caregiver guide with activities to support classroom learning at home. The curriculums are free of charge, aligned with key educational standards, and there are no copyright restrictions. The Teacher Online Resource Center includes videos, articles, and links to useful websites. The Youth Banking Resource Center offers updated financial literacy learning, while the Youth Employment Resource Center offers tools to connect financial education to workforce programs. The Learning Bank is where students can learn the history of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), how banks operate and deposit insurance for consumers.

To see the entire list available please visit Grades K-12 Financial Literacy Resources.

What’s the difference between a 504 plan and an IEP?

Basic Description

IEP - Individual Education Plan (IEP) - to receive special education goals and services.

504 - A plan developed to ensure that a child who has a disability identified under the law and is attending an elementary or secondary educational institution receives accommodations that will ensure their academic success and equal access to the learning environment.

What It Does

IEP - Provides individualized special education and related services to meet the unique needs of the child following an evaluation identifying academic need.

504 - Provides accommodations within the academic environment for a student with a documented or suspected disability.

What Law Applies

IEP - The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). This is a federal special education law for children with disabilities.

504 - Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. This is a civil rights law to remove barriers to learning through personalized accommodations.

Who Is Eligible

IEP - A student must be found eligible under one or more of the 13 areas of eligibility listed in IDEA. The disability must affect the child’s educational performance and/or ability to learn and benefit from the general education curriculum. A diagnosis does not automatically qualify a student for an IEP.

504 - A student has a record of a physical or mental impairment that “substantially” limits one or more major life activity (such as reading or concentrating).

Who Creates the Program/Plan

IEP - There are strict legal requirements about who participates. An IEP is created by an IEP team that must include: parent/guardian, HST, education specialist, an administrative designee, evaluators, and service providers such as psychologist, speech pathologist, occupational therapist, etc. or other specialists who can interpret evaluation results and a district representative.

504- The rules about who’s on the 504 team are less specific than they are for an IEP. A 504 plan is created by a team, including parent/guardian, HST, and a 504 coordinator.

How Often It’s Reviewed and Revised

IEP - The IEP team must review the IEP at least once a year. The student must be reevaluated every three years to determine continued eligibility.

504 - Generally, a 504 plan is reviewed each year and a reevaluation is done every three years or when needed.


Story Sequencing

Sequencing is one of many skills that contributes to students' ability to comprehend what they read. Sequencing refers to the identification of the components of a story — the beginning, middle, and end — and also to the ability to retell the events within a given text in the order in which they occurred. The ability to sequence events in a text is a key comprehension strategy, especially for narrative texts. Sequencing is also an important component of problem-solving across subjects.

Why teach story sequence?

  • It assists with comprehension, especially for narrative texts.
  • Sequence structures help students of varying abilities organize information and ideas efficiently.
  • Sequencing is also an important component of problem-solving across the curriculum, including science and social studies.


Language Arts

Story maps provide one way to help students organize the events from a story.

Scaffold your instruction by providing prompts for each section on your map. For example, in the "Beginning" box of your map, write in prompts such as: Who are the main characters? Where does the story take place?

Helping students learn transition or signal words that indicate a sequence (first, second, last) will also help them learn about sequencing.

Sequence sticks, story chains, story retelling ropes, and story sequence crafts all help students practice ordering events within a story.


Most math curricula include worksheets on ordinal numbers (first, second, third, etc). Patterns are also a form of sequencing my encouraging the use of vocabulary words such as "What bead goes first? Then which bead? Which bead is third?" Encouraging students to write out the steps for solving addition and subtraction problems that include regrouping is an excellent way to have them think through the steps in order. Teachers can use a simple sheet of paper folded into four squares. Ask students to write the steps in order in the squares.


Helping children sequence also develops their scientific inquiry skills. In order to study or observe changes in something, students must follow along and record changes. The changes happen in a particular order, which kids can document by writing or drawing pictures.

Social Studies

Timelines are a great way to teach sequence in social studies. Kids may enjoy making a timeline of their own life and include important milestones such as when they learned to walk, talk, ride a bike and go to school. Once students understand the process of charting important milestones on a timeline, topics from the social studies curricula can be used.

This simple example of an explorers timeline illustrates how the spacing between dates indicates the passage of time.

Other ideas for sequencing.

  • Cooking with kids. Cookbooks for children can reinforce stories read, math concepts (measurement, etc), as well as sequencing.
  • Everyday activities. Create a sequence page for a simple activity around the house or at school. Use any blank sheet of paper. Fold the paper into squares. Start with 4 large squares, for older students create more squares. Ask kids to draw the steps they know in the order in which the steps occur. For example, draw each step it takes to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or to brush their teeth.
  • Calendar time. Cut or tear out the pages from an old calendar. Mix up the months and hand out the stack of pages. Ask the kids to order the months from January to December by laying the pages out on the floor. Which month goes first? Then which one? Which month is last?

Here are some great Hands-on Sequencing Resources of various degree of difficulty and subject matter to try with your student. Please remember to use the same teaching approach when introducing a new concept: I Do It - We Do It - You Do It.



Anxiety Log Can Assist in Determining Why Your Child Gets Anxious or Stressed

An anxiety log can help you spot patterns in your child’s behavior. Then you may find it easier to choose calming strategies that work. Tracking signs of anxiety in your young child or signs of anxiety in your tween or teen can also help you figure out if what you’re seeing is typical anxiety or an anxiety problem.

This anxiety log, created by Understood and CHC, has three pages. Try using them in this order:



Valentines Day Sensory Bottle

Have you tried making a sensory bottle yet? Sensory bottles are a visual and physical tool for calming and relaxing the body. A child (or adult!) can use a sensory bottle when they feel anxious, overwhelmed, "wound-up", or overstimulated and use the sense of proprioception as they shake the sensory bottle and watch the contents shift. This visual cue is a great calming strategy for many children.

When appropriate kids love making them and enjoy the fun of discovering items in the bottle. When you add a learning component like math or literacy it's even better!

To make a liquid sensory bottle add: water, baby oil, cooking oil or other liquid non-toxic substance.

Add pieces to the liquid base: small toys, natural items (acorns/flowers/sticks/rocks, etc.), beads, glitter, paper clips, crafting pom poms, etc.

Or make a dry sensory bottle by pouring in: rice, dry pasta, colored sand, quinoa, beans, split peas, beads, etc.

Adding a learning (find and seek) component by dropping in: foam or cardboard letters and/or numbers, sight words, etc.

(Please be mindful of safety when exposing your child to any small swallowable items),

Be creative!

Try this great idea just in time for Valentine's Day: A beautiful heart waterbead sensory bottle!


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!