Special Education with Care

Inspire Special Education Department Newsletter

Welcome to the January 2019 Newsletter!

It is so hard to believe that winter break is over and 2019 is upon us! We truly hope that everyone had a safe, relaxing and joyful winter vacation. Once again, we are so grateful for all the students and parents that bring joy to us on a daily basis. We are excited to continue our learning journey with you and your students through the second part of the school year! Please stay in touch and let us know how we can improve the content to meet your students' needs.

In This Issue:

  • Hot off the Press: New InspireCares Website Resources; iReady resources; State Testing updates;
  • Transition Services Corner: Apprenticeship Opportunities;
  • Did you know: State Superintendent Tom Torlakson Announces Guide of Social Emotional Learning Resources; Going Back to School after Holidays;
  • Academic Support Resources: Science Notebooks; Free Reading Resources;
  • Behavior Bits: A 4-Step Process for Building Student Resilience;
  • 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. To name a few we have added two newly recorded parent trainings on Medical vs. School-Based Special Education Qualification and Services, Special Education Assessment Process and Learning Accommodations and Modifications.

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

How to teach your students to track their own progress in iReady

It is easy to show your students how to track their own progress in iReady. Here are the steps on how to demonstrate this to your student:

STATE TESTING: 50 Reasons to Test with Inspire!

Your HST will be sharing SBAC test locations and dates with you later in January. Please be proactive in letting your HST and case manager know which location you would like to attend for testing as this will help us ensure that your student has a great testing experience at Inspire!


Apprenticeship Opportunities

Did you know that the California Department of Industrial Relations can connect your student to thousands of apprenticeship openings? It's an amazing opportunity for students who are looking into going into a particular trade. In order to find apprenticeship opportunities near you, simply log onto https://www.dir.ca.gov/databases/das/aigstart.asp.

Additionally, your student may qualify for a Workforce Development Board Grant to help pay for an apprenticeship program. The following requirements are:

  • Student must be 16 and a client of the DOR (Department of Rehabilitation)

  • Student can apply for the grant to assist with any cost of the apprenticeship (tuition, books, materials)

  • Student may qualify for as much as $10,500 (must meet DOR specifications) The amount of money provided by the grant is on an individual basis.

If you need information on how to become a client of the DOR, please reach out to your transition teacher.


State Superintendent Tom Torlakson Announces Guide of Social Emotional Learning Resources

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced that the California Department of Education (CDE) has released new guiding principles for teaching social and emotional skills, a tool to help educators ensure students have the skills they need for success in school, careers, and in the community.

“ Educators know, and the science confirms that learning is not only cognitive, but also social and emotional,” said Torlakson. “These principles are a part of a concentrated effort to improve teaching and learning of social and emotional skills by recognizing that students’ connection to what they are learning is a critical component of a quality education.”

The planning team, consisting of 35 educators throughout California, was created in the fall of 2016 as part of the Collaborating States Initiative, a multi-state learning community convened by the Collaborative for Academic Social and Emotional Learning. One critical goal of the team is to compile and disseminate resources for educators about the effective integration of social and emotional learning in California’s classrooms and after-school settings. In addition to the guiding principles, the team is producing curriculum and assessment resources for California educators.

The new guidelines and more resources are available on the CDE’s Social and Emotional Learning Web page.

Going Back to School after Holidays

The fun of the holidays has come to an end! Children with unique needs will have to re-adjust to the learning environment after being on holiday break for a few weeks.

If you are like the many parents who decided to use the holiday break for just that, a break, here are several tips on to make the process of getting back into the groove for the last half of the school year a little smoother.

Ease Back In:

While it seems impossible, try to relax. Relax the rules, relax your plans, and relax your responses when things don't go back to "normal" as quickly or easily as you may have thought they would. Gradually work back to the routine you all previously had.

Use social stories and visuals:

Using a social story can help them to remember what’s what and what’s expected. Review of daily routines is very useful as well. Make sure to review your learning expectations on a daily basis until your child again feels more comfortable with the routines.

Allow Breaks and Timeouts:

If you try to jump right back into how things were before the break, you may be setting the family up for meltdowns and stress. Instead, if your child seems to become overwhelmed, offer a type of break that would fit the situation (physical activity, quiet time, sensory activity) or review their sensory strategy with them.

Decrease "Screen Time":

If your child spent much of the break watching movies, playing on iPads and any other technology devices they may have received for the holidays, it's time to cut back! Now that school is are back in session you need to go back to the same amount of "screen time" they had prior to the break. Again keep in mind that easing back in will be a smoother process. Don't completely cut out all technology full-stop, but lessen over the first week or two of school.

Get Organized:

Take inventory…of everything. Think of all the goals you have for the next 5 months, list them and the associated tasks out, and set up a reasonable timetable and order of importance for tackling them.

Some parents say that "January is another August/September" because it feels like you are starting back at square one. It may seem like you never even had a holiday break because the craziness of starting up again has taken over your attitude, but it will only be a matter of time- and probably a few meltdowns- before everyone is back on the same page and you are sailing through Spring!


Science Notebooks

Keeping a science notebook encourages students to record and reflect on inquiry-based observations, activities, investigations, and experiments. Student scientists record their observations, ideas, drawings, and other illustrations such as charts, tables, models, and graphs, along with their questions, ideas, and reflections in a running record of their thinking. A notebook may follow a general organization, but the contents can vary from student to student.

Model how to use a science notebook before, during, and after a science experiment or observation. Writing frames for science notebook entries modeled by the teacher and co-created with students provide excellent scaffolding for struggling students. The use of visual entries such as drawings, charts, graphs, diagrams, models, and so on also allow students to make entries even if they are struggling with writing.

Take dictation related to these drawings, and so forth, for students to model the writing down of their observations and ideas. A list of the science vocabulary needed for the notebooks can be posted in the room and each student provided with a copy, and materials used for the science notebooks can be labeled so that students can copy the words into their notebooks when needed.

Writing frames for science notebook entries can look as such:

  • "I observed...."
  • "I (saw, smelled, felt, heard)...."
  • "My (experiment, investigation) was...."
  • "I found that...."
  • "I think this because...."

While each science notebook organization will vary according to the grade level, interests, abilities, and individual needs of the students, here are the parts of science notebooks to consider:

Big picture

Practice the Science Notebook skills with your student using these Virtual Lab resources:

Free Reading Resources Your Students Will Love!

We understand that you have limited time when it comes to finding the free, high-quality reading resources for your students. So we’ve put together a list that we think will help keep your kids reading all year round - take a look:


A 4-Step Process for Building Student Resilience

There is an undeniable increase in stress, anxiety, and depression in high school students. In addition to various special needs, the causes range from intense pressure to perform to social media expectations and influence to home and environmental issues. The common thread, no matter the cause, is students’ inability to cope with the stressors they experience. These self-awareness and coping skills activities developed by M. Lew, a special education high school teacher in Corona-Norco Unified School District in California can help your upper-grade students identify feelings and stressors, while also providing them a way to discover positive, self-regulatory coping skills. This activity can be performed with other students, siblings or adopted for one on one implementation.

Practical application and maintenance of coping skills

Build time into your daily schedule for a 5 Minute Fix exercise. For five minutes, students can share how they’ve used their coping skills in real-life situations. They can ask for feedback and advice from you or peers or provide suggestions to those who are struggling. The most important idea to convey during this maintenance period is that coping skills are fluid and flexible. If one skill doesn’t work or a student wants to try something new, always encourage them to do so. It’s important they don’t get caught up in thinking they can only use certain skills since that can become a new source of stress.

Coping skills are a powerful way for all students to build resilience, self-awareness, and self-regulatory skills as they face the stressors of life. Learning how to positively cope empowers them to be self-reflective and take responsibility for their actions. Most importantly, these skills are ones that will benefit them long after they leave my classroom.


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!

Google Tools For Students with Unique Needs

Questions? Suggestions? Feedback?

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