Special Education with Care

Inspire Special Education Department Newsletter

Welcome to the November 2018 Newsletter!

It is hard to believe that we are in the month of November already! We hope that your homeschooling experience is going smoothly and are here to support you and your students.

We are grateful for the opportunity to serve you!

In This Issue:

  • Hot off the Press: New InspireCares Website Resources, iReady Instructional Lessons; State Testing updates;
  • Transition Services Corner: I am the "I" in IEP;
  • Did you know: Emergency Plan for Families of Children with Disabilities;
  • Academic Organization Help: Note Taking Strategy - Cornell Notes;
  • Behavior Bits: Brain Breaks;
  • Caught on the Net: Free Academic and Behavior Websites/Apps;
  • Parent self-care: 20 Things Every Parent of Kids with Special Needs Should Hear.


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. Additionally, we have added a Search Site field to the site's Homepage for your convenience. Now, you can search for specific resources or information and get related results faster!

Here is the list of new resources. All new resources are marked as New under each Resource section:

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

iReady Instruction

Now that your students have completed the Reading and Math Diagnostic Assessments they are ready to start working in the iReady instructional lessons. The instructional lessons are rigorous, offering students explicit instruction when they need it and providing systematic practice and scaffolded feedback that promotes a growth mindset. Lessons are tested extensively with younger students and older struggling learners, ensuring that i‑Ready Instruction is engaging and fun for students of all abilities and ages. My Dashboard feature encourages students to participate in their progress and promotes ownership in learning. Its visual, intuitive interface gives students real-time feedback, motivating messages, and the rewards of earned credits after completing lessons.

Here are some tips on how you can help your students in their daily iReady instruction:


It is easy to do, but unless you show them your kiddos are not going to look. Make sure to explain that a green bar is good! If the bar is red it means that the student did not pass the lesson and i-Ready will give them a second chance. The next lesson they will be given will be a repeat of the same lesson they struggled with.


Some students have a tendency to get distracted and therefore perform poorly. In an effort to keep them focused and accountable, you can encourage your older students to take notes during the tutorial portion of their lessons. This is very helpful, especially for vocabulary lessons. You can allow your students to use their notes for the quizzes at the end of each lesson.


Provide incentives that are as simple as a sticker, a special pencil, a no homework pass, a cookie, a snack, computer time, a special lunch with mom, etc… You can keep your rewards a surprise or engage your students choosing the rewards for the week - that in itself motivates many students.

As always if you have any questions in regards to iReady including your student's login information, student's instructional progress, diagnostic reports, etc. please reach out to your special education case manager.

Parent Testing Videos and Resources

Inspire Charter Schools’ Testing Team has created a series of presentations in response to the questions and concerns we receive from our homeschooling families about testing. We hope you find these videos informative, and that your family’s fears and concerns relating to testing will be alleviated.


I am the "I" in IEP!

This year SPED Transition is focusing on helping students learn to advocate for themselves. We want our students with IEP’s to be more involved in planning and presenting at individualized education program (IEP) meetings. Every student can participate on some level, whether it is a script they follow, a video they make, or a PowerPoint presentation they share with the IEP team.

By introducing the concept and practice of student-led IEP's during Transition SAI this school year, students will learn valuable information about their needs and strengths.

SPED Transition Teachers are going to equip our students, through the use of curriculum and workshops, with the skills and confidence to become more involved in their own Transition planning.

Some activities will include:

  • Self Directed IEP Lessons

  • Reviewing the 11 steps to self-directed IEP’s.

  • Practice using skills

We are excited for our students to learn how to be active participants in their IEP meetings!


Emergency Plan for Families of Children with Disabilities

Being forced to leave home without notice, and without the things that make home a familiar and safe place, is scary for everyone – especially those who have disabilities and who may rely on constant routines. In any emergency, we must make sure all individuals with disabilities have a plan in place to address their various needs.

The first step to creating an emergency plan is to sit down and talk with your family about different types of emergencies, how to prepare for them, and brainstorm ideas of how to care for your child with special needs during an emergency.

1. Assess your situation

Reflect and plan for your child’s needs if there was:

  • No water, electricity, telephone, heat, air conditioning, or refrigeration
  • No local access to prescription refills or health products
  • Separation from family members
  • Inability to leave your home or need for evacuation
  • Limited health care access and emergency rescue services
  • A lack of transportation

2. Start Planning

  • Plan for backup sources of heat, refrigeration, and electricity.
  • You can use a Red Cross shelter for storing medicine, charging equipment and getting meals. You do not have to be staying in a shelter to use its resources.
  • If your child depends on a life-sustaining treatment, know the location of more than one facility: find out the facility’s plans for emergencies and how your child will get treatment, medications, etc. Get their emergency contact numbers.
  • Create and practice an escape plan for your home. Be sure there are clear exit paths for a child who uses mobility devices or has vision loss.
  • Talk to your local police and fire departments to see if they have emergency services or plans for people with special needs.
  • Obtain a medical alert and/or identification bracelet for your child. Some organizations sell decals that can be put on the home or car to alert responders that there is a child with special needs.
  • Ask for the emergency plan at your child’s school or child care. Plan with them how your child will get the care they need in an emergency.

3. Create a support network

Create a network of family, neighbors or friends that can help you and your child.

  • Tell them about your child’s special needs and share your emergency plan and where your emergency supplies are stored.
  • Give a trusted member of your network a key to your home.
  • Agree upon a system with your network to signal for help if phones, electricity and internet/networks are not working.
  • Show others how to handle your child’s wheelchair or other equipment.

Easterseals, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have good lists on how to plan for emergencies. We recommend taking a look at these when time allows.

For now, here are some key pointers to keep in mind if you need to evacuate or stay where you are for a period of time:


Note Taking Strategy - Cornell Notes

Cornell note-taking is a method of note-taking arranged in a way that allows your student to take notes in a quick and organized way. The method can be used in lecture or while reading a chapter from a textbook by writing keywords, main ideas, and summarizing what has been learned.

Students with auditory processing challenges have difficulties with recording notes during lectures or lessons such as writing fast enough to keep up with the pace, paying continues attention, making sense out of their notes after class, and deciding what was important to record during the lecture. Many of these notetaking difficulties often result in notes with either partial or incomplete lecture points. Implementation of Cornell note-taking addresses all these issues by creating a note-taking style that is quick, clear, and structured.

In addition, guided notes allow for different mediums in which to teach the information, rather than hear and record. They provide a means to increase student learning and understanding of content through the use of multiple modalities; auditory, visual, and tactile (Jimenez, 2012). Students can draw pictures, fill in the blanks, write summaries of activities they engaged in or form questions they think the content is geared for answering.

How to introduce your student to a note taking technique:

1. Introduction

The first step is to introduce the new format of note taking. Introducing a visual as you explain the process to your student will help make your descriptions and explanations much more clear. Explain to your student that he/she will write key facts such as definitions, important dates, and people, formulas, etc. in the right-hand column (which is the largest space). In the left-hand column, students will create questions they think the information in the right column answers as well as, define the main idea of the lecture. The bottom section is where the student will write a summary, in their own words, of what the lecture was about.

2. Modeling

As you read the information you can discuss with the student where the main ideas, keywords, and questions should go. This will give insight to the student about the decisions that help determine how to condense the main ideas into a few sentences. As the lecture takes place, you should point out a particular sentence or a critical fact that your student should write in the prepared space.

3. Guided instruction

As you read the information you can have a think-aloud about selected keywords and paraphrase the main ideas from the first paragraph of a text. Then have your student look ahead and think-aloud about keywords and the main idea for the second paragraph.

4. Independent Practice

Once your student needs less support have them work on their own notes. For additional support, you can provide your student with the template with keywords or partially filled in notes until they are comfortable taking notes on their own.

You can provide the following visuals to your student for independent work:


Brain Breaks

Many kids with learning and attention issues have these struggles every day. Their issues can make homework extra frustrating and harder to get through. Brain breaks during homework or lengthy chores can help relieve that frustration. They can also help kids learn to self-regulate and self-monitor when they’re getting fed up or losing track of what they’re doing.

Short brain breaks during work time have been shown to have real benefits. They reduce stress and frustration and increase attention and productivity.

The key is to take them before fatigue, distraction or lack of focus set in. For grade-schoolers, that’s typically after 10 to 15 minutes of work. At that point, they may need a three- to five-minute break. Middle- and high-schoolers can work for longer—up to 20 to 30 minutes before a break.

To make a brain break effective for your child, there are a few things to consider. First, you’ll want to make sure it’s an actual break. Moving from homework to an activity that feels like more work won’t help your child stay focused.

For kids who need quiet and relaxation, a brain break can be as simple as actively sitting still. For kids who need activity, taking a “dance break” is a fun way to refocus and refresh.

Here are some examples of typical physical activities:

  • Stretching breaks that include yoga poses (dog, cat, cow, bug, rock) and animal walks (walk like a bear, hop like a frog, stand like a flamingo, fly like a bird)
  • Wall push-ups
  • Regular push-ups
  • Yoga ball activities
  • Sit-ups
  • Jumping jacks
  • Running in place as fast as possible
  • Cross crawls (touch hand to opposite knee)
  • Rocketship jumps (bending down, touching toes and bouncing while counting down from 10, then blastoff)
  • Snow angels on the floor
  • Chewing on a crunchy snack or
  • Doing tactile activities, like using Silly Putty

Whatever activities you use, it’s important to do some pre-planning with your child. That includes setting ground rules around the purpose of a brain break. You also want to consider how to schedule brain breaks either by intervals of time or by the ratio of behaviors (number of tasks completed).

Knowing how to take a brain break can help kids in ways that go beyond recharging and getting through work. Brain breaks can help reduce anxiety, which is common in kids with learning and attention issues. And being able to return to a task and get it done can build self-confidence and self-esteem. It can also show kids that there are lots of ways to work on challenges and stay motivated.


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!

Parent Self-Care

Questions? Suggestions? Feedback?

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