Together We Can
November 27, 2023
I hope that everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. The next few weeks before Holiday Recess will be quite busy. I am looking forward to seeing all of the creative projects students will be completing between now and break.
Saturday, December 2 is National Special Education Day. This day commemorates the anniversary of our nation's first federal special education law, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), signed by President Gerald Ford on December 2, 1975. I want to take this opportunity to let our GPS SESS staff know how much I appreciate all the work they do for the District.
Stacey Heiligenthaler, Ph.D.
Chief Officer of Special Education and Student Supports
What We Are Seeing 👀 Around the Schools
Math Test Prep at WMS
Ms. Reisch and Ms. Fitzsimmons Co-Taught Pre-Algebra class at Western Middle School prepare for a math test on translation, transformation, and rotation. Teachers are doing alternative teaching, one instructing most of the class, and one supporting students in small groups and providing additional review and direct instruction.
American Speech-Language Hearing Association
Sixteen of our speech and language specialists went to Boston recently to participate in the American Speech-Language Hearing Association's 2023 ASHA Convention. They all came back from learning so much and are excited to use what they have learned in working with our students.
Community Connections celebrates Turkey Day! One big, happy family!
Workshops and Resources
by MaryPat Caldwell
This month, I would like to continue the conversation about phonemic awareness.
Last month, I discussed the concept, why it is important, and how we assess and progress monitor it. This month, I would like to delve into what you can do at home to support what is happening in school.
Phonemic awareness drills can be quick and fun. They can happen anywhere and anytime without any materials. If your child needs manipulatives, they can use their fingers. The activities can be sedentary while in the car or at dinner time. Or, they can be active while jumping around.
When I work on phonemic awareness, I make it fun. I call it the “sound game.” Students begin with rhyming, blending, and segmenting.
At home you can play "I Spy." I spy a word that rhymes with rag; I spy a word that begins with /b/; I spy a word that ends with /t/. The key is to focus on the sound, not the letter.
Other examples of these activities include asking students to blend sounds or syllables to form words, or to segment (“finger spell”) sounds in a word. You could also clap out syllables. All you need to do is say, “Blend these sounds (or syllables) to make a word -/t//i//p/”; or “say tip and finger spell the sounds you hear.”
These activities begin with three-letter words and slowly increase to longer words. You could also ask students to hop out words as they blend and segment. More advanced activities include deleting or substituting sounds.
Please reach out through my SURVEY if you would like additional support in this area.
504 Corner - Using Accommodations on CollegeBoard Digital Tests
By Michele Iannello
As students enter high school, they will begin to take CollegeBoard exams, including the PSAT, SAT, and AP exams, where applicable. Students with 504 Plans should plan to speak with their 504 Case Manager (at the middle and high school level, this will be the school counselor) to ensure the appropriate accommodations have been requested through the CollegeBoard.
I encourage you to review Using Accommodations on Digital Tests from the CollegeBoard to learn more about the differences in accommodations between paper and pencil and digital exams. The article has an excellent chart delineating common testing accommodations and how they will work with digital tests. You will also learn about the universal tools that all students can access that no longer require a specific accommodation.
In addition, Understood shares further information in Accommodations for state standardized tests regarding what accommodations may look like on standardized tests.
As always, please feel free to reach out to me with questions. I am always happy to hear from you!
The Office of Special Education and Student Supports
Location: 290 Greenwich Avenue, Greenwich, CT
Phone: (203) 625-7493