Literacy for All

Read Across America Day is just a few weeks away! On March 2nd, Dr. Seuss’ birthday, thousands of schools, libraries, and community centers will bring together kids, teens and books, which is exciting because we all know how important literacy is in relation to adult success.

Part of an educational experience is exposure to books and literature and instruction in reading and writing, but many students with disabilities do not receive effective literacy instruction. Per the Learning Disabilities Association of America (LDA), “Many children, including children with learning disabilities, do not learn to read in the first grade because they lack the basic readiness skills or the school’s method is not appropriate for them. They may be allowed to fail for two or three years without effective intervention. Unless these children are identified early and appropriate instruction provided they may be passed along in school until basic reading instruction is no longer available.”

Literacy has been targeted as in-need of improvement and future focus, particularly for those with more significant disabilities.Teachers need support to ensure all students benefit from literacy instruction and Rethink is here to help with supplemental supports which are incredibly helpful in addressing the diverse needs of students in a classroom. Be sure to check the Rethink Academic Curriculum Library, which includes differentiated lessons plans and teaching resources to support students with disabilities.

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Spotlight Teacher of the Month: Ginny Gilbertson

Position: Special Education Teacher
District: School District of Washington

Ginny Gilbertsen, a Special Education Teacher at the School District of Washington in Missouri, has been using Rethink in her classroom for just over a year, and she and her paraprofessionals are loving it!

According to Ginny, there are so many ways in which Rethink has helped her, but the most valuable aspect to her instruction is the variety of materials and lesson plans. She says that when she is stuck writing a few goals, all she has to do was research on Rethink. Not only is she able to find goals, but the objectives help her pace her teaching. Ginny says this is especially helpful for her because she teaches grades K-6 and because of this, “The need to individualize instruction is great. It is difficult to be an expert in every area for every child but Rethink makes this a reality! I am able to plug in IEP goals, research and teach,” she says.

But, she adds, it isn’t just her who benefits from the platform, but also her paraprofessionals. One paraprofessional, in their first year, was struggling to come up with ideas to guide his student; but according to Ginny, “After watching videos that Rethink provided, not only did he have more ideas, but he felt more confident in his abilities.”

Ginny and her paraprofessionals are not only in agreement about the benefits of the program, but also about the benefits of the app. The RethinkEDU app allows them to track data effectively and efficiently to ensure that their instruction is always data driven. Not to mention, Ginny adds, the fact that, “Carrying around clipboards with several sets of papers clipped to it is cumbersome and frustrating. Rethink solves that problem.”

Great Job, Ginny and keep up the good work! Congratulations on being this month’s Spotlight Teacher!

Posted in Community, Tips, Tools, & Tech

Data Are Everywhere: The New RethinkEDU App Is Launching

RethinkEDU APP

The New RethinkEDU App Makes Life and Data Collection Easier

You’ve been asking for it and we know how important it is to be able to take behavioral and skill acquisition data on the fly; Rethink is thrilled to announce our new App – RethinkEDU.

Quality education service delivery requires data collection and data-based decision making.

Data Collection Made Easier

In special education, data is collected and analyzed for every IEP goal and objective and for every behavior intervention plan created. Educators can then review the data and make informed decisions about what is working and not working for each student.

With current caseloads for educators these days, Rethink makes the data collection and analysis process as easy as possible. RethinkEDU is one more step towards easy data collection.

RethinkEDU APP
With RethinkEDU you can do it all! Teachers who make decisions based on data can:

  • Adapt instruction based on the student
  • Evaluate progress
  • Highlight successes and weaknesses

Rethink aims to place evidence-based treatment solutions in the hands of every educator, clinician or parent working with a child with special needs. Here at Rethink we take pride in our ability to listen and respond to our partners and customers as we work towards this goal.

Download RethinkEDU

RethinkEDU will be available in IOS, Google Play and Amazon App stores starting on December 20th. Mark your calendars to download this revolutionary app! As a reminder, the current Behavior Tracking app will no longer be available and all existing data must be synced by December 19th.

Coming soon- available December 20th

Posted in Tips, Tools, & Tech

Discussing Professional Development at OCALICON 2016

Join Rethink as we Discuss Paraprofessional Professional Development Best Practices

Paraprofessionals support students and are pivotal to promoting educational success for learners with disabilities. Paraprofessionals need access to quality professional development. Professional development is a critical responsibility for both administrators and educators, professional development is often overlooked as a luxury rather than a necessity.

OCALICON 2016

Join our Vice President of Professional Services, Patricia Wright, Ph.D, MPH, as she discusses Leveraging Technology to Support Paraprofessional Professional Development. The 60-minute presentation will take place during OCALICON 2016 and is set to begin at 2:45pm EST. Click here for more information!

The session will provide go-to strategies for effective paraprofessional training. Learn how school districts, including large urban and small rural schools, have paired on-demand video-based training with on-site coaching to increase the knowledge, skills, and effectiveness of paraprofessionals supporting children with ASD and other developmental disabilities.

This session provides:

  • An overview of the models and strategies utilized to promote success
  • Quantitative and qualitative outcome data
  • Application strategies to successfully implement professional development

No longer will paraprofessionals be overlooked. They are an integral part of the classroom that, when trained correctly and effectively, improve classroom climate and are an incredible support to teachers. Teachers need support; teacher burnout is an ever-growing issue that we have yet to conquer. Paraprofessionals can be part of the change schools need to ensure all students achieve their highest potential.


View an On-Demand Webinar to Support Paraprofessionals for Success!

Learn how to implement a simple and powerful training model to help Paraprofessionals succeed.

In this webinar, Angela will highlight the key responsibilities of paraprofessionals, and review how the “No Child Left Behind Act” defines their roles. She will also help you learn successful models of professional development and discuss important limitations.
View Webinar

Rethink offers an award-winning online platform that is uniquely designed for teaching students with autism spectrum disorders, developmental disabilities, cognitive disabilities, and for students exhibiting problem behaviors. Our platform supports curriculum planning, on-demand professional learning, and the tracking of student progress towards IEP goals, skill mastery, and positive behaviors. Rethink helps educators more efficiently personalize evidence-based instruction, collaborate, and make data-driven decisions.

Our on-demand platform is a professional development resource to access both foundational and comprehensive training in evidence-based strategies and instructional practices. The evidence-based curriculum is grounded in deep research with student’s progress being monitored. Rethink provides school officials a view into what’s happening in classrooms while seeing student progress tracked and graphed.

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Paraprofessional Training- Where to Find the Time?

In today’s public schools, finding time to provide the much-needed training for our Special Education paraprofessionals can be challenging. Although most states mandate the number of professional development hours for teachers, professional development for the Special Education paraprofessionals is not as clear cut. ‘

teach-pd-quoteGenerally individual districts plan their own professional development and identify specific days throughout the year for the training. Some professional development may focus on Special Education topics, such as mandated dyslexia training, but most professional development is geared to the general education teachers and professional staff. Many states do not even require training for Special Education paraprofessionals. This seems at odds with common sense, considering that the paraprofessionals play an essential role in supporting our students and teachers. Paraprofessionals provide support for students in a variety of settings, but are often not given paraprofessional training specific to these responsibilities.

Rethink’s online Training Center has a solution to providing this much-needed professional development for Special Education paraprofessionals. The online Training Center now offers two series of professional development trainings. The Basic Training Series introduces the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) through 11 video-based modules. Each 7 to 10-minute video is supported with guided notes and a concluding assessment.

The Advanced Training Series offers 27 video trainings that provide the 40 hours of training needed to qualify for the Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) Credential (see http://bacb.com/rbt/ for more information on the requirements for the RBT Credential). Both training series provide a rich, on-demand resource designed to increase instructional awareness to help the paraprofessional support engagement and learning for our students. The format of the online Training Center allows Special Education teachers and paraprofessionals access to quality and convenient professional development anytime and anywhere.
RBT Training

We all know that good teaching results in positive outcomes for students. Rethink’s convenient, online Training Center is one way to provide your Special Education staff with quality training on their schedule, to make quality teaching possible.

Discover new strategies for implementing a rewarding professional development model to support paraprofessionals in our on-demand webinar!

Take Your Paraprofessional Training to the Next Level and Become RBT Certified!

Have a question? Send us an email!
Posted in Tips, Tools, & Tech

Rethink’s Academic Library Transforms the SPED Classroom

Rethink’s Academic Library helps educators and paraprofessionals teach key Math and English Language Arts (ELA) skills.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) guides educators in ensuring children with disabilities have access to a quality, meaningful education. Special Educators must ensure students receive instruction to meet the goals of their IEP. We must also provide all students access to the general education curriculum. To address the IDEA requirement for access to the general education curriculum, and to support educators in the classroom, Rethink is launching over 150 NEW Academic Lessons!

Currently, Rethink is launching Academic Lessons for grades K–3 in English Language Arts (ELA) and Math, and will continue to add grade levels and subject areas. The Rethink Academic Lessons are easy-to-use general education lessons.academic-library-1

Each Rethink Academic Lesson provides teachers with an exemplary lesson plan focused on one key math, reading, or writing skill. Each skill is broken down into three measurable objectives.

The lesson is then organized into three parts: Instruction, Practice, and Assessment. But most importantly for the Special Education teacher, the lesson also includes an Accommodations/Modifications section that provides strategies for teaching students with disabilities.

The Accommodations/Modifications section is organized into three distinct levels:

  1. Modifications for learners who need the least amount of support.
  2. Accommodations for students who need more support.
  3. Strategies for teaching students who need the most support.

The Level 3 strategies are focused on teaching the component skills, prerequisite skills, and alternate skills. Component skills may include drawing lines and circles for the skill of writing or counting objects for the skill of addition. Furthermore, many of the Level 3 strategies are linked to lessons in the Rethink Abilities Curriculum, which offers additional resources such as videos for the educator. This differentiated instruction ensures that all learners are participating in the general education curriculum while working towards their unique learning goals.

The Academic Lessons are another quality resource that Rethink provides to help educators do what they do best – provide instruction and produce student outcomes.

Questions? send us an email, info@rethinkfirst.com or call 877.988.8871

Posted in Tips, Tools, & Tech

Spotlight Teacher of the Month: Lee-Anne Smith

Position:   Lead Coordinator
District:    Geneva Christian College

Lee-Anne Smith, a Lead Coordinator at Geneva Christian College in Tasmania, Australia, is ecstatic and excited about her program’s success and direction. The Tasmanian Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Education utilize Rethink at several schools across Tasmania including Geneva; the added value has been noticed.

Ms. Smith describes the professional development Rethink delivers as “excellent”, allowing the department to better educate their students. The 7-10 minute training modules are full of content that, without overloading the viewer, effectively convey high quality, research-based instruction. The Behavior Support is “fantastic” and has equipped her team with the necessary skills to create a more predictable environment and reducing problem behavior. This sophisticated user friendly tool offers teachers a wealth of resources, including: how-to videos, expert articles, teaching examples, and more.
geneva-spotlight-quote
Lee-Anne also points out that even though Rethink is designed for students on the Autism Spectrum, the curriculum “would suit others.” The plan is generated and suggests instructional needs based on the assessment, everything may be adjusted accordingly based on the individual needs of the student. This kind of flexibility is ideal when every plan must be based on the student’s specific needs.

Creating IEPs

Often considered a complex and labor-intensive process–creating an IEP, Rethink’s curriculum makes developing and implementing the IEP simple, straightforward, and intuitive. Rethink supports the entire process, starting with a questionnaire/assessment to be completed by teachers and parents in areas of ability, inclusion, and transition. Goals are then generated according to the results of the assessment. When asked about Rethink’s value Lee-Anne shared, “The program supports teacher/parent communication and consultation. Both parties know exactly what is happening at school/home, an excellent link.” This has led to greater parental engagement for Geneva, something all educators strive towards.

Activity Center and Curriculum

The students enjoy utilizing the Activity Center, an easily accessible program for teachers, students, and their families, offering a quick resource to engage students in fun and educational online activities aligned with Rethink’s curriculum. When the activities are completed, the parents and teacher are sent feedback on the student’s accuracy in responses while playing the game – additional evidence of goals achieved.

Lee-Anne describes her experience with Rethink, “We looked at the student’s issues and the interventions were what I would expect. The program also provides suggested teaching strategies and plans. All planning is generated but can be adjusted to suit the specific needs of the student. The resources are amazing and goals/planning are aligned to the Australian curriculum.”

Great Job, Lee-Anne and keep up the good work! Congratulations on being this month’s Spotlight Teacher!icon-teacherspotlight

Posted in Tips, Tools, & Tech

Using Motivation Boards To Increase Student Engagement & Motivation

Strategies for Using Motivation Boards

Motivation is meant to promote learning and positive behavior in a classroom. Often, educators struggle with generating and sustaining motivation. A simple and effective method to combat this are Motivation Boards, however, they must be implemented the correct way.

Individual Motivation Boards

Individual Motivation Boards help individual students stay engaged and motivated. Several engaging Motivation Boards on available on the Rethink Website. Choose a Motivation Board that fits what you are teaching and/or that is attractive to the student. Set a goal for the student. Identify something that the student would like to earn such as a small prize or time to play with a favorite toy. Each time the student meets the goal, note the success on the Motivation Board using the tokens, along with verbal praise. When the board is complete, reward the student with the predetermined prize.sept-helpful-hints-1

Small Group Motivation

Participation in small groups has many benefits such as:

  • Promotes teamwork
  • Includes students of all abilities
  • Encourages communication
  • Promotes collaborative and positive peer support and encouragement
  • Increases learning of skills
  • Decreases problem behavior

Provide each small group with a Motivational Board. Set a goal for the small group such as lining up quickly and quietly. When each member of the group is successfully lined up, award the group with a token. This will engage all students and help everyone to be successful through peer modeling and encouragement. When the Motivational Board is complete, award the small group with something that everyone can enjoy such as a treat or free time.sept-helpful-hints-2

Group Motivation Boards

If you have a goal for your students to read a certain number of books each month, or maybe you want to encourage cooperative behavior between the students in your classroom, consider using a Motivation Board with the whole group. After setting a clear goal, determine the reward for meeting the goal (pizza party, extra recess, etc.). Display the board where everyone can see it. Each time the class moves toward the goal, add a token to the board. Once the board is complete, celebrate!sept-helpful-hints-3

View a Webinar to Learn Other Techniques to Motivate Students!

Watch this webinar on demand to learn other reinforcement strategies to motivate your students. Having students motivated from the beginning of the school year is essential to student success. During large, small, and individual teaching sessions, it is important to maximize motivation when teaching both academic skills and working on reduction of problem behaviors.

View Webinar


 

 

Resources:

Motivation and engagement play a huge role in students’ academic achievement (Martin, 2001; Martin & Marsh, 2003)

Students who are motivated and engaged in their learning perform considerably higher academically and behave better than students who are unmotivated and unengaged (Fredricks, Bulumenfeld, & Paris, 2004)

Teachers can impact their students’ motivation and engagement (Hill & Rowe, 1996)

https://www.rethinkfirst.com/Home/TeachingMaterials?categoryId=12

 

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Spotlight Teacher of the Month: Jana Rone

Position: K-2 Autism Teacher
District: Tacoma Public Schools

Jana Rone is a K-2 Autism Teacher from Tacoma Public Schools in Washington. Jana has been a dedicated Rethink user for nearly two years now and couldn’t be happier with the results.

tacoma-spotlight-janaMs. Rone describes how her classroom has benefited, “Rethink has fully and efficiently allowed me to create meaningful and measurable IEP goals, strategically plan instruction around these goals, and monitor student progress towards achieving them.” For Tacoma Public Schools, the professional development for paraeducators has been key to giving students the attention they need and allowing Jana to focus more on building the curriculum.

“The interface is user friendly and the training center has proven to be a valuable tool for my paraeducators, allowing me to more easily delegate teaching and data-collection responsibilities with the added confidence that best practices are being used.”

In the classroom, Rethink is ideal in expanding her student’s expressive communication, emotional literacy, social interaction, and independence in daily routines. According to Jana, “Task analysis, discrete trial and incidental teaching has sharpened our focus and made our practices with students much more informed and intentional.”

While discussing Rethink, Jana recalls a specific success story involving one of her kindergarten students (pictured below) who has been working on identifying emotions in himself and in others as well as expanding his expressive communication. During a particularly challenging and frustrating afternoon for him, he looked in the mirror, then approached Ms. Rone with tears on his cheeks and said “sad, angry.” She recalls, “I took him over to our emotions wall and he placed his picture on the face that matched his. Thanks in part to Rethink, he was empowered to share his feelings and advocate for himself.”

Ms. Rone using Discrete Trial Training with a student, inputting data on the tablet

To many, integrating technology into the classroom seems challenging. However, as Jana remarked, “It is important to remember, in the long run, you save time and also access teaching, assessment and progress reporting while creating IEP goals, it also helps making you more organized and accessible.”

icon-teacherspotlightKeep up the fantastic work, Ms. Rone! Congratulations on being this month’s Spotlight Teacher!

Posted in Community

Parents as Partners: Top Tips to Boost Parental Engagement in Special Education

It’s September and school is back in session!  For educators, it is that magical time of year when anything seems possible.  You’re refreshed and ready to make this year the best ever.  You want all your students to have a successful year!  And you know that a key component to any educational program is parental engagement, especially for children with special needs.  But with the demands of today’s parents, getting appropriate parental engagement can be a challenge, and this is compounded for the parents of children with special needs.

Before we discuss ways to encourage parental engagement, let’s first look at what we mean by parental engagement. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) defines parental engagement in schools as parents and school staff working together to support and improve the learning, development, and health of children and adolescents. Schools and parents have the responsibility for educating our children (retrieved from cdc.gov/healthyyouth/protective/parent_engagement?q=parental+engagement).

There are many benefits to parental engagement across the board, but particularly for students with special needs including:

Boosting Parental Engagement Chalkboard

  • Increased parental involvement and collaboration in the development of their child’s Individualized Educational Program (IEP)
  • Greater confidence and ability on the part of the parent to educate their own child
  • Better understanding on the part of the educator as to the special needs of each student
  • Higher student success due to the generalization of skills and consistency between home and school

Unfortunately, barriers to parental engagement do exist.  Some of these barriers are due to: cultural or language differences, special education law that can be difficult to understand, lack of time, past negative experiences, and lack of training on the part of the educator to effectively facilitate engagement (retrieved from hfrp.org/hfrp/search?q=parental+engagement).

What can you do to eliminate the barriers and make it easier for parents to engage? Here are three keys to increasing parental engagement.

Treat Parents as Partners.

Do you respect the role the parent has in the education of their child with special needs?  Do you actively invite parents to meet ahead of the IEP to set goals together?  Do you accommodate their schedules and consider their cultural contributions or differences?  Do you think about how to improve parent participation in the decision-making process?  These are just a few questions that can help you think about parents as partners in their child’s education.

Here are a few ways to help your parents partner with you:

  • Consider your message before the IEP happens. Did you invite them to listen to you and others tell them about their child or did you invite them to participate in the meeting and share their knowledge of their child?
  • Wait for the parents outside the meeting room prior to the IEP and walk in together as a team. That will be much less intimidating for the parents than walking into a room full of “experts” sitting and staring.
  • Understand that some cultures interact with educators and other school professionals differently. A parent may be agreeing with the proposed goals because they want to be polite and respectful.
  • Invite parents to ask questions and give them a platform to suggest goals they have for their child.
  • Take time to educate the parents. Explain any special education jargon, provide them with resources, and connect them with other support programs such as translation services, if needed.
  • Let the parents know you are genuinely interested in what they have to say.
  • Create tool kits that provide parents with activities and resources to extend the learning into the home. The tool kits may also include tips and strategies for teaching their child or websites they can go to for additional activities or information.
  • Work with the parents to set realistic parent participation goals. They are the parent, not the teacher. Remember, the goal is quality, not quantity of involvement.

Laurie Humphrey, Brandon Brush, Brian Brush, Shinobu Brush, Rebecca Anshell

Create an Effective Communication System.

The goal of an effective communication system is to bridge the gap between home and school by providing a way to share concerns, successes, behavioral challenges, stressors, and changes.

There are many ways to implement such a system.  Choose the method that is simple and works best for you and the parent. The easier the system, the more it will be used.  And again, remember, quality of communication is more important than the quantity of communication.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Connect at the beginning of the year and ask parents what information they want. Perhaps you can come up with a checklist together, that’s easy to use and sends home meaningful information. The same goes the other way too. For example, create a checklist for things you want to know from home such as changes in sleep patterns, nutrition, or family relations.
  • Use a composition notebook that goes back and forth from home to school in the child’s backpack. You can report IEP progress or write anecdotes about the child’s day, etc. and the parent can write back questions or concerns. This can happen on a daily basis.
  • Many teachers use texts or email to communicate (check with the parents first for the most preferred method). They may find this less intrusive and intimidating than a phone call, and allows the parents to think and respond on their schedule. If a phone call is necessary, perhaps send a text to say, “Can we set up a time to chat on the phone?”  This allows the parent to choose a time that works for them.
  • Schedule home visits, if appropriate.  This may help parents who lack transportation or have other circumstances that keep them from coming to school.

Create a Welcoming Climate.

Welcome your parents into your classroom in many ways and for many purposes.  The more you know your parents, the easier it is to work with them as partners.  Inviting parents into your classroom also provides an opportunity for family networking, bringing families together with other parents to share resources, empathy, and support.

Some ways to help parents to feel welcome in the classroom include:

  • Volunteering for special events and holiday parties, field trips, family and friends’ breakfasts, guest speakers, photo shares, parent presentations, etc.
  • Providing ways for parents to volunteer without having to come into the classroom, such as organizing and preparing materials that require cutting, collating, or stapling.
  • Volunteering to read to or with students or provide one-on-one assistance to students in the library or media center.
  • Inviting parents to attend presentations or view displays by the students or to school assemblies when appropriate.

So as you set up for another successful school year, I encourage you to think about your parents as partners. You are the educator! You’re good at it! But reaching out to your students’ parents as partners will help you help your students and make your job a little bit easier!

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