Teaching is a challenging field, there is no doubt about it. On a daily basis, teachers work with twenty or thirty students, each one with his or her own set of strengths and weaknesses. The push toward inclusive classrooms means that teachers with general education backgrounds are more often working with students who had IEPS, or are receiving intervention services. It can feel overwhelming for great teachers, who strive to meet the needs of every student, to understand all of the intricacies of working with students with special needs.
Special education teachers work closely with their general ed counterparts to ensure that students with special needs are receiving the right kind of education in the right environment. But like all teachers, special ed teachers are busy and don’t always have the time to be a constant resource for others. Luckily, the Internet provides a plethora of resources about special education classrooms, law, news, and technology. We’ve highlighted a few here.
The Resourceful Room: Amy Marshall has been blogging about her classroom since 2011. Her site has an amazing number of lesson ideas and resources. She posts picture collages of her students working on lessons and of final products.
Special Education Advisor: A mother of a child with special needs started this blog in 2010 with the intention of creating a community of parents, educators, and special education service providers. The blog features articles on a wide-range of topics from teaching self-calming skills to navigating the IEP process.
Teaching Students with Learning Difficulties: This blog has been around since 2008 to support teachers and staff working with children with special needs aged sixteen and higher. Blog posts cover everything from app reviews, printable worksheets, and how to use software with step-by-step screen shots.
Special 2 Me: A special education resource specialist teacher in Los Angeles writes this blog on everything from how to get through the district review of your special education program to what to do about parents who are very chatty during an IEP meeting. She explains lessons and shares resources she uses with her students.
Paula Kluth: This website includes a helpful “Tip of the Day” section for teachers of students with special needs. The blog itself contains videos with lesson ideas and suggestions for teachers. It’s easy to search by topics, too. Check out the ideas in the “Differentiated Instruction” category for resources on visual rubrics and textbook boxes.
Assistive Technology: If you’re seeking great information about and thorough reviews of assistive technology in the classroom, look no further. This blog covers things like tablets, projectors, microscopes and all kinds of other devices that could be uses for your special education classroom.
Free Resources from the Net for Every Learner: This blog links to and reviews free downloadable software and apps that create inclusive classrooms with universal access. Everything from handwriting calculators to presentation software is discussed and reviewed.
The Assistive Technology Blog: This blog from the Virginia Department of Education’ Training and Technical Assistance Center covers all kinds of news about assistive technology. The site is laid out so you can easily search by categories like “AT for Math” and “AT for Young Children.”
The following blogs focus on specific disabilities and other issues in the special education field.
2e Twice Exceptional: This blog is a bimonthly newsletter that focuses on news and strategies for working with children with ASD, dyslexia and dysgraphia, and ADD/ADHD. Each post has several shorter articles linked about specific items in the news about special education.
Bilingual SpecialEd: This blog focuses on resources for students with disabilities who are also English leaners. There are several great lesson and strategy ideas for teachers to engage English learners with special needs in inclusive classrooms.
The Shut-Down Learner: This blog, by Dr. Richard Selznick, offers practical advice and strategies to teachers working with students with special needs, especially those student who are angry, have emotional issues, or are shutting down out of frustration.
ADDitude: This collection of blogs is a goldmine of information. There are several blogs written by adults with ADD, parents of children with ADHD, and ADD experts. If you want to get into the mind of someone with ADD, check out Confession of an ADDiva, where Linda Roggli writes about her experiences in creative and humorous ways.
Dyslexia My Life: This blog is a fantastic resource for all things Dyslexia. There are descriptions of the IEP process, reviews of specialized reading programs, and tips for helping students with dyslexia learn to love reading.
On Special Education: Education Week runs this blog on all things special education. It covers local, state, and national news regarding special education trends, reports, and laws.
Disability Scoop: This news site covers state and national news regarding developmental disabilities. This is the site to check out for information about how the government funds special education programs and how the Senate has decided to handle standardized testing for students with special needs.
A2Z Educational Advocates: A group of special education attorneys and advocates maintain this useful blog. Their experience comes from representing parents in the Los Angeles and Southern California area and helping families get special education services for their children.
Special Education Law Blog: Jim Gerl runs this blog on special education law. He consults with educational intuition to help them maintain compliance. He also works as a due process officer and as a mediator. The blog recently began a Weekly Question section, allowing readers to write in with their special education related questions.
Special Education Law Blog: An Illinois attorney who is also the parent of a child with special needs runs this blog. His posts cover information about legal cases, advocacy, and practical advice.
Many special education bloggers review apps that are great for use in the classroom with students who receive special education services. We’ve covered some of these apps before, but wanted to update our readers on some of the latest and greatest advancements in the world of technology for students with special needs.
AbaPlanet by Planeta Imaginario is an app design for students with Autism Spectrum Disorder to practice receptive language skills. The app was designed using Applied Behavior Analysis methods. Early activities include selecting objects based on what the user hears. More advanced lessons require the user to match pictures and words.
Talk for Me is an app written by speech pathologists and therapists for use with people who have language delays. The app uses pictures and phrases to help the user communicate with others. Customizable categories and language can be added to the app. Talk for Me also includes a voice recording features, great for teachers and parents to record special words or sayings for the child to hear and practice.
Clicker Docs is an adaptive word processing that is especially useful for students with dyslexia and dysgraphia. The app provides word banks on many topics that are available as the student is writing. The program will read back the students’ work to them in a clear voice, to help them revise and edit their work in a more independent way.
Providing students with the best education possible is what all teachers aim to do. With the help of great teachers willing to share their experiences online, you can learn more about how to work with students with special needs. You’ll be amazed at the great depth of special education resources out there.