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Something that I want you to know about me or something about me that is interesting:
  • I am an only child, born and raised in a small town on the Oregon coast. I grew up on an island, and all through middle and high school took a boat across the river to get to school. I grew up riding horses being outdoors and feel that all of this has really impacted the way I am today.
Explanation of my education & career goals:
  • I would like to enter the licensure track and graduate next year, receive my teaching license and then take some time off. During that time I would like to spend some time working and deciding what I really want to do with my life, as well as traveling before I have too much holding me down. I simply want to gain life experience. After I have had my fair share of life, I plan to go back to my school and get my M.ed. in something specialized, so that when I am done with school I will be highly qualified for some position that I hope I will enjoy.
What brings me joy?
  • Life brings me joy. I also enjoy many more specific things, such as: my family, friends, the outdoors, spending time with both people and alone, children, animals, learning, exercising, doing art, hiking, riding my horse, playing volleyball, reading, cooking or doing yoga.
What is my greatest fear about being a teacher?
  • I fear that inevitable moment when I have no idea what to do, regardless of the situation. There is no way I will be prepared for every moment in my teaching career, and I worry that at some moment I won't know what to do, or I will screw up completely.
Have I ever experienced a time when something was extremely difficult to learn?
  • From about 6th grade through high school I really struggled with math. I was in the talented and gifted program until 7th grade, and with this was automatically placed in advanced math. In advanced math, our teacher would hand us worksheets and explain it very quickly, assuming that we would pick it up and be able to do it on our own; this was true for most, but not for me. I also feel that the way many people, especially those who understand math easily, explain math concepts was not matched well for the way my mind works. Now that I have taken the elementary math series, I have discovered ways that simple concepts can be explained that I understand much better than the "standard" way. I missed the basics of algebra and geometry, was left behind, and no one ever knew that I was so far behind. I tried my hardest, but this lack of basic skills has haunted me ever since. In high school I fell behind, having to retake algebra, geometry and algebra II simply to pass them. I have always dreaded math, because sometimes it is very embarrassing even now, but in middle school and high school I was terrified of it. I often acted out in class simply to distract from my lack of ability which in other subjects is very unlike me. Sometimes I would refuse to do it, just so I didn't have to show how little I actually knew. This only intensified the problem, leaving me more embarrassed.
How might this piece of my history help me connect to students with learning differences?
  • Students can have problems just like I did in any subject, or more than one subjects. I know how it feels to struggle, and I also have a good idea of what teachers could have done along the way to help me or make my situation less stressful for me. It is important to offer alternative explanations to problems or concepts that I may understand one way, or find simple because not everyone thinks in the same way, and also not every student will speak up if they don't understand. Another thing that I am now well aware of is that not all students act out simply because they are "bad kids," they may be attempting to draw attention away from their struggles, or to keep attention on another less personal aspect of themselves.
What do I want to gain from this course?
  • I have already taken "The Exceptional Child" which I'm afraid may have covered very similar information that this class will, but I also may be able to deepen my of many exceptionalities, as well as discover ways to work with these differences within my classroom. I hope our main focus is working with inclusion within our own classrooms because that is something that at this point I don't feel nearly prepared enough for. I am excited to learn more about every aspect of inclusion, and I feel that there is a lot to learn, most of which will prove to be very helpful and useful in the very near future.



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I find this quote very appropriate when relating to the subject of assessment strategies for students with disabilities. These students are each unique in their own way, so why would one standardized test judge the abilities of every student accurately? It won’t. That is why many organizations have done research and development on developing assessment strategies that are both acceptable, and work for students with a wide deal of differences. I find assessment strategies extremely interesting and also very important, so that is why I chose this topic. It is a relatively hot topic right now, and I wanted to find out more. I have learned a lot, and I hope to share the highlights with you. Many things I learned with be extremely applicable in my own classroom one day. The articles below both cover ideas for assessing students in different ways to allow them to accurately test their knowledge when taking standardized state and national tests, as well as assessing students in the classroom to help them meet their IEP goals, and ways for general educators reach students more accurately when trying to gauge yearly progress.

Top 5 things I learned:

1. I learned a lot about performance based learning activities, and how they can emphasize 21st century knowledge as well as focusing on the process rather than simply the end result. This can be very helpful when educating all students, because students should actually be able to explain a greater understanding rather than simply regurgitating information into a test. This can counteract heavily weighted tests, or test anxiety, and provide greater information about the students understanding of a topic.

2. I learned about the different types of assessment accommodations, which are:
  • "Presentation Accommodations—Allow students to access information in ways that do not require them to visually read standard print. These alternate modes of access are auditory, multi-sensory, tactile, and visual.
  • Response Accommodations—Allow students to complete activities, assignments, and assessments in different ways or to solve or organize problems using some type of assistive device or organizer.
  • Setting Accommodations—Change the location in which a test or assignment is given or the conditions of the assessment setting.
  • Timing and Scheduling Accommodations—Increase the allowable length of time to complete an assessment or assignment and perhaps change the way the time is organized."

3. There are 5 different levels of accomodations for formal assessments, and they are:
  • Participation in a general grade-level assessment.
  • Participation in a general grade-level assessment with accommodations.
  • Participation in an alternate assessment based on grade-level academic achievement standards.
  • Participation in an alternate assessment based on modified academic achievement standards.
  • Participation in an alternate assessment based on alternate academic achievement standards.


4. Curriculum-based measurement, or CBM is an assessment method that is helpful when planning for an IEP, documenting it, and evaluating that student. This assessment method can also help to make an IEP more educationally meaningful, as it will help to align those goals in the IEP with the curriculum, thus the student can be assessed for both generally at the same time.


5. Authentic assessment can be:
  • Portfolio
  • Work sample
  • Reflection
  • Performances
  • Open ended questions
  • Hands-on tasks
  • Teacher observations

Top Resource, Rating: 5/5

This resource is very informational, teaching through a fun video with dialog between a host and an expert on the topic. Authentic assessment is outlined, justified, and discussed. It lists "21st century skills" and the reasons that students need to know these things beyond core subjects.

Resource #1, Rating: 4.5/5
http://www.cehd.umn.edu/NCEO/TopicAreas/AlternateAssessments/altAssessTopic.htm
This article lists three more formal assessment strategies, which are alternate assessments used to evaluate the performance of students who are unable to participate in general state assessments even with accommodations. These three alternate assessments provide mechanisms for students with the most severe cognitive disabilities, and also for other students with disabilities who may need alternate ways to access assessments. There is also a FAQ section that is very helpful in educating about alternative assessments, from why they are used to their history. There is also an area that links to state policies as far as using these alternate assessments, although Oregon does not have an active link.

Resource #2, Rating 4/5
http://www.naacpartners.org/default.aspx
The National Alternative Assessment Center website provides numerous resources, from the link at the top of the page, to books and educational articles aimed either toward parents or educators. There is also a link to three different tools for alternative assessment. These tools may be used to improve classroom learning as well as improvement on the accuracy of standardized testing for students with disabilities. Lastly, there are links to both publications and research notes that this organization has conducted and written. On their home page, they state “NAAC is a five-year project funded under the United States Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP). NAAC has four primary objectives: to bring together and build on high quality, technically sound alternate assessments; to demonstrate high quality design through our selected partner states; to administer all types of alternate assessments; and finally, to provide technical assistances through high quality dissemination practices.”

Resource #3, Rating 4/5
http://www.osepideasthatwork.org/parentkit/monstudprog.asp
This article is intended for parents, but is very helpful. It gives information about Curriculum-Based Measurement (CBM), most specifically for reading and math, although it can be used for a variety of subjects. Briefly, it works like this: “The content of the CBM tests may be drawn from a specific curriculum or may represent generalized outcomes for a student at that grade level. In either case, CBM test content represents important, global outcomes for the year and not just an individual objective or series of objectives representing current instructional lessons. Teachers give short, alternate assessments of these important, grade-level skills once or twice each week across the year and plot student scores on a graph. Thus, teachers are able to use CBM in a formative way to gauge student progress over time.” It also can be used to develop goals, benchmarks or short-term objectives for student’s IEPs.

Resource #4, Rating 5/5
http://nichcy.org/schoolage/iep/iepcontents/assessment
This article gives an approach that is more geared toward general educators working with students on an IEP, and the different accommodations that either can be or need to be made during assessment. The article also discusses reasons for providing alternative assessments, and the process in which the IEP team needs to go through in order for the student to receive these accommodations. Accommodations in the classroom and those in assessment situations tend to fall into several types of changes—timing, scheduling, setting, presentation, response. These are discussed, and examples of what this means are also given. There are also many other resources linked throughout this article that could prove very useful in finding extra information about this topic.

Resource #5, Rating 4/5

This video isn't directly related to special education, although it brings up many aspects of assessment that will help all students, including those with special needs. The emphasis is assessment FOR learning, to help students build on their strengths, and no matter their struggles, this video states that all students should be and feel successful.

Resource #6, Rating 4.5/5
http://www.teachervision.fen.com/teaching-methods/educational-testing/4134.html?detoured=1
This resource is very helpful for general education teachers to understand those who have difficulties with assessments, and to better help those students in the process. There are 12 guidelines to providing accommodations for students during assessment.
http://www.teachervision.fen.com/teaching-methods/educational-testing/4170.html?detoured=1
From the same website, this direct link gives definitions to the different types of assessments that a teacher might offer to a student who needs accommodations. The articles concerning each accommodation include a description, procedure, and a list of potential problems.

Resource #7, Rating 4/5

This article addresses issues affecting students with disabilities with standards based assessment and accountability systems. There are 5 strategies listed in the abstract that are greater expanded upon in the 23 page article.

Resource #8, Rating 4/5

This video shows a few assessment strategies being put to use on a students who is struggling with phonemic awareness. His classroom teacher recommends he goes to a special testing center, where they work with him to decode where his struggles are coming from.