Education comes in many forms, and right now ballerina Rossana Peñaloza is providing an education for rapt audiences in Mexico through a one-woman performance she gives in a wheelchair. Prior to her performance, she chose to use a wheelchair for six months. "And You, What?" -- the title of Peñaloza's one-woman show -- grew out of those frustrating days. Her "grito" -- a Spanish word that means emphatic cry -- has turned her into an accidental activist, a buzz-generating and provocative voice. All it took was a ballerina willing not to use her legs. She has earned a following among ...


The Florida teacher who asked her kindergarten students to vote a classmate with Asperger's Syndrome out of the classroom has been reassigned. According to a newspaper account, a police report filed after the incident explains that the decision to take a vote on 5-year-old Alex Barton was a part of a lesson that the children were learning on voting and tallying. The teacher, Wendy Portillo, also told police that the vote was to let Alex know how his behavior was affecting the class, and it was only intended to be for a day. "Portillo said she did this as she ...


My blog post about "books of the future" using principles of universal design for learning brought this comment from source Candace Cortiella, director of The Advocacy Institute, which I thought was worth bringing up: Hi Christina: UDL approaches also extend to large-scale assessment design. The National Center on Educational Outcomes has written a guide for states to help begin thinking about designing assessments (UDA) with all students in mind, just as UDL attempts to design curriculum accessible to the widest range of students right from the start. It would be most unfortunate for UDL to take hold without UDA coming ...


Some stories don't even need a comment: a Florida teacher faces legal action for allowing her students to vote a 5-year-old child with Asperger's Syndrome of out the classroom. After each classmate was allowed to say what they didn't like about Barton's 5-year-old son, Alex, his Morningside Elementary teacher Wendy Portillo said they were going to take a vote, Barton said. By a 14 to 2 margin, the students voted Alex -- who is in the process of being diagnosed with autism -- out of the class. Alex then spent the rest of the day in the nurse's office. The ...


Bipolar disorder among adults is little understood; among juveniles, it's even more of a question mark. Newsweek has a long but engrossing article about a Massachusetts family and their life with their 10-year-old son, Max, who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder as well as a host of other problems: attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder. In his short life, he has been on 38 different psychoactive drugs. Though the focus of the article is mostly on Max Blake's family life, his school life is mentioned as well. His behavior problems were so severe that he ...


I was just chatting with my colleague Debra Viadero about her web story about new tests for giftedness. These tests, if deemed valid, could yield a more diverse pool of gifted students. I'm proud to say that I sort of got the answer on the practice question included with the story -- see if you get it too!...


It's been a few years since I've written about special education in the District of Columbia, but every time I do so, I'm astounded at just how dysfunctional that system is. While parents in other school systems may be fighting over getting appropriate services for their child, in D.C., the fight often begins with the most basic need: getting a child properly assessed. Even with an assessment and a diagnosed need for special education, there's no guarantee a child will actually get the services called for in an individualized education program. And if the services aren't provided for, there's ...


Late last year I wrote an article on "universal design for learning," an educational philosophy that promotes using technology to supplement teaching materials and make them accessible to all types of students. UDL had found support among several disability advocacy organizations, who wanted the concept included in the reauthorization of the federal No Child Left Behind law. Ricki Sabia, an advocate with the National Down Syndrome Society, just sent me a link that shows an example of universally designed texts created by the Center for Applied Special Technology in Wakefield, Mass., which has spearheaded the UDL movement. This is really ...


I can't be the only Generation X-er thrilled to hear about the return of The Electric Company, right? I was primarily a Sesame Street gal, but I remember many a leisurely afternoon hanging out with Rita Moreno and Morgan "Easy Reader" Freeman. I honestly didn't know at the time that these shows were intended to help me learn to read; I just thought it was fun with letters and numbers. But this incarnation of The Electric Company, just like the groovy 1970s version, is intended in part to help kids get past the "fourth grade slump." The producers said that ...


I was hoping that Implementation Study of Smaller Learning Communities: Final Report (pdf) released Monday by the U.S. Department of Education might have some tidbits about how these school structures have affected students with disabilities. The federal government provided funding to districts so that they could start these programs. And, if the idea is to break large, impersonal schools down into nurturing structures that cater to individual students' needs, students in special education would seem to be an ideal audience. But, no luck. The only information about students with disabilities contained in the report, which examined 119 small schools ...


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