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I have worked with students with special needs for 17 plus years. I specialize in designing lessons that focus on developmental sequences, which involves an integration of cognitive skills and visual perceptual development. I have worked with a wide range of students and have taught all subject areas in my teaching career as a special education teacher. I enjoy new challenges and find working with students that have special needs an encounter which involves creativity, fun and serious thinking.
I have a Master's degree in Special Education, and more than 10 years of experience teaching students with ADHD.
With a Master's degree in Special Education, I have specialized in the teaching of reading. I believe that in the teaching of phonics, the learning of basic phonological units is accomplished through a development of visual memory and pattern recognition and mastered through the recognition of sound patterns in rhymes, songs, chart stories, children's literature and other varied reading experiences. This also applies to blending and using words with a complex word structure (multi-syllabic and morphemes), in a wide variety of contexts. In mastering reading comprehension, we learn to identify the main elements of story, talk about the story problems and how they get resolved, and draw conclusions. Predicting outcomes, talking about cause and effect relationships, and writing our own stories is part of the fun. Learning to use story maps, graphic organizers, develop conceptual hierarchies, and use meta-cognitive strategies can be applied to literature and content areas. It is a fun and creative way to learn visually. Artistic skills may be used in activities like making a story board or writing a story and having a puppet show. Reading and writing is an experience that is part of our lifelong learning. I enjoy making that experience a meaningful and pleasant process that contributes to developing each individuals personal interests.
I have a Master's degree in special education has given me a firm foundation in teaching phonics. We begin with letter identification, sound-letter identification, and basic sight words. Then, on to discriminate consonants, vowels, and long and short sounds through games, activities, puzzles and rhymes. Rhyming patterns continue with 2,3 and 4 sound words as we learn and blend initial and final clusters, vowel teams, and read stories with lots of phonemic rhymes. Learning to spell can be fun writing phonemic sentences in poetry and short stories. Also, learning to spell using morphemic rules helps us to expand our vocabulary and increase grade level spelling gradually. An array of activities to increase visual and auditory memory, matching skills, pattern recognition and develop higher level visual perceptual skills helps to keep lessons interesting and motivating. Included in skill activities is written work, which involves generating and encoding text by applying all the new things we have learned.
Reading programs are generally designed using content area reading in both science and social studies. Reading selections are developmentally sequential with schema and conceptual hierarchies that build on previous lessons. Reading strategies include identifying the main idea, recognizing details, cause and effect relationships, and drawing conclusions. Summarizing skills are developed through using visual memory to recall sequential material, and key concepts. This is implemented by exercises that focus on decoding and encoding that are developed at the same time.
Lessons also involve reading fictional material which is then used as model formats for writing activities. Reading fiction activities include character development, story sequencing, recognizing the story problem and solution, and recognizing different types of fiction.
Decoding focuses on basic phonics skills in terms of recognizing a developmental sequence of phonics patterns in a combination of vocabulary words, and patterned words which are single or multi-syllabic. A wide variety of high interest materials are used, and lessons are designed based on the skill level achieved during each individualized session.
I have 17 years of experience teaching students with special needs, and have an MSEd. I love to teach reading, because I find reading to be one of the most enriching experiences we can have. I am very interested in designing lessons using a wide variety of materials that are interesting, fun and motivating. I think it is important to feel challenged by working at skills that always keep us knowledgeable and help us find meaning in all the things that we do. Whether we are learning shapes, patterns, sight words, phonics, or reading stories, writing stories or learning new concepts in math, we all want to be good at what we do. I enjoy finding new ways to learn things because I believe everyone is unique in the way they learn. We learn best when we are learning about things that are especially interesting to us. This can mean songs, poems, stories, puzzles, games, projects, artwork or a good book.
I have spent many years looking at all of the things that we learn in school. I feel that when things are presented with visual pictures, in a format that we can recognize in many different ways and shapes, with a wide variety of patterns, we learn in a way that is natural to our development and growth. I feel that communication between teacher and student is very important, because when the student can tell us what he or she needs in order to make learning easier and more meaningful, teachers can understand how best to design lessons and ensure that the student feels comfortable with new skills. We live in a world where new knowledge is exciting, and something we can all share in is the pleasure of a new book, a new activity, a new way of looking at things or understanding something more clearly. I feel the teacher-student relationship to be one of a team, where everybody wins.
Having an MSEd in Special Education has enabled me to design curriculum to help students learn a variety of study skill techniques. In learning study skills, we improve our reading skills in content areas, and organize the material into manageable chunks so that we can remember and apply concepts. Tools like graphic organizers, note taking formats, and schematic diagramming are used to develop conceptual hierarchies, vocabulary, key concepts, important details, cause and effect relationships and summarizing skills. General question and answer formats are learned along with these meta-cognitive strategies. Memorization techniques are learned through taking these organized chunks of information and developing the ability to reorganize it in a sequential order. Higher level skills of analysis and synthesis can be learned while developing new schema and integrating newly related concepts as more content material is added.
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