Welcome to my Media Center!

Here you'll find all things reading and all things tech-y! Hope you find something you can use!

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

To Mainstream or Not To Mainstream?

Here is a link to a Prezi I created to share with my faculty members on mainstreaming students with autism into the general education classroom.


These are some charts on the data I collected on my general education classroom teachers' attitudes toward mainstreaming students with autism into their general education classrooms.

In summary, I was NOT surprised with our teachers' attitudes, but it was interesting to see their feelings "in black and white."  Overall, I feel that our teachers are not prepared professionally to meet the needs of students with autism spectrum disorders (ASD.)  I do not think that this is their fault, I just feel we have been inadequately educated on the best ways to make accommodations (both academic and behavior) for these students.  How is your faculty educated/trained on issues such as this?  Do you feel prepared as a classroom teacher?

It was also interesting to see that all teachers who took the survey felt that general education students take on a mentoring role toward the child with autism.  While this says a lot about our general education students and their character, I can't help but feel like this is not their place to do this.  I say that as empathetically as possible.  I said in another post that in no way do I feel that students with special needs shouldn't have the opportunity to be in a classroom with their peers.  But, again, my concerns for the purpose of this project are to uncover (if any) negative effects of mainstreaming students with autism into the general education classroom for general education students.  What are your thoughts?  If you presented this same survey to your faculty, how do you think they would respond?  I would be interested to hear from school to school how opinions differ (or if they do differ!)  Let me know!  

Monday, 18 March 2013

Advancing on the Spectrum

Another book that I read while researching mainstreaming autistic students into the general education classroom is called Autism: Advancing on the Spectrum. This was a great book to gain LOTS of information on Autism...and it's a newer book, so there are current practices included--which is great for novice and experienced teachers.

Let me give you a little background on my research project in order for you to more fully understand the dimensions of the project. Initially, I wanted to gauge teachers' views on mainstreaming students with autism into their general education classroom. I knew how I felt about it, but I wanted to see how others teachers felt in regard to their general education students. With classroom sizes becoming bigger each year, it is difficult enough to keep all students engaged, meet each child's needs, and deal with any discipline issues that arise. Mainstream a student with autism into that classroom...WHEW!

Saying that, I want to say this. In no way am I implying that I am not sympathetic to the behaviors that come with autistic spectrum disorders. I am also definitely not saying that I don't believe ALL students should have the chance to be in a classroom with their peers. I am simply speaking as a general education teacher and as an advocate for those "average" students who (let's face it) sometimes get pushed aside to deal with students with special needs. We (and I am guilty as well) get so involved in making accommodations that we often forget about the "sea" of students waiting for our attention as well. THAT breaks my heart for those students. I'm not sure that we are heading in the right direction in regard to EVERY student involved.

We have tons of laws and regulations safeguarding the rights of students with special needs, but when are we going to stand up for all of those other students who want to learn? And who is going to do it? That was the basis for my research.

In my next post, I will share a Prezi presentation on information from this book that will help you understand more about the Autism Spectrum Disorders. I will also present some data that I collected from my faculty about their attitudes' toward mainstreaming students with autism into the general education classroom.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

The Birds and the Bees, Bullies and Other Things

This book was one of two I chose to read as a supplement to a project I am researching in graduate school.

This was a pretty good read.

If you haven't read this, and you have ever had a student in your classroom who was autistic, you should at least grab this book, and skim over it.

Here is a quick summary of the book provided by Amazon.com:
Jack Gunthridge is known for his books. What his fans don't know is that he grew up not realizing he had a high functioning form of autism known as Asperger's Syndrome.

This is a collection of his memories of trying to figure out members of the opposite sex while having a condition that made it harder for him to interact in social situations. Sometimes his awkwardness caused him to be the target of bullies.

He offers his opinion and advice on how he dealt with these issues. He's hoping it helps other teenagers going through similar situations. He also talks about how he came to terms with his own autism diagnosis.

While this book talks a lot about the author's experiences as an adult with members of the opposite sex, it does give some insight into how Asperger's has affected his life.  It was interesting to see things from "his eyes."  

I know, as a teacher, it is easy to get frustrated or irritated with students who are autistic because they think differently than an average child does--they have behaviors that we might consider abnormal, and they tend to not "fit in" as well with their peers.  I like this book for that reason...the author describes it as, "In a world where they are getting made fun of for being themselves, it makes it worse for them to have people be afraid of them..."  "They can already be isolated from the majority of their classmates for being different.  They want friends and to be accepted."  Instead of educate bullies like schools are doing, Gunthridge suggests that we "actually need to do something totally crazy and reach out to the people who are different and let them know that we accept them."

This was insightful to hear as a general education teacher.