A Teacher’s Perspective on Personalization

By Sarah Caroline Bell

When I accepted a part-time position teaching students English as a foreign language, I was thrust into the world of education, and all that comes with it. However, it wasn’t until relocating to Incheon, South Korea in 2011, that I encountered learners with disabilities.  Unlike my earlier teaching experiences, where learners were allocated to level-based classes after taking a standardized test, all learners were lumped into one class with a single, fixed curriculum based solely on their age.

I immediately noticed that children whose pace didn’t match the standard were, essentially, left to flounder. To counteract this trend, I dedicated countless hours and my own resources to planning additional learning opportunities for struggling students to complete alongside their peers (while they worked on a higher-level task); as 1:1 lessons in my own time, or as additional homework tasks set at the learners’ true level.

The problem is not just about learners with special needs “lagging behind their peers”. Oftentimes, these students possess abilities that exceed other children their own age, with some able to learn content years ahead. Their difficulties manifest themselves in the classroom as disruption. Every class has a few learners like this, requiring extra preparation at the learners’ advanced level, in order to prevent exceptionally fast students from finishing work early and disrupting other students.

Needless to say, teaching was exhausting. In 2015, I considered giving up teaching children and young adults, and instead focusing on adult education and professional coaching in a 1:1 environment. I considered this because it felt more effective to tailor plans for individuals, then juggle multiple needs in a group setting. The problem with teaching is the sheer amount of time educators spend planning lessons, when that time and energy could be better expended on meaningful educational engagement; this is an experience many current and former teachers identify with.

Upon discovering ONEder, I was filled with renewed positivity, even considering specializing as an educator to children with special learning needs. I am sure many passionate educators, exhausted from the struggle of managing learners, would indeed benefit from a learned-centered, monitorable, technology-based program. Providing an outstanding opportunity for all learners to reach their full potential, regardless of the “classification of their needs”, ONEder is paving the way in modern educational design, and I applaud it for taking the initiative.

Sarah Caroline Bell is a writer and teacher based in Seoul. Sarah is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post, amongst other publications.

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Important Contributions to Special Education: Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)

By Jason Gross

Even for the most supportive parents, a child with autism presents a distinct challenge.  Though various special education and training programs have been developed over the past several decades to aide children with autism, one of the most well-known programs remains the A.B.A (Applied Behavioral Analysis) method developed by O. Ivar Lovaas. One way to think of ABA is as an individualized behavioral modification program, guided by positive reinforcements.

Development of ABA

Lovaas was born in Norway in 1927 and moved to the States to earn his bachelor’s degree in psychology at Iowa’s Luther College (1951) and his doctorate in psychology at the University of Washington (1958). Lovaas began developing the ABA method through psychology studies in the late 1950’s which relied on behavioral modification and one-on-one treatment for patients.  Though this included controversial methods like shock treatment to discourage adverse behavior and starting and stopping the treatment at intervals, Lovaas also developed his method to include positive reinforcement for desired behavior, rewarding subjects with a snack, a toy or book and tasks were broken down into a series of steps so that the patient would learn a desired skill through a regimented process.  As part of the program, socialization with other autistic children and a generalized school population is also gradually integrated as part of the program to help the child progress and mature.

Impact on Special Education

Through decades of research and studies, the ABA method has become one of the premier methods used to work with autistic children, with the emphasis on beginning the program at an early (pre-school) age. While some studies have shown remarkable results with using the ABA method, there have been lingering questions about the conclusiveness of some of the studies that tout the method, insisting that a wider range of subjects is needed.

Personalization

One of the most important part of the ABA method is that it is personalized for each individual students based on their needs and abilities.  ABA is specifically tailored to each client, so it  can cover any activity, skill, or behavior that exists. The goals change and evolve as the skills are mastered.

ONEder advisory board member Melanie Johnston, M.A was a student of Dr. Lovaas in the 1980s, providing ABA Therapy.  In addition to being an IBCCES Certified Autism Specialist, she has spent the past three decades working as an Autism/Behavior Specialists in public and private school settings.  Currently, she serves as Executive Director of BRITE Success, which supplies specialized training services and programs for teachers and families to help children with disabilities.

Jason writes for the Village Voice and Time Out, among other publications.

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The Transition Process for Students with Autism in Career and Technical Education: Does It Happen?

By Penn State College of Education’s Jennifer Nicholas, Debra Herman,  and Marybeth Morrison.

Individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can have significant difficulties transitioning from secondary education to postsecondary training or suitable employment. Figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that prevalence rates continue to rise. Currently, 1 in 50 children between the ages of 6 and 17 has an ASD (Blumberg et al., 2013).  The authors found limited literature on employment and postsecondary attainment for this population. They also surveyed career and technical directors in a 30-county area within their state concerning individuals they served with an ASD in the past five years. Addressing the issues related to transition to employment and postsecondary training for this population is crucial for students, families, educators, service providers, and policy makers.

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Autism in Pop Culture

By Emma Eisenberg

When it comes to telling the stories of people on the autism spectrum, the portrayals in popular television shows and Hollywood films have long been downright bad. Often these characters show the most extreme symptoms or reinforce stereotypes of all neuro-atypical people as dysfunctional recluses or visionary savants, with rarely any possibilities in between. Or worse–characters on the spectrum are simply left out of mainstream media.

But these days, a sea change is underway. Three major television shows for children and teens–Sesame Street, the Power Rangers, and Thomas the Tank Engine–have all introduced characters with autism in 2017. And these characters are not your typical autism stereotype–the new characters are funny, interesting, and complex. In short, they show a broad range of realistic possibilities for people living with autism, and they do it with grace, humor, and powerful storytelling.

This past April, Julia, a four year-old girl with autism, joined Sesame Street as the newest muppet. She is shy and isn’t comfortable shaking hands, but instead of reacting to her as strange or defective, the show uses Julia’s behavior as a way to teach viewers about behavioral and neurological differences.

“Our goal was to try to help destigmatize autism and increase awareness, understanding and empathy,” Sherrie Westin, Sesame Workshop’s executive vice president of global social impact and philanthropy, told PBS.

Billy, the Blue Power Ranger, debuted in the newest Rangers movie this past April. Similar to Julia, he is a fully-realized character with his own story who also exhibits more moderate autism, by expressing anxiety and shouting instead of whispering.

Finally, this summer will bring us new blockbuster Thomas & Friends: Journey Beyond Sodor, which features a new engine named Theo. He has an “unusual experimental drive system that doesn’t always run very smoothly and he makes sudden jolts forward or back when his rods or cogs jam,” but he is also “genuinely kind and caring” as well as smart and a deep thinker.

These characters represent a real effort on the part of children’s media creators to offer fully-realized portrayals of what it’s like to live as a person on the autism spectrum. But a new movie for adults is taking this idea one step farther: instead of featuring a spectrum character as part of an ensemble cast, a new romantic comedy called “Keep the Change” is putting two neuro-atypical characters, both also played by actors who are also neuro-atypical, at the center. The film follows David and Sarah through the small moments of life–from online dating to shopping to making friends in a support group–and exposes the real challenges and joys of their experience. This is a marked difference from other films like “Rain Man” which tell the stories of autism-spectrum characters from the outside, by making a typically functioning character the hero, and the atypically functioning character an ancillary figure or plot device.

Taken together, this is in an exciting change to watch–and an important one to be a part of, as consumers and educators. Only when diverse stories are told with nuance and from the inside are we doing justice to this complex experience.

In addition to her work for ONEder, Emma writes essays for a variety of publications, including VICE, The New Republic, The Los Angeles Review of Books, Salon, and Slate.

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Student Homelessness and Special Education

How technology is closing the opportunity gap for homeless and high poverty special education students

Homelessness is a major problem, impacting the lives of children and young adults throughout the country. Some 1.4 million students – 2.7% of the nation’s total student population – are without stable homes. Of that population, many require special education support. A 2015 report prepared by the Child Trends Data Bank, found that “Children without homes are more than twice as likely… to repeat a school grade, be expelled… or drop out”.  According to the same report, 75% of homeless youths live with families other than their own; 6% percent are housed in temporary accommodation, and an astonishing 42,000 live on the streets, and other “Places not meant for human habitation”. These appalling figures can be attributed to a range of factors, including domestic violence, and a lack of affordable housing. For “unaccompanied” students living on the streets, mental illness, and substance abuse can also play significant roles. (more…)

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Impossible Means I’m Possible

By ONEder Intern, Nimisha Rana

At 19, I lost my eyesight. Before losing my sight, I would have found it impossible to imagine life with a disability. I had to adjust to countless, seemingly small things which had once been a routine part of day-to-day life: from dressing, to eating, to staying alert when surrounded by strangers. First and foremost, I needed to be conscious of safety, even at home. Avoiding bumping and dashing into both things and people required skill, proficiency, and patience.

Sensitivity on Both Sides

My blindness made me impatient. I also experienced feelings of anger and anxiety, due to a lack of control over my surroundings. Eventually, I came to accept that no magic wand existed that could change my circumstances. Family and friends wanted to help, but lacked the knowledge necessary for dealing with a blind person. When people at both ends are ignorant of each other’s needs and requirements, chaos ensues. I came to learn that disabilities of any kind require sensitivity on both sides.

Finding ways to adjust to my new life became a challenge, that I embraced. I felt like a baby eager to learn new things – I could learn some things on my own, but others needed to be taught. Once patience kicked in, acceptance of my situation was easier. When I say patience, I mean remaining calm, and understanding yourself from another’s perspective, as well as giving others a chance to understand you. I grew to a point where I no longer considered myself incapable.

Learning from Experience

Dedication, for me, is accepting yourself in every situation, and committing to whatever goal you set. When I accepted my blindness wholeheartedly, I started loving myself again. How many people get to live two different lives? I am glad that I have had the opportunity to experience both the sighted and non-sighted worlds, and can now see from both perspectives.

It took time for me to understand this new way of seeing life, but a commitment to jumping over a rock is necessary if you wish to reach the far side of the river. When it occurred to me that I needed to use a cane for the remainder of my life, I assumed my cane would become a barrier on the path to success. It is childish to try and anticipate the future before experiencing it. After my first year without sight, I re-evaluated my way of looking at life, and decided to take chances — chances that would push me towards independence. The biggest mistake made by people with disabilities is their choice to view themselves as a burden to others; they do not realize such thoughts only make them a burden to themselves.

Braille, and the Power of Education

When I learned Braille, I felt a door had opened, and the path forward had been cleared. The power of six dots was mind boggling. On my first day using Braille, I felt I would never be able to learn. However, my dedication to self-improvement would not let me quit. Amazingly, I found that I had learned Braille in as little as six weeks — contracted and uncontracted — which some can take a year to learn. This success inspired me to take on further challenges, like learning JAWS — Job Access With Speech — a computer screen reader program that enables blind and visually impaired individuals to operate computers. Once I had mastered JAWS, the sky was the limit!

The idea of admission into college was daunting, as the American system is so radically different from anything in my native India. I took a deep breath and took the plunge. Once in college, navigating campus was tough, but I preferred asking for help to getting lost, which some blind and visually impaired friends avoid doing. They feel asking signifies powerlessness. However, I believe that asking for help is a way to give others a chance to learn about my disability; a disability they may know nothing about.

Close your Eyes

As an experiment, close your eyes and walk through your house with a cane. Ah and … no bumping into barriers, or hitting yourself against the wall. While difficult, believe me, it is doable; it just takes patience and the will to succeed. The milestones I have attained are the result of strong resolution. However, my resolution isn’t unique; it is within everyone’s grasp! My journey also wouldn’t have been possible without the trust of others. I appreciate and thank all who played a major role in my achievements. Believe in your dreams!

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VIDEO: Promoting Leadership in Special Education

 

What you Need to Know


A Video Recap of ONEder’s Promoting Leadrship in Special Education Conference

On April 26th 2017 at the Robert Treat Hotel and Conference Center in Newark NJ, ONEder held it’s Inaugural Anuual Promoting Leadership in Special Education Conference featuring an interactive workshop exploring the standards and principals promoting principal leadership.
Where’s Dan Off to Next?
Our VP of Business Development is coming to a conference near you!

June 26-28
MELC (Midwest Educational Leadership Conference)
Brekenridge, Colorado

June 27-28

New Jersey Coalition for Inclusive Education (NJCIE 15th Annual Summer Inclusion Conference)
Montclair State University – Montclair, New Jersey

July 10-13

NYCASE (New York Council of Administrators of Special Education)
The Gideon Putnam – Saratoga Springs, New York

July 11-13

TCASE (Texas Council of Administrators of Special Education)
JW Marriot – Austin, Texas

July 24-28

The Project SEARCH 11th Annual conference
Kalahari Resorts and Conventions – Pocono Manor, Pennsylvania
To find out more, email dan@oneder.com

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ONEder is Hiring! Director of Content Curation

Position: Director of Content Curation

Company description

ONEder is a leading provider of SaaS solutions for special education teachers and administrators across the United States. Based in Newark, NJ, we partner with school districts and agencies that serve individuals with disabilities who use our platform to make data-driven decisions, monitor student progress, facilitate co-teaching, and deliver their general curriculum content with appropriate accommodations and supports based on each student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP). We are looking for a full time Director of Digital Content Curation to develop and maintain an academic and functional online lesson library for educators.

 

Job description

In this newly-created role, the Director of Content Curation will be responsible for the creation and ongoing curation of our academic and functional online lesson library for educators, playing a vital role in every aspect of content development. You will be responsible for working closely with all departments within ONEder to ensure the successful development and implementation of our content library.  

 

Responsibilities

Reporting to the VP of Operations, the Director of Content Curation will:

  • Develop a plan, budget, timeline, and process for developing our content library
  • Identify and initiate conversations with potential academic and functional content partners
  • Vet open source content for quality and accessibility
  • Build and manage a team of independent lesson writer contractors
  • Work under a tight deadline and creatively within budget
  • Collaboratively identify and meet clients needs with business development
  • Ensure co-branding messaging is on point with the marketing team
  • Work closely with operations to handle negotiations
  • Transform the online library vision into reality with the product team
  • Create measurable goals to monitor the on-going effectiveness of the content library
  • Ensure engagement and implementation of the content library with our educators
  • Continuous maintain the content library.

 

Qualifications

 The ideal candidate for the Director of Content Curation will have:

  • 5+ years of experience successfully managing large ed tech projects from start to finish
  • An interest in working for an educational technology in a startup environment
  • A positive attitude, be collaborative, and a flexible team player
  • Ability to take initiative and work independently
  • Understand principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL), differentiation, and best practices for students with disabilities
  • Experience teaching, especially students with disabilities, a plus
  • Experience using project management software and creating efficient, effective development processes
  • Knowledge of common accessibility and accommodation requirements for students with disabilities.

 

Salary and Benefits:

 

  • Salary commensurate with experience
  • Full medical and dental benefits, 401(k)
  • 15 days of paid vacation per year
  • 8 paid holidays plus 1 floating holiday per year, 6 paid sick days per year

 

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ONEder is Hiring!

Position: Front End Developer

 

Product Description

ONEder creates an educational platform geared towards the special education market, allowing educators to create content tailored to their students’ needs and access it on multiple mobile devices and browsers.

Job Description

We are looking for a talented Web Developer responsible for translating the UI/UX design wireframes to actual code that will produce the visual elements of the application. You will also design the overall architecture of the web application and evolve it to ensure maximum performance and stability.

Responsibilities

  • Design of the overall architecture of the web application
  • Building reusable code and libraries for future use
  • Optimization of the application for maximum speed and scalability
  • Translation of UI/UX wireframes to visual elements
  • Integration of the front-end and back-end aspects of the web application

Skills and Qualifications

  • At least 5 years’ experience developing web based UIs using HTML5, JavaScript and CSS.
  • Excellent proficiency in AngularJS 1.x, including advanced features – component authoring, dynamic component compilation and performance optimizations
  • Excellent design and architecture skills – SOLID principles, clean code, design patterns, refactoring techniques, unit and integration testing
  • Experience developing mobile applications using HTML5 and Apache Cordova
  • Good understanding of TypeScript, LESS/SASS, Gulp, npm and bundling/minification
  • Good knowledge of jQuery, Kendo UI, module loaders and other JS client libraries – An advantage

  Education

  • BsC in Computer Science

For more information or for consideration, please contact HR@ONEder.com.

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A ONEder-ful Day! ONEder’s “Promoting Leadership in Special Education” Conference

By: Jamie Lupia

Over the years, I’ve attended my share of conferences, seminars, talks, and workshops and have come to recognize some of the positive elements that make such events successful. ONEder’s first annual conference on promoting leadership for the success of students with disabilities was filled with many such positive elements and opportunities. It was indeed well worth attending. When I saw that the program featured high caliber speakers and presenters Alice Parker, Alexa Posny, Johnny Collett, and Kaylan Connally, I knew the event would be packed with useful information, helpful ideas, and would be well worth my time. I wasn’t disappointed.

The conference began with a warm welcome from Jon Izak, ONEder’s founder and president, who described how his own personal quest to help his brother planted the seeds of invention and innovation to assist others with disabilities. John’s welcoming address was followed by Issac Zablocki, the founder of ReelAbilities, an organization that, through its film festival, aims “to promote awareness and appreciation of the lives, stories and artistic expressions of people with different abilities.” Issac presented a screening of the film Dancing on Wheels featuring dancer Kitty Lunn. Just as amazing as the film was the personal appearance of Kitty who spoke and participated in a lively question and answer session. As a dancer, teacher, and advocate, Kitty fit the bill as a perfect keynote speaker. Her passion for her craft, along with her strong advocacy, served as a reminder of why the work ONEder is undertaking in education is of such importance.
Dr. Alice Parker and Dr. Alexa Posny presented a comprehensive introduction and review of the latest Professional Standards for Educational Leaders (PSEL 2015) adopted by the National Policy Board for Educational Administration.

Their many years of experience helped to provide critical insight into the latest standards while highlighting the effectiveness of strong, informed, and compassionate leadership with regard to those with disabilities. They also shared additional viewpoints in an insightful question and answer session. Johnny Collett and Kaylan Connally also participated and shared their wisdom with conference attendees. A brief workshop got everyone involved to discuss and share their thoughts on the current standards, with the information that flowed around the room helping us focus on some of the work and challenges that are ahead.

A final capstone to the conference was a reception that was structured to allow for direct and meaningful networking with all of those who attended. I was pleased to discover that the conversations I participated in were just as interesting and thought provoking as the presentations at the conference. I look forward to future engagement with the many helpful and knowledgeable contacts I made at the conference.

ONEder’s conference was indeed ONEder-ful in every way, and I left feeling inspired, informed, engaged and uplifted as I continue my own work as an educator, and advocate.

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