Volume:5, Issue: 4

Dec. 15, 2013

In This Issue
A Letter to the Readers
Tsyrlina-Spady, Tatyana [about]
Dear friends, colleagues, faithful readers, and new visitors to our website: As always, it is such a pleasure to greet you and introduce a new journal issue. This time it came as a surprise even for us that the topic is again special education and support of people with developmental disabilities. But after co-organizing and co-leading a very successful Russian-American International Seminar of collaboration and best practices of support for people with developmental disabilities in Upstate New York (September of 2013), we felt that this information and experience were meant to become part of this journal. More details on the project you can find on the website of the organization “International Academic Initiatives” (www.interai.org).
Pavel Petrovich Blonsky: an outstanding educator and child psychologist
Boguslavsky, Mikhail V. [about]
Among significant Russian educators, Pavel Petrovich Blonsky (1884-1941) certainly stands out as a person of such remarkable qualities as profound scholarship, broad erudition, deep knowledge of philosophy, psychology, physiology and pedagogics. At the same time Blonsky was full of maximalism, arrogance, and deep belief in his own significance, as well as of impatience and intolerance. As an educator, Pavel Blonsky was sure that anyone would preserve the type of a personality he/she acquired in the early childhood. This can be fully applied to his own development. Blonsky was born on May 14, 1884, in Kiev, in an impoverished noble family with diverse ethnical roots. One of his grandfathers was Spanish, the other – Polish, one of the grandmothers was Russian, the other – Ukrainian. In fact, Pavel Petrovich liked such a mixture. The educator’s father, Sigismund (by some unknown reason preferring to be called Peter) was a quiet and modest employee, who was teaching his son the ideals of honor and moral dignity. He would always repeat, “Hold your banner high!” Later on this phrase had become Blonsky’s life motto and his essential moral principle. Looking back at Pavel’s childhood and adolescence spent in a quiet Ivanovskaya Street, covered with poplar seed tufts, one would realize that it was Blonsky’s destiny to experience hardships and to develop into an extremely strong and equally controversial personality.
Prioritizing the formation of a comfortable psychological climate and a space for an efficient social education
Lizinsky, Vladimir M. [about]
More and more often we hear about the cases of adults’ aggressive behavior towards children and children towards one another. Though it is self-evident that the comfortable psychological climate of the educational institution is always one of the critical factors to achieve success in instruction and education, as well as the proper level of relationships. Below we enumerate a number of criteria which, in our understanding, could characterize a positive psychological climate in any educational institution: • Positive emotional relationships • A high level of school community coherence • A feeling of pride because of the work in this particular school with this particular fellow colleagues • A high level of satisfaction with one’s own work results • An overall high level of satisfaction at school
Response to Intervention in the United States
Wong, Katrina [about], Pierson, Melinda R. [about]
Response to Intervention (RTI) is the implementation of research-based curriculum that assists in the identification process of determining whether a student may possess a learning disability. Though primarily a general education function, RTI traditionally can be divided into 3 tiers. Each tier increases the intensity and intervention required for specific student needs. The first tier, hereafter referred to as Tier 1, is comprised of approximately 80% of students, and is typically located in the general education core class. Tier 1 is fueled by consistent, ongoing progress monitoring and instruction that is delivered by highly qualified teachers, as established by No Child Left Behind. Tier 1 is a critical piece of RTI since it is the initial screening of all students. It is purposeful in identifying students who are non-responsive and may require a more intensive intervention. This tier is a critical level of RTI because it aggressively identifies possible reading deficits before they come into fruition later in the school year. If deemed necessary, the student takes part in the second tier, or Tier 2, which is a moderate level of intervention. These students may be classified as struggling readers and consist of approximately 15% of students. Dependent upon the amount of responsiveness a student has toward the intervention will prompt a special education referral or he/she will make progress towards “closing the gap,” essentially reverting back to Tier 1. Ideally, the majority of students who require Tier 2 will readily respond to the curriculum and move back towards Tier 1, which is an underlying goal of the RTI model. However, students who are non-responsive to the Tier 2 intervention will prompt a special education evaluation to assess for a specific learning disability. If the student qualifies for special education services, then the third, most intensive intervention commences. This third tier, also referred to as Tier 3, typically implements a remedial curriculum required by approximately 5% of the students.
Early Childhood Disorders’ ‘Correction’ as the Main Goal of the Child’s Socialization and Family Support
Zubareva, Tatyana G. [about]
Currently, ‘a correction’ of early childhood disorders is considered to be one of the priority areas for medical doctors and educators all over the world. The importance and necessity of this type of work in Russia is determined by two main factors. The first is a decline in the healthy children’s birth rate which simultaneously increases a number of children with developmental disabilities and consequently, a number of the so-called social orphans (these are the children whose parents are still alive but do not want to take care of their sons or daughters. – Editor’s explanation). The second one is an increase in expenses on special preschool and school education. Russia today is facing an urgent need to create a system of early childhood diagnostics and correction. The importance of this need and necessity is well understood by the specialists from Departments of Education, Public Health Care, Family and Demographics Policy who and are prepared to work in this direction and to actively cooperate with one another in an interdisciplinary mode. Attention and interest in diagnostics and correction of special needs (whenever possible) in early childhood is also stimulated by a gloomy situation with demographics in Russia on the whole and in Kursk region in particular. We are talking about a considerable decrease of healthy children’s birth rate and also a progressive decrease of fully mature children’s birth rate, together with an increase of complications during childbirth and developmental disabilities of a congenital or prenatal nature.
Computer Games Development for STEM Instruction with Special Needs Students
Koptelov, Andrey [about], Edgington, William D. [about], Hynes, James W. [about], Edmonson, Stacey [about]
Today, more than ever before, students’ interests begin with technology and its use. Whereas previously, students’ interests typically lay with outdoor activities, at the present time their preference is to play games in front of a computer, perhaps involving other students but oftentimes not. According to literature from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (2013), the total consumer spending on video games in 2012 was $20.77 billion. It can be safely assumed that school-aged children accounted for much of this outlay. (Compared to spending $10.8 billion on movies and $16.5 on music purchases). Such is the affinity students have for computers and gaming that, “Young people consume almost 11 hours’ worth of media per day crammed into seven-and-half hours per day because of multitasking and yet students on average spend less than an hour per day on homework” (Video Game Industry Statistics, 2013). Yet, questions arise as to the efficacy of converting this natural interest on the part of students into conversion into a classroom STEM learning experience. Research indicates that the use of computer games may be an effective bridge for learning. A review of literature involving over 300 articles by Young, Slota, Cutter, Jalette, Mullin, Lai, Simeoni, . . . and Yukhymenko (2012) revealed that supporting evidence was found for the positive impact video games had in the learning of history, physical education, and language. Other research indicates the effectiveness of video computer games on learning and motivation of the student, learning and motivation of the teacher, student skills in problem solving, and as an effective learning tool. Clearly, research suggests the power of video games to attract and hold the interest and attention of the student and teacher. Not only does research suggest the potency of video computer games as an instructional tool for regular education classrooms, but for use as a stepping stone for instruction with special needs students as well.
Specific nature of arranging educational services for children with severe and multiple developmental disabilities (from practical experience)
Kitsul, Natalya S. [about], Komissarova, Anna A. [about]
The quality of an individual life depends on many factors. Among them are basic (physiological) needs, necessary for a human body to function, and social (psychological, higher) ones inherent in any individual and characterizing a human being as a personality. The degree to which such needs are satisfied may influence various individual aspects and define the quality of a person’s life. The former, or physical survival needs, are assessed by ‘calculation’ and may be satisfied if there is a certain available budget comparable to the so-called “consumer goods basket.” The government employs a great number of ways to provide for people’s physical survival including, for example, attempts to balance between the minimum pay and the price of the consumer goods basket, or available social welfare support in the form of mandated paid sick leaves, students’ stipends, retirement payments, and financial support in case of various disabilities. Satisfaction of people’s physical needs beyond the survival level may in itself be considered a basic human prerequisite. The quality of life is largely influenced by various ads functioning as people’s motives. Human activities beyond physical survival are diverse, competitive in their nature, and depend on various external factors as well as individual abilities. At the same time, these activities also contribute to the technological progress and increasingly sophisticated environment.
Culture and Self-Determination for Students with Disabilities
Salmirs, Diane [about]
Self-determination is a key component of transition as it empowers students with disabilities to make their own choices and determine the course of their lives. Although self-determination appears to be a universal concept, its characteristics may vary between cultures. The purpose of this review was to document how self-determination is conceptualized in the United States, as well as the effect culture might have on special educators’ abilities to aid student self-determination. Recurring themes evident in the literature are: self-determination is one of eight domains of the Quality of Life construct; differences in culturally and linguistically diverse populations may affect a student with disabilities’ ability to be self-determined; and cultural differences should be accounted for when designing transition plans for diverse students. As a result, special educators must become culturally aware and develop the necessary skills to support and facilitate the skills, abilities, and knowledge associated with self-determination.
Self-Directed Supports: a push to empower people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in upstate New York
Schneider, Alex [about]
For individuals experiencing intellectual and developmental disabilities, the ability to make choices can be reduced by the services and programs that are meant to provide support. This is especially worrisome because it is by making choices that we learn and help determine our life course. New York State has many traditional habilitative services including day habilitation, residential habilitation, and community habilitation. All of them are developed to be person-centered and have individual plans or services tailored to fit the needs of a particular person. Habilitation plans are meant to outline the support a person needs, the goals s/he wants to achieve, and how a staff member can support this person to accomplish the goals. However, even with individualized plans in place, traditional habilitative services often severely restrict choices and this happens due to many factors – the time when such services start, the place where support is provided, the staff person responsible for the support, and who else might be present while the support is provided. Moreover and perhaps of the greater concern, depending on the power dynamics between the staff person and the individual receiving support, many additional choices may be also limited including, what a person’s money is spent on, what s/he prefers to eat and what kind of radio/TV programs s/he favors, when s/he goes to the bathroom, and even what this person does at any given moment throughout the day. Putting myself in the shoes of a person receiving traditional habilitative services, I can only imagine that I would feel trapped, having little choice to make real and meaningful individual decisions throughout the day.
Positive Behavior Support Interventions for Students with Specific Learning Disabilities and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: A Review of the Literature
Howell, Erica [about], Fok, Ellisa [about]
Since the implementation of two major American educational laws: No Child Left Behind (NCLB, 2001) and The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA, 2004), regulations in school academics have increased significantly. These two educational laws have not only impacted instruction, but have placed higher accountability on teachers for their students’ educational performance and increased the emphasis on testing results. Furthermore, states encountering budget difficulties have increased class sizes, often leaving general educators feeling unprepared to handle the diverse educational needs of students with disabilities in their classrooms (Stormont, 2008). Two disabilities that general education teachers commonly encounter in their classrooms are Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). From 1980-2000, the prevalence of Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD) in the American public school system increased by 15% (National Center for Education Statistics, 2012) and three to five percent of public school children are labeled with ADHD (Stormont, 2008). Identifying successful behavioral interventions for SLD and ADHD may assist general educators in successfully managing disability related characteristics. Furthermore, teachers versed in effective positive behavior supports may feel more empowered in meeting the needs of diverse learners.
Meet us in Town: an urban Camphill place
Ford, Roy [about]
The goal of this short paper is to give a glimpse into what lies “behind” Camphill Hudson. Camphill Hudson served as one of the primary hosts for the Russian-American dialog around developmental disabilities in upstate New York this past September. Solaris, Camphill Hudson’s Center for the Social Art served as a hub of activities for the visit: a daily meeting place, conversations, presentations, and lots of food preparation and sharing. The final feast will be long remembered. This event reflects the picture of a place that invites dialog, social meeting, joy-filled collaboration, and dedicated hard work. All are hallmarks of Camphill since its inception. Camphill Hudson is an urban manifestation of the vision emanating from the community of socially conscious people gathering around the strong personality of Dr. Karl Konig whose personal biography and destiny encounters lead him to the Curative work. In 1927, Dr. Konig began work at the Clinical Therapeutic Institute in Arleseim, Switzerland, where he met his future wife and co-creator, Tilla Maasberg. He gave his first public anthroposophical lecture and witnessed an event that was to shape his future: an Advent Garden. This festival has children carrying a lighted candle, walking by themselves into a darkened spiral. They place their candle on the greenery of the spiral and find their way out. This is done in silence with very gentle music being played on a lyre or harp. The light shines ever brighter as each child adds his contribution. In this spiral were many severely disabled children...

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