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As 2014 comes to a close, CASE would like to wish its members, partners and other industry professionals a safe and happy holiday season. As we reflect on the past year for the industry, we would like to provide the readers of the CASE Weekly Update, a look at the most accessed articles from the year. Our regular publication will resume Monday, Jan. 5.


Inclusion Corner: The art of co-teaching
By: Savanna Flakes
From Dec. 8: Co-taught lessons should look substantively different and richer for students than what one teacher would do alone. Meaningful collaboration depends on a partnership in which each teacher brings his/her focus of expertise and utilizes his/her specialty to enhance instruction. By focusing on role specialty, the co-teaching partnership is enhanced and all students are supported and challenged. Teachers should explore, plan and utilize a variety of co-teaching models to differentiate instruction and increase student achievement.
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Holidays vs. standards: Which curriculum rules your school?
By: Thomas Van Soelen
From Nov. 3: I remember that in elementary schools 30 years ago, the year was chronologically marked by holidays. We started with a summer story, then a scarecrow or scary story, followed by a turkey story and ending the year with something about a snowman. The new year would offer a change of pace with nonfiction text, then it was back to narratives: Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day and Easter bunnies. But in the age of Common Core and far more rigorous standards, are we still allowing the hidden curriculum of holidays and seasons to run the show?
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Deconstructing the confusion surrounding the Common Core State Standards
By: Ryan Clark
From Aug. 18: Across the country, children, parents and teachers of applicable states are spending their summers dreading the return of the controversial Common Core State Standards Initiative. If recent poll results are any indication, the fervor of last spring's backlash against the standards hasn't died down.
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Collecting IEP goal data: Students, teachers working in partnership
By: Pamela Hill
From Dec. 1: At the conclusion of an initial or annual IEP review, after everyone has shared information about the student and developed the best IEP plan for the student's success, everyone breathes a sigh of relief. The "save" button on the computer IEP program is pressed, and voila! The educational goals become active. These active goals become the crux for the student's special education instruction. The data collection for the goals begins almost simultaneously, as the data collection is evidence for how well the student is progressing toward meeting the educational goals.
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Is regular exercise the best treatment for ADHD?
By: Denise A. Valenti
From Aug. 25: As summer winds to a close, the long days of playing, running, swimming and biking cease and are replaced by hours of sitting at a desk, eyes ahead. For some children this is problematic, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is common among children of school age. The causes of ADHD are not known, but studies looking into how genetics, environment, social surroundings, nutrition and brain injury contribute to the process. Another line of research is the relationship of physical activity to the symptoms of ADHD.
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Promoting positive parent-teacher communication
By: Brian Stack
From Sept. 15: Ask teachers what they wish they had more time to dedicate to in their job, and better communication with parents will almost always be at the top of their list. The reality is that teachers want parents to be informed. But once the school year gets going, parent communication often takes a back seat. Teachers quickly fall into the habit of calling home only when they have bad news to report, and that makes for an unhealthy relationship between parents and teachers.
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How bullying may physically alter our developing brains
By: Dorothy L. Tengler
From Nov. 24: It's no mystery that the brain develops before birth and continues throughout adulthood. But we may not have considered that brain development is analogous to building a house: laying the foundation, framing the rooms and installing electrical wiring. Obviously, laying a solid foundation builds a strong brain structure, while a weak foundation creates a faulty structure. At birth, we are born with billions of neurons, the same number as adults. These specialized cells have to be connected or "wired" to form circuits to control different functions from basic to biological ones.
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Size matters: Smaller classes spark better learning
By: Archita Datta Majumdar
From June 16: The move to reduce class size and bring about higher-quality education is a not new one, but it has gained new momentum with a new study. Research by Australian educator David Zyngier shows that there can be significant difference in student performance with a smaller class size. Zyngier analyzed 112 peer-reviewed studies from 1979-2014 to prove how the size of the class can narrow the achievement gap. With smaller classes, teachers can be less occupied with maintaining discipline, and can instead focus on the individual growth of their students.
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Inclusion Corner: Begin with co-planning
By: Savanna Flakes
From Oct. 20: Co-teaching implemented with fidelity has a profound impact on a range of learners with and without disabilities from a variety of cultures. Co-teaching is often characterized as a "marriage" between a general education and a specialist. Formally defined, co-teaching is two or more educators sharing responsibility for teaching some or all of the students assigned to a classroom. According to Marilyn Friend and Lynne Cook, it involves the distribution of responsibility among people for planning, instruction and evaluation for a classroom of students.
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Is the resource room a waste of time?
By: Pamela Hill
From Sept. 29: Recently, I read a Facebook entry written by a parent of a student with learning disabilities. The parent said, "The resource room is a waste of time for my child." The comment took me aback. I began to wonder if my work with students was a waste of time. I thought about my resource room and the students I have served there. I questioned the curriculum and teaching methods I have chosen and used. I thought about the years that some students spent in the resource room, as well as the students who have been successful and left special education and my resource room. I decided that I agreed with the parent.
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School improvement requires more than just a plan
By: Thomas Van Soelen
From June 23: As educational leaders, we spend considerable time building plans for a variety of stakeholders. After that first, often arduous writing of the initial draft, many leaders struggle with how to revise the plan in meaningful, engaging ways. Chuck Bell, a second-year superintendent in Elbert County, Georgia, created his system's first-ever improvement plan then ran his summer leadership retreat and was stumped with what to do next. He chose to model a process that school leaders could immediately lift and use in their schools.
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Using rubrics to provide more accurate feedback
By: Brian Stack
From Sept. 29: Teachers, make this your year to make better use of rubrics and a rubric scale for your assignments and your courses. A rubric is a chart that lists the criteria and a variety of levels that describe proficiency for a particular assignment or task. When used correctly, rubrics can greatly improve the accuracy and consistency of a student's grade because they establish clear expectations for students on what they need to do to demonstrate mastery on an assignment or throughout a course.
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    Recess redress: The importance of play in education
    By: Suzanne Mason
    From Sept. 8: Ask any child what his or her favorite subject is in school, and most will say recess. Yet a recent Gallup poll conducted by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that up to 40 percent of U.S. school districts have reduced or eliminated recess to focus more on academics. Despite these changes, recess still remains an important part of a child's education. In fact, a new study by the University of Lethbridge in Canada showed that free play can help with the core essentials for development in the brain.
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    Collaborating with students: Invite them to the IEP process
    By: Pamela Hill
    From Oct. 27: In the typical special education scenario, the special education team sets the goals for the student receiving an Individual Education Plan. However, at the age of 14 the student reaches the age of transition and begins to collaborate with the special education team to plan goals for his future. The law intends that students can be involved with any transition decisions before age 14, which may include discussion of student goals and accommodations needed to be successful in school. But it is rare that a student attend his own IEP meeting before age 14.
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    Leveraging technology to determine school vision
    By: Thomas Van Soelen
    From Sept. 2: Many schools struggle in creating and reviewing core documents — e.g., mission, vision, purpose, beliefs, core values) with internal stakeholders. Therefore, when it comes to asking for external stakeholder input, it is deemed nearly impossible. Jeff Homan, principal of The Main Street Academy, a start-up K-8 charter school in College Park, Georgia, leveraged technology as the school revisited its core documents in preparation for both an accreditation visit and a rechartering process with the local school district, both occurring every five years.
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