Issue Date: Spring 2001


Field observations and practicum placements have always been an inportant part of the preparation of special educators at Marywood University. During the junior year methods course sequence, special education majors are required to complete a fall and spring practicum assignment. In the past, this fieldwork was in traditional education settings that ranged from early intervention classrooms to secondary resource rooms. The pre-service teachers are required to demonstrate skills in assessing student needs, lesson planning, modifying instruction and monitoring performance on a variety of learning tasks. These juniors complete a practicum portfolio, which includes work samples representative of their unique teaching talents and instructional perspectives. Samples of individualized lesson plans, diagnostic reports, modified materials and student monitoring are common entries.

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The Pennsylvania Association for Vocational Education Special Needs Personnel conducts an annual conference at the Hotel Hershey. This year, LaVerne Buchanan from TransCen and Joanne Cashman from the National Association of State Directors of Special Education provided a thought-provoking, and at times unsettling, presentation of what is currently happening in the world of Transition Planning and of what will be happening in the field.

Senator Jim Jeffords (R-VT), chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (HELP), introduced S. 2, the "Educational Opportunities Act," which reauthorizes the ESEA, February 24, 2000. The Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education Act is found within Title III, Enrichment Initiatives, Part C of the Senate bill. It has been amended to include the basic language of S. 505.

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In today¹s schools, in Pennsylvania and across the nation, collaboration between regular and special education teachers is no longer an option but a requirement. As time passes, both types of teachers are learning how to collaborate in ever more efficient and effective ways. This is very commendable. However, we cannot rest on our laurels. We must continue to move forward and improve our professional practice in this area.

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After reading the article on specially designed instruction (SDI) by Ron Miros in the Winter 2001 issue of ACTION, I was compelled to offer some additional thoughts on the subject for clarification. An overlooked principle is that SDI should not be an afterthought to the special education screening and evaluation process, but an integral component throughout. SDI is a distinguishing feature of special versus general education: the need for SDI must be part of eligibility decisions, SDI should play a significant role in the assessment process, and, of course, delivery of SDI is the essence of a special education program for an individual child.

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KidTools AND KidSkills

A two-year federal grant will allow PFCEC president-elect, Dr. Kevin Koury of California University, and his colleague, Dr. Gail Fitzgerald, of the University of Missouri-Columbia, to expand their computer software program for children with special needs. Koury and Fitzgerald received word that an ongoing project, KidTools and KidSkills, was successful in its grant application to the Office of Special Education Programs. Suzanne Cosgrove-Grubisa, a California University graduate assistant, is also involved in this project. They are all working on the second phase of the project, which is called KidSkills.

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You are invited to submit an article to the PFCEC Journal.

The intent of the Journal component is to provide information to persons who work directly with children and youth with disabilities and children and youth who are gifted. This information might come from experience or research. We wish to publish information that describes applications of changes in curriculum, instructional modifications and technology.

Special education practitioners have a great deal of information, but typically do not write for publications. However, there are many other practitioners in the field who want to hear what their colleagues are doing and thinking.

Selection of articles is made on the basis of reader interest, importance of the topic, implications for the practice of special education and quality of writing. The article should not exceed five double spaced 8 1/2" x 11" pages. Materials will not be returned unless a self-addressed, stamped envelope is included.

Send articles to:
Rosalie Dibert
581 Plum Run Road
Canonsburg, PA 15317

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