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Special ed groups share free resources for online learning

This originally appeared in District Administration on May 8, 2020.

Special ed groups share free resources for online learning

Resources cover speech teletherapy, ed tech accessibility and apps for special education

By: Matt Zalaznick | May 8, 2020

A coalition of education groups is sharing free online learning resources for special education. One of the organizations is Brooklyn Laboratory Charter Schools, where about 40% of the students have IEPS.

To support students in online learning, a group of special education organizations has banded together to create and curate a free hub of educational resources for schools and teachers.

The Educating All Learners Alliance has also launched an online community to highlight success stories and share case studies of online teaching and learning efforts in special education.

“We have to tackle this in real-time, we cannot leave these children behind,” says Lindsay E. Jones, president & CEO of the National Center for Learning Disabilities. “But we also know we need to help the millions of educators working with these students, by getting them good information.” Educators can submit resources, which will be reviewed by a content team. The Alliance is approving about one in four submissions, says Erin Mote, the executive director of InnovateEDU and a founder of the Brooklyn Laboratory Charter Schools. Resources cover topics such as speech teletherapy, online learning for students with autism disorders, ed tech accessibility, and apps for special education.

The Voices from the Field section of the website shares case studies of how special educators have adapted to online classes. The partner organizations also plan to hold virtual “office hours” and webinars in their areas of expertise.

“I was getting very concerned at some of the narratives that were out there—that we can’t serve students with disabilities in a remote context, so we’re not going to do anything at all,” Mote says. “We wanted to get actionable resources into the hands of teachers, we wanted them to be good quality, and we wanted them to be easy to find because the challenge is just so great.”

Many schools are now making more concerted efforts to contact special education families to figure out how to sustain IEPs during online learning, she says. “I’ve never seen a time where more people are thinking about how to deliver special education,” Mote says. “I am hopeful we will come out of this with more and new ideas.”

Educating All Learners Alliance partners include Brooklyn Laboratory Charter Schools, InnovateEDU, Digital Promise, National Center for Learning Disabilities, Understood, National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools, and the International Society for Technology in Education.

A key reason for forming the alliance is that special education students can’t wait for schools to reopen to resume making academic and social-emotional progress, says Lauren Morando Rhim, executive director and co-founder of the National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools.

“This is a really scary time,  and there’s no established playbook or research base,” Rhim says. “We can’t wait for re-entry. We really need to push ourselves and say this is our reality, and figure how to make it work.’

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