September 2012 | News You Can Use

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Cluster of push pins.Gather Resources to Start the School Year


The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry. 

~~ Adapted from Robert Burns


Now that school has started, everyone is busy establishing routines, building relationships, and adjusting to the unexpected. Many of our most carefully planned procedures, lessons, and supports just might not work for some students. But there’s no time to replan!

This month, we are focusing on handy resources that you can bookmark and turn to in a pinch. Need some practical tips on serving students with a particular disability? We have a blog series on that. Looking for ways to improve home-school connections? There’s a guide in here. Need some free technology for the classroom (and who doesn’t?)? It’s in here!

We wish you the best of luck for a successful start to the school year, and we hope these resources help make your work just a little easier. Feel free to share these resources with friends or colleagues!

As always, we welcome your feedback in all forms. Please feel free to contact us at

Our best to you,

Your friends
at the National Dissemination Center
for Children with Disabilities


NICHCY’s disability in your classroom blog series.
Looking for practical tips that you can use today in your classroom? NICHCY authors a series of specific disability blogs full of great tips and resources that can be utilized in your classroom today. Also explore our blog page, which features information and perspectives related to serving students with disabilities in schools.

Speech and Language Impairments in Your Classroom: 8 Tips for Teachers

Intellectual Disabilities in Your Classroom: 9 Tips for Teachers

LD in Your Classroom: 7 Tips for Teachers

AD/HD in Your Classroom: 10 Tips for Teachers

What does FAPE really mean?
Check out NICHCY’s latest full-text expert journal article, Without Data All We Have Are Assumptions: Revisiting the Meaning of a Free Appropriate Public Education by Jean B. Crockett and Mitchell L. Yell. It is a clear, comprehensible article examining past Supreme Court decisions around the IDEA requirement that schools provide a “free and appropriate public education” (FAPE) to students with disabilities.

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Logo of the IDEA Partnership.

Want to find out more about the Common Core State Standards? IDEA Partnership will be hosting Overview to the Common Core State Standards Collections webinars. Register now for September 13, September 27, October 11, or October 25 session. Visit the IDEA Partnership website for more information.



Back-to-school tips for parents of children with special needs.
Reading Rockets offers back-to-school tips for parents emphasizing communication, organization, and staying up-to-date on special education news.

What’s LRE, and what does it have to do with your child’s placement?

Home-to-school connections guide.
This guide provides you with relevant and valuable tools and resources for how best to strengthen the bonds between schools, families, and communities for student learning and success.

About brothers and sisters.
This series of articles looks at the challenges and triumphs of siblings of kids with special needs, with book excerpts and reviews that focus on their sibling issues and a chance for parents to give them a special cheer.

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Help children transition from one activity to another, and one place to another.
From the Technical Assistance Center on Social Emotional Intervention for Young Children (TACSEI), Thoughtful Transitions Reduce Traffic Jams and Challenges gives teachers tools and strategies to use when teaching children how to transition between activities and places within the early childhood environment.

Communicating via backpack.
Also from TACSEI, the new Backpack Connection Series gives teachers and parents/caregivers a way to work together to help young children develop social-emotional skills and reduce challenging behavior. Teachers may choose to send a handout home in each child’s backpack when a new strategy or skill is introduced to the class. The handout provides information that helps parents stay informed about what their child is learning at school and specific ideas on how to use the strategy or skill at home.

Ask the cognitive scientist: What is developmentally appropriate practice?
A noted cognitive scientist explores the term “developmentally appropriate practice” (DAP) and discusses the importance of understanding learning variability when planning instruction.

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Great teachers harness the energy of students.
During this year’s Teacher Appreciation Week, 50 of ED’s senior officials and career staff went “Back to School.” Each staff member was matched with a classroom teacher and spent a full or half day experiencing the life of a teacher. ED’s Dennis Bega shadowed 10th and 11th grade teacher Lisa Clarke in Kent, Wash. This blog recaps Dennis’ experience in Ms. Clarke’s classroom for a day.

Support students in their LRE—here’s a starter set of resources!
Need information, resources, and technical assistance (TA) to help you and others support children with disabilities in their least restrictive environment in school? Here’s a starter list of places to look online.

Big exams this fall?
Test preparation can make all the difference between being confident or stressed during an exam. Bookshare has many test preparation books to provide plenty of practice opportunities. Here are a few to get you started:

Teaching tools based on brain facts.
Looking for some strategies to better engage students and pique their interests? has a collection of multimedia resources for teachers develop engaging and interactive lessons.

Adventures in an autism classroom: On the value of token economies.
Token Economy Systems work for ALL types of students, no matter what their academic or communication level! Here is one example of how this system can be used in the classroom.

Free technology for teachers.
With so many apps out there, it can become quite daunting to find apps that are useful or relevant. Well, there’s an app for just that.

The 60-second guide to texting in the classroom.
Although cell phones have the potential to pose a number of problems in the classroom, technologies offered by cell phones can be harnessed to improve student learning. Here are a few examples as to how teachers can utilize text message technology in their classrooms and increase student engagement and content mastery.

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Comprehensive policy guide for protecting students with life-threatening food allergies.

Guide to funding comprehensive services in child care and early education.
This guide is meant to help states look beyond major sources of child care and early education funding and consider alternative federal financing sources to bring comprehensive services into early childhood settings.

Handbook on family and community engagement.
From the U.S. Department of Education, this handbook represents years of experience in the family and community engagement field, and various perspectives on what should guide this work and how it should be carried out.

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Publication of this eNewsletter is made possible through Cooperative Agreement #H326N080003 between FHI 360 and the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) of the U.S. Department of Education. The contents do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Department of Education, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government or by the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities.


Comments on our newsletter? Too long? Too short? Off-target? Right on? Suggestions for future topics? Please feel free to contact us at We’re here to help you help children with disabilities.

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NOTICE: NICHCY is going away, but its resources are not. Find hundreds of legacy NICHCY publications, as well as our training curriculum on IDEA 2004, in the Center for Parent Information and Resources' Library at This website will remain available until September 30, 2014. After that date, web visitors will be automatically redirected to