CURRENT IAI WORKSHOP OFFERING
We are offering a series of various workshops aimed at supporting communities and schoolboards. If you would be interested in hosting a workshop for your local community or school board, please contact us here.
Recently, under the leadership of our CEO Erin Sheldon, we have developed two new workshops that we believe provide tools and strategies with the biggest impact:
PLANNING FOR LIFE
Planning for Life is workshop series for families to learn about the simple tools that help us create a vision for our children and then plan how the IEP can be a roadmap to that future. It all begins with a person-centered planning process that elicits good information from families about what is working and not working with their child’s education. School systems tend to plan around the needs of their institutions: their teachers and their staff and their existing programs. We need to turn this around! We need our school systems to START with our sons and daughters.
We need to structure our planning around following questions:
PEER SUPPORT WORKSHOP
We believe that fostering natural peer supports in Ontario’s classrooms would be the most impactful change that could be brought about by the schools. Our children are growing into adults who need to be familiar, understood, and supported by their communities. That starts in junior kindergarten, when peers learn about how our sons and daughters communicate, how much they have in common, how they communicate and share their ideas, and how their assistive technology creates more opportunity and participation.
So, with that in mind, IAI partnered with Community Living Kingston to bring two peer support programs from the States to our first ever Peer Support Summit. Several eastern Ontario school boards heard from these projects how carefully planned peer supports improve our students’ inclusion in the regular curriculum, enhance their learning, develop friendships, and participate in the extracurricular life of the school. The biggest lesson we took from this training was that adults need to provide necessary support while getting out of the way of natural peer interactions and friendships.
We would like to pilot one of these peer support projects in Kingston we hope to recruit more school boards to participate. In the meantime, several eastern Ontario school boards received training on peer support arrangements in the classroom and during non-academic time, such as lunch.
“We all belong here”: Inclusive classroom practices and strategies
2 hours to full day
Teachers are exhorted to include all students in the regular classroom but are not always given the tools and information to do this effectively. What can teachers do, with the students they have, to maximize the inclusion of all students in the regular curriculum?
This workshop will describe teaching strategies that provide multiple access points to instruction so that every student can engage classroom content, deepen their knowledge base, and share what they have learned with others. We will explore the strategies associated with universal design in education and see examples of how assistive technology can become a classroom-wide tool to enhance learning for all.
Students with complex communication needs:
Language development in the inclusive classroom
Teaching students with the most significant disabilities to communicate, read and write is a challenging goal. Our students can be successful when parents and educators understand the earliest stages of language development, and how language development supports concept development and literacy. With language development as a foundation for learning, we can support and scaffold our students to be successful and engaged in authentic classroom activities.
This workshop will demonstrate how students with significant disabilities and complex communication needs can be active participants in all areas of academic instruction. This workshop will focus on language development as the vehicle for planning inclusion in the general curriculum. Educators will learn how to strategically plan support so our students can explore language and participate in classroom instruction. We will explore assessment tools, example IEP goals, specific instructional strategies, and hands-on light tech and high tech tools that participants can use with their students right away. This engaging and interactive workshop
will combine lecture, demonstration, and brainstorming activities. Even veteran literacy instructors will discover exciting new approaches to engage and support all learners all of the time! The workshop will conclude with the description of a framework that assists school teams to integrate the student’s AAC into daily instruction and long-range lesson planning.
From Presence to Contribution: One family’s journey towards an inclusive life
When my daughter Maggie was diagnosed with significant disabilities, her future appeared grim and isolated. Including her in the regular classroom has been a complex journey. However, after meeting adults with significant disabilities who were receiving support to lead ordinary but enviable lives, our family began to form a hopeful vision for Maggie's future, and our idea of "inclusion" began to broaden and transform. I will share three strategies that built the foundation for Maggie's future as she transitions to high school and beyond: person-centred planning; raising our learning expectations through an understanding of emergent language and literacy development; and a focus on natural supports and strong friendships.
Effective parent advocacy with schools
This workshop will discuss these questions and more. We will examine communication and planning strategies that lead to the most productive teamwork with school personnel, both when things are going well and when the relationship with school is challenging.
Solidarity, not Charity: Re-Imagining Peer Helpers to Enhance Learning for All
Educators know that students often learn best when they learn together. But our classrooms are diverse and our resources are stretched thin. When a student has complex needs, it often seems simpler to assign an adult to provide 1:1 support, even when we know that 1:1 support can be problematic and has less positive results than strategically organized peer supports.
This hands-on workshop will discuss how to meet the needs of all students in the inclusive classroom by understanding how one student's support needs can be an opportunity to enhance learning for another. With carefully planned peer supports and some simple tools for universal design, we can enrich learning for ALL our students.
Aided Language Stimulation 101
Aided language stimulation is an instructional strategy implemented by parents and educators to support students to adopt use of an alternative communication system, or AAC. Communication partners model use of an AAC system to express authentic communication messages during ordinary activities. Aided language stimulation sounds intimidating. In reality, though, it isn’t complex, just new and unfamiliar. This workshop will support parents and educators to learn how to model core vocabulary during ordinary activities. We will practice modelling AAC both on electronic devices (such as common iPad apps) and using paper (light-tech) systems.
As a result of this workshop, parents and educators will:
Literacy Instruction in the Inclusive Classroom for Students with Significant Disabilities
All day, 4-6 hours
Our students with significant disabilities need intensive literacy instruction. Can we provide this instruction in the inclusive classroom? Absolutely! The general curriculum is designed to provide comprehensive literacy instruction; the challenge for us is to create the adaptations and supports our students need in order to access it. This workshop will describe how the inclusive classroom creates rich, natural opportunities to teach our students many important concepts:
Writing Instruction for Students with Significant Disabilities
Parents and school teams often struggle to wrap their heads around how to support students with the most complex disabilities to engage in writing, before the student has demonstrated they can hold a pencil, or correctly identify letters or letter sounds or words.
This workshop will describe the continuum of writing development, from early attempts at scribbling to the emergence of conventional writing. We will look at a variety of tools and "alternative pencils", from light-tech paper supports to computer programs to iPad applications. Every student with significant disabilities needs opportunity, experience, and instruction in writing in order to develop their skills in communication and literacy. No student is "not ready yet" for writing! This workshop will show examples of how students with the most complex are learning to express themselves through writing!
Reading Instruction for Students with Significant Disabilities
Most students arrive at school in kindergarten with a baseline level of language and literacy development that provides a foundation for future reading instruction. Students with significant disabilities, particularly students who cannot speak, have often not experienced the same rich language experiences and storybook reading as their typical peers.
This workshop will help educators and families understand the barriers our students face in developing early reading skills. Next, we will examine the trajectory of how reading skills emerge in order to write developmentally appropriate goals. Finally, we will explore alternative assessment tools and instructional strategies to help us move our students further along the road to reading. We will explore where to find engaging books for older students who are beginner readers.
Reading and Writing at Home with our Sons and Daughters with Disabilities
This workshop is a resource for families to suggest a variety of fun, casual, and natural opportunities to read and write with your child who has developmental or disabilities. Home-based opportunities to engage in early literacy experiences are the foundation of formal literacy instruction in school, but our families often struggle to understand how to create and foster these experiences for our sons and daughters if they cannot speak or write. Family members will see how they can create opportunities for their son or daughter to deepen his or her relationships with others by engaging in fun literacy experiences at home. No flash cards or drills allowed! No student is too young, too old, or too ANYTHING to participate in these fun, quick, and natural activities.
We got an iPad. Now what?
We’ve all seen the news stories of students who don't speak suddenly communicating with an iPad. We’ve seen examples of students using their iPads to engage with books and reading and writing in exciting new ways that didn’t seem possible before they got an iPad. We value our children and we want them to have this valuable technology so they have the opportunity to learn and share as much as possible…so we buy them iPads.
This workshop will explore ways that iPads have opened doors for students with developmental disabilities, with an emphasis on selecting only a handful of high quality apps.
Note: this workshop will not explore iPads as a communication system.
See “Autonomous communicators: AAC for students with complex communication needs” for AAC options.