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Getting Students With Autism Through High School, To College And Beyond

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Colin Ozeki, a high school student with autism, is on track to graduate this year from Millennium Brooklyn High School with an advanced diploma.

Amy Pearl/WNYC

Colin Ozeki, 16, doesn’t like to sugarcoat how autism spectrum disorder has affected his interactions with others, his emotions and his own self-confidence. He sees it as an issue to confront, something about himself to work on and improve in order to fully participate in life around him.

He appreciates the adage, “It’s a difference, not a disability.” But he disagrees with it when it comes to himself.

“I don’t think I would be at this place that I’m at right now if it weren’t for people acknowledging the idea that I had some kind of problem per se,” says Colin. “I might have just been this confused person forever, and somewhat underdeveloped.”

We know a lot more about children with autism spectrum disorders than we did just a decade ago, but nationwide students with autism are enrolling in college in relatively low numbers.

Colin, now a senior at Millennium Brooklyn High School, has been part of a program in the New York City schools aiming to change that. It’s called ASD Nest (ASD refers to students with autism spectrum disorder) and he’s been with it his entire school career.

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Education

3 Challenges As Hands-On, DIY Culture Moves Into Schools

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Take a look this summer inside some of America’s garages, museums and libraries and you’ll see that the “maker movement” is thriving.

This hands-on, DIY culture of inventors, tinkerers and hackers is inspiring adults and children alike to design and build everything from sailboats and apps to solar cars.

And this fall, more of these chaotic workspaces, stocked with glue guns, drills and hammers, will be popping up in schools, too.

But the maker movement faces some big hurdles as it pushes into classrooms.

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Education

Beyond Integration: How Teachers Can Encourage Cross-Racial Friendships

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There’s a reason Jose Luis Vilson’s students learn in groups: He wants them to feel comfortable working with anyone in the classroom, something he’s realized in his 11 years of teaching doesn’t always come naturally.

“I don’t really give students a chance to self-select until later on, when I feel like they can pretty much group with anybody,” he says.

Vilson teaches math at a public middle school just north of Harlem in New York City. Most of his students are Latino and African-American, and Vilson pays close attention to the fact that their racial identities affect their experiences in the classroom.

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Education

Study In Your PJs? What A High School ‘Work From Home Day’ Looks Like

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One cold Monday this month, all the students of Park Ridge High School stayed home: wearing their PJs, munching on pretzels and Oreos, hanging out on the couch.

It wasn’t a snow day or measles epidemic. It was the school’s first Virtual Day, where in-person classes were replaced with written lessons and real-time video chats delivered online.

The idea arose because the school, just north of New York City in Park Ridge, N.J., issued every student a Mac laptop last year, says Tina Bacolas, the school’s head of instructional technology.

The school chose a software system called Schoology that allows students and teachers to communicate by text and video and post assignments.

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Education

Yet Another Teaching Memoir? A Teacher’s Critique

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Book publishers love stories about first-year teachers. The narrative arc is familiar: Exuberant idealism fades as the teacher battles entrenched bureaucracy, stale curriculum and disengaged colleagues or kids. The young educator then tries to overcome despair with creative grit and determination and struggles to make a difference.

The books often teeter between self-promotion and slams against the public education system. Some, however, actually shed light on the yawning gap between reformist rhetoric and classroom reality.

This month there’s a new one out: The Battle for Room 314: My Year of Hope and Despair in a New York City High School by Ed Boland, from Grand Central Publishing.

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Education

Eight Student-Friendly Strategies to Develop Emotional Skills

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Todd J. Feltman

Just like graphic organizers, anchor charts, and other cues help students navigate and work independently with the concepts we teach, brief, kid-friendly strategies for handling emotional situations can help our students develop healthy social and personal habits. In my book The Elementary and Middle School Student-Friendly Handbook to Navigating Success, I detail eight strategies students can use to develop their emotional skills. Before introducing these strategies, you may want to lead a general discussion with your students centered on these questions:

  • Do you behave well in school or often get in trouble?
  • Do you get along with your teachers?
  • Do you frequently like or dislike school?
  • Would you like practical strategies for navigating emotional situations at school?

To support student curiosity, each strategy is followed by an explanation of the purpose of the strategy. There are also a few helpful reminders to guide students, but students may want to develop their own cues.

Strategy #1: If you are having a bad day, inform your teacher(s) at the beginning of the class.

Why: Your teacher will be aware of your mood and can help you have a better day.

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