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Guaranteeing Special Education Rights: Individualized Education Plans

Spirit Lake Consulting, Inc.
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Academic Instruction on the IPE

Knowing how to ask appropriately for help is an important skill for all employees and one too seldom learned in school. Observe the average high school classroom and you will see students giving up in frustration, making a joke about assignments, getting angry and insulting the teacher or their peers. Less often, you will see a student asking the teacher for help, not as an admission of failure but as a reasonable request.

This type of communication has been the focus of a great deal of current research. "Academic English" is the language used in school and professional settings. For example, rather than, "I don't get it, " students are encouraged to say, "Could you explain to me more about ______ ".

Rather than saying, "Robert stole my idea!", students are taught to say, "Robert's idea is similar to mine in that I thought ...." .

It is true that this is not the way most teenagers talk. It is also true that there are very, very few teenaged general managers, CPAs or other professionals. They need to learn at some point. Why not start now?

A well-known researcher on academic English, Robin Scarcella, explains

"Academic English tasks include reading abstracts, getting down the key ideas from lectures, and writing critiques, summaries, annotated bibliographies, reports, case studies, research projects, expository essays.” These academic tasks (include) ...equivalency statements, conditional structures, appropriate use of possessives and correct spelling. Academic English includes ... “signaling cause and effect, hypothesizing, generalizing, comparing, contrasting, explaining, describing, defining, justifying, giving examples, sequencing, and evaluating."

The fact is, and we can state this with certainty having taught at tribal colleges, many students from the reservations enter college not having these skills and the reason they do not have them is because these skills were not taught, not because the students could not learn them. We know this for a fact because in the tribal colleges where we have been employed, the students have, in fact, learned these skills. Learning academic English during college puts the students at a disadvantage compared to students who entered college with these skills.

This concludes our workshop on Guaranteeing your Rights in Special Education. Feel free to browse our Virtual Library or Commons Area for any additional information in areas that interest you. Thank you so much for your participation!

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