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Archived News: What's New
September 2012

News from the VCU-ACE Training Team …

PARAPro Update --
Interest in and registration for the VCU-ACE online course for Paraprofessionals continues at a brisk pace. At this time, space is still available in the January session, so please register soon if interested. Just a reminder -- The Paraprofessional Course will not be offered in the month of December, 2012.

Register NOW for VCU-ACE Online Courses starting November 5th!
Registration is now open for the Foundations of Autism Spectrum Disorders and Strategies for Supporting Positive Behaviors in Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders online courses running November 5 to December 2, 2012. The Foundations course provides participants with an understanding of the primary characteristics of ASD, which include impairments in communication and social development and the presence of repetitive patterns of behavior. The impact ASD has on the person as well as the family unit is discussed. The course also provides an overview of learning styles, the history, cause, and early signs of ASD.

The Strategies course is designed to provide teachers, related service providers, paraprofessionals, administrators, families and other service providers with skills and knowledge needed to support students with an ASD who demonstrate interfering behavior in the school setting. Participants will gain knowledge of the functional approach to behavior, providing behavioral support in the educational environment, understanding the behavior chain, the process of conducting a Functional Behavior Assessment, development and implementation of a behavior intervention plan, strategies for intervening with interfering behavior, and identifying and teaching replacement behavior.

Space is limited in these sessions, so please register early if interested!


It's Business as Usual for Botetourt County Public Schools!

The summer months have not slowed down the momentum built in Botetourt County Schools for systems-change in services and practice for students with autism spectrum disorders. Teachers returned after a restful summer refreshed and ready to take on the learning of new strategies to support their students with autism spectrum disorders.

This past spring, several preschool teachers, elementary teachers and speech language therapists were trained and coached in how to complete the VB-MAPP (Verbal Behavior Milestones Assessment and Placement Program) assessment on a student with autism. Now, that these teachers have completed this assessment on several students within the county, the teachers are being taught how to translate the information gathered in this assessment into teaching practice. These teachers received training at the start of the 2012-13 school year in Errorless Teaching and Multiple Exemplar Instruction. This training will be followed up in the fall with classroom visits and coaching by division staff, with the support of ACE Technical Assistance Associates, to ensure implementation of these practices with fidelity.

This fall the division will move forward in its plan to systematically address the implementation of evidence-based practices associated with the learning of social skills to include social skill groups, peer-mediated instruction, social narratives, and video modeling. In the spring, several elementary teachers, middle school teachers, and speech language therapists received training and coaching in how to complete a social skill assessment on a student with an autism spectrum disorder. During the 2012-13 school year, the use of the social skill assessment will spread to include those at the high school level. During the teacher work week at the start of this school year, this group of teachers received training in how to take the information learned on the assessment and to translate it into practices that address each student’s individual social skill instructional needs. This training will also be followed up in the fall with classroom visits and coaching by division staff, with the support of ACE Technical Assistance Associates, to ensure implementation of these social skills practices with fidelity.


Wonderful Things are Happening in Wise!

Three weeks into the 2012-13 school year and Wise County is off to an intense start in its ongoing implementation of its division plan to improve services for students with autism spectrum disorders. In early August, Wise County hosted the training associates from VCU-ACE as they delivered a two-day live ParaPro training to all special education paraprofessionals in the division. Seventy-nine paraprofessionals, covering preschool to high school and from collaborative to self-contained programs, received training in basic information on autism and educational programming, prompting, task analysis, behavior supports, communication strategies, and social skill strategies. The paraprofessionals soaked up the information delivered and have been seen implementing the strategies learned in their classrooms. The implementation of these strategies is already leading to more independence and less instances of challenging behavior for students. Many paraprofessionals have expressed how the hands-on application of the strategies within the training has helped them with to know how to implement them in the classroom.

The paraprofessionals have not been the only ones to receive training. During the teacher workweek, all special education professionals received training in how to engage in comprehensive planning for students with autism that includes teaming, ongoing data collection, and making data-based instructional decisions. As with all training in the division, teachers will receive ongoing support through classroom visits and coaching by division staff with the support of the ACE Technical Assistance Associate to ensure implementation of teaming and data collection with fidelity.

To support the division goal in the spread of evidence-based practices for students with autism, the division has identified one teacher per school who will be an autism resource person to other teachers in the building. This resource person will receive materials, training, and coaching so that they can support their colleagues in addressing the ongoing comprehensive educational needs of the students with autism within their building. To this end, the autism resource teachers received training this past week on how to complete a social skill assessment, how to interpret the results, and how to translate those results into goals. These teachers will receive ongoing classroom visits, coaching, and follow-up training in how to take the results from the assessment and develop programs that address the individualized social skill needs of these students through the use of evidence-based practices to include social skill groups, peer-mediated instruction, social narratives, and video modeling.

While initiatives are moving forward in social skill instructional practices this year, the division coaches are providing ongoing support to the self-contained classroom teachers who received targeted coaching last school year. In the spring, meetings were held with each teacher to address planning for the fall to include development of a classroom layout that addressed visual structure and boundaries and development of staff and student schedules. In addition, a workgroup met this summer to identify curriculum materials in literacy, phonetic instruction, and mathematics that will be used in all self-contained classrooms from elementary to high school. During the teacher workweek, each teacher was seen moving furniture, hunting for furniture, taking photos, laminating pictures, and more with the end result being classrooms that are highly structured with clear boundaries and clear locations for group work, independent work, play, and more. Students and staff each have individual schedules that include designated times for literacy instruction using the four-block model and mathematics instruction. During coaching visits, it was noted by all involved, as well as other staff in the building, that the classrooms were running much more smoothly with all individuals knowing exactly what is expected of them and when. Wise County coaches and teachers are excited about the resources that have been made available to them to support instruction and in the changes they are already seeing in their students.


Check Out the Changes on the VCU-ACE Website!

The VCU-ACE website is currently undergoing several revisions and changes to make it easier for you to find the information you are seeking. All of our course, webcast, seminar, and state training information can now be found under the "Professional Development" tab. And in the coming weeks the "Resources" section will have a whole new look! Be sure to check it out!!! If you ever have any questions about the website or are looking for information on resources in VA, please feel free to email us at or call toll-free to 855-711-6987 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 855-711-6987 end_of_the_skype_highlighting.


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