Category Archives: Special Education

March is Brain Injury Awareness Month



Region 14 State Support Team at Hopewell Center would, once again, like to share information on Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) for the upcoming Brain Injury Awareness month in March.

Brain injury is not an event or an outcome. It is the start of a misdiagnosed, misunderstood, under-funded neurological disease. Individuals who sustain brain injuries must have timely access to expert trauma care, specialized rehabilitation, lifelong disease management and individualized services and supports in order to live healthy, independent and satisfying lives (source:

In Ohio for the purpose of eligibility for special education in schools, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is defined as follows: “An acquired injury to the brain caused by an external physical force or by other medical conditions, including but not limited to stroke, anoxia, infectious disease, aneurysm, brain tumors and neurological insults resulting from medical or surgical treatments. The injury results in total or partial functional disability or psychosocial impairment or both, that adversely affects a child’s educational performance. The term applies to open or closed head injuries, as well as to other medical conditions that result in acquired brain injuries. The injuries result in impairments in one or more areas such as cognition; language; memory; attention; reasoning; abstract thinking; judgment; problem-solving; sensory, perceptual, and motor abilities; psychosocial behavior; physical functions; information processing; and speech. The term does not apply to brain injuries that are congenital or degenerative, or to brain injuries induced by birth trauma. (This definition replaces the definition of traumatic brain injury in 34 C.F.R 300.8(c)(12) and shall be used instead whenever the federal regulations at 34 C.F.R. Part 300, state statutes at Chapter 3323. of the Revised Code, or the state rules in Chapter 3301-51 of the Administrative Code refer to traumatic brain injury.)” (source: Operating Standards for Ohio Educational Agencies Serving Children with Disabilities)

Coming soon: “Just the Facts, ma’am” – TBI edition



Summer Math Conference Handouts

The following documents were part of our Summer Math Conference (June 11-12, 2013), led by Dr. Paul J. Riccomini.

All files are made available here in PDF format.

Summer Math Conference – June 11-12, 2013

Region 14 Summer Math Conference: “Maximize Your Students’ Learning of Essential Mathematical Concepts and Skills Through the Use of Effective Instructional Strategies and Techniques”

View the Brochure. (PDF)

Training Participants:

At the recommendation of Dr. Riccomini, this training has been designed for building teams made up of Mathematics Teachers, Intervention Specialists, Paraprofessionals and Building Administrators with the goal of changing instruction for improved student mathematics performance. Superintendents, Curriculum Directors, Special Education Administrators, School Psychologists and Math Coaches, School Improvement Consultants are also invited.

About The Presenter:

Dr. Paul J. Riccomini began his career as a dual-certified general education mathematics teacher, teaching students with learning disabilities, emotional and behavioral disabilities, and gifted and talented students in Grades 7-12 in inclusive classrooms.

* Served as Associate Professor of Special Education at Clemson University. Currently Associate Professor of Education: The Pennsylvania State University

* Research focus: effective instructional approaches, strategies, and assessments for students who are low achievers and/or students with learning disabilities in mathematics

* Has written several research and practitioner articles related to effective strategies for teaching mathematics to students who struggle. Co-authored two math intervention pro- grams targeting fractions and integers

* Co-authored several books on math instruction: Building Number Sense through the Common Core, Response to Intervention in Math, Computation of Integers, Computation of Fractions, Solving Equations

* Provides professional development focused on effective mathematics instruction for audiences around the country

* Knows firsthand the challenges and difficulties teachers experience every day when working with struggling students.

WHY Is MATHEMATICS Training being offered this Summer?

* Educators in the 18 districts comprising Region 14 have identified mathematics achievement as an area of focus for their school improvement efforts.

* Teacher Based Teams, Building Level and District Level Teams are concerned about the per- formance of students who find mathematics difficult and are also concerned about the performance of students who are gifted.

* Regional and district student performance and value added data demonstrate the need for enhanced instructional strategies and techniques.

Why Should I Attend Mathematics Training?

Ask yourself these questions:

⇒ Am I satisfied with the math performance of all of my students?

⇒ Do I feel equipped to engage and teach the most challenging of my students?

⇒ Would I like to know new ways to increase my students’ retention of mathematics content and processes?

⇒ Are my colleagues and I prepared to teach to the Common Core Math Standards?

⇒ As a building or district leader, do I know effective mathematics instruction when I see it?

⇒ Am I prepared to provide my teachers with the support and feedback they need to provide high quality effective math instruction and intervention?

June 2013 Content:

In June, Dr. Riccomini will:

♦ Demonstrate, model, and provide practice with a continuum of instructional supports utilized by effective mathematics teachers.

♦ Share instructional techniques proven to help students retain previously taught and learned mathematics concepts.

♦ Provide focused instruction on critical areas of the Common Core State Standards in mathematics.

♦ Share and demonstrate specific strategies for organizing instruction and materials to facilitate students’ learning, remembering and applying mathematical concepts in new situations.

♦ Prepare administrators and building and district leaders to monitor and support effective mathematics instruction.

2013-14 Follow up:

In follow-up to the June Training, Dr. Riccomini will provide five interactive and recorded webinars for educators in Region 14 from August, 2013 through January, 2014:

* Explicit Mathematics Instruction (Instructional Needs of Struggling Students)

* Organizing Instructional and Study Time (Spaced Learning Over Time and Interwoven Worked Examples)

* Math Vocabulary (Frayer Model and Keyword Mnemonic)

* Instructional Scaffolding (Chunking Across Problems and Content-Task-Materials Scaffolding)

* Teaching for Computational Fluency and Automaticity.


Certificates of Attendance, Graduate Course Credit Availability:

Certificates of Attendance will be provided to participants. One hour of Graduate Credit will be available for purchase from Ashland University for complete attendance at the Conference.

Important Cancellation Notice:


Registration Information:

There is no charge for participation in the Summer Math Conference or follow-up webinars. Preregistration is required. Team participation is highly recommended. Please register in STARS. If you need assistance, please contact Sherry Campton (937) 393-1904 ext. 126 or email

Additional Participant Information:

Dr. Ricccomini’s books will be available for purchase on both days of the Conference. Dr. Riccomini’s Co-Author Dr. Bradley S. Witzel will be presenting the keynote address at the 6th Annual Region 14 Building Bridges Conference August 5, 2013 at Southern State Community College/ Hillsboro Campus. Dr. Witzel’s presentation will provide foundational information on mathematics concept development for those who provide early education and care (birth through age 8). Lunch will be available for purchase ($7.00) at the Summer Math Conference or bring a packed lunch.


Google Tools to Support Students with Disabilities

Google is making waves in K-12.  Many schools are taking advantage of an ever-increasing suite of tools available, without charge, from the Internet giant.

Recently, the 2nd annual “Google Apps for Education Ohio Summit” showcased a number of ways teachers, administrators, and other K-12 personnel can implement Google technologies in their classroom.  (See the full list of sessions with available materials.)

I was privileged to present a workshop on Google Tools to Support Students with Disabilities.  Has your school considered “going Google”?  If so, have you considered the impact on students with special needs, and how some Google technologies can support these students in the general curriculum?

View a short video demonstrating some examples: “Cheryl and Morgan: Learning Independence

  • Voice Search – requires Google Chrome Browser – Click the “microphone” icon in the search box, and you can speak your search term instead of typing it.
  • Search-by-Image – requires any current version web browser – Go to  Drag a picture (image file) into the search box.  Google will search for pages with pictures that match yours, and tell you the search terms it used for your results.
  • Advanced Search – Advanced Search allows you to separate your boolean search (using “AND”, “OR”, “AND NOT”, “+”, “-“, etc.) into separate text boxes, restrict the reading level of returned results, and more.
  • ChromeVox – requires Chrome browser – Provides a simple text-to-speech system for content displayed in the Chrome browser.  Like any screen reader, the interface controls require some getting used to, but the available “Lois” TTS engine is the most natural sounding free TTS voice I’ve ever heard.
  • ChromeVis – requires Chrome browser – Provides an alternate version of selected text on your screen in a pre-selected color scheme (e.g., black on white, white on black, yellow on black).  Can enlarge or decrease text size with one key.  One question… why doesn’t it work with text in a Google Doc?
  • Optical Character Recognition (text scanning) – requires a Docs account – Upload a scanned image file (perhaps a page from a book) to Google Docs.  Check the box that says “Convert text from PDF and image files to Google documents” and Google will try to “read” any text in the image.  The result is a new Google Document with the image inserted, and the text below.  This text can then be altered as any text in a Google Document, or read aloud with ChromeVox!
    Note: US Copyright Law prohibits making electronic copies available to a broad audience from a single source.  Consult “Fair Use” guidelines on how to make scanned material legally available. 
  • Word Prediction – Originally available in Google Labs as the “Scribe” project, word prediction moved to Blogger-in-Draft.  Now that project has ended, and Google’s amazingly helpful, free word prediction software has disappeared.  A note in a Google user forum on March 29, 2012,  indicates that word prediction was removed due to “usability technical issues”, and is expected to return once those issues are fixed.  Keep your fingers crossed.  And keep asking about it!

There are more helpful tools than these, with more going from concept to action all the time.

When you “Go Google”, consider how you will implement the technology for all students, not just those in the typical classroom.

View the presentation slides.


2012 Exceptional Achievement Awards

Again this year, we have an online format available for submitting nominations for the Exceptional Achievement Award. These are The Exceptional Achievement Award, Outstanding Educator Award, and Outstanding Student Award to be awarded at the April 26th Recognition Ceremony.

The following is the link to complete an online nomination form:

If you prefer to download and print the forms and mail/fax them in, here are the individual nomination forms:

You may complete either the paper-based forms or the online forms to nominate someone, but DO NOT need to complete both. Please consider nominating someone today!

If you have any questions or concerns, please call Amy Luttrell (937) 393-1904 ext. 142 or Sherry Campton (ext 126).

Some iPad Apps for Students With Disabilities

Schools are just now discovering the mighty potential in portable electronic devices like iPads for education, administration, professional development, and other educational uses.  The market for the iPad and similar devices is mushrooming.  Just a simple Web search for iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch apps for students with disabilities will yield thousands of results.

Sometimes, this is just as bad as finding nothing.

These are my current ten favorite iPad apps for use with students with disabilities.  I have tried to cover several major categories of disability, while covering apps that are useful in different academic content areas as well as daily living skills.

  1. Read2Go – $19.99 – Beyond just a powerful DAISY-format reader, Read2Go integrates seamlessly with your existing BookShare account.  This gives print-disabled users an extremely portable way to take their reading material and the AT needed to read it with them anywhere!
  2. ShowMe Interactive Whiteboard – Free – ShowMe Interactive Whiteboard turns your iPad into a simple whiteboard integrated with a voice recorder.  Demonstrate anything from a math problem to spelling a word to pointing out locations on a map (and more!).  Then, take your completed recording and upload it to the website and share it with friends, or the world!
  3. Dragon Dictation – Free – Speak to your iPad and it will turn what you say into text.  Then, copy that text and place it in other apps on your iPad.  The transcription is done at Dragon’s servers, not on the iPad, so an internet connection is required for this one.  See also…
    Dragon Go!– Free – Takes Speech-to-text a step further.  Search commonly-used websites for anything you can say!  Researching origins of the US Civil War?  Say “Causes of the civil war” and tap the “Wikipedia” tab.  Wonder whether it’s supposed to rain today?  Say “What’s the weather for today in Hillsboro, Ohio?” and Dragon Go! figures out the best site to answer your question!
  4. Speak It! – $1.99 – Speak It! is not a replacement for the built-in VoiceOver text-to-speech functions of the iPad.  Rather, it extends some of the functionality into areas that were not available before.  Speak It! can be used to speak aloud stored snippets of text, or create transferable audio files from any text that can be typed or pasted into the input screen.  The high-quality voices make this a desirable extension of functionality for users with severe speech or visual barriers.
  5. Calculators for the iPad- Free to $1.99, various producers – Apple does some VERY smart things, but whoever decided the iPad didn’t need a native calculator app (like the iPhone or iPod Touch has) missed the boat.  Fear not!  Several developers have put together quality calculator apps.
    Jumbo Calculator – Free – Nice large buttons, easy-to-read display area.
    pCalc – Free – Very handy function to do unit conversions automatically.  More functions available for a fee.
    Spin Calc – $1.99 – Simple calculator with large buttons.  Speaks the numbers as you enter them.  Speaks the entire equation once you press the equals key.
  6. SpeakText for Me – $19.99 – Another text-to-speech app.  This one opens your web pages, documents, or other materials from inside the app, rather than having you copy-and-paste from other applications.  Behavior with complicated websites or PDF documents can be a bit unexpected sometimes.
  7. Wolfram Alpha – $1.99 – A “computational knowledge engine”.  Some teachers hate this tool because it lets the computer do what the computers does best (scour through tons of facts) and lets the students do what humans do best (creativity and evaluation).  Type in your trig function or your unbalanced chemical equation, and Wolfram Alpha solves it for you.  Ask Wolfram Alpha “where is the international space station?” and you get a map of the world with an overlay of where the ISS is in orbit above the surface, and its recent and future path!
  8. Songify – Free – Sometimes a cutesy app is just a cutesy app.  “Songify” lets you take any text and give it a melodic quality.  I love using this with a list of things to be memorized.  Or does that trick only work for memorizing the alphabet???
  9. iBooks Enhanced Books – iBooks is free, books vary in price – Check out the Enhanced Books section of the iBooks store for books that have audio and/or video embedded along with the text of the book!  A limited number of books are currently available (under 1,000).  You must be using iBooks v1.3 (or above) to use Enhanced Books features.
  10. Qrafter – Free – if you have an iPad 2, or a 4th Generation iPod Touch, or a Camera iPhone, you can have a free QR Code Reader for your device.
    QR Code for this web page - Some Useful iPad Apps
    QR Code for this web page - Some iPad Apps for Students With Disabilities

    QR Codes allow you to aim your device’s camera at a specialized two-dimensional dot-code, and the QR Reader will automatically send you to the embedded web address, or decode the embedded information for you.  Educators: Use to create QR Codes for anything online (for free), and use Qrafter to read and execute them!  Great for students with motor issues who have to use lots of time typing url’s to access important materials online.

March is Brain Injury Awareness Month

The BrainMarch is Brain Injury Awareness month.  Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is called the silent epidemic by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) because so many cases go undiagnosed. This is particularly problematic if there are students with TBI that are unidentified.  How likely is it that you have a student with an undiagnosed TBI?

Please click here to see a wealth of information offered by the Ohio Center for Autism and Low Incidence (OCALI) on Traumatic Brain Injury. 

Exceptional Achievement Awards – Call for Nominations!

We now have an online format available for submitting nominations for the Exceptional Achievement Award. These are The Exceptional Achievement Award, Outstanding Educator Award, and Outstanding Student Award to be awarded at the April 7th Recognition Ceremony.

The following is the link to complete an online nomination form:

You may complete either the paper-based forms or the online forms to nominate someone, but DO NOT need to complete both. Please consider nominating someone today!

Given the delayed availability of these online forms, we have extended the submission deadline for nominations to Monday, February 7th. Please get your nominations in by this date for consideration.

If you have any questions or concerns, please call Amy Luttrell (937) 393-1904 ext. 142 or Sherry Campton (ext 126).

Information for School Administrators – Traumatic Brain Injury

School Administrators need to be aware of the needs of all the students in their district, regardless of disabled or not.  The small population of students who have sustained Traumatic Brain Injury is very easily a forgotten set of the student body.  The following article from Principal Leadership (December 2007) is an excellent guide for school administrators to learn more about TBI and its implications for the student.  Please click the link below to open the article.

Traumatic Brain Injury and Teens: Information for School Administrators

Traumatic Brain Injury – Implications for School

The implications of children with mis- or undiagnosed traumatic brain injuries in the classroom are huge. There are also a variety of reasons that these children are missed:

  • A child with a TBI may look normal.
  • A parent may not realize that their child suffered a brain injury, so it went unreported.
  • A child might have suffered a TBI but be labeled under another disability category.

It is therefore important for school districts to screen students for possible brain injury upon enrollment to school and especially when suspecting a disability.  A school district’s nurse may provide a critical function in gathering and relaying this information to other school personnel.  However, the role of the school nurse varies greatly from school to school.  Nonetheless, it is important for disticts to have a “point person” assigned.  This may be the guidance counselor, special education coordinator, or school psychologist.  Please see the linked Screening Survey below, developed by Columbus City Schools, as a model for screening students for a possible history of brain injury.  Thanks to CCS and Sara Timms, School Psychologist, for sharing this tool. 

TBI Screening Survey