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November 2015 Archives

Dear Hollis


Dear Reader:

We are starting a new monthly column where you can get your special education and intervention questions answered by an expert. Parents, teachers, and administrators can receive valuable information. Please send your questions to hdannaham@gmail.com.

About the expert: After 30 years serving complex learners of all age groups as a special education teacher, reading specialist,  school leader, and clinical learning specialist, Hollis Dannaham, M.Ed., now consults with schools to design intervention and special education programs, coaches teachers and administrators, and provides professional development workshops. 

Dear Hollis:

I am a middle school principal who is trying to implement a Response to Intervention program in my school. I am having a problem with scheduling since I can't pull student's from their classes. What can I do? 

Well Intentioned in Westchester


Dear Well Intentioned,

You are not alone! Scheduling is one of the greatest challenges when implementing an RTI program. Try carving out an intervention period for each grade level. During this period the grade is broken into homogenous groups and all teachers are on deck. The RTI students get small group remediation from the specialists, students struggling in a content area get an extra period with that content teacher, and high achieving students are given extension projects to complete. All student benefit. Let me know how it works out!

In Service, Hollis 


Dear Hollis,

I am a parent of a 6 year old with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Every morning is a battle to get out of the house. I can't get my son to complete basic routines. What can I do?

Signed, Frustrated in New Jersey


Dear Frustrated,

Try creating a picture, morning routine chart. Take a piece of card stock, draw a line down the middle and on the top left write the words "To Do" and on the top right, put the word "Done." Then laminate it. Find pictures of each of the activities you want your child to complete. For example, get out of bed, brush your teeth, etc.. Keep the list to four items maximum. Place velcro hooks down both sides of the chart and velcro loops on the back of each picture. Have your child move the picture from the "To Do" side to the"Done" side after each task is completed. If all pictures are moved to "Done," then give your child a small reward. Good Luck!

In Service, Hollis


Sacramento, Calif., - Thirty education and technology leaders across America were awarded the Center for Digital Education's Top 30 Technologists, Transformers and Trailblazers award.

This accolade honors K-20 education leaders who are morphing the learning landscape by utilizing innovative technologies to enhance the overall learning environment. The 2015 award winners were selected based on their efforts to improve education through effective implementation of technology rich solutions; their impact on student outcomes; and their overall initiative, creativity and leadership skills.

Digital advancements recognized include:

Using data to understand and address statewide education challenges, including increasing educator quality and retention

Closing the connectivity gap through creative measures such as outfitting buses with Wi-Fi routers, parking router-equipped buses in low-connectivity neighborhoods in the evening, partnering with a cellular/cable vendor to provide low-cost Internet service and coordinating with local businesses to provide students with free Internet access at their establishment

Monitoring public social media posts to ensure school and student safety

Developing a totally immersive and responsive learning environment equipped with mobile furniture, LCD screens, wireless projection, digital whiteboard painted walls, portable whiteboards, cases of tablets and more

"Our 2015 Top 30 award winners represent thought leaders and innovators in higher education, K-12 and the education nonprofit community, which offers sustenance and influence to the field of education," said Dr. Kecia Ray, executive director of the Center for Digital Education. "I am honored to facilitate such an amazing community of leaders and thrilled to welcome our new award winners."


The Top 30 Technologists, Transformers, and Trailblazers: See full profiles at www.centerdigitaled.com/top30.

Dr. Darryl S. Adams, Superintendent of Schools and Servant Leader, Coachella Valley Unified School District, California

Chris Aviles, EdTech Coach, Fair Haven School District, New Jersey

Susan M. Bearden, Director of Information Technology, Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy, Florida

Gregg Behr, Executive Director, The Grable Foundation, Pennsylvania

Norman Bier, Director, Open Learning Initiative, Executive Director, Simon Initiative, Carnegie Mellon University, Pennsylvania

Gary Brantley, Chief Information Officer, DeKalb County School District, Georgia

Dr. Jeffrey Butts, Superintendent, Metropolitan School District of Wayne Township, Indiana

Alisa Chapman, Ed.D., Vice President for Academic and University Programs, University of North Carolina

Trina Davis, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Director of Glasscock Island, Department of Teaching, Learning and Culture, Texas A&M University

Julie Evans, CEO, Project Tomorrow, California

Dr. James P. Frazee, Senior Academic Technology Officer, San Diego State University, California

Dr. Randy Hansen, Master of Education in Instructional Technology Program Chair, University of Maryland University College

Ken Ingle, Chief Information Officer, Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, North Carolina

Pete Just, Chief Technology Officer, Metropolitan School District of Wayne Township, Indiana

Dr. Gary Lilly, Director of Schools, Bristol Tennessee City Schools, Tennessee

Jennie Magiera, Chief Technology Officer, Des Plaines School District 62, Illinois

Chris Malone, Assistant Superintendent of Schools, Revere Public Schools, Massachusetts

Michelle Murphy, Executive Director of Technology Services and CTO, Coachella Valley Unified School District, California

Doug Orr, Supervisor of Technology, Summit Public Schools, New Jersey

AJ Phillips, Director of Information Technology Services, Prince William County Public Schools, Virginia

Tim Renick, Vice Provost and Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Success, Georgia State University

Theresa Rowe, Chief Information Officer, Oakland University, Michigan

Jay Rozgonyi, Director of Academic Computing, Fairfield University, Connecticut

Dr. David R. Schuler, Superintendent, Township High School District 214, Illinois

Kristin Scott, Assistant Director for Education Technology and Information Technology Training, Tyler Junior College, Texas

Jeremy Shorr, Director of Innovation and Educational Technology, Mentor Public Schools, Ohio

Dr. Scott S. Smith, Chief Technology Officer, Mooresville Graded School District, North Carolina

Valerie Page Truesdale, Ph.D., Chief Technology, Personalization and Engagement Officer, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, North Carolina

UWM U-Pace Team, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

William R. Watson, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Learning Design & Technology, Director, Purdue Center for Serious Games and Learning in Virtual Environments, Department of Curriculum and Instruction, College of Education, Purdue University, Indiana     

Underwriters for the 2015 awards include CDWG, Pure Storage, LivingTree and Symantec. 


 About the Center for Digital Education

The Center for Digital Education (CDE) is a national research and advisory institute specializing in K-12 and higher education technology trends, policy and funding. CDE provides education and industry leaders with decision support and actionable insight to help effectively incorporate new technologies in the 21st century. www.centerdigitaled.com

CDE is a division of e.Republic, the nation's only media and research company focused exclusively on state and local government and education.

by Allen Frances

The drugs industry is the most profitable on earth. It has two branches- an illegal one consisting of drug cartels and a legal one consisting of drug companies. 
  The huge profits derived by both branches accrue from the same source- monopoly price gouging. The monopoly on the illegal side is enforced by guns; on the legal side by patents, lawsuits, mergers, advertising, fake research, and bought politicians. 
  Both markets are asymmetrical- all the power is with the seller, the consumer is desperate to buy and therefore is price insensitive. Addiction and fear of illness are among the strongest of motivators.
  The drug cartels are murderously ruthless; the drug companies only marginally less so. Twice as many people now die from prescription drugs as from street drugs, but this does not prevent the drug companies from pushing harmful products for profit. 
  In a previous blog, I pointed out that we are fighting the wrong war on drugs- a forty-five year losing battle with the cartels that we cannot possibly win, while neglecting the battle against the Pharma monopoly that we could not possibly lose. http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/1828946
   I will indicate the various ways Pharma has gained and protected its monopoly  power and then suggest ways of restoring restraint and price competition:

● Buying Politicians:  Pharma has one of the strongest lobbies in Washington and is one of the biggest contributors to political parties and candidates, especially on the Republican side of the aisle. Its influence is also augmented by the revolving door- people who serve as legislators or staff or regulators during part of their careers become highly paid Pharma lobbyists during other parts. The crazy result- although Medicare is the world's biggest buyer of drugs, it is prohibited because of Pharma political power from negotiating their price. US consumers and taxpayers pay more than twice as much for the same pill as people in other countries. 
● Toothless Regulation: Pharma increasingly dominates its regulators. Eight years ago, the FDA approval rate for new drugs was 33%; this year it jumpef to over 95%. The FDA has also pretty much  lost control over Pharma marketing to the public and to doctors. And it has been deprived of the ability to consider cost in its drug approval process. New drugs that are far more expensive, but  questionably safer or more effective, are legitimized by a cursory FDA approval process and then are advertised into billion dollar  "breakthrough" blockbusters. 
● Third Party Reimbursement: Many  people have insurance that allows them to co-pay only a small fraction of the enormous prices now charged to insurance for most drugs. This has made much of the public relatively price insensitive. Those without coverage either have to go without or suffer great financial hardship. This is now changing.  As co-pays and deductible limits rise rapidly, more people are feeling the pain and are pressing for government protection against exhorbitant drug company pricing.
● Disease Mongering: Pharma successfully pressured government for the right to advertise directly to consumers, something allowed in no other devekiped country except New Zealand. Misleading advertising allows drug companies to create artificial demand- selling the pill to sell the ill. Billions of dollars are spent on extensive 'disease awareness' campsigns that hide the wolf of Pharma greed under the sheep's clothing of patient and physician education. 
● Fake Research: Drug companies pretend they must charge outrageous prices to support the research that will lead to miracle cures. Not true. Drug companies spend twice as much on lobbying and marketing than on research. And most of their "research"  is no more tha a disguised arm of marketing- driven by profit motive, not concern for patient health. Pharma has been great at making profitable me-too drugs to extend patent life, not very good at finding new drugs that really make a difference. 
● Co-Opting Consumer Advocacy: Drug companies heavily finance consumer advocacy groups,  often making them little more than extensions of the drug company lobbying efforts to pressure legislators and regulators.  
● Generic Drug Consolidation: Generics were meant to be the one refuge of competitive, rational and affordable drug pricing. Once the patent protecting the monopoly on a drug ran out, other companies would produce generic versions competing on price to attract  consumers. It isn't working out that way. The price of generic drugs is now also sky-rocketing because companies are consolidating and have figured out all sorts of tricky ways to restrict access to  less expensive medications. The most dramatic recent example is Daraprim, a drug sold at reasonable prices for 62 years, whose price would have been raised 5,000% if media and public outrage had not caused its producer to back down.

   Monopolies are the cancer of capitalism. Adam Smith, the revered father of free market economics, recognized the dangers of cornered markets and endorsed the role of government in regulating against monopoly power. He would be appalled by the drug companies' ability to rig pricing. 
   The solution to the drug company stranglehold is simple- restore competition by reducing monopoly power. Preventing Medicare from negotiating prices is nothing less than a giveaway of taxpayer dollars to greedy Pharma by politicians who are in its hip pocket. So are me-too patent extensions, reduced FDA regulatory power,  marketing directly to consumers, off label marketing, and a host of other Pharma tricks to create false demand and retain exclusive control over supply. 
   A free, fair, and constructive drug market would be easy to create if the game weren't so badly rigged. Pharma has purchased the politicians and diverted their loyalty away from the public good. 
  Fair play can be restored, but only if there is the same intense public outrage and class action suits that tamed Big Tobacco. Politicians will do the right thing only if and when they become more afraid of voters than of lobbyists.
   There are some encouraging signs even this early in the current election cycle. Candidates and legislators of both parties now realize that public outrage has reached a boiling point and are beginning to suggest various ways drug prices should be controlled. Pharma, of course, is doubling down with its usual platitudinous defenses and enormous campaign contributions.
  The drug industry is the most profitable on earth because it has greedily exercised to the full its monopoly power to price gouge. But the combination of mounting public outrage, frequent media expose, and the politics of this election season now provide the critical ingredients for possible change. 
  It will be extremely easy for politicians to make empty promises, much harder under Pharma lobbying pressure for them to deliver on them.  But talking the deceptive talk will no longrt cut it- we should elect only those courageous politicians who can also walk the difficult walk. They are in office to protect us, not the drug companies. 

by Harold S. Koplewicz, MD, President, CHILD MIND INSTITUTE

When tragedy strikes, as parents you find yourself doubly challenged: to process your own feelings of grief and distress, and to help your children do the same.

I wish I could tell you how to spare your children pain, when they've lost friends or family members, and fear, when disturbing events occur, especially when they're close to home. I can't do that, but what I can do is share what I've learned about how to help children process disturbing events in the healthiest way.

As a parent, you can't protect you children from grief, but you can help them express their feelings, comfort them, and help them feel safer. By allowing and encouraging them to express their feelings, you can help them build healthy coping skills that will serve them well in the future, and confidence that they can overcome adversity.

  • Break the news. When something happens that will get wide coverage, my first and most important suggestion is that you don't delay telling your children about what's happened: It's much better for the child if you're the one who tells her. You don't want her to hear from some other child, a television news report, or the headlines on the front page of the New York Post. You want to be able to convey the facts, however painful, and set the emotional tone.
  • Take your cues from your child. Invite her to tell you anything she may have heard about the tragedy, and how she feels. Give her ample opportunity to ask questions. You want to be prepared to answer (but not prompt) questions about upsetting details. Your goal is to avoid encouraging frightening fantasies.
  • Model calmIt's okay to let your child know if you're sad, but if you talk to your child about a traumatic experience in a highly emotional way, then he will likely absorb your emotion and very little else. If, on the other hand, you remain calm, he is likely to grasp what's important: that tragic events can upset our lives, even deeply, but we can learn from bad experiences and work together to grow stronger.
  • Be reassuring. Talking about death is always difficult, but a tragic accident or act of violence is especially tough because of how egocentric children are: they're likely to focus on whether something like this could happen to them. So it's important to reassure your child about how unusual this kind of event is, and the safety measures that have been taken to prevent this kind of thing from happening to them. You can also assure him that this kind of tragedy is investigated carefully, to identify causes and help prevent it from happening again. It's confidence-building for kids to know that we learn from negative experiences.
  • Help them express their feelingsIn your conversation (and subsequent ones) you can suggest ways your child might remember those she's lost: draw pictures or tell stories about things you did together. If you're religious, going to church or synagogue could be valuable.
  • Be developmentally appropriate. Don't volunteer too much information, as this may be overwhelming. Instead, try to answer your child's questions. Do your best to answer honestly and clearly. It's okay if you can't answer everything; being available to your child is what matters. Difficult conversations like this aren't over in one session; expect to return to the topic as many times as your child needs to come to terms with this experience
  • Be available. If your child is upset, just spending time with him may make him feel safer. Children find great comfort in routines, and doing ordinary things together as a family may be the most effective form of healing.
  • Memorialize those who have been lost. Drawing pictures, planting a tree, sharing stories, or releasing balloons can all be good, positive ways to help provide closure to a child. It's important to assure your child that a person continues to live on in the hearts and minds of others. Doing something to help others in need can be very therapeutic: it can help children not only feel good about themselves but learn a very healthy way to respond to grief. 

Please visit childmind.org for more infomation.

By Dr. Pola Rosen

Today, York Prep, a private school near Lincoln Center, hosted Lin-Manuel Miranda for an insightful view of his work and career. If you had never met him and did not know about his smash hit Hamilton, his spontaneity, warmth and quick wit would soon blow you away! While it felt like an intimate chat, over 500 students filled the nave of the Christian Science Church. Some of the questions he fielded from intermediate school and high school students were: how do you write successfully? His advice: do a lot of research and surround yourself with smart people!

Question 2: Did you ever have stage fright?

Yes all the time and it forces you to concentrate and have a better performance.

Question 3: Whom would you like to work with today?

I have been privileged to work with Steven Sondheim and Stephen Schwartz. When I was in high school, I thought I would go to NYU and be a filmmaker but I really wanted to leave NY and try other things.

Question 4: If you had a chance to meet Hamilton, what would you ask him?

So many leaders of that period traveled widely. Would you ever want to see another part of the world?

Question: What do you derive form the study of history?

I find humanity and hope.

At the close of the Q and A, Lin-Manuel asked the head of school for any comments. Mr. Stewart's response was: "Words fail me. This has been a magical time!"

Ronald Stewart recently was honored at the Harvard Club by Education Update for his magical guidance of thousands of students at York Prep.

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L-R: Ronald Stewart, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Luis Miranda

About Me

Homeroom is the place to go for quick news on what is happening in education around the world. Remember how you had to check in to homeroom for attendance and daily schedule changes in intermediate school as well as high school? Education Update has created this section...Read More

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