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  1. #1
    JustMe is offline Diamond level (5000+ posts)
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    Default Looking at middle schools--what do you think

    So, we have school choice within our public school system and last week I thought I may have new hope for middle school. There is one school I have always heard great things about, from both parents with children in both spec. ed and regular ed. I talked to the principal and was impressed on many levels. I talked with him after the group meeting (it was open to all interested parents) about dd's IEP, etc, and felt really good except for one really big thing.

    What they offer for reading and math, for the spec. ed kids who are not receiving intensive services, such as an aide, is sort of a pre-teaching class in both math and reading that is separate from the reg ed class. They go over the concepts they will learn, vocabulary, give them extra help. This may work really well for dd (wont know for sure until we try), but the bummer is that they have 2 electives and each of these slots is held during an elective time--so that would mean no electives. This is a bummer for dd b/c aside from the typical reasons, dd tends to excel in elective-type classes (she is very creative and good at non-academic things), and for all I know would make a career out of something more along those lines. I did express some concerns to the principal, but his response was maybe she could just take either the math or reading and do one elective (he has not really seen her IEP, scores, etc--this is all just off the cuff, which he stated too--and would be discussed in an IEP mtg)--but I know she really needs both.

    I am not sure exactly what I am asking. The principal did keep stating he wants it to work for the kids...but I don't know--would you just accept that she won't electives (which will make her sad on top of everything), push to find a solution, or decide this is not the right school. There is one other school I am still looking at, but honestly this was much better than the other choices in all other ways.
    lucky single mommy to almost 16 yr old dd and almost 13 yr old ds through 2 very different adoption routes

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    egoldber's Avatar
    egoldber is offline Black Diamond level (25,000+ posts)
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    This is how it is in our middle school. Many of the students who get intensive help in subjects have that in place of an elective.

    Honestly, I find the electives to be fun, but not a lot of value. The kids do enjoy them, but I don't think the kids who don't have the electives are missing any great opportunity. Does the MS have after school club opportunities? Those offer a lot more value IMO.
    Beth, mom to older DD (8/01) and younger DD (10/06) and always missing Leah (4/22 - 5/1/05)

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    JustMe is offline Diamond level (5000+ posts)
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    Quote Originally Posted by egoldber View Post

    Honestly, I find the electives to be fun, but not a lot of value. The kids do enjoy them, but I don't think the kids who don't have the electives are missing any great opportunity. Does the MS have after school club opportunities? Those offer a lot more value IMO.
    I used to feel the same way as you--that electives dont have a lot of value--but I no longer feel this way based on who dd is and watching her benefit from the electives offered even at the elem. school level. As I said, dd is very artistic and creative and generally thrives in those classes, which is great for self-esteem, gives her peers something to admire her for, and as I said--I honestly can see dd going into a field where somehow art, cooking, or something along those lines. She's in 5th grade right now, and they are doing mentorships--dd wants to do hers in a bakery.

    As far as afterschool, yes, they have some things but it is kind of hard to tell what they are and I think they change a lot. Getting her other places afterschool is hard for me being a single WOHP. I am looking really hard for options where I can pick dd up from school more, but that is a whole other story and so far not happening. However, yes, i do agree with your point that finding some way to supplement would be helpful.
    lucky single mommy to almost 16 yr old dd and almost 13 yr old ds through 2 very different adoption routes

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    egoldber's Avatar
    egoldber is offline Black Diamond level (25,000+ posts)
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    Actually I think those things have a lot of value, but not in the traditional classroom format. KWIM? The problem I see with things like art and cooking in an "academic" environment is that the kids don't have a lot of time or freedom. Because it's a class, they have to do things in a certain way, the kids only have so much time, etc.

    But in the after school clubs (our school has, for example, art, fashion/sewing, and cooking clubs) they have a LOT more time. They have a 2 hour block after school where the kids are much more free to experiment and do things with (usually) the same teacher and interested peers, just in a more relaxed environment. But it sounds like those types of activities may not be available in your after school program.
    Beth, mom to older DD (8/01) and younger DD (10/06) and always missing Leah (4/22 - 5/1/05)

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    JustMe is offline Diamond level (5000+ posts)
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    [QUOTE=egoldber;3949523]Actually I think those things have a lot of value, but not in the traditional classroom format. KWIM? The problem I see with things like art and cooking in an "academic" environment is that the kids don't have a lot of time or freedom. Because it's a class, they have to do things in a certain way, the kids only have so much time, etc.

    .[/QUOTE

    That does make sense. I guess we have not experienced that in our elem. school, as it is an alternative (although public) school...but, you are right, in a middle school (which is not alternative) that probably would be true.

    The afterschool clubs you describe would be perfect--I don't think they have anything like that, but it was hard to pin him down on those---I think they do change a lot, and may have something like that sporadically..I will try to ask more about that or figure out who might know.
    lucky single mommy to almost 16 yr old dd and almost 13 yr old ds through 2 very different adoption routes

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    egoldber's Avatar
    egoldber is offline Black Diamond level (25,000+ posts)
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    I don't know if our after school program is typical or not. But it's almost the best part of MS for DD!!!

    Our MS has 50ish minute classes with 4 minutes between classes. That leaves very little time to actually do things in class if there is any prep work or clean up involved. Some MS have block scheduling, so that would help.
    Beth, mom to older DD (8/01) and younger DD (10/06) and always missing Leah (4/22 - 5/1/05)

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    I get your dilemma but I think the situation that you describe is a common one. There is just not enough time in the school day to provide additional help and keep all of the electives. What kind of schedule/program are you looking for? Resource rooms are always a compromise, in my experience.
    DD '06
    DD '14

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    JustMe is offline Diamond level (5000+ posts)
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    Quote Originally Posted by vludmilla View Post
    I get your dilemma but I think the situation that you describe is a common one. There is just not enough time in the school day to provide additional help and keep all of the electives. What kind of schedule/program are you looking for? Resource rooms are always a compromise, in my experience.
    Well, I do recognize that nothing is perfect--especially with the limited budget our district has. Really, if I had my druthers she would get more resource room/individualized instruction and probably during regular academic instruction time. A lot of what is going on during regular instruction time is over her head anyway...especially in math.

    Can you say more about what you mean by resource rooms always being a compromise? Everything is a compromise, but just wondering if you were referring to anything in particular.
    lucky single mommy to almost 16 yr old dd and almost 13 yr old ds through 2 very different adoption routes

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    Quote Originally Posted by JustMe View Post
    Well, I do recognize that nothing is perfect--especially with the limited budget our district has. Really, if I had my druthers she would get more resource room/individualized instruction and probably during regular academic instruction time. A lot of what is going on during regular instruction time is over her head anyway...especially in math.

    Can you say more about what you mean by resource rooms always being a compromise? Everything is a compromise, but just wondering if you were referring to anything in particular.
    I would strongly recommend against ever giving up the regular instruction time in favor of resource room time. In New York, we could not even legally choose to take a student out of regular instruction to have resource room/individualized instruction instead. It would be a violation of LRE (least restrictive environment) unless the student was severely disabled and literally unable to be educated with his/her peers in the general education environment. I think the best bet for students that are struggling is to be in the regular academic class and also in the resource room for extra help. Students that are struggling often need/benefit from the extra time. Having said this, are there any co-taught or team taught class options in the schools around you? These classes are taught by a regular and special education teacher in collaboration. These classes can be a good option for struggling students but a separate resource room is usually still an important component, even with co-taught classes.
    ETA: I meant that having a resource room is always a compromise in that you have to give something up in your schedule in order to fit it in the schedule. In an ideal world, students wouldn't have to choose resource room over an elective but the reality is that there are usually no "free" periods in the student day to fit resource room when needed so something needs to give.
    Last edited by vludmilla; 02-07-2014 at 10:53 PM.
    DD '06
    DD '14

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    JustMe is offline Diamond level (5000+ posts)
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    Quote Originally Posted by vludmilla View Post
    I would strongly recommend against ever giving up the regular instruction time in favor of resource room time. In New York, we could not even legally choose to take a student out of regular instruction to have resource room/individualized instruction instead. It would be a violation of LRE (least restrictive environment) unless the student was severely disabled and literally unable to be educated with his/her peers in the general education environment. I think the best bet for students that are struggling is to be in the regular academic class and also in the resource room for extra help. .
    I get the part about LRE. What I don't understand is why people do think it is so important academically to have the student get regular instruction? I am sure there is something to this, but I would like to understand better how it relates to my dd. In dd's case, she is not in the category of severely disabled, but she does have significant auditory processing issues that make it so that she really does not learn much in a large group environment. She also just does not get some of the concepts of her grade level math and needs to continue to work on other things in order to get those concepts.

    Hmmn, I will ask around about team taught classes--I don't think there are any--this is probably the next best thing as there is the regular class and the "remedial" (they dont call it that, but I dont remember what they call it) class that is supposed to pre-teach/work more on what they learn in the regular class.

    Thanks so much for everyone's input!
    lucky single mommy to almost 16 yr old dd and almost 13 yr old ds through 2 very different adoption routes

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