This fall, eight Geneva senior special education interns were doing more than just homework. Under the guidance of Assistant Professor of Education Dr. Beth Belcastro, these students-Courtney Baughman, Alice Baxter, Elizabeth Fisher, Chelsea Cover, Karyl Fevang, Lynsey Price, Kate Ellefson and Kaitlyne Forstate-researched and planned a presentation for the PA Council for Exceptional Children Conference, held in State College, Pa.
The Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) is a professional association dedicated to improving the educational success of children with disabilities and/or gifts and talents. Its members include special education teachers and administrators, professors, related service providers, paraprofessionals and parents. The state-level chapter, Pennsylvania Council for Exceptional Children (PACEC) is hosts the annual state conference provides to attendees professional development through numerous sessions pertaining to special education issues.
These eight young women were blessed to not only have the opportunity to attend the conference, but also to present their own information to a group of other students and professionals. Their presentation was titled "Grasping the Meaning of Reading: Research-Based Comprehension Strategies for Struggling Readers." The special education interns drew on information that stemmed from one of their block classes, Education 474: Reading Intervention, in which they spent approximately 700 hours in the field working with students of diverse abilities.
During the presentation, the young women shared the research-based comprehension strategies that they are using with students in their field placement. The eight interns split into four groups of two, based on the age of the children studied. Each group used a power-point presentation and a handout to discuss the purposes, procedures and outcomes of the studies.
Courtney Baughman and Alice Baxter studied the 8th and 9th grade group. Their purpose was to activate prior knowledge, deal with misconceptions and accommodations, and direct the focus of students struggling with reading. Their procedure included an anticipation guide in which the students were to give reaction statements to the reading, write down main themes and concepts of the reading, and relate the reading to personal experiences. This strategy was successful in keeping those students having trouble with reading comprehension more on task and aided in connecting the students with the text.
Courtney both enjoyed the conference and was encouraged by the presentation. "We got to interact with other students who are at the same stage in learning special education teaching techniques as we are. It was fun to talk to everyone and get different perspectives on the same thing and also encouraging seeing the outcome of the presentation. This was something we worked really hard on by ourselves. There is so much more to being a teacher than just teaching and this conference was a great way to do that. This was a great opportunity for professional development."
- Christine Carugati ′11