Category Archives: UDL

Ten Important Things Amelia Needs You to Know

Ohio’s State Professional Development Grant (SPDG) provides resources for select districts to participate in important work around changing outcomes and improving achievement for diverse learners.

I was honored to be asked to speak at a state-level meeting of SPDG district representatives at the Battelle for Kids “Connect for Success” conference.

My presentation was titled “Ten Important Things Amelia Needs You to Know”.  Big thanks to my friend Patti Porto for getting video of the presentation for me!

The slides are available at


Teaching Left-handed Kids

Some students in today’s educational system are left-handed.  These students have unique educational needs compared to their typical peers.  Common academic activities such as handwriting, drawing, and using scissors require varying levels of modification to accommodate the needs of individuals who are left-handed. Even playtime activities like baseball or golf require alternative or modified equipment to allow students who are left-handed to participate more fully.

Teachers may find it frustrating at first to deal with the unique needs of students who are left-handed.  The constant need to modify assignments can take up a significant amount of the teacher’s valuable time that could be spent in assisting other students. Also, teacher preparation programs do relatively little to familiarize new teachers with the unique needs of this small but important part of the population. These factors contribute to a lack of success for students who are left-handed in typical classrooms.

To maximize efficiency and effective use of limited resources, all students who are left-handed should be educated in a separate educational environment. Students who are left-handed should be provided with a teacher who has specialized credentials in working just with these students. The opportunity for the students to spend most of their time alongside similar individuals will build a greater sense of camaraderie and community. This will also benefit the classroom teachers who will no longer have to spend their time modifying work for students who are left-handed. And, it will benefit the typical students who have previously faced distraction from their studies due to having students who are left-handed in their classroom doing things differently, needing extra assistance, or working in separate groups from typical students.

To enhance these students’ sense of belonging to the school community, we will begin the steps necessary to put together resources to provide activities like sports teams and cheerleading squads for students who are left-handed. We are very excited to announce our first planned event will be a prom, next Spring, only for students who are left-handed!

We are committed to increasing our efforts in early identification of students who are left-handed. Early identification of students who are left-handed will help us provide necessary services that will help increase success of students who are left-handed in a specialized functional curriculum, to give them the best chance of adapting to life after school in a workplace and world dominated by right-handed individuals.

Okay, does all that stuff above seem really stupid?  Yes?  Good.  Now, take out the phrase “Students who are left-handed” and replace it with “students who have Autism” or “Downs Syndrome”or “students who are deaf” or “blind” or any other label we place on students. Why would we think that removing those people from the presence of their peers in classrooms is any more helpful, or any less discriminatory, then doing so with students who are left-handed, or green eyed, or of a particular race?

Just include.

TEDxWorthington Recordings

If you missed TEDxWorthington, the Livestream recordings provided by WOSU are still available.  The event was broken down into three sessions.

Michael delivering his TEDx Talk.Session 1: Steve Kucinski, Tom Burton, Cheyenne Buckingham

Session 2: Chris Hasebrook, Anna Farrell, Eric Gnezda

Session 3: Michael Roush, Trent Bowers, Cindy Meyers Foley

Visit the event archive on Livestream to access these videos.

(Note: no captioning is currently available on these videos.  I intend to produce a transcript of my own TEDx Talk that will hopefully be used to caption my video.  If not, I will make the transcript available via my blog.)

My ten favorite TED/TEDx talks

Holy schlamolies.  It happened.

TEDx logo.I have previously submitted proposals to speak at TEDx events in Cincinnati, Dayton, Columbus, and Kalamazoo.  Every time, I have been told there was a large volume of great ideas, and my proposal happened not to be selected.

Fifth time was the charm.  My presentation proposal has been accepted for the TEDx Worthington event on Saturday, February 27, 2016.  The event will take place at the McConnell Arts Center at Worthington High School.  The theme for the event is “Resolve”.

As I prepare for this event, I thought I would put together a list of my ten favorite TED/TEDx talks, to remind me of what I like most about the format and give me some pointers on what I can do with my 12-15 minutes.

My ten eleven twelve favorite TED/TEDx talks (in alphabetical order by the speaker’s last name):


Ten Movie Clips Any Teacher Can Relate To

My twitter-colleague Matthew Lynch is a professor, editor of The Edvocate and a blogger for the Huffington Post, Education Week, and Diverse.

He has an exceptionally thought-provoking two-part article about some movies that expressly speak to the situation teachers in America find themselves in.

I have routinely used video clips from movies (and other sources) in the workshops I do with teachers.  Dr. Lynch’s post prodded me to get about the work of putting together my ten favorite movie clips any teacher can relate to.  Each of them gives an example (or maybe a non-example!) of how to structure the learning environment to reach all kids.  In somewhat random order, here they are!

Patch Adams, “The Walkthrough” – If someone, even an administrator, walked past your classroom door at just the right (or wrong?) moment, what would they think about what is going on?  Administrative walkthroughs are quite the rage in some evaluation systems, which I suppose is all well and good.  But whoever is doing the observing needs to know exactly what they are looking for and looking at without jumping to any unwarranted conclusions based on personal preferences or preconceived notions about what constitutes effectiveness.

Miracle, “I wanna see that kid in the net who wouldn’t take the test.” – You know the kid.  He’s good.  He knows he’s good.  You know he’s good.  But he doesn’t always do well.  Sometimes, he doesn’t do anything.  He’s bored.  He’s disengaged.  He might even be smarter than you.  You still have to find a way to reach him.  And you don’t have to crush his spirit to do it.

The Blind Side, “You should get to know your players, Bert.” – Take advantage of their strengths.  That means you have to take the time to get to know them and find out their strengths.  A very real-life example of “if they don’t learn the way I teach, I need to learn to teach the way they learn.”

Remember the Titans, “Attitude reflects leadership, Captain – What teacher wouldn’t love to have a “can-do” team attitude in their classroom?  However, high functioning teams do not just happen.  The process can be difficult, and it requires a level of honesty and trust in interactions that just does not seem to come naturally in traditional expectations for classroom management.

We Are Marshall, “Now, I am going to bet that you didn’t propose over the phone….
Engaging students (and their families!) takes much more than mass communication.  General newsletters, form letters, and announcements are fine, but they do nothing to cultivate a relationship.  Before you need some very special favor, cultivate the relationship that makes it likely for someone to want to do something nice for you.

Mr. Holland’s Opus, “Lou finds the beat –  If you know a teacher who is still confused about what Tier III instruction in a Multi-Tiered System of Support (or “Response to Intervention (RtI)” model is supposed to look like, show them this clip.  Individual, specialized assistance, with the task broken down into successive approximations, within the student’s Zone of Proximal Development, with the end goal of having the student perform the task proficiently alongside their peers.  Simple as banging on a drum.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, “Anyone? – Informal formative assessment and checking for understanding are all the rage these days.  And well they should be.  They are a great way for a teacher to make sure their instruction is doing what it is supposed to do.  Here’s the key, though… if you aren’t using the data from your formative assessment to actually change the way you teach, it’s absolutely pointless to perform the assessment and collect the data.

We Bought a Zoo, “Twenty seconds of insane courage – What if we gave kids a safe place to try?  What if we gave kids a place where they could see what happens when they come up with twenty seconds of insane courage, with no fear of rejection or ridicule if they get it a little bit wrong?  For far too many of our students, school has taught them that the shame of failure is to be feared far more than the joy of accomplishment is to be pursued.

A Christmas Story, “I want you to write a theme! – Why haven’t there been more statues commemorating students who wrote magnificent themes?  Is it possibly because they never made it further than the teacher’s inbox, then the gradebook, then the wastebasket?  What can you do to get the great work your students do in front of more people?  [Consider something like Project TWIMA (The World Is My Audience)!]

Kindergarten Cop, Fire Drill – Every new teacher dreads their first fire drill.  Every veteran teacher can’t help themselves but look to see how the newbie does.  But seriously, when do you see people walking in neat, straight rows like that when there’s a REAL fire?

Pay It Forward, Your assignment for the school year – change the world. – When did a year-long assignment challenging students to come up with an idea that would change the world for the better become such a pie-in-the-sky fantasy world idea?  If we spend all of our time in the curriculum laboratory coming up with not-real assignments about not-real topics to help kids achieve not-real standards demonstrated on not-real assessments, why should we surprised that kids ask why they should bother spending their time on it?  Do they want to change things?  Great!  Channel that drive, don’t squelch it and then wonder why the kids seem so apathetic these days.  What type of work would be considered “weird”, “crazy”, or “hard” in your classroom?  If it’s worth doing, if it could change the world, why not think of it as “possible” and see what happens?





Some of my favorite people in education work at OCALI (Ohio Center for Autism and Low Incidence).  Before I ever had a child of my own diagnosed with Autism, my work took me to OCALI on many occasions.  I have always had a great time working with the people there.

OCALICON 2015.Their flagship event every year is the national OCALICON in Columbus, Ohio.  This year, I will have the privilege of being at OCALICON for two presentations:

If you’re at OCALICON this year, say hi!

Tech Tools to Support the Five-Step Writing Process – INFOhio Webinar

INFOhioOn Thursday, November 12, from 3:30-4:30, I presented “Tech Tools to Support the Five-Step Writing Process” via webinar for the fine folks at INFOhio!

Check out a Voki intro of the session!

This webinar will highlight a few free tools you can use to support the Five-Step Writing Process (Pre-write, Write, Revise, Edit, and Publish) for students with diverse needs!

The webinar was recorded, so you can still view it.  And, if you answer five simple true-false questions after viewing the webinar, you can download a certificate and/or get a cool badge like this one!