Tuesday, April 27, 2010

too good not to share

got it from
Man with cerebral palsy helps teach special-ed course
By Jeremy P. Meyer

Bronwen Buswell, right, carries the laptop belonging to her brother, Wilson, as she helps him to class. Wilson co-instructs a special-ed class with Christi Kasa-Hendrickson, rear. (Karl Gehring, The Denver Post)
Wilson Buswell, who has cerebral palsy, and associate professor Christi Kasa-Hendrickson joke about jointly teaching those who will teach special education before class at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. (Karl Gehring, The Denver Post)

COLORADO SPRINGS — Wilson Buswell has cerebral palsy, can't talk and answers only yes-or-no questions: a blink for yes, a stare for no.

But Buswell has become a powerful communicator to a handful of students studying to become effective special-education teachers.

Buswell, 30, is co-instructing a course at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs on how to teach students who have significant support needs. His presence in the classroom every week provides a valuable real-life lesson in how people with disabilities can be included — and even teach a thing or two.

"Just because someone can't speak doesn't mean they can't learn," said Mallory Barber, a first-grade teacher at Explorer Elementary School in Colorado Springs who is working toward her master's degree in education.

Though federal law requires students with disabilities be placed in the least restrictive classroom environment, a movement has been growing to fully include students.

That is the mission of Buswell's co-instructor, associate professor Christi Kasa- Hendrickson, who believes inclusive education is a social-justice issue.

"There is such value in diversity and such value for people with disabilities in class," said Kasa-Hendrickson, who travels the country helping schools develop systems to fully include children with disabilities alongside their nondisabled peers.

It was natural, then, for Kasa-Hendrickson's college course to be a model for inclusion.

"I'd always thought that if I am going to teach a class about a group of people that I should have a member of that group teaching it with me," she said. "It's really about having representation of a minority group that doesn't get heard or seen very much."

Buswell, a high school graduate with 26 college credits, doesn't lecture. He presents PowerPoint lessons that detail his life experiences and asks students in the class to mull how they would include him.

"I'm in charge of teaching all of the strategies and research part," Kasa-Hendrickson said. "Wilson does a lot of the personal perspective — what has his life been like, what is communication like for him, how does he deal with folks in the community and what is cerebral palsy like."

Buswell's parents are well-known in Colorado for their disability-rights advocacy and for their fight for their son to be fully included in Colorado Springs District 11. His mother, Barbara Buswell, is executive director of Peak Parent Center, Colorado's federally designated parent training and information site for families of children with disabilities.

On a recent Wednesday, Buswell sat in his wheelchair facing the class with his sister, Bronwen Buswell, 27, at his side. She would occasionally speak for him, feed him, stretch out his contorted arms and wipe away saliva.

Buswell had created a PowerPoint presentation by painstakingly typing out words with help from his sister to explain different activities in which he participates — volunteering, going on hikes with his family, opening presents at Christmas and attending rock concerts.

With help, Buswell tapped an electronic device to change the PowerPoint slides on the screen.

"You have to participate in everything or you won't participate in anything," Buswell says in one of his slides.

He then asked the graduate students to think of three classroom activities in which he could be included.

Students suggested a discussion about a book or film with "yes" or "no" answers or letting Buswell help make decisions in creating a music video or planning a concert.

"Presume competency," Kasa- Hendrickson said, reminding students of a key tenet for creating an inclusive classroom.

Teachers also should work to establish a community within the classroom, create adaptations to help that student learn and tackle any challenge with optimism and creativity.

"We just don't have a lot of effective results from segregating classrooms," said Kasa-Hendrickson, citing a soon-to-be-released federal study that shows the biggest indicator of growth in reading and math for students with disabilities was time in general-education classrooms.

"To me, all kids should be educated together," she said. "I see it as a slow social movement."

The first challenge is getting teachers to drop their fears of students with severe disabilities, she said. That can be difficult — and that's why she introduces them to Buswell.

"Students are really unsure about being around a person with significant disabilities," she said. "They don't know how to act; they're nervous."

One time, a student of hers burst into tears and ran from the classroom when she first saw Buswell. Kasa-Hendrickson coaxed her back in and asked her to observe Buswell's interactions.

Kasa-Hendrickson seeks his input by asking Buswell "yes" or "no" questions. Students also have noticed Buswell's sense of humor when he laughs at Kasa-Hendrickson's technical problems that sometimes stall class.

"Lots of people have a guest speaker, but I thought a long-term presence will create change," Kasa-Hendrickson said. "One of the things I am very committed for them to do is to learn how to speak and interact with someone in a very typical and normal way. To learn to do that takes time."

But it's working.

"I am hoping that by the end of the class, they will decrease their fear about being around people with disabilities and they learn tons of strategies of how to include kids and how to communicate with someone who can't talk," she said.

Julia Smith, a teacher at Children's Ark in Green Mountain Falls, said being exposed to someone with such significant disabilities has been eye-opening.

"I've seen how capable and talented he is," Smith said. "I've learned asking him questions is OK. For him to say, 'I need more time to answer' and 'This is how I will communicate,' that is huge."

Monday, April 26, 2010

Honorable mention again

Hi guys I want to let you know that I won an another award for my poetry. This is the same contest I won last year. I do not have a copy of that poem so in the mean time here is the one i won last year
Dare to dream big

When I was little
I had big dreams.
I wanted to be a construction worker,
High school sport star.
I dreamed, and I thought
If I made the good dreams big enough ,
I thought
Just maybe
Just maybe
It could come true.

When I got older,
Just shy of ten,
I began to question
If I could control
my destiny.
I realized that I was different somehow
From the rest of the kids on the playground.
I had two acronyms attached to my name
They were
CP, and NLD
I began to realize this and sometimes felt ashamed.

Then there came middle school.
That was the worst.
Kids teased me and I got my feelings hurt.
I sucked.
I was a loner.
The worst kid in the entire seventh grade class.
What made it worse was that CP was in my face.
I always got cut from team sports,
The games I loved most.
The things that made papa boast,
Like he did for the baseball king,
My elder brother.

Around this time
My dream came to me
And whispered softly into my ear to
“Please do not let me leave your side
Let me stay and let me help you as a guide:
For new stories,
New songs,
New programs,
That I long to belong to.
Programs that saw inclusion as key
To opening the doors for all kids,
Even those with disabilities.”

All in all
I want to leave you with this:
Reach for the stars,
But when you land on the stars
Go for the moon.
Make your future yours
Despite what others think you can do
Whether you are short, or way too tall,
Or have some type of disability
or none at all.
With hard work
And a little money ,too,
They might
Just might
Come true.
The choice of a future is up to you.
I dare you to dream big and see it through.
After all dreams are among the few things that are up to you.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Milestone ahead

I am going to prom on Friday wish me luck

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Adleadid dunport

can u tell me about yourslef

Thursday, April 8, 2010

basketball 2010 part two

From the time I was little I always wanted to knoww what it felt like to be on a school team for my school. That has not happend since sizth grade but flash forad to last year. Mr C bailed on the soccer team ( but we are still great friends ). I dicieded I would bite the bullet and ask coach G if I could help out. I had perepared my slef by saying there was a 99% percent chabce the coach would say no and a ONE PERCENT CHANCE THAT SHEE WOULD say yes. Ms G said yes and I became a ball kid for the varsity basketball team. I had to be in charge of the balls at the home games and got to sit on the bench and shake hands after the game. I got to be a manger on the basketball team and although I never suited up to play in the game I was apart of the team.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter

laid back athlete dad and me 1994
AZ book gal princess in matching dress at
Grandma's house

my mom dad my sisters and I

From my family to yours and do not forget to wish Brady happy birthday I am just waiting for my mom to come home from Chaigo so we ( princess , mom and me) can begin the celebrations.