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Great Educational Tools for Special Education Teachers

Great Educational Tools for Special Education Teachers

The potential of students with special needs is often underestimated. However, special education teachers know that these students have exceptional talents, even though it takes a greater effort and a greater number of tools and resources that will bring the lectures closer to them.

Contemporary teaching methods are inseparable with technology tools. When teachers choose the right tools, they will find an easier way of approaching students with special needs. The following resources are definitely worth trying out.

1. TutorsClass

Students with special needs can use tutoring lessons more than anyone, but it’s extremely difficult to find tutors with the right approach when searching locally. As an online tutoring platform, TutorsClass can help every student find the right tutor for their needs.

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This online environment provides numerous benefits for students with special needs, mainly by making them more focused on the learning process. Special education teachers can also find this platform very useful, because they can expand their reach and start providing lessons to more students under their own schedule.

2. Do2Learn

This is one of the best projects aimed at students with special needs. Do2Learn makes them more interested in learning by combining the educational process with games, seasonal arts, craft projects, songs, and many more fun activities. This concept helps teachers to improve the social skills, behavior, and academic achievements of students with special needs.

Do2Learn offers a teacher toolbox, plans for behavior management, literacy tools, and many other materials that enhance the productivity of the teachers and their students. It’s not easy to get access to material created by experts in the niche of special education, which is what makes this website so valuable.

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3. Help.PlagTracker.com

Students with special needs can find grammar and syntax rules too overwhelming, but they are still expected to advance their writing skills. PlagTracker offers professional writing and editing assistance that can make their work much better. One can learn most efficiently through their own mistakes, which makes the corrections provided by the professional team at this website extremely valuable for the education of students with special needs.

Teachers can also turn to the professional editing assistance provided by this website when they want to present flawless textbooks, lessons, and projects to students with special needs.

4. Brainly.com

Brainly.com is a social learning network. It takes what’s best in the traditional, offline collaboration between students, and brings it to an online space. This way, students from different locations and background are able to freely cooperate and study together. After this model proved very successful in European and South American countries, Brainly launched new language versions, including an English one—Brainly.com. Now American, British and all other English speaking students and education enthusiasts may benefit from the exchange of knowledge and skills with the use of social learning.

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5. Writinghouse

Special education teachers have to customize the lesson plans according to the capacity and productivity of their students. This means that they have to produce many pieces of academic content, and all of them need to be properly referenced.

With the help of Writinghouse, teachers can forget about all distracting referencing standards, because this free citation generator applies them automatically.

6. National Center for Learning Disabilities

The NCLD website offers great resources that enable special education teachers to keep their students interested in the lessons. Every teacher has to understand these students before being able to teach them something, and that is exactly what this website is focused on.

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The NCLD offers valuable tips that can help teachers improve their relationships not only with the students, but with their parents as well. Teachers can also find advice on how to use assistive technology that will make their jobs easier.

7. Social Media

Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are tools every teacher should use. A special education teacher can join a large community of educators specialized in this niche, which can help them learn through relevant discussions and information. Making a contribution is always important in this community, and social media websites enable all special education teachers to collaborate and contribute towards the development of new teaching methods.

Teaching methods can be greatly enhanced with the right choice of educational tools.

No special education teacher can achieve great results without being aware of the contemporary teaching methods that combine the use of technology with the educational process. The concepts of this technology are constantly being reinvented, which provides teachers with unlimited options to improve the productivity of their students.

The resources we listed above will help you start exploring the innovations and improve your impact as a teacher to students with special needs.

Featured photo credit: ⤢ × × Jackie J. Schultz. Many Students, One Teacher via flickr.com

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Melissa Burns

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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