June 19, 2013 Handouts - Seaside, Oregon - Breakout Session - First, Discover Their Strengths


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These are the handouts for a breakout session that I did at a special education conference that formed part of the annual conference of the Confederation of Oregon School Administrators in Seaside, Oregon on June 19, 2013

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June 19, 2013 Handouts - Seaside, Oregon - Breakout Session - First, Discover Their Strengths

  1. 1. First, Discover Their StrengthsMethodologies for Identifying Talents, Virtues,Abilities, Interests, Intelligences, andCapacities in Students with Special NeedsThomas Armstrong, Ph.D.www.institute4learning.comConfederation of Oregon School AdministratorsSeaside, OregonJune 19, 2013
  2. 2. Strength-Based Assessmentin Special Education• Research Studies on Strengths• Formal Assessment Tools• Informal Assessment Approaches• New Special Education JobDescription: Strengths Specialist
  3. 3. Neurodiversity Strengths ChecklistPersonal Strengths___ Enjoys working independently___ Has a good sense of his/her personal strengths andweaknesses___ Learns from past mistakes___ Has persistence in carrying out assignments or activities___ Is courageous in dealing with adversity and/or theunknown___ Keeps a personal diary or journal___ Has a good sense of humor___ Possesses a sense of responsibility___ Has strong opinions about controversial topics___ Marches to the beat of a different drummer___ Handles stressful events well (e.g. is resilient)___ Has good character (e.g. honesty, integrity, fairness)___ Has the ability to set realistic goals for him/herself___ Has a sense of confidence or high self-esteem___ Has good self-discipline___ Has personal ambitions in life___ Displays good common sense___ Possesses personal vitality, vigor, or energyCommunication Strengths___ Explains ideas or concepts well to others___ Asks good questions___ Is a good storyteller___ Is a good joke teller___ Has good listening skills___ Handles verbal feedback (especially negative feedback)well___ Has good articulation ability___ Is able to effectively use non-verbal cues to communicatewith others___ Is persuasive in getting someone to do something___ Has good assertive skills without being pushyEmotional Strengths____ Is emotionally sensitive to perceiving the world aroundhim/her____ Has an optimistic attitude toward life____ Can tell how he/she is feeling at any given moment____ Can easily pick up on the emotional state of another person____ Is able to handle strong internal feelings in aconstructive manner____ Receives gut feelings about thingsFrom: Thomas Armstrong, Neurodiversity in the Classroom: Strength-Based Strategies to HelpStudents with Special Needs Succeed in School and Life. Alexandria, VA: ASCD, 2012."Reproduced with permission. Learn more about ASCD at www.ascd.org."
  4. 4. Neurodiversity Strengths ChecklistSocial Strengths___ Has leadership ability___ Has a good sense of empathy for others___ Enjoys socializing with others___ Is good at helping others___ Is kind or affectionate towards others___ Has at least one good friend___ Prefers working with others___ Likes to play board games and/or card games with others___ Has skill in refereeing disputes conflicts betweenclassmates___ Is polite and has good manners___ Is able to work out his/her own conflicts with others___ Works well in groups___ Volunteers his/her time in some worthy cause___ Belongs to at least one club or social group (e.g. Scouts.)___ Has a good relationship with at least one family member___ Is friendly to others___ Is good at sharing with others___ Follows class rules___ Has a good relationship with at least one teacher in theschool___ Has good personal hygiene___ Trusts others without being taken in___ Is liked by his peersCognitive Strengths___ Has good organizational skills___ Has good study skills___ Is able to use cognitive strategies (e.g. self-talk) insolving problems___ Is able to pay close attention to details___ Has a good short-term and/or long-termmemory___ Is able to think ahead___ Is able to become totally absorbed in an activity___ Can easily divide his attention between two or moreactivitiesCultural Strengths___ Has traveled to other countries___ Speaks more than one language___ Is tolerant of others who have cultural, ethnic, or racialdifferences___ Has pride in his/her own cultural, ethnic, or racialbackground___ Likes to find out about historical events around the world___ Enjoys learning about different cultural traditionsFrom: Thomas Armstrong, Neurodiversity in the Classroom: Strength-Based Strategies to HelpStudents with Special Needs Succeed in School and Life. Alexandria, VA: ASCD, 2012."Reproduced with permission. Learn more about ASCD at www.ascd.org."
  5. 5. Neurodiversity Strengths ChecklistLiteracy Strengths___ Enjoys reading books___ Has good reading comprehension___ Enjoys doing word puzzles or playing word games___ Is a good writer in one or more genres (e.g. poetry,stories, reports, letters)___ Is a good speller___ Has a large vocabulary___ Enjoys listening to audio books or to someone telling astory or reading out loudLogical Strengths___ Does well in science class___ Can estimate things easily___ Enjoys working with numbers and/or statistics___ Is good at solving math problems___ Has a chemistry set or other science kit that he/she works withat home___ Has an interest in astronomy, chemistry, physics, or biology___ Enjoys logical or number games or puzzles like Rubik‟s cubeor Sudoku___ Can easily calculate numbers in his/her headVisual-Spatial Strengths___ Has an aptitude for fixing machines___ Likes to create three-dimensional structures with buildingmaterials___ Is good at doing jigsaw puzzles or other visual puzzles___ Is able to read maps well___ Reports being able to visualize images clearly___ Gets information more easily through pictures than words___ Is sensitive to the visual world around him/herPhysical Strengths___ Has a good sense of balance___ Learns material best when moving around___ Likes to ride his/her bike, skateboard, and/or other self-poweredpersonal vehicle___ Is good at playing team sports like baseball, soccer, basketball, orfootball___ Is good at playing individual sports like tennis, swimming,gymnastics, or golf___ Is in good physical health___ Likes to dance___ Is physically strong___ Is a fast runner or has other athletic abilities___ Likes to exercise (e.g. weights, aerobics, jogging, treadmill)___ Has good physical endurance___ Has good physical flexibilityFrom: Thomas Armstrong, Neurodiversity in the Classroom: Strength-Based Strategies to HelpStudents with Special Needs Succeed in School and Life. Alexandria, VA: ASCD, 2012."Reproduced with permission. Learn more about ASCD at www.ascd.org."
  6. 6. Neurodiversity Strengths ChecklistDexterity Strengths___ Has a hobby building model cars, planes, ships or othersimilar projects___ Displays good handwriting___ Likes to juggle or do magic tricks___ Enjoys hand crafts like knitting, crocheting, embroidery,or needlepoint___ Likes to make things with his/her hands___ Has good tactile ability___ Enjoys arts and crafts like origami, collage, and/or papermaché___ Enjoys woodworking, carpentry, carving, and/or metalwork____Has good eye-hand coordinationNature Strengths___ Has good rapport with animals___ Is good at taking care of plants in the classroom or at home___ Is sensitive to weather patterns___ Takes care of a pet at home or at school___ Is concerned about the welfare of the planet (e.g. isecologically-minded)___ Likes to go hiking and/or camping in nature___ Enjoys studying nature (e.g. insects, plants, birds, rocks,and/or animals)___ Likes to hunt or fish___ Has a good sense of directionMusical Strengths___ Is sensitive to the rhythms of music___ Enjoys playing a musical instrument___ Knows the music and lyrics of many songs___ Has a particular interest in one or more musicalgenres (e.g. rock, classical, jazz)___ Enjoys listening to music___ Has a good sense of hearing auditory acuity___ Has a good sense of pitch___ Has a good singing voice___ Makes up his/her own tunes or melodies with orwithout/lyricsHigh Tech Strengths___ Likes to spend time using a computer, tablet, or smartphone___ Has a facility for playing video games___ Likes to surf the Internet___ Knows how to set up audio-visual or computer equipment___ Likes to text on the phone___ Enjoys social networking (e.g. blog, website, Facebook)___ Enjoys using a still camera or video camera to recordevents or express him/herself___ Has several his/her own favorite movies or TV shows thathe/she likes to talk about____Understands at least one computer languageFrom: Thomas Armstrong, Neurodiversity in the Classroom: Strength-Based Strategies to HelpStudents with Special Needs Succeed in School and Life. Alexandria, VA: ASCD, 2012."Reproduced with permission. Learn more about ASCD at www.ascd.org."
  7. 7. Neurodiversity Strengths ChecklistCreative Strengths___ Expresses him/herself dramatically___ Has a good imagination___ Enjoys doodling, drawing, and/or painting___ Likes to act in plays and skits___ Works well with clay or other forms of sculpture___ Demonstrates creativity in one or more school assignments___ Possesses a love of beautiful things___ Has ideas for futuristic or fantastic projects___ Comes up with ideas that nobody else has thought ofSpiritual Strengths___ Enjoys meditation, yoga, or some other form ofcontemplation___ Asks big life questions (e.g. what is the purpose oflife?)___ Has a deep sense of wisdom___ Participates in religious or other spiritual events___ Has a philosophical attitude toward life___ Has a strong faith in something higher thanhim/herselfMiscellaneous Strengths___ Likes collecting things (e.g. stamps, coins, buttons)___ Loves to cook___ Has a love of learning new things___ Is a good test taker___ Possesses a good memory for nighttime dreams___ Is curious about the world around him/her___ Has a good sense of time___ Manages money well___ Has good fashion sense in the clothes he/she wears___ Has good entrepreneurial skills (e.g. has started ownbusiness) started his/her own businessOther Strengths (write in other strengths not mentionedelsewhere in checklist):From: Thomas Armstrong, Neurodiversity in the Classroom: Strength-Based Strategies to HelpStudents with Special Needs Succeed in School and Life. Alexandria, VA: ASCD, 2012."Reproduced with permission. Learn more about ASCD at www.ascd.org."
  8. 8. Identifying Strengths in Students• Observation• Documentation• Cumulative Files• Colleagues• Parents• Students
  9. 9. Strengths Specialist in SpecialEducation: Competencies• Research in strengths of neurodiverse students(M.Ed. Thesis or Ph.D. dissertation)• Familiarity with strength-based literature• Familiarity with literature on strengths inspecial education populations• Competence in using a range of formalstrength-based assessment tools• Competence in using a variety of informalstrength-based assessment approaches.
  10. 10. Strengths Specialist in SpecialEducation: Responsibilities• Design a strength-based protocol of formal andinformal assessments (individualized)• Assess strengths in existing and entering specialeducation populations• Develop curriculum strategies for each neurodiversestudent based on his/her strengths• Consult/Co-teach with regular class teacher on usingstrength-based strategies with neurodiverse students• Conduct professional development programs with staffon strength-based learning and neurodiversity
  11. 11. References p. 1• Armstrong, Thomas. “Describing Strengths in Children Identified as „Learning Disabled‟ UsingHoward Gardner‟s Theory of Multiple Intelligences as an Organizing Framework,” Ph.D.Dissertation, (San Francisco, CA, California Institute of Integral Studies), Ann Arbor, MI: UniversityMicrofilms International, 1987, 48(08A).• Armstrong, Thomas. Multiple Intelligences in the Classroom, 3rd ed. Alexandria, VA: ASCD,2009.• Armstrong, Thomas. Neurodiversity in the Classroom: Strength-Based Strategies to Help Studentswith Special Needs Succeed in School and Life. Alexandria, VA: ASCD, 2012..• Armstrong, Thomas. „‟Appreciating Special Education Students‟ Diversity,‟‟ Education Week,February 5, 2013. http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2013/02/06/20armstrong.h32.html• Black, Jenn. „‟Digital Transition Portfolios for Secondary Students with Disabilities,‟‟ Intervention inSchool and Clinic, v46 n2 p118-124 Nov 2010.• Chan, David W. „‟Intellectual Styles of Exceptional Learners,‟‟ in Zhang, Li Fang et al. (eds).Handbook of Intellectual Styles. New York: Springer, 2012• Dykens, Elizabeth, M. (2006). “Toward a Positive Psychology of Mental Retardation,” AmericanJournal of Orthopsychiatry, Vol. 76, No. 2, pp. 185-193.• Epstein, Michael H. „‟Strength Based Assessment,‟‟ [Power Point] 21st Annual RTC Conference,Tampa, Florida, February 2008.http://rtckids.fmhi.usf.edu/rtcconference/handouts/pdf/21/Workshop%2005/Epstein.pdf.• Gallup Youth Development Specialists. StrengthsExplorer For Ages 10 to 14: From Gallup, theCreators of StrengthsFinder .
  12. 12. References p. 2• Khatena, Joe, and E. Paul Torrence. Khatena-Torrance Creative Perception Inventory, New York:Scholastic Testing Service, 1998. http://ststesting.com/ngifted.html• Lenhoff, Howard et al. „‟Williams Syndrome and the Brain‟‟ Scientific American, December 1997,pp. 68-73.• Mottron, Laurent. (2011, November 3). „‟The Power of Autism,‟‟ Nature, Vol. 479, p. 33.• Proulx-Schirduan, Victoria, C. Branton Shearer, and Karen I. Case. MIndful Education for ADHDStudents: Differentiating Curriculum and Instruction Using Multiple Intelligences. New York:Teachers College Press, 2008.• Sanders, Christa A. „‟Strengths Based Interventions for Students with Emotional and BehavioralDisorders: Implications for School Counselors,‟‟ Master‟s Thesis, Adler Graduate School, May,2010.• Shah, Amitta, and Uta Frith, (1993). “Why Do Autistic Individuals Show Superior Performance onthe Block Design Task?” Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, Vol. 34, No. 8: 1351-1364.• Simeonova, D. I. et al. „‟Creativity in familial bipolar disorder.,‟‟Journal of Psychiatric Research,November, 2005, Vol. 39, no. 6, pp. 623–631.• Stone, Suki, and Dixon Hearne. „‟Multiple Intelligences and Underachievement: Lessons FromIndividuals with Learning Disabilities,‟‟Journal of Learning Disabilities, August/September 1995vol. 28 no. 7 439-448.• Tarver, Sara G. et al. “Figural and Verbal Creativity in Learning Disabled and NondisabledChildren,‟” Learning Disability Quarterly, Vol. 3 No., 3, Summer, 1980.• Torrence, E. Paul. Torrence Test of Creative Thinking. Scholastic Testing Service.http://ststesting.com/ngifted.html• Yoshimoto, Ron. „‟Celebrating Strengths and Talents of Children with Dyslexia: An EducationalModel,‟‟ Ld-online. 2000, http://www.ldonline.org/article/5863/
  13. 13. Contact Information• Email: thomas@institute4learning.com• Website: www.institute4learning.com• Blog: http://institute4learning.com/blog/• Twitter: @Dr_Armstrong