Sagonaska is a Provincial Demonstration School for students with learning disabilities (LDs), located in Belleville, Ontario. After seeing a webinar from the Learning Disabilities Association of Ontario (LDAO) where Julia Osborne showed the self-advocacy cards she created and uses in her school board (York Region District School Board), the students in Mike Di Donato’s grade 8 class decided to create their own self-advocacy pamphlets, to assist in their transition to grade 9.
To begin the process, Mike conferenced with individual students, using the “Understanding LDs” chart (also known as the Waterfall Chart), created by the York Region District School Board, another resource available on the LD@school website. Reviewing the Waterfall Chart deepened each student’s understanding of his or her LDs and the information was visually laid out in a Popplet, a tablet application that enables you to create graphic organizers. This information was then used to create the personalized pamphlets, which included the following areas:
- Student Photograph
- My Hobbies
- My Strengths
- My Needs
- My Goals
- How I Can Help Myself
- How You Can Help Me
- Specific Technology I Use to be Successful
In the words of the students who participated in the development of the video, the pamphlets will serve as a personalized introduction to their new teacher and help the teachers understand what their LDs are, how LDs affect their learning and what the teachers can do to help them succeed.
Mike Di Donato is currently a Special Education Resource teacher in a grade 7 classroom at Sagonaska Demonstration School. He holds a Bachelor of Arts with Honours from Trent University and completed the Professional Program in Education in D’Youville College, New York. Prior to working at Sagonaska, Mike worked with students with exceptionalities in Mackenzie, British Columbia. He also taught grade 6 for several years in Trenton, Ontario where he decided to focus his professional career in Special Education. In 2011, Mike earned his Special Education Specialist qualification from the Ontario College of Teachers. Mike is a passionate educator who facilitates a growth mindset and progress in students with Learning Disabilities.