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“On Demand” FREE F.A.S.T. Webinar Series

Have you checked out Tennessee’s State Personnel Development Grant (SPDG) “On Demand” Webinar Series on

Families and Schools Together (FAST) - Increasing Student Success Through Partnership

This three-part webinar series is a great tool for parents and teachers.  The free webinars can be viewed anytime on your computer, smartphone or tablet.  

Please share with parents and families or feel free to use it as part of professional development for teachers and administrators.

Click on the following topics to view each webinar, download handouts, and resources.  Be sure to give your feedback by completing the brief evaluation at the end of each webinar.

This webinar series is a collaborative project of the TN Department of Education State Personnel Grant (SPDG) and their family partner Support & Training for Exceptional Parents (STEP, Inc.).

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Keep Your Kids Reading Over the Holidays and Winter Break

Parents and caregivers play an important role in supporting children’s reading development, especially when children are having difficulty.  With Winter break and the holiday’s right around the corner, remember to take time to keep your children engaged in learning and reading.  Remember you can “sneak” reading into daily activities with your children -

  • Have your children read holiday cards when they are received in the mail, and let them write a message in outgoing cards. 
  • Let children read ingredients from holiday recipes while you bake together. It's a great way for them to learn measurements and temperatures. 
  • Set aside time for kids to "show off" their new reading skills to visiting relatives. Children love being the focus of attention, and grandparents are usually more than willing to see their progress. 
  • Make special holiday readings a tradition. Find a special book for Hanukkah or Christmas, and have each member of the family read from it at the same time each year. 
  • Listen to audio books together. 
  • Even if no books make your child's wish list, make sure you give at least one as a gift and encourage them to read it. 
  • Find books that focus on an interest your child has. For example, if they ask for a bike, find a book on Lance Armstrong, or a children's book that includes a bicycle adventure. There are books out there to suit every interest under the sun – it just takes a little browsing. 
Explore some of these ideas and resources 

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SMART Reading Tips for the Holidays

Winter break is right around the corner, and holidays can get pretty hectic! Routines can fly out the window with celebrations, travel and out-of-town guests. As your family prepares for the holidays, use these tips for keeping kids engaged in learning and reading over winter break.

  • Read for fun! Whether your child is in the mood for holiday stories or the newest installment from a favorite series, winter break provides the perfect opportunity to set aside school books and read for fun. Make time for bedtime stories to create the routine and enjoy books on a daily basis.
  • Stock up on books at the local library. Help your child pick out books they’re interested in reading over the winter break. Libraries may also have fun, free holiday activities throughout the break.
  • Make the most of travel time. Turn travel time to or from a holiday get-together into an opportunity to practice reading. You can look for license plates from different states, try to find the alphabet on the license plates, or count the number of red (or white or green) cars you see. Read street signs and billboards you see along the way.
  • Create a new tradition. A little predictability is comforting for kids. Starting a special Winter Break Story Time can be a new tradition that links reading with happy memories. Hot cocoa and your favorite stories will have the whole family feeling comfy and cozy, while creating memories that will last a lifetime.

Remember, you don’t have to be an expert to help your child with reading. By simply interacting with children around books, you can show them that books are important and worthy of our attention.

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Supporting Your Child's Literacy Development

This toolkit helps parents and families take part in literacy experiences at home to develop children’s reading and language skills. 

You will learn:

  • Strategies, tips, and activities to help your child develop as a reader from preschool through adolescence.
  • How to listen, look, help, and encourage while you and your child participate in activities together.   

Check Out the Toolkit

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Help Children and Teens Deal With Bullying

Help Children and Teens Deal With Bullying 

Parents, caregivers, siblings, and mentors play an important role in helping children and teens deal with bullying and cyberbullying. Sometimes it's not clear what children's and teen's moods relate to. Changes in a child's behavior and mood can stem from any number of things. But there are things parents, caregivers, siblings, and mentors can do to determine if a child might be dealing with bullying and to help them to address it.  

Learn more about how some children are at higher risk for being bullied. 

Determine if a child or teen has any of the warning signs  for bullying or cyberbullying .  

Check on the child or teen's use of apps, social media, and gaming and strengthen your awareness of their digital life.

Help them learn how to deal with "haters."   

Share video tips from teens on: 

Adults can support the kids involved in bullying. This includes the child who was bullied, the one who did the bullying, and bystanders. 

Role play how to handle bullying as a bystander .  

With your support, children and teens can learn how to deal with bullying situations. You can help them feel more confident and secure in their interactions with their peers. 

In the News 

Recent Bullying Research Highlights 

Watch for Upcoming Events, Resources, and eBlasts in the Future! 

Subscribe to and like and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube  and Instagram for the latest news, information, and resources.

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How Inclusion Can Help Keep Kids With Disabilities Safe

by Ashley Moreno on Down Syndrome

Children with disabilities are three times more likely to be the victims of sexual abuse than their neurotypical peers. And this risk doesn’t decrease as they get older.

Our kids are more likely to be bullied, and adults are less likely to recognize them as victims of bullying.

When children with disabilities are segregated in schools, they are often seen as second-rate citizens, “weird” outsiders who don’t belong. And when they don’t develop relationships with their peers, they become vulnerable to those who would hurt them. By segregating them, we are denying them membership in a society that looks out for its members, while forcing them into a construct that makes it easy for predators to target them. Click here to read more

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Four Reading Intervention Strategies

These are my four favorite reading intervention strategies when a child is struggling with fluency.  In reality, they are excellent best practices that are perfect for Tier 1:  great classroom instruction.

Reading comprehension and fluency strategies can be used both in small group and whole class on a regular, systematic basis.  Continue Reading 

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Webinar Series: Families and Schools Together (FAST): Increasing Student Success Through Partnership

STEP-TN announces a new Webinar Series: Families and Schools Together (FAST): Increasing Student Success Through Partnership. The series consists of three webinars, each of which will be recorded and archived for those who are unable to attend. All webinars are 12:30-1:30 p.m. EDT. Additional details are listed below.  

CLICK HERE to reserve your webinar seat

  • October 22 - Identifying Each Student's Strengths and Needs

    Effectively communicating your child’s areas of strength and their unique needs sets the stage for children and youth with disabilities to be successful in school. STEP will provide tools families can use to provide important information about their child to teachers. These tools can also be used by teachers to gather this information from families.
  • November 19 - Hearing the Families' Voice - Parent Concerns as a Priority 

    Understanding the concerns of families related to the child’s education is an important part of the Individualized Education Program (IEP) process. This webinar will focus on how families can effectively share their concerns and also strategies for IEP teams to respond to parent concerns.
  • January 22 - Supporting Students in their Least Restrictive Environment (LRE)

    Students with disabilities are to receive education in their least restrictive environment, which means that students should participate with their non-disabled peers to the greatest extent appropriate. This webinar will look at child, family, and curriculum considerations to consider as the IEP team discusses the individual needs of each child related to supports and services to ensure student success in their LRE.

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In Case You Missed One - STEP Offers Archived Webinars on Special Education, Inclusion, and Much More


STEP has archived webinars on topics related to special education, inclusion, and much more.  

In case you missed one, check out this webinar on "Preschool Inclusion & Kindergarten Readiness," or click here to check out other archived webinar topics.   

 All STEP webinars are FREE to view.

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Department Change Announced for TEIS

Over the years, both the Department of Education (TDOE) and the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (DIDD) have worked closely together to ensure children and young adults with disabilities receive critical early supports, a high-quality education, and are prepared to transition into adulthood with readiness for post-secondary education and employment. This is a partnership that has benefited thousands.  We continue to work together to streamline supports and improve the effectiveness of our services.  

The Tennessee Early Intervention System (TEIS) is a program that provides services to children ages birth to three who have disabilities or developmental delays. TEIS is a critically important program that supports young children and their families to reach their optimal development. Because of the connections to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), this program has been housed in TDOE. Currently the TDOE is responsible for Pre-K - 12 education, serving almost a million students and thousands of state and district employees. DIDD has a specialized focus on people with disabilities outside of the school system, which is also the work occurring in TEIS. In order to elevate and move the work of TEIS forward, this program will be re-positioned within the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities by July 1, 2020.     

The most important thing to note for families is that this change will not change the services their child receives through TEIS. READ PARENT LETTER for more details.

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