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Para eLink Tutorial

If you have not read the sections for online resources and about online training, please do so before proceeding. The sections have important information, as well as useful suggestions, for ensuring a successful online experience. Please be sure to read the brief page on technical information to ensure that you can access the training without errors.

This tutorial includes a detailed explanation of each section that you may view now, or return to at any time for help. If you prefer to get started right away, spend a couple of minutes reading the General Overview, Terminology, and Quick Start sections.

Get a tracking worksheet to monitor your progress, if your facilitator hasn't provided one.

Tutorial Sections

General Overview

Minnesota has core and specialized competency statements for paraprofessionals. Associated with each competency statement is an instructional unit. Although the content of each unit reflects a specific competency statement, the structure of each unit is consistent throughout the site.

You will need to be familiar with the terms used for the material and for what you see on the screen. This tutorial defines terminology and guides you through the sequence of materials that make up each instructional unit. In addition, you may print out a tracking worksheet to record what you plan to do and what you have accomplished.

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a statement identifying a particular knowledge or skill needed for paraprofessionals to work successfully in educational settings. Each online unit is based on one or more of the competencies.
a self–contained course based on a competency statement. For example, 1K3B is a unit, also referred to as a competency unit.
a component of a unit, consisting of important information and activities relating to a particular topic. The number of lessons varies in each unit.
lesson reinforcement
a review and/or reinforcement activity following a lesson—individual written assignment, group activity, online quiz, or combination. Results from online quizzes will not be viewed or recorded by anyone else; these self-assessments are for your use only.

Quick Start on Moving through Units

The easiest way to work through each unit, without missing anything, is to start with the introduction page and use the next arrows to take you through all the remaining unit pages: lessons (readings and review activities), summary, and explore sections. Each page has two next arrows, one located in the lower left corner of the screen and one on the horizontal navigation bar. (See the screen overview below.)

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Screen Overview

The pages in the instructional units, as depicted in the example below, have only minor differences from the general pages in this site.

screenshot of lesson page

Note: You can view the master list of instructional units from any page on the site by clicking the text labeled competencies on the horizontal navigation bar:

screen shot of horizontal navigation bar

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Organization of Units

Paraprofessional-Specific Areas

  1. Introduction, including the unit objectives
  2. Lesson
  3. Summary

Pages in the paraprofessional-specific areas have two sets of back and next arrows that move through the lessons (see diagram above):

  • One set of arrows surrounds the horizontal navigation bar at the top of the page.
  • The second set is in the lower left–hand corner of the page.
Facilitator-Specific Area

The facilitator supplement is intended for individuals who are facilitating a Para eLink training course.

1. Introduction and Objectives Page

Each unit begins with a brief introduction of the competency that will be covered and a list of objectives. The objectives are the skills and knowledge you may gain through completing the unit. Before continuing to the lessons, think about and rate your current knowledge of each objective.

2. Lessons

Each unit contains several lessons. The lessons break down the information that the unit covers into discrete topics. The number of lessons varies in each unit. Access to the lessons is available by using the:

  1. Lessons Link on Side-Bar Menu
  2. Pop-Out Menu
  3. Lesson Marker Links
  4. Back/Next Arrows

a. Lessons Link on Side-Bar Menu

To view a separate page with the list of lessons click the lessons link (lessons graphic), to see a page like the example below.

screen shot of lesson page

b. Pop-Out Menu

Use the lesson pop-out menu for easy access to the unit's lessons. Clicking the mouse on any of the titles in the pop-out menu will take you to that lesson. The black arrow in the menu image below, next to Individual Plan Types, indicates a sub–menu.

screen shot of lesson pop-out menu

The menu below shows that the unit has 12 lessons—5 main lessons and 7 mini-lessons under Individual Plan Types:

c. Lesson Marker

Underneath the competency statement on each lesson page, a marker shows you where you are. The lessons and reviews are hyperlinked.

Indicating you are viewing lesson 3
          lesson marker arrow      
  1 1R 2 2R 3 3R 4 4R

d. Back/Next Arrows

This is the simplest way to work through each unit without missing anything.

Lesson Reinforcements

Each lesson is followed by a a review and/or reinforcement activity—individual written assignment, group activity, online quiz, or combination. Lesson reinforcement pages are accessible by using the next arrows on each lesson page or the links on the lesson marker.

The results of any review activities are for the purpose of providing information to you. Results from online quizzes will not be viewed or recorded by anyone else. You may skip these if you like. However, we encourage you to complete the reinforcements activities; these self–assessments provide a quick review of the material you have just read and offer opportunities to apply what you have read to your specific workplace.

3. Summary

A brief summary follows the completion of all of the lessons within a unit. The summary provides a concise overview of the material covered in the unit. In addition, sources used in the unit are listed.

4. Explore

Available from the main page of the core topic area (not from individual units) is an optional section for you to explore on your own. The explore section includes resources and ideas for exploring related areas or topics in more depth.

Facilitator Supplement

The facilitator supplement is a special section with tips and outlines especially for individuals who are facilitating a Para eLink training course. It offers ideas and suggestions for activities and discussions that can be implemented to augment the unit.

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Worksheets (Printable Materials)

Almost all of the units include activities, within the lessons and reinforcement sections, which have accompanying worksheets. Directions for the activity and a preview of what the worksheet looks like appear on the Web page along with a printer icon. We have also provided a tracking worksheet to record what you plan to do and what you have accomplished.

You will need to print a worksheet whenever you see this printer icon:

printer icon

All worksheets are in Adobe Acrobat format.

Accessing pdf (Adobe Acrobat) Worksheets

Depending on your computer's configuration, the procedure for getting a worksheet will differ. Sometimes a pdf (Adobe Acrobat file) opens up directly in the browser, sometimes clicking a link spawns the Adobe Acrobat program, and sometimes a dialog box appears asking if you want to Open or Save the pdf file.

Get Adobe Acrobat Reader


The Para eLink Glossary of Special Education Terms can be accessed from any page by using the text link in the horizontal navigational bar.

screen shot of horizontal navigation bar

The glossary will open in a new window in the upper right-hand side of your monitor. Glossary terms are also identified within the units by a hand icon with a gold "G,"glossary icon. When you click the term, the glossary will open–up to the term you clicked. You may choose to keep the glossary open as you work, or close it after reading a definition.


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