Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom-- iPad to the Rescue

Anyone involved in primary education knows Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. I'm sure there is a more indepth plot than what I'm going to tell here, but essentially the lower case letters go up a coconut tree until the tree collapses. The upper-case letters come to help.  It's all written in a catchy verse.  The book has won very pretigious awards such as the Caldecott medal for its brilliant illustrations.  It's also been put to music and animated which you can find on YouTube very easily. 


model project!
Teachers love to use this book as a teaching tool, and today a first grade teacher (in fact the whole first grade team of teachers) had the kids craft coconut trees from construction paper, and then glue on letters in order to make words.
Here is an example to the right from a model student who followed directions very well!




In one first grade classroom, I work with sweet little girl with a language impairment, so I checked out her tree pictured below.
Maybe needs a little intervention?


She obviously tried very hard, but seemed to not understand that she needed to form the letters into 'words'. I think she forgot what the word 'word' meant.  (I'm also not sure she knows what a coconut tree is, but I let that one go for now).  This was all completed before I came into the room.




screenshot of the app
Anyone who knows me also knows that I like to carry an iPad around in school, and after taking a look at her project, this became an iPad teachable moment!  I have a great app---ABC - Magnetic Alphabet HD - Learn to Write!  It was really nice to immediately start it up, and have my student pull out letters onto the screen, and then make the letters to form words, all the while I was emphasizing the concepts "letter" and "word". She was so motivated by the iPad and this app, that she focused on the lesson incredibly well and loved the hands-on component with the touch screen and the dragging of the letters.  By the end of our little impromptu session, she was able to identify letters from words, and then show her teacher.     We then returned to her tree, and put a few words on it.  I was so proud of her.  (Sorry I didn't take a picture of her revised tree.)  


I'm always amazed by the impact of a language impairment on a seemingly simple craft project. 


Here is a video of students using the Magnetic Letters app at Frank Porter Graham Elementary in Chapel Hill. You can see this app has potential for many uses, and the kids love it.  It's well worth the price-- $1.99



Monday, August 29, 2011

Band, Band, and Band again!

My dad played clarinet in the band (in the 30s?).   I played clarinet all through middle and high school, and even into college.  Three of my kids were in the band......and now Alana has signed up for band.   This picture is me, by the way in my high school marching band uniform.  I was maybe 15?  The big 'E' was for Edgewood High School in rural northeast Ohio. I remember the day my mom took that picture.

I've gone to many middle school and high school band concerts in Chapel Hill.  Some of the students are extraordinary musicians.  There is also a jazz band, and some of those kids amazed me!  I have always been bothered, though, by the divide----a disproportionate number (almost all) of the students in bands here are white or Asian.  I don't think it's a racial problem so much as a socioeconomic issue.  Band is expensive.  I personally bought instruments and paid for music lessons for my kids.  I know that many can't do that, and don't know how to access resources or have the time or energy to find what their child needs.  If a family can't supply an instrument, then for the most part, there is no band.  Others in the school system might dispute that---I only know what I saw, and what I see now as a mentor.

A while ago, I offered my daughter's now-idle flute to Alana.  Tonight, she called and accepted the offer, so I zipped on over to her house, flute in hand.  I showed her the parts of it, the cleaning tool, and the case.  Alana can use it as long as she wants.  I wish I could tutor her on how to play the flute, but I've never played one so I hope someone at her school will provide some one-on-one lessons.  They seem so nice and nurturing there, so I'm confident that she will learn to play this well enough to get by in band.  I'm looking forward to her first concert!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Crack, then Crash

I promised a followup story to my Friday blog.  On Friday, I was looking forward to weather that was slightly more exciting than the drought-filled, 95 degree days that have seemed to be the norm.  I had forgotten what a drenching rain was like, and missed Greg Fishel's dire weather warnings on WRAL.  This weekend, Hurricane Irene was all in the news and was satisfying my weather needs, just through the internet/television screens.  We were not in the direct path. (New York City was being evacuated, but not us!)  I felt safe inland, but the weather map really was intensely riveting. 
      For Chapel Hill (again, being out of the direct path) this was 'hurricane-lite'.  


So what happened to us on Saturday?  Although this was not the drenching, 100 mile an hour full blown hurricane, there were a few moments of wind.  The wind was random--one minute nothing, and the next minute, small limbs were falling, trees bending, and if you were outside, you felt the urge to run for cover.  It was during one of those moments that I heard it.   (I was safely inside).


Crack    (This where you feel vulnerable and suddenly look up in dreadful anticipation of the next sound.)

Crash (right into the corner of the house)   Pictures say everything.  





Maybe I really shouldn't wish for memorable weather. On the bright side, it could have been worse.
I truly feel for those who endured much, much worse than we did. 




Saturday, August 27, 2011

Comfort Food--Gluten Free!

Today was Hurricane Irene day.  A tree fell on our roof---bad news for us.  I'll post more about that Sunday.

I really needed a home-cooked crockpot type of meal with a glass of wine to make me and my husband feel better.  I turned to my favorite recipe website---A Year of Slow Cooking.   All of her recipes are gluten-free and easy to do.  The Crockpot Turkey Breast dish was simple and I already had the stuff. I won't repost the recipe here--if interested, you should go to this website.  I did add potatoes, a few more spices, and a bit of gluten-free worcestershire sauce. David said it was good, and we have tons of leftovers.  I do carry my lunches to school, and believe me, this beats cafeteria food any day.  This will be great.
It's ready (in the crockpot)!

Serve over rice.  Have a glass of wine.  Enjoy!
The tree on the house problem is now pushed to the far edges of my mind.  I'm going to enjoy my dinner.



Friday, August 26, 2011

Video Self Modeling

This is not what I'm writing about
To a non-teacher, the term "Video Self Modeling" might conjure up images of very vain people recording themselves and then watching the video again....and again. 

This is not what I'm writing about today.




Here is Wikipedia's definition:
  In video self-modeling (VSM), individuals observe themselves performing a behavior successfully on video, and then imitate the targeted behavior. Video modeling has been used to teach many skills, including social skills, communication, and athletic performance; it has shown promise as an intervention for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD).

A couple of years ago, a teacher and I worked with a group of children with autism on specific social skills needed to function in a classroom.  These included sitting in a chair correctly, raising a hand to get called on, and saying "Thank You" when given something.  We actually worked on many other skills, but these were a few that we could teach through video self-modeling.  We had them practice the skill in controlled settings, we recorded them with a digital videocamera, and then I took the raw footage home and edited it painstakingly though Pinnacle Studio. Here's a screenshot of how many cuts and edits needed to be done.  We added captions and music, burned DVDs as each chapter was added, and the kids loved it.  We had requests from the kids to watch it weekly!
Pinnacle Studio screenshot
This past year, several of the children have gone on to be successfully mainstreamed in the regular education classroom.  I've seen them apply these same skills independently.  I'd like to say the teacher and I helped to develop these skills. (By the way, the teacher, Lindsay Bedford, was wonderful!) 

Screenshot from video---kids practicing raising hands to be called on.

The reason I'm bringing this up now, two years later, is that I have a couple of these same children along with others in a new social skills group with a different teacher.  I dug up this old video, showed it in class, and all of the children loved it--they were reading the captions aloud and wanted to make a new video.   So it looks like I'll have to dust off the digital videocamera!  I can think of many places to record them practicing their skills all over the school. 


Here is a YouTube video explaining more in depth as to what Video Self-Modeling is all about.

Look for more updates as the year progresses!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Memorable Weather

The weather has been sort of boring all summer.  We talked about the heat (100s), but there's been only sluggish misery--no trees crashing, power outages, torrential rain, until now-- hurricane season.  We have been lucky enough for about 10 years to avoid recent storms, but it's hard to ever forget Hurricane Fran and Hurricane Floyd back in the 90s.

 Fran came to Chapel Hill at night in 1996.  Trees landed on neighbor's rooftops and across roads on our street.  There was no power at our house after that for 5 days!  The night of the storm was terrifying (kids slept through it, though), and I felt lucky to be alive the next day. 
Hurricane Floyd in 1999 did not affect the Chapel Hill area (except the kids got one day off of school).  Eastern North Carolina was hit with torrential rains, and devastating flooding. There were 35 deaths.













The hurricane in the news right now is Irene.  The path takes it inland a bit so the outer banks area is expected to take the brunt of the winds.  Heavy rain is predicted in the eastern part of the state.  I feel for the people living out there and hope they have taken necessary precautions---evacuating if needed.  I'm not worried at all about Chapel Hill--and currently am grateful for where we live.  I'll let you know on Sunday how this all turns out. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Middle School Returns!

I thought I was done!  My four kids went through Culbreth Middle School  many years ago and I praised the Lord when the last one got her little certificate saying she was promoted.  (I actually didn't praise the Lord, but it sounds good in this blog.  I was extremely happy, though.)    Middle school was rough--so bad that I pulled one of mine out after bullying by bigger kids, and persecution by a teacher. He attended a charter school for his 7th grade year, then I pulled him out of that in 8th grade to go BACK to Culbreth.  Obviously, I was confused--maybe it's ALL middle schools, charter or not, that are war zones.  One terrible year, a girl at Culbreth left my oldest kid's class to go commit suicide in the bathroom.  That was bad, to say the least.  So......I really was grateful that my Culbreth days were over....or so I thought.

I couldn't and still can't predict the future--a definite weakness of mine.  Tonight, I sat through a Culbreth new family orientation with my mentee, Alana!   It was exciting!  It's the same building, but with very few familiar faces--which is good. No PTSD flashbacks.  Alana and I toured the school, looked in the old art room (Vicki and Andorra did actually have a wonderful art teacher there) and learned about schedules, teams, and lockers.  I'm hopeful, Alana is nervous.

  The best part of the evening actually didn't take place at Culbreth.  Alana and I headed over to Lincoln Center and attended a Blue Ribbon Mentor workshop ("Welcome to Middle School").  There were two great parts--the first was in teaching the kids to introduce themselves with complete sentences, clear articulation, projected voice, and more content than they ever had to say before.  Intuitively, Graig and Sophia provided a script with fill-ins.  Those of you who are speech pathologists will appreciate this.  It was a wonderful group language lesson complete with positive feedback, language modeling, and scaffolding.  All of the kids had to do this, introducing themselves to a packed room.  Kids had to tell their complete name, where they attended school, how long they had been in the mentor program, their strengths, and what they aspire to do.  They were then encouraged to practice this in public, and told that they would be repeatedly asked to practice the same skill again.  Kids took notes!

The second part of the workshop was to supply the children with visual symbols, paired with language, about three essential keys to success in middle school.  Again, scaffolding was provided, and positive feedback to all responses was given.  The students took notes.  I loved the visuals supports, and the structured lesson. (again, I am a speech pathologist, and do appreciate when others use multi-sensory teaching.)

The first image provided by Graig was this:

Meaning 100% of homework needs to be turned in.  I'm not sure that 6th graders really understand the grading system and the consequences of a 'zero' for missing assignments.  This was explained.




The second image provided to the
children was a question mark.
Graig clearly explained (and used the                                              ?
visual) that teachers give better grades
to those who ask questions. He clearly
instructed the kids to ask a question in
every class. 

 The third image was a light bulb.
Kids need to be engaged in the learning
process and have ideas.










I really appreciate all of the people at the Blue Ribbon program and can now reinforce these principles, and use the same images when speaking with my mentee about her school work and effort!    Maybe I can even use these with my students at Ephesus to engage and motivate them more!  I'm looking forward to more Blue Ribbon activities, but am especially looking forward to traveling through the middle school experience with Alana.  I never thought I would actually look forward to 6th grade again, but I am!

Monday, August 22, 2011

County by County; State by State

Three more days until the influx of cute little kids.  I'm excited!  My caseload this year is slightly higher, but I'm happy with it--really happy.  I have a terrific speech pathologist to work with, an enthusiastic principal, and staff members at Ephesus who walk all kinds of lives.  It's like coming back home to family after a long vacation.
   Even though, I do love my job, since the kids aren't there, the picture below is what my life is like right now.

I have nothing more to say about work---it's hard to blog in an interesting way about faculty meetings.

So I'll talk here a minute about geocaching.  The world is big, and chances are, I won't get to every country in my lifetime.  There's a lot of them, and some don't welcome visitors, while others are very tiny.  Some are very far away and don't have many airports.  Some are expensive.  It's also time-consuming, and I do teach.  I don't know if my principal would approve a month-long vacation for me to take an African road trip just so I could geocache all of the countries of the sub-saharan area (do they have roads there for an actual road trip?)
  Since the world conquest seems a bit much right now, David and I have concentrated our geocaching efforts on finding caches in every county in North Carolina and in the states in the U.S.   David (being the tech guru) has actually charted the counties.  I'm lacking about 5 of them (the white counties below). We have had a great time touring most of NC, and have seen lovely waterfalls, sand dunes, bird walks, cotton fields, interesting urban settings, and decaying small towns, all throughout the state. 
I'm lacking 5 counties (out of 100)
The states of the United States have proven to be a bigger challenge.  We have vacationed in Oregon, Arizona, the Southeast, and the Northeast, but have many states in the midsection to go.  The Grand Canyon, the coast of Maine, Mt. St. Helen, and Lake Erie have all been visited, but less exciting states like Kansas elude us for the moment.  I'm sure Kansas is actually very interesting, but sites like the rocky coast of Oregon seemed a bit of a higher priority!  I realize that this seems as though geocaching has taken over, but the reality is that it gives David and me an excuse to see a close-up view of the country.  America is a great place with many, very interesting sites.  The world is next---I've been to a few countries (pre-geocaching) and want to see more.  I'll keep you posted!
States we've geocached in

Friday, August 19, 2011

Another use for Google Forms and your iPad

I have difficulty with paper.  I know how to write, and can take notes, jot things down, doodle, and write paragraphs.  My difficulty is in managing many pieces of paper, forms, IEPs, and memos---stack of papers end up on every flat surface.  I'm getting better at filing, but still, it's a constant struggle.







When I discovered Google forms and google docs to use with the iPad, possibilities for going paperless in different areas of my day began jumping out at me.  One area was in taking attendance.  For those of you who don't know what I do, I'll explain here.  I'm a public school speech pathologist, so I really don't have a classroom of children such as the one pictured on the right (no one now has such a classroom!).  I do have to keep track of attendance of those children that I work with during the day.  Each child that I see has an IEP or intervention plan of some sort.  Legally, special educators are required by law to work with the child a certain number of times either per week or per quarter for a certain number of minutes.  Each child's times are different and attendance needs tracked.  Some therapists have a separate attendance form per child that they meticulously record the attendance on, but I have a lot of organizational problems with 25 separate paper forms--I often lose the form and fumble around in folders looking for the right piece of paper. It's a definite weakness of mine.

Enter iPad forms and google docs!   Last summer, I worked in the Extended School Year program, and decided to try taking attendance with the iPad.  If you do not know how to create a Google form for taking data, go to an earlier post here.  This post merely provides the reader with another use of a Google form with the assumption that you know how to make the form.

I first created the form.  This image is only the first three kids on the list, but on Google forms, you can scroll down to see all 26 children's names.  I changed the names, obviously.    Each day, I filled out this form (I did this on an iPad but it can be filled out on a computer if you don't have an iPad).  When you submit the form, it throws your data into a Google spreadsheet such as the one pictured below.  (I went into the spreadsheet later and added the yellow highlight just to make sure I did everyone's progress report.)  The spreadsheet in Google docs extends to the right for 26 children's names.

You can then choose to see a Summary of Responses by going into your Google Spreadsheet and looking under 'Form'.  The image below shows how your data can be automatically graphed.


This attendance form was easy to use and paperless. Spreadsheets can be easily shared with supervisors and co-workers.  I can add more categories during the regular school year such as the times children did not get their speech session due to meetings the therapist had to attend, or due to class field trips.  It's imperative that all special education professionals document their time and the children's time to make sure IEP requirements are being met.  Google forms and spreadsheets can help with this.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

AAC video

This YouTube video popped up in one of the blogs I follow.  Apparently it was made at an AAC summer camp. Nice visuals and statements of kids and AAC of all types.

Check it out!
Click HERE to view the video

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

For the Love of Asiedya

This is an article from the Chapel Hill News about a foundation being set up by her parents to supply iPads to other children with autism in her honor.  The foundation name is 'For the Love of Asiedya' and details are below.   

chapel hill news  
Published: Aug 17, 2011 02:00 AM
Modified: Aug 15, 2011 09:54 PM

New foundation to honor Asiedya
Parents of Chapel Hill girl killed in fire want to help other children with autism
FIREDEATH2-CHN-081511-CP
Asiedya

 






HOW TO HELP
To donate to The FLOA foundation, checks can be sent to Wachovia Bank in care of the FLOA Foundation/Sheryl Williams-Clement. For more information on the foundation or to help the family, call Pastor Veryl Howard at 910-644-1824






CHAPEL HILL - She was waiting for Christmas.She had already written Santa with her request: a Lalaloopsy doll, the modern rag doll with the matching personality and outfit. It came, early, laid with 7-year-old Asiedya Elizabeth Clement in the coffin she was buried in Saturday.
Asiedya was killed Aug. 6 when she became trapped in her family's condominium off Weaver Dairy Road as it caught fire and burned.
Now her parents, Gary C. Clement and Sheryl Williams-Clement, are starting a foundation in memory of their daughter, who was diagnosed with autism when she was 2.
The FLOA Foundation, an acronym of "For The Love of Asiedya," will raise money to buy iPads for children with autism.
"That is my passion now," said Williams-Clement. "Initially it was just an idea, but I think it's very befitting for her life, to expand it."
Asiedya got an iPad from First in Families of North Carolina, a Durham-based organization that helps children with disabilities and their families. The tablet opened new learning opportunities for Asiedya; she was always on it, speeding through applications and watching movies, her parents said.
She downloaded dozens of applications. Some taught her about exotic animals; others taught her reading and math through puzzles and games. She mastered the device in weeks.
"She took off with the iPad ... it was very interactive for her," said Gary Clement, who is a writer, photographer and television producer in the gospel music entertainment community. "We'd do writing, arithmetic ... she'd have to get through building a sentence with one app."
The second grader at Ephesus Elementary School was curious, energetic and ever alert. She loved to learn.
"She was very inquisitive about everything; she wanted to see how everything worked," said Williams-Clement.
Asiedya liked it best when the TV was on, a DVD was playing and she was scrolling through her iPad all at once. She especially enjoyed TV commercials; she turned up the volume whenever they came on.
"She was very high functioning, but we never knew where she was developmentally," Williams-Clement said.
The Clements want to use their foundation to give children iPads, but also to educate people about the importance of diagnosing autism early. It is rare to find autism in black females, but early diagnosis can make a big difference in the effectiveness of therapy, said Williams-Clement.
To raise money for their foundation, Gary Clement plans to tap his network of contacts, actors, athletes and artists from the film and television industry. He currently produces the show "North Carolina Backstage," which discusses political and religious issues around the world and airs on cable stations throughout the Triangle.
The morning of the fire, the Clements awoke to the sound of crashing glass in their living room and went downstairs to investigate.
When they tried to get back upstairs to get Asiedya, black smoke had overtaken the condominium in the Kensington Trace complex in northern Chapel Hill.
"She was just overtaken by smoke," said Williams-Clement, who is a health unit coordinator at UNC Hospitals. "We were screaming for her. ... She was just overtaken by smoke."
Fire department officials say the fire was caused by the mechanical malfunction of a freezer on the back porch.
Talking about their only child is still hard, but remembering Asiedya by helping other children with autism makes it a bit easier, Williams-Clement said.
"The iPad opened up a whole new world for her," she said. "I want to give other kids with autism the same opportunities [she] had."
kferral@nando.com or 919-932-8746
© Copyright 2011, The News & Observer Publishing Company
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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Four iPads

Four iPads are not enough.  How could they be?  At our school, there are 450 kids, an army of teachers, and lots of other people like me (speech therapist) who all need their own little personal data device/computer/toy/camera to carry around with them.  We need piles of them--or so it seems!  Read on.



won't happen
Unfortunately, there is the money thing.  Even though iPads are cheaper than laptops, they are not free.  At $500 dollars each, plus money for the case and apps, supplying even a fraction of the school is not feasible unless Santa Claus appears.



Being a public school, we know that Santa won't step a foot into the door, so resourceful people need to look at other sources of funding.  That's why I am so grateful to the Public School Foundation and the Stroud Roses Foundation for generously funding four iPads for Ephesus Elementary.


Four iPads may not sound like a lot, but to a good teacher who knows the value of using an iPad as a tool for data collection, an iPad is invaluable.  In the hands of a teacher, all IEP data, intervention data, attendance for reading and math groups, and anecdotal data can be easily entered into Google forms, which then throws it all into a neat google spreadsheet. Four iPads translates into helping at least 100 kids.  Tracking progress is important!  Plus, for those kids who need an extra little nudge, there are thousands of educational apps out there for them to spend a little time exploring.   A teacher can build this time into a child's schedule.

I just filled out a purchase order today for these four invaluable tools, and can't wait until they arrive! 

For those of you in Chapel Hill, check out the website for the Public School Foundation!  This is a wonderful organization that is really making a difference in the education of our children. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Little Things Matter (But are they really little?)

Tomorrow is the first teacher workday of the school year.  This is my 19th year at Ephesus--same job, same room.  Hard to believe....   My kids grew up at Ephesus (they are now adults), some of the former students there have come back as teachers.  Working there is more than a job but part of my life, and usually I come back excited and eager!  This year though is starting with a cloud of sadness--one of my students, Asiedya, died in a house fire two weeks ago.  Saturday was her funeral.  Although I've gotten over the shock of it all, and don't randomly wipe tears away at various times of the day (too much), I still think about her and the tragedy of it all quite a bit.   So, to ground myself in reality, I'm devoting this day's blog to very small moments documented in a few photos. 
Meet Lizard---taken on the deck by my daughter, Andorra, where she was housesitting last week.  Isn't he (or she) just beautiful!  Look at the little toes, eyes, nose, ear holes, and skin!  Great picture!
Another of nature's friends---dragonfly.  Can you believe the eyes?  and the delicate wing structure?  He kept coming back to us and sitting on whoever had their finger up like an antennae. Vicki took this picture.









Did you know that you can knit a seahorse?  Alana asked Andorra to do this, and she spent weeks making it just for her!





It is the little things---not really little, and not things--- but the qualities of being a friend, enjoying the outdoors, living life, and loving people that really matter.  So, I'll go in to school tomorrow remembering Asiedya, the angel that she always has been, and work on doing little things for the little kids that will still be there.  Hopefully, I can help make a difference in their lives, the way they make a difference in mine.



Thursday, August 11, 2011

No Arms, No Legs, No Worries

Pretty amazing!  This gentleman was born with no limbs, but has not let that become a disability. The first video is about his early years.  The second is him now. Hopefully, he is helping others overcome their own hurdles!



Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Six Feet Over

In these rapidly changing times, apparently you need to put some thought into where you want your final resting place to be.  Geocaching brought us to a parking lot cemetery.  I'm sure these people had no idea back in 1828 what was to become of their homestead.
video
Quite literally 6 feet over
Graveside view


Satellite view---graveyard is the small rectangle in the middle
For additional information about Mary Ellis--the person in the cemetery---click here.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Little Things and Big Thing

 We are continuing with our road trip.
First the little things---count the grasshoppers that are in this shot taken from a small pond spot in Connecticut.

(They were jumping everywhere! Zillions!  These are but a small fraction.)
Now the big thing.  This is the largest sycamore tree in New England. Guess the circumference or read the link.

If you are an educator, and have an interest in adapted books, I'll send you a free digital one with a bingo game if post your guess (good for Pre-K to 2nd grade). 

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Another geocaching milestone---2000

The hike
I know it sounds excessive, but today I found my 2,000th geocache.  I haven't and never will catch up to David (3200 about), and the most anyone has found (so far) is 55,367 caches. Seems like a lot to me!  I'll settle for being an amateur at this.

I wanted this find to be memorable, fun, and outdoorsy---the hike to the summit of Mt. Major in New Hampshire with David, my sister-in-law, and my nephew fit all three.  The mountain was encased in fog, and we all enjoyed the wild critters we saw.  The ammo box containing the log book and a few trinkets was an easy find, and afterwards, we munched on a few blueberries!

The summit
The route up
video 
Along the way, we saw oodles of baby Eastern/Red-Spotted Newts!



2000!