Wednesday, December 31, 2008

TreCenter Demo Days

Thanks to Jeff Dorr at the TRE Center for posting that there will be two free vendor demonstrations that will take place at the TRE Center in Albany, New York during January.

Jan 13, 2009

Time: 10-12 (Tango) and 1-3p (Eye gaze)

Event Tango & Eye Gaze Edge System Demos Open to Public


This is a free demo and open to public. No registration is necessary - just come in. "The Eyegaze Edge" : LC Technologies eye-controlled AAC device and computer/environmental control system, for both children & adults "The Tango": Blink-Twice's AAC device for children, teens and now, adults

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Jan 23, 2009 (rescheduled due to ice storm)

Time TBA - Watch our calendar on trecenter.org or contact me at address below

Event MyTobii and ATi demo


1) for two good videos of users of MyTobii
http://www.tobii.com/assistive_technology/user_stories/kathrin_lemler.aspx
then click on the links to the right showing a young woman, 21 yr old with CP (this is a 2 minute video) and boy, 11 yr old, also with CP (this is a 2 minute video). On that same page to the left are links with photographs of 5 users and a description of what their diagnosis is and how they use the MyTobii (these are not videos, just photos and text)


2) www.tobiiati.com
has graphic info and descriptions of all our products, as well as a Funding Section

All Students Meme

Thanks to Martha Thornburgh for tagging me for this meme.

There are 3 things I believe about all students:
  1. All students have a right to learn and make progress no matter what level they started at.
  2. All students have a right to smile and be smiled at.
  3. All students have the right to feel included.
As teachers, I believe it is our responsibility to help our students achieve these 3 things EVERYDAY.

Want to participate in this meme?
  1. Share three things that you believe about all students.
  2. Be sure to link to this post and/or to where you were first tagged.
  3. Tag your response with AllStudentsMeme
  4. Invite others to join the conversation by tagging them to be a part of the meme.

Monday, December 29, 2008

FYI - ISTE SETSIG - Call for Nominations

I'm a member of ISTE - SETSIG ( Special Education Technologies Special Interest Group) and I just found out that they've put out a call for nominations for the following positions:


Vice President
Term: 1 year (please note this term is listed incorrectly as 2 years on the nomination form)
The powers and duties of the Vice President shall be: (1) to serve in the Chairs place and with the Chairs authority in case of the absence of the Chair; (2) to assume designated responsibilities which will provide training for advancement to the office of Chair; (3) to assist in the coordination of the SIG activities at the annual NECC conference; (4) to assist with the communication process among all SETSIG members.


Secretary
2 year term
The powers and duties of the Secretary are: (1) keeping minutes of business meetings of SETSIG and the Board of Directors; (2) publishing the minutes of SETSIG business meetings to the SIG’s Board; (3) publishing notifications from ISTE to the SETSIG listserv, including news releases and reports; (4) recruit and communicate with regional representatives; (5) coordinate membership initiatives; (6) monitor and coordinate listserv activities; (7) oversee work of web developer and communicate content expectations for quarterly publications


Member At-large (2 positions open)
Term: 2 years
Description: The powers and duties of the Members At-Large shall be (1) to represent the SIG at regional and national meetings, (2) propose initiatives that enhance the operation and growth of the SIG by improving ways the SIG meets the needs of specific subgroups interested in special education technology. Efforts should be made to seek diverse representation of the many roles within the field (e.g., individuals with an exceptionality, parents, teachers, administrators, technology specialists, researchers, teacher educators, speech therapists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, rehabilitation specialists, product developers, and others) in order that no more than two members at-large represent any single interest area (i.e., teacher education).


Nominations for SETSIG will open January 5, 2009.


Since I'll be graduating with my Educational Technology Masters in June, I'm wondering what I'll do next. The Member at Large Position would be a nice way for me to merge my background as a Special Education Teacher with my new degree in Educational Technology. I'd like to use my knowledge and experience to assist the SETSIG community.


If you're an ISTE SETSIG member, do you have any advice for me?


Monday, November 24, 2008

Want to Join the Circus? Would You Settle for a Blog Carnival?

Through my participation in the 30 day blogger challenge, I learned about blog carnivals on day 18. According the Blog Carnival site FaQ:
Blog Carnivals typically collect together links pointing to blog articles on a particular topic. A Blog Carnival is like a magazine. It has a title, a topic, editors, contributors, and an audience. Editions of the carnival typically come out on a regular basis (e.g. every monday, or on the first of the month). Each edition is a special blog article that consists of links to all the contributions that have been submitted, often with the editors opinions or remarks.
So using the search within Blog Carnival, I queried the educational section for inclusion and co-teaching and came away with nothing. So, you know what have to do, right? I have to start my own blog carnival. But before I do, I'd love to know if there are educators out there who would like to participate in the fun and write for our Inclusion Revolution blog carnival during the Spring of 2009. I'd like to open up the carnival to include special education and general education co-teachers, consultants and administrators too. Are you interested? Leave a comment below or e-mail me. I'll post more details about this event in the near future.


Monday, November 17, 2008

Dignity and Justice for All - Enable


December 3rd is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. The theme for 2008 is the, "Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: Dignity and Justice for all of us." According to the United Nations Enable Website:

This International Day for Persons with Disabilities is a time to make a renewed commitment to these principles of dignity and justice and to ensure implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. All human beings are not only entitled to rights, but also have the responsibility of making universal human rights a reality for all of us
Around 10 per cent of the world’s population, or 650 million people, live with disabilities. The Convention promotes and protects the human rights of persons with disabilities in civil, cultural, economic, political, and social life. However, all over the world, persons with disabilities continue to face barriers to their participation in society and are often forced to live on the margins of society. They are routinely denied basic rights such as to equal recognition before the law and legal capacity, freedom of expression and opinion, and the right to participate in political and public life, such as voting. Many persons with disabilities are forced into institutions, a direct breach of the rights to freedom of movement and to live in the community.

What Can You Do?

Involve: Observance of the Day provides opportunities for participation by all interested communities - governmental, non-governmental and the private sector - to focus upon catalytic and innovative measures to further implement international norms and standards related to persons with disabilities. Schools, universities and similar institutions can make particular contributions with regard to promoting greater interest and awareness among interested parties of the social, cultural, economic, civil and political rights of persons with disabilities.

Organize:
Hold forums, public discussions and information campaigns in support of the Day focusing on disability issues and trends and ways and means by which persons with disabilities and their families are pursuing independent life styles, sustainable livelihoods and financial security.

Celebrate:
Plan and organize performances everywhere to showcase - and celebrate - the contributions by persons with disabilities to the societies in which they live and convene exchanges and dialogues focusing on the rich and varied skills, interests and aspirations of persons with disabilities.

Take Action:
A major focus of the Day is practical action to further implement international norms and standards concerning persons with disabilities and to further their participation in social life and development on the basis of equality. The media have especially important contributions to make in support of the observance of the Day - and throughout the year - regarding appropriate presentation of progress and obstacles implementing disability-sensitive policies, programmes and projects and to promote public awareness of the contributions by persons with disabilities.

Image: '2008-04-02 Moi'
www.flickr.com/photos/18666039@N02/2383766265

Sunday, November 16, 2008

How Tourette Syndrome Made Him the Teacher He Never Had

The national Tourette Syndrome Association, Inc. is very excited to announce that the Hallmark Hall of Fame TV presentation, the Front of the Class, will premiere on Sunday, December 7, 2008, at 9:00 pm EST on CBS.

The details below are from an e-mail I recently received from the TSA, Inc.:
Front of the Class is inspired by the true story of Brad Cohen, a young man diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome who overcomes considerable odds to become a gifted teacher. Based on Brad's award winning book, Front of the Class: How Tourette Syndrome Made Me the Teacher I Never Had, this poignant TV feature is an accurate and inspiring depiction of this much misunderstood neurological disorder.

Check out this video clip of Brad speaking about growing up with Tourette's.


When growing up, teachers and other adults - even Brad's father - interpreted his involuntary sounds and sudden jerking movements as attempts to get attention. He was teased by other kids. As a result, he hated school, until his school principal recognized and acknowledged that Brad's acting up was actually a result of his Tourette Syndrome symptoms. His principal chose to use an all-school assembly to educate both the faculty and his fellow students about the disorder. This dramatic incident was pivotal in helping Brad win their understanding and acceptance.

At that point, Brad decided to become the teacher he never had. But that ambition was more easily stated than achieved. Despite an impressive college record and glowing recommendations, getting a job was an almost insurmountable challenge. He was turned down in 24 consecutive interviews. His 25th interview finally resulted in a job offer.

Brad's openness about having Tourette Syndrome, as well as his easy-going manner and gentle humor, quickly won over his young students. In addition to the standard curriculum, the students learned valuable lessons in understanding and tolerance. At the end of the year, Brad was named Georgia's outstanding first-year teacher.

Reminder:
Watch:
Front of the Class on Sunday, December 7, 2008, at 9:00 pm EST on CBS.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Do You See What I See? Take II

After viewing my blog for the blog challenge using http://browsershots.org/, I've been concerned about how our classroom website and blog might look to our students and parents when they're viewing the two sites outside of school on different browsers. I'm starting to wonder about whether they see what we intended them to see. I hope the answer is yes, but just like beauty is in the eye of the beholder, that ideal online view depends on the eye of the browser.

So next on my in school to-do list is to poll the class for the types of browsers they use to view our sites outside of school. Based on their feedback, I can take some browser shots of our website and blog to see what they look like in those specific browsers. In addition to this, I'd like to use Google Analytics on the two sites to analyze how much action the sites are really getting. While Lisa and I know the blog definitely gets some action, the website is another story.

While I work on my to-do list, I pose the challenge to you, "Do your kids see what you intended them to see on your class website and/or blog?"

Photo Credit: Moonwaves - http://www.flickr.com/photos/moonwaves/7194036/

Friday, November 14, 2008

Do You See What I See?

Do you see what I see when it comes to viewing my blog? Well according to @Teach42:

Today it’s time [you] take a very close look at your blog in a very broad way. Presumably you see your blog pretty often. But let’s face it, how often do you visit your blog from the same browser, on the same computer, using the same monitor with the same resolution settings? That’s a pretty narrow viewpoint!

So at the suggestion of Beth Knittle, I used http://browsershots.org/ to check the browser compatibility of my blog through what is formally called a cross browser test. Using the data about my blog from Google Analytics, I learned that my visitors use FireFox, Internet Explorer, Safari, Opera and Chrome to view my blog. I then queried http://browsershots.org/ to take screenshots of my blog in each of those browsers. These are the results at 640 pixels wide:





I'm surprised by the results. Apparently you do not see what I see when you're visiting my blog from different browsers. I would love allocate more time to play with my site for your viewing pleasure, but time is scarce right now. But as @Teach42 stated in his blog, today’s challenge is to KNOW. I now KNOW. BTW - I also now know what my blog looks like in an RSS feed. Thanks to @Sue Waters for suggesting that you should subscribe to your own blog. It's like looking at yourself from the outside in, instead of the inside out. Do you see what I see?


Creative Commons Photo by j/f photo:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/good-karma/498917143/sizes/l/

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

LD Up Close - NYC Event


A very special event entitled: LD Up Close will be taking place on Wednesday, December 10th, 2008. Sponsored by the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD), this is a holiday event for both parents and children to experience together. It is a celebration of the creativity of children with LD and their artwork.

PACE PRINTS, a noted New York art gallery, will open its Chelsea location to feature artwork from the National Center for Learning Disabilities' annual art competition for this one night only!


In addition to the children's artwork, the gallery will show contemporary artist Chuck Close's work. Bring your friends and your children. It promises to be a wonderful evening!

When
December 10, 2008

Where
PACE PRINTS

521 West 26th Street, 3rd Floor
(between 10th-11th Avenues)

Time
6:00-8:30 pm

Ticket prices
$125 for Adults

$50 for Children (up to 18 yrs)
$350 for the family Package (2 Adults, 3 Children)

Click here for the pdf registration form that you must fax to the NCLD.

Teacher Consultants and Parents as Partners

My first online assignment for LATS was to read the Edge and Davis PowerPoint which is about the "Inclusion of parents and families of children with disabilities in the educational process" when evaluating a student for assistive technology. The presentation emphasizes that family involvement is key in developing a child's educational program. I would agree.

In the PowerPoint it states that children perform better, both academically and socially, if parents are actively involved in their child's education (Henderson, 1987). As we've all heard before, a parent is a child's first teacher. I believe that parents are a child's first co-teachers. Yet, no matter how well those parents understand their child, they are often challenged with the knowledge needed to navigate through the classification/re-evaluation process when they have a student with special needs.

To reduce the impact of this problem, educators should try to act as consultants to the parents of a child with a disability and make themselves available to the parents as they need information, guidance and support. In addition to this, I also think that teachers should be consultants to the children.

During our parent-teacher conferences this month, we opened up our meetings to include all of the students in our inclusion classroom. For many of the kids, this was their first time being included in the process as we reviewed their report card with mom and dad. During the conference, we asked the students to talk about their strengths and weaknesses and how WE, their team of parents and teachers, could help them to be more successful. For some kids, we referred to this process as Extreme [Insert Student Name Here] Makeover. Less formal than an invite to CSE/IEP meeting, our ten year old kids were originally a little stressed, but later reflected that this was a positive experience. At the conclusion of each meeting, each student and their family came away with a plan for success for the rest of the school year.

With regards to assistive technology evaluations and services, service providers need to continue to be consultants to the students and their families throughout the year. Both the children and their parents are going to need training and support in order to use assistive technology to it's potential. Often, this consultant role means the educator will have to learn more about the children, their families and their needs through a variety of communication methods including: face to face conversations, handwritten notes, telephone calls or via e-mail. In our classroom, you could also learn more about students via their blogs and podcasts.

No matter what you choose to connect with families, just realize that these relationships are like dances. For each family and even the individuals within that family it will take a little bit to get in sync in order to determine each person's unique needs. The book, Do You Hear what I Hear?: Parents and Professionals Working Together for Children with Special Needs by Janice Fialka and Karen C. Mikus is a great resource for a service provider looking to improve in this area.

NY CEC Chapter 615 - Upcoming Events

E-mail NOTE from the CEC: This notice has been sent to all Chapter 615 members with email addresses on the CEC membership list. Please forward it to others who might be interested in attending.

So here goes:
I'm sharing this with YOU b/c I thought you might be interested.


The Council for Exceptional Children, Chapter 615, has planned an exciting series of meetings, at the Westchester Graduate Campus of Long Island University, that we believe address some of the critical problems and issues that face all of us involved in the field of education. We listed the dates and topics of our events below. Mark your calendars and please join us at our first meeting, detailed below:

Monday, December 8th – “Learning Disabilities in English Language Learners: Exploring the Issues”

Wednesday, March 25- “Current Topics and Issues in Special Education”

Wednesday, May 13 - Chapter 615 Awards Program (Recognizing individuals who have given exemplary service to individuals with special needs)

All meetings will be held at 4:30 pm at the Westchester Graduate Campus of Long Island University.

RSVP - Sheila.mccluskey@liu.edu

Directions: By Car

From New York City, Southern Westchester, and Long Island – Take the Hutchinson River Parkway north to Exit 28 (Lincoln Avenue). Turn Left onto Lincoln Avenue and proceed approximately one mile to Anderson Hill Road (2nd traffic light). Turn right onto Anderson Hill Road. The campus is immediately on the left.


From Rockland County and northern New Jersey (via the Tappan Zee Bridge) – Take I-287 (Cross Westchester Expressway) to Exit 8E. Shortly after first traffic light, bear left onto Anderson Hill Road. Proceed approximately 2.5 miles. The campus is on the left, just after intersection at Lincoln Avenue.


From Northern Westchester – Take I-684 south to Exit 2 (Route 120), drive over the bridge and turn right onto Route 120 south (Purchase Street). Follow Route 120 south, 3.2 miles to Anderson Hill Road (1st traffic light) and turn left. Turn left at 2nd traffic light into campus.


From Connecticut – Take the Merritt Parkway south (which becomes the Hutchinson River Parkway in New York State) south to New York Exit 28, Lincoln Avenue (Note: Do not get off at Exit 28 in Connecticut). Turn right onto Lincoln Avenue and proceed approximately one mile to Anderson Hill Road (2nd traffic light). Turn right onto Anderson Hill Road. The campus is immediately on the left.


Entrance Directions: Turn into the Purchase College campus. At the T-intersection, make a left onto Brigid Flanigan Drive (West). If you have a WGC or Purchase College parking permit, follow the road around the bend to Parking Lot #2. If you do not have a permit, take the right fork and stop at the guard booth to get a visitor’s parking pass. Then proceed to Parking Lot #2. From Lot #2, turn and face the campus buildings. The path leading you to the WGC will be on the left side of the Music Building, the building closest to the lot. Follow the signs leading you towards the WGC in the Dance Building. Contact the LIU receptionist at (914) 831-2700 if you get lost.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Do you have a LoTTIE Dotty?


As an inclusion teacher, I'm often looking for low tech devices to assist my students with high incidence disabilities. A LoTTIE kit is an ideal resource for teachers who want to support struggling learners in a general education setting.

LoTTIE stands for "Low Tech Tools for Inclusive Education" and the LoTTIE kit was
developed by Judith Sweeney of Onion Mountain Technology. At the Onion Mountain site, you can purchase LoTTIE kits filled with low tech tools for literacy, math, organization and more!

At my NYS Local Assistive Technology Specialist training in October, I was able to peruse a LoTTIE box and found that I had a lot of the items included in the package already in my classroom such as colored transparencies, a digital recorder, ezc readers, etc
. I also viewed a project proposal by my peers entitled Low Tech Solutions for Low Tech Ladies. Based on their project, you could definitely create your own LoTTIE kit with some time, patience, creativity and a little bit of moolah.

While traveling through cyberspace on the Teach42 blog challenge, I came across the Virginia Department of Education's Assistive Technology Blog. On November 7th, 2008 they shared about a unique opportunity to participate in an online workshop regarding a LoTTIE kit.

As stated on the site, "
In this online course/workshop, the participant will learn what is assistive technology, what are LoTTIE Kits, and what are the numerous low and mid tech tools that are available to help students with special needs be as independent as possible. After completing this online workshop, the participant will have acquired some of the skills needed to support the integration of assistive technology devices and services into the educational plan of students with special needs."

So what are you waiting for? If you're an inclusion teacher or general education counterpart, go explore those sites and you might come away with a LoTTIE!


Sunday, November 9, 2008

A Fresh Perspective

Hi! I'm Christine and I'm spending 30 days trying to be a better blogger. Want to help me? I need a fresh perspective on my blog from newbies who have visited my space for the first time. At the recommendation of my blog guru, @Teach 42, I'd love for you to answer one or two of the following questions for me.
  • Are you overwhelmed by the amount of stuff on my blog?
  • Is there anything my blog is missing?
  • Is it easy to navigate around or do you have trouble making your way from one section to another?
  • Is there any information that you wish I had provided that isn’t there?
  • Are there any parts that you didn’t understand the purpose of?
  • Any general suggestions that you have for improvement?
  • What parts of your blog were most memorable to you, 5-10 minutes after you explored it?
I appreciate your constructive criticism. Thanks for helping me to be a better blogger.

30d2bbb image by Jason Robertshaw - licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License

License to Blog

I have a license to blog. Creative Commons License


This work by http://www.christinesouthard.blogspot.com is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

If you're new to Creative Commons licensing, watch the video below.

My Thank You Note - Blog Challenge Day 3

@Teach42 wrote, "There’s more to the art of blogging than just the things that we see published on your blog. " Special connections can happen when you're online and sometimes friendships develop when you least expect it.

That is why I want to thank my friend Pat Hensley for becoming a part of my online personal learning network. First as a follower on Twitter, then as a friend on Plurk, and now my blog buddy too.

I found Pat when I was looking to expand my network of teachers of all things special. She definitely fits the mold as a retired special education teacher!

So here's a special shout-out to my friend:

Pat, I love reading your blog, Successful Teaching. I love the knowledge you share with your readers, especially new teachers like me. I value the topics you write about on Successful Teaching and the experiences you share with us on twitter and plurk. On top of that, you are a fabulous commenter, always making connections or leaving kudos on the blogs you visit. You are my mentor and a friend. Thanks for being a part of my network.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Playing in Traffic

Thanks to @Dembo, I'm playing in traffic now trying to understand my blog statistics. Since I live in a googlecentric world, I decided to use Google Analytics to analyze my blog. Here are some of my stats: Between November 3rd and today, November 8th, I've had 26 visits, 34 page views, 1.31 Pages/Visit, and a 80.77% Bounce Rate. The average time spent on my site is 2:24 minutes and 80.77% of my visitors are new to my site.

I think this is an interesting way to look at my blog. Out of the people who visit it, 9.52% visit my site directly by typing the URL, 42.86% of the visitors come from referring sites and 47.62% come from search engines. Some of my top ten referral sites include Google, blogger.com, aol, Discovery Education, Facebook, and Plurk. Since Karen Kliegman mentioned me in her blog this week, her site http://wlteam.blogspot.com/ also sent some visitors my way.

Prior to analyzing my blog, I had never logged my site traffic so specifically. Like I stated in my previous post, I used to use my ClustrMap to track the number of visits and locations that my visitors hailed from. I also relied on comments to gauge if what I've been writing about is relevant to my readers. I would love for you, my readers, to comment more, but there's no pressure. I need to give some comments in order to receive them. I also need to write more intriguing posts that spark your interest. I'll work on that. :)

I look forward to reviewing my blog statistics in about another month. I'm interested to see how my stats will change over the next thirty days. Happy blogging!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Leveling the Playing Field

Here is the presentation that Lisa Parisi and I presented at the 14th Annual SCOPE Technology Conference.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Who Am I and What's my Blog All About?

Teach42 and I have had ongoing conversations about how to be a better blogger. Through my participation in his daily blog challenge this month, I'm going to ponder and reflect on what makes one a better blogger.

I feel like I'm immersed in blogs. I blog here, on the New York DEN blog, and Lisa and I are constantly reviewing and approving blog articles and comments for our students in the South Paris Collaborative.

How do you, however, measure the success of the blogger? Is it an internal measurement, measured through the power of goodness in the heart and mind? (I.e. The little voice inside your head saying, "You did a good thing by blogging today.") Or do you measure the success of your blog, by the silent dots on your Clustr Map or the number of comments under your posts. I often wonder about this... don't you?

Let me begin with blog challenge #1, Who am I and what is my blog all about?

I consider myself a Jess of all trades, instead of a Jack of all trades. I'm a fifth grade co-teacher in an inclusion classroom. Often, I find that my friends from around the world don't truly understand what that means. I'm actually the special education teacher, but like most classified kids and their parents, I don't like the label. I'm a teacher, they're my students.

In addition to teaching, I'm also learning. In June I'll graduate with my second masters in Educational Technology from the TEAM Program at C.W. Post/Long Island University. Thanks to my friend JoAnn in TEAM, I've also decided to pursue the NYS VESID Local Assistive Technology Specialist Certification through the TRE Center. Once I've completed the certification process "I will have acquired the competencies necessary to provide appropriate Assistive Technology Services to students with disabilities."

After school, I teach staff development classes for my local teacher center, present at conferences and also provide Academic Intervention Support (AIS) in math and ELA for struggling students throughout the school year. I'm also the webmaster and public relations person for our school. In my free time, I have been a Level I Certified adaptive ski instructor through PSIA who volunteers to teach blind and cognitively impaired skiers. I've been doing this since 2000-2001.

My blog therefore, is a mishmash of my experiences. Sometimes, I blog for college. Other times, I like to blog about what I learn from the conferences I attend. On the New York DEN blog, I like to share events that are happening around the state with my New York colleagues. I'm impressed with bloggers who can stick to one topic. I'm still working on that.

So my blog readers, I invite you to partake in the Day 1 - Blog challenge. Who are you and what's your blog all about?

30 Days to Being a Better Blogger

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Freedom Machines Assignment

One of my first homework assignments for the TRE Center was to review the Freedom Machines website. As quoted from the site, "Freedom Machines, a public television program and national outreach campaign, looks at our beliefs about disability through the lens of assistive technology." It is a program that aired in early September on PBS.

Modern technology has changed the way people with disabilities live. People not only have access to physical equipment that help them to be more ambulatory, but they have access to computer technology that facilitates their learning and independence.

There are many people who live their daily lives with disabilities, but statistics show that fewer than 25% of people with disabilities who could be helped by assistive technology are actually using it. Some people "make do" because they're not aware that technology is available to them, while others just don't know how to obtain it.

Parents of children with disabilities need to keep in mind that the technology is out there, and that they shouldn't be satisfied when they can't find the right tool that will help their child to succeed. The term "assistive technology device" as used in the Maine Special Education Regulations means "any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of children with disabilities" (Chapter 101, § 2.2 and Chapter 180, § 3A and 3AA). When you can't find equipment, enlist the help of others to modify or customize something that works. Parents of children with disabilities need to realize that this not only relates to the learning and independent functioning of their child, but to recreational activities too. Parents of children without disabilities wouldn't stand for letting their child sit out on a game or be a bench warmer, why should the parents of children with disabilities. Everyone deserves to be included, we just have to figure out how to best modify the situation so everyone gets what they need.

My favorite place, The Adaptive Sports Foundation, offers year round recreational sports activities for people with disabilities. "Participation in sports gives the disabled individual increased self worth and self esteem. Students are often heard saying, "If I can do this, I can do anything."

Assistive Technology Conference

This week I'm attending Assistive Technology Certification Training up in Albany through the TRE Center. The TRE Center is the one stop resource for Assistive Technology and Universal Design for Learning in New York State. If you're a Special Education Teacher working in NYS, then you should definitely sign up for their newsletter and their listserve. Then you should look at all of their resources.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Sudden Changes for the Better

I am very intrigued by my powerful horoscope for this month:

The big gears of Jupiter and Saturn that shape your future -- especially in your career -- take a significant turn this month. On September 8, the planets of aspiration and accomplishment make their next-to-last trine in a series that began early last year. This provides you the good judgment to adjust your course one more time before the last trine locks in long-term patterns on November 11. You can pour some of your playful and enthusiastic spirit into the mix when your ruling planet, the Sun, joins Saturn on September 3 and trines Jupiter on September 4. A broad perspective sharpens your sense of strategy, allowing you to assess challenges skillfully and chart a course to success. Jupiter, the guru or teacher, turns direct on September 8, signaling your readiness to learn from those with more experience and to generously share your knowledge with others.

On September 8th I return to college for my last year in my Masters program in Educational Technology through TEAM. I'm eager to get back to work and complete my coursework and finish my degree, but I have wondered along the way where this choice will lead me.

As a result of this program I have started teaching staff development courses on technology through my teacher center and I have presented for Discovery and at a few local conferences. I'm a newbie, often nervous during my presentations but I keep reminding myself to take baby steps, make the mistakes, learn from them and move on. As my dad often reminds me, there is light at the end of the tunnel. I just wonder what's in store for me there.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Boom De Ah Dah

Isn't this cute? I made it with my new Discovery Educator Network friends.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Discovery Educator Network - Leadership Council Institute




I had a great first day at the DEN - Leadership Council Institute! The kick off day was so much fun between the new friends I've made and the fun video we created! I've definitely caught the D-E-N spirit. Watch this video and Boom De Ah Dah with me. I'll post more pictures throughout the day.


Friday, July 11, 2008

Long Island Children's Museum

Look what I just found on YouTube. Another teacher in my class included it in her graduate level assignment on her field trip wiki to the Long Island Children's Museum. It makes me wonder if other local field trip sites have videos on Youtube too. I'm going to have to check or start making some field trip videos for myself. This btw, is a great video. Check it out. :)

Social Stories Using Mixbook

Yesterday I came up with the idea to have my intermediate students create social stories for the primary autism students at our school. Below is a model that I created for my graduate course. I thought the idea had potential since the project connects students across grade levels, it empowers the intermediate students as helping the younger students with a purposeful activity and fosters disability awareness for the general education students through hands on interaction and application. I also like how the Mixbook can be viewed online from home or on the SmartBoard as a presentation tool in the autism classroom. Parents or teachers could also order the books through Mixbook, and perhaps Mixbook would consider helping us do this as a fund raiser for SEPTA (Special Education PTA). Have you seen this before? What do you think?

BTW - This is my first social story. I'm not sure if I did it correctly.




Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Technology Integration Creation Workweek – Using Museum Resources in the Classroom #2


Gabcast! Technology Integration Creation Workweek – Using Museum Resources in the Classroom #2

21st Century Skills--Merging Community w/School Using Cultural Resources in the Classroom

Hello friends,
My last two gabcasts were an assignment and an experiment I did for my graduate level summer class, 21st Century Skills -- Merging Community with School Using Cultural Resources in the Classroom. I was asked to use gabcast as part of my project, but in the process I learned that I could set up my account to publish live to my blog, and it worked! You just need a cellphone and a code and password provided to you by gabcast.

For my assignment, I choose to visit the Long Island Children's Museum and focus on the Changes and Challenges exhibit. The gallery is comprised of a house, school and outdoor environment that allows children to experience how people with differing abilities adapt to daily challenges.
While my wiki assignment is still a work in progress, feel free to check it out here. My wiki assignment was to create differentiated assignments for my students to complete before, during and after our field trip to the exhibit. I chose to focus my assignment around the acceptance unit that Lisa and I begin our school year with.

Here are some pictures from my field trip to the LICM.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Plurk

I just joined Plurk and I'm figuring it out. Please join me or befriend me if you're already there.
:)

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Reflections of a NECC Newbie and a Constructivist of Sorts

Although our luggage was lost in transit, our first day in San Antonio was a success!

We started our day at Gary Stager's, Constructivist Consortium
where we were reminded how important it was to allow our students to nourish their creative souls by encouraging project based constructive technology use in the classroom.

During this session we were introduced to the new Fablevision software, Animationish. It is a cartoon drawing application that allows the students to create animation videos. I can't wait to play with it more. There is a free trial on their website.

Another great application was Frames , it is a digital storytelling application that not only allows you to create photo stories, but it has blue screen technology, and you can even make claymation videos. Lisa and I are eager to use this with our kids next school year! It was so easy and fun too.
This was a great conference and it helped to get our creative teacher juices flowing. Check out the Constructivist Consortium Bookstore, with book recommendations that will help to foster your constructivist spirit. Also consider attending the Constructing Modern Knowledge Conference that is happening July 28th in New Hampshire.

Go out and create something beautiful. Smiles to you. -Christine

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Harris Burdick Writing Project Video

The last assignment in my video class was to create a video that met the following requirements:
  • The video should be 3 to 7 minutes long
  • Include moving video that you have captured
  • Can include still images
  • Should have your voice as part of the narration
At the suggestion of Dr. Schneiderman , I folded this assignment into another project that I have been working on in my 5th grade classroom, called the Harris Burdick Writing Project.

Most recently my co-teacher Lisa Parisi and I, along with Brian Crosby, a fifth grade teacher from Nevada, discovered that we were 2nd place winners of the 2008 SIGTel Online Learning Award from ISTE for this collaborative project.

Below is the demo video I created for our poster session presentation and the video assignment that I'm submitting for TEAM.




I found the background music for my movie at Freeplaymusic.com. It was composed by Brian Cassel.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Story of a Sign

This is such a beautiful story. You'll love the message it tells. This is a great video to share with your students.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Nobel Prize Channel on YouTube

During my quest for educationally sound videos, I came across the Nobel Prize Channel on YouTube. In case you didn't know, The Nobel Prize organization has their own channel on YouTube, which brings you fascinating insights into the minds of current and past Nobel Laureates courtesy of Nobelprize.org, the official web site of the Nobel Foundation.

Here, you can watch a range of Laureates give interviews and official Nobel Lectures, in which they reveal the stories that helped shape their lives and careers. You can also see the official videos of the Nobel Prize announcements, where members of the Nobel Prize-Awarding Committees reveal their reasons behind their choices for each year's Prizes.

Imagine the potential for greatness that you're exposing your students to as a classroom subscriber to the Nobel Prize Channel.

Here is video of Robert Grubbs and Richard Schrock, two men who received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2005. In this interview excerpt, they talk about the status of science today among the general public in the United States.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Learn to Change Video

Thanks to David Warlick for blogging about this video on his 2 cents blog. He refers to the video as an "A-ha" video. The U.S. Department of Commerce Ranked 55 industry sectors by their level of IT intensiveness. Education was ranked number 55 — below coal mining!

As educators, we have the responsibility to teach our students to use technology and to be digitally literate. If you're not a tech savvy teacher, I implore you to start slow and don't be afraid to ask questions of other teachers whether they be face to face or online.

The title of the video is Learn to Change. As lifelong learners, educators are always learning, but to some teachers, technology can be a challenge. It can be intimidating when students are more tech savvy than their teachers, but reach out to them and your colleagues.

The resources available through Discovery Streaming are great stepping stones for teachers looking to create a 21st century classroom. But don't stop there. In addition to covering the new New York State standards on internet safety, introduce your students to blogs, wikis and social networks. If you're stuck, you can always get a little help from your friends. Especially if you're part of the TEAM. :)

NECC or Bust: A Newbie Among Tech NECCies


View my page on NECC 2008

I'm heading to San Antonio this summer for my first trip ever to NECC!
I'm so excited!

Any tips for a NECC Newbie?

30 Second Educational PhotoStory

My assignment this week was to create a 30 second Educational Photo Story for my video class at C.W. Post. I assigned a DNA test for this Thursday and so I decided to create a PhotoStory to help my students review for the assessment. I welcome any suggestions on how I can improve on this class assignment. I'll start by saying one of my students suggested that I don't read the script. What do you think?



BTW - I'm a little frustrated that I've already received a few e-mails from my students stating that the TeacherTube site is VERY slow. That will probably have a negative impact on the quality of review. Do you have an alternative video hosting site to use with elementary kids?

Monday, May 12, 2008

Using Digital Audio and Video in the Classroom

I just started my new class: Using Digital Audio and Video in the Classroom. This course prepares educators to incorporate digital audio and video content in their classrooms. Students acquire technical skills in creating and editing digital audio and video content. They prepare it for classroom use, explore educational issues surrounding it, and work to develop creative uses of audio and video in their curriculum. Within the course, students learn to record, edit, compress, and distribute digital content. They also confront topics related to educational uses of audio and video in the classroom context as well as out-of-school contexts. Finally, the class works through materials designed to strengthen their ability to creatively envision and deploy digital media within their own curriculum.

I'm excited to start this course, but I was even more excited after reading the blog posting, A Hero is Born, from my online teacher friend Mr. James on his site, Learning as a Way of Teaching.

Mr. James is an inclusion teacher who started using video this year to teach his middle school science class. Check out the Adventures of Taksman.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

My Developmental Portfolio



I finally finished my Developmental Portfolio for TEAM. Check it out and let me know what you think. I really appreciate the feedback.
- Christine

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Ability Grouping

As an inclusion teacher, my co-teacher and I use ability grouping in certain subjects to differentiate for the learning levels of our students. You need to realize however, that ability grouping comes in different shapes and sizes in our inclusion class, because leveled grouping isn't always good for the soul, nor is it conducive to the real world in which people are constantly expected to work with people of varied abilities. To me, inclusion means that everybody is included, but at the same time, everyone gets what they need. This takes a delicate balance of whole and small group instruction in order for true inclusion to occur.

John Hollifield wrote the article, Ability Grouping in Elementary Schools back in 1987. It is an article that, "summarizes the conclusions of Robert E. Slavin's 1986 comprehensive review of research on the different types of ability grouping in elementary schools. The purpose of his review was to identify grouping practices that promote student achievement."

In our class, pre-assessment helps us to determine the levels that students are functioning at across various content areas. As teachers, this pre-assessment feedback helps us decide if we need to level/group our students. To me, I am always intrigued to see how similar or scattered the data is, as it is rarely the same.


Without knowing anything about Slavin's research, I was happy to discover that many of our classroom grouping plans were found as successful practices in his eyes. According to Slavin, "students should identify primarily with a heterogeneous class. They should be regrouped by ability only when reducing heterogeneity is particularly important for learning, as is the case with math or reading instruction." That's us.


Slavin also states that grouping plans should reduce student heterogeneity in the specific skill being taught, not in IQ or overall achievement level. Every individual in our class gets what they need. Everyone is taught the same skill, and if we break into small group instruction all content is scaffolded around the same principles. Questioning is also differentiated so that every student has a chance to be and feel successful, yet each student is working on the same skill or content area material at the same time. IQ results such as those from a Stanford-Binet or Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC) are never used as grouping tools for our classroom. In our class, IQ scores are only discussed during CSE meetings as part of the puzzle in the classification/re-evaluation process.

Another positive connection to Slavin's findings is that our class grouping plans allow for frequent reassessment of student placement and for easy reassignment based on student progress. Students are always reminded that they are stewards of their own learning vessels. While we the teachers are there to teach and share information, it is up to the children to allow that information in and to find a place in their knowledge warehouse. We've noticed that a positive correlation exists between active learners and learning progress, as it often occurs when students work hard to document extra reading or math practice, and that these same students learn to reach out to their teachers for assistance via e-mail or through their blog postings when they want assistance or they want to share what they've learned.

Pre-assessment and e-mail communication from students and parents as feedback has really helped us as teachers to vary the level and pace of instruction according to student learning needs. While it may seem very basic in addition to pre-assessment. E-mail is a private communication tool in which students can connect with teachers to receive direct instruction in an area in which he or she is struggling. In our inclusion class we have a combined e-mail address: collaborative@herricks.org, that reaches both co-teachers when a student is struggling or needs assistance. Either teacher can respond with an appropriate response or a link to a website for remediation. When students have a deficit that pre-assessment doesn't reveal, e-mail is an easier [less embarrassing way] to convey to your teachers that you don't understand rather than raising his or her hand in the middle of class. I would love to extend this form of assistive grouping and communication to Skyping with students, but I'll have to experiment with this at a later time.

Learners are different and unique in their learning style and intelligences. Between
Howard Gardner's Multiple Intelligence Theory, Sternberg's Triarchic Theory of Human Intelligence, I.Q. tests and the many theories on learning styles, there are a plethora of ways to measure, analyze and group children. While I rely on some of these theories and a few of these tools to meet the needs of my students, I would much rather prefer that my students are included in all aspects of learning whole group or not, and that they, as fifth graders, have opportunities to play to learn. Childhood is not a race.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Multiple Intelligences

As most educators know, Howard Gardner is well known for his research on multiple intelligences. In fact, as educators, Gardner's theories infiltrated much of our psychology and methods courses as pre-teachers. Today, as "real teachers," his theory of M.I. is frequently mentioned during teacher planning, staff development and faculty room banter. But did you ever wonder how Gardner felt about educators using his theory of M.I. in your classroom? As an educator, I just assumed he had shared his theory freely with educators since his name was so prevalent in the field of education. That however, was not his initial intent.

In some of his writing Gardner has stated, "to the surprise of many, including me [Howard Garder], the theory of multiple intelligences has become influential in educational circles. It is often assimilated, inappropriately, in my view, into work on cognitive or learning styles. Educators have sought to determine the intellectual strengths (the intelligence profiles) of their students through a variety of informal, jerry-built methods. They have also drawn a multitude of often inconsistent inferences about practice from the theory. These range from teaching seven or eight different subjects, each centering on a particular intelligence; to organizing groups of students based on their favored intelligences; to building curricula that focus on specific intelligences; to teaching subjects in seven or eight different ways."

Can you believe that? Where was the tipping point in Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligences in which the educators proclaimed his initial research as gospel and left the researcher himself out of the loop? When I read this I was much more than surprised, I was shocked. Why did my professors, administrators and faculty peers stress his theories so, when the researcher himself originally stated that as educators, we're interpreting his research incorrectly? This is a conflict. Why this selective deafness on the part of the pedagogs? Why didn't I discover this until now?

According to Mindy L. Kornhaber (2001: 276), a researcher involved with Project Zero, there are a number of reasons why teachers and policymakers in North America have responded positively to Howard Gardner's presentation of multiple intelligences. Among these are that "the theory validates educators' everyday experience: students think and learn in many different ways. It also provides educators with a conceptual framework for organizing and reflecting on curriculum assessment and pedagogical practices. In turn, this reflection has led many educators to develop new approaches that might better meet the needs of the range of learners in their classrooms."

Alright, I am one of those North American teachers interested in understanding Gardner's research on multiple intelligences. Yet, Howard Gardner will remind you and me that psychology does not directly dictate education, 'it merely helps one to understand the conditions within which education takes place.'

As an inclusion teacher, I differentiate on a number of different levels based on the ever-changing conditions of my classroom and the individual needs of my students. Sometimes I interpret this to include learning style, but it could also fall under Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences. In my opinion, there are certain teaching styles that lend themselves to certain lessons and there are certain intelligences that lend themselves to certain concepts and rather than pigeonholing children into their favored or specific intelligence, I find it important to teach with all intelligences in mind. It is also important to me to expose students to all of Gardner's proposed intelligences in an attempt to broaden their understanding, even if they have an area of weakness in one or more area.

In reaction to Han S. Paik's article, One Intelligence or Many? Alternative Approaches to Cognitive Abilities, it doesn't surprise me that the true definition of intelligence is still debated. There are too many factors to consider when trying to define the intelligence of a child. Children are unique based on their hereditary, culture, experience, and even the unmentioned area of disability.

At a recent conference, Howard Gardner indicated that his theory of multiple intelligences could not be accomplished in the face of No Child Left Behind and standards-based education. I would agree. While there is a need for assessment to track the progress of students, the assessment proposed through NCLB and state tests is not broad enough to include all of Gardner's intelligences. The pencil, paper, scantron tests of today are limiting and do not reflect the potential strengths of those children who encompass strengths in some or all of Gardner's nine intelligences.

Sources for this assignment:
http://www.infed.org/thinkers/gardner.htm#multiple_intelligences

http://myweb.liu.edu/~mdornisc/modules/documents/natureofintelligence.html