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