Leftie or Rightie?

Left arm lifted holding a pencil

Is your dominant hand left, or right? I’m a definite leftie. I am part of the 10-12% in this world that function stronger with their left hand. On the PATINS staff, Julie and Jim join me as lefties.


Some cultures consider left handed people as an outcast. The Anglo-Saxon word for left is “lyft” which means broken, weak. A mere nasty habit to overcome. This might explain why, as an elementary student, I was pulled out of my classroom of peers to go out in the hall and work on writing with my right hand with Miss O’Neil, the “special teacher”. I wasn’t comfortable writing with my right hand nor did I have good results with my right hand. I also remember being sad that I was missing out on what my friends were doing in my classroom with my teacher. Miss O’Neil told my parents that I would always need a pencil gripper to properly write. (That turned out to be incorrect)

In this right-handed world, I have learned to adapt quite effectively. Here’s a few examples:
  • My coffee mug with the inspirational saying? I’m glad you can read it as I drink.
  • Opening those cans with a can opener? I buy the pull tops.
  • Zipping a zipper? Skilled at holding that fly/flap with my other fingers to keep clear.
  • Reading a measuring cup? Mastered the metric system.
  • Spiral notebook? Built a tolerance to dents from resting on the spiral or went for the loose-leaf.
  • Writing over pencil/pen on my paper? Those smudges on the butt of my hand are washable.
  • Cutting with scissors? Not so great UNTIL my first left-handed pair, then perfect!
  • Reading a tape measure? I can read upside down and get the job done.
  • Video Game Controller? Wasn’t any good at video games anyway.
  • Desk in school? I was all smiles when I was introduced to a left-handed desk in college. Until then, I preferred to sit on the floor with my work on my knees or lap.
Studies show that lefties are better at using both hands proficiently over righties. Seems our brains are wired to do this. That explains why I can use my ten-key calculator with my right hand at lightning speed as well as a mouse with my right hand.

If you want some more fun facts on lefties, check out this short video. In the meantime, be mindful of lefties in your circles. If you are a teacher, try to be open to flexible seating options. Keep in mind what it is you are trying to assess and then let the student demonstrate his/her individual ability to conquer the task. If only Miss O'Neil would have checked out my penmanship as a leftie... we both might have put our time to better use.

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The Party's Over

 PATINS staff photo with the words keep calm and smile with friends poster

Last week, PATINS hosted a party. Well, not really a party, but Tech Expo 2017… and it had components of a party:

· Invitation and RSVP
· Theme/decorations
· Food
· Lively conversation
· Meeting new people
· Seeing friends/colleagues
· Laughter
· Activities
· Goodie bag/gifts
· Photo opportunities

As the Event & Financial Manager, it is my responsibility to plan the event in a fiscally responsible manner as well as coordinate the efforts of the venue, staff and exhibitors to serve the attendees to the best of our ability.

Looking over feedback that has come back to us, it seems we provided a valuable day of learning and professional development for the teachers, support staff, administrators and parents that were in attendance. For those of you who joined us, thank you! For those of you who didn’t make it, we will offer Tech Expo once again in April 2018 with an Exhibit Hall full of experts in the field of technology and a day full of presentations exploring how to implement those products and services in the classroom.

Daniel has a phrase he encourages us to use as a focal point in our PATINS positions…Faces, tiny little faces. In my position, I do not get out into the classrooms to see the students’ faces, but, I do appreciate having a hand in a successful professional development event, such as Tech Expo, where I am able to see the faces of eager educators taking away new ideas and product supports to their schools where they will undoubtedly increase student achievement.

Lastly, a party is a celebration and Tech Expo felt like that at the end of the day. We can all celebrate when the students we serve succeed in the classroom as well as outside of the classroom!


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Happy New Year!


Out with the old, in with the new. Well, not really. Many people, places and things stay right with us as we make that leap into a new year on the calendar.

Time does fly though… as they say.

I moved to Indiana from Illinois in 2000. My mind calculates that as 17 years ago, however; it sure doesn’t seem that long ago in my heart. One experience of moving and becoming familiar with a new community is worthy of sharing with you today.

Shortly after settling into our neighborhood, it was time to find a church. We visited several and found one that was a good fit for our family of four. It didn’t take long for me to notice a steady stream of spelling errors on our changeable roadside sign. It was usually a simple matter of switching a few letters around. However; I was concerned about the frequency of the errors. I inquired with the church secretary to learn that our sign keeper had dyslexia.

I was intrigued and wanted to meet this sign keeper. 

“John” was a smart young man of 14. He had a big smile and a willing spirit. He was outgoing and confident and had no reservations talking with me. He admitted he was good with numbers and not so good with letters. We quickly became pals and I would help him make his idea for the sign a reality.  This seemed to take away some frustration for him and bring out that smile of accomplishment. I can truly say John was my first friend in my new community! Our friendship grew to a mentoring role for me. I not only met with him to develop his sign weekly for the church, but we would also go over his homework. I enjoyed helping him with his reading and writing and his mother appreciated the extra attention given to her son. We both knew John had the potential to be successful in the working world. With his intellect and dynamite personality, all he needed was a few strategies and techniques in which to assist him in his reading comprehension and implementing thoughts to paper.  

John is now a husband, father and Chemist for Eli Lilly and Company. He doesn't attend my church anymore, but we stay in contact with each other. He still refers to me as "Miss Glenda," and I'm honored to know him and call him my friend.

Some people might wonder whether a change in sign keepers was in order. Our sign keeper may have mixed up a few letters now and then, but he was (and is) the epitome of a willing servant. It is often those with lesser talents or disabilities who prove to be the most diligent and effective in a given situation.

If you’d like to know more about Dyslexia, check out our Lending Library Resources or ask one of our Specialists.     

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Sandy Stabenfeldt
Great post Glenda! Thank you for sharing. This is a wonderful story, just like you!
Monday, 09 January 2017 08:19
Bev Sharritt
Delightful story --everyone needs a Miss Glenda!
Tuesday, 17 January 2017 12:12
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Laundry Day

While doing my laundry recently, I pulled my PATINS shirt out of the dryer and ran my hand gently over the embroidered PATINS logo on the sleeve.  My mind went to the blog Julie wrote a couple weeks ago about PATINS.  I wondered, “How did this Project get started back in 1995 anyway?“

I decided my best source to ask was the woman who hired me back in 2004, Vicki HershmanHead shot of Vicki Hershman. 
I knew Vicki was in on the grass roots of this Project retiring as Director in 2012 as well as my mentor and lifetime friend.  It was time to pick her brain for the details.  After treating her to lunch one day, I started asking her questions.  It was touching to see the spark in her eye and obvious drive of seeing ALL children succeed still in her demeanor, after being out of the PATINS trenches for a few years. 

Vicki shared that in 1988, States were given dollars through a Federal Tech Act Systems Change Initiative to increase student access to curriculum.  Indiana’s solution was to set up a Lending Library of Technology in South Bend.  This attempt was unsuccessful due to no structure, no supervision and no training available.

 In 1990, they moved the Lending Library to Valparaiso as if logistics would help.  Change of logistics of the Lending Library did not improve student access at all. 

Along came IDEA Part B requiring schools to do something to increase student access to curriculum or lose Federal Funding.  To get a plan together, in 1994, the Director of West Central Joint Services Cooperative, Shirley Amond and Bob Marra, IN Department of Education Special Ed Superintendent created a task force to research what other States were doing to increase student access. 

The task force was comprised of: 
  •     IN School for the Blind Superintendent
  •      East Allen Special Ed Director
  •      Crown Point Special Ed Director
  •      Madison Special Ed Director
  •      Evansville Special Ed Director
  •       Voc Rehab Director
  •       Shirley, representing WCJS, Wayne Township, Indianapolis
  •       Bob, representing IDOE
It didn’t take long for the task force to realize that they needed a special someone to be in charge of Student Access for the State of Indiana.  Someone to develop a state-wide system to offer hardware and software to teachers to assist their students as well as training for these teachers.  Shirley hired that special someone in 1995…Vicki.  Together, they came up with the acronym PATINS and the framework to work statewide for student access to their curriculum.  It was a natural decision to set up five regional lending libraries in East Allen, Crown Point, Indianapolis, Madison and Evansville and to hire staff for each regional location.

One of those original staff members was Tina Jones from Madison.Head shot of Tina Jones  I called Tina and asked her about her first days with PATINS. 

“I was hired and given an office equipped with a desk, a chair and a stack of assistive technology catalogs.  I didn’t even know what assistive technology was!  Email was brand new too.  So, I spent the first 3 months of my PATINS career reading AT catalogs cover to cover.  You can learn a lot from those catalogs!    After that, I emailed all the vendors I had just read about and they instructed me on how to use the devices they were selling.  I equipped my lending library with the latest and greatest and hit the road-teaching teachers.  As I trained a teacher to help a kid, it was like a wheel with spokes…it spread.  I was hooked on helping kids access their school needs using technology.” 

The law was revised in 1995 with more specific regulations and it was PATINS responsibility to comply.  By 2004, the emphasis was on not only technology, but instruction as well.  Universal Design for Learning was born! 

In 1996, Vicki, Walt and a local cardiologist started volunteering their time to refurbish donated computers and distribute them to needy children in schools.  In 2004, funding was established to hire a manager for this program.  Refurbished Computer Program was born!

As awareness of diverse disabilities increased, Vicki turned to her friend and colleague Leslie Durst at ISB.   Vicki and Leslie followed legislature and studied Accessible Instructional Materials (AIM). They worked on ways to help ALL students with disabilities.  In 2006, they presented the idea of IN Center for Accessible Materials to IDOE.  ICAM was born!

I asked Vicki why she thought PATINS has been so successful over the years?  Without hesitation, she answered PATINS has always had a dedicated staff who had the same focus – believe in the students and do what it takes to reach the potential of each student.

Since 1995, PATINS has changed its acronym a time or two, our logo design and a few shop locations.  Tina retired from PATINS the same year Vicki did, 2012.  If fact, we’ve had 39 talented employees come through our doors with a current staff of 17.

 People, places and things may have changed but the foundation and focus of what we do never has… it’s all about the children we serve.  Those faces, tiny little faces.
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Special Needs featured on the Big Screen!

Disney PIXAR blockbuster Finding Dory opened this week.  If you haven’t had the chance to see this sequel to Finding Nemo, it is well worth your time and admission cost.  It MAY even remind you of a student you know, family member… or yourself!   

Dory The movie is about an adorable, but forgetful, blue tang fish named Dory, a fan favorite character from Finding Nemo.  This sequel clearly suggests that Dory’s short-term memory loss is more than a quirk; Dory has a special need.  It is easy to see that Dory’s special need hasn’t impaired her popularity at all and she is no less lovable with Ellen DeGeneres as the voice behind that cute face.  Dory has a positive attitude despite her challenges.  She identifies her strengths and finds ways to work with them. 

In flashbacks, Dory’s memory lapses are presented as something she was born with and learns to manage.  Her parents build seashell trails to help her find her way home, role play how to engage peers in social settings and tearfully wonder if she will be OKAY on her own.  (What parent hasn’t had that same thought about their child?)  They repeat the phrase “Just Keep Swimming” over and over again so she can hopefully recall that one action in case of danger.  Her ocean buddies have their own sets of challenges:  Destiny the shark has impaired vision, Bailey the whale struggles with echolocation, Hank the octopus deals with anxiety and Nemo has that undersized fin.

Her teacher, Mr. Ray, is reluctant to take Dory on field trips for fear she will wander away from the group.  This is consistent with how some caregivers choose to interact with children who have developmental disabilities.  Instead of providing options and structure that allow kids to function within their abilities, they tend to exclude them from any group activity. 

PIXAR’s willingness to give disability such high-profile exposure is pivotal in the conversation of Special Needs and Universal Design for ALL.  Their message in this movie is acceptance of everyone and their differences.  We see that in the end, it’s not about the direction Dory swims in, or how she gets there – it’s that she just keeps swimming.  It might take her a little longer, but the way she gets there is no less valuable than how anyone else gets there.  

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Glenda Thompson
A good phrase to keep in mind, indeed! I think this movie will open the eyes of many children and adults to the world of adaptati... Read More
Friday, 24 June 2016 12:30
Glenda Thompson
Hey, everyone...Finding Dory passed $300 million in domestic box office sales after just 12 DAYS of release - a pace that could ma... Read More
Saturday, 02 July 2016 11:15
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I love games!

I love games!

  Board games, card games, puzzles, word search, playground games, game shows, pinball, and sporting events.  I enjoy being a participant OR a spectator.

I was a high school cheerleader (not gymnastic at all, just an encourager at heart) and I’m that family member that always suggests, “Let’s play a game!  Corn hole, Euchre, Trivial Pursuit anyone? “

I thrive on the comradery of teamwork or the self-satisfaction of a solo attempt.  Games keep my brain sharp, my self-confidence up and my humility in check.   They are a fun way to engage, learn, be active and/or socialize.   Whether there is a prize at the end of the game or not, I want for that THRILL of the victory…or accept that AGONY of the defeat.  After all, good sportsmanship is a valued lesson in life.

This year at PATINS Tech Expo we are providing a game for our attendees.  It is a QR Code Scavenger Hunt!  Quick Response (QR) Codes can be read with a QR reader.  There are many free readers out there to download to your device. e.g. Bakodo, SCAN, I-Nigma, Kaywa.
QR Blog Code  We are giving this a try at Tech Expo with the hope of engaging fun and providing attendees a chance to win an iPad Pro/Keyboard/Pencil from our Treasure Chest at the end of the day.  Here’s how it will work - There will be 14 QR codes displayed at various Exhibitor Booths with questions about the PATINS staff to answer.  Each will be a fun fact about a particular staff member and the Exhibitor will have the answer, so all it takes is a conversation to ask ‘em!   Write the answer on the back of the Expo name badge, drop in the Treasure Chest at the Door Prize Booth when complete and VOILA…one has met the challenge and has discovered some tidbits about each of us that might not have been known.  We are using http://www.classtools.net/ to generate our QR codes like this one  It’s free, easy to use and would be a great resource to try out with your students for a creative learning activity. 

If you are attending Tech Expo this year and participate in the QR Scavenger Hunt, I invite you to comment thru this blog on your experience.  I look forward to reading your thoughts. 

Game On!!  Boardgame
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