Feb
20

The Power of Connection

As the newest member of the PATINS Specialists Team, I have had the pleasure to meet many educators across the state in my first 3 months. I have seen the amazing work of educators across the state firsthand. I am asked to problem solve, find resources for, and train educators in my specialty areas. It has been an incredible experience thus far!  

One thing that has rang true the past few months is that we all are connected. So often I walk into a new school and I can find a connection to the staff member or the administrator I meet with. Feeling connected, or having meaningful relationships with others, is a basic need. Humans need to feel connected to thrive.  

Have you ever noticed the power of an unexpected kind word or gesture? Many students do not even know the need for connection exists until they are taught how to create it. They are struggling to navigate the pathways of life. School is one of the many areas they are struggling in. Learning to build positive relationships with others will help students in school and other environments throughout life.  

Educators care about students and their learning experience. The connection or relationship between an educator and student ensures they are ready to learn. Making a good and positive connection with your student will allow an educator to speak into their life. An educator’s role is mighty and multifaceted. One thing is certain though - connecting with all the students you teach will impact them profoundly.  

The educator-student connection may allow an educator to influence actions in the classroom such as work completion, attention, behavior, and success. At first, it may mean the educator offers lots of positive rewards, intentional conversations, and motivational moments. Your efforts will pay off when the student knows you care.  

In the relationship-building process, you will learn to appreciate each student for their strengths as well! I love learning about the educators and students I work with, as I am sure that you appreciate that connection too. Some students need help building positive relationships.  

Relationship Skills is one of the five Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Competencies. Some schools offer SEL programming. There are many resources available to help build the SEL skills needed to be ready to learn. This is one area I have connected with educators within my time as a PATINS Specialist. As social and emotional skills improve, students will become ready to learn. 

As I close my first blog, I want to offer a few ways educators can connect with students. We can empower students to learn through modeling positive relationships and connection. Here are a few ways you can build connection:  
  • Greet them with their name and a high five or fist bump in the morning. 
  • Write your student a positive note.  
  • Catch them being good and praise them for it.  
  • Share a favorite activity, game, food, etc.  
  • Find something you have in common to talk about.  
  • Attend a sporting event or extra-curricular activity or ask about it if you cannot attend.  
  • Call their parents with them to offer a positive report.  
  • Engage in play or a game that they like at recess.  
I encourage you to try one of these out today. Add a new one each week. Let me know what changes you see by Spring Break in the comments below!

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Feb
14

Is it Cheating...

One of my favorite sports is baseball. I have been a Yankees fan for as long as I can remember. Don Mattingly, the first baseman for the Yankees is from my hometown. The following is from Wikipedia if you are not familiar with him:

“Mattingly graduated from Reitz Memorial High School in Evansville, Indiana, and was selected by the Yankees in the amateur draft. Debuting with the Yankees in 1982 after three seasons in minor league baseball, Mattingly emerged as the Yankees' starting first baseman after a successful rookie season in 1983. Mattingly was named to the American League (AL) All-Star team six times. He won nine Gold Glove Awards (an American League record for a first baseman), three Silver Slugger Awards, the 1984 AL batting title, and was the 1985 AL Most Valuable Player. Mattingly served as captain of the Yankees from 1991 through 1995, when he retired as a player. The Yankees later retired Mattingly's uniform number, 23.”

So I have been following the news on the Astros sign-stealing scheme with much interest. It seems the Astros were using a system called Codebreaker that operated by having someone watch a live feed of games and log catchers' signs into a spreadsheet with the pitch that was thrown. The algorithm would break down the correlation between signs and pitches. That later evolved into employees banging on trash cans just behind the dugout to notify batters which pitch was coming.

Now we are at the beginning of Spring Break and the Astros players are talking to the media about their roles in the scandal.  None of the players received any type of fine or discipline, nor do they seem to be very apologetic for their actions. I think about the many kids who look up to these players and see that they are only sorry that they got caught. None of them stepped up to do the right thing to stop the cheating when it was happening.

On ESPN, Mike Golic, who used to be one of my favorite sports guys to listen to, said, “You can be sorry you got caught, not really sorry that you did it. But you have to show that we got nailed here, our bad, this wasn’t a good thing.” I just think these explanations set a horrible example for kids.

This relates to my job as I am often asked if using technology is cheating. Students using tools to help them succeed should not be seen as cheating in my opinion. I’m sure if I asked a room full of adults what the capital of Bangladesh is, most of them would pull out their phones or laptops to “cheat” or to look up the answer.  

The New Jersey Council on Developmental Disabilities website answers the question, “Isn’t assistive technology cheating?” better than I could:

“Assistive technology is not cheating and should be acknowledged just like support for any other person with a disability. Wearing glasses when you have a visual impairment is not cheating and neither is listening to a text when you have a print-based disability. It is important to understand that not all people read with their eyes. Others access the information with their ears. Consider the learning objective when determining if the access is appropriate. Generally, students with reading difficulties are evaluated no sooner than fourth grade. Many curriculums shift the focus from learning to read, to reading to learn. A student that cannot read will struggle to learn without support.” 

I hope that the “cheating” that these students are doing when using technology supports to increase their learning and understanding is never compared to the cheating that grown men do in order to earn more money and prestige.




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Feb
07

Print Disabilities 101: Q & A

We’ve had several questions recently concerning print disabilities and how to identify students who may have them so that we can appropriately intervene. Keep those coming. Repetition can be quite clarifying, particularly when the language is so tangled and acronym-laden. 

Can a student qualify for specialized formats through the ICAM if they are a “struggling reader?”

We would like to say yes, but it’s not so simple.

The ICAM was created to assist Indiana public schools in meeting the NIMAS regulations. To qualify for ICAM services, 2 items are required, with embedded functions.
  1. The student must have a current IEP.
  2. The Case Conference must indicate in the IEP the presence of a print disability, which must be confirmed by a certified competent authority. In addition, the IEP must indicate that the student has at least 1 of the 13 disabilities recognized by the IDEA that impedes his or her learning. This will be the disability for which the student is receiving special education services.
Can a student receive special education services with a documented print disability?

Print Disability is not one of the 13 Disability Categories under IDEA. The term “print disability” refers to the functional ability of a student who qualifies for special education services due to 1.) low vision/blindness, 2.) physical disability or 3.) specific learning disability and for whom print is a barrier to learning. 

The print disabilities are:

a) low vision/blindness, b) physical disability, and c) reading disability resulting from organic dysfunction. 

Word for word, a and b are in the IDEA list. “Reading disability” is alluded to in the list, as 
Specific Learning Disability, and is indicated in the IEP with a qualifier: "Specific Learning Disability in the area of reading".


What is meant by “organic dysfunction”?

The print disability that seems to cause the most confusion is c) reading disability resulting from organic dysfunction. Organic dysfunction refers to structural differences that lie in the neural pathways of the brain. 

Why is a doctor’s signature required for this print disability and not the others?

The IDEA established that doctors are the ones who can best determine the presence of organic dysfunction. We do not necessarily agree with this; it seems those who witness the student in a reading situation, such as an educator, would be the better authority here. Our hope is that this part of the law will be amended. 

Dyslexia is the most frequently identified reading disability resulting from organic dysfunction.

What is NIMAS and what does it have to do with print disabilities?

The IDEA 2004 added provisions for students with print disabilities; these are the NIMAS Regulations. The National Instructional Material Accessibility Standard is a file standard that is used to create braille, large print, audio and digital formats, the specialized formats for students with print disabilities.

If the student has a print disability, an IEP that documents this, and confirmation by the competent authority, then we say they are Chafee qualified to use previously published work without seeking copyright protection. The Chafee Law has its roots in the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled Library of Congress.

May my student with other types of disabilities receive AEM through the ICAM?

Students with any of the disabilities on the IDEA list may qualify for AEM through the ICAM. First on the list is Autism. A student with Autism is not automatically Chafee qualified or disqualified. However, if the Case Conference Committee (CCC) determines that print is a barrier to their learning with their peers, then they may be Chafee qualified. This goes for the other disabilities in the list as well. 

So, a student is qualified for special education services by a disability recognized by the IDEA. Then, the CCC determines that print is a barrier to learning for the student and that by using the appropriate specialized format, the student can learn from the general curriculum.

Once a student has been identified with a print disability, then on the IEP, how should I answer the question, “Does this student require AEM?”

The answer to this question will always be “Yes.” A print disability and AEM will always work together. The CCC has tools to help determine which AEM may best benefit a student. To learn more about these tools, contact a PATINS Specialist

The IEP says that my student has a print disability and will benefit from audiobooks. Isn't this giving them an unfair advantage over the other students?

The answer to this question will always be "No." Print is a barrier to their learning, hence the term “print disability.” Audiobooks remove the barrier and bring their reading up to grade level and beyond. Then, they can truly benefit from their education. This is called “Ear Reading.” You would no more take this away from a student than you would their prescription eyeglasses.

While reading this you may have formulated more questions, so just ask! We love to help teachers unravel issues that help students.

Thanks so much!
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Jan
30

Top 5 Reasons for Captions In Schools

Closed Captioning is Cool! Closed Captioning is Cool!

Top 5 Reasons for Captions In Schools


Captions… It's all the buzz currently in schools, including higher education institutions like Harvard University. If you aren’t currently using captions in your daily life or in your classroom you might be unfamiliar with why we need to provide them. They may even seem annoying to you when you see them on.  However, I assure you they are coming to a workplace near you soon and here are 5 reasons why you should turn them on today:

1. Attention and Focus

Students who need support when it comes to attention & focus can benefit from the visual representation of the spoken words on the screen during class and videos. In a study conducted by the Oregon State University Ecampus Research Unit  of the 1,532 students, 69% reported that closed captioning aided in keeping their attention as a learning aid in class (Linder, 2016).

2. Universal Design for Learning

Setting up your classroom with every type of learner from the beginning means that you plan to include captions (Morris et. al, 2016). For school districts needing to put a policy in place for providing captions and transcripts as part of providing accessible education materials, PATINS has you covered with a sample policy. 


Text reads

3. Reading 

Students building early literacy skills can benefit from captions since captions explicitly illustrate the mapping among sound, meaning, and text (Gernsbacher, 2015). Since one predictor of reading achievement is time spent reading, the use of captioned content has the ability to benefit each & every student in your classroom.

4. Language Acquisition

Students learning a new language can benefit from English subtitles of classroom audio media. Students are taught how to recall and build their auditory listening skills in the second language after viewing videos with closed captions/subtitles in the new language rather than just receiving the content via auditory alone (Gernsbacher, 2015). 

5. The Right to Effective Communication

When we have a student who is deaf/hard of hearing in our classrooms, we need to provide accurate, timely and effective communication. One way to achieve this is by providing closed captions on all. This is explained in ADA, IDEA and Article 7.  You can read more about the recent Harvard’s lawsuit resulting in all media including open online courses to include closed captioning.

Do you need help with the tools and implementation of captions?  The PATINS Project has you covered with no-cost in-person training and webinars. PATINS’ Specialists, Jena Fahlbush and Katie Taylor have a live webinar, Captions for All: The Writing’s on the Wall! This will help get you acclimated to using captions in your classroom the very next day. 


Captions for All: The Writing’s on the Wall! Live Webinar 
Register for the next live webinar on February 13th! 

As you build experience with captions, you will see the need for captioning to the public and in your classroom!  Speak up! Request captioning in the gym, restaurants, and doctor's offices to help make every place an accessible place for all. 




References

Gernsbacher M. A. (2015). Video Captions Benefit Everyone. Policy insights from the behavioral and brain sciences, 2(1), 195–202. doi:10.1177/2372732215602130

Linder, K. (2016). Student uses and perceptions of closed captions and transcripts: Results from a national study. Corvallis, OR: Oregon State University Ecampus Research Unit

Morris, K.K., Frechette, C., Dukes, L., Stowell, N., Topping, N.E., & Brodosi, D. (2016). Closed captioning matters: Examining the value of closed captions for all students. Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability, 29(3), 231-238.
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Jan
23

Which Doors Will You Open for Your Students?

Which Doors Will You Open for Your Students?
Technology opens doors, both literally and figuratively, for people with and without disabilities. For example, it allows us to obtain advanced degrees from universities in other states. It opens a door for us when entering a building in a wheelchair or with a dolly loaded with boxes. It increases access to content in all parts of our daily lives. Just think of those times when you could not remember the name of that actor or that book; did you look using that handy little cell phone in your purse or pocket? 

When it comes to the classroom, technology is offering our students the same opportunities and is pushing us as their educators to engage our students with the curriculum in new ways. For example, technology is enabling students to learn about the importance and implications of financial loans through sites like Kiva.org that allow them to invest real money in global projects. Technology allows our students to improve access to reading and writing through speech to text or text to speech apps, software, and built-in features as well as through ePubs and digital textbooks. Technology brings content to life through captioned teacher and student made videos. It can even bring your recorded and captioned instructional message to your students when they are working with a substitute. 

Yet, with all of the possibilities and positives that accompany the use of technology in our daily lives, and especially in the classroom, some schools, parents, and educators are pushing back against the use of tech in the classroom. Is their hesitancy legitimate? For a while now, I have been reflecting upon this question and a few arguments and solutions have dawned on me that I’d like to share for your consideration whether or not you’re on or off the technology bandwagon.

Firstly, screen time. After a recent conversation I had with a friend who has a student in Kindergarten, it dawned on me that screen time guidelines may have something to do with the hesitance some feel when it comes to embracing technology in the classroom. We all know that too much screen time is typically not a good thing and that there are pediatric guidelines for screen time and young children. Not to mention, we know that screen time is sometimes used as a free or low cost babysitter. But, it does not have to be this way.

There is so much learning that can take place on a screen when we use technology as a tool (see next point) and when we take the time to interact with our screens together. I believe it’s when we remove the social aspect of screen time that the learning experiences we desire for our students and children are heavily diminished. We must intentionally design screen time so that we are supporting our students in their discovery of new information and the meaningful application of it to their lives. Screen time does not always equate to “me time,” it can and should be a social experience in both school and home. 

Secondly, it comes down to how and why the technology is being used. To be honest, there was a time in my classroom when I was gifted an iPad by my administration and told to use it with students. All I could come up with at the time was an app that allowed two students to face off in multiplication fact challenges. Probably not the best use of the tool or their time. 

Now, many classrooms have the opportunity to allow all students to use a device for an activity, for a day, or to keep for the year, and it is our duty as educators to use these devices as tools to create a learning experience that previously was not possible. We have the power to turn each device into a point of access for our students - access to content, access to accommodations, access to one another, and access to our world. 

We must step away from the thinking that the only ways these devices can be used is for digitalization of worksheets or for running learning management systems. Technology is the way of the future and there’s no getting around that. So, let’s utilize devices and tech to provide new experiences for our students that improves access to information while inciting curiosity and new perspectives. Below are a few websites to inspire your creativity. 
Remember that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Many resources, strategies, and ideas are already out there for you to take and make your own. You don’t have to do this alone. Ask your colleagues what they are doing. Ask your personal learning networks on Twitter or Facebook. Visit DonorsChoose.org to see what other educators are doing and requesting funds for and do the same. Reach out and ask our team how to make your tech work best for you and your students. 

You have the power to teach students how to make the most out of their tools and to use them for growth and advocacy. You have the opportunity to teach life skills like digital literacy and understanding fact from fiction. The time is now to support your students’ intentional use of technology to empower their lives and to prepare them for tech-based careers that we cannot yet comprehend.

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Jan
16

Blue Crayons


12 blue crayonsJanuary is when I go for my annual eye exam, and as a specialist for issues regarding vision, I suppose my optometrist braces himself for that lady who has all the questions about eyes. My eyes are worsening each year, in no small part, due to screen use for work and I admit, due to viewing flowers, babies and political nonsense on social media. I’m working on reducing my screen time, and literally, taking a longer view, by scheduling time to look out the window.


My traveling views over the dashboard this winter are taking me frequently to my hometown of North Manchester. Manchester Community Schools is one of the several districts receiving our PATINS AEMing for Achievement Grant this year, and I have been assigned to help them with guidance and training. I’ve enjoyed visiting, and being reminded of my childhood in this small college town. The sledding hill at 5th and East Streets looks impossibly smaller than when I was 11. The injuries I sustained couldn’t possibly have happened there. The playground next to the little league field at the old Thomas Marshall School no longer has maypoles or tether balls. If you don’t know what either of these are google “playground hazards from the 1970’s”. Mr. Dave’s restaurant remains the same as does their tenderloin recipe. 

Part of the grant for Manchester’s schools provides specialized assistance with finding the right communication device or system for a student with more intensive needs. Jessica Conrad, PATINS specialist for AAC and I consulted with a teacher and speech therapist about a student who had puzzled them for a while. 

The student had a few words and some gestures to communicate but they felt like he had much more to say. Using picture communication had been inconsistent for him. As they described the student I started to hear some behaviors consistent with a cortical visual impairment. Cortical visual impairment, or CVI is where the eye itself is healthy but the visual pathways in the brain struggle to process an image. When the teacher mentioned that the student always chose a blue crayon or marker for a task, I was pretty sure that CVI was a possibility. Students with CVI often have a strong color preference (although it is usually red or yellow). 

cover of book titled Cortical Visual Impairment by Christine Roman showing a student viewing colored clear pegs on a light box

The teacher contacted his parent to schedule an appointment with an ophthalmologist. The student’s team also immediately began to offer the student assignments copied onto blue paper. They changed the settings on his iPad so that a blue overlay would cover the display. They used communication symbols highlighted in blue. 

The team was excited to report after only a couple of weeks that they were seeing dramatic improvement in the student’s attention, engagement, and accuracy in pointing at communication symbols. 

view looking over a boy's shoulder at his iPad and school assignment printed on blue paper.

The brain never ceases to amaze me. As educators and humans, we need reminders of how perception can vary so widely from individual to individual. Whether it is the filter of perception through color or through the lens of long-term childhood memories, our view is highly individualized. Keeping this in our awareness as educators can only lead to better results in our work. The staff at MCS are also benefiting from an initiative in Indiana called Project Success that supports higher academic achievement for students with disabilities. I’m grateful for this initiative and the educators at Manchester Elementary who hadn’t given up on finding out what could give this student a voice, and a means for academic success.

graphic logo for Project Success


How are your eyes? Where are you looking?
How are your perceptions expanding?
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Jan
10

Humbled by Technology

I have always embraced technology which is one of the many reasons I enjoy my job. I have embraced challenges when others were ready to throw in the towel.

Technology has made enormous advances, just when you think you have them understood or mastered, things change. Here is my case in point.

I have never really considered myself a gamer. Over the years, I have had an Atari, Gameboy, Nintendo, Genesis, Commodore 64, Amiga 500, etc. 

I have been lured into these systems by the technology and most importantly the graphics that continued to get better and better.

I had for all intent and purposes “grown out of” chasing the latest and greatest systems so I have been out of touch for some time. Again, look at my previous systems.

I have been aware of the PlayStation and Xbox but they really didn’t interest me because of their price and their intimidating controller. However, I was always amazed by the graphics.

It wasn’t until I watched my grandsons play on their Xbox that I felt mesmerized by the details and the smoothness of the scrolling graphics that started to draw me in like a moth to the light.

I was amazed at the mastery they had at controlling the buttons and joysticks to move about with ease. It was almost effortless. It was if they became one with the system.

I mentioned that I enjoy technology sometimes as a challenge, but would I be any match for what is now at my fingertips.

I say fingertips because the opportunity became available to me when a pre-Christmas sale lured me (well not really) into buying an Xbox One S. It came with the Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order.

My grandsons had told me how “Awesome” the game is and I had it on MY system! It felt like when I got Frogger, Tetris, Super Mario or Sonic. It was well, like Christmas.

I pulled it out of the box and started to assemble the components. It took me back to an earlier time of putting bikes and vanities together for my daughters for Christmas. It wasn’t nearly as involved until I had to download and install the game software.

I realized then that our Internet connection could probably use an upgrade, but I was already committed to waiting it out. During that time, I had the opportunity of handling the controller.

Remember that “one with the system” statement earlier? It wasn’t happening for me. There isn’t one or two buttons, but ten and two joystick controls I think in total. I can’t find my home row on the computer and it’s labeled! 

Pressing forward the game installed and it was time to meet my Jedi assignment. After what seemed to be forever to load, I was put in a futuristic repair yard to start my mission.

Me and my futuristic thing comrade were given instructions. My comrade took off leaving me to try to catch up with buttons and joysticks commands. I would have been better off watching the movie.

Let me say, however, the graphics are STUNNING! It was worth just standing in one place moving my Jedi figure around in circles and watching what was going on around me. I was content.

Let me jump ahead a couple of days to Christmas when we had the families together. I had three grandsons prepared to take turns to play Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order.

Let me recall the number of buttons and joysticks and my inability to comprehend the necessary interaction of each. That was not the case with any of my grandsons. 

I watched in awe as they managed to move through the labyrinth of settings and situations as if they were there. The orchestration of their fingers was amazing to witness.

In the weeks that followed, I have made it to the other side of the garage bay. I am not sure where to go from there. 

I have since purchased a couple more games that use a minimal amount of the controls and maybe that might help me along. Fingers crossed.

My expertise in this technology has been humbled by a quad trillion while knowing it is feasible to master. 

I saw on the news that schools are offering gaming classes. I wonder if I could sneak into a few or maybe just hire my grandsons as tutors. I wonder what their hourly rate is.

But wow the graphics…
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Dec
26

Don't Listen to Specialists

Don't Listen to Specialists
This unseasonable warm weather reminded me of when our air conditioner randomly turned on in the middle of last year’s winter. I am no HVAC professional, but even I knew we had a problem, so I did what every self-respecting millennial does:

I Googled it.


Because I didn’t really know what I was searching for, it took forever and didn’t yield results. I called a specialist from our thermostat hotline. The specialist asked for product information and had us perform some activities on our device. Something truly surprising happened:

Specialist: Go outside to your air conditioner condenser.

Me: Okay.

Specialist: Now unplug it.

Me: Okay, it's unplugged. What now?

Specialist: Is it still running?

Me: No.

Specialist: Excellent. Is there anything else we can do for you today?

Me: … Are you serious?!

The surprising part, in case you were wondering, was that I wasn’t speaking to a specialist, despite the title. I was speaking to someone who was prompted by a computer program, absent of any understanding of our house, the root of the problem, or what “problem solved” looked like.

So we called a real specialist, someone with 30+ years in the HVAC industry, who had built trust with us and our community. Several questions and some fancy equipment later, he figured out the root of the problem, explained our options, found us a temporary solution until the permanent one could be implemented, and taught us what to do if it ever happened again. I could have had the same fancy equipment and never figured out a fraction of what he did in 20 minutes, let alone the preventative training. That is what a real specialist does.

A good specialist is someone you listen to, who might have some special equipment and solve a problem well. A great specialist is someone you engage with, who listens to you, discusses big problems and plans for the future, and they make room for you to learn alongside them. They are someone who sits with the table as a "knowledgeable other" on your very knowledgeable team and leaves it better than they found it.

The next time you work with a specialist (or find yourself as the specialist) consider these questions:
  1. How do you gather and use the lived experiences of the student and knowledge of the family and staff who know their roles and the student best?
  2. What do you see as the root of the problem or barrier we identified? (Hint: if they say it’s the student, find another specialist)
  3. How can our team ensure we are on the right track when the specialist isn’t here? How do we reach additional help if we need it next week? In a year? In 10 years?
  4. When was the last time you had professional development in this area? What did you learn? How does it apply here?
  5. How can we identify goals for our student and team?
So I repeat: don’t listen to specialists. Leverage good specialists by fully engaging with them and communicating your high expectations for all your students. Really great ones are worth walking alongside, having one very long and inspiring conversation over the course of your entire career.

PATINS has a list of specialists ready to engage with you, as well as a process just for students who struggle to communicate and may benefit from Augmentative and Alternative Communication. We look forward to the conversation!
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Dec
19

A Lesson Learned from My Winter Break Disaster

A Lesson Learned from My Winter Break Disaster "A Lesson Learned from My Winter Break Disaster" over three snow frosted pinecones.
I lack, what my husband calls, “mechanical empathy”. Basically, I can’t tell how durable an item is and push it far beyond its limits.

Case in point - I was home from college for the winter holidays and went to take a shower. The hot water knob was stuck so I gave it a good yank and I, a person who can’t do a push-up, ripped the knob clean off the wall. 

(If you’ve ever wondered what why Chip & Joanna always turn off the waterline before replacing anything in the bathroom, you’ll soon find out why.)

WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOSH.

A constant flow of water was aggressively hitting the opposite wall of the shower...5 feet away. To steal a line from my students, “I was shook.” First, that I was actually holding something that had been welded directly to the wall. Second, that the bathroom was quickly turning into Niagara Falls. Detached knob in hand, I screamed for anyone in the house to turn off the water. Quickly, my brother cut the waterline and a few hours later my uncle stopped by to survey and fix my destruction. I felt very fortunate to have my family clean up my mess, literally.

You’re probably thinking, “How did she get hired by PATINS?” Luckily, the Assistive Tech Lending Library, filled with devices, are far from my reach. Your loan items are safe, Indiana.

I tell you this story to remind you that educational tools and devices are objects that can be fixed or replaced. Plus, there is always someone close by to help you. While we ask that you treat borrowed items carefully and return them in clean, working order so our two Lending Library Managers, Carrie and Sheri, can speedily pack them up for the next eager borrower, we understand that life happens. If you’re anything like me, you breathe easier knowing that PATINS/ICAM specialists can be your emergency “Help-it’s-broke!” lifeline when a borrowed app stops working, the device won’t turn on, or you’re missing an important cord/connector.


You can trust the PATINS family will be there for you from start to finish all year long no matter the size of the problem.




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2 Comments
Recent Comments
Sandy Stabenfeldt
Thank you for sharing Jen! The Lending Library is a great service for educators!
Thursday, 19 December 2019 14:28
Jennifer Conti
You're welcome Sandy! I agree!
Monday, 30 December 2019 08:37
  2 Comments
Dec
12

The One Question I Ask All Students

The One Question I Ask All Students The One Question I Ask All Students with rainbow paint in the background.
What is the most interesting thing you learned?

Why is this the one question I ask all students? It seems simple at first, but this question alone has given me vivid insight into who my students are at their core while sneakily working on enhancing language skills. Here are 5 reasons why.

1. Build rapport. Instead of relying on the "About Me" worksheets students fill out once in July or August, you can keep the lines of communication open between you and your students all year long. We all know what's cool one minute, is out the next anyways.

2. Work on skill deficits. With this one question alone, SLPs (and anyone working in the school) can help foster social skills, correct use of conjunctions, and expanding verbal/written sentence length. For social skills, students can work on turn taking, topic maintenance, asking follow up questions, perspective taking and reading nonverbal cues. For example, "What do you think X found interesting? How do you know?" If students answer with a simple sentence, you can use a visual of conjunctions to prompt them for more information. FANBOYS is always a favorite.

3. Find out what they've truly learned. Wait 10-15 minutes, a class period, or even a day and then ask what they found interesting from an earlier lesson. It may be a small detail you've glanced over that actually piqued their interest while they may have forgotten about information needed for the test. Now, you know what needs re-teaching.

4. Learn more about what engages them and use that information for future lessons. Students may reveal surprising interests such as loving opera music or a passion for tornado chasing. These are two real life interests brought up by my former students and you bet these were incorporated in more than one speech session.

5. There is no "wrong" answer. It's a low stress way for students to participate who may not otherwise felt confident enough to speak up with their ideas. Even if they say nothing was interesting, they can explain why and what can be different next time.  

As you can see, "What is the most interesting thing you learned?" packs a lot of educational "punch" with virtually no material preparation (unless you choose to - this could easily be done on a Padlet, white board, or other discussion format should you like a record of it).

Weave this question into your school day and comment below your thoughts on my all-time favorite question. 




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