Dec
10

The State of PATINS 2020

Staff Portrait Collage of the PATINS Project Staff

It's been quite a year for me, and very likely for all of us, for a variety of reasons. A common theme however, for all of us Indiana educators, is almost certainly the transition to, from, and back to again, remote instruction and learning due to the COVID19 pandemic! 

As 2021 draws near, with a mere 21 days left in 2020, I recently carved out a some time to reflect on a few major aspects of my life. One of which, is my 2020 knee injury and a second is the PATINS Project itself, which has been the greatest consumer of my time and my passion for the last fourteen and half years! It's become apparent to me, during my reflecting, that Indiana is quite fortunate to have PATINS and during this unprecented time for us, the PATINS team has shown it's colors in ways that shouldn't go without notice. 

142 days into 2020, I fully dislocated my right knee, tearing all four of the ligaments and meniscus.That means, for the last 233 days, I've had to figure out new ways of doing things that used to be simple. I’ve had to work hard on getting repaired, facilitating healing, re-building strength, seeking flexibility, and re-gaining my balance. ...a strong analogy for public eduction during the pandemic, as well! 

3 Image collage of Daniel riding dirtbike
I'm proud to say that last weekend, I finally threw a leg over a dirtbike again for the first time in 233 days. During those first few minutes, riding through my first easy trail, I realized that it's been the support from my "team" that was integral to that moment of accomplishment. My wife for the daily balance between push, protect, and comfort. My kids for helping with things I just couldn't do. My family and my riding buddies for the constant check-ins, pushing me to work out and go to Physical Therapy PT (pain and torture), including me in their riding videos even when I couldn't be there. The list goes on and on... the common theme is, TEAM...Support...Perseverance. The result is success. The feeling is hope and energy


I'm even more proud to say that during the past 274 days of the COVID19 pandemic, the PATINS team has rallied in ways that have not only provided continuous support to Indiana's public schools educators, but also serves as a model for what a team can look like and confirmation that this particular team can and will re-tool, adjust, accommodate, and leave no stone unturned when it comes to supporting our Indiana educators! 

New Ways of Doing Things:
Two PATINS staff, Specialist Lisa Benfield and Assistant Director/Specialist David Jackson celebrated their first anniversary with us during the pandemic! Specialist Amanda Crecelius also celebrates her first six months with us! These new PATINS additions have not only spent their first year learning a new job, but helping to figure out ways to do their new job in entirely new ways! My hat is off to you three! Visit their pages on the PATINS website, reach out to them, and embrace the knowledge and skill they bring to their new-ish positions on this team! 


For over 20 years, PATINS has held two annual statewide events; our November Access To Education conference and our April Tech Expo. In 2020, both events were forced to either be cancelled or held virtually for the first time ever. We chose the latter. I'm proud to say that this team, lead by our Event Manager Jennifer Conti, (2 yrs w/PATINS) didn't hesitate to jump into planning and implementation to effectively host two of our most successful events ever! Tech Expo 2020 doubled our usual in-person registration numbers and Access To Education 2020 had participants telling us it was the best one they'd ever attended! A handful of attendee comments from those two events: 

"All presenters were great.  Virtual learning recharged my momentum for teaching". - Lena Cummins, Special Education Administrator, Charter School of the Dunes

"I am extremely impressed as to how you pull this event off virtually, I got a lot of information from the presentations as well as the virtual exposition hall, I visited quite a few of the websites that were presented there and I got valuable information!"  - Sandra Durham, Occupational Therapist, Indiana State University

"I really felt that the quality of presenters and topics this year was great! I came away from this renewed and ready to continue serving my students no matter what environment they may be in." - Kelsey Norris, Special Educator, Perry Township Schools

"Lance McLemore provided inspiration and a reminder of why I got into the special education field. He was amazing!  I found that Apps & Extensions and Alternative Pencils gave lots of great ideas, many of which I could use right away. I appreciate that many of the ideas were free!" - Mandy Narcaroti, BLV Teacher, Cooperative School Services

"I truly gained from all of the session, they all offered things I can use today. Thanks so much." - Kimberly Gauck, Special Educator Greensburg Community Schools

"Supporting Families through Integrated Supports, Low Vision and Blindness Supports for the Classroom, and What's New and What to do with Saltillo. I believe all three of these to be equally valuable to me in my educational setting". - Melissa VanLue, Special Educator, Indiana School for the Blind and Visually Impaired

"The information presented by Dr. Grillo on assistive technology and incorporating AT in the IEP was very beneficial to me.  This is information I did not previously know, and I'm looking forward to having access to the booklet with all the AT that can be used with state testing."  -  Kristin Girton, Cooperative School Services

"Technology was so smooth today!! THANK you for the captioning! I am totally impressed with how you all were able to transform this conference to 100% virtual!"  - Laura Knoke, NEISEC, Teacher of Students who are Blind/Low Vision

Repair & Heal:
As with my old knee, sometimes things within PATINS break and we have to find ways to fix or make them whole again. During the period right before the pandemic, we lost two valuable staff members and were forced to work with a new fiscal agency. While the timing of these things made for some difficult months, current staff Jennifer Conti and Felisia O'Bold (2 yrs w/PATINS) stepped up to take on additional roles boldly, and new staff Amanda Crecelius worked creatively and tireless to quickly repair any start of hole in the bottom of the boat! We also realized quickly that all of our friends out there in the schools were also scrambling to repair their ships! This PATINS team immediately pulled together to produce a listing of resources specific to Continuous Learning to do COVID19 here, regular Open Virtual Office Hours, and the PATINS team Commitment to Anti-Racism here.

Building Strength and Being Flexible:
One might consider it enough to be able to say that your team has worked hard to maintain the levels of pre-pandemic, but it's actually really easy for me to say that this PATINS team has built even more strength through offerings and services than ever before the pandemic! Consider our YouTube playlist of NINE Access to Education 2020 training videos by PATINS Specialists, Kelli Suding (8 yrs w/PATINS), Lisa Benfield, Jena Fahlbush (5 yrs w/PATINS), Bev Sharritt (4 yrs w/PATINS), David Jackson, Katie Taylor (2 yrs w/PATINS), Amanda Crecelius, Jessica Conrad (4 yrs w/PATINS), and the ICAM Team of Sandy Stabenfeldt (19 yrs w/PATINS), Jeff Bond (22 yrs w/PATINS), and Martha Hammond (10 yrs w/PATINS)! ...check out all NINE great training video titles PLUS the first-ever virtual Assistive Technology Exporatorium recording


...and by the numbers, this school year so far, PATINS has:

-responded to 1,145 requests for technical assistance from Indiana educators. 

-supplied nearly 1000 braille, large print and tactile graphics to over 100 school corporations, thanks to our amazing IERC staff!

-
supplied 1,507 accessible versions of textbooks, thanks to the ICAM Staff!

-attended nearly 500 meetings and conducted over 150 meetings.


-provided services to 98% of the Special Education Cooperatives in the state.


-provided services to 68% of the School Corporations in the state.


-worked with 485 unique School Buildings in the state. 

-provided a Virtual EdCamp and Make It At Home Training for 120 educators.

-fulfilled 38 unique requests for 80 individual devices for PATINS Refurbished Technology

-loaned out 504 pieces of assistive technology from our Lending Library! Yes, you read that right! Even with school buildings being closed down intermittently, our Lending Library Managers, Sheri Schoenbeck (19 yrs w/PATINS) and Carrie Owens (14 yrs w/PATINS) have been ultra-creative and diligent and we are still shipping items to schools AND paying for them to be shipped back to us at the end of your 6-week trial! Here are a few comments from recent PATINS Lending Library borrowers: 


"I have no idea what I would have done if not for all the guidance PATINS has provided. Everyone has gone above and beyond to make sure my student has what he needs and is succeeding."

"Thank you for offering your services.  It helps so many of our students in deciding what device works best for them."

"Thank you so much for always having what I think I need for my students. You are much appreciated."

"Thankful for the time and thorough training given for everyone involved with the use of the AAC device"

"Thanks for allowing us to extend the loan of this device!  That was a super easy process!"

"PATINS is a blessing to our students and staff."

"The district is buying LAMP WFL and getting him a separate iPad for it so he will have access 100% of the time."

"We will likely be purchasing a different device but this was an excellent shoe in the door for us.  It let us compare/contrast with some other AAC options." 

"I appreciate your availability and ease of use"

-and... drumroll please... provided 401 individual trainings/professional development (all virtually) for 2,542 educators in Indiana! If you haven't checked out the powerful training offerings by the PATINS Specialists lately, you should! Find them all here on our training calendar and here on our condensed Professional Development Guide!

Seeking Greater Flexibility & Gaining Balance:
Sometimes, even though things are highly positive within our team, these unique circumstances demand that we have grace and patience with each other and respect for everyone's strengths and responsibilities. The members of this team fill-in for each other when unexpected things come up. We virtually high-five one another through our "It Matters to This One" internal recognition system, personal emails, Skype messages and informal Zooms! We have staff like Kelli Suding who sets up a virtual holiday exchange and gathering for us on a Friday over lunch! We aren't afraid to reach out when we are overwhelmed and need flexibility, understanding, or help! We realize that a balance must be maintained between work and re-energization and we respect guidelines for time as much as possible. 


In all things, PATINS is more than work, we are a family and a team. We're a team that looks at anything that arrises, evolves, or that is thrown suddenly in our faces, and we say, "YES, we can do this IF...," rather than, "No, we can't because..."

I'm deeply proud of this team and the service and product we are able to provide. I encourage you to remember that our services are all at no cost to Indiana public schools and that we can and we will, work together with you to find a solution to your unique needs! ...every...single...time. Reach out to us!



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Dec
03

Executive Function and Online Learning

I cannot express how grateful I am that Dr. Lisa Beth Carey is my guest blogger this week. Dr. Carey is the Asst. Director of the Center for Innovation and Leadership in Special Education (CILSE) at the Kennedy Krieger Institiute. Her knowledge and brilliant approach with the principles of Universal Design for Learning always in the forefront, creates a welcoming and accessible space for fellow educators to be positively impacted in a way that allows them to immediately want to implement resources/strategies that she develops. Dr. Carey is an out of the box thinker with a great twist of humor as well, to which I have the upmost respect. I have learned so much from her and I have no doubt that you will too.

graphic of student sitting by computer

Imagine: It’s early in the morning. You go to your kitchen and go through all of the motions of brewing yourself a cup of coffee. You can do this half-asleep because you’ve done it so many times before.

Now imagine: You wake up and realize the power went out overnight. You’re running late, the coffee maker’s not turning on, and you realize that you need to go find the circuit breaker to restore power to the outlet. This new set of circumstances is out of the ordinary. Nothing about the power being out is rehearsed. This morning, you cannot brew your cup of coffee while half-asleep. In order to complete the task of making your morning coffee, you will need to use a set of cognitive skills called executive function.

Executive function is an umbrella term for the cognitive skills that work together to help us complete a task or goal (Diamond, 2013). The core executive function skills are inhibitory control, working memory and flexible thinking (Baggata & Alexander, 2016; Nigg, 2016).

  • Inhibitory control: Purposefully stopping/pausing when your immediate reaction will not help you accomplish your task.
  • Working memory: Holding information in mind temporarily in order to manipulate it.
  • Flexible thinking: Switching between different concepts and considering multiple perspectives and scenarios.
Executive function skills work interactively to support our ability to perform tasks that are novel or under-practiced. This important set of skills develops from birth through young adulthood, providing ample time to be shaped by the environment (Diamond, 2013). How we design our learning environments to support the development and use of executive function, or over-burden these still-developing skills, has a major impact on student academic achievement.

How Does Student Executive Function Interact With the Learning Environment?

How well we perform any skill is based on how well-matched our skill is to the demands of the context. For example, I’m a very strong swimmer, but put me in a riptide after a long day of swimming, and I’ll struggle, possibly even drown. Executive function is similar to swimming in various conditions. A calm, shallow pool is very different from rough, deep open water.

Likewise, students will do much better in a well-supported learning environment that matches their executive function skill levels, as opposed to in an unsupported learning environment with multiple executive function demands that are mismatched to their skill development. When there is a mismatch between the executive function demands and the skills of the individual, the result is an expression of executive dysfunction (Jacobson & Mahone, 2012).

Behavioral indicators of executive dysfunction (Gioia, Isquith, Guy, & Kenworthy, 2015) include:

  • Impulsivity
  • Distractibility
  • Difficulty with complex task completion
  • Difficulty with transitioning between activities
  • Difficulty shifting patterns of thought


How Does Online Learning Impact Student Executive Function?

An online learning environment is often highly demanding of student executive functions. This is even more true if the device, software, application or website being used is new, or if the student has limited experience using it for learning activities. Many times, we ask students to use an unfamiliar device, software, application or website on top of learning new academic content or skills. This causes many students to struggle to use their executive function skills to engage in tasks meaningfully. They start to exhibit the behavioral indicators of executive dysfunction listed above.

For example, students who are asked to use new software to record a response to a reading comprehension prompt will need to use their executive function skills to navigate the software, while also engaging their executive functions to organize their thinking and respond to the prompt. This combination of executive function demands is very likely to overwhelm a student and lead to difficulty completing the task.

In studies of students using personal devices (tablets, laptops, phones, etc.) for learning activities, teachers and students reported increases in student behaviors that aligned with the behavioral indicators of executive dysfunction (Islam & Gronlund, 2016; Kay, Benzimra & Li, 2017; Lei & Zhao, 2008; Sarıtepeci & Durak, 2017; Tallvid, 2016; Tallvid et al., 2015). Students using personal digital devices were more likely to become easily distracted, had trouble initiating and completing tasks, were engaged with off-task media or were attempting (unsuccessfully) to multitask, and had difficulty problem-solving when technology didn’t work as expected.

If we consider the role environmental demands play in students’ ability to use their executive function skills during learning activities, it’s unsurprising that online learning environments would place greater demand on student executive function skills. There are more chances for distraction, and thus more need to inhibit responses to all types of exciting stimuli (e.g., a chat from a friend or a link to a YouTube video). There are increases in information, and thus a greater demand on working memory. There are more ways in which to navigate a digital device than a notebook, and thus a greater demand on flexible thinking.

This is not to say that we should ditch our tech! Technology offers greater amounts of accessibility, connectiveness and collaboration. And in the age of COVID-19, we really need technology to safely connect at a distance. We just need to make sure that we are mindful of creating online learning environments that are responsive to student neurodevelopment (meaning that we don’t overtax student executive function with too many novel tasks and digital tools) and that provide executive function support as needed.


Tips for Supporting Executive Function During Online Learning

In any learning environment, we should take a two-fold approach to avoiding contributing to student executive dysfunction. We should reduce executive function demands that are extraneous to the content being taught, and we should provide supports, as needed.

As you design your online learning environment, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is my instructional design/tool/learning management system (LMS) overly demanding on my students’ inhibitory control? (i.e., do they have to focus on stopping/pausing impulses to engage in the task?)
    • What can I do to reduce the demand?
    • What support options can I add?
  • Is my instructional design/tool/LMS overly demanding on my students’ working memory? (i.e., do they have to keep multiple pieces of information in mind as they manipulate the information to complete the task?)
    • What can I do to reduce the demand?
    • What support options can I add?
  • Is my instructional design/tool/LMS overly demanding on my students’ flexible thinking? (i.e., do they have to focus on coming up with multiple ways to approach a task or problem, and do they need to independently troubleshoot their technology?)
    • What can I do to reduce the demand?
    • What support options can I add?
Striking the balance between executive function demands and supports is critical for students to get the most out of their online learning experience. Keep in mind that students are highly variable, and that supports will need to be flexible to meet the needs of your various students. Stay tuned for future posts that include teacher experiences teaching online while considering student executive function!


References:

Baggetta, P., & Alexander, P.A. (2016). Conceptualization and operationalization of executive function. Mind, Brain, and Education, 10(1), 10–33.

Diamond, A. (2013). Executive functions. Annual Review of Psychology, 64, 135–168.

Gioia, G.A., Isquith, P.K., Guy, S.C., & Kenworthy, L. (2015). BRIEF2: Behavior Rating  Inventory of Executive Function (2nd ed.). Lutz, FL: Psychological Assessment Resources, Inc.

Islam, M.S., & Gronlund, A. (2016). An international literature review of 1:1 computing in schools. Journal of Educational Change, 17, 191–222.

Jacobson, L.A., & Mahone, E.M. (2012). Educational implications of executive dysfunction. In S.J. Hunter & E P. Sparrow (Eds.). Executive Function and Dysfunction: Indentification, Assessment and Treatment (ed., pp. 231–246). Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.

Kay, R., Benzimra, D., & Li, J. (2017). Exploring factors that influence technology-based distractions in bring your own device classrooms. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 55(7), 974–995.

Lei, J., & Zhao, Y. (2008). One-to-one computing: What does it bring to schools? Journal of Educational Computer Research, 39(2), 97–122.

Nigg, J.T. (2016). Annual Research Review: On the relations among self‐regulation, self‐control, executive functioning, effortful control, cognitive control, impulsivity, risk‐taking, and inhibition for developmental psychopathology. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 58(4), 361–383.

Sarıtepeci, M., & Durak, H. (2016). Examining student perceptions regarding to usage purposes of tablet computers distributed under the scope of in FATIH project in the course processes and by students. Participatory Educational Research, IV, 171–181.

Tallvid, M., Lundin, J.L., Svensson, L., & Lindstrom, B. (2013). Relationship between sanctioned and unsanctioned laptop use in 1:1 classroom. Educational Technology & Society, 18(1), 237–249.

Tallvid, M. (2016). Understanding teachers’ reluctance to the pedagogical use of ICT in the 1:1 classroom. Education and Information Technologies, 21(3), 503–519.

Dr. Carey sitting beside student

Original Blog on Kennedy Krieger Institute

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Guest — Glenda Thompson
Thank you Kelli and Dr. Carey for taking your time to share this information with families navigating remote learning. I am part o... Read More
Saturday, 05 December 2020 08:28
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Nov
30

Thanksgiving

Cream and Brown Autumn leaves Background with the word Thanksgiving in uppercase letters Thanksgiving

As Thanksgiving comes every year, I love to hear people reflect about what they are thankful for! Traditionally, as a family we go around the table at Thanksgiving and say something we are thankful for, so I thought perhaps I should mirror this professionally as well. 2020 has been a challenge for so many, but I’ve been reflecting on what good things have happened this past year. Professionally, I have so much to be thankful for. This month marked one year of my time being a PATINS Staff member, I want to share a few things that I am so thankful for!


Resources - Immeasurable resources are being shared daily. I have never seen such an outpouring of resources available online, as I have during the pandemic. I am thrilled to see multiple offerings. Check out the PATINS Training Calendar for more upcoming opportunities or make a request from the Lending Library for additional requests. 


Teamwork - I have been given the opportunity to work with the best team of coworkers! If anyone needs support, there is an entire staff to help stakeholders throughout the state. Check out our PATINS Staff, their specialities, and contact them! Just last week, another specialist and I collaborated to meet the needs of the educator supporting a student with communication, motor, and low vision challenges. It is great to gain the insight of my colleagues when we work together. Being an Occupational Therapist, I am able to bring a unique perspective to the table, but the richness of having another specialist with a background in speech and language pathology, blind/low vision education, deaf and hard of hearing education, or general or special education adds to the depth of the consultation and benefits all those involved.


Relationships - Through webinars, consultations, Twitter Chats, phone calls, and more I have been able to develop relationships with stakeholders across the state. Join us on Twitter every Tuesday night at 8:30 pm EST. My PLN, or Professional Learning Network, grows weekly on Twitter! This year in particular, I have met numerous educators in Zoom meetings. It is wonderful to put a face with the name!


Increased Accessibility - Our students in Indiana have had increased access to the curriculum this year, due in part to the quick action of educators to soak up all available resources, virtual training, and support available during the pandemic. Teachers and Administrators have embraced accessibility needs this year. We have an updated document of Continuous Learning support and YouTube videos available offering guidance on providing specific supports for all learners. 



As I wrap up my first full year at the PATINS Project, I am thankful for the new relationships and strong teamwork which have helped me to both learn and share new resources and increase access to the curriculum for Indiana students. I hope to assist many more educators this year in finding the best iPad accessibility features and ways to integrate them into daily plans, consulting and providing support with behavioral challenges, and increasing the use of Assistive Technology and Accessible Educational Material for students in the primary grades. Feel free to contact me at any time! I will look forward to it!


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Guest — David Jackson
Great post!
Tuesday, 01 December 2020 19:26
Guest — Martha
Has it been a year? It's great having you with us, Lisa. We all have much to be thankful for.
Wednesday, 02 December 2020 13:19
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Nov
19

What is YOUR passion?

Sandy as a young girl in her baseball uniform.

Sports have always been a big part of my life. I played girls little league when I was 9 until I turned 13. Back then girls played hardball, just like the boys and we had a great league with many teams in the city. My cousin played with me and one year we even won the city championship. Then I was able to coach and be a manager for a few more years. Another cousin was on the team and we were able to spend lots of time together. 

As an adult, I started playing tennis and it has been such a great blessing. I have met so many wonderful women and made friends that have been there for me through bad days, bad tennis playing, and a health scare. I even ended up on a team with 2 ladies that I had played little league with. 

I have also shared my love of tennis with several family members and my daughter. It is fantastic to be able to play tennis with family, especially in today’s environment. 

Recently, I have taken up Pickleball and I absolutely love it! I have again made many new friends and my family members are playing with me as well. A great part of playing Pickleball is that my husband is able to play, his bad knee wouldn’t allow him to play tennis anymore. I also have an older uncle who shares my love of Pickleball and it is so much fun to play with him. My daughter’s boyfriend has also taken it up and it gives them a sport to play together.

Sports also take up a significant amount of television time. Golf, Tennis, Football, Basketball, and Baseball are usually on at my house. I love the social aspect of rooting for a favorite team. If you carry around a Steelers cup or wear a Yankees shirt you are sure to strike up a conversation. I also enjoy the texting and calling with friends and family when a game is on.

I have so many great memories that include sports. There was the time the Indianapolis Colts fans let me dance with them, but forced me to zip up my jacket to hide my Steelers shirt!

Sandy dancing with Colts fans.

Sandy with Indianapolis Colts fans.

I attended a football game in Dallas where there were just as many Steelers fans as Dallas fans and we won!

Sandy with Dallas Cowboy fans.

I have attended many professional tennis tournaments as well as baseball, football, and basketball games. I have attended my daughter’s sporting events: softball, swimming, and tennis. I have always had sports in my life.

Sandy and her daughter, Courtney.

What is YOUR passion?

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Guest — Rita
Great memories to share! Photos help capture a moment to let us relive again and again.
Thursday, 19 November 2020 11:56
Guest — Glenda Thompson
That competitive drive radiates from you. Ever present in your PATINS/ICAM work as well. That benefits Indiana staff and students... Read More
Thursday, 19 November 2020 12:30
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Nov
13

MackinVia*: Another Path to Literacy

Mackin Logo

*Via: by way of (Merriam Webster Dictionary)

After the long ICAM/Learning Ally partnership was dissolved, many DRMs and educators expressed the same disappointment that PATINS/ICAM felt, and we began the quest for a new solution. By now many Indiana educators know that the ICAM has chosen Mackin, as a source of audiobooks and eBooks for students with documented print disabilities.

Patrons will place a Special Order through the ICAM Web Ordering System for fiction and non-fiction titles, textbooks are not available through Mackin. While Mackin does not provide actual textbooks, it does feature a broad range of content-related titles. The ICAM team has created a training video, Getting Started with Mackin that describes the ICAM ordering process for Mackin titles. Patrons will place a Special Order and the ICAM staff will search for the title.  Patrons can create a free Mackin account so they can log in and search for titles that are available in these formats before they place an order. You can browse by different categories including grade level, interest level, and subject. 

Related content titles can notably enhance a struggling reader’s learning experience. For example, say you are starting a 4th grade Science Unit on our solar system, and you are working from the class textbook. You have a student who is Chafee-qualified to use audiobooks and text to speech. From his IEP we know that this student has an SLD in the area of reading, and as his teacher, you know that he struggles to decode from print. However, this book is not available from the ICAM. If only you could get an accessible textbook! Yesterday! He needs a solution, fast.

You can choose a Mackin title on the Solar System, in an eBook or audiobook platform, at the 4th-grade level, to supplement the textbook. You search available selections and find SOLAR SYSTEM: BY THE NUMBERS by Steve Jenkins. By reading the summary and reviews you determine this to be a near-perfect match for the textbook’s approach. And, it is available as a MackinVIA eBook. Your student can have access for a checkout period or throughout the school year, depending on publisher permissions.

This will help the student in several crucial ways. By 4th grade, sentences are longer and more complex, and multi-syllable words are frequent. Often, students who struggle to decode also experience a working memory deficit; by the time this student has worked through the sound and symbol of each word, recalling the content seems hopeless.

With this Mackin eBook, he will learn the same important vocabulary as his classmates. When he returns to the textbook in class and encounters words like “meteorite” and “asteroid” he will have seen and heard the words before. This will help alleviate his anxiety associated with printed words: They are just words, and he knows them! With the Mackin audio support, highlighting, and note-taking features he will begin to build background knowledge. Then, with teacher support such as guided context cues, repeated reading, and class discussion, his fluency and comprehension will show improvement. Imagine how he will feel, keeping up with the class. This is a powerful confidence builder! 

Next week, November 18-19, is the PATINS/ICAM Access to Education 2020, our annual fall conference. If you are registered, Great! Please stop by the ICAM/IERC Room to learn more about Mackin, and register for an Echo Dot! Registration has formally ended, but if you are just now deciding to attend, please contact Jen Conti at jconti@patinsproject.org. She will set you up, and we hope to “see” you there!

Thanks so much!

 

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Guest — Rita
Thanks for sharing this valuable information!
Thursday, 19 November 2020 20:48
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Nov
05

In Tony's Shoes

In Tony's Shoes

Have you ever been the new kid at school? Being the new kid, I would worry if I would like my teacher and if I would make new friends however the following article invites you to step into Tony’s shoes as the new student with a [perceived] disability in a mainstream or inclusion setting. Can you imagine if the access that Tony needs to the auditory world was just integrated and he didn’t have to advocate for it?  Teachers can plan their classroom and lessons with every student in mind before they even know their students’ names with guiding principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and the PATINS Project’s UDL Lesson Creator

Read more about Tony's story and take a look at how educators can implement UDL for students who are deaf or hard of hearing in this 2020 issue of the Odyssey Magazine published by the Clerc Center National Deaf Education Center at Gallaudet University in the article, One-Stop Lesson Planning: How Universal Design for Learning Can Help Students Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing by Katie Taylor, PATINS Specialist. 



Reference:

Taylor, K. 2020. One-stop lesson planning: how universal design for learning can help students who are deaf or hard of hearing. Odyssey Magazine. Clerc Center. https://www3.gallaudet.edu/Documents/Clerc/Odyssey/Odyssey%202000/ODYSSEY%202020%20-%20pg%2048-51%20-%20Taylor.pdf

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Oct
29

Finding the Bright Spot

Finding the Bright Spot

Last week my colleague and friend, Bev Sharritt, reminded me how much I currently miss all of you and my fellow teammates. I think many of us can agree that virtual meetings simply aren’t the same no matter how much we may want them to be. Including this new way to work, this year has made me feel all the feelings and changed so many aspects of my daily life. It has changed the way I work, the way I socialize, the way I eat, the way I dress, the way I exercise, the list goes on. 

Nonetheless, I can’t help but try and find the silver lining in all of this change and unfamiliar territory. I suppose it’s the forever optimist in me, but when I encounter fear, I try to cling to the bright side. Here’s to hoping that some of what we’re learning and the adaptations we’re making in and out of the classroom are here to stay!

For example, this year has introduced me to more educators wanting to know how to make their materials accessible than ever before! As an accessibility advocate, this is incredibly exciting! Accessible materials level the playing field for all students and decrease the opportunity gap that too many of our students experience each and every year. I love hearing about educators working diligently and asking questions about how to make their Canvas and other learning management system courses accessible and their Bitmoji classrooms accessible on top of their digital and printed documents. 

To help support your efforts, a few of my teammates and I have put together a series of three 30-minute webinars that you can request via email for your school district as an Indiana public educator. This series includes how to create accessible materials from scratch, how to upload and publish accessible materials, and how to make inaccessible materials accessible from the student’s perspective.

Furthermore, this year has pushed us to not only think about our students’ access to our materials (representing our content), but the ways in which we engage our students and allow our students to show us what they know; this is the heart and soul of universal design for learning (UDL). We are stretching our creativity, figuring out how to use new tools for access, using virtual platforms for teaching and teletherapy successfully, and reaching students in ways we may have never thought possible. 

I also believe that 2020 has made us take a closer look at our work/life balance and how we care for our mental health. Not to say this didn’t happen because we overworked and pushed ourselves to the limit in some cases, but I’m hoping that it’s been a lesson learned to take with us into the future. Finding our boundaries and learning to say no is healthy! It’s a common phrase because it's true; we must take care of ourselves in order to take care of others. 

Lastly, I think or hope many of us have begun to re-evaluate how and with whom we spend our invaluable free time outside of the classroom. This year has brought me closer to the ones I love through phone calls, texts, Zoom get togethers, and sometimes in person. My quaran-team has helped me get through this year and will be there for me as we end this year and venture into what’s to come in 2021. I hope you’ve found your team and that you, too, are finding the bright spots in your experiences. 

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Oct
22

A Letter from 2020


Dear PATINS stakeholders,

I hope this letter finds you well. I want to tell you how much I miss you, and a letter seemed appropriate. There are many reasons for angst at this particular point in time, and honestly, most days in the past 7 months I haven’t been able to pinpoint a specific reason for why I’m feeling sad or anxious. I just remind myself that this is normal in a pandemic, and keep putting one foot in front of the other from my home office to the kitchen and back. Today, though, I am missing driving down a scenic Indiana State Highway, enjoying the fall splendor, and ending up in a school parking lot.

I miss walking in and being greeted by the friendly office staff, and then meeting you in a class or conference room to train you in person on a Braille display, or magnification solution. I miss meeting your delightful, thoughtful, eager students who often take off with an AT solution before I’ve left the building. I miss the banter and the physical connection of hand under hand instruction. Also, I even miss the occasional unfriendly office staff.

I miss your faces, looking up from tables in the library, some smiling and attentive, some bored, some zoned out after a full day of teaching, as I tell you about Universal Design for Learning or electronic media. I’ve seen your faces on Zoom, but in the library--in person--I feel a stronger sense of you as a person. I miss driving down the street in your small town and trying the pie at your local diner. 

I’m grateful for Zoom. I can’t comprehend the isolation during a Pandemic before the luxury of the internet and the corresponding agony of doom scrolling... I suppose folks wrote more letters. 

sepia tone photo of two women sitting on a bench wearing cloth masks circa 1918

I searched for “letters from quarantine” and found that folks going through the Spanish Flu in 1918 were just as bored, frustrated, fearful, and sometimes desperately funny as they are on Twitter today. It is a small comfort to read their similar thoughts, complaints and hopes. Here is an excerpt from a letter written by Annie Clifton to her brother at war in Europe:

“Brother, Norfolk is some dull now,” wrote 16-year-old Annie Clifton on Oct. 21, 1918. “All of the moving pictures and theatres are closed on account of the Spanish flu. … I’m not working now [and] school … had to close, too.”

Here’s where I suppose I should add some optimistic thoughts and feelings about the positive things that are happening because of, and in spite of Covid 19. If you contact me or any other of our PATINS staff with your needs, we’ll find some creative way to work with you from a distance.  

On this painfully beautiful October day, though,  I’m going to stick with what I’m genuinely experiencing, and say again how much I miss you and the motion of my car speeding down the road to be with you. If you are feeling depressed or exhausted, that is o.k., and if you are feeling vibrantly hopeful, that is also o.k. Writing about any of it from any century is a good way to cope.

Pull out that journal. Better yet, write me a letter. 

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Recent Comments
Guest — Amanda
I love the true feelings all over this. You really captured my internal aches and wrote them as your own and that is what now co... Read More
Thursday, 22 October 2020 08:36
Guest — Bev Sharritt
Thank you Amanda. Looking forward to the end of the ache, and when I will meet your compassionate self in person.
Thursday, 22 October 2020 10:36
Guest — Rachel Herron
I love this Bev...and I agree with the sentiment so much! Looking forward to better days ... Read More
Thursday, 22 October 2020 11:01
  4 Comments
Oct
15

Reading Full Circle

Reading Full Circle

My first PATINS blog was in April of 2016. The title was “Mimi, would you read me a book?” It was about my grandchildren and them asking Mimi every time they visited us to read to them. Mimi took great pride in them not just asking but sitting close to her as she read.

Mimi reading


Fast forward to this week. I received a message from my daughter that contained a video of my granddaughter Kenzie reading. She is eight and in the second grade.


Kenzie’s teacher over the past week or so has been sharing with the class stories written by James Whitcomb Riley. It has fascinated Kenzie as he lived so close to her. More intriguing was her interest in his writing. She would come home and share stories she learned with her family. 


Kenzie’s school happened to be on Fall Break this week so my daughter thought it would be interesting to go to the James Whitcomb Riley home in Greenfield, Indiana. 


They took a tour and collected some memorabilia and on the way home Kenzie recalled all that she had seen. This is how I put into perspective what she had learned in school.


Kenzie and her family came for a visit and she shared as much as she could about James Whitcomb Riley. I could not pass up the opportunity to share my connection with James Whitcomb Riley with Kenzie.


The elementary school I went to in Hammond, Indiana was James Whitcomb Riley Elementary School. I also worked for eleven years at Riley Hospital for Children named after, of course, James Whitcomb Riley.


Kenzie could hardly believe the connections after just visiting his home. Another tidbit, on James Whitcomb Riley’s birthday the Riley Cheer Guild would give out Raggedy Ann dolls to patients. I’ll let you make the connection.


I wrote about Mimi reading to the grandkids in my first blog and it has come full circle over the past four years. The love of being read to has sparked a desire in Kenzie to read and her interest in James Whitcomb Riley has provided a timely story for the season.



It has come full circle and Mimi and I could not be any prouder. Not only for Kenzie, but for all of our grandchildren who have shared in the gift of reading.

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Guest — Martha
This is one of my favorite poems from childhood. Thanks for sharing Kenzie reading! You and Mimi have blessed your grands with thi... Read More
Thursday, 15 October 2020 13:36
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Oct
08

Throw Out Your "Low Tech" Stuff

graph of a positive correlation between AA batteries and potatoes with the title What do we do instead of relying on the imaginary technology spectrum?

My husband and I have an inside joke for measuring things that can’t quite be measured: the potato.

How much do I love you? 12 potato.

How cute is our dog? 9.5 potato.

How much do we hate fireworks after midnight? 14,000 potato.

It’s silly nonsense but easy to use.

A couple of years ago I was talking to a team about a young student who had complex communication needs. They had tried the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) but the student wasn’t making much progress. I asked why they had started with PECS.

“We use best practice. First, we start with low tech.”

Exactly zero potato of that is best practice.

How does one progress on this imaginary spectrum of technology? Is it when you perform really well or really badly? Did the number of batteries used in the tool correlate with her skills or her needs?

No one could say, but there was an unwritten rule: something had to be proven before you got something “fancy.”

a graph showing a strong positive correlation between

It’s a hard paradigm to change for all us folks born in the late 1900s (ouch): it’s 2020, there is no such thing as a low-high assistive technology spectrum.

Consider this model I adapted from my old notes on aided AAC and other AT:

Low tech:
Cheap, easy to learn, no batteries, minimal vocabulary

Mid tech:
Moderately expensive, needs some training, more vocabulary

High tech:
Expensive, extensive training needed, relies on touch screens technology or other newer technology, lots of vocabulary

The more you learn, the more the above is proven wrong. A PODD book comes in paper with tons of vocabulary and in my experience requires lots of training, a minimum investment of several hundred dollars. We have a library of very limited and inexpensive communication apps we could teach you to use in 10 minutes or less.

We have apps and extensions that are free or built into any cheap smartphone that can read text aloud, is this “high tech” AT better or worse than the "mid-tech" text scanning pen or the "low tech" sheet overlay? The number of batteries it has will inform you about as well as my potatoes.

What do we do instead of relying on the imaginary technology spectrum?

PATINS Specialists can help you discover several frameworks and assessment tools that help teams keep the focus on what is important: your student receiving an equitable and accessible education. Our no-cost consultation services are always available for our Indiana public PreK-12 schools with a focus on best practice, sound evidence base, and effective ideas. We'll even loan you tools to try from our no-cost Lending Library and be available every step of your student's trial.

When we focus on our student’s needs and the features of the tools, our IEPs and supports become better. We are able to figure out which things our students have outgrown, we are quicker to identify what isn’t working and why. When we use a common language of tool features, our students learn to advocate for themselves more effectively and our conversations with other team members become more productive.

Do not throw out your "low tech" stuff. Throw out the low/high technology spectrum labels and embrace tool features so your students can address the barriers in their world. You’ll be a better professional for it.

I’m 400 potato certain.

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