Thursday, February 21, 2013

Like This Video!

My brother is a special education teacher.  He and the students of the Tech Club created this video for a video public service announcement contest.  You can vote for these amazing kids by liking it on YouTube or by clicking the thumbs up in the upper right hand corner while it is playing.  (P.S.  My brother is the Diabetes in the video.) Thanks!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Sensory Stories Recompiled

I've long been a fan of Pete Well's Sensory Stories.  In particular I've used the Christmas Carol and Wizard of Oz Sensory Stories with much success as curriculum units. Now some of these great resources are available in a new place at Portland College's website.

These resources are fabulous but as a teaching tool be sure you go all out!  Use the scripts and the ideas for sensory stimulation that come with the stories.  It takes a few times to get used to juggling all the props and sensory experiences, but it is worth it!  Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Calendar and Advanced Visual Schedule Apps for Kids with Special Needs

Interactive Calendar Apps

Kid's Calendar $2.99
Suggested for ages 5-12.  Customizable schedule with sticker, backgrounds and a contact list ("friends book").

4KidsCal $1.99
Includes stickers and customization as well as the ability to record audio with any calendar entry.

Week Planner for Kids $1.99

Color coded, can use photos, can use as reward system.  In app purchases for holidays, etc.

Advanced Visual Schedule Apps

Daily and weekly visual schedules plus a reward chart.

Daily, weekly and monthly planner, fully customizable, video modeling, checklists and more.

Wonkido Organizer $9.99

Daily schedule, mood journal, daily assignments, to-do lists and behavior chart.

Apps to Teach Calendar Skills

Learn about months, days, seasons and more.  Plus set a countdown to a date.

Learn all the calendar basics, additional drawing program.

Training and practice for days of the week.

Set the day, month, date, season and weather.

Please note apps and prices chance constantly.  This post was accurate as of 8:00 PM 2/12/13.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Urgent! Call to Action - Comments on Accomodations on Common Core Standards Testing

Most states in the US have joined into the Common Core Curriculum.  At this time two separate groups are working on test materials which will be used to assess student learning and for many teachers determine play a role in how they are evaluated.

Currently one of those consortiums, PARCC, is holding public comment on their proposed positions on testing accomodations.  The survey is designed in a force choice format allowing the surgery taker only to choose yes, yes with edits, or no as to if they agree to the proposed rules around accomodations for special needs students.  In theory these recommendations make sense.  If a test is not specifically measuring reading then text-to-speech or a reader is allowed. Also if the test is not testing basic calculations a calculator will be allowed.  The problem is that the way the rules are written is very confusing, the power to choose accomodations is taken from the TEAMs who know the child best and their is no room for very unique learners who use very unique accomodations or assistive technology.

Sadly one of the people who wrote the white paper for the reading rules recommendations is well known to me. He has said, in a public forum, to hundreds of teachers who work with children who have very severe disabilities that even if they are dying they must be tested, but if they die their portfolios do not need to be submitted. Once he required that I submit an alternative assessment portfolio on a child who had spent seven months in the hospital and had only attended 35 days of school.  So this child's test score reflected an essentially empty binder submitted to the state.  I dare say that fidelity of testing wasn't foremost in this state administrator's mind.

Please go fill out the survey and use the "yes, with edits" response box to share your opinions about who should be deciding what accomodations are needed as well as to share your experiences with learners who need unique technology for access to testing (eye gaze computers with text-to-speech, low tech reading supports, talking calculators, abacus, etc).  Additionally I urge you all to think of what these rules would mean to individuals who are highly capable with accommodations who may not be allowed to use them on the test that determines if they will graduate. 

Thank you.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

ATIA Pick of the Day

Teachers of learners with significant special needs often times need to adapt text to be more cognitively and linguistically accessible. Here are some tools that can help.

Up Goer Five
Up Goer Five is a text editor that helps you simplify the vocabulary in text by limiting you to the top 1,000 words.  You can cut and paste text from the Internet, such as from a magazine articles, you can enter samples of your speech to see if you are using core vocabulary in your teaching.

Check out Up Goer Six and Text Compactor as well.

Contact Me at:

Contact Me at:

Visit our advertisers:

Fujitsu Computer Systems Corporation, LLC Try Nick Jr. Boost FREE for 7 Days ... Label the things you love !! Build-A-Bear HearthSong - Toys Outlet