It is time for the Olympics

29 Jul

The Olympics makes me think of sports and a great time to use sport related vocabulary.  I have been organizing some of my materials and came across some of the cards I use for a sports theme.  I thought some of you may be able to use them when talking about the Olympics.   There are two sets.   Word Association (Sports) cards in the Vocabulary section and 3 Words Make a Sentence (Sports) in the Expressive Language section.

No more pencils, no more books, no more….

26 Jun

Wait a minute, I don’t like the ending to that.   I tried to hold off on the dirty looks.    I have to say I was really happy to see this last school year come to a close.  Of all the years I’ve worked this one was probably the hardest.   As the  saying goes, ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”  It was a stressful year of failed contract negotiations, high caseload in two buildings, high parent expectations with dwindling resources.   The last two weeks of school were  stressful as  missed meetings required rescheduling   within the busy end of year schedule.   It really makes a person reach for new ways of dealing with the paperwork and scheduling challenges.  This is a goal I have made for myself.  I know many of you  faced similar challenges or maybe even worse situations.   I would love to hear your survival stories.  Will you be back another school year?

As I was  getting ready for the summer departure and contemplating what my next year would  bring,  I found I would have a new assignment.  I  decided this is a good thing, because I really needed to sort through my materials and make adjustments.  I have brought all my materials home to get ready for a move to another building.   This is good news for you, because I’ve found a few things that were not posted yet.   If you care to look through the materials you may find them as the summer moves a long.

Are We There Yet?

26 May

You may have noticed that this month lacked the usual posting. It turned out to be a month of emotional upheaval so I decided it was better not to post until things turned around. We got the good news this morning at 6 am.  We will no longer be on strike but will return to work on Tuesday morning.  This was after a negotiation session that ran 18 hrs. at the end of a week of walking a picket line through mostly rainy weather.  

Striking was not an experience I thought I would ever take part in as a teacher.  I can’t say I was an avid participant of union events up until this year.  This year I was glad I had paid those union dues.  It made the difference with not having to accept a contract that was grossly unfair to us and the students we work with.  It is no joke that teachers are under attack.  We saw it happen here in our little part of the world as 4 districts had to fight it out.  Not over the money like the press continues to say, but over contract language that took away things like prep time, employment tied to test scores,  allowing verbal complaints to go into record, and contract re-openers which meant nothing really was binding.

 I have to say that our parents were are best allies.  They put the pressure on the school board, and supported us on the line with coffee, and goodies.  Although some animosity developed during the week as classified staff had to continue to work, it also allowed for some bonding as people were able to talk and meet like they hadn’t before. Hopefully we will now be able to finish the next 2 1/2 weeks on more pleasant terms.

StoryKit for Speech Therapy

28 Apr

If you have  followed my blog you know that I have used StoryKit in a few of my activities this year.   I thought I would bring it to the fore front since I found another way to use it.   I keep finding new ways to use it and  it useful for so much more than just editing a story.   For those who are not familiar with it, you can read more about it on the ITunes app store.    It is available as a free download.

When you first open StoryKit  its full potential is not apparent.  When I first saw the books listed  for editing I thought it was  just another app for downloading children’s books.  Then I realized I could create my own books and insert pictures I took with my iPad or  my photo library.  The program also allows for writing and multiple recordings on each page.

This led to use number one.   I found it was great for creating directions for crafts because of the multi-modal presentation.  A child has  pictured, written, and verbal directions that can be repeated at the push of a button.   If you look back on my bulletin board crafts, there are examples of  directions posted using this program.  The App creations are  actually better on the iPad because they are presented as a book  rather than in story board form.

Use number two was actually incorporated into use number one.  I used the recording feature for expressive language and carry over for articulation.  The students created and produced  the directions.  They were motivated to use clear and concise speech when recording them.  If it didn’t come out clear the first time, it was easy to record it again They would make multiple recordings and in the end keep the best one.  It really made them more aware of errors to correct  and what details were important.

My latest use was making a book of  “Unexpected Animal Photos.”  There are all sorts of collections of photos on the internet. It is easy to take a screen snapshot of these photos to make a book.  Students can add verbal commentary once pictures are added.  I’ve found that animals are a good topic for conversation and the unusual pictures encourage  students to use descriptive detail and make inferences.   You can make your own by using  Google to search for collections of  unexpected animal photos.  When you find a photo that you like, you can add it to your photo library by taking a screen shot.  Here are the directions to create a screen shot.  Even if you don’t have an iPad, the  pictures can be printed off and used  for discussion. Students always seem to  like to talk about animals.

A Flexible Brain

17 Apr

Today we continued to work with the social pragmatic group using the Superflex program.  The lesson of the day required the use of a flexible brain to illustrate how the brain needs to be flexible to grow and handle changes in its environment.  There is a comparison of a rigid brain with a flexible  brain. For those who do not know the program, Superflex conquers Rock Brain  who is not flexible and doesn’t adapt to change well.  He keeps getting stuck doing the same old thing.

The lesson manual suggested using a brain mold to make a jello brain.   I was in luck because I knew someone who I could get the mold from.  The manual   did not give actual directions or a recipe.   I  put this lesson off for as long as I could because  I do not have a good history with jello molds.  I have a history of  jello that sticks to the mold and never turns out looking right.  The thought of trying to work with one in the time line of classes had me worried.  I figured the jello would melt and be over the table before the session was up.

I researched jello  brain recipes on the internet.  It turns out that there are a lot of these.   Some of them are a bit on the gross side of things.  I decided to stay away from the worm and bug infested brains although I’m sure they would be attention grabbing.  I wanted something that would be close to flesh tone and stay fairly solid.  So  I  settled for the following recipe.

You need 3 boxes of jello with orange to pink colors (watermelon, peach), Evaporate milk (12 0z), green food coloring, and 2  1/2 cups  boiling water

Dissolve the gelatin in the boiling water, Spray the inside of the mold with vegetable o spray.  Add milk and cold water to the gelatin mixture and stir until smooth.  Add 2 drops green food coloring.  The mixture should look more flesh-colored.  Add a drop at a time until you get the right color.  Pour the mixture into the mold and put in the refrigerator.  This brain turned out to be quite solid and kept its form several hours.

For the lesson, slips of  paper with brain functions from the categories of  social awareness, motor,and factual/science  are inserted  into the jello brain.  The students take turns  pulling  these out and talking  about them.  I debated the best method of getting the papers in the jello.  I ended up laminating the papers and poking them in after the brain was taken out of the mold.  This way ends of the paper were left sticking out and easy to grab with tweezers.  Surprisingly, the brain is still in good shape after the papers are removed and I can use it again for another group. No one asked if they could eat it.  I took a picture of the brain so you could  have a visual.