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Jun
10

Tools in Your Toolbox

 

Various battery operated power tools and toolboxes with various tools

Most of us have completed a project, repaired something, helped a friend, written a letter (or blogpost!) at some point.  When planning for these endeavors we usually have a plan and/or a tool in mind.  Often everything goes well but sometimes it doesn't.  To be successful, we must have access to more than one solution or tool.  Students must be offered and taught how to use a variety of tools.  Need ideas?  Please check out the PATINS Project training calendar.

A picture containing outdoor pergola over and outdoor grill/kitchen area

My plan was to help a friend dig three post holes for a pergola (unique design).  We were warned by his neighbor that the ground was hard clay, and the preferred tool would be a towable, one-person auger/post hole digger (available to rent but would take about one hour of our time to borrow and return). I've dug many fence post holes in the past and I have manual post hole diggers.  During my site prep we measured, used my diggers to start the holes and everything looked good (i.e., somewhat soft clay and no rocks).  To save that hour of time, I figured we could use my neighbor's small, gas post hole digger.

I forgot to mention that his neighbor had just built his own pergola and successfully dug six post holes…in the clay. You know what happened next, we were forced to rent the larger one-person auger/post hole digger.  Unfortunately, we had more obstacles; three rose bushes and an outdoor grill/kitchen brick wall.  Respectively, they didn't appreciate the one-person auger’s wide wheelbase or large obtrusive handle.

It took us almost twice the time we planned, and we used three different tools.  However, we got those holes dug!  One tool did not get this task completed.

When students are assigned academic tasks, they should be allowed to choose from several tools to successfully complete those assignments. When writing, students could respond with handwriting, with a keyboard, speech to text, audio recording, video recording, scribe, etc. 

When reading, students could read with their eyes, ears (speech to text solutions), have someone read aloud to them, audio books (e.g., Hoopla or if they qualify, access digitally accessible materials from the Indiana Center for Accessible Materials (ICAM)).

When communicating, students could use gestures, vocalizations, sign language, partner assisted scanning, static/paper-based communication boards, single message voice output devices (e.g., BigMack), multiple message devices or high-tech dedicated speech generating devices (SGD).

What tools are in your teacher's toolbox?  If you want ideas to fill it up, please reach out directly to one the PATINS specialist.

1
Jun
02

Banana Bird and The Rubber Chicken

Banana Bird and The Rubber Chicken Banana Bird and The Rubber Chicken

QR code to voice recording of blog text.

Artist Name - ruchick.mp3

My daughter just completed her first year of college and while chatting about papers she had to submit, we revisited the time when she was immersed in her writing creation of Banana Bird in elementary school. She used to walk around the house singing, “Banana banana banana bird, it makes the monkeys herd!” It definitely became an earworm tune and still is until this day when a banana is opened. It’s been nearly 10 years ago.

Meet the Banana Bird by then 9 yr old, Natalie Suding
Meet the Banana Bird

 

One day there was a Banana Bird. He sang this one morning: “Banana banana banana bird, it makes the monkeys herd!” He heard a noise. What was it? A monkey heard it! He started to climb a tree. “Shoo!” he said, but it didn’t work.

So, he jumped to a vine and so did the monkey. That didn’t work. Mr. Monkey was very bad. His name was Sam. So, he flew but Sam didn’t. He went down and went to the tree. He climbed a banana tree. The monkey was confused. “Which one was the Banana Bird?”

So, the monkey ate all of the bananas but the Banana Bird flew away happy. The end.

Binder of banana bird ideas

Ah, the creative storytelling of young people. She had a binder of ideas for future Banana Birds. I think my favorite one I looked forward to was “Monkey Attak” as she has written in her notes.

She wrote that story around the same time that I was making my first switch with a rubber chicken. That’s right, a rubber chicken toy. 
rubber chicken
She had a lot of questions as to why I was cutting open a rubber chicken to place wires and coins inside. This began a wonderful conversation about disabilities, access and accessibility. She decided that she wanted to make Meet the Banana Bird her first attempt to make her book more accessible for her friends. So, she did. 

I recently saw a sign in front of a rural school that said: “Small and mighty.” That is right…small and mighty. There is no but in what we typically hear people say, “small but mighty.” That statement within itself busts through mightset change, making it clear that there is nothing wrong with being small. It builds upon the word small and makes it as grand as the word deserves. 

Try not to underestimate not only your own power of change toward accessibility; but those we can facilitate with even the youngest of students. Model accessibility and inclusion. Talk about accessibility. Teach accessibility. Consider giving Book Creator a try in your classroom for student projects. The earlier our students understand the why and how of access for all, it can become the only way they know how and then ask a lot of questions when things are not accessible. Our students can be small and mighty.
1
May
29

That’s a Wrap! What’s Next?


IMG 2985

The school year is wrapping up for my children. The hustle and bustle of the end of the school year is an exciting and stressful time for many of us. As we consider the growth and successes of the school year, it is great to also regroup and plan for what is next. One hopes that the skills they have learned up to this point, will prepare them for the next season. 

My oldest son is graduating from high school next week. I am an admittedly proud and grateful mom. The journey from preschool to high school has been so quick and yet so long. We have had no less than one or two yearly IEP (Individualized Education Plan) meetings since he turned 3 years old. He has had numerous goals met, triumphs, and a few failures as well, but he was steadily learning. It took a village of caring adults to teach and encourage him along the way. We worked so hard at home to make sure he had everything he needed. He had many services for years including occupational therapy, speech therapy, physical therapy, special education, instructional assistants, counselors, assistive technology supports, and other service providers along the way. When I say he had a village, I truly mean it! As soon as he gained more skills and became independent, some services were discontinued and new ones were added when we realized there was a new area for improvement. We all worked together and that teamwork is about to pay off. As he wraps up his K-12 career, he looks toward college now.

With one season ending for him, a new season of life is beginning. As we make the transition to summer and prepare to go to college, I hope he remembers what the village has taught him thus far and he will continue to advocate for himself. One part of the village has been the PATINS Project for Assistive Technology support for his providers. As the transitions continue for my children, I am grateful for the village that ensures student success through the educational process. Here's to the next season and new adventures!

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