Saturday, January 31, 2009
Bev Evans is in the process of creating a fantastic web site with a focus on providing inclusive practice resources for teachers. Communication 4 All covers a good range of curriculum areas and age groups. It has loads of high quality, free downloads. Bev is currently adding to the site, so it would be a good one to check regularly for updates. So check it out and remember to sign the guest book.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
I have just spent some time adding some more books to the Junior Crew Book Shelf. I found some fantastic interactive books on The Northumberland Grid for Learning Teaching and Learning Web Site. It has an enormous number of resources for Early years and Primary Classrooms. Click on the picture and the link will take you to a simple online jigsaw puzzle page. The underlined links in the text will take you to exactly where they say they will
I have finally learned how to hyperlink my pictures in posts. I'm feeling very pleased with myself.
Monday, January 26, 2009
I have to tell you about this site. Log on to discover loads of demonstration programs for interactive whiteboard use for Lower Primary and Special Education students. Click on the Evaluation Copy Box when you are in the program. To enter click here.
I am still getting ready to start the school year, so I have been slowly working through my 'Interactive Whiteboard Links', re-familiarising myself with the free materials there. You will find those links in the right margin of the blog. 'Teacher Led' is a new find. I am going to use their alphabet and spelling games in my classroom this semester. The programs are very easy to use and there are a wide range of activities. The site has a number of maths applications that I will also be using. If you would like to check it out for yourself just click here.
Sunday, January 25, 2009
I have just spent a productive couple of hours on the All the Daze web site looking for fresh ideas to help settle my class when they return to school next week. Marcia has loads of free sensory ideas for teachers and parents. I highly reccomend this site. if you would like to check it out too click here!
I love the Mr Men stories and my class loves to read books online, especially on our Smart Board. We have set up Junior Book Shelf for others to read along with us. I teach a junior class, so all the books are at that level. It is linked to our class blog and you will find hundreds of online stories, videos, poems, jokes and audio books to choose from as well as a feature view for the day. Click here and we'll take you there!
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Aside from a serious addiction to blogging I have a major problem with work/life balance. So much so, that when I told my principal that I had decided to take control of the situation and go home earlier at the end of the day he just laughed and passed an unmentionable comment! Which, has made me all the more determined to do it - of course!
I really have to do something about it this year because I am team teaching with a graduate teacher and I don't want to set a poor example. Your first year of teaching is hard enough without dealing with an over zealous colleague!
I have to admit though, it won't be easy.
Did you have a look at the Teacher TV site yesterday?See the post below if you haven't. They have heaps of really good videos about getting the whole work life balance thing happening, teacher burn out how to deal with work place stress and all sorts of topics that are very useful for people like me. I have have already started watching them, but I might need a second or third viewing before I can apply it.
So here is my goal ,which I developed with my principal because I was incapable of coming up with something reasonable on my own!. I am going to leave the school at or before 5:15pm at least 4 days a week. I can stay at work up until 6:00 pm one day a week and beyond 6:00 pm only on a school council meeting nights. Chrissy ( my new colleague) is going to tell me to 'Go home!' if I look like I am falling off the wagon, and an arrange an intervention if it is required. AND, I have to confess on the blog if I blow it! Wish me luck
I just watched an excellent 15 minute long Video, on Teachers TV, called Troubled Minds- 4 Stories. it is an animated film that deals with 4 issues; Eating Disorders, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Aspergers Syndrome and Self harm. The animations are excellent and the narration is nothing short of amazing. If you are in the southern hemisphere is is best to watch Teachers TV early in the morning ( before 11:00) otherwise you get too much buffering. For northern hemisphere dwellers I assume that you would not have difficulties at any time. Follow the links or click here if you would like to have a look.
It is 3:00 in the morning Australian time and stinking hot. I can't sleep so here I am thinking about how I should be asleep. A great opportunity to write about the Online Stopwatch program that I use in my classroom. It could just as easily be used at home to motivate kids to tidy up their room, or finish any kind of task in a set time, where there is access to a computer/laptop.
I embedded mine into my blog, because for the majority of the time during the school day, our class blog is on screen on our interactive white board. I use it to give kids a visual five minute ( or what ever time you want to set it to) warning for pack up or task finishing time. We use it during our 30 minute relaxation session after lunch so that the kids who can't tell the time have a visual aid to help them understand how much time has passed and how much longer until relaxation is finished. I use it in maths sessions when I am teaching kids about time. One favourite is to have the kids turn their backs to the screen and put their hand up when they think a minute is up. The closest to the timer going off is the winner. When we need a quick physical break between activities we count how many jumping jacks we can do or run on the spot for a set time. On really challenging days we see if we can be completely silent for one minute! Kids love playing with it. There are a number of different timers to choose from including an egg timer,a bomb, a clock like a pie chart ( which is the one in the picture) and a regular stopwatch. .Let me know what you think once you have tried it :) Just click here.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Have you come across the Writing Runway program yet? I attached it to my class blog yesterday and I know that I am going to be using it every day during our language block, as an independent activity and during modelled writing time using the interactive whiteboard. You can type a sentence on to the screen and it will place each word in a grid that allows the children to re- write the sentence by clicking on the words and dragging them on to the aeroplane runway in the correct order. There is a great motivator at the end of the task. if your sentence is correct the plane will take off with great sound effects ( which will become very irritating over time!) so headphones would be in order if you are using it as an independent task in a classroom setting. ICT Games has loads of other fantastic interactive educational games and activities so take the time to have a good look around the main sight by clicking on the back button when you have finished looking at the Writing Runway Program or finding the ICT Games site in my ICT links in the right margin of the blog. I will be very interested to hear how other people are using it.
I have loads of visual and interactive sites linked to my blogs because it is the best way to engage and motivate my students to learn. I present my blogs using visual cues too, because it makes it easier for my students and their parents, to locate what they need and figure out how to use the blog. The Visual Aids for Learning free download is a tool that I have been using in my classroom for a number of years in both mainstream and Special Ed classrooms, and it is a tool that I have recommended to many parents to use at home ( with great success). They print out beautifully and come in a range of sizes and applications.If you are unable to afford the more expensive tools such as PECS or Board Maker it is a great starting point. The site is in my Special Education and Autism Resource Links.
I have had a big day at the computer today. My work life balance is a bit out of wack, so I probably need to ban myself from the keyboard tomorrow. I have been busy organising our class blogs for 2009. I have linked some learning centre blogs to our class blog which is now almost finished and can be accessed by clicking on the rocket in the right side margin. I have also spent the day setting up a blog roll on this blog, which is a time consuming task at the best of times, but very time consuming if you start reading and commenting on most of the blogs you are linking. I didn't know how to do it before, so thanks to everyone who paid a visit to some of my favourite blogs when they were on a plain old link list! Any way, the new blog roll area is right at the bottom of this page ( my husband taught me how to use the CTrl/ End short cut to get me down to the bottom of the blog quickly)so I'm feeling very enlightened on a number of levels today. I have spent hours over the last 2 days reading blogs written by people with ASD, their families and the professionals that support them. A really good site to get an insight into living with ASD is 'The Autism Hub'. It is set up so that it is easy to read and locate the sorts of blogs you are interested in reading .
Sunday, January 18, 2009
I debated today as to whether or not to move all of my Autism resource links to a separate blog because they are getting so long. I decided not to, because it goes against the grain for me to set the Austism apart from all of the other aspects of my teaching life. There has been an enormous increase in the number of children with an ASD diagnosis over the past few years. I would be very surprised if most teachers have not worked with at least one child on the Autism Spectrum during their teaching career.I have been reading with interest a blog written by Patricia Robinson . She describes herself as a therapist who works with kids and parents with a focus on social skills for those with Autism, Aspergers and ADHD.The blog is full of fantastic advise and information to share with parents, teachers and other community members. I have copied and pasted a post from her blog below. If you would like to read some more of her posts just click on the link.
'Kids who struggle with social skills, such as those with Asperger’s, autism and ADHD, frequently have difficulty when it comes down to the rules of the games they play. If parents are playing the game, the adults may be flexible and adapt to their children, but it can be a big problem when the children are playing with other kids. Too often the fun of the interaction is ruined by arguments about the rules.
Many children with autism, Asperger’s and ADD tend to be black and white thinkers, and they insist on following the official game rules to the letter. They may become the game’s self appointed judge, reading the box for every detail. That’s fine if all the players are in agreement. But sometimes, the rest of the kids just want to play. They may have their own traditional rules, or they may have come up with their own rules for special circumstances. It’s important for kids to be aware that following the rules is a bit of a gray area. Kids who read social signals easily can pick up on the tone of the game and figure out how methodically their playmates want to follow the rules.
Other children who struggle with social skills love to set up the rules. They may insist that the way they played last time is the only correct way, or the rules used at school must apply at home. Frequently, these individualized rules are complicated and only explained when it’s to the advantage of the rule maker. (As a children’s play therapist, I’ve spent many hours playing games without being told the rules!)
Parents are important in helping kids understand how to play games, and how rigidly the rules should be followed. Think about a friendly poker game versus the World Tournament of Poker. Children need to realize both ideas, “rules are rules” and at the same time, “rules are made to be broken.” It all depends on who’s playing.'
I have spent almost the whole day setting up my blog for this year and looking for resources to plan activities for Semester 1. I came across the Little Fingers web site during the late afternoon. It has 12 free game resources for Junior classes covering a broad range of curriculum areas and an E- Store where you can buy games and download them to your system. I filed it under the' Sites we Love' section of our student blog today because I know that my class will have fun exploring the free section of the site.
Friday, January 16, 2009
I have just finished reading ' Finding a Different Kind of Normal' by Jeanette Purkis. It is an autobiographical account of her life up until very recent times. Jeanette is an Australian artist and the book tells of her journey living with and accepting the diagnosis of Aspergers Syndrome. I was very privileged to hear Jeanette speak last year as part of my Autism Spectrum disorder course through The Autism Teaching Institute (Australia). Her story is both confronting and inspirational on so many levels. The book walks the reader through her trials ( which include time in prison and mental health institutions) and her achievements including her masters degree in Art and working and living independently. I love working with children on the Autism Spectrum, and reading the book has reinforced just how important my job is! Thank goodness the world is now a little more educated in how to nurture the talents of people on the spectrum than it was when Jeanette was struggling through childhood and adolescence. Thanks for the insights Jeanette, and the work that you do in spreading the word, so that others will not have to 'do life' so tough!
I have just spent the day searching for information to add to our new class blog. During my surfing I found a link to this great new online magazine called 'Twiggle Magazine' It is a monthly publication; the first edition was published in October 2008. it is geared toward northern hemisphere students but has a lot to offer us southern hemesphere dwellers too! It is packed full of games and information and has loads of great links to really worthwhile sites. I will be checking in each month and encouraging the kids in my class to visit the site regularly. I like the idea of providing the kids with a site that they can look forward to visiting each month, knowing there will be a 'secret' new topic to explore. The current issue has a polar bear focus, with environmental themes woven through it. Well worth a look!