Tag Archives: Education

40 Open Education Resources You Should Know About | Edudemic

11 Jul

A fantastic list of resources for adults and kids.  Documentaries, programming, information.  Oh my!  Check it out…

40 Open Education Resources You Should Know About | Edudemic.

I plan on looking at each resources and sending my kid links to “assignments” (watch, read, do, etc…) and cc’ing his dad on them so that maybe we can get out of the SSDD of summer break.   Not that my kid is just sitting in front of the TV, but he has been more self-propelled this year than ever before.  He has been teaching himself how to use Raspberry Pi, Linux, Python, Scratch, and more things that made me finally understand how overwhelmed and somewhat alienated and antiquated my parents felt when I became more tech savvy in the late 80’s/early 90’s.   I couldn’t remember a keyboard shortcut the other day, and I pride myself on my resourcefulness (read: I don’t ask for help unless it’s a last resort.  The results of this creed have found me in numerous situations learning experiences that would have escaped my eager grasp, had I not been endowed with such tenacity) but I went to holler an inquiry to Alex instead of seeking the answer the “me way”.

It’s surprising, to me, how technology has grown since I left the traditional workforce over nine years ago, due to illness.      It’s mind blowing, to me, that Alex’s education is largely technology based, but more organically than I would have imagined a few years ago.  Technology is there as a medium and I can’t imagine it having more impact than in a classroom for children with communication disorders, as the technology offers the versatility, when combined with traditional analog methods, to meet the needs of the kids concurrently.   Kind of neat.

So Alex has been playing with technology, this summer and  I have been flexing my problem solving skills. I’m trying to explore how we can integrate technology into our world, here at home, without investing in some of the ready to go tech that is so out of reach for us, financially, and in a pseudo-organic way so that it is less of a distraction, more of a functional tool, and less of a superpower with the ability to create human islands in a little condo in SW Florida.

Anyway, check out the link and the resources on that list.  There were some that I was familiar with and others that made me giddy with anticipation.

Did they miss any?  Please share, in the comments, if there are any you would add and I will do the same.

Hope your summer is going well!

B

 

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For me?

16 Jun

School’s out FOREVER. It’s true. Kiddo’s school closed for good- no camp this year, no brand new school year in August. The economy and the resulting drops in enrollment have left us scrambling for options for his second grade year, and without an appropriate summer program. Eeeeek! Trying to figure it all out, trying to heal and get strong (I now have Enbrel on board), trying to get our shidoobie together as it feels like we’ve been in survival mode for far too long and that stress has taken quite a toll on all three of us.

I’m sad about the school closing, but also aware that this is an opportunity to change things up and maybe put a more holistic program into place for kiddo and for me.

Necessity is the mother of invention and the mountains that appear unconquerable at first, in time become the source of great opportunity and unparalleled learning.

Puttin’ mah boots on and waiting on a new pair of wellies for kiddo. We’ll climb the mountain, and stomp in a few puddles before this summer cools off.

xo
Bek

Homework, Demons, and Metaphorical Mountain Climbing

16 Apr

We all want our kids to do well.  Sometimes, I know Alex is working his butt off but people who are not me, who do not live with him, who have not struggled to achieve almost every childhood milestone with him, cheering him on, cannot see the effort.

I think this probably happens to most parents at some point in their child’s education, but I have a hunch that those of us with kids who aren’t just “wash and wear” (wash and wear kids are born, hit their milestones, and for the most part only visit a regular pediatrician) have this feeling more frequently.

I sometimes feel this need, this drive, to correct the tiny things, the little oopses, so my kid can shine and people will stop seeing only the little tiny bits that need extra care and all sorts of implements and technical terms and see him as the whole, amazing person he truly is.

Which is, well, what we all want.  It’s just that Johnny (generic Johnny, not a real kid) never got the raised eyebrow from the pediatrician or the talk in the hallway from the preschool teacher (and the business card with the number of Easter Seals on it)… But Alex did. So for me, at least, that makes every victory that much sweeter and as his Mama it makes me fiercely defend what he can do.  And he works hard. Really hard. Other kids in his class have playdates and sports and even siblings. We don’t have time for that. We have Asperger’s (his and mine) and a whole buffet of physical disabilities (mine) that make this “acceptable”(for a typically developing child) amount of homework one of the only activities our family has time for.

I realize that my child may look lazy or confrontational at times or like he just isn’t listening. But he isn’t those things and he is listening.  When his teacher said “Alex, you only do your homework when you feel like it” she devastated him.   Alex doesn’t “feel” like doing 4 hours of homework every night.  Alex doesn’t feel like missing out on all physical activity and fun because he struggles to understand and at the end of a 6.5 hour school day, the last thing he is ready to do is put his nose in the books and pencil to paper.  He needs time and space to decompress. Any kid would.

I give him two rules for his day as he stands by the elevator in the morning, “Have a great day” and “Do your best”.  I am at the point where wishing him a great day seems too loaded, because then he feels like he broke a major rule if he doesn’t have a great day and that’s the worst thing for him because  Alex doesn’t break rules. He can’t. He’s not wired that way.

So we are waiting for our meeting with the teacher.  I don’t think that she really understands our kid. We gave them piles of information (and well crafted summaries, so as not to overwhelm). I feel like they were ignored and here we are.

I feel like we can’t ask for anything because it’s a private school. I feel like we can’t push it because we can’t put him in our local public school. And I’m too sick to home school him and 18 months of zero income and sky high COBRA health insurance and being sick is expensive. These things have left us so deep in the hole that the future is forever changed and we are indeed so very stuck.

Alex broke down yesterday and told me that he hates school.  He said that everyone makes fun of him all day long.

I broke down too. Because that’s my kid. And there is no way in hell (or Florida) that I will let him experience what I experienced at his age and most of my life with my peers and with some adults.  I don’t have to worry about him not being accepted by his parents, because he is mine and no matter the challenge, he will have me by his side, ready to tackle it.  But schoolwork is making up 100% of his days since they bumped him into the first grade.  And if he hates school, that sadness, that feeling of rejection, is riding on his shoulders.  The kid is brilliant, I can’t have his self esteem or his desire to learn squashed this way.

So we are waiting for the meeting.

And I’m compiling bits of evidence to share with the teacher and the administrator that show how Alex’s mind works and that he isn’t being a defiant little brat, but that this is his neurology. This is his wiring.  It is amazing and it makes him who he is and he is a spectacular human being with an incredible mind and a spirit that needs to be supported and encouraged and not squashed like some unsavory kitchen pest.

So here’s the evidence from today.  Here are Alex’s spelling words:

He has a bunch of activities for homework, every week, that involve the spelling words.  The activities are actually pretty cool, as the kids learn spelling, grammar, etc…  But with the amount of homework, Jeff has found that the best way to tackle these things are to get Alex to first transcribe the words onto lined paper and then go through word by word cracking out the activities for each word, assembly line style (or “Robot Style” as Alex and Jeff prefer to call it as it is much cooler sounding).  So I had Alex transcribe his week 3 words 3x today.

Do you notice anything?  I was going to correct him at first…

See how “photographs” (his handwriting has come so far in the past few months!) is above the dotted line on the paper?

I said to him “Hey Alex, why isn’t photographs on the bottom line?”

And he said, because that is how it is written on the list of spelling words from the teacher and he told me that he has to write it the same way or she’ll be annoyed that he didn’t follow how it was written on the paper.

So I looked.

Here it is again:

To fit the word “photographs” in the list they had to shrink the font.  So the bottom tail of the “p” isn’t touching the line at the bottom of the box it is printed in, the way the rest of the p’s on the list do.

So he wrote it above the bottom line on his paper, so it would be precise enough for him to avoid reprimand.

I had him leave it alone rather than explaining it and rewriting it. Don’t worry, I’m not throwing him under a future bus, I will explain it to him but just not until I get to talk to the teacher or we are eyeball deep in next week’s words because otherwise he will flip his lid until he can correct it.  I told him that it was indeed written that way and that I would talk to his teacher about it.

I want to scream “SEE! SEE!” and jump up and down in the schoolhouse.  I want them to see that this isn’t attitude or defiance or stubbornness or just some weird but average kid who demands things his way.  This is MY kid. My wonderful amazing kid who has Asperger’s Syndrome and he doesn’t ever  break the rules.  Breaking rules is actually painful to him.  Writing the word “photographs” on the regular line would have been breaking a rule to him.  And all he wants his teachers and the other kids to see is that he is a good boy and that rules are important and that he always follows them and they can rely on him to remind them of the rules or even teach them new rules, rules that aren’t strange and bossy rules, they are rules that if everyone followed them our world would be a much calmer and happier place.

He occasionally makes up rules.  Like the list of rules he made for Jeff and me when we were upset about something.   He wrote his observation, “They weren’t happy” and his new rule “Be happy” in the little notebook that I used to help him draw paw prints in (I would leave post-its with paw prints around the house for him… it was our own little game of Blue’s Clues).

But other than that he just really wants people to:

Not run in the classroom

Be nice

Use indoor voices when indoors

Help each other

Not tap pencils when other people are trying to concentrate

Not talk when the teacher has said “No Talking” (and he always gets in trouble for talking during this time because he is trying to tell the kids who were talking initially that there is “no talking”)

Know what a good friend he is (he reminds me of this all the time.. I know what a great friend he is, but he wants a chance for the other kids to find out)

Respect electricity.

Are those rules really that far out and unreasonable?

I don’t think so.

And I’m not coddling my kid.

I just need people who have contact with him on a daily basis and are supposed to be fostering a love of learning to know that he is indeed organically different from the other kids in the class.  I need people who have contact with him occasionally (very occasionally) who have not given me the benefit of the doubt to give him the benefit of the doubt, and if they truly love him, to give him that benefit of the doubt while not taking advantage of our overly kind nature and our desire to fit in.

Every kid is different.

My kid is different from all of those kids.

We just need people to respect the differences and not make assumptions about our kid, about us.

I have lived my whole life with people judging me and not giving me the benefit of the doubt, my brain is full of facts to defend every action I have ever taken.  But that stops now.  I am who I am. Alex is who he is.  I’m sick and tired of dealing with other people’s laziness and closed mindedness and I am just not going to tolerate it anymore.  I’m so full of this frustration and anger lately and digging up old bones more than usual because I need to figure out where I screwed up – not in what could I have done differently to not provoke the wrath of various people- but rather what did I do to make them think they could treat me the way that they did.   And there isn’t an easy answer.  This isn’t about self-help books or talk shows. It’s about people treating each other in a mindful way and not always taking the easy and selfish route. And it will be a cold day in hell (Florida?) before I let Alex become a doormat for other people’s demons and desires.  And the best way I can do that is to stand up for myself and be the best damn role-model I can be. After all, I’m his Mama and his best friend, and together we can scale or topple anything that gets in our way.

Chances are though, we will still politely ask it to step aside first.

Then we’ll topple the daylights out it.

*cue soundtrack to Legend of Billie Jean…Glad I hid my haircutting scissors and Jeff’s clippers before I decided to blog this evening*

xo
Bek
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I’m compiling a list….

10 Apr

This is the image that came with the frame, it has nothing to do with the following post.Of silly things that I believed or that happened to me along the way… The baldguy calls these types of things “the adventures of lil’ Bekka”… The list is of things that aren’t necessarily Asperger’s specific….

A list of incidents, some of them hilarious in retrospect….

My first one:  I spent a good part of my childhood living in the woods and we didn’t have cable.  We certainly were not roughing it, but there was a great deal of wooded land belonging to a nature preserve surrounding us. So we didn’t have cable.  I didn’t see most of the classic John Hughes movies until they showed up on regular network TV, with most language voice-over bleeped… Fudge or Flip instead of Fu%$.  I didn’t realize until a couple of years ago (two years past thirty) that this was the case, I thought it was hilarious that these onscreen characters used regular words instead of swearing.

So of course, when I would quote the movies, trying to make a wee social inlet, I would always be quoting them wrong… Needless to say, most of the kids in the areas we lived in had cable (and were often shocked to find out that we didn’t) and they didn’t get my reference, only that this weirdo new kid was really bad at paraphrasing pop culture.

I remember my mother trying to teach me to speak more “properly”  and was making me do the whole pronouncing the “h” first in wh words like “over hwelm”. Needless to say, my new dialect went over like a lead balloon in the 8th grade social scene.

I remember thinking that McDonald’s was a family business.  The animals for the meat were sent to McDonald’s kitchens by Old McDonald’s Farm. I had not seen the farm MacD/McD written when I came up with this theory.  Of course, being very literal, I kept thinking about this when I read Animal Farm for the first time (hey, if you don’t know what it’s about it’s an interesting and occasionally charming story about a community of farm animals and nothing more…this is why it shouldn’t be given as summer reading to 11 year olds.)…  I think I may have volunteered “I don’t think they were sending Boxer to the glue factory, but to McDonald’s instead” to the conversation once school resumed.   I should have been wearing a helmet, what with all of the lead balloons I was apparently carrying about.

But the most horrifying and dramatic one happened in 5th grade.  We were being shipped to the middle school for a day for a sort of peer orientation.  A couple of days before we were given a slip of paper with the name of a 6th grader who would be our guide through a day in the life of middle school.  My person’s name was possibly the most Greek name in the history of the world.  When I got home, my mom told me that my guide was probably new to our country and I should make her feel at home by learning about the history of her land and culture.  So I sat down to read information on Greece from our ancient, outdated encyclopedias.  The next day I was positive that I would be making a connection with this Greek guide-ess, because I did exactly what my mother suggested.  Well, when I met her she was like any other kid in the class. Her heritage was Greek, her grandparents may have been the first generation here in the US, and despite my many enthusiastic attempts to talk about something we both theoretically had knowledge of (all things Greek), she continued to look a little puzzled every time I opened my mouth and I don’t think she ever spoke to me again.

Those encyclopedias were classics though… I believe they were published in the early 60’s, so by the 1980’s they were fairly outdated, but still they were my only source of information for writing papers for school. After all, children, this was pre-internet.  For some reason I thought the library was for people who were not fortunate enough to own their own set of encyclopedias.  As my folks weren’t involved in my academics aside from comparing me to cousins and family friends and pointing out my foibles and failures, I was responsible for figuring out what and how I was supposed to get by.  I didn’t know until high school that there were techniques for structuring essays (clearly I have disregarded them in my adulthood, my apologies) or methods by which to gather information.  If I had been an alien from another planet, observing human life, I would have incorrectly assumed that essays are written by yelling and shaking a fist in the air and throwing desk accessories and walls and people, while the younger member of the species sits in a chair, head hung low, and smudges the paper with pencil and tears and eraser dingles.   I am so grateful, now, that I have these memories though, as I remember writing endless papers (yeah, there is a surprise) and reading the encyclopedias from cover to cover (starting at age 4) and now it is so clear why all of my papers were returned with red question marks next to every fact.  It just took me a long time to grasp that information provided by parents is not always 100% accurate.  It took the challenge of educating my own child, for me to realize the important of accurate and up to date information to be used for academic purposes, and also where it was ok to to make some things up along the way.

Anyone want to share some of their childhood silliness?  Promise I’ll laugh but only if you do!

xo

B

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!

2 Mar

Have a magical, seussical, wonderful day! Want to have some fun? Check out Seussville and then head on over to the Read Across America site for ideas on celebrating the birthday of Dr. Seuss! Need a copy of your favorite Seuss adventure? Amazon has them!

Here’s an oldie, but goody… Alex at age 3, reading Go Dogs Go… Enjoy!

What Seuss piece is your favorite? My most favorite, if I have to pick just one, is:

My Many Colored Days
xo

Bek

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