Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Keeping Up With Jimmy: Holiday Edition

Well hello there again everyone!!! I cannot believe the holiday season is upon us and the weather is getting colder here in Connecticut. PS I hate the winter, I am a summer girl through and through. Anyways, we are finally in our “school” schedule and am still trying to keep up with Jimmy and the cabin fever that is already starting to set in. We had a wonderful Halloween, Jimmy was Gale from Hunger Games complete with Bow and Arrows. Jimmy for the first time in his life actually followed through with carving a “scary” jack-o-lantern. Ever since Jimmy went blind I have tried to do this with him so he could feel the textures of the outside and inside of the pumpkin and every year in vain just after cutting the top and playing with the goo he is over it. What I have done to allow him to do it is let him do the cutting. I give him a little hands on hands direction so he gets the feeling of what it feels like and then hope he can follow…lol We did the same thing this year and he actually did it all on his own. As for trick-o-treating we go with friends and I let him walk to and from doorsteps with his cane and friends. They are always there for help and he loves the independence and not to mention all the candy (which may or may not be hidden from him as to slow consumption, just saying).
The next holiday we must tackle is Thanksgiving, luckily we usually have it at our house so I don’t have to worry about new surroundings and trying to navigate that. The only thing he has to worry about is maybe an addition table set up but knows where we always put and it NEVER changes. Unfortunately I have a child who doesn’t really want to help with the cooking of the meal, honestly can’t say I blame him (sorry Oma). But what I have and continue do is make him help set the table or bring things from the basement and so on. He truly loves this holiday, he is one boy who LOVES to have family around just talking and laughing. 
Jimmy helping to stuff the turkey!
After this fabulous holiday where all that matters is family and gratitude for what we have (might be my favorite) we have Christmas. Christmas is his favorite holiday as it is for most children. One thing that happens at our house is that Santa knows how to Braille. All presents for Jimmy have Brailled labels on them so he can find and locate his own presents around the Christmas tree. The first year this happened he could not believe that Santa could Braille and my simple answer was that Santa is magical so of course he can Braille, he has to be able to speak and write all the languages of the countries he has to go to so why wouldn’t he know Braille. He was quite happy with this answer.  So Santa gets the Brailler out and makes the labels, yes it can be undaunting for the amount he might need (mind you they are also made for presents from his grandparents and of course from Mom), BUT to see the smile on his face each Christmas morning finding his own gifts without assistance makes it all worth it. As the years go on Christmas shopping is becoming more and more difficult as Jimmy gets older. When he was younger it was awesome, I just bought him all the hands on toys I could and let him go wild. Now that he is getting older I am finding it harder and harder to figure out what to do for Christmas. He is almost getting too old for toys and all his friends play video games and are away from “toys”.  So as I sit here and write this all I can possibly come up with is maybe a cell phone, which he has been asking for, for years now, but even that I wonder is, is he really old ENOUGH for his own cell phone. This is when being a mom of a blind child gets tricky. I don’t want to buy him toys and make him think he is a baby any more but then on the other hand what does a 10 year old little man actually want? We can do board games, which we have and have modified them ourselves with a braille labeler but what could that BIG present be now that he can’t really use the items his friends get? And this my friends is the question I will leave you with and if you have any ideas let me know :)

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Transition Lesson Plans

Hi friends,
This week I am sharing an awesome resource for teaching about transition. This resource comes from AFB's Career Connect. Go to their main page: You can find the Career Connect link under the Living with Vision Loss tab, select "For Job Seekers" from the drop down menu. Once on the Career Connect page, look to the right side of the screen and look at the "For Job Seekers" menu. There are  many choices but I want you to focus on "Lesson Plans for Teachers and Professionals" link. Click on it!

The lesson plans cover a variety of topics related to transition, work, social skills, etc. Today we are going to click on the "Social Skills" link (see below):

Once in the topic, there are a variety of lessons that you can use! You can customize them to fit your student's needs. 

Each lesson has a section where you can clearly identify how this topic relates to an IEP goal, how to start the lesson, exercises and discussion topics. One thing that I really like about this is that these lesson plans have the access that multiple members of the education team can use. Guidance counselors, general education teachers, vocational instructors and parents can all access what the TVI is teaching. 

Transition skills can play a vital part of the education needs of youth with vision impairments. Transition planning starts at age 16 but we often see it as early as age 14. Transition falls under the career education section of the Expanded Core Curriculum. For several students, transition means meeting with the Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) counselor to discuss post high school plans. VR counselors can be invited to IEP meetings. There is a nice, easy read on what transition is on the site teaching students with vision impairments,
I feel like we put a lot of front loading effort into transition teaching. This means that we teach a lot about how to get a job, career shadowing, resume writing and tips for interviewing. An area that I feel like we are not teaching strongly enough is how to keep a job. How do students learn how to be good long term employees? Do our students know the difference between having a career and having a job? I believe that we need to make better efforts in these areas. The Expanded Core Curriculum helps with these areas! Independent living skills, compensatory skills, social skills, assistive technology, orientation and mobility and of course, self determination all directly relate to this!! So let's start making sure that we are consistently teaching ECC skills instruction as we address transition.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Have you played Left Center Right?

Hi friends,
Sorry I have been out of the loop this past week. We have been celebrating Halloween like crazy (it seems like we have been nonstop for the past week!). I am back and this is the first of three new posts that I have been waiting to share. This first one is about a fun new game I learned about while making some new TVI friends in Nebraska a couple of weeks ago. The game is called Left Center Right. It's not a new game but it was new to me. This fab classroom TVI uses it as motivation for her students. They have to get all their work done, quiz review, etc. on time in order to play LCR. She introduces it at the beginning of the school year and then slowly fades herself out of the game play so that it's just her students.

In case you were like me and had never heard of this popular game, here's an overview that I found on 
LCR, short for "Left, Center, Right", is a very simple game. Yet it has acquired many fans from all over the world. It is played with three dice and a handful of chips, but it can provide excitement. Yet the fact is in L-C-R there is little strategy involved. Once a player sits in on a game, the outcome is left entirely to the three dice.

... is an excellent game for young children. This seems incongruous, but played with chips, children are continuously confronted with the imperative to pass one or more chips to either the right or to the left. They learn the distinction quickly playing this fast paced game.

This TVI also swaps out the provided chips with larger plastic coins because they are easier to manipulate for her students. I like that she has it on a tray (defined work space!!) and uses a cup for rumbling the dice. She didn't have to make any other modifications to the dice as most students could tactually figure out what was rolled. 

You can buy this game for about $13 almost anywhere. This TVI gives them out as Christmas presents. That's a fun stocking stuffer! I loved this game the moment she started describing it to me. This isn't just a game, but is a great tool for teaching ECC! Is your brain listing all the areas of the ECC? Lead of with recreation and leisure but what other areas you can incorporate into a lesson? I won't give away all the answers but there's several of the nine areas that you can incorporate. I even added Left Center Right into our family game night rotation! My family loves it!