Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Let's Make Some Cookies!!

I saw these clever cooking aids at AER this August and loved them!! I was attending Kelly Cote's presentation. Kelly teaches out of Perkins School for the Blind. I knew I had to get a picture and share them (plus use them myself!).

In case you can't tell, you are actually looking at two different aids here. One is the green one and the other the maroon guide. You can use them for accurate cookie dough placement (well, you can use them for any kind of food placement but I prefer cookies!). 

The green guide was made out of shelf liner. You can buy it for a dollar at Dollar Tree! She used a sharpie and a razor and cut out the squares. Student chefs can place the dough right in the openings and then lift off the guide. Viola! Perfectly placed cookies! The maroon one is the same concept as the green one only you can slide it so it sits in the corner and acts as a guide that you can track. Both are easy peasy modifications and easy to replicate if destroyed. You can also use a bright red grip liner (especially for our CVI students). 

Make a few of these guides for the coming holiday cookie season. Halloween is just around the corner! I also love these guides because students of all abilities can use these. Children with multiple impairments can find the openings (and practice systematic search patterns). 

Try it at home: This is easy--make some cookies! My favorite are chocolate chip!!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Can You Tell My Teacher?

I couldn't wait until next week to post this! I participate in all of our in-services for general education teachers and paraprofessionals. I present on items relating to the ECC specifically independent living skills. These are my favorite in-services to do because I can get down and honest with general education teachers about letting our students be independent in the classroom.

I decided to ask my students a few questions to get their feedback to help me with my in-service.
What are the most frustrating things about working with new general education teachers & explaining your vision impairment?
Do most teachers seem to understand?
How is it when you share your vision statements?

  • Cooper Joseph Babycakes Kendall It is an eye opener. But it also takes a while for them to get the hang of it. But it is a neat thing to teach them what then need to do for me and my vision
    September 8 at 8:55pm ·  ·  2 people

  • Cody Laplante Sometimes they treat me like I am so sensitive about it. Either they get really uncomfortable when it comes up, they treat me like I am in Kintergarten or they try to ask my parents what to do. They eventually get the idea that I can speak for myself but it takes a while.
    September 8 at 9:03pm ·  ·  1 person

  • Cooper Joseph Babycakes Kendall KINTERGARTEN NICE CODY
    September 8 at 9:04pm · 

  • Gwen Vartanian It can be hard to explain at times, but they do eventually get it. Teachers try to understand and help which is really nice. I don't mind educating others about my vision impairment.
    September 8 at 9:06pm · 

  • Cody Laplante Hahaha it's true! I once had a teacher that came over and knelt next to my desk and in that sweet elementary voice said "So what do you need from me?"
    September 8 at 9:06pm ·  ·  2 people

  • Cody Laplante True and there are definitely some teachers are very good about holding me accountable and just not making it awkward but others.......not so much hahaha
    September 8 at 9:08pm ·  ·  2 people

  • Cooper Joseph Babycakes Kendall word
    September 8 at 9:09pm · 

  • Savannah Carmack Its actually kind of annoying.... When they hear of your vision impairment they will sometimes talk to your parents like your not even there.... when your standing right there! Then they will point it out right in class and change the whole lesson plan to accomodate you.... kind of embarrassing.... It seems as though the high school teachers are alot more understandint then elementary or even middle school. They are alot more cool about it and i like thar more of these teachers expect me to advocate for myself and tell them when we first me whats up..... otherwise they wont say anything.... unless they have a question. I cant tell that they are really trying.... Like you said Robbin.... They just dont get it.
    September 8 at 9:53pm ·  ·  1 person

  • Savannah Carmack I do like that i am like.... famous in my school.... I am not kidding you when I tell you that every teacher know me! When i walk down the hall and a teacher wll say hi to me and I would be like.... uh... hey... I am a legend in my school! All becaus I am almost bllind! Who knew!
    September 8 at 10:03pm ·  ·  1 person

  • Michelle Alexandra Ward most of them understand, its just i have to keep reminding them when they do no enlarge something. and they forget to write in black a lot. and most teachers like me because i always do my work lol :D
    September 10 at 12:15pm · 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Email Glitches are Fixed!!

Hello blogland!
I recently discovered that I had a problem with my gmail account, robbin.keating@gmail.com and haven't received any emails since June! I just straightened things out and have replied to everyone who has emailed me over the past few months. Ugh, I feel terrible that I hadn't replied sooner!!  Everything is back up and running smoothly so please feel free to continue emailing me. I am happy to hear about your children, comments, ideas and suggestions for blog topics! I love being part of the vision community. 

My philosophy is the whole family approach. I believe in teaching families, not just my students. I believe this because the family is the best classroom for any child. It doesn't matter what your family is composed of--if you guys are in it together, then you are family! After all, when I leave your house, it's you guys who have to do all the work. I'm not there everyday!

 I love getting to know all of you. Please keep the emails coming. I look forward to meeting you via email or at conferences, workshops or in-services. If you are in Connecticut, we have our series of in-services starting this Friday (for birth to three). I will be there as the afternoon speaker on the ECC. 

Again, my sincere apologies for not replying to emails sooner! If I don't reply to you in 72 hours, email me again!! That's what I tell people about emailing me at work. I would never want someone to wait for me for such a long time. I always reply to emails, even if it is just to say a quick thank you. 
Email me: robbin.keating@gmail.com

The Best Kind of 'Home Work': Chores!!

Do you read FamilyFun magazine? I do and I love it! They have some of the best ideas. My favorite section of the magazine is the "it worked for me" section where parents write in with ideas, tips, etc. I read my FamilyFun during our weekly library visit. I love to read old issues and scope out new ideas. I snap pictures of my fave ideas to archive for later use with my kids.

I also am always on the watch for new ideas to with my students. I came across this job chart during my latest library reading time. I believe in chores, stewardship (that's what I call it in my family), jobs, family responsibilities---whatever you call them, for children. I am not going to lecture anyone on how to parent their children (that's the first thing I tell my parents/families when I come to their homes to work with them). My children are 4 & 5 and have daily chores but I have come to learn that not every family operates like that. 

You may have a family that doesn't operate with weekly or daily chores. That's fine.....but let me ask you this, how does your child with a vision impairment learn about independent living skills (ILS)? ILS must be embedded in your child's daily routine--period. Your child will not learn the crucial ILS if they do not engage in them everyday. They don't have to be the same chores everyday but they do have to be something. They cannot acquire these skills at school. School instruction can be supplemental but it's still artificial because they don't live in their classrooms (clearly residential programs designed especially for children with vision impairments are excluded from that last statement).

 I recommend 20 minutes (minimum!!) of ILS daily for my students (regardless of their age). That equates to about 4-5 chores. Those chores can be anything from clearing the table, helping prep dinner, cleaning a bedroom/bathroom/family room---anything!! Students can get the mail, pack their own backpacks, lunches (even their parents' lunches!) or order the pizza for dinner that night. Start as early in age as possible! Like I said, my children are in PreK and K and have been doing chores for the last two years. Elementary, tween, middle school and especially high school age students need to have the reality check of doing chores everyday. They must do this by hands-on experiences everyday. I know, I am on my soap box about this but I tell you this---the students that have regular chores, expectations to have ILS and can do these skills are the ones who are on the path to an independent life. Need chore ideas? You have a couple of easy resources at your fingertips. You can email your TVI or you can consult the Texas School for the Blind Independent Living Skills Assessment (ILSA). Remember me talking about the ILSA? It's not so much of an assessment as it is a checklist divided by age. And last but never least, you can always email yours truly (robbin.keating@gmail.com).

But now back to a fun find that I found in FamilyFun. I loved this job chart! It has lots of fun potential for our kiddos with the right modifications. See picutre below for the ideas and the "how to's". This is great because it has the who tactual feel to it. You can easily modify this. Here's how:
-Clear Braille labels on top of the print (always put print with the Braille so you can read it, too!)
-Use contrasting colors. They used green and yellow. Make sure you avoid busy patterns with paper!
-Use an easy to read font like Arial in the font size that works best for your child.

You may not do this DIY Vision Project but just remember: Every child needs 20 minutes (minimum) of independent living skills (ILS is straight out of the Expanded Core Curriculum!) so find the chores that work best for your family and your child and go for it! Here's to increased independent living skills!!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Here is the beep baseball handout that I promised. It's a really good reader friendly handout on how to play beep baseball. 

Beep Baseball Guide
Compiled by John Peralta, Adapted PE Teacher
·        Six (6) innings of play, unless more are needed to break a tie.
·        Three (3) outs per inning. An out is made if the ball if fielded before the runner gets to his or her padded cylinder (Beeping Bag/base).
·        A batter is allowed four (4) rather than the traditional three (3) strikes and only one (1) pass ball. The fourth swing must be a clean miss.
·        Each team has its own sighted pitcher and catcher.
·        First and third bases, four foot padded cylinders with speakers, are placed one-hundred (100) feet down their respective lines and ten (10) feet off the foul line.
·        Pitcher stands 20ft away from batter (traditional (90ft). The catcher gives pitcher a target to throw at, preferably where the batter normally swings.
·        A hit ball must travel at least forty (40) feet to be considered fair. A hit ball that does not reach the forty (40) foot line is considered foul. A ball that travels one hundred eighty (180) feet in the air is considered a home run.
·        Six person defense (traditional 9) with a number system.

·        Pitcher is obligated to clearly verbalize two words. He must say "ready" just before the ball is about to be released and as the ball is being released, the pitcher says, "Pitch" or "ball." These two words alert the batter.
·        Pitcher does not field but still plays crucial part in the game. A pitcher success is major by the amount of runs his or her team scores. Prefer a high Era unlike traditional ball.
·        A hit ball rebounded off the pitcher is ruled no pitch. It helps for pitchers to be quick and agile.

·        Good grip on bat, level swing and listen to the pitcher ready commend and pitch or ball to get yourself ready to swing.
·        Batter is allowed to pass on a ball if he or she can’t hear the pitchers ready or pitch command.
·        Once batter has made contact with ball either first or third base will beep.

·        Six players on defense with numbers starting with  the first baseman as one; two, right fielder; three, middle; four, left fielder; five, third baseman; and six, back fielder.
·        There are two sighted spotters positioned in the outfield, one on either side of the field. These people are very important to a team’s success. They need to make quick and accurate calls (fielder’s numbers) to where the ball is heading. Ex (ball is hit towards left field the spotters most yell 4 so that all fielders move towards the ball).Spotters may only call out one number if they call out more than one number the runner is awarded the run. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Beep Baseball in PE Class

My students and I are doing something really cool in PE class! We are teaching beep baseball as part of their PE classes! It's great because we are able to do some disability awareness in their classes. My students and I play beep at almost all of our sports & rec programs. The thing that I love is that I am not the teacher for this. My students are! I bring the equipment (and loan it to the school) but my students are the ones who stand in front of their classes and teach. It makes me smile with pride :) This is something that we are really going forward with for this school year. My students are emailing their PE teachers and setting it all up on their own (yep, that is a little ECC skill that we are working on...). 
photo from online wsj.com

The great thing about playing beep is that everyone gets blindfolded so there is no visual advantage for anyone. The other great thing about beep in the classroom is that it is great for all grades! My second and third graders play beep at programs. You can partner with your TVI to go to younger kids. It's also a great way to practice self-advocacy and social skills with younger students. They can still help present. I love it with my older students because it's fun to watch them teach their peers.  

I've also posted a beep baseball tutorial starring the fabulous APE teacher, Justin Haegele (with two of my students assisting) so teams can watch how to play. I will also post a reader friendly handout that was compiled by another awesome PE teacher (who has joined our awesome teaching team at programs). I wanted to post about teaching beep in schools for one other reason. This is the time that we are doing all of our in-services--for Braille education, low vision, paras, etc. Our kids are also presenting in their general ed classes about vision. This is a really fun way to let other students in on the vision community. 

You can also play beep baseball with your family or at family reunions, church outings---anywhere! 

Here's what you need to play:

  • Large cones
  • Baseball tee
  • Bats (I use assorted softball sizes for the little ones. We also put yellow tape on the bat to help with contrast, check it out in the video)
  •  Beep baseball (we order ours from Qwest. You can order via the National Beep Ball Association, NBBA, http://nbba.org/equipment.htm). Make sure you buy the beep balls and the chargers--trust me! The cost is $31 a ball, $8 a charger. That's a great price!)
  • Bases (as you can see from the video I posted, we have used APH Sound Sources several times. You can order Sound Sources, on quota funds usually, at www.aph.org. You can also get bases for about $300 from NBBA. Those are the standard kind. I recently purchased some from Flaghouse for about $900).
  • Blindfolds (you can go fancy and buy ones or use bandannas--we've done that, too!
Again, I will post the directions/rules/modifications for playing beep tomorrow. You can use the three posts on beep to get you started with your own game!!

Still feel stuck with understanding? Don't worry! Email me and help will be on the way. 
Play ball!!

Beep Baseball Tutorial A

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Follow me by email

Hey there blogland,
I just added the "follow me by email" gadget. I know that not everyone has a gmail account to follow me on. Now you can follow me by email! Remember, I update every Tuesday (usually...) with something awesome relating to the Expanded Core Curriculum.  Feel free to email me with topic suggestions, questions or comments. See you next week!!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Back to School Cool!

Happy back to school!

I hope everyone has gotten off to a great start. Back to school is crazy and exciting but for our kids, it's also the time they make their rounds with their teachers to review their vision statements. Does your child have a vision statement? A vision statement is a document that explains the vision impairment, modifications and anything else that the general education teacher needs to know. I know most of the students in CT have them. Our TVIs help them write them. This year I was so proud to see that one of high school age students made a brochure for her vision statement. It was so cool!

Parents, have you read your childs' vision statement? I think kids as young as fourth grade can handle coming in right before school starts and present their vision statements. Vision statements are also awesome for our kids because it also helps with some self-advocacy training. Our kids, when mature, should be the ones out there educating their general education teachers about their vision impairments with supports from their TVI or parent.

So....if your child doesn't have a vision statement, get one!

Next on our back to school discussion is how to addres the disability sensitivity issue. This is much easier to do in the elementary through middle school. High school isn't really the environment for my ideas but have no fear, I have one or two good ones for high school!

Here's a few of my ideas for elementary and middle school:
-- Vision simulation fun! Grab the simulator goggles and sleep shades and have some fun with mobility, independent living skills and classroom organization.
-- Vision inspired activities!
*Edible Braille (see my post on it) is a super fun one. We even do it for the paraprofessionals when they come to Braille day.
* I also like to do the Tactual Challenge with my students. The Tactual Challenge uses a box filled with everyday items in it. Students have to be blindfolded (no vision! even my print readers) and have to name as many items as they can pull out. They get a point for every correct item they identify in one minute. Before you play this game, preface it with about learning tactually. Take time to discuss the importance of correctly identifying objects for people with vision impairments.
*Braille Bug & The Braille Trail--These are great activities for Braille awareness. Heres' the one thing that I do that's unique. I don't let the sighted kids get the Braille Code dot combinations. That means that the numbers to each cell aren't on them. Instead, the sighted peers have to go to the Braille reader, give them the dot combination and then solve the puzzle. I do an overview of Braille before to get everyone familiar. www.afb.org/braillebug

For high school kids...
High school is just tricky because the social climate is different and the disability awareness units aren't like they are in middle school. You can do several of the activities with a little modifications that I listed above with high school classes. It really depends on the teachers.
One idea that I do is to reach out to the physical education teachers and offer to teach goalball and beep baseball in PE. I like to have my student be the teacher (and me play the dazzling role of assistant). They are great sports to play during PE. Everyone can play!

I hope everyone is off to good start with their new school years! Remember, if you have a teacher or education team that won't listen to you about implementing a disability specific curriculum, the Expanded Core Curriculum, get involved! Address the ECC as often as you can!

Feel free to send your OTs & PTs my way for more supports or resources. Anyone can email me for ideas. I am happy to help! Just please respect HIPPA/privacy laws. Email me: robbin.keating@gmail.com