* SoundingBoard

SoundingBoard byAbleNet is a free IOs app designed to augment communication when paired with a switch. AbleNet provides a wide range of assistive technology devices to support communication, including speech generating devices, switches, and accessible toys. The image below shows the main menu of SoundingBoard, significantly enlarged.

It took me a while to figure out how to create a usable board, but I’m not a rocket scientist. I did not use their symbols library, although it is quite extensive. You may also select from your own photos, which is a nice option. If you want to make this switch-friendly, all text must be recorded. The font size is miniature on an iPad and non-readers would have to memorize tiny icons.

I ended up deleting all the preloaded boards, which are definitely suitable for a wide age range. My students would not create shopping lists, but the workplace board (shown below) could be used for students in a work training program if they used switches to communicate quite minimally.

The tech support is great but the boards available for purchase are similar in quality to the free boards. SIgn language symbols are included for some topics. Boards can also be linked to one another, but using a switch means that the related boards are all scanned as ‘primary sources.’

If you have students who rely on switches for communication, this app has a lot of potential, but I would suggest individualizing it with meaningful icons and photos. I am recruiting a young man to record a ‘natural’ voice for a 13-year-old user.

* I can’t remember

#Weekendcoffeeshare is a group I joined a month ago but I still haven’t posted with them once! Why not?

  1. I don’t drink coffee
  2. My writing stinks
  3. My junk room decluttering is taking a LONG time
  4. We took a trip to Florida
  5. I started and deleted Housescapes after wasting many hours
  6. Ditto Solitaire
  7. I’m reading books to make sure I want to share them with kiddos
  8. I didn’t remember?

Wait a minute. Is there a rumor circulating that I need ‘memory care?’ I got this image from the linky-link page. How rude!

Of course I remembered this group. And that thingy you use to get the stuff out of the whatchamacallit. Wait, I left it somewhere. It’s probably with my phone. Have you seen my phone anywhere?

* Enter at your own risk

Only crime scene tape would be a less hospitable greeting for our houseguests, who had to step around boxes and bins of teaching supplies before dropping their suitcases upstairs. I’m actually quite proud of this mess, which only partially captures the efforts I’m making to offload teaching supplies.

It is now possible to see about a fifth of the floor in our junk room, not that you’d want to. I had the same problem in every classroom I’ve used. And every summer I would vow to clear the decks before the students returned. I would go into school, along with the custodial staff who were waxing floors, and get nothing much accomplished. I could blame the freshly applied gym floor varnish for wonking my brain. Or the ammonia used to strip wax. Or the mold.

Hmm…. Is it crazy that I still have the same goal: clear out the junk before school starts?

* Rough bird on a stick

You probably noticed, I mean I hope you noticed, that I was MIA from blogging in May (and at other times, sadly). Times were decidedly rough. Right now, I’m recovering from food poisoning so I’m feeling very a wee bit sorry for myself.

Back in May, during that distinctly rough time, I saw that Cee had a marvelous Fun Foto challenge on feathers. (Be sure to check out her fabulous entries!)

At the start of our dolphin adventure a month earlier, before times got severely rough, a grackle serendipitously posed for us as we waited for the boat to set sail. As usual, all the passengers were effortlessly snapping photos while I scrambled to get the lens on my camera. That pleasant grackle waited while I took this photo, no doubt grinning at my efforts. I also managed to smudge the lens with sunblock, so all my photos from this outing have a nasty worm-like blob which I have cropped out which didn’t matter since I was following Cee’s “rule of three,” despite my haste.

When times are not extremely rough, I will catch up on Cee’s Fun Foto Challenges. I have plenty of singularly rough photos to use.

* Resilience

Find this photo here

Resilience is a much-admired and much-researched topic. For students with disabilities, resilience is also much-needed. Why do some kiddos and adults have it and others don’t? It has traditionally been viewed as an innate characteristic, but resilience is now regarded as something we can learn. And if it’s something we can learn, then we need to teach it.

I believe that some teachers already support and model resilience for their students. These are teachers who empathize with students, notice challenges, and encourage them to overcome obstacles. Supporting regulation of emotions is one key to developing resilience. Making sure that tasks are carefully sequenced and of value to students births confidence. Being a teacher who openly asks, “What can I learn from this debacle?” models a healthy approach to making mistakes and managing strong, unhappy feelings.

My advice is to read up on resilience this summer. Learn more brain-friendly strategies for supporting struggling students. Become a more resilient person and pass it along!

* They’re back!

The kiddos are here! Another fun-filled summer ahead of us, with as many electronics and wild times as possible!

It’s not all fun and games, though. One of the challenges we face is that Christopher (who is on the autism spectrum) is now using the term “autistic” as both a derogatory and teasing label for his sibs and friends. Last year it was “retard,” along with the ubiquitous “smokin’ hot.” Obviously, he has been taught that “autistic” is not a good thing and/or draws attention. (For him, all attention, whether positive or negative, is pretty much OK.)

Another change: Christopher no longer makes me chase him down for a hug while disguised as a “hug-hating” ninja or ghost! He chases me down for a side arm hug, his eyes glistening with mischief. What a sweetheart!

* Retirement: 3rd time the charm?

For 8 years now, after my first supposed retirement, folks have been asking me why I’m still teaching full time. It didn’t start out that way. I took 3 months to socialize and sleep in late. Then I responded to tutoring requests, started providing homebound instruction for a local district, and eventually filled my days and evenings with delightful teaching and planning. End of retirement #1.

Midway through that retirement, my long-suffering teaching widower wondered if I would ever have time for him. So I shed most of my tutoring caseload and started on retirement #2. That lasted about 3 months and I was back at my full-time pace.

In March of this year, I announced my 3rd retirement to coincide with my teaching widower’s imminent retirement. Will this one last? I have the hat and flowers, the perfect equivalent of a gold watch. We’ll see. I already have students in the wings….

* Father’s Day

Like Mother’s Day, this holiday was long a source of anguish for me. Growing up in an abusive home, my Hallmark greeting would have read, “How much do I hate thee? Let me count the ways!”

Over time and much healing, a lot of it from the hands of my dearest teaching widower, I have come to endure these celebrations and rejoice with others who have had a different path. After today, I have a joyous and unique new memory: my dearest widower winning a smoker at church!

I laughed because we typically never win anything. And we have been trying to decide whether to continue our movie group in the fall. I think this is a sign: Movies and a Smoker. Who would have guessed? The One who loves us and constantly surprises us with many good things. A Father who is worth celebrating every day!