* An Interview on Fashion & Sight Loss

With my focus on elementary special needs kids, I must remind myself that these kids face unique challenges as they age. Moreover, anyone can develop a disability related to trauma, aging, and disease. Stephanae McCoy’s Bold Blind Beauty empowers all of us to look beyond the disability while still accommodating those special needs. Stephanae herself is SO gorgeous and empowers others to find their own beauty. This post features an interview which tells ALL about Stephanae’s purpose in writing.

Bold Blind Beauty

Spotlight On Over 40-Bold Blind Beauty

Orange & Lace Maxi dress with lacy orange shrug and blue floral clutch.Yesterday I was honored in being the subject of an interview published on my friend Jess’ blog Elegantly Dressed and Stylish. Thank you Jess for giving me the opportunity to share some of my thoughts on how sight loss and fashion can co-exist. I hope you enjoy the following post:

Hello Ladies,

Welcome to my monthly series of Spotlight On, Over 40. Those of you who are new to the blog, will be introduced monthly to a new Over 40 blogger in an interview style. I love to support my fellow bloggers! Today I am bringing you my interview with Stephanie of Bold Blind Beauty, with whom I met when I first began blogging. We are both from the ‘Burg, Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, and I became drawn in to Stephanie’s positive outlook and love for fashion, while educating others.

Bold Blind Beauty is the name…

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* Tiny Tap Keeps Growing!

Tiny Tap may have to change its name to Greater Tap!  Now partnering with Oxford Picture Dictionary, students have unlimited access to animated units on family, friends, the solar system, health, and much more.  The illustrations are excellent, although my preference would be a more appealing recorded voice (I’ve been spoiled by Siri!).  On the other hand, English learners can model a clearly articulated vocabulary.

a day at school

In my previous review of Tiny Tap, I noted that although there is already a huge library of resources available, teachers are limited only by their imagination in creating multiple kinds of activities.  And they can make money by producing activities and apps of interest to others!

I have been analyzing some of the activities for their use with special needs learners.  I have been especially impressed with the work of Ellen Weber, a speech-language pathologist.  She has provided a well-crafted example of how Tiny Tap can assist kids on the autism spectrum (and others) with their daily classroom schedule.  “Michael’s Schedule” provides a personalized schedule with tips for how to behave during each segment of the school day.  Unlike some other general education Tiny Taps, this activity is not cluttered with extraneous visuals.  Check out the Social Skills category for more Taps relating to this topic.

With Tiny Tap‘s potential for supporting dyslexic students, I should get busy creating some activities!   I do wish Tiny Tap operated on a Windows platform.  Even though it seems to work for some ChromeBook users, that appears inconsistent.

Bottom line, Tiny Tap is a gem which can be easily shaped to meet the needs of special learners.

* Musical Three Things Thursday

Thanks to Nerd in the Brain for her challenge to stop and smell the nerdy good things of the week.  I’m feeling musical, despite my inability to carry a tune, so please sing along and no one will notice I’m off-key.

#1:  “The Green, Green Grass of Home” by Tom Jones seems apt as the deer-bitten grasses make a comeback at the front of our house.  They stink from deer repellent, but still.

The old home town looks the same as I step down from the train,
and there to meet me is my Mama and Papa.
Down the road I look and there runs Mary, hair of gold and lips like cherries.
It’s good to touch the green, green grass of home.

#2:  “If I Only Had a Brain” from the Wizard of Oz fits in nicely with my visit to the neurologist yesterday.  I have a brain!  And I didn’t have to count back from 100 by 7’s in order to prove it.

I could while away the hours
Conferrin’ with the flowers
Consultin’ with the rain

And my head, I’d be scratchin’
While my thoughts were busy hatchin’
If I only had a brain.

#3:  “You’re the One That I Want” by Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta is what I’m lip-syncing to my unhealthy dearest widower.  I don’t want to lose him so I need him to SHAPE UP and keep track of calories on the FitBit I bought him.  Seriously.

You better shape up, ’cause I need a man
And my heart is set on you
You better shape up, you better understand
To my heart I must be true
Nothing left, nothing left for me to do

You’re the one that I want
You are the one I want
Oo, Oo, Oo honey

You’re the one that I want!


Subitizing: More Than Meets the Eye

dice.pngSubitizing? Say what? This post clearly defines the term and provides excellent examples of the two types of instant recognition of quantity. I especially like the author’s suggestions for how to incorporate this skill in math instruction for older kids. Those of us who grew up playing board games are quick to recognize the patterns on a die (and the quantity on the “old fashioned” domino). That’s skill may be lacking on many of the games kids play with tablets and computers.

Learning is a journey, not an endpoint.

Subitizing is a relatively new concept for me. Sadly, it is not an integrated part of the mathematics curriculum yet. Therefore, children often have little experience with subitizing. When I first learned about this concept, I thought it pertained only to kindergarten, first grade, and struggling students beyond those years. However, I have now seen that children of all ages benefit from subitizing.

What is subitizing, and why is it important? Clements and Sarama (2009) define two types of subitizing. The first, perceptual subitizing, pertains to the ability to both perceive intuitively and simultaneously the amount in small number sets. No counting is neccessary, you just know the amount when you see it. Children develop the prerequisite skills for perceptual subitization at a young age. According to Clements and Sarama, children begin naming collections of 1, 2, and 3 from ages 1-2. By age three, children can also create…

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* PBS and Design Squad Global

PBS and Design Squad Global have created outstanding STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) resources for parents, teachers, and kids.  This blockbuster site grew out of the PBS TV series, “Design Squad.”  The stated goal of the site is “to give kids a stronger understanding of the design process, and the connection between engineering and the things we all use in everyday life.”  This means a whole lot of fun, videos, and games!  The biggest dilemma is where to start!  There are resources (lesson, videos, and more) on electricity, force/energy, green, health, simple machines, sound/music, space/transportation., sports/games, structures, and technology/materials.

My interest in this site for special needs kids is threefold:

  1.  To provide role models and encouragement for kids through the excellent online video profiles and other visually organized materials, especially for those twice exceptional kids who feel stupid because of reading and writing weaknesses.  This site has hands-on, interactive, cool stuff which is likely to engage gifted kids.
  2. To offer multiple resources for engaging kids with a limited range of interests, such as those on the autism spectrum.  As I’ve posted before, giving this population a means of leadership/mentoring opportunities in a classroom setting is important.  The wide scope of these activities means that you could more easily find a connection to your student’s specialized interests.  The site includes a special module on training adults and kids to lead groups.
  3.  To provide an authentic experience for specialized instruction in reading, writing, and math.  It’s one thing to give students a writing prompt on their area of interest.  It’s even better to let them experiment and then use that process for a a specialized lesson on an area of weakness.  For example, I am using the watercraft experiment to improve a student’s grasp of main ideas and details.
  4. watercraft 2.JPG I am not requiring written responses for this “writing” project; any writing will be by dictation or talk to text.  This takes away the dreaded “when is the other shoe is going to fall?”  Kids think, “I am having fun now but the painful part is about to land on my head.”  Yes, it is hard for my student to sort through relevant information and derive a concise main idea.  But he does NOT have to write a paragraph about his fun experiment to learn that skill.  His work is mental, with plenty of visuals and first-hand experience.

You may enjoy the Design Squad monthly newsletter and it’s easy to unsubscribe if you don’t.

Let me know if you find other uses for the cool stuff on this site!

* TToT for me

That’s Ten Things of Thankful, and after reading Lizzi’s TToT post, I regret every complaint I’ve spewed this past week.  Lizzi endured an excruciating emergency surgery and yet she found MORE than ten things for which to be grateful.  In that spirit, I am thankful for grace in its many forms.

#1.  Grace to change.  As I was driving home this week, tired but wanting to be grateful, I told myself I still have time to become a grateful person.  I thought about a relative who ended up as bitter as an unripe persimmon.  “I don’t want to be her when I grow up!” I thought, then realized I am grown up.  I am grateful for the grace I’m given each day to make better choices.

#2.  Grace by example.  My dearest widower endured a week of illness while training folks out of town.  Never complaining once.  Asking me today if he could bring me a cup of tea.  Oh my, I am grateful for his love and example.

#3.  Grace in huge doses.  Dear and precious friends who offer grace when I fall short.  My psychologist widower says it’s my attachment disorder. Now that I’m grown up, I should be past that, should feel more, trust more.  BUT I am grateful for the opportunities to practice and copy grace from others.

#4.  Grace in forgiveness.  This week I was weeding a family’s yard in order to restore their Bermuda grass lawn.  And I accidentally sprayed Bermuda grass killer on a chunk of their lawn!  They said, “No worries!  What can we do to help?”  Oh my.

#5.  Grace in tough times.  When I felt too sick to live up to a commitment today, a friend texted me, “No worries lady!! Take care of yourself!!”  Oh my.

#6.  Grace for my scheduling glitches.  I did not show up to tutor because I got my dates mixed up.  The mom told me not to worry and she meant it.

#7.  Grace for teaching. Joy of joys, the kiddo from #6 was actually disappointed to miss a lesson!  As hard as tutoring has been for him!

#8.  More grace for teaching.  Every school day, I walk into a room where a student shrieks with excitement at my arrival.  How can I ever be grateful enough for such love?  Such opportunity?  Oh my.

#9.  Grace for chocolate.  DId you know I was once allergic to chocolate?  Like eating-glass- allergic?  And then I was healed??  This is not a small thing.  I love chocolate.

#10.  Grace for blogging.  I have not been able to blog consistently in the past little while, yet faithful readers- and new ones- continue to encourage me.  Thank you for reading!  


Just as I am, without one plea….

* Giving Writing Workshop Back to Our Writers: Choose Your Own Mentor Texts and a Student-Led EdCamp

This incredible writing teacher provides a detailed description of a powerful writing process. Her post can serve as a “mentor text” for teachers in evaluating a writing approach, using student feedback, creating an authentic writing experience, and generating real audiences. Her students learned more than writing. They became investigators, teachers, analyzers, and most of all, active learners. It’s a long post, but well worth your time

Crawling Out of the Classroom

Recently, inspired by Pernille Ripp‘s incredibly inspiring book Passionate Learners, I asked my students to write a reflection on how the learning was going in our classroom. What was working for them and what was not?

One of the things that came up multiple times was that my students let me know that they did not find it helpful when I handed them article after article to look at as mentor texts during writing workshop.  Many of my students said that they knew it was important for us to look at the way that other writer’s write, but that the way we were doing it was just not working. They weren’t engaged. They weren’t learning. They weren’t transferring what they saw into their own writing.

Now here’s the thing. I knew that it was working. I mean, in the sense that I knew that when we looked at…

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