* Fickle Technology

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To paraphrase a former IT specialist: “You can love Technology but you can’t trust him.”

I wanted to wring Technology’s neck yesterday.  He promised me the moon: Discovery Education, Reading A-Z, BrainPop, and Google docs, to name a few.  He left me holding dust.

My student uses eye gaze for communication, so at least we had Tobii Dynavox I-12 and Communicator 5.  Technology pretended not to care; after all, he had reduced me to pen, paper, and my phone’s wireless hotspot.  I tried not to think about the gigabytes we were whizzing through, dollar signs soaring around the classroom.

To make matters worse, Technology told me there was no hope for today, either.  “I’m on a 24 hour freeze, darlin’.  But I’ll be back.  You can count on me.”  Sure.  I’ve heard that line before.

I used to pack a first aid kit, a safety net if Technology pulled a fast one.  I kept all manner of printed materials that would bypass fickle Technology.  I’d show him!  But when I was on crutches, I could only stuff essentials into a huge backpack.  As I’ve limped around with the compression boot, that backpack has been a lifesaver.  All the while, I’ve had this niggling sense of vulnerability without that kit.  “Don’t be silly,” I told myself. Technology has turned a corner.”  He looked genuinely heartbroken when I brought up his past failings. “Look at all I’ve done for you!” he’d proclaim defensively.

Technology jumped off the wagon with glee yesterday.  Today he’ll probably give me roses.

* My dear Isaac

Dear Isaac is my nephew with an unidentified auditory processing disorder and dyscalculia, all mixed with a heavy dose of emotional distress.  He’s a bright, creative youngster with strengths in science and art.  But as a third grader, he still can’t add or subtract single digit numbers without his fingers.  If we hadn’t used Alan Walker’s multiplication methodology, Isaac wouldn’t have learned any multiplication facts.  After his initial refusal to engage with the Walker approach to memorization, Isaac cut his losses and became proud of his new knowledge.

After my initial assessment, I estimated that it would take six months to correct fundamental math reasoning errors.  That was an accurate estimate.  Isaac has made solid progress in solving problems.  You would be so proud if you could see him working on multiple-step word problems!

Sadly, dear Isaac is now burned to a crisp at school and when it’s time for homework.  He doesn’t act out at school but his teacher reports that he is frequently inattentive and withdrawn.  The school year has been too long and taxing.  Isaac feels stupid, is depressed, and his teacher flat out refuses to lessen the homework load.  Oh dear!

A predictable conundrum for him (and me!) is dealing with his errors.  He has made too many and now wants to be error-free for life.  If only!  He is reluctant to accept alternative methods of calculation when he feels especially low.  We had a difficult session this past week when he refused to write multiple digit addition problems vertically instead of horizontally.

After staring at his horizontally-written problem, Isaac screamed, “I can’t do this!   I thought you were going to help!”

“Write it vertically, Isaac.”

“I’m going to do it MY way!”  

“Go ahead.”  [I walk across the room because I know he’s going to implode if I stay close.  Or I might just bite my hand off.]

Repeat above scenario 3 times.

Finally, amidst tears and growls, Isaac rewrites the problem vertically and gets so much praise from me that we are back on track.  I remain at his side as his sense of humor returns and he completes all the dreaded homework in record time.

Here’s the adorable Isaac, taking aim at homework with a tripod?

Isaac 3

 

 

* A-Z Challenge: Z!!!!

I do not have a zaar or a zither or a zea

My zaglossus is at the cleaners and my zebibit can’t be seen.

If my camera had a zabaglion, I’d capture a zurvan,

But it doesn’t and I can’t so here’s my last zaman.

 

 

Zaman

 

* A-Z Challenge: Y

Y is for all the Yard work waiting, waiting, waiting.  Is it my fault we got five inches of rain last week?  The downpour was the only reason the Yard work was deferred.  I would do some Yard work right now if the National Weather Service had not just issued a severe thunderstorm warning.  Seriously, I would.

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* A-Z Challenge: X

This image is the original icon for most alphabet charts until the last 5 to 10 years, apart from Xylophone.  Some folks have realized that very few kindergarten and first grade words start with X.  Many alphabet charts today depict an X at the end of a word, with foX and boX competing for first place.  And yes, this is my foot, which now glows in the dark from so many X-rays!

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* A-Z Challenge: W

W is for Weekend Wildness!  We had a birthday party, two movies, a shopping spree, and overall Wackiness with the kiddos (our nephews and nieces, if you’re new to the blog).  If you haven’t yet concluded that I enjoy decorating cakes but have absolutely no finesse or control of icing tubes, well, are you blind?  The young relatives, however, were impressed with SpongeBob’s friend, Sandy.  The oldest nephew and his friend thought one particular aspect of this cake was especially intriguing.  As I asked my niece was piece of Sandy she wanted, I heard them whispering and giggling, “I know what I would choose!”

Sandy

The funniest part of the birthday celebration was my niece’s determined effort to place the candles upside down in the cake.  Totally WIld!

* A-Z Challenge: V is for video

I was just introduced to GoAnimate, an online site that allows both teachers and students to create and share videos safely and relatively easily.  In my online class, a couple of GoAnimate videos have been used as examples of how teachers might use technology to teach math.  The videos model excellent “teacher” questioning, along with a variety of “student” responses to complex math tasks.  Not only did I learn from the videos, I realized that I can use them, too!

GoAnimate provides a cool number avatars, props, backgrounds, and sounds for video creation.  They also lead novices like me through the video-creation process.  Teachers using GoAnimate for Schools can moderate all student-produced videos, assist students in sharing their work, and of course, use them to foster higher level thinking.  There are several features that make me drool: automatic lip syncs by characters, even if you record the voice yourself, and the ease of creating fascinating whiteboard videos.  Here’s a snippet of my first video (yes, I am a pirate teacher).

clip of video

GoAnimate could not only promote higher level thinking in core academic areas, but would be a fantastic tool for teaching social skills.  Teachers could share scenarios for students to problem solve.  It would also provide opportunities for students to create videos reflecting their perspectives, how to deal with bullying, and other social struggles.

So glad I found this online video-maker!

* A-Z Challenge: T and U

I was in a precious one’s house where a delicious Indian meal was being prepared.  It was no problem for her to find me foods and spices for the letters T and U.  I wish you could smell the photos!

You might be wondering about that little white blob next to the Tamarind.  It’s my nephew Christopher’s Tooth.  As we worked through our tutoring session, Christopher nibbled on a granola bar and unexpectedly spit a glob onto the table.  I cried, “What is that?” and he4 answered causally, “My tooth!”  He was unperturbed and I grabbed a baggie.

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Have you eaten Ume-Shisho or Umeboshi?  And how much does one household need???   Thankfully, enough for me to photograph.

Umeboshi

* A-Z Challenge: S is for Surprise!

If you’ve been following this blog, you might have read my Share Your World post for the week.  A very special student and family greeted me today with this treat, after reading that I am picky about chocolate!  What a Surprise!  Thank you Soooo much, dear ones!  You know who you are!  Hugs!  And more hugs!

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(So people are actually reading, huh?  I guess I’d better Shape up!)

* A-Z Challenge: R is for Radish and Radha

In this last week of the A-Z Challenge, I am trying to do at least 2 letters a day.  Today it was so easy, thanks to some special folks.  My sister had a (slightly) Rotting Daikon Radish, which looks like a beluga whale to me.

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And another special person had figures of Krishna and Radha.  Radha is on the the right, a Hindu goddess.  I love the intricate and colorful work that went into these figures.

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