Sunday, May 24, 2009

Finding Independence in the classroom.

This year, a wonderful reading teacher opened up her classroom to me allowing me one of my favorite classroom corners. I have learned so much from her just from being in that classroom this year. Often we have the same students on our caseload and we have found a mutual tool that has worked well for many students. It is easily affordable to access and implement. One of her big challenges with a small classroom of students is that many of the students needed individual attention to work on reading strategies- yet couldn't work independently on selected tasks to allow for the differentiated instruction in the classroom. Of course, the OT goals were focused on increasing functional skills, improving academic independence as well foundation technology skill development. We have found that a membership to website has been a very useful tool for many of our students. I am in 5 different schools this year and have shared it now with almost 4 different classrooms for kids in grades 1-11 with varying reading levels and abilities addressing many different individual goals. It is another educational technology tool that I have added to my bag of tricks. There are also some nice content books to introduce lessons. I've also used some of the books this year in sessions while working on body awareness, some social skills, feelings identification as well as overall functional problem solving and choice making. The one thing that would make this site better... is a possibility for accessibility features such as the inability to click out of books until completed, the option of not showing the arrow key to advance until the reading is completed, and an option for scanning for my switch users. I love that it is an online service with constant upgrading.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Accessible Phones

This week, one of my clients was looking for an phone that he could access using a switch. We called our state organization ATEL, which is a program supported by the RI Department of Human Services. ATEL stands for the Adaptive Telephone Equipment Loan Program.

My client is currently trying Dialogue RC-200 Remote Control Speakerphone w/Remote Answer

It is very easy to use and program. The phone is able to be answered by voice, has switch capabilities with a remote as well as wired and there is an option to pre-program phone numbers. Although, my client uses a particular head switch- we were able to figure out a way for him to use the standard remote with a little creative positioning. I was excited to see how quickly it was to access the equipment and my client was especially happy that he was able to make a phone call, complete the application, make an appointment, get training and TAKE THE EQUIPMENT HOME all within a three week time period! Thank you ATEL for this program! Oh, did I also say that at this time there is no cost to qualifying individuals? What a great service. They have a variety of available equipment for loan.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

I think May is one of the busiest months for School Based OTs

Well, I'm sorry to say that it has been almost an entire school year before my last post. I again ask all of you fellow bloggers... when do you find the time? Thank you to all of you who post regularly and share all of your work and ideas. I have enjoyed reading them. Meanwhile, as a school based therapist of a system that ends in June- May is incredibly busy. Meetings, Meetings and more meetings. One thing I have tried to do more in my family meetings is focus more on the strengths of my students. Often it is a relatively easy thing to do and the rewards have been positive in many ways. The other good thing about the meetings is that as a professional and team member- it does get you planning for the future. I guess being so busy also energizes me about my work. Don't get me wrong, I'm excited about the summer break being so close, but it is also exciting to see all the positive changes and growth with many of my students. I also like collaborating with my team members as we plan programs for the next school year. Personally, I am going to try to post a little more than 2x a year. Like so many good occupational based routines... I need to develop a schedule and set a few goals. To all of you coming to the end of the school year- Enjoy!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Check out this Wiki!

One of the biggest things that I've found about reading blogs is how much I learn. As a school based OT, if you choose one blog to read... I strongly encourage Karen Janowski's blog: EdTech Solutions: Teaching Every Student . Karen has post after post of valuable information. Give yourself a gift of a "free" online conference and explore her space. A while back she posted a valuable collection of Free UDL Tools. This week she shared a new Wiki completed with Joyce Valenza organizing this Free UDL Toolkit. It is worth the time to explore and a bookmark must!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Using the Dynavox for total communication!

I am lucky enough to work with a client who has a Dynavox communication system. If you've never seen one, here is the company's website as well as a video success story of someone who uses the device. Thanks to our outstanding Dynavox Sales rep and some well educated staff, we were able to figure out how to set up the controls in the system so that he could turn on his TV and locate his favorite channels. It was surprisingly easy to do. The difficult part is making sure it is functionally positioned correctly and making sure that it is something that is accessible. Now, my client just needs time to practice but we are excited at this new adventure! Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

How do you find the time to do it all?

As I'm starting the blog, I ask my fellow bloggers. How do you find the time? I'm getting a collection of blog favorites, that I can just read and read... I'm trying to start my own, but I really wonder if I'll be able to keep up. As I am finding it difficult to carve out the time. Personally, being a later learner for technology, I am occasionally stumped by the technical part. For example, I'm trying to include a calendar on this blog... but now one turns up in every post! Not sure how I did that. (Yes, I needed to delete one before I could post this.) I need to go back and read the directions again.

I tried to include a few of my favorite blogs that I've been following over the last few months. I listed 5 on the right. They are skilled professionals who have taken the time to share their expertise and knowledge. Thank you! I've already learned a lot from them. I'm sure I will be adding more as I continue to learn more about web 2.0 tools and visit more great blogs. Any advice from experienced bloggers on how to find the time?

Next post, I hope to include some of my favorite OT student blogs. Those have been really fun to read.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Does the Tooth Fairy Have a Website?

This was a question my son proposed to me after loosing his first tooth. After I chuckled, it suddenly became apparent to me at how different his life will be at accessing information. To think that a 5 year old (and this was 3 years ago) was already looking to independently find information on the web made me stop and think at how his access to information will be significantly different than mine when I grew up. Now, at 8 he when he wants a new game or toy, he searches for it online cuts and pastes the picture so that we know exactly what he is talking about when he makes his "pitch" to us as to why he needs it. The other day we were lost and he just kept saying.... open your laptop and do Map Quest. Not fully realizing that I still am in the dark ages in some ways as I don't have mobile access to the internet. So we scanned for a library or coffee shop that offered free Wireless. Gone are the days of stopping at a Gas Station. Note: (We did buy a Garmin after that day and I love it!)

As an OT who is interested in daily living skills, it has become apparent to me that access to the internet can now be considered an ADL activity for many people. What happens when people have challenges developing skills needed to participate in this activity? It just fuels my desire and interest to continue to keep as up to date with all kinds of technology available..... One of the big reasons as to why I am starting my own blog! I find that I can't close my eyes for a minute as new technology is always evolving!

Just for fun. Here are some links for the Toothfairy.