Posts Tagged ‘Education’

Late last year, I purchased the App “Proloquo2Go”, on the recommendation of Mr 3’s Speech Therapist. It was expensive. But worth it!

It’s programmable, so you can make words (buttons) and phrases and sentences, categorise them according to high-interest activities (we have one folder for Playstation games and a separate one for Wii games, and then folders for breakfast, lunch, etc etc) and if the photo to accompany the word isn’t already in the App’s library, you can take a photo of the concept, and use that.

One downfall is that you can’t program your own voice – but that’s a pretty minor disadvantage, compared to all the positives.

Worth the $200? To hear my autistic boy move from being non-verbal to verbal?!

YES!!!!!

Dreams

Posted: November 28, 2012 in Life, More about me, teaching, Work
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A while back now, I used to be a teacher. High school kids mainly, but I’ve taught from Prep through to Uni kids. But it was the High School kids that I enjoyed teaching the most. They were the right age that you could hold a conversation with, logically reason with, argue points of view with, and – if it was a good day – possibly be honoured enough to be a part of expanding their horizons. Witnessing that ‘lightbulb moment’ when a concept they’d been grappling with, finally made sense. SUCH an honour!

Well, some of those kids, at the end of each year, would bring me their Yearbook, and get me to sign the ‘Autographs’ page at the back. It must have been one of the early years of my teaching career that I really worked out what I wanted to say – and then I used the same phrase on each and every child’s book. Because I wished the same, hoped the same, and so gave the same advice, for each and everyone of them.

“Chase your dreams as hard and as far as you can.”

I wonder how many people read that. I wonder how many people remembered it. I wonder if any of them look back at their High School days and think that maybe, just once, someone hoped that they would have the best life they could possibly have.

Dreams are hard. They can be scary. They can drive us, inspire us, or freak us out if we think that maybe, just maybe, if we work that little bit harder, they might actually be within our reach.

How great a feeling it is to have a dream! To have hope!!!

What’s your dream today, dear reader? Whatever it is, my wish today? It’s for you. My advice, the same as I gave my High School treasures, as they set out into the next phase of their lives.

“Chase your dreams as hard and as far as you can.”

Go. Go on. Start chasing.

I’ve just caught this tweet:

and I’m guessing that Semester 2 has just started. Which is cool; it marks two years since I started this Masters in IT. When I started, I had 12 courses ahead of me. Now I have just 3 left. Two of which are core courses, only offered in Semester One, and the third of which, an elective, I’m *doing* this semester. And by *doing*, I mean ‘applying for Advanced Standing’. So I’m pretty stoked about being able to do that!

Actually, when I think about it, I’m pretty stoked with how my studies have gone to date. Considering that, prior to July 2010, my last stint at ‘hitting the books’ was November 1995, I’m done pretty well. In this Masters, I’ve received 4 High Distinctions, 3 Distinctions and a Credit (and I must emphasise that the credit was for an elective I took – foolishly, in hindsight – from a different faculty, with rather different standards, and we just didn’t seem to get along too well.) So at present, I’m pretty happy with my GPA of 6.375, and last year I accepted an invitation to join the International Golden Key Honor Society – something that I never knew existed, but am now a part of! (To save you googling it, like I had to, it’s a group for University students who are in top 15% of achievers. They meet, do charitable works, that sort of thing.)

So I have three courses – 2 cores, 1 elective – to go (and professional practice to complete, which will make up the final 12th course). And this semester, I’ll be writing up a 3000 word application for ‘Advanced Standing’, which, if approved, means that it’ll take the place of the elective, and I’ll only have the two courses to go. It’s such a head-spin to think that, by this time next year, I may in fact be a fully qualified Librarian, and able to add ‘M.IT.’ after the ‘B.Ed.’ after my name. How COOL is that!!!

Tech-savvy kids

Posted: June 10, 2012 in #blogjune
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I love the fact that my children are digital natives. The screen of my MacBook Pro is covered with little fingerprints from when they’ve been using my iPad / iPodTouch, and have forgotten that they’re not on them anymore. When it comes to technology, their brains don’t ask “can I?”,  but instead “how do I?” – they automatically assume that anything is possible. Whereas I, and others of my (and surrounding!) generations ask “IS that possible?”
Mr 3, in particular, amazes me with what he works out. (And I find it funny when Miss 7 and Miss 4 also ask, “How did you do that?’!) Case in point: the app Vid Rhythm. It’s a cute little app, making cute little video clips from various sounds that you copy. Mr 3 figured it out by himself – and then kindly saved me a copy of his creation. I had no idea that he was even playing with this! He was on the iPod Touch in the lounge room, while I was making dinner one night. I only discovered it after he was in bed that night:

 

ECDP

Posted: June 6, 2012 in #blogjune, family anecdotes
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It’s Wednesday. Which means it’s the day that Mr 3 and I attend his Early Childhood Developmental Program. It’s basically a playgroup run by a teacher trained in Special Needs. There are 6 children in total (all boys – interesting, hey!) aged between 2 1/2 and 3 1/2. After 3 1/2 they then attend the ECDP Kindy program, until they are old enough to go to Prep.

The difficulty with attending the ECDP Playgroup on Wednesdays has been that it is for the diagnosed child and his/ her parent/s ONLY. And with Miss 4 not yet in school, and with child care being just so darn expensive, she stays home with me. (Well ‘staying home’ isn’t entirely true. Both Miss 4 and Mr 3 also come to meetings with me, appointments with printers and advertising people etc etc for Bloxham Marketing!) Organising to go to the ECDP with Mr 3, and only Mr 3, was problematic – until we realised that there was a centre at Talara Primary College, which is around the corner from my Mum’s place. So now, every Wednesday morning, Miss 4 goes to ‘Grandma playgroup’ and Mr 3 and I go to the Talara EDCP, then his Speech Therapy session, where he amazes us with stuff like I wrote about on Monday.

We missed going to the ECDP last week. I was too snowed under with work, and he was coming down with a cold anyway, so we missed a week. As a result, I’m looking forward to today. He enjoys it, and it’s good for him to get some early exposure to ‘classroom routines’ that he’ll come across in a couple of years. And just for your enjoyment, here is a short video of their “outside playtime” the previous week. He, of course, is the one in the green hat. With the red shirt and the long black pants. The cute one. (Not that I’m biased!!!)

I was asked in a tweet the other day about the Apps I have. And I realized that I couldn’t reply in a tweet, as I have far too many! So I’ve decided to dedicate a few blog posts to the topic. The question related specifically to apps that help with speech development, so I have categorized this first list into ‘word recognition’ and ‘encouraging speech through interaction’. Hope it might be helpful!

Word / Sound recognition (simplest to most complex)

1. I Hear Ewe – three pages of common sounds with very clear, short explanations

2. My Preschool Word – my kids love unlocking jewels by listening to the song of the word they just met – and then putting the image onto crazy photos!

3. Dot to Dot Numbers & Letters – simple dot to dot, with clear number pronunciation

4. Baby Cloud Apps First Words Free – clear pictures with spoken object names

5. Melvin’s Marvellous Words – a memory game using words

6. Little Speller… Three letter words – learn to spell with large pictures and clear word / letter pronunication

7. My First Words; Flashcards – categories with large pictures and clearly spoken words

8. A1 Spelling App – eight categories, with the words spoken by a child instead of an adult.

9. Phonics Genius – clearly spoken words in word families. No pictures, though.

10. Articulation Station – divided into sounds, and the sound placement within the word. Examples are given in words, sentences, and stories. A very thorough app!

 

Encouraging speech through interaction

  1. VidRhythm (pictured) – this app really encouraged my youngest to copy the sounds and words, to make the music video. Of this entire list today, this App would be my favourite.
  2. Puppet Pals HD – make your own puppet show using up to 8 characters and 3 backgrounds
  3. Play School Art Maker – theme-based, choose which characters and objects you want to play, and record videos of your play.
  4. Talking Gina the Giraffe / Talking Tom Cat and similar ‘Talking” apps.

I had my first violin lesson at the age of 7. I don’t remember it, but my teacher was Mrs Desley Lappan and I was in Grade 3 at MacGregor Primary School. I would have started with plucking the open strings, and then graduated after a little while to playing with the bow. I had a quarter size instrument, then as I grew, my parents bought the subsequent sizes until, by the time I was in High School and playing in the Queensland Youth Orchestra’s Junior String Ensemble, I was practicing at least half an hour a day, 6 days a week, on my full size violin.

I didn’t particularly enjoy it, but it was something that I was good at, and I liked it for that. By Year 12 I was practicing 2 -3 hours per day, 6 – 7 days a week, and I achieved a “B” in Year 7 AMEB in Violin (I also completed Year 6 AMEB Piano and Year 5 AMEB Musicianship, but that’s another story). I was playing by ear. I was also tutoring younger students from home, and playing (and touring) with the Brisbane Regional Youth Orchestra.

I never completed Year 8 AMEB. I stayed in the Orchestra a few more years, transferring across to Double Bass for my last little while there, and together with some other orchestra people, we travelled out to Goondiwindi once or twice to help tutor the students there. But I never continued with formal lessons, and thus never completed my exams. And I’m okay with that – I got to a good enough standard that if someone sings me a tune, I can play it. And reading music’s easy enough as well.

But today, I mainly play in church, and in lessons with my remaining student. (I had close to a dozen students a few years back, but decided that it wasn’t really what I wanted. Now I just have one, a good friend who’s ten years older than me.) And that’s exactly the way I want it.

For the past two Sundays, the music team that I’m a part of at Church, has been rostered on. We generally do a two-week slot every few months. So two weekends ago I played, and Miss 4, who had come to church with me while Hubby stayed home with the other two, sat on her seat in the front row, playing on my muted iPhone. During the second bracket of songs, the kids went out to the Church’s Easter Holiday program, and Miss 4 went with. But as the Easter program is different to the normal program, Miss 4 got confused and walked herself back down to the church. She then wandered down the middle aisle, up to the stage, saying loudly “I don’t know where to go, Mummy!” She walked up the stairs with her favourite toy, Spot, and over to me. I bent down, and asked her to sit quietly next to me until I finished playing, when I would take her. So sit she did. And play with Spot, “walking” him up and down the microphone stand, making him “talk” as she did so. Very cute, very funny, but not particularly conducive to “leading the congregation in worship”!! Luckily there were only two songs, so once we’d finished I quickly scooped her up and walked her up to the Holiday program.

Last weekend, my team was on again. Again, Miss 4 wanted to come with me to church, and the other two wanted to stay home. Again, I told Miss 4 that, when the kids went out, if she wanted to walk herself up, she could, or she could wait until I’d finished, then I’d take her. She decided on the latter, so stayed in the front row while the other kids left. Unfortunately, these two songs were long ones. And Miss 4 knew that she was missing out, so she decided to try and hurry me up, so I could take her earlier. She knew that going up onto the stage was not what I wanted, but she wanted to be close to me, so she left her seat, walked up the stairs, and then decided to play on the top couple of steps. And, not having Spot to play with this time, decided to hang, and swing from, the handrail conveniently placed there just for her to swing from. Throughout both songs. Again, very cute. Again, very funny. Again, not really what I’d wanted her to do!!! At least she was quiet this time though… and not being near a microphone…

After church, my Music Team leader asked me if I was right for next week. Apparently that first week that we’d done was just a fill in for another team. I said, ‘Sure” – but now I’m wondering what Miss 4 will get up to this weekend…!

I’ve decided that I really like studying for my Masters. From taxonomies to organizational structures and hierarchy in the informational architecture of websites, from database design to the uses of twitter for professional networking – it’s been a true stretch of the mind for me! And that’s what’s been really enjoyable.

So why a Masters in Information Technology? What’s IT got to do with becoming a Librarian?

Well, I’m a trained teacher. Since I started in classrooms, back in (cough) 1996, I’ve taught in State, Catholic, Independent, Lutheran, and Christian schools. I’ve taught Preppies through to Year 12. In Uni, I majored in English and Music, but I’ve also taught Drama, Dance, Film and TV, SOSE, QCS Test classes, Christian Studies, Independent Studies, and Sex Ed. I’ve been a Music Coordinator (x 2), a Head of English, and a Head of Middle School.

But I like challenges. I don’t like remaining in a position that I’ve been in before. Maybe it’s something to do with my claustrophobia, but I particularly dislike being ‘stuck in a rut’ – which, in my opinion, is remaining in a situation where there is little to challenge me. I love new experiences, and have never yet racked up enough time in any one position to earn ‘Long Service Leave’. But that’s okay for me. I’ve only got one life – I want to live it.

So 9 weeks after Mr 3 was born, I met with some web developers about my ideas for a social network for Seniors – and GoodOldTalk.com became a reality. Less than six months after its launch, I was thinking about my eventual return to teaching, and decided that it didn’t really interest me. But as a bookworm, the thought of returning to the classroom from within the four walls of the School Library made a great deal of sense. Step One was to look into how I could get qualified. A few phonecalls and I had a decision to make. To become a School Librarian, I could study a Masters in Education, which would qualify me for a School Library – or I could study a Masters in IT (within a Science faculty) and I would be qualified for School, Public, Academic and Special libraries. And seeing as I’d never studied a ‘Science’ degree before, I thought “why not?” And I’m very glad I did.

The Science faculty at QUT does the ‘student experience’ pretty well. Blended learning options, and podcasts made of all lectures, makes study-around-kids possible. (Believe me! I swapped to the Business faculty for an elective last semester and was NOT impressed with the resulting experience…)

So although study has its ups and downs, I’ve been ecstatic at (the majority of) my results, and the brain challenge has also been excellent. And I’m learning to code in html this semester, so that’s pretty cool (?!!) too… I think!

The plan, when I commenced, was to graduate as quickly as possible and then to be a Teacher Librarian. Graduating quickly isn’t an option for me any more, and my scope has broadened. Having friends on twitter who are Youth Librarians, Electronic Services Librarians, Medical Librarians, Academic Librarians, Information Managers, Historical Archivists and Library students, I now can see that my interests may be broader than the High School library.

So I wonder where my studies will take me! And I’m excited by the possibilities.

CC image courtesy cseeman at http://www.flickr.com/photos/cseeman/5938716870/

For the past few weeks now, I’ve looked forward to Monday nights. As a “Big Bang Theory” enthusiast, the idea of new episodes each week has been exciting. In fact, I’m so hooked on BBT that I’ve even blogged about it for work!

I started my Masters in IT in July 2010. The majority of my classes have been on a Tuesday  evening, and since I teach violin Tuesday evenings, I have been unable to (virtually) attend classes, and so instead I generally listen to the podcasts, later in the week. This semester however, my INN530 unit has been on a Monday. And it took me until after I had missed three classes, to realise that I had a clash between the two. (Whoops!!! Sorry, Kate! “Confession via blog?” That must be akin to “Death by misadventure”?!!)

So – last Monday, I was DETERMINED that I would not be distracted by the latest BBT, and that I would DEFINITELY attend class. Especially seeing as this lecture was the biggie for me. Coding. And I’ve never written any code in my life! So I teed up Hubby to feed, bathe, and put the kids to bed, bought a headset, and went. And I’m so glad (cough) I did. Kate, in her usual incredible manner, simplified the basics for dummies like me, to such an extent  that I – almost! – managed to keep up with her pace. And I was also able to keep my brain from exploding until after I had left BlackBoard Collaborate.

So. Ceridwyn the coder? I hardly think so! Rather, I think that learning to code at the ripe old age of 37 is going to do my head in. Oh well. At least I’m going to go down trying…!

CC Image courtesy calixto at http://www.flickr.com/photos/calixto/6005872093/

Today is Monday the 27 of February. Very many years ago now, my younger brother was born. He’s now a freelance computer programmer based in London.

This time last year, I commenced my third semester in my Masters in IT, majoring in Library and Information Science. (I had started in July of 2010, and had also taken a course over the 2010-2011 Summer Semester). So I had completed three in my first semester, one over the summer, and was about to take two more. Six total, of twelve.

Unfortunately, the way that the LIS is structured is that 5 core courses, of those 12, are Semester 1 only offerings. Which means that even if I wished to, I would never be able to complete the entire degree within the usual 3-semester time-frame. Which is a bit of a bumma.

As it stands, I’ve now done 7 total – 2 of the Semester 1 offerings, all of the Semester 2 offerings – and have 3 core (Sem 1’s) to go, 1 elective, and the practical course, left. The trouble is, I can’t take three courses in one semester any more (Hubby’s decree) so there’s no way I could finish this degree this year and keep my marriage.

So. I’m in for one (and one only!) course this semester. Might do the elective in Sem 1, and the final two cores (and the last of the practical this time next year. It seems a very long-drawn out process for what was meant to be a three-semester degree!

Never mind. I start today, “Online Information Services” under the brilliant @katiedatwork, and am super-excited to get another course under my belt…