Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Opening Doors For Young Adults with Disabilities: Student with intellectual disabilities wins college dorm suit - via NPR Morning Edition; Opportunities for college for students with cognitive disabilities

Research in the field of neuroscience and education related to developmental disabilities has been exploding over the past few years.  The general public, including parents and special educators, may not be aware of some of this myth-busting research, as decisions related to this research impacts the future of young people with disabilities as well as the future of our communities, educational institutions, and the workplace.

Today's NPR's Morning Edition featured a story about the changing expectations for young people with intellectual disabilities and the efforts of a young man to level the playing field at Oakland University in Michigan.  The young man was enrolled in a special college program for students with disabilities.

"Like many kids with intellectual disabilities these days, Micah Fialka-Feldman went to his neighborhood high school in Michigan and graduated. Then he wanted to try college. Nearby Oakland University is one of many schools and community colleges that are setting up programs for students with intellectual disabilities. But it wouldn't let Fialka-Feldman live on campus so he sued, and a judge has ruled that he was discriminated against." For more details, listen to the audio version on the NPR website.


For many years, community colleges and universities have offered some support for students who received additional support during their K-12 years for attention deficits, reading disabilities, hearing and vision impairments, and so forth. More recently, some institutes of higher education have open their doors to provide education for young adults with intellectual disabilities as well as those with communication and learning difficulties related to autism spectrum disorders, a population that is rapidly growing.

Colleges and universities are fairly new at the art and science of supporting students with disabilities, but things are changing, especially since word is getting out that the human brain continues developing well past the age of high school graduation. It does not surprise me to learn that young adults who required a higher level of special education services in high school can learn much more, and at an abstract level, as they approach their mid-twenties. Although they might not have the intellectual capacity to understand algebra at age 14, some might at age 22!

Transition Planning Resources
Full Text (pdf)
"This law contains a number of important new provisions that will improve access to postsecondary education for students with intellectual disabilities. Of particular note are several provisions that address financial aid and create a new model demonstration program and coordinating center for students with intellectual disabilities."

The term “comprehensive transition and postsecondary program for students with intellectual disabilities” means a degree, certificate, or non-degree program that is
  • offered by an institution of higher education;
  • designed to support students with [intellectual disabilities] who are seeking to continue academic, career and technical, and independent living instruction at an IHE in order to prepare for gainful employment;
  • includes an advising and curriculum structure; and
  • requires students with intellectual disabilities to participate on not less than a half-time basis, as determined by the institution, with such participation focusing on academic components.
The term “student with an intellectual disability” means a student:
  • with mental retardation or a cognitive impairment, characterized by significant limitations in intellectual and cognitive functioning; and adaptive behavior as expressed in conceptual, social, and practical adaptive skills; and
  • who is currently, or was formerly, eligible for a free appropriate public education (FAPE) under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

NLTS2 (National Longitudinal Transition Study-2)
A key point: "Youth who left school without finishing were more likely to have been involved with the criminal justice system, including being stopped by police other than for a traffic violation (73 percent vs. 48 percent), arrested (49 percent vs. 22 percent), and put in jail overnight (33 percent vs. 11 percent)."
HEATH: Online clearinghouse on postsecondary education for individuals with disabilities
AHEAD:  Association on Higher Education and Disability
Michael Gordon, Ed. Accommodations in Higher Education under the Americans with Disabilities Act: A No-Nonsense Guide for Clinicians, Educators, Administrators, and Lawyers

College Living Experience (Post secondary programs for students with special needs)
College of Charleston L.I.F.E. (Learning Is For Everyone)
REACH: University of Iowa Program for students with learning and cognitive disabilities
If you are tutoring or teaching math/algebra to a young adult with disabilities, here are some resources:

Jimenez, Bree A.; Browder, Diane M.; Courtade, Ginervra R. Teaching an Algebraic Equation to High School Students with Moderate Developmental Disabilities Education and Training in Developmental Disabilities, v43, n2 p266-274 Jun 2008
Katherine Trela, Bree Jimenz, Dian M. Browder: Teaching to the Standards: A Literacy-Based Approach for Students with Significant Cognitive Disabilities

2009 UNC Charlotte Curriculum Summit Materials

High School Task Analysis Math Story-Based Lessons (pdf)
Math Conceptual Model Brochure
Trela, K., Browder, D., Pugalee, D., Spooner, F., & Knight, V., (2008). A conceptual model for math for students with significant cognitive disabilities. [Brochure]. Retrieved date, from UNC Charlotte, Department of Special Education and Child Development, General Curriculum Access Projects: http://education.uncc.edu/access/

Teaching to Standards MATH  (Covers geometry, algebra, data analysis, and measurement; outgrowth of the research of Diane Browder and her colleagues at UNC-Charlotte)
Teaching to Standards MathWork (sample workbook materials) (pdf)
Teaching to Standards MATH Implementation Guide

Quadratic Equation Math Rubric
Interactive Applications and Games
DimensionM is a 3D immersive game that aligns with many algebra content standards across the U.S.   It is multi-player enabled.  If you have access to a large-screen monitor, it is helpful to model the concepts in the game along with the student(s) to introduce, review, and reinforce the concepts.  Non-disabled students, with guidance, can also use this game for peer tutoring sessions.   The software provides automatic progress tracking for students.   
For more information:  
DimensionM - How It Works 
DimensionM Game Room Creation Option (Video explains how this can customization of the student's experience playing DimensionM according to level, topic, and skills, in order for students of varying abilities to compete/cooperate with each other.)  
Students and teachers happy about DimensionM

-DimensionU YouTube Channel

UPDATE:  A reader left a comment with a link to an article regarding the effectiveness of Tabula Digita's math games in improving the math achievement among students with disabilities:

Georgia Math Project Adds Tabula Digita's DimensionM Educational Video Games to Increase Math Achievement for Students with Disabilities Business Wire, December 7, 2009

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Open Source Assistive Technology: eViacam Head Mouse (control your computer with your head or even with your finger in the air)

I just downloaded and tried eViacam, an open-source head mouse software, and found it to work accurately and smoothly.  I used the software on my HP TouchSmart PC, which has an embedded video camera.  eViacam also works with USB webcams.  You can download eViacam from Sourceforge. It is released under the GNU/GPL license.

Although this software is very useful for people with disabilities such as cerebral palsy and ALS, it looks like it could be useful for anyone.  For example, the software can track your finger as you move it in the air, and it comes with an on-screen keyboard that you can turn on or off.

By the way, one of the videos I watched on YouTube was of someone playing a game with this system. I'd like to know what games it could support!

How to Control Your Mouse with Your Head (Face) Or Your Finger

mobilephone2003 (Duncan Maile)


eViacam's future most likely will depend on donations, as this software was developed to enhance the lives of people with disabilities.  You can donate to eViacam using PayPal.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Watch students play with physics on the SMARTboard using Algodoo running on an Intel Classmate PC with a built-in accelerometer

Teachers are always looking for engaging learning activities that compliment the lessons that they teach.  Algodoo was developed by Algorx Simulation, and is a spin-off of a graduate project of Emil Ernerfeldt when he was a student at originally Umea University. Algodoo provides a means for teachers and students to explore physics concepts in a fun and meaningful way.  (The original version of Algodoo was called Phun.)

Algodoo it is great for use on an interactive whiteboard.  Watch the delight in the faces of the children as they interact with Algodoo's activities!

From Enerfeldt's YouTube site:

"In this video we use Algodoo in a small classroom setting with an interactive drawing board (SMART board), and a variety of computers. The tablet netbook is an Intel classmate PC with a built in accelerometer"

Screen shots of user contributions:
screenshot of the scenescreenshot of the scenescreenshot of the scenescreenshot of the scenescreenshot of the scene


My hunch is that the children will have a deeper understanding of physics concepts when they have the opportunity to experiment with real materials AND interactive simulations such as Algodoo.


Algodoo Website

About Algodoo

Algodoo Tutorial Videos

Algodoo Lessons

Algodoo/Phun Theme Music Track (mp.3)   The music is relaxing!

"Five Rules" for Engaging and Meaningful PowerPoint Presentations, Featuring PPT 2010 Beta

I came across the video of the following "5 Rules" presentation on Long Zheng's "I Started Something" blog. This presentation created by Duarte, a company that focuses on visual stories and corporate branding.  The presentation can be found embedded in the public beta version of Microsoft Office 2010 Microsoft Office 2010.  The new version of PowerPoint features a DirectX-powered graphics engine, which supports smooth animations.

The concepts shared in the presentation are useful for students, teachers, and anyone else who has the challenge of creating an engaging and meaningful presentation. At the end of the video, the last slides provide more specific "how-to" information regarding the nuts and bolts of putting together a quality presentation.   You'll probably need to view the presentation Office 2010 Beta in the PowerPoint format if you have the urge to dig deeper. You can find it in the Sample Templates section.

Duarte's Five Rules for Creating World-Changing Presentations

Office Powerpoint 2010 "Five Rules" sample presentation from Long Zheng on Vimeo.

Duarte Blog

Duarte's Five Rules for Creating World-Changing Presentations

(Cross-posted on the Interactive Multimedia Technology blog.)

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Blogging School Psychologists: Update!

School Psychologists' Blogs

"I loved school when I was little.  I loved it so much I played "school" on the weekends. I work with kids who hate school.  This is my blog."   The author of this blog is Dr. Rebecca (Bell) Branstetter, who lives in San Francisco, California.  She is a Clinical Psychologist and Licensed Educational Psychologist, and specializes in assessment, therapy, and coaching with school aged youth and young adults. She has a great sense of humor!

Christine Eagan, School Psychologist
Christine Eagan is a school psychologist in the Newport News Public Schools. Her areas of professional interest include cognitive-behavioral therapy, interventions with at-risk youth, neuropsychology, and play therapy.

Lianro, the author of the blog,  is a school psychologist who works for a large school district. She is involved with RTI - Response to Intervention, and documents how the RTI is changing the role of the school psychologist. Lianro has a sister with special needs who was part of her inspiration to go pursue her career choice.  She enjoys exploring technology, among other things. 

School Psychology Blog and Podcast with Dr. Gaston Weisz
Podcast Link
Dr. Weisz focuses his blog and podcast discussions around school psychology, education, special education, parenting, child development, teaching practices and staff development. If you visit his blog, take a look at his great list of links!

Assessment and Intervention in School Psychology
"Attempting to Navigate Between Science, Non-Science, and Nonsense in Order to Enhance Student Outcomes" Ryan McGill, the author of this blog, is an intern school psychologist in a large public school district in Southern California and is completing his Ph.D.  His research interests include instructional reform, data based decision making, and assessment/measurement issues. He is a certified school suicide prevention specialist.

School Psychologist Blog Files
Erin N. King, the author of this blog, focuses her posts on topics for parents of students who are in special education.  Erin works in a school district and is knowledgeable about special education laws, disabilities, assessment, and promoting educational and emotional growth in children.  She also hosts the LD Help Online Forum.

Cool School Psychologist
The author of this blog works as a school psychologist in a large midwestern city. . She started blogging in 2006, when she was a practicum student. "A potpourri mish-mash of posts, sometimes boring, sometimes funny, sometimes just posts about nothing, or something, or posts about everything, yada yada. Whatever. There ya go. Amen."

Brian S. Friedlander's Assistive Technology Blog
"Dr. Friedlander is a school psychologist with expertise in the area of assistive technology. Dr. Friedlander has a passion for using all kinds of technology in his professional work. He is very interested in the use of mind mapping, project management and Web 2.0 technologies. Dr. Friedlander readily applies these technologies in the graduate courses that he teaches at the College of St. Elizabeth in Morristown, N.J. Dr. Friedlander consults to many school districts and business organizations in N.J. and is available for workshops, training and presentations."   Brian has lots of interesting posts about technology beyond assistive technology.

The Black Briefcase: The Blog of the Life of a School Psychologist
"True tales from a school psychologist, an ongoing monologue about the state of education and what is really happening inside our schools"   "I'm just an ordinary school psychologist with an extraordinary sense of humor. At least that's what I tell myself."

"Intelligent Insights on Intelligence Theories" Kevin McGrew, the author of this blog, is the research director of the Woodcock-Munoz foundation, a private non-profit operating foundation that supports the advancement of contemporary cognitive assessments.  He was involved in the standardization of the Woodcock-Johnson R and WJ-III, and is a visiting professor in Educational Psychology at the University of Minnesota. He also is the director of the Institute for Applied Psychometrics.   Kevin's other blog is Tic Toc Talk: The IQ Brain Clock"An attempt to track the "pulse" of contemporary research and theory regarding the psychology/neuroscience of brain-based mental/interval time keeping. In addition, the relevance of neuroscience research to learning/education will also be covered."

"This blog is an attempt to detail the working life of an average school psychologist. My hope is to provide a view of the field for people that are unfamiliar with school psychology or are thinking of entering the field.  Due to confidentiality, many student issues will be left particularly vague."

This blog is written by Shari, who blogs about motherhood. "I'm a school psychologist learning the ropes about being a new mom.  Come share in the journey as I figure out my new job".

(The TechPsych blog is on this list!)