Friday, December 17, 2010

Autism and Technology

There are many different resources for parents of children with autism to help their children grow and learn.  One resource that is growing rapidly and is being proven to be a successful tool when dealing with autistic children is technology.  Autism children often have social problems, problems understanding basic concepts and emotion.  I recently started looking into technology and autism and I came across of website that had a variety of games for children with autism.  The website can be found here:  I played most of these games to get a feel for what they try and teach an autistic child. 

 The first game on the page shows three pictures and in each picture the person is acting out a different emotion, there is a question at the top of the page asking which picture is showing a particular emotion.  If the child guesses right they move onto a different emotion, if they get it wrong they can keep guessing until they pick the right answer.  This games helps children recognize feelings. 

There is only games that shows a little video clip of a person performing a basic task such as blowing up a balloon or stacking legos.  After the child watches the movie they they are given three pictures of the process that had just taken place in the clip and are asking to put them in order.  This helps children learn processes and which order they go in.  There is another game that ask children to point out basic directions.  One question may show to mice and ask which one is on top, or which one if in the front.  This helps children associate directions with the placement of a person or an object.  There are many websites just like this one across the internet and they are being proven to be effective.  Technology can play an important role in helping an autistic child.

Education Through the Physical- Final Parts 1 and 2

Part 1: B.
i. The website is from CBC news. The story takes place in Saskatoon, Canada at a school called City Park Collegiate. The story also mentioned a school near Chicago called Naperville that was making great strides with their program.

ii. I think this news piece is very interesting. It helps to shed light on the benefits that physical education can have on children not only physically but mentally as well. It was interesting to see how much the physical activity really impacted student learning. The part that talked about all the success that Naperville School had experienced due to the 45 minutes of vigorous activity was incredible. Seeing students with very bad behavioral problems that affected their schoolwork agree to take part in the program which changed their grades completely was amazing. The story also showed me that as a physical educator I need to make sure my students are engaged in high physical activity for a continous amount of time to help them in my class and their other classes.

iii. The physical education teacher was not mentioned at all throughout the story. We don’t hear anything about them because it was a teacher by the name of Allison Cameron that started the program. The school seemed like they focused more on getting the students off of the streets and into the school to better educate themselves. I don’t think the physical education program is very big or successful in seeing as the school mostly stressed academic performance. Cameron was the one who started integrating the treadmills and the 20-minute daily workouts into her classrooms. In being a physical educator one must put all their efforts and time into helping the students benefit from the program. When I become a physical educator my program will do just that. I want my student to succeed not only in my classroom but in their other classes as well. My program will focus on getting students involved in their physical education classes and making sure they are being fully engaged as well as getting their heart rates up. This will help them to be successful in their other classes; according to the story it will help students to concentrate more, be less fidgety and well as try harder with their school work.

iv. The program had many benefits for the students that were shown and interviewed. One of the students that participated in documentary started using drugs at age 8 and drinking at age 10 and when he first came to City Park School he could not read or write. He agreed to participate in doing 20 minutes of physical activity. The story later shows the impact that the physical activity had on this particular student’s grades. His reading improved over twenty percent and his comprehension increased over four hundred percent! These results are incredible. This student also started turning his life around and thinking about his future. He did not want to end up like the people he saw everyday on the streets doing drugs and doing nothing with their lives. Another student, Desten, was a problem student for Cameron, he has ODD (oppositional defiance disorder) as well as ADD (attention deficit disorder). He often swore at his teachers and refused to do anything he was told. After participating in the program Desten was taking interest in his classes, he was less defiant, and ever had a better relationship with Cameron. Desten put a lot of effort into this program and is now reaping the benefits, he says is he feels more energized and even happy. Desten’s grades improved greatly; his reading increased by over twenty five percent, his math increased over twenty five percent and his comprehension increased over thirty percent. These two students are not the only examples of improvement Cameron says that most of the eighth graders moved up an entire grade level. This may seem normal and sensible for most students but for students that are at a fourth grade level when they are supposed to be at an eighth grade level it is a big achievement. These outcomes are very similar to the New York State PE Standards. For Standard 1A students are meeting this because they are engaging in basic movement skills as well as becoming competent in these skills. For 1B, students are learning about physical fitness so they should be able to put together some sort of fitness plan. For Standard 2 students are understanding the benefits and opportunities that physical fitness can have. Student’s attitudes towards others and school changed for the positive. Lastly, for Standard 3 students started bringing classroom ideas to their homes asking their parents to get active with them and to also eat healthier.

v. BDNF is a type of nerve growth factor that acts as a live fertilizer on the hippocampus of the brain as well as other areas of the brain. It is often referred to as a "fertilizer" that helps make nerve cells stronger, makes them more pliable and helps them withstand stress which is good for increased learning. BDNF is released when a person is engaging in sustained vigorous activity. So in physical education class students should be involved in enough vigorous activity to release BDNF. Two key books that outlines the benefits of exercise and learning/academics are: The Kinesthetic Classroom by Traci Lengel and Mike Kuczala and Spark by Dr. John Ratey.

C. Physical educators need to make sure students are following the 6-3-3 model. Which means they are recreationally competent in 6 categories, proficient in 3 in 3 different activity categories. The Recommended Regents Level for Learning Standard 1A, I believe that at least 85% of students should exhibit the 6-3-3 model. This is not too much to ask for seeing as there are a lot of different activities offered that students can chose to take part in. Each student should be able to find activities that they find interesting and want to increase their knowledge and skills in that area. As teachers we need to be prepared to teach most if not all of those activities because students have different interests and we cannot clump all students into specific activities. I believe that 85% is a good number because it is more than the majority of students and there will always be some students that resist the program or just can not physically meet the standards. Those students occupy the missing 15%, but if we can get 85% then I would say the program is successful. The Recommended Regents Level for Learning Standard 1B should include at least 98% of students reaching competency in their own personal fitness plans. Seeing as these students are high school seniors they should be able to develop a personal fitness plan that they can actually follow and become competent in. When creating their fitness plans students know which areas they need to focus and work on specifically to them. Students should not be incorporating exercises that they cannot perform. That is not realistic and it does not help them to follow their own fitness plans. Students will leave the classroom with an understanding of the importance of physical fitness and how they themselves can monitor and create fitness plans that will help benefit them throughout their lives.

Part 2:

i. I think daily burn is a great tool for those who want to track their fitness levels and for those that need help losing weight. It is easy to navigate around the pages and to keep track of your daily log. I am not using any other form of online exercise or nutrition tracker. I do not use any nutrition trackers because I keep track mentally. I don’t have much extra time to go log onto a tracker everyday and mark down exactly what I eat, how much, how long I exercise for and exactly what exercises I do. I can pretty much keep track in my mind how well I am doing with my eating and exercise habits throughout the day. I am not sure that I will stay apart of the rockstar daily burn group. It’s something that I think I will lose interest in quickly because I have my own fitness plan that I follow. I also know a lot about nutrition so I eat well and I can keep track of what I eat mentally.

ii. I do however think this would be a great tool to use in physical education classes. I would have students make an account and keep track of their physical activity as well as their eating habits. It fits right along with NYS Learning Standard 1B. Students can develop their own fitness plan on the website as well as chose a premade fitness plan. I would have students track their eating habits to go along with the fitness plan so they can keep track of everything as a whole. To modify this for individuals I would have them create their own fitness plan as well as keep track of their consumed calories. For groups I would modify this for a group of students to follow a specific workout plan as well as an eating plan. If students don’t have computer access or do not have the time to do an individual plan they can get with a group of students and do a group workout.

iii. For Learning Standard 1A I would have students use an excel spreadsheet to capture and report date. Each student would have to set up his or her own spreadsheet according to specific guidelines that the teacher would provide. They would have a spreadsheet to coincide with the unit being taught in class. Everyday they will update their spreadsheet and record their heart rates, if their skills increased from last class, by how much, if their skills stayed the same of decreased students would record that as well. Students will write a short paragraph on why they think their skills are increasing, decreasing or staying the same. They have will to track specific skills such as if students are engaging in a basketball unit they will track their lay-up skills, free throw skills, and game play skills. Each class day instant activities or closing activities will incorporate some kind of quick skill testing that can be done individually or within a group that students can use to record on their spreadsheets. This would work well with high school students because they will have to do this on their own time so not only will they learn how to evaluate their skills but they will practice independence and time management. An example of this can be found here.

Autism Awareness

Check out my Autism Awareness Video!!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Hello everyone,
I've been alittle behind on my blog lately sorry for that.  This past week Nicole Sherman and myself have been working hard on our Lab C.  Lab C is the international lab where we all pick a game/sport from that originated from a different country.  The class and I travelled down to sunny Australia to learn about and play Buroinjin.  Never heard of it?  Well then let me explain it, there are two teams on a field at a time; each team usually consists of 2 players.  The players can run and pass in any direction when they have the ball, if they are tagged by a player on the opposite team they must pass or get rid of the ball within 3 steps or 3 seconds.  To score one team must get the ball into their endzone.  My lesson focused mostly on the defensive aspects of the sport.  The class learned defensive strategies for 2 on 1 situations as well as equal defending situations.  Lastly, the class got a chance to try and defend while on the run which simulates a game-like situation.  After watched the video taken in class I noticed a few positive and negative aspects to my lesson.  I did not walk with my back against the wall.  This is hard to remember when teaching because I am trying to engage and work with students, but I forget to work around the gym with my back against the wall so I can keep an eye on the entire class.  I also need to project my voice more.  The gym is big and I am competing for volume in there so I need to keep in mind that the louder I speak the easier it is for my students to hear me.  I did give a lot more feedback than I had in the past.  I focused on giving more specific feedback to individual students as well as positive feedback to keep them on track and trying hard.  I picked activites that I thought would keep students engaged and interested.  My last activity seemed to have some down time for students that weren't running down the field passing, but in class it proved to keep most students moving.  The students were either running down trying to pass and defend on the move or running down the sidelines to get back in line; by the time they got back in line it was time to go again.  There are a few things I need to remember when teaching, but I am improving with every experience which is good.  Check out my video and let me know what you think!

Holly - Fall 2010 - Lab C International

Monday, October 11, 2010

Cradle Beach

Hi everyone!
I wanted to share with all of you what I did this weekend.  I went to this place in Angola, NY called Cradle Beach.  Cradle Beach is mostly used during the summer for as a sleepaway summer camp for children with disabilities.  But during the year they open it up on certain weekends and have respites where people both young and old with disabilities come and interact with the respite workers and spend the weekend doing a variety of activites.  I was a summer camp counselor there all summer so on the weekends that they have respites I go there to help entertain and work with disabled people.  To qualify to be a respite camper a person must not live on their own or in a group home so they have to be taken care of by a family member or a friend or they have to have an IQ less than 60.  I spent the weekend with many different people that had variety of disbilities.  Throughout the weekend we carved pumpkins, had a Buffalo Sabres party, did arts and crafts, played on the play ground and many other things.  We celebrated halloween and the fall with making paper masks, tracing leaves, and taking nature walks a long paths in the forests.
This is a picture of one of the respite campers that I worked with his halloween mask on.  Because of HIPAA laws we can not publish pictures of the campers without parent consent.  It's hard to explain exactly what we did without showing everyone so I can show this picture because this particular camper's face is covered with the halloween masks we made.  Every camper got a chance to make a paper mask to wear to our halloween costume party and to take home.

This picture shows all the pumpkins that the campers painted and carved throughout the weekend.  After carving the pumpkins we all sorted the seeds and went back into the kitchen and taught everyone how to make pumpkin seeds.  We allowed all the campers to be actively involved with putting salt on the seeds, putting them in the oven, timing how long they cook for, then serving them.  All the campers were not only proud of how good their pumpkins turned out, but they also we so happy that they made the pumpkin seeds.

Every night after dinner we would take the campers out to the back of the camp to see the sunset across the lake.  It was something that they looked forward to every night and it brought a smile to everyone's faces.  It moment like that which put everything in perspective and reminds us of how lucky we are to have a job where we can provide people with memories like these that they will always cherish.  Working with people that have disabilities is not always easy, but it is one of the most personally rewarding and feel good things that you can do.  This is what I spent my summer as well as this weekend doing.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Hi everyone!
This is a video of my latest teaching experience.  There are a few things that I noticed that I could've improved on and somethings that I did do a good job on.  It's hard to fit everything into a lesson when there is only 4 minutes to teach.  I had forgotten to give an introduction, signal for attention and a strong hook.  I did mention "hot hands" to help the students relate to the frisbee catch.  I demonstrated how the catch should look stationary going over the cues so the students could see how the cues matched up with the actual catch.  I did not do an actual moving demonstration. I should've picked a student to throw me the frisbee so I could show the class how to implement the catch correctly.  I also should've showed common errors that most students make when catching the frisbee.  After showing common errors I should've explained how to fix these errors and help students understand the proper way to catch.  At the end of the lesson I went over the cues to make sure the students were paying attention and left knowing how to catch a frisbee.  There are a few things I needed to change in my lesson, with more time I think I could've made my lesson much better.  But in the given amount of time I did a decent job of showing the students the frisbee throw as well as letting them practice and gave them a competition to peak their interest. Here is my time coding sheet which shows how I split my time up while teaching.  I didn't have any recorded waiting or management time.  I spent most of class having students engaging in activity.