Thursday, January 31, 2013

Monday, January 28, 2013

What I Have Been Doing: Part 1

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I have been absent from blogging for the past few weeks. Here are the reasons why.
After Sandy Hook, I posted this on Dec. 26th. My Random Guy was the target of a bully after this tragedy and I still don't know if I should be blogging about him anymore. He's thinking about it and I will respect his wishes.
Also after returning from winter break, which all special needs parents know is quite consuming of any spare time, I had a bomb dropped on me, figuratively speaking.
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 At the Special Education Advisory Council meeting on the 11th of this month they announced that they were going to shrink or eliminate my Sensi's elementary autism program from the school it is in and there are no plans to move the program anywhere else.
The plan was to move each child into their own busing zones around town and provide for their special education needs at a designated special education site in each zone. There will only be 1-2 Special Education classrooms at each site.
This was not acceptable to me. I had already dealt with this issue and wrote about it here: writing-effective-e-mail-to-school
I was left despairing about what I was going to do to get Sensi an appropriate education. I started researching other schools. I looked outside the district, looked at magnet and charter schools. I considered private schools, but I didn't know of any appropriate ones at the time.
Statewide open enrollment ended on Jan. 15. I had three days to find a back up plan for my daughter if what they are planning for her schooling is to come true. I talked to several school districts and enrolled her in a program about 20 min. away from our home. Open Enrollment in Minnesota means that you are considered for a spot in a school if they have room after serving all of the students they already have in the district. So there is a shot for Sensi to get into the other school, but no guarantee. 
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 We also needed to do something to fix the disastrous zoning plan for Special Education. Another parent contacted me after the meeting and we started to rally the other parents and put together an action plan. Sensi's teacher provided us with some great points to make about what makes this ASD program special and we put together a sheet of talking points. Two of the parents went to the School Information Fair that following weekend and sought out the School Board Directors to discuss this poorly planned change. The feedback we got was that face to face contact with the board directors made a difference.
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 The parents met the Saturday before the School Board meeting and discussed our plan and what we were going to say. We agreed on what we are asking from the district and what we are willing to concede, (honestly, not much.) The school is a model for a successful autism program, the only way they could improve it would be to expand it, not shrink it into oblivion.  We also discussed how the public comment part of the meeting works so everyone would know what to expect and reviewed the things to keep in mind while talking; be firm but respectful and be gracious but make sure you are heard. Say something personal about your own child, but don't talk about other children without that parent's permission. Keep to the topic about what makes our school great, and don't trash other programs specifically.  Even though the other programs are not acceptable to us, make sure they know ALL of the kids in the district deserve an exemplary program like ours.
I'll write more about what happened at the school board meeting in part II. 
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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Tranquil Thursday: Ujjayi Breath

Bublles VI by StellaStyles via:

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Thursday, January 10, 2013

Monday, January 7, 2013

Random Apps: Elementary Math Apps

Random has asked for some math apps, since he has seen his sister enjoying MathSmart: First Grade recently. He wanted something like it only at his level. They don't have a MathSmart for fifth grade so I started looking for some math apps he would like. Here are some that I have found to be appropriate for Random. All apps are the usual .99 to $4.99 unless otherwise noted.

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5th Grade Math Testing Prep: Solidify math skills specifically for grade level. Help your kids get ready for state mandated math tests. Twenty-two topics covered, from algebra to money and measurement to word problems.

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Graphs by Tap to Learn: Free for a limited time. Covers trend lines, bar graphs and pie charts.

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iTooch MATH Grade 5: Try this out for Free with the lite version or buy the full version for $4.99. There is also a whole grade version with Math, Language Arts, Sciences and Health for $11.99. MATH Grade 5 covers numbers and operations, fractions, measuring and estimating, graphs and stats and geometry.  Progress scoring, embedded calculator and math scratch board. An all in one math tutor. Other grades available.

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 Math Fact Master: Basic operations flashcards. Includes addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. This app has ability to set the program so missed cards are repeated, multiple settings for multiple players.

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 Mathopolis: By the makers of Math Fact Master: Use your math facts to save the town from fire. Kids will have fun saving the town by answering the equations correctly.

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Math Bingo: Fun game play for 1 or more players. Choose from addition, subtraction, multiplication, division or mixed math facts. Choose from 3 levels. Earn a Bingo Bug to play bonus games.

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 Math Evolve: Comes in both Free lite version and paid version. Engaging space battle fun to learn basic operations. Progress tracking function included.

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MathSmart: First Grade: This is the app that started our recent quest for math apps. Counting, addition, subtraction and advanced mental math.

I hope you enjoy our latest app discoveries. Have some fun e-play.


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Taciturn Tuesday: Calvin Nicholls Paper Sculpture

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