This is a very quick post to let you know that this blog is moving to a new site. The new address is simply www.janefarrall.com and the blog is on the front page.
We have sent emails to all email subscribers, however a number of these have bounced back. If you do receive an email, you can click on the subscribe button if you wish to re-subscribe to the blog in its new location. If you don’t receive an email (and we apologise for this) you’ll need to subscribe again using the email subscribe on the right side of the new home page.
This current blog site will close down in the next few weeks.
Last week I had a wonderful experience. I’ve been smiling ever since. Then yesterday I read a blog post by David Koppenhaver and decided that I needed to write about my experience.
On the front page of my website is a quote by Dr David Yoder. “No student is too anything to be able to read and write.” I firmly believe this – and the longer I work the more evidence I have to support it.
Just over 10 years ago I met a young man – Tom. He was 17 years old and in his penultimate year at high school. Tom was referred to me for an Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) evaluation. Tom was referred for an AAC evaluation because he has complex communication needs as well as cerebral palsy spastic quadriplegia. He speaks – but is generally only understood by those familiar with him within context. Every day, even with familiar people, he has communication breakdowns where they don’t understand his message via speech. As Tom was approaching the end of his schooling, his team became concerned about his communication needs after school. How was he going to get his message across with the wide range of unfamiliar people he was going to meet?
Big Mouth Camp is a camp for school aged students who use speech generating devices and their families. I started Big Mouth Camp in 2003 and this year was the 8th camp (we have had a couple of years off). I am very lucky to have a fabulous committee who help with the organisation – Helen Tainsh, Charlene Cullen, Fiona Beauchamp and Siôn Gough Hughes. And we are also very lucky to have a large number of volunteers who come back year after year and make camp possible. Plus all the amazing students and their families who come along and really get into the spirit of camp.
I am very excited to have a guest blogger today writing about this year’s Big Mouth Camp. Brenton is one of the students who attended this year’s camp and I hope you enjoy his insights about camp.
Hi, my name is Brenton. I am 15 years old. I have now gone to six Big Mouth Camps. Don’t tell anyone
The latest operating system for the iPad/iPhone/iPod touch, iOS 7, has introduced some major changes to the accessibility of these devices. In particular, switch access is now built right into the accessibility options, providing operating system level alternative access to these tablet devices for the first time – and this update is the main purpose for this blog post. In addition, there are also a range of apps that have switch access built into the app itself – and I’ll cover those apps and the options for switch interfaces too as I believe these still have a relevant place in the switch options for iOS.
And before I go on – I just want to apologise in advance as this is a REALLY long blog post with several videos but I wanted to cover this topic thoroughly.
Literacy Lab is a fabulous piece of software for use as part of balanced literacy instruction from Mayer Johnson. The software is aimed at emergent readers and writers, providing a range of simple, easy to use highly motivating activities. I have been using it for a few weeks now – and am extremely enthusiastic about the included content and also the options for many students I am working with.
The main menu of Literacy Lab has a range of different non-fiction topics that a student can choose – animals, community, habitats, land & water, plants, the solar system, transportation and weather. A student can work their way through all the topics if they want to – but originally they just need to select one.
The Zybox for iOS is a switch interface from Zygo that uses VoiceOver to control the iOS and any VoiceOver compatible apps on your iPad or iPhone. I reviewed it earlier this year and posted a blog about it on the 31st of March. However, the Zybox has had a makeover – a hardware update – that has improved it hugely. So, it’s time for another review.
As I mentioned in the earlier review, one of the signficant features of this interface is that it plugs directly into the port on the iPad. This will help in some situations where Bluetooth adapters have proved impractical (e.g. some hearing aid loops seem to interfere with the Bluetooth switch adapters) or if people don’t like adding a Bluetooth accessory.
Recently I have been talking a lot to teachers about doing group writing in their classroom. As teachers implement a balanced literacy program in their classrooms, it is important that writing happens daily – and that writing happens for real reasons. Writing is one of the most complex tasks that we ask students to do. They need to think of an idea. Then they need to come up with the language and words to write about the idea. Once they’ve done that, they need to think how to spell those words and then how they are going to write or select the letters that make up those words. So much to do and so many things to co-ordinate for emergent and early writers.
Yesterday I was very lucky to present three papers around the topic of literacy instruction for students with complex communication needs (CCN) at the 2013 AGOSCI Conference.
The first presentation was with the awesome Dr Sally Clendon. Sally and I both do similar consulting roles – although Sally is based in Auckland, New Zealand. We try to collaborate with each other as much as we can. Our presentation was entitled “Balanced Word Instruction – Supporting Students with CCN to Crack the Alphabetic Code” and allowed us both to share some of the fabulous things happening in the different schools we work with. Thanks to staff and students from Kilparrin Teaching and Assessment School in Adelaide, Malkara Specialist School in Canberra, Acacia Hill School in Alice Springs and Wairau Valley School in Auckland for allowing us to share their photos and videos. You can view the slideshow for this presentation below:
The second presentation was with the very knowledgeable Helen Tainsh. Helen and I both have a passion for literacy and for AAC and we also love collaborating! Our presentation was entitled “Connect2Literacy: Communication Supports for Guided Reading” and the slideshow is below.
And my third presentation was with an excellent and keen young teacher that I have been working with for the last 18 months. Beccy Hayes works at Kilparrin Teaching and Assessment School, and our presentation was entitled “Connect 2 Literacy: Literacy Instruction for Complex Students”. Unfortunately I am unable to share this presentation as there are too many student details and photos for it to make sense if I removed them (as I would have to if sharing on the web).
For those of you who came to these sessions, we hope you enjoyed them. These are the last resources I’ll be sharing from the AGOSCI Conference as I didn’t have any presentations on the final day – and hopefully I’ll see lots of you at the next AGOSCI in Brisbane from May 13 to 16 in 2015!
Today I presented with Fiona Barron from Malkara Specialist School at the AGOSCI 2013 Biennial Conference. Last year Fiona had a whole class of students who used iPads with Proloquo2Go as their high technology communication device – and the presentation today was shared the journey in her classroom with the delegates at the conference.
The presentation is below (minus videos) and I’ve also put the links from the presentation underneath the slides for easier access.