Sunday, July 22, 2012

NDSC {The "Learning" Post, Part 1}

You're about to get NDSC overload.  I decided to split up my "Learning" posts, in order to really dive into my "take aways" from the convention.  I had a boss who used to make us write down 3-5 things we would do after conferences.  After getting so many great ideas, I decided to focus on one big takeaway from each workshop, and also file away others for later.  Lucky you, I'm "filing away" my thoughts here.  Feel free to email me with questions about anything!

You can also register here to get recordings of some sessions, which I think would be worthwhile.

I know these photos are very poor quality.  A couple are from my phone.  Forgive me, and I hope the cuteness factor in the little kid photos makes up for it.

Self advocates, who are blocked from view by adoring families.

More of our stellar self-advocates.  As Erin said, people will listen much more when she makes a statement vs her mom saying the exact same thing.

When I didn't have Ellie, I borrowed other kids, including Kamdyn and Bella.  Also, I wore the same shirt Friday and Saturday in two different colors.

The most important stuff I learned at NDSC is covered in my day 2 post, and I believe those insights are valuable whether or not you have a loved one with Down syndrome.  This series of posts will be more specific to parenting, Down syndrome, and education.  If you aren't involved in anything with kids, and you don't know anyone with Down syndrome or another disability, this may not be your cup of tea.  Then again, if you don't know kids or people with disabilities and you're not a teacher, I'm kind of surprised you're reading!

Reading and Math.

Dana Halle of the Down Syndrome Foundation of Orange County presented on both reading and math.  The principles she taught were the same for both skills, and I thought the tips were great for any child with delays who has a relative strength in visual processing.

In Math, Dana mentioned that math skills are often overlooked for children with DS.  She suggested that with our early learners (such as Ellie), we begin with sorting.  She suggested sorting by color with visual cues, such as a yellow piece of construction paper when you'll put all the yellow toys, and a red sheet of construction paper when you'll put all the red toys.  She also suggested early ordering and comparing by size or number.  For example, a big plate and a little plate, or a lot of Cheerios vs. one Cheerio.  Finally, she suggested working on patterns, specifically the ABAB pattern using one attribute.  An ABAB pattern might be circle, square, circle, square, etc.  It could also be made from snacks (cracker, cheese, cracker, cheese) or movements (jump, step, jump, step).

Moving onto numbers, Dana suggested that beyond early rote counting and counting objects in the environment, using a number line for matching, and matching objects and/or flashcards to the numbers on the number line.

Also, to support visual learners who are easily distracted, she suggested spacing out objects (either in real life or on worksheets) and lining up objects for counting.

"Ellie, check out these glowing ice cubes!"

"This is amazing!  Thanks, Bella!"

"Now I have two!"

Two sweet 16 month olds with their "We're plotting, look out" faces on.

DSFOC has a ton of free downloads, you just need to register.  They partner with the folks who produce See and Learn, which regular readers know as "Ellie's flashcard obsession."

Once little ones have an attention span, they can do assisted matching and some selecting of pictures only for vocabulary building and to learn the activities they'll need to learn words.  Ellie is in the vocabulary building stage, so this post is for future reference once she has a few more words and the ability to match a bit more.

For books, Dana suggested making your own, or using free downloads.  A book might have six pages, each with a clear picture and one line of text.  The text often has a carrier phrase, such as "I can.."  "I like.." or "I see.." which introduces common sight words.  I might write a book that says, "I see a tree./I see a dog./I see a stroller./I see a flower./I see a slide./I see a pool."  (And I think I'll use this for Ellie's "play outside" book.)  After reading, a student would match.  They are given a grid with all the pictures from the book, along with image cards that are identical to each of the six items.  One is given at a time, and positive help is given.

One thing that stood out is the positive wording.  Instead of "no, not quite!" the teachers in the video would say, "try again," or "let's do it together."  I've heard before that kids with Down syndrome respond best to teach, teach, teach rather than teach, test, teach.

After picture matching, a student would match words, then select the correct word from a field of two.  Two cards are in front of the student, perhaps "tree" and "pool."  A teacher would say, "Ellie, hand me pool," at which point Ellie might hand over the tree.  If so, the teacher would say, "Oh, a tree.  Hand me pool!" and provide physical assistance if needed.

Worksheets with drawing lines to connect matching words might be next, followed by matching word and picture to ensure comprehension.

Easy, right?  I can't wait to make Ellie some more books.  I'm adding that to my list for tomorrow!


Ellie making friends on Day 1.  Did I mention she met Corky from Life Goes On?  Oh, only like 3473487 times?

Hope you had a great weekend.  If you were at the convention, I'd love to hear your thoughts on the sessions you attended.  If not, what topics are you hoping to learn about more?  And for everyone else, here's hoping you had a great weekend as well!

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  1. I love that you went and you learned so much.
    You are the best!

  2. Thank you for all your great ideas! I really love your blog ;) I will have to make some books soon!!

  3. Thanks for posting these ideas! Ill have to write them down somewhere so I don't forget!


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