Tag Archives: teachertube

Thank You Questar!

18 Nov
Today, one of the assistant principals came in and handed me an envelope that contained a survey from Questar . For anyone who doesn’t know, Questar is the company responsible for scoring the Georgia Alternate Assessment (GAA). He wanted to know when I could have it done, and I told him maybe Friday. He said he needed it by tomorrow. Thing is, our GAA’s are also due tomorrow! This looked like just one more piece of worthless paperwork associated with the GAA, which already has dubious value.
I opened it up and looked at it, and suddenly it became a bit more of a cathartic exercise that I thought. I was able to fully vent my spleen upon those vile people who were intimately connected to this process that has so vexed me these past few years. Much of it was a Likert-type scale asking how I felt my students had benefitted from the GAA process, with 1 being the least and 4 being the most. That whole section was pretty much a ‘1’. Another section asked about administrative support. That scored about a ‘2’. They did give us leave time the first year, but we’re getting no extra time this year to do this stuff. We’re on our own and the schedule is tighter than ever with shorter deadlines. Administrative support amounts to 1/2 day of training, some ink cartridges, some card stock and a few meetings and deadlines. No regular education teachers are collecting the data at our school, which was one item scored on the survey.
Somewhere they got the idea that the GAA was supposed to revolutionize our teaching and the acheivement of our students. Actually, it has made some changes. The daily living skills and vocational skills are pretty much crowded out because they do not support any academic standards at the 11th grade level. Those goals are no longer a significant part of the IEP. In fact, there seems to be a full scale charge away from any vocational skills in the high school curriculum at all. While some of the content of my teaching has been more diversified, the relevance has mostly disappeared. Eleventh grade college prep standards mean very little to students who have IQ’s in the single digits. They asked how the GAA contributed towards greater student acheivement and learning. I was able to express to them that the GAA has NOTHING to do with student acheivement, learning or comprehension. There are many ways to fail the GAA by making it uinscorable. None of those ways have anything to do with student acheivement. Actual student acheivement is the LEAST prominent metric in the scoring of this “assessment.” It is all about meeting NCLB’s mandates without having to have any actual substance. It’s more of a test of a teacher’s endurance and gamesmanship than actual teaching.
One section did ask what benefits, if any, I had realized from participating in the GAA:
It has made me more politically aware and active in working toward the repeal of NCLB. It has also motivated me to research and consider other career options.
So instead of taking a day or two to complete the survey, it took me about 20 minutes to pound it out. It felt pretty good to get some of that out to those people. It would be nice to know any meaningful results from this survey. Since we’re right in the midst of the first collection period, I can imagine lots of Georgia teachers taking this opportunity to express their displeasure. I’m not sure if every teacher doing a GAA had to do a survey (I don’t think so) but rest assured, I was very candid and sharp in my remarks and comments.
I don’t blame Questar for their abominable assessment. They are simply providing a service that states need in order to comply with an abominable federal law. My students happen to be nonstandard students and there is no reasonable way to standardize them. Therefore, this unreasonable insult will have to do until control of education can be rescued from the federal lunatics and returned to the state asylum where it belongs.
You can also see a rant about the GAA I filmed and posted last night on my TeacherTube channel (link to video).

A Little Video Montage of Me

2 Aug

This is a bunch of clips I made from various videos that I’ve posted to Teachertube and/or my YouTube channel.  That little guy at the :25 mark may or may not be my oldest son who is now 9!

I actually did the music myself using the Qchord.

Welcome Advanced Elearn: I’m Finished For Summer!

30 Jun

I just finished my Advanced Moodle Course (which my county calls Elearn) and did manage to get a decent course laid out that might be useful for the teachers in our county.  You can see most of the content on my TeacherTube or YouTube sites.  If and when I add more content, that will appear on one of those sights. 

I learned a lot by taking this course, since my course is also about teaching adult teachers.  One of the problems with this course about interactive learning is that it is still taught in the traditional 20th century way.  That means you have one teacher in front of 20-30 other people and that one person disseminates the content out to the students.  However, there was a group of teachers that did get together and collaborated on their online course.  However it was tough going for them as they hadn’t actually taken a Moodle course before.  Many Moodle courses still look like they could have been produced years ago, as they involve a ton of reading and then an occasional quiz to measure understanding.  what these courses really and truly need is to incorporate the production of actual content.

This course is being or has been taught by 3 different instructors, and I’m wondering why they didn’t pool their time and resources in developing content for this course.  Each instructor could take a topic or a day (it’s a three day course) and really and truly demonstrate the power of this technology.  For instance, this class had a few other nerds like me, but also had some people who have difficulty managing basic computer functions.  By having recorded content online, it would allow those people who needed to see something multiple times to actually see those instructions multiple times while the faster people could keep progressing or enhancing our own courses/sites.

You can get the gist of what I’m saying by looking at this video.


So I’ll be off and traveling for the next 3 weeks, and we’ll be driving about 3,000 miles!  Fortunately, both of my kids travel really well.  Having an extra mp3 player and laptop/DVD player will make things a little easier.  Stay Cool!



Using Video: Information is Power

9 Jun

Since school is out, I’ve been having the time of my life, exploring new mediums and modes of expression and teaching. I took over an hour of footage before school let out and am taking some time to edit and post them to TeacherTube. But I’m also connecting within the YouTube community. I’m planning on doing more creative things on YouTube, which means not everything will be as “professional.”

The great thing is watching what other people are doing and how they are doing it. I was talking to an assistant principal awhile back and letting her know some of the things I was doing. “You mean they have educational videos on YouTube?”

Yes, yea they do. In fact, YouTube is a treasure trove of knowledge and information. Yeah, I subscribe to an X-men cartoon channel and Al Yankovic’s “White and Nerdy” video is among my favorites along with the Guacamole Ukulele song. Kind of a theme going on there.

But there is a world of knowledge out there waiting to be discovered. My one subscriber, so far, is Dr. Melvin Koplow aka drmdk. His YouTube channel is here. There’s some good information there, as he got the idea to videotape short interviews with doctors and experts from a variety of fields and disciplines, making medical information available to anyone. The information is fascinating and cutting edge and he is truly on to something. I will warn you that it helps to have a keen interest in the content, as the interviews and videos are a bit on the dry side, but they are also less than 10 minutes long each. And in these videos, especially in the autism section, you can see what the doctors and experts say.

While information and knowledge is power, it’s up to individuals to decide whether or not they want to be ignorant. Hat tip to Liz who found a good article about the costs of unproven and sometimes dangerous treatments for autism. Dr. MDK does cut through much of this with a number of his videos on the subject. In fact, one of the the reasons Dr. MDK started making these videos is linked to Liz’s latest blog entry here. You can see Dr. MDK talking about why he’s making these videos here. He talks about how there are ghostwriters done by people who didn’t even do the work or research. There is something about having a face and a voice attached to the information instead of just a written page.

And that’s part of what I’m doing. I’m putting myself out there, where you can see what I’m doing and who I am with real, actual students. You see who I am. This isn’t just some anonymous blogger anymore. It’s someone more real. Back when I posted my Fleecing article, I initially got a lot of comments from people who agreed with it, but as time wore on, more and more parents started commenting and many of them stated how these controversial therapies had helped or cured their kids.

Where’s the before and after YouTube videos?

I have some that I’m working on, and you can judge for yourself. Before and after videos are one reasonable measure of validity, according to Kazdin’s authoritative work on single-case research designs. But I haven’t seen any. Why isn’t this very simple method used to lend at least a minimum of validity to any of these treatments? Because there is none? That’s not to say that method alone would be sufficient to prove anything as much as support some of the ideas. Yes, YouTube could be a vehicle for helping promote legitimate treatments for autism. You can look and see several videos of kids getting behavioral therapy and track the progress yourself of some of the kids.

There’s good information out there, it’s just a matter of finding it. Or better still, creating it.


Welcome eLearn!

6 May

Yes, I will SO be blogging you!

Yes, this Thursday is my refresher session for what our county calls eLearn, which is actually Moodle. Moodle is actually the centerpiece of the course that I’m developing for paras and teachers of students with severe and profound disabilities. The videos, the podcasts and this blog are all resources that I’ll be using and Moodle will help provide the instructional format, content organization and assessments in order to actually put it together like a real course.

At least that’s the idea.

Last summer, I attended an eLearn class and was sort of excited about it. Trouble is, I had no idea of how to use it, because my kids can’t read, write and most can’t manipulate a mouse well enough to navigate around even with Moodle’s efforts with accessibility standards because most are reliant on single switch access and do not attend or track with that level of detail. It was a bit depressing for me, because I saw all sorts of possibilities with this great tool, but I wouldn’t have much of a chance to develop it or to use it. This lack of application and interface with the web 2.0 technology that I know and love has been a big driver in pushing me out of the SID/PID setting and driving me toward a higher functioning population. I want to create content and be out there, which I’ve sort of been doing the past couple of years with my blog. But I want to leverage the internet as a platform to provide students with the opportunity to access content easily and repeatedly at their own pace.

My audience in this course is not kids, as much as it is other adults which hopefully will have some sort of multiplier effect in helping many more students with severe disabilities learn. In a sense, it’s just me, self-marketing myself. Otherwise known as pimping myself out… for the greater good. I could see some parents tapping into this material, too. And for anyone out there so inclined, you could also contribute to the cause by posting some content that might be useful. You can read this post to see my wish list!  So maybe some folks will tune in from the workshop and get turned on to blogging and maybe some of my other readers will find some of this interesting.

I’m looking forward to getting out of class for a day, and it will be a nice break from the hectic schedule and noise and chaos that seems to go along with this time of year. I was here until 8:00 in the evening doing a bunch of IEPs last night. I think one more big push and I’ll have them done for the year.

I look forward to the day when I have time to read more posts by the good folks in my blog roll!


Videos on TeacherTube

15 Apr

I have a few videos on TeacherTube with many more to come. My first attempt was demonstrating the Qchord, which is a sort of musical instrument that I sometimes use in the classroom. A more practical video is one I made on the use of switches for students with severe disabilities to use for communication. There’s also an activity attached to that lesson, about 101 uses for using switches in the classroom. Then I did a couple of videos on positioning for students with orthopedic impairments that some might find interesting. And my most recent effort was a screencast about using the Boardmaker software program that special ed teachers frequently use for communication and language instruction. I have some more videos demonstrating that software that I’ll be uploading once I get the narration audio track finished. The problem is that I’m very seldom in a space or environment where it is quiet enough to do narration! There seems to always be noise somewhere around that can be picked up by the mic! Plus we are in full-IEP mode right now so I’m squeezed for time. A ton of folks are hitting my IEP series right now, so I know a lot of people are using that resource.

After talking with one of the new SID teachers in the county, I got a lot of new ideas for resources to add. One of the most common questions I get asked is about my lesson plans. They are not very good or satisfactory enough for my taste and certainly not for addressing state standards. However I do have a data sheet that sort of functions as a lesson plan that I’ll be attaching to a future video on discrete trials. Future features will involve:

-Discrete trial teaching (DTT)

– More Boardmaker overlays

– Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS)

– Para training

– Schedule/lessonplanning/curriculum

I’m presently looking to get permission from parents to include actual students in future videos, so that should be pretty exciting. Even if I only get one permission form, I can demonstrate quite a lot of what I actually do. So far, I don’t know of anyone else doing anything like this, but if there is I’d like to know about it!

I use TeacherTube because YouTube is blocked by our school and TeacherTube does allow unlimited uploads. You can also attach lesson plans and activities to the video which can really increase its usefulness to other teachers. The downside is that viewers don’t often leave very many comments or give very much feedback compared to what I see on YouTube. The most discussed video is entitled “Pay Attention” which has over half a million views but only 83 comments and the next most discussed has less than 50 comments. It’s not a very interactive community, which is why I see having a blog to support my efforts as being a useful thing.

That’s my weekly wrap up. We’ve only got about 6 weeks left of school! Where has all the time gone?!?