Welcome to Teacher Space. Scroll down the right margin to discover hundreds of quality, teaching and learning links for mainstream and special education teachers.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Belvoir Special School Art

Hi Everyone,
This year I am back at Belvoir Special School, after a 2 year stint at the Hume Regional Office. I'm so happy to be back, working directly with students. I hope that it will mean that I will have the opportunity to keep this blog updated, on a more regular basis.
I have been teaching art, to a sensational group of Middle Years students, over the past two weeks and would love to hear from other special educators who are doing the same.
Art is meant to be shared, so please visit our art blog to look at the the projects we have been working on.
You can visit us by following this link.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Free Autism Seminar iTunes Recordings from Yale University

Hi Everyone,
Yale University has a great new resource designed to assist anyone with an interest in finding out more about Autism Spectrum Disorders.
This series of 15 evidence based, video lectures is a great place to begin your ASD learning journey or to update your knowledge.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Understanding Fragile X - Information and Resources for Parents and Teachers

Hi Everyone,

I have spent quite some time this morning exploring the National Fragile X Foundation (USA) website. The site is full of terrific resources to support the understandings of educational and allied medical professionals and a wonderful resource for parents, navigating a new diagnosis, to find evidence based, up to date information about the syndrome.

I highly recommend watching the 26 minute video Understanding Fragile X which explains very simply what Fragile X is, as well as the educational approaches most successful in working with this group of learners.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Exercises for Children with Cerebral Palsy - University of Wollongong

Hi Everyone,
I have been scouring the internet for resources to support teachers working with students with Cerebral Palsy. Check out The University of Wollongong's fantastic video library of exercises, that can be downloaded straight onto your own computer.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Welcome to Holland Poem - Video

How does it feel to be the parent of a child with special needs?
A well known poem, performed brilliantly.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Life's a Twitch - A Documentary about one man's journey with Tourette Syndome.

My work has brought me into the lives of some sensational kids with Tourette Syndrome. I am always amazed at their resourcefulness in masking their condition and dismayed that they have to expend so much energy in doing so.
Dr Duncan McKinlay describes what it was like for him growing up with the syndrome and how it has shaped his life. It is a must see documentary for teens with Tourette's.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Imagine being Deaf/Blind - The Amazing Work of Able Australia on the 7:30 Report

A Bionic Eye by 2013

Hi Everyone,
First the Cochlear implant and now it looks like Professor Nigel Lovell from the University of Sydney, Australia will be leading the way in technology to help the blind to see. Listen to this amazing podcast from ABC Radio, Sydney to find out more.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Tourette Syndrome- Sensational 3 Part Video Series & Evidence Based Resources

Click here for Part 2
Click here for Part 3

Hi Everyone,

Check out his fantastic, 39 minute podcast, which does a sensational job of demystifying Tourette Syndrome, on the Tourette Syndrome Association Australia website.
The site provides a flash and windows based podcast platform, if you wold rather not view the series on Youtube.

I will definitely share this resource in school newsletters and during staff meetings, to educate communities, living and learning with people with Tourette's.
This site is a fabulous resource for family members coming to terms with a new diagnosis.

Below is a 30 second commercial, made by the Tourette Syndrome Association Australia, which shows what it is like to experience tics from the person with Tourette's point of view. I hope it encourages you to spend the next 39 minutes watching the 3 part series.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Community of Practice - Autism

Hi Everyone,

Over the past six months I have had the great plasure of being part of a team developing a Community of Practice (CoP) for Autism in the regional city of Wangaratta, in Victoria, Australia.
We have finally got to the stage of setting up an online forum, to meet the need of the local community - The Wangaratta Autism Community of Practice Blog. I had forgotton how much I enjoy putting a new blog together. We have also set up a Twitter Account with the same name.
I am wondering if there are any other CoP's for Autism out there that would like to share their learning with us. If so, I would love to hear from you.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Is it Autism - or is it DAMP ?

Hi Everyone,
DAMP ( Deficitis in Attention, Motor control and Perceptual abilities ) is another condition which is often mistaken for autism by teachers, when referring students for further assessments.
There is very little information on the web about DAMP but the Sydney Children's Hospital - Westmead site, has a great page with a pdf to print out and share with teachers, parents and carers.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Autism Or Something Else?

Dr. Sally Ozonoff discusses the complexities of clinically diagnosing patients with autism versus other neurodevelopmental disorders when many of the features between disorders are quite similar. (#16237)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

When it's not Autism or ADHD it might be- Non Verbal Learning Disability

When I am working in schools, I am often asked to 'check out' another student in the class or school that has some 'autistic like traits'. Diagnosis is the work of a multidisciplinary team, so I tell the school staff that if they are concerned they sound refer the student on for assessment.
There are many conditions that have 'autistic like traits' as part of their profile. Nonverbal language Disorder (NVLD) is one that pops up regularly as the actual diagnosis of students that I am asked to observe.
Click here to read some simple information which explains the differences between a diagnosis of NVLD, ADHD and the Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)

The Coffee klatch Blogtalk Radio show has recently produced an excellent podcast about NVLD. Click here to listen.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Left Handed Writers

Hi Everyone,

During the week, in my role as an Autism visiting teacher, I spent some time observing a left handed 12 year old student, with dysgraphia, during his writing lesson. The teacher wanted to know if his current writing issues were to do with being left handed, autistic or dysgraphic !

Here are 2 very good, short videos which will help teachers and parents to sort out the' left handed' issues from the others.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Dys- Respect - Dyscalculia

An expert panel discusses the math learning disability called dyscalculia, which affects five percent of children, making it as common as dyslexia.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Dys- Respect: Watch this Sensational 4 Part Series About Dyslexia

Click here to access Parts 2 through to 4
Remember to check out my Twitter account - see the widget link in the left margin, for the reading linked to this topic and a whole range of inclusion issues.

Metacognition - What is it and how can we harness it in classrooms?

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Free Visual Making Program


Many thanks to Angela, for showing me this terrific site for making visual supports for home and school. This program imports pictures from your computer straight into the frames. it is very useful for children who may not be ready to use symbols such as Boardmaker, but respond well to photographs.

Click on the links to explore the site for yourself.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Dyslexia Explained - Podcast and Written text Resource

Dyslexia explained - Better Health Channel
Click on this link to read or listen to information about dyslexia.

People with dyslexia - more often referred to as a specific learning difficulty (SLD) - have difficulties with reading, language and words for no apparent reason. Common problem areas include spelling, comprehension, reading and identification of words. Dyslexia isn't a symptom of low intelligence.

Dys Respect - Dyslexia

My son started university this month.
He has battled with dysgraphia throughout his schooling.
The university he is attending ( RMIT Melbourne Campus) has been sensational in providing him with the supports and accommodations he needs to do well.
This month I am going to focus my professional reading on the 'dyses' - dyslexia and dysgraphia.
I found this great video about famous people with dyslexia, on the Pedia Staff website this morning.
I am going to use it as a conversation starter for professional development training sessions for teachers and to encourage the kids with dyslexia, that I work with.
You can follow my professional reading via Twitter @teachersspace, about a range of special education topics. Check out the Twitter embed in the right margin to see what I have been reading about lately : - )

Monday, March 14, 2011

Decoding the Spectrum - Dr Valerie Hu

Hi Everyone,
Watch the video and then follow the link to a pdf, which provides more information about the amazing research of Dr Valerie Hu.
Here is the link.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Apps for Children with Special Needs

Click here to visit the site

Hi Everyone,
If you are beginning your app shopping journey for a child with special needs this is a sensational place to start.
Don't waste any more time searching on Google.
Just click on the link above.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Friday, January 28, 2011

Coffee Klatch Podcasts on Blog Talk Radio

Hi Everyone,

If you have been following me on Twitter, you will have noticed that I have spent a great deal of time listening to Podcasts on The Coffee Klatch Blog Talk Radio Show this week.
Here is how they describe themselves:

'The Coffee Klatch is an interactive forum on Blog Talk Radio and Twitter bringing you expert guests including award winning authors, doctors, psychologists, advocates and representatives from the world's most respected children's organisations. We feature topics for all disabilities both physical and emotional'

You can also visit The Coffee Klatch at the iTunes store and download shows, which is what I do, because they are so full of great information and ideas ; I will want to listen to them over and over again.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

American Speech Language Hearing Association Podcasts(ASHA)

HI Everyone,

I have spent some time this morning, listening to Podcasts produced by ASHA. Each podcast features interviews with people that are making news in the professions of speech -language pathology and audiology.

There are currently 20 free podcasts in the series which cover a wide range of topics. Written transcripts for each podcast and links to key research papers are provided on the ASHA website.

The podcasts can be downloaded from the ASHA website or from the ITunes store.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Let me tell you about Asperegers Syndrome

Hi Everyone,
I use this video when I am working in Middle Years and Secondary settings, when I am invited to speak to groups of students and staff about Aspergers Syndrome.
It is a great tool to loosen tongues and open minds.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

What is Twitter - How can I use it?

What is Twitter? - Explania

Hi Everyone,
Jennifer ( my Twitter mentor) has taken me on a crash course in Twitter this week.
I am definitely hooked but need to find a way to keep it manageable.
I have a busy online life as it is!
I have decided to use Twitter to post links, to all the professional reading that I do online, during the week.
If you would like to see what I've been reading all you need to do is join Twitter and look for me under the user ID : Teachersspace
Jennifer has also introduced me to a sensational site called Bitly, which shortens website links. This is a very handy site to have access to, when you have a lot to say and need to say it in 140 characters or less.
I'm already plotting how I might use this tool to encourage reluctant writers with language disorders...?

Friday, January 21, 2011

Innovation In Education - Special and Inclusive too!

Hi Everyone,

I belong to the Educators Guide to Innovation Ning. It is another important part of my professional learning network.

I haunt the discussion posts, I have participated in online, seminars, webcasts, Elluminate sessions and discussion topics for months. I've clicked on 100's of links that have lead me to amazing resources . I have learned so much!

The one thing that is missing from this site, is the strong presence of special and inclusive educators. This means that there is a gap in the innovation process. I think it is time for that to change so I am on a bit of a campaign, to sign up teachers in inclusive and special education settings.

I have created a group on the site called, the 'Special and Inclusive Education Teachers Support Network.

Would you like to join us ?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

New to teaching a student with additional Needs? -Misunderstood Minds

Hi Everyone,
One of the most difficult aspects of my role as a coach and mentor to other teachers, in both the special education and mainstream settings, is finding ways to help teachers understand the that a specific learning disability or difference in 'cognitive wiring, ' can have a huge impact how a student learns and how successful they will be as learners.

Until I can demonstrate that, and get the teacher to look at the class setting or curriculum from the student's perspective, I have little no chance of convincing teachers to make accommodations for students or adjusting their teaching and learning practices, to create an accessible and inclusive environment for all students.

The Misunderstood Minds website is a great tool for changing the mind set of teachers and or parents who may be struggling to accept that, or empathise with a student who needs support.
This is what the creators say about their own site:

'This site is a companion to the PBS special Misunderstood Minds, and profiles a variety of learning problems and expert opinions. It is designed to give parents and teachers a better understanding of learning processes, insights into difficulties, and strategies for responding.'

The feature that I use the most is the 'Try it for yourself' activities that are included in each of the learning difference topics. These are simple simulations that allow the user to experience completing a task as if they had the learning disability, difference or sensory distortion themselves.

I would encourage all teachers to visit the site and try the activities. They have been the catalyst for many 'Aha moments' for the teachers that I work with.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Understanding the Parent Perspective : AUTISM IS NOT THE BOSS

Hi Everyone,
If you a teacher who visits this blog, I can't emphasise enough how important it is to understand that parents of students with special or additional needs, need you to understand how the education system looks, from their perspective.

I read loads of parent blogs, every week. They help me to keep my teaching real, relevant and transparent. You will find lots of links to parent blogs, in blogroll section below. You will need to scroll a long way down to find it : - )

Today, while getting a grip on Twitter ( see yesterday's post) I found a blog called 'Autism is Not the Boss' . Please go and read it. The writer is so open and honest about her experiences of raising a child with an autism spectrum disorder, and how she deals with an education system that is evolving, but not always ready to provide what her child needs.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Free language Stuff

Hi again,
My friend Lauren, a speech pathologist in training, has just sent me this link to the 'Free language Stuff ' website. Paul Morris is a speech pathologist with a special interest in teaching language. His site has over 200 free learning activities in worksheet form.
While I am not a big fan of worksheets, especially when a teacher goes to the copier and hits 25 so that s/he has enough of the same worksheet for every student in the class ; I am not opposed to providing resources in a variety of ways, to meet the individual needs of students during each lesson.
Check it out. You might just save yourself a lot of time and find exactly what you have been looking for.

Connecting, sharing and being what tomorrow needs

Hi Everyone,
I would like to introduce you to a few of the latest members of my professional learning network (PLN).

First, go over to the 'Eliminating the Box' blog and find out what Monica has to say on the topics of special education and inclusion. I have been sharing resources from her blog, with other members of my network, all week. Watch the Aimee Mullins - Ted Talk on the Opportunity of Adversity. Also check out the Youtube series called ' Children full of life'. Click on the comment section and discover why I watched it with a box of tissues near by. Perhaps you could leave a comment yourself while you are there, to encourage this amazing blogger to keep writing.

I have also been watching loads of podcasts from the K12 Online Conference 2010, via the iTunes U store. I'm all fired up to ensure that my teaching is providing my students with the tools that they will need to be successful communicators and consumers of information and resources, in the technology driven world they will inherit.
I particularly enjoyed the key note presentation by Dean Shareski, which encourages all teachers to share ideas and practices with others, using Web 2.0 technology.

To expand your PLN, join the K12 Online conference Ning.

I would also like to thank Jennifer, an Australian early years educator, for encouraging me to take a leap into the world of Twitter, which is a minor miracle, because I swore I would never do it!

However, if I really believe teaching is all about being what tomorrow needs, I could hardly refuse Jennifer's generous mentoring.

Click on the twitter button above, to keep me company on my Twitter journey : - )

You will find a link to Jennifer's professional learning network there, because at this stage, she is my first and only follower. Thanks, Jen.

Lastly, on sharing, if anyone can tell me how to attach a hyperlink to a photo in blogger using a Mac, I will be most grateful. I have clicked, fiddled and Googled but still haven't been able to figure it out !

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Multiple Sclerosis Online Information - National Multiple Sclerosis Society

Hi Everyone,

You learn something new every day. At risk of doing serious damage to my credibility as a special education teacher, I must admit that I was unaware that children and teens could have multiple sclerosis (MS). It is an autoimmune disease that I have aways associated with people over 20 and I have never had to deal with the issues around the impact of MS in my teaching practice.

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society has produced an excellent handbook to support the knowledge of school personnel. You can download a copy for your self by clicking here.
I would also encourage you to have a good look around their website which has some terrific online training materials in both written and video format.

I get excited about a discovery like the one I made today. Although my professional and personal life is as overcrowded and busy as any other teachers' , I am a great believer in being prepared. Lighthouse educational practice involves being ready to meet a need before it presents as an issue in the school or in your classroom.

Take some time to read through this 36 page document and browse through the website today.

It never ceases to amaze me, how often I have done that and then needed that information, to support a student, colleague or family, shortly afterward.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Special Education Apps

Hi Everyone,
The Autism Speaks website, has a great list of iProduct Apps that you might like to explore.
I have just put a big dent in my iTunes account so be warned. There are some amazing resources for parents and teachers on this site. Take some time to look around by following this link.

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Proprioceptive Sense in children with Hearing and Vision Impairment

Hi Everyone,

You might have guessed that I am taking some time this week, to up skill myself in the area of vision and hearing impairments and the impacts that they have on learners.

As an autism consultant, I am finding that I am frequently in the position of supporting teachers with students with a co-morbid hearing and/ or vision impairment.

This article by David Brown, is a very informative and easy read. It describes what the proprioceptive sense is, how it impacts our ability to learn and strategies teachers can use when this sensory system is challenged.

If you want to join me in some quick professional learning, follow this link to the article.

Auslan Tutor App - Free from the iTunes Store

Hi Everyone,

I am in the process of becoming 'Mac literate'. I bought a Mac book just before Christmas. It is taking me twice as long to write posts and anything else, that I would normally do with a computer. Perhaps it is a foolish thing to do, when I have just committed to being more prolific on my blog this year.

Got to love the journey though - right?

Today though, I want to draw your attention to the Auslan Tutor App for Apple iProducts such as the iPad and iPhone. You don't have to have a hearing impaired student or family member, to benefit from using this application. I use key word signing daily in my work; primarily to provide visual cues to support the receptive language skills of my students. I encourage teachers that I support and mentor to do the same.

Some of these teachers have taken the use of this application one step further and are using it as their text and resource to teach their students Auslan too. The students love it and it is creating an inclusive culture in schools in preparation for a child with a hearing impairment, choosing to sign, who may be enrolled in that school down the track.

Using the video reference library, you could learn a word a day, or add signs to class songs. As they say, 'From little things big things grow'.

The best bit is that it is free! So, follow the link to the iTunes store for more information and to download it today.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Auditory System and Hearing Impairment - Free E-learning Course

Hi Everyone,

Today I completed a free E-Learning course, offered by the Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children - Renwick Centre, which is part of the University of Newcastle.

The Course ' Auditory System Hearing and impairment' is aimed at people looking for an introduction to hearing impairment and the auditory system. I found it interesting as a teacher and as the middle aged daughter of elderly parents, adjusting to hearing loss that is the result of the normal ageing process.

The topics covered are:
  • The anatomy of the ear
  • Causes of hearing loss
  • Types and degree of hearing loss
  • Audiograms
  • Hearing aids
  • Cochlear implants
  • Tactics to help when communicating with people who have a hearing loss.
Check it out for yourself by clicking on the hyperlinks.

Happy New Year

Hi Everyone,
It is hard to believe that another year has passed and I am sitting here making plans for the new school year.

I am feeling a bit embarrassed, that I have neglected this blog during the past 12 months. I plan to make amends for this, over the next few weeks before the Australian school year starts again.

2010 was a very busy year. Too busy in fact!
I had three jobs and spent lots of time working on Nings and websites to support those roles. I loved working for the Positive Partnerships Team, travelling all over Victoria, teaching teachers about inclusive practices for working with students on the autism spectrum.

It was also my first year working for the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, as an autism coach. That involved visiting teachers in mainstream and special education settings 3 days a week; providing support and guidance to meet the needs of specific students in their natural environments. I have a two year contract now, to continue that work, so I must be doing something right!

I did miss having a class of my own last year. I will be in the same position this year. However, in my 2 day a week role at Belvoir Special School, this year, I will be able to get back into the classroom again and work with some sensational kids, with a wide range of learning strengths and challenges. I am so much looking forward to that!

I am trying hard to get my work life balance in order. It has been an ongoing issue with me. Every year it tops my New Year's resolution list and I am making some headway. It is a small steps process for me though.

Thanks to all of those people who visited my blog in 2010. There were over 96 000 of you. I really appreciate you sticking with me . Many thanks to all of the parents, therapists and teachers, who have kept me informed and 'real' in the way that I view 'differbility' and inclusive practice. I love reading your blogs, so please keep writing them.

Have safe a sensational New Year : - D

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Specials - A series exploring young adulthood

I love this british TV Series called 'The Specials'. The series follows the lives of a group of young people with special needs, as they make their own way in the adult world. All of the episodes of Series 1 are available via YouTube.I can't wait to share this series with our teens at my Special School and I am really looking forward to Series 2!

Your Therapy Source News

Click here to read the magazine

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Autism Help - Autism Information

Hi Everyone,
If you have a new diagnosis of Autism and you looking for a website that will provide you with easy to read information, that is simple to navigate through, Autism Help is the site for you.
Autism Help covers all the information , that you will need to understand both the strengths and impacts of an autism diagnosis, from pre-school through to the tertiary years.
I wish you well on your journey.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Science Bob - Science experiments for kids

Hi Everyone,
I had a great time working with the junior classes, at Belvoir Special school today. The highlight was making a home made lava lamp, during the science lesson. Joanne, their amazing classroom teacher, found the lesson plan on the Science Bob website. What a sensational find! It is full of simple and highly engaging science experiments and multimedia presentations, suitable for primary aged kids, in both special education and inclusive classrooms. I will definitely be adding this site to my science links.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

What is Communication Shutdown ?

Social communication is one of the biggest challenges for people with autism. Shutdown Facebook or Twitter on Nov 1 to have some idea of what it's like.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Safe 4 Kids - Protective Behaviours Resources

Hi Everyone,
I have been on a web quest all year, trying to get my hands on the 'Sing Yourself Safe' CD. I posted a plea for help to locate the CD, earlier in the year, and it was read by the owner of Safe 4 Kids , Holly -ann Martin, during the week.
Hooray ! Not only is that quest now over but I have also found a terrific range of other resources, to support my protective behaviours program in mainstream and special education settings.
Visit the Safe 4 Kids website to check them out for yourself.
Thanks so much for getting in contact, Holly-ann. : - )

Saturday, October 2, 2010

White noise Improves memory in children with attention disorders

Hi Everyone,
I have just read an interesting article, on the Pediastaff blog, about studies at Stockholm University in Sweden, indicating that white noise can have a significant impact on concentration and on task behaviours, for some people with attentional disorders and difficulties like ADHD.
The studies also showed, that white noise was extremely distracting for people who do not usually have any trouble concentrating. So, the quest for this morning was scour the Internet to find some iProduct applications, that kids could use in class, on their iTouch, iPad or iPhone, via the App shopper website, as white noise adjustment strategies.
There are loads!
These are free and easy to use:

Here is a link to the Stockholm University research paper, if you would like more specific details about the research project.

Universal Design for Learning

A is for Autism F is for Friend - Video