Posted in Eleanor Cawley, M.S., OTR/L

Imagine the Life of a Student with an Executive Function Disorder…..

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If you click on the photo above, you can read the infographic on a student, named Josh, who happens to have an executive function disorder.  This is all too common for many parents and teachers–the student unintentionally comes to school without ……. Homework is one of those things that is typically forgotten. Imagine how the student feels when the teacher asks for the homework and it’s not there.  There has to be a solution and there is.  There are a number of ways that the forgotten homework problem can be resolved through technology.

A great way to resolve this problem is by using Microsoft OneNote.  Microsoft OneNote comes with all Microsoft Office Suites–from the least expensive to the most expensive suite.  If you have purchased Microsoft Office then you have OneNote.  Most school districts use Microsoft Office so that they already have it as well.  A student’s homework notebook can be stored in a number of ways:  1.  The school district may allow access to the district server with a student log in from home.  2.  The district can allow access to a Windows Live account from a school computer or iPad.  The OneNote iPad app is free!

So now, the student, through whatever means, is able to access his or her homework assignment in their OneNote notebook.  As soon as the student enters any response to the assignment, it is instantaneously updated on any device that the student or teacher has access to.  So that means when the teacher says, “Josh do you have your homework?” Josh can say yes I do!  If it is not the paper version [easily printed from OneNote], at least Josh would be able to retrieve his assignment from OneNote.  This problem is then eliminated thus helping Josh feel more secure in his abilities.

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Remember that this is only a very basic rubric and will need to be modified to meet the individual needs of each student

It is very helpful to use rubrics to help a student see progress.  This rubric can be saved as a template within OneNote and be completed immediately after the homework is complete.  An additional rubric can be used to demonstrate Josh’s progress in locating his homework at school. In my opinion, we have to stop sweating the small stuff and find ways to help students with Executive Function Disorder be more successful in school.  If we can eliminate minor problems by using technology then that’s what we need to do.

Using Microsoft OneNote for Homework Assignments for Students with Special Needs

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As you may or may not know by now, I love using Microsoft OneNote with all my students.  There is an iPad app for OneNote  as well as computer applications.  As of this date, the app is free.  Since there is an iPad app, iPads do not need to be sent home with students.  Parents can access the app for their own iPad.  With the Notebook stored on Windows Live, the parent, the student and the teacher can access the notebook.  OneNote comes with any Microsoft Office Suite.  It is more cost effective to buy the suite than just OneNote alone as you then have access to other programs.  If you click on the image, you can enlarge it to see all the notes that I have written.  If this assignment is going to a number of students, you can e-mail the page so that it can be opened in each student’s notebook.  This is my notetaking program of choice for all my students.

Posted in Eleanor Cawley, M.S., OTR/L

Keyboarding 101.5

English: Virtual On-Screen Keyboard for Windows
English: Virtual On-Screen Keyboard for Windows (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Keyboarding in early elementary grades continues to work on developing familiarity with the keyboard.  That means knowing all the letters and learning about where they are on the keyboard.  It also means learning what fingers to use to strike each letter.  Another factor is should the keyboard be a virtual [like an on-screen keyboard] or a standard keyboard.  Well, a very small study (N=18) conducted by Brady Cline [http://www.bradycline.com/2013/in/ipad-typing/], showed that, “This small study makes it clear that the perception that students type faster on traditional keyboards is not correct for our current elementary students. In fact, students were slightly faster on a virtual keyboard than on a computer or iPad keyboard. ”  I am all thumbs when typing on a virtual keyboard myself, but I don’t practice much. On a traditional QWERTY keyboard, I can type approximately 100 words per minute if my hands are positioned correctly and the keyboard is aligned with my midline.  For me, if my body and the keyboard are not aligned, my error rate goes well beyond what is considered to be typical (93% accurate). So I believe that keyboarding should begin with learning the right body alignment and hand placement on the keyboard.  About.com [http://video.about.com/familyinternet/Computer-Ergonomics-for-Kids.htm#vdTrn] has a nice little video about proper positioning when using a computer for kids.

Should we forgo handwriting replacing handwriting with keyboarding?  NO!  I am so happy to see that in the State of Utah,

The State School Board voted to approve the additions to the Utah Core Standards that include teaching manuscript and cursive writing and also include building fluency in reading cursive writing.  Handwriting (both manuscript and cursive) is an important skill for students to learn. Teaching and practicing writing allows students to write letters correctly and efficiently. Fluent writers are able to focus on generating idea, producing grammatically correct text, and considering audience. Even when a student moves to a computer or other device, that writing fluency is important to the composing process.  [http://www.schools.utah.gov/curr/langartelem/actions-and-programs/handwriting.aspx]

Keyboarding is handwriting’s complement for 21st century environments, and it is a practice that will become increasingly important for students’ writing success. Children access all types of technology at home—even before they attend school—and schools can provide the developmentally appropriate instruction to bolster their fluency and efficiency in using keyboard-input devices to make them truly “bilingual by hand” (Berninger, 2012).  [WRITTEN-LANGUAGE PRODUCTION STANDARDS FOR Handwriting & Keyboarding (Grades K–8)]

I am so happy to see that Utah embraces the fact that students need handwriting but also need computing skills.  Utah has a wealth of information on keyboarding and reinforces the concepts of computational thinking with computers.  So with all that being said, during the next few years (K-3) children should be focusing on the following:

  • posture
  • familiarity with the keyboard
  • touch typing skills for accuracy [speed is generally not assessed until the end of the 3rd grade or the beginning of the 4th]
  • familiarity with program features, such as spell check
  • Familiarity with a presentation and simple gaming style programming [PowerPoint, Xtranormal, etc].  The program chosen for the student should reflect his or her interest and skill.

At this age, keyboarding should be fun, creative and expressive.  Children should experiment with different fonts, like different handwriting styles.

English: iPad with on display keyboard
English: iPad with on display keyboard (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Posted in Eleanor Cawley, M.S., OTR/L

-Using OneNote for Daily Tasks in an Alternately Assessed Classroom

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One of the daily tasks that a student in an alternately assessed class can do is to take attendance.  Many students can recognize classmates names, even though he or she is unable to read.  By using OneNote, the daily attendance can become an activity that is easily mastered in a short period of time.

In the screen shot above, I have added a number of fictitious names with a check box next to each name.  I have enlarged the font making the requisite eye hand coordination a bit easier.  The student in charge of attendance merely needs to either click on the box, or if using a tablet, tap it to check the box to indicate that the student was in attendance.  You can make the template a bit more challenging by adding additional responses, such, absent, and even add related services, i.e., OT, PT, Speech, etc.

The Attendance form is saved as a template so that there is no need to recreate the form each time.  The form is easily modified to add or subtract additional students.  A space for a student to sign can also be added and completed with with a pen tablet on a PC or with a stylus on the iPad or tablet.

Attendance 2

This is another, more advanced version of taking attendance.  The template saved on OneNote can be modified as your students abilities improve.  The student responsible for taking attendance will need to interact with each student in the room to obtain his or her initials on the form.  This can be accomplished using a pen tablet with a PC or a stylus using an iPad.  Learning how to write initials is another skill that will become useful in vocational training.

Posted in Assistive Technology, Occupational Therapy

Using Microsoft OneNote for Documentation on the Run

Many therapists are looking for a way to document on the run.  This means that they are looking for a way to become paperless, much like many other professions.  This saves the mounds of paper that over the course of the years has become insurmountable.  I frequently talk about using MS OneNote for all of these documents.  Not only can you create a template like this one.  You can also print out your documents for immediate submission if you have access to a printer.  In the event that you do not have access to a printer, you can certainly e-mail it through a HIPPA compliant service, like hushmail.com.

This is a portion of the template that I use for evaluations in OneNote
This is a portion of the template that I use for evaluations in OneNote.

 

If I really need to print out a report for one of those meetings that are occurring today, you can absolutely do so.

This is the screen that allows you to see what your quick report will look like.
This is the screen that allows you to see what your quick report will look like.

 

You can do the same thing with your Medicaid notes and many other note forms that you will need.  I have never had to use a specific form for a consult but I developed one anyway for me to keep track.  Each of the cells in these tables will expand to the size needed, once you start entering information.

My own consult note form.
My own consult note form.

This is the note form that I created for my Medicaid notes.  It works well and is accepted by any agency that I work with.

Medicaid Provider Session Note Form
Medicaid Provider Session Note Form

I do not find it as easy to create templates in the free version of Evernote.  I am a OneNote girl!

 

Enjoy your weekend,

 

Eleanor

 

 

 

Posted in Assistive Technology, Eleanor Cawley, M.S., OTR/L, New Beginings

Assistive Technology Assessment

Thinking in Terms of Developing Skill Sets Rather Than Compensating for a Disability

There are many types of assistive technology evaluations including:  mobility, seating/positioning, communication, computer access, switch-access, and aids for daily living, work-site modification, home modification, and recreational assessments.  While assistive technology should be considered in the typical ways; it should also be considered in other ways, i.e., development of skill sets.

From the use of smart phones to navigating the community, developing visual picture schedules to support a cooking or grooming task to the use of laptops and desk top computers for literacy programming, assistive technology supports the development of skills or skill sets.  [Assistive] Technology is here to stay.

Students who are unable to develop skills similar to their peers may very well be more capable with the use of technology.  The Cloud, iPads, iPhones and tablets make taking notes and organizing those notes much easier [with training] increasing a student’s ability to be independent.  Using literacy programming may actually provide a student a voice where he or she did not have one before.  Using technology successfully has the potential to help a student develop confidence and self-esteem.

What makes the addition of developing a skill set different from the typical assistive technology evaluation?  First the referral is targeted toward a specific reason for that referral.  All of the same criteria for that typical evaluation are assessed.  The same programming and devices are explored as is the student’s responses.  Each teacher working with this student is provided with a questionnaire and interviewed based on those responses.  This then gives the evaluator a picture of the student and the skills required to meet the demands in each core class.  A clearer picture of the student’s abilities to achieve the desired skill set is then established.

Based on the demands of that particular skill set, the student is observed discreetly in a core class.  For example, if the desired skill set is to take notes, the following skills will be explored and data collected:  responses to sight and sound, orientation to the teacher, motor response to cue words, quality of the notes taken (content, legibility and organization), etc.  Based on the data collected, recommendations are then made to help the student reach the goal of the desired skill set.  This may be almost a full day of assessment for a particular student.

Once recommendations have been made, and the report has been submitted to the district, the real work begins.  It is important for the evaluator to be in contact with the district’s technology team.  Together with the technology team, a device can be prepared to meet the student’s needs in each of his or her classes.  In the case of note taking, it may mean that a device must be in sync with the Smart Board in class so that the student can save the lecture notes.  Different programs, based on teacher preference, may also need to be learned by the student to ensure that the notes are recorded.

So after a full day of evaluation, and further consult with the technology department, it is prudent to set up additional consult sessions to train the student and the staff in the use of the device, develop future goals and assess whether or not this plan of action will be successful for the student.  In order for assistive technology to meet the needs of the student, it must be constantly assessed and re-assessed, with additional support to the student.

In a different scenario, a student may be recommended for an assistive technology evaluation to address poor handwriting skills.  In addition to the typical assistive technology evaluation where the student’s keyboarding ability is assessed, he or she may need additional support in keyboarding using a touch typing method to improve speed and accuracy.  Often a student with poor handwriting skills has been provided with a computer as needed but he or she has not learned the correct method of keyboarding.  This leads to greater frustration and disenchantment, with any device provided, due to a higher error rate.

A traditional assistive technology evaluation may be requested if the student has reading difficulties, for example, Dyslexia.  Options for assistive technology include text to speech programming-having text from a computer read to the student in a computer voice.  Once the student has been approved for assistive technology, depending on the programming chosen by the district, the voice in the test to speech program can be somewhat pleasing or definitely irritating.  It is difficult to train a student to to modify and use this type of programming during the initial evaluation.  Digital book sharing services require that the student have an account.  This account needs to have a completed application, parent consent and a sign-off by a professional to indicate a visual print disability.  It can take a day or two for the company to approve the application.  Upon approval, a Welcome e-mail is sent to access the account.  Often, an additional program needs to be downloaded before the student or parent can download books to read.

There is a significant delay in the student accessing and using this programming.  If the teacher has not had access to digital book sharing prior to this student, he or she also needs to learn how to use the programming.  So in addition to the evaluation and initial training, follow up and ongoing training is necessary.  This training can be done by the evaluator or district personnel knowledgeable in this area.

In general, assistive technology can only be considered successful if the student is using it to function within his school and home environments and is able to perform the activities with an increased level of independence.  This brings attention to another issue that arises with the use of assistive technology, which is caregiver training.  Frequently, in this training loop, the parent [or caregiver] is left out.  It is important to have the parent participate in at least one training session, once the technology, approved by the district, is in place.

It is ny goal to ensure that every student receiving assistive technology, either through the district or through private funding, receive the training that he or she needs to gain independence.  Once again, if the student is not comfortable with the technology or does not fully understand how to use it, the technology is wasted as is the money spent or the evaluation, purchase and training.  We must also be very careful in not allowing the assistive technology provided being considered another failure.  This can further undermine a student’s self-confidence and self-esteem.