Friday, December 11, 2015

So much to be Thankful for!

Thanksgiving is such a wonderful holiday to reflect on our blessings!!  We eat a sit down family dinner together almost every night.  For years we've had the tradition of telling the best part of our day at dinner, but for the last month or so we've added telling something that we are grateful for.  The kids have been so great at coming up with unusual things.  It has promoted great discussion.  I am grateful to be learning from my children.  Life is good!

This is a sick picture (yes, three laptops and 2 iPads), but it illustrates one thing that I am thankful for . . . technology.  We really do try to keep the screen time to a minimum at our house but this particular day we were all taking our screen time "together".  (Josh, the biggest computer user in the family isn't even pictured.)

Technology has created a miracle for Cara this fall.  About one month into school her resource teacher contacted me and asked if I'd allow her to be tested for assistive technology.  I'm always onboard with getting her the help she needs.  A few weeks later the distract came back with the report and recommended that she begin using an iPad to help her in the classroom.  Just to help you understand the scope of what she is experiencing:

1) She is the only child in the entire school that has been issued an iPad to help her.
2) At her IEP this year the principal, who is very experienced, said that Cara is only the second child she has ever known who had this "true" reading disability.  She is not delayed in any other way, but she can not decode words.  After YEARS of intervention she is still reading at a Pre-Primmer (Kindergarten) level. Her IQ is great. Her social skills are awesome. She just can't read or spell decipherable words.
3) When I reported how Cara's life has changed by having the iPad, and how she is now blasting through books, following along as the iPad reads to her.  He special ed teacher got tears in her eyes knowing that this is likely the only way Cara's world could have been opened to literature.

The results are awesome.  First, she only leaves the classroom for 30 minutes of reading intervention, during regular reading groups.  She used to leave after math instruction too, because she needed to be in a classroom where the story problems could all be read to her.  She now has her math books on her iPad.  She can highlight story problems and instructions and listen to them in her ear buds.

Another cool adaptation is that she will do all of her writing in a "speak to text" format.  She has struggled to participate in writing.  She has great ideas but is limited by her inability to get them onto paper.  Now we are teaching her how to use the technology and how to edit and check her writing.  We live in a wonderful time!

I had a tutor coming over every day after school to help Cara with her homework.  She wasn't capable of doing her 20-30 minutes of reading each night by herself, because she simply can't read even the simplest of books.  She needed everything read to her, and doing homework was so painful for all of us.  Now she is totally independent!  It is incredible!!

One thing that came up, when we were deciding if we should get her an iPad or something smaller, was what other students would think.  I talked to her about the way other students treat her.  She said that NOONE has EVER made fun of her or called her stupid for not being able to read.  I think that is a real tribute to the students, parents and teachers of Providence Elementary.

No, I don't run a day care.  My children love to play, and I like them to.  It keeps them happy and off of technology.  This particular day Ali had a friend over and Johnny had two friends.  Together they made up a band and were putting on a performance for me. Cute kids!

Most recently Caleb and Cara have both started you tube channels.  Caleb is sure he is going to make millions from his recorded Nerf Gun wars.  One thing it has done is attracted all of the boys around to come over and make videos. Caleb's channel is Diamond Tanker.  Cara's channel is a little more girly,  called Craft Bites.  So far it just had a drama she created with her friend, recorded by her 7-year-old brother.  It's quality!

Thanksgiving this year was with my family.  Dinner was amazing as always.  Josh photo bombed a cute picture of our nephew, Danny.  Resulting in the only picture we have of dinner. 

Of course dessert is the best part anyway!

It snowed over Thanksgiving so the kids got to do their very favorite thing - riding on the sleds behind the four-wheeler.  You know it is going to be fun when helmet and goggles are required! Josh is such a good sport to spend hours out in the cold playing with them. 

We did have one other note worthy outing during Thanksgiving.  We went ice skating with my cousin Emily and her cute family.  The kids love each other, and we are always happy to spend time with them when they are in town.  The kids also LOVED ice skating.  Ali has been asking for weeks if we can go iceskating again for Christmas.  She thinks that would be the perfect Christmas day activity!