Science Differentiation through 21st-Century Technology!

My current class in my doctoral program, Technology and Educational Leadership, has opened my eyes to the endless learning tools available using Web 2.0 technology. Given the vast amount of free material on the internet with a click of a mouse, I do hope and believe that very soon textbooks in schools will become obsolete. Imagine the financial benefits for states and school districts if educational leaders began to incorporate Web 2.0 technologies and 21st-century learning into the curriculum, not to mention the additional benefit of ending the textbook industry’s control and manipulation over education.

Having a twice-exceptional child who does not fit into the standard mold, I am always sharing new ideas with his teachers in the hopes of discovering new ways they can challenge and motivate him to learn new things. This is especially difficult in the sciences, which is his area of giftedness. For his 9th-grade biology teacher, the challenge has been how to create new learning situations for him that will expand his knowledge and encourage creativity and growth in his area of passion. As is typical with twice-exceptional kids, their asynchronous development produces highs and lows that can be dramatic. This uneven development also makes it difficult for him to show his learning in a traditional sense such as through writing or multiple choice tests. This is where the internet comes into play!

I recently sent my sons’ biology teacher a series of emails with links to many different science-based tools she can use in her class for enrichment as well as remediation. This is what is so exciting about 21st-century learning…it offers the adaptability that textbooks can’t!

Here a few of my exciting discoveries!

An example of an Open Education Resource (OER) is https://www.merlot.org/merlot/index.htm. Teachers and students have access to individualized lessons, texts, interactive science demonstrations and simulations, and quizzes on any subject possible. Students and teachers are always adding content to the site which encourages collaboration and teamwork. Below is a video link explaining how MERLOT II works.

Another great resource for differentiating science instruction and incorporating 21st century learning through Sumanas, Inc. http://www.sumanasinc.com/webcontent/animations/biology.html. This educational site offers teachers another pedagogical tool to make science more compelling for students. The service provides expertise in all scientific areas through an innovative educational platform that combines traditional course materials with enhanced graphics, video and animation. Below is a screen shot of a video example from SUMANAS, Inc.

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A final science-based tool I want to share is http://www.dnaftb.org/. This incredible website offers lessons in all the sciences from genetics and DNA, molecules and bacteria, and everything in between. Each lesson explains the basic concept with animations, a picture gallery, videos, problems, and links. Below is a screen shot of the websites home page.

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Amazing Temple Grandin!

In an effort to continuously seek, sense and share new knowledge (PKM) into my ever-expanding brain, I have really embraced the wonders of podcasts and http://www.audible.com recently. This is not to say that I didn’t listen to “books on tape” back in the day, however, now with Web 2.0 access and 21st century learning at my fingertips, I can now deposit more information in my head while driving to & from work hassle-free (and Aidan benefits too!).

I have been listening to Temple Grandin’s new book, The Autistic Brain and it is a wealth of information. She really emphasizes the need to stay away from labels and to rather focus on addressing the symptoms of Autism individually. Given Autism is a “spectrum” disorder, every child is unique and symptoms manifest themselves in a multitude of ways which makes treating them under one label almost impossible. Treat the symptoms, not the label!

Trials & Tribulations with Executive Functioning!

IMG_0292Today was a true test of how well Aidan was able to work through his stress and anxiety when he was asked to clean his room. I have used this poster as a reference many other times as well…pretty much anytime he is asked to do ANYTHING that is not a preferred task!

The poster comes in handy for homework, getting ready for school in the morning, as well as getting tasks accomplished before going to bed.

Aidan and I have had many conversations about executive functioning skills and how important they are now and will be for his future happiness.

Since he is extremely visual, I have found that using lists, posters and picture schedules (mainly when he was younger) serve as a constant reminder and point of reference for him when he inevitably gets distracted from his current task. We have this poster taped to the window in the kitchen!

Me and My 2e life

So, here goes my first blog post! My intention with this blog and the concept of “living with gra2e paradoxy” is to shed some light on twice-exceptionality (2e). Twice-exceptional (2e) children are also referred to as gifted and learning disabled. I hope to offer parents and educators a place of acceptance, information, and hopefully share my daily struggles and triumphs raising a 2e child.

As a doctoral student studying various topics related to the 2e community, I would also like to discuss application and integration of a growth mindset mentality among educators involving best inclusive practices, the collaborative, co-teaching process and gifted education.

If you a parent of a 2e child or a teacher with a twice-exceptional child in your classroom, you may already understand how difficult it is for our kids to be ok with the gray areas in life. For my son, the world is black or white. Period. End of sentence! Even if “being in the gray” happens to be to his advantage, he will fight it tooth and nail.