Losing a Pet in an Autistic Household

Such an intimate post. Reflecting on how a child with autism understands the emotions involved in the loss of a beloved cat.

A Quiet Week In The House

When our beloved seventeen-year-old cat was dying, Tyoma, our autistic son, reacted thus:

“Oh. So, then we’ll get a new kitty.”

No emotional depth. No concern. No sadness.

This did not fool us.

Kitty Pearl filled our son’s daily imaginings. Wobbly scratching posts and sinister-looking grooming contraptions were built in her honor. He wrote her sentimental “I-love-you-kitty” letters and taped kitty-centric schedules near her water bowl. Homemade Kitty Forts stretched across rooms and cluttered staircases.

Kitty Portal

Then there were lists. Page after page of numbered instructions pertaining to the cat:

  1. Pet kitty gently.
  2. Add ice cubes to fresh water.
  3. Brush with the fur.
  4. No pestering.

Tyoma needed to organize his interactions with Pearl, not just to remind him of his duties but also to cope with the delicious and abhorrent impulse to pull her tail.

Pearl’s declining state preoccupied Tyoma later that evening. He spread inky equationed papers on the bed…

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The Problem Of Innovation

It all starts with WHY!

DCulberhouse

The thing about innovation, more often than not, it finds you…before you find it.

The best innovations are usually not something we go out of our way to search out and find.  Rather, most often, innovation finds and reveals itself to us.

Not because we are smart, not because we are clever, or imaginative, or creative, or interesting, or even knowledgable…but, because we are willing to ask the question.  Why?  We are willing to ask why something is the way it is.  And it is that question, that why, that we just can’t seem to get past.  It nags and pesters at us.  It clings to us and won’t seem to leave us or our consciousness alone.  Continuing to pull at us until we finally find ourselves willing to do something about it.

Innovation often begins its journey as a question…

Many people ask why everyday.  And it never leads…

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UDL and The Flipped Classroom: The Full Picture

User Generated Education

In response to all of the attention given to the flipped classroom, I proposed The Flipped Classroom: The Full Picture and The Flipped Classroom: The Full Picture for Higher Education in which the viewing of videos (often discussed on the primary focus of the flipped classroom) becomes a part of a larger cycle of learning based on an experiential cycle of learning.

Universal Design for Learning has also been in the news lately as a new report Universal Design for Learning (UDL): Initiatives on the Move was released by the National Center on UDL, May, 2012. This post describes the principles of Universal Design for Learning and how they naturally occur when a full cycle of learning, including ideas related to the flipped classroom, are used within the instructional process.

Universal Design for Learning

The UDL framework:

  • includes three principles calling for educators to provide multiple means of engagement…

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Meta-cognition: What does it mean for teachers? – Education Research: What does it mean in the classroom?

Thinking about thinking…..

The Echo Chamber

Meta-cognition loosely means thinking about thinking. It is often a goal that teachers pursue. In order to become more independent, students should learn to monitor and reflect upon their own learning. 

In John Hattie’s 2009 book, “Visible Learning,” he indicates that meta-cognitive strategies can be quite effective. In the language of the book they have a ‘high effect size,’ meaning that Hattie would recommend such strategies as worthy of further investigation. To Hattie, meta-cognitive strategies include planning how to approach a given learning task, evaluating progress and monitoring comprehension, for instance, by self-questioning as you read a text. In fact, Hattie groups the notion of ‘study skills’ in the same category; an approach which also has a high effect size. This gives strength to the argument that we should pay attention to thinking about thinking, although Hattie’s examples are relatively prosaic compared to other conceptions that are available.

via Meta-cognition:…

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Effective Languages in Learning Groups

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I had the very fortunate luck of attending  Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Project Zero Classroom Summer Institute last summer.  One of the mini-sessions I attended was “Effective Professional Learning Communities:  Supporting Learning in Staff Rooms and Classrooms” by Daniel Wilson.  The session aimed at identifying the key features of learning communities while discussing the common roadblocks that impede progress.

Wilson created this helpful graphic to help us understand the languages that we use in learning groups.  This chart summarizes, on a continuum, the ways in which people share ideas.

 

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“Languages that support learning are most effective when they are in the moment portable across situations and focus on sharing, generating, integrating knowledge to solve problems. “

 

Group work is full of difficult paradoxes.  What is important, though, is that each person understand, accept and embrace differences so that problems can ultimately be solved.  The languages we use become the details that either make or break the process.  Being honest with oneself is the first step toward progress.

Hacking Simple Systems: The Tale of an Incomplete Soccer Uniform

” This blog post explores the latter: systems redesign as not just a means to innovate but as a means to make due, be resourceful, and get by as a mom.” Being scrappy and making things work within the current context is the only way new initiatives will thrive.

Making Thinking Happen

All dressed up but not quite ready to go. Tatum's daughter showed up for the first day of soccer practice wearing a party dress and sparkly flats. What to do? All dressed up but not quite ready to go: Tatum’s daughter showed up for the first day of soccer practice wearing a party dress and sparkly flats. What to do?

By Tatum Omari, Guest Author

When I used to think about systems redesign, and what would inspire a person to redesign something in the first place, images of super smarties standing next to state of the art tech contraptions immediately came to mind. Now that I’ve had a chance to work with Agency by Design as a member of the Oakland Learning Community, I realize that systems are everywhere. There are high tech systems, such as the parts and pieces that go together to make your car start in the morning, and low tech systems, say the parts and pieces that go together to transform your child into a soccer player. This blog post explores the latter: systems…

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