# Category Archives: Accessing the Curriculum

## puzzing intrigue

This kid does impress me at times.

OK, I know i’m somewhat biased and, as his mum, it’s my job to be impressed by him… soooo, at the risk of seeming a little ‘braggy’ i’m going to share a snippet from Mac’s recent school work.

Math(s) is still Mac’s favourite subject, it comes easily to him, he enjoys success with it and it’s easier for output than most literacy/writing based activities… so, what’s not to love?

In class Mac and his and his peers (now in 6th grade) were working on number patterns. Mac was working well and was given the first addition number pattern to complete as a warm up.

## 8, 16, 32, 64, 128

Mac typed “doubling” as his response to the teacher’s aide, ‘M’, to explain the pattern.

He was then required to provide ‘M’ with a subtracting pattern for her to try and work out, and so he typed:

## 100, 75, 50, 25

She easily identified it was subtracting by 25 each time.

But it none of this was really challenging Mac so ‘M’ upped the anti and asked him to create a really hard number pattern for her to do.

This is what he typed:

## 44, 88, 264, 1056, 5280

To quote Ron Burgundy, “well that escalated quickly”.

Seems he followed his brief… it is a tricky pattern.  Mac’s aide, ‘M’, worked on it for quite a while but he had her pretty stumped. None of the other kids in class could get it out – Mac assured them it was a proper pattern, that the numbers were correct.

Mac’s teacher, Mrs M worked it out… eventually… and in the end Mac gave the rest of the class the solution.

But it’s these little snippets and insights that intrigue us about this child.  Mac doesn’t use a calculator, it would be too tedious on this communication device.  When asked about his ‘methods’ for many things he says he “just knows it” and can’t explain his working.  Also, on his device he can only type left to right, unlike many instances in calculations where the rest of use might work right to left. So there’s plenty of times we adults are not quite sure what to do next, while Mac just keeps on doing his things his way, and yes, impressing and intriguing us as he goes.

Well, really I need to give those who love a good maths puzzle the chance to do it themselves.

But be sure to put your solution in the comments, I’ll pop Mac’s explanation he used for the class in the comments too, but don’t peek. 😉

Oh, and just so we don’t get too carried away as ‘braggy parents’, I do love the comment in his school workbook immediately following this entry which said… “Mac then dozed off in his wheelchair for a brief nap after all his work on number patterns”, seems it’s exhausting this math(s).

Way to go on the snoozing at school Macco!

Book Week 2014, a book week purists dream… no specific theme, just books, glorious books.

It’s probably fitting when your name is Macdonald you pick a character with Scottish heritage for book week.  The fact that character also has a disability was really just a happy co-incidence, the reality is… it was “all about the hair”.

Mac’s choice this year was the impressive auror Alastor “Mad Eye” Moody, from Harry Potter.  With perfect hair to pull of the look Mac was pretty impressed with himself.
Time constraints (and… oh, yeah, real life) meant we didn’t quite invent a recumbent wheelchair broomstick.  Fortunately, the freezing wind was of no concern by the appropriate choice of Dad’s Driza-bone oilskin jacket keeping Mac totally snug throughout the book week parade – he certainly fared better than some of the other muggles whose costumes would have been ruined by the addition of a jacket.

## when what you ‘don’t say’ means the most…

This week in NSW schools it is SASS (School Administrative and Support Staff) Appreciation Week.

At the Monday morning assembly I managed to catch the presentation by students to our school’s SAS staff and enjoyed hearing them share their insights – all written by the kids themselves”.  I have to admit though, I was perhaps most moved by what they “didn’t say”.

Our SAS team comprises administrative staff, learning support officers (teachers aides/paraprofessionals), groundsmen, IT support etc).  Each team member was presented with a small certificate of appreciation, a beautiful gerbera flower and a small speech from different students telling them why they were appreciated.    There were so many reasons given as to why the kids want to thank them… from getting balls of the roof to preparing newsletters, looking after the office, helping them know where to play, applying band-aids or just having a ‘chat’.

What struck me when the classroom Learning Support Officers (LSOs/teachers’ aides/paras) were being thanked is that there was no suggestion they were there for any ‘specific or special’ student.  They were considered to be in the classroom for ALL students.  There was no singling out of who they helped and why.

This is exactly how learning support should happen in classrooms.  All students, regardless of any diagnosis or funding, should be feeling supported by the presence of an additional adult in the classroom.  They shouldn’t feel, for example that the adult is, say, “Mac’s aide”.  Sure, Mac’s high physical support needs mean he will get more support in some areas… but I love that the students recognise the aide is there for ‘all of them’.  And I love that Mac (or any student in the school who warrants funded support) isn’t identified as being ‘a kid with an adult attached’ to them.

We often reflect on how well the school has embraced and enhanced the idea of natural supports and recognising peers play a vital role in supporting one another.  I love seeing the adults who come into the school as a result of funding for identified students aren’t singled out for that purpose once they get there.

Well done everyone!

## everyone with everybody…

A fantastic documentary about the inclusion of children with disability in mainstream schools in São Paulo, Brazil.

While almost the entire doco was “quote worthy” I particularly like the simplicity of this translated statement by Samuel’s father…

“I don’t see any other model.

In the segregation model people with disability don’t learn their autonomy and people without don’t learn to deal with the difference”.

This movie is part of the Why Heloisa Project www.porqueheloisa.com.br
I think I will be spending some time clicking around in that project/website in the coming days.

For our English language blind viewers I have requested an English translation… will post it here if I can get my hands on it.

todos com todos…

## the powtoon portfolio…

A homework assignment saw the need for Mac to develop an ‘about me’ portfolio.  We talked about what he might want to include, what it is that is important to him about himself.

We nixed the idea of a poster and decided to use PowToon and their built in templates.  We picked the template, decided on an image to use and then put Mac’s words into the online program.  Some of the items Mac just gave me single words and we discussed how we could expand those ideas into sentences. We also talked about how to split that information across different slides for visual effect.

So if you were wondering just who Mac is… here’s what he thinks you need to know (audio description available below video).

)

AUDIO DESCRIPTION:
Coloured slides with image of blond cartoon boy.  Text reads:

Hello, my name is Mac Burns, I am 10 years old.
I am a son, brother, grandson, nephew, cousin, friend.
I’m a bit of a thinker; I like to listen and learn;
but I don’t say much… yet!
I use switches to speak and wheels to move.
I particularly love playing football and handball with my mates.
My favourite subject is maths
In my spare time I like to listen to music and books;
watch movies and TV;
learn new things on my computer;
and swim… I love to swim.
I really like funny things, stuff that makes me LAUGH.
I love my life.

Final text is accompanied by an image of a stick drawing of Mac in a wheelchair and a huge vertical ramp… click the following link to the blog post to find out more about this image.

https://inkyed.wordpress.com/2012/04/16/no-limits/

Filed under Accessing the Curriculum

Today we were given a sneak peek of an assessment task Mac undertook.  A photo and comments from his teacher (Mr B) arrived showing his work in the text window of his communication device.

Mr B was really pleased with his work, but perhaps more excited by the fact Mac was clearly proud of his work.  It’s an interesting development.  For quite some time now, Mac has (regularly) been going ‘on strike’ in class by either refusing to use his switches or going to sleep in an attempt to get out of doing work.  It’s certainly not his finest trait … and is certainly more prevalent when it is work he thinks he might not get correct (or literacy).

However, on two occasions this week he’s completed a task and then been obviously proud of himself.

I wonder if it’s a new level of maturity, maybe that somewhat fixed mindset of his might just be opening up to new possibilities.  Oh how I’d love for him to enjoy working on things, particularly literacy, just for his own pleasure.

So what work did he do today?

Here’s the raw text in the Dynavox window.

And here’s the raw text turned into a ‘piece of writing’ (with Mac assisting with the punctuation) to ensure he can see how all his hard work is worth it.

They are delightful words… I can’t wait to find out what happens next.

I love the unusual name he’s chosen for the girl and the “stylin” shoes he’s described.

Perhaps our blog readers can add the next line or paragraph in the comments for me to share with Mac.  He can then decide if he wants to collaborate on a “choose your own adventure” style of writing or perhaps be motivated to ‘go it alone’.

## mac = albert

Book Week 2013 and the focus is on space.  I gave Mac a few options for his book week character based on things we already had ‘laying around’ the place.

To his credit he picked the more obscure option – but potentially easiest for me – in Albert Einstein.

He owns a cool Einstein tee-shirt courtesy of a recent trip to the Griffith Observatory, regularly gets around in some star pattern pants when not in his school uniform and he was pretty certain that had red converse hi-tops been around when Einstein was a kid… that’s what he would have worn.

Add some silver and white hair spray, a fake moustache and brows and, there you have it, Mac = Albert (yep, that is all Mac’s own hair).

I particularly loved watching the kids find out who Mac ‘came as’ then, share that with other kids as though it was the most obvious thing in the world, busily telling anyone who would listen “look, Mac came as Albert Einstein” or “did you see Mac? He’s Albert Einstein”.

I did buy Mac this book from the “I Am” series which we will read in the coming days on the Kindle App on the iPad.

I realised I had some of my own space/time continuum  failings as I tried to remember what Mac had done for book week each year since Kindergarten.  Thanks to some past blog posts & a Facebook post I was able to look back and see just what we actually did in those prior years.

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