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Finland has figured it out!

The internet is busting with articles on Finnish schools. If you read a handful of them you quickly realize that the United States is clearly following the wrong path to success. In fact, it is such a vast difference in theory and practice it makes one wonder who is making the decisions about education in this country. It only makes sense we would seek top ranking educational countries and see what is directing their success.

What secret practices and expensive programs are causing such an uproar? Are you ready for this? You are not going to believe how simple the solutions are. In the USA we are all but cutting out recess but in Finland they have increased it to 75 minutes a day. Yes, you hear me right, 75 minutes of recess. Research shows this to be a key factor in reducing behavior problems and to increase focus. I just wonder why we find such a simple and cost effective solution not appropriate for our children. It gets better. The other secret is reduced homework. Younger students have little to no homework. Plus children do not start school until they are 7 years old. Makes you wonder if education in the USA is not government funded daycare starting some children as young as 3 years of age. Finnish schools are focused on cooperation not competition. Testing is not a focus like it is in the USA. Can you imagine the uproar of the testing folks if the USA dropped all the testing? People are earning billions of dollars off of tormenting children by high stakes testing. Personally, I think it is one of the largest rip off schemes around.

I urge you to investigate education from all over the globe. Things will not change here in the USA until parents and the public educate themselves on alternatives and start demanding change. As noted above, these changes would drastically reduce the cost of education. Behavior would improve as well as a reduction in ADHD medications use. Families would have less stress.

http://www.weareteachers.com/hot-topics/special-reports/teaching-around-the-world/finlands-a-plus-schools

 

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Back to school for 2013!

Around the United States school bells are ringing once again as the Labor Day holiday marks the last days of freedom for most school page kids. Some parents are excited to see the school doors open while others dread what is to follow. With school comes anxiety and frustrations which make life a living nightmare for some children with hidden disabilities such as ADHD and learning challenges.

Just some tips to help make the year start on a positive note. Always make time to listen to your child. Even a brief conversation let’s your child know you care. Make it a policy you can check the book bag. When dealing with kids with ADHD, it is a given they will forget to give you important notes and homework. With the policy of mom or dad checking the book bag it reduces the frustrations. It also encourages children to start taking the initiative to start giving you stuff to avoid the book bag search.  On some occasions, slip a nice note of encouragement to your child. Nothing embarrassing, just a little note of encouragement or acknowledging a proud moment.

If the teacher/s use the internet to post grades or assignments, be active in checking these sites from time to time. For your information, these sites have loggers so teachers and administrators can see how active you are in checking on your child. This does make a difference when you attend conferences and other meeting about your child. Also, technology doesn’t lie or forget so do not try to say you did when you didn’t. Your child will know. Despite how much staff try not to be vocal about opinions, if you are not keeping up with the options the school provides more often than not they will let your child know.

Lots of great information on Creative Tidal Wave about learning solutions. Check back over previous blogs on focusing ideas, behavior management, and communication. If you have a certain situation you wish to find solutions for, please send me a message and I will address it a blog.

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Another great ap for students with ADHD and Learning Challenges, GoodNotes

I like to pass on great tips. Good friend of mine posted about this great app for college. I think it would be great for high school as well. Always a good idea to have assistive technology addressed in the IEP. With all the outstanding advances and the growing acceptance of using tablets and iPads in the classroom, whatever it takes to help go for it!

Taylor Teems highly recommends GoodNotes. She states it is great for those that struggle with ADHD, OCD, or just want less paperwork and cleaner notes. She reports the app is only $2. Folks, you cannot beat that!

I know many local high schools are using GoodNotes on school owned iPads. The Georgia Vocational Rehab office recommends their clients use it who are in college. I look forward to adding it to my app collection to support note taking at workshops and conferences.

 

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Invisible Academy

What do ADHD, ADD, bipolar, despression, audio processing disorder, visual processing disorder, dyslexia, and learning disabilities all have in common? There are no outward physical traits to cue you in someone has these problems. If you line up people at business meetings,  ball games, in church or most any place, I doubt you could pick out folks who have these disabilities.  You would never know  unless there was a remote chance you were a well trained professional. Even with years of experience it would be difficult in most situations to pick out who had what. We all go through periods of extreme excitement or depression so one cannot be defined or labeled based upon one meeting. After an extended period it might be obvious something is a bit odd or different about a person but in general, these labels could be classified as “invisible” disorders.

What do you do if you have a child or staff with these challenges?  There are counselors and special interest groups who address needs but no one likes to be seen walking into a place with ADHD Workshop plastered everywhere . The truth is we do not want anyone to know if we have such disorders or labels, be it ourselves or our child. As employers we care not to think that “little Johnny” is now working for us and his ADHD is running everyone crazy. We do not like facing the truth because it makes us look bad in others eyes, so we think. We waste more time avoiding the situations. Life can be less stressful, more productive, and full filling if we only accept. Proactive intervention is the key.

How do you get help without making it obvious you are seeking help? You would be surprised at how often the solutions are just common sense things. Life has a way of distorting reality to the point we lose perspective. Don’t worry, it happens to us all. Sometimes we just need a fresh approach or our eyes and minds dusted out a bit so we can see the situation clearly. It is hard for parents to deal with what they think is horrible behavior when it is not out of the normal range just out of their comfort zone. We get busy often caught up in too much internet and media information that we blow the situation out of portion. We have lost track of what is normal to focus on what is the easiest. We often do not want to work for solutions. A quick fix is just that, a patch not a solution. Employers often forget the younger generation thinks and processes differently. The workplace doesn’t run as smoothly in 2013 as it did in 1978. Not because the old ways are out of date and useless or the employees are not as smart or focused, it is that life is different across the board, you must adjust. And yes, ADHD is in the workplace as well as a slew of other labels attached to workers. Seeking solutions via the arts can make a world of difference. A change in the music can increase productivity. A change in the color and visuals can calm or stimulate activity. A change in attitude and approach can reduce stress. Some thing as simple as doodling on a note pad when frustrated while figuring out a problem can stimulate solutions. Not only will it help people with challenges it will also boost others in the environment. It is a win-win situation.

Seek out creative options. There are plenty of creative options and hands on workshops which offer a different perspective to common issues. Also, these creative instructional workshop ideas can be applied to writer’s block, making life change decisions, overcoming a recent tragic event… the list is endless. Check out Artella Land and  The Muse Is In sites. Contact me at Creative Tidal Wave for simple alternatives.  Check out my Shark Like Focus blog entries for solutions.

 

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An App for meeting deadlines to increase productivity

English: 2 gregorian calendar examples

English: 2 gregorian calendar examples (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In my search for  great apps to help  students and adults with ADHD and learning challenges stay organized I have come across another winner. Countdown + is a creative event count down reminder. You can choose the picture to go with multiple countdowns.  You can countdown days to assignment deadlines, meetings, appointments, and games. My daughter is a huge fan of this app. As a theater major, this app comes in handy to keep up with schedules and rehearsals.   She enjoys checking the app for how many days she has left before a deadline or event. Please check this app out if you have problems remembering extended dates and long range deadlines. It is well worth the try. Plus, it is a FREE app on iPhone.

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Apps for ADHD support

Inspirational Quotes about time Benjamin Franklin

Inspirational Quotes about time Benjamin Franklin (Photo credit: hot4sunny)

Another great app on iPhone to help those who need support while working on tasks. Check out 30/30. This app is a timer you can set for how long you wish to spend on a task. The nice thing is that you can customize it to fit your needs. It is colorful so it has lots of visual appeal. The longest time is 30 minutes, difficult for some but plenty of time especially if you are working on a computer-based project. Everyone needs breaks to rest their eyes, an important fact to consider.

This app would be great to use in the classroom as well as in the office. It could be a great homework support so your child doesn’t get too bogged down in the books. Give it a try, let me know how you used it and if it worked well for you.

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Love letters

Mail

Mail (Photo credit: Bogdan Suditu)

When was the last time you received a letter? Not a bill or some junk mail, a real letter from someone near and dear to you. A letter filled with thoughts, dreams, hopes… maybe a private penned message hurried away to that special place reserved just for those letters you wish to revisit from time to time. When was the last time you received a letter addressed to you requesting nothing but your attention long enough to whisk you away in some thoughts with a smile on your face, maybe a bit of blush upon your cheeks? Hard to remember when I bet. We have moved into an electronic age where notes send in a flash to the receiver in a matter of seconds and a reply zipped back just as quick. Though very convenient it still doesn’t match the excitement and intimate level of the traditional hand written letter with the colorful postage stamp in the corner.

If you are old enough, do you remember getting letters from grandparents or friends? The excitement in hearing your parent calling out your name to alert you that you had a letter was a highlight of the week. Many cards and letters were saved in special boxes or containers as memory keepers. I still have two of mine, one is a small cedar chest and the other is an old shoebox. Along with the letters are trinkets and little nick knacks of special times and people in my life. I would never trade those letters for an email or a text.

Challenge yourself to pull out the paper to write someone you care about a personal note. No doubt the person will be shocked with delight to receive such a rare gift penned from you. Can you imagine what your kids would say of they received a letter from you? How about that special love in your life? Have you ever expressed your thoughts and feeling in the old fashion way, say in a letter? I am challenging myself to start writing letters each week to my children and friends. I am not going to allow them to miss out on the thrill and art of letter writing because I got too caught up in the technology to take the time to sit and focus on them.

As a creative, I enjoy filling my letters with visual delights and on some occasions I even make them multi-sensory. Ever get a letter with perfume or cologne sprayed on it? In college, that would have the whole hall in the dorm rushing to your room in hopes of getting a hint at the contents. Miss those days. But, it doesn’t have to be the sensual stuff sprayed on the letter to arouse some attention. Scented markers and the wonders of Bath and Body sprays can make the plain letter a festive occasion. Holiday scents and assorted other fun scents can cause excitement.

You can get creative by mailing your letter in a decorative envelope or a most unusual container. I once mailed my son a letter in a plastic bottle. Please check with the postal service before you labor on creating a unique piece to make sure it will pass the codes. More and more are in place than in the past.

On a side note, letter writing can improve your child’s penmanship and grammar. Letter writing can help with writer’s block. It can even patch relationships. I urge you to dust off your pen or pencil, maybe even the old markers to start a letter to someone special. I promise the experience will be beneficial to both the sender and receiver.

 

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The paper bleed red

There was a death. When one dies there is no resurrection only an emptiness of a spirit gone. The bloody mess lay before her. Her life came to a halt when the red began to run down the page as she lifted it up. It was murder.

It is one thing to point out errors, it is another to riddle a paper beyond recognition with red ink. This wasn’t a lazy student. The child had come day in and day out for help. The teacher never had the time to sit with this particular child because she was “special.” Why waste time on one who classified as hopeless? The teacher chose to kill the spirit instead of reaching out to help a struggling determined soul to rise about the dyslexia.

When questioned, the teacher would respond he was not going to pass a student just because there was an IEP. No one expected this from him. Teach, not destroy. Reach out, not ignore. Listen and understand, not shame or humiliate. A few extra minutes to check for understanding isn’t too much to expect of a professional. An extra worksheet to check MLA format or a quick glance to see if the basics were in line doesn’t take much time. It isn’t being unfair to the others. It isn’t showing favoritism. It isn’t above the call of duty. There is an IEP but the teacher had never even giving it a second thought other than the fact there was this problem sitting in the back of the room who was going to make life a challenge.

She never asked to be different. It would have been much easier if she was blind or had some physical problem people could easily identify. No, her disability was invisible. She looked just like the average kid. She talked and walked like them as well. There was no outward sign she was different until the paper was placed on her desk.  Her desk always bleed with red. That’s when they knew. Why was it the teacher ALWAYS let everyone know it was then she was different. She would live with the red and disappointing look of the teacher haunting her for days. The scars ran deep. The memories she would carry for a life time. She was marked as dumb, stupid, unworthy… an idiot. Those words might have never been said but that is what she heard within her mind traveling like a dagger to her heart.

The teacher never knew the girl who’s paper bleed red was a talented artist or a gifted singer. No one ever knew she was a shining star in so many other areas. But the light was dimming because in the “real world” a red  score determined her worth not her talents.

It is not about leaving them behind, it is about murdering a spirit. If you teach, read IEPS. I do not care how much you fuss, ADHD kids will not remember it all so give them a guide. They won’t be able to copy everything like the others so give them printed out notes so they can spend the extra time going over them while others copy from the board. All teachers have the notes any way, so there is no extra work involved. And about this fairness bit, it is fair they were born this way? No, not their fault.  But it is most definitely your fault for killing their spirit.

How can I say such? Because I was that child. My daughter was that child. And those I work with are those children. I have news for you, it only takes one believer to change a child’s life. When you see a paper that looks like a battle field, please think again about that battle within the child before you strike the last blow. They can learn if you just learn how to reach them.

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Are Wii there yet?

Mario Kart Wii - Mason's "Game Face"

Mario Kart Wii – Mason’s “Game Face” (Photo credit: Adam Melancon)

Are Wii there yet? That depends on if you are a seasoned Mario kart or a Hot Wheels racer. Then again, there are plenty of adventures to be found on today’s gaming systems that take you virtually any place you want to be or if like me, I end up in most I do not.  It is a good thing it is far easier to drive my car than a Mario kart.

With so many electronic options games can be played anywhere. I was a non-gamer for years though I supported the use of them in my classroom and at home, with limits. I was amazed when the Wii came on the scene. One game caught my attention, and my daughter’s as well. She played the one where you sit on the game board as still as possible to keep a flame lit. She learned to focus and gain some control over her ADHD using this game. I have enjoyed using the draw pad and the Wii exercise programs though I am not happy with the fact the avatar matches me so closely. Cruel joke, Wii!!

Gaming can help with ADHD and other learing disabilities. The Wii encourages students with physical disabilities to expand their range of motion and feel more capable moving about in a virtual world. I urge that you stray away from the violent games and search out those with more intellectual challenges as well as physical activities where killing is not the focus.

Like chocolate and other addictive substances  gaming can bring about the same obsessive behavior. It can also interfere with social skills if the virtual world is the only one your child socialize within. Please limit gaming to just a few hours. If it gets out of control grades will fall and with adults, marriages can end  and jobs lost when the obsessions to play becomes nearly nonstop. Do not allow it to get out of hand early on.

Despite the issues of obsessive behavior, gaming has great benefits for those with challenges and disabilities.

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A person is a person no matter how small

Hooray for Diffendoofer Day!

Hooray for Diffendoofer Day! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Happy birthday, Dr. Seuss!!! What a wonderful contribution this man made to humanity in his many children’s books. I dare say they have a bigger message to the adults who read them to their children. Not sure if you are aware of the means of his books. The Lorax is about the environment. The Sneetches and other stories deal with bullying and racism. Heaven forbid you not have a star upon thars!! But my favorite is a little known and late to release of Dr. Seuss, Hooray for the Diffendoofer Day!! I challenge you all to check out a copy of Google it on your computer to read about this children’s book with a VERY strong political statement about how children are educated. Testing to the test is the way the government feels education should be run. Dr. Seuss saw the flaw in this school of thought. We should push for Diffendoofer Schools to open everywhere! It is not easy to be a diffendoofer sort of teacher in a modern-day school. Though your test scores will soar and the students will excel the protocol is beyond the comprehension and standardized tick marks required to be classified succesfuls in the data of the modern-day way. Integrating the arts is what it is about, all children can succeed if their learning style is met.

I challenge you to become a diffendoofer parent.  My earlier blogs on homework very much follow the diffendoofer philosophy. Let’s dare to be more than average. Most of all remember, a person is a person no matter how small. You can make a difference in a diffendoofer sort of way!!

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