Thursday, September 12, 2013

Data Collection

Well, I am back to data collection again!  It seems that I am just never satisfied.  Last school year I tried to go paperless.  It worked to some extent, but I wasn't super happy.  It was challenging to compile all of my various data sets in different virtual arenas.  

For the last term of the 2012/2013 school year, I also took on the role of Special Needs Coordinator full time.  In that role, I realized that we had no data collection tool for our people to use.  In the current system, I am responsible to writing each student's IILP(International Individual Learning Plan), similar to an IEP.  That being said, there was no data collected that wasn't subjective in nature.  Each Learning Facilitator (teaching assistant) that worked with individual kids was giving me updates, but there was nothing concrete to examine.  It was just their interpretation of the situation.  I really need to work on that for this coming school year!

Personally, I used BehaviorTracker Pro, which I wrote about in a previous blog post.  I really like the app, and I am definitely partial to them after the fabulous customer service I received last fall. However, it is one of those "in the know" apps. You need to completely understand the language of, at the very least FBAs, but also Applied Behavioral Analysis.  It's not an intuitive app by any means.  It would be next to impossible to get an non-trained Learning Facilitator to use without skewing my results.  

I have been looking into other options out there for data collection. I could just build spreadsheets for every child, but it would still have some limits.  I am looking for something that everyone has access to, but can't change info by accident.  I am trying to find an app that is more intuitive than a spreadsheet and BTP. One complaint I have about BTP is that I have to remember what skill I am tracking for each child, each time I enter the app.  It doesn't automatically keep each behavior selected for the kids.  My other complaint about BTP is that I can't take data on multiple kids at one time.

Last night I came across IEPPal.  It looks kind of like what I'm looking for.  It seems to be more intuitive, and you can take data on multiple kids at a time.  I can upload pictures for each of the kids and multiple people can enter data, which is good. It isn't super expensive, but I am not sure it would be worth the investment.  Although I really need to update the way we collect data on Sped kiddos in my school.  Last year we began the year with 10 Sped kiddos across 11 age groups.  This year we will begin with 25 across 12 age groups. Its a WHOLE lot more to keep up with.  

Has anyone out there used IEPPal?  Can anyone give me thoughts on it? (I'm afraid that the company website might be a little bit biased.)

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Back to School

It has been way too long since my last blog, but with school year, I vow to do more blogging.  I feel very settled and I am so thankful to be back to work full time.

That being said, I am going to make a few changes around here.  When I initially started my blog, I was working in a district where people had been written up for things they said on their blog.  As a result, I created a pseudonym for my blog name.  I've hated using it, because it felt fake (which it was). Anyway...from here on out, I will be signing off as myself.  

I will also be posting about things in and around my school.  I feel that there are some really wonderful things going on that people should be aware of.  So in the future, you might be seeing things about more than just my classroom.  


Monday, March 25, 2013

Diary of a Social Detective

Well today was a wonderful day!  I ordered a few books about 1 month ago & they finally arrived!  I almost kissed the delivery driver, but since I thought it would violate a few social morays, I didn't.  Afterall the books I was waiting for were dealing with social skills. 

The book I was most excited about was this glorious one...

I have been on the hunt for a while for a book to use in a social skills group.  I have read tons of reviews and was going back and forth between this one and SuperFlex.  I chose this one over SuperFlex because I thought it was more appropriate for my older students.  The premise of this book is that Johnny is a young man who used to be socially awkward, but applied to his detective skills to help him navigate the social maze.  Now that he is socially aware, he runs a detective business whereby he helps his not-so-knowledgable peers discover why they are less socially adept.  It provides a story to support a social scenario & then he and his peer develop solutions to the problem. 
The author even has a website where students can write in with their own scenarios:
My book is already flagged up with stickies & notes.  I have been furiously working on how my group is going to run.  I am a bit nervous about the whole thing, as I have never run a "social skills" group before.  I mean, outside of my autistic classroom.  Somehow this feels completely different, but I am really excited about it. 
While I was waiting for my book to arrive, I tried to find some activites to correspond to the book like people have for SuperFlex, but I guess since it is a book for higher level students there isn't much out there.  So today I worked on a few.  At the end of the book, there are questions that can be answered for each chapter that is read.  I took the questions and made a "worksheet".  I am also not planning on reading the book chapter by chapter.  I am starting with the most appropriate chapter for my group, which happens to be about excessive talking & misreading body language (a lot of the chapters deal with misreading body language).  This is what I have come up with so far, but I haven't used it with a group yet, so I am sure that I have some tweaking to do yet.

 I also created this page to help us with body language interpretation.
(This one is on

I plan to begin our group sessions once we return from Spring Break.  In the meantime, I hope everyone is enjoying warm weather, because it was cold and snowy here today!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Johari Windows

So one of my students and I have been working on his self-advocacy skills.  He is at that age, where it is important for him to be able to advocate for his own needs, but his parents are adamant that he not know he is autistic.  It makes it a bit challenging to not be able to label something, but I am desparately trying to honor their request.  Although, I really feel like he needs to know!  Anyway, a collegue and I were discussing self-knowledge & he suggested I look up Johari Windows.  Never having heard of them, I was a bit intrigued by them, so I looked them up.  Here is what I found:

If you remember all the way back to Biology, it might look a bit familiar.  (Think Mendeleev's peas)  The "window" is a way to define yourself both to yourself and to others.

My little friend has found this activity very challenging. We began with identifying the things that are his Open Self  and he found it easy to complete the square. I knew the other 3 squares would be a challenge for him, but I didn't think it would be so challenging. I thought that if he had some parameters, then he would surely be able to complete the Hidden Self square . It is proving to be more of a challenge than I anticipated. The good news is that we have had some productive discussions that we may not have had otherwise. The downside is that the activity is taking much longer than planned. Hopefully we will be able to complete the activity before we break for our end of term break. I really hope this helps him be able to advocate for his needs in the future!