AAC, AT, Families, Inclusion, Literacy, UDL

FluidTunes Sets Our Minds Ablaze

by Samuel Sennott

FluidTunes is a free Apple OS X software that uses gesture recognition to control your iTunes library. In other words, by harnessing the power of the iSight camera, the user swipes their hands at the buttons to play the music, stop the music, flip to the next song or flip to the previous song. I first heard about FluidTunes on the fantastic gtd blog Lifehacker. Check out the video I made demonstrating the interface and explaining a few thoughts about how people with the label of special needs could use technology like this.


Okay, so we are not yet in a full on Minority Report experience where Tom Cruise uses complex gestures to  control his computer screen that is projected into the air.  Nor are we going to see this instantly become a popular access method for individuals with the label of special  needs.  Yet, it sets our minds ablaze.  We have all watched the progression of the eye tracking work move into eye gaze control systems that are really starting to work for individuals with physical disabilities.  For nearly four years now, I have been doing a test of the eye gaze systems where I emulate the frequent movements many of my students often display.  The systems are now starting to pass that informal test, as of this summer.  It seems eye gaze computer control has moved from a potential and a cool thing in the conference exhibit hall to something that works.   TobiiAti, PRC, and Dynavox are all  committed to its implementation.  So what will happen with the concept of gesture recognition? Well, in a way, it already is happening.  Just see ASL’s excellent selection of various types of proximity switches.   Karen Kangas has championed the concepts behind the benefits of using switches of this type. For these switches, you simply need to move within the right range to activate the electronic switch, which can control your wheelchair, computer, etc…

How terrific is it that the developer, David Frampton, made this application available for free?  I am personally having a blast with FluidTunes.  Much respect and thanks goes out to him for sharing it and for setting our minds ablaze thinking of the possiblities for individuals with the label of special needs.  As we approach the release of Mgestyk, the comercial gesture based control system, we can certainly consider ourselves warned that this is coming to the mainstream.   With an estimated cost of roughly the price of a high end webcam, it looks like this technology will be applicable in the assistive technology field.  See the following Mgestyk videos.

I for one am going to have fun playing music with this tool and let my mind wander as I do.  Yet, I am not going to go gorilla arm with this concept.  Although, even at the moment I can imagine practical implementations of gesture based switches that could be created with a usb hub and a couple different webcams.  What do you imagine?


December 6, 2008 Posted by | Special Education | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Keyboard Shortcuts

by Samuel Sennott

Keyboard shortcuts can help you work more efficiently.  Whether you use the basics such as cutting and pasting, or some more advanced combinations to access taking screenshot, using keyboard shortcuts can streamline your workflow, help keep your concentration on your task, and save time. In my GTD system, they are very important to keeping my workflow going.  Karen Janowski just posted a terrific printable reminder handout here:

Here is the Mac OS X Keyboard Shortcut list:

Here are two keyboard shortcut posts from the always fabulous

Last, but not least, here is my favorite shortcut list of all, the GMAIL shortcut list:

Some of my favorite mac-centric shortcuts are:

  • command-tab to toggle open applications
  • command-space to open the spotlight search feature
  • command -number keys in Firefox to toggle different open tabs
  • shift-command-4 to do a screenshot that saves as a picture
  • shift-control-command-4 to do a screenshot that saves to the clipboard
  • command-c to copy
  • command-v to paste
  • command-x to cut (copies and then erases is another way to conceptualize this)
  • command-z to undo ( in most applications)


December 2, 2008 Posted by | Special Education | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Fun and Learning in Chicago

by Samuel Sennott

There is much to say about the terrific time experienced at the ASHA Convention 2009 in Chicago this past week.  It was terrific to be with friends in Chicago.  From being picked up at the airport by a family who facilitated me coming to consult at her daughter’s school to stumbling upon the famous Gino’s and eating deep dish pizza with a friend, to walking Chicago, to the terrific people met at the convention, I enjoyed the experience thoroughly.  All of the fun seemed to help the learning sink in deeper.  Overall, I was very much impressed with the beauty of downtown Chicago.  Plus for me as a house music fan it was a special experience to visit the place where the term house music was formed.  Yet, before I get to the technical, here is a visual review of some of the experience.


The Mass of ASHA

The Mass of ASHA

Meeting Schuyler @ ASHA

Meeting Schuyler @ ASHA

The Bean

The Bean

Sam @ the Bean

Swirl @ the Bean

Swirl @ the Bean

The Art Institute

Sun, Lion @ AI Chicago

Sun, Lion @ AI Chicago

Art Institute Chicago

Art Institute Chicago

Navy Pier

Chicago Skyline

Chicago Skyline


Chicago is One of the Cradles of House Music

Chicago is One of the Cradles of House Music

Deep Dish Pizza @ Ginos

Gino's Deep Dish Pizza


November 25, 2008 Posted by | Special Education | , , , | 4 Comments

Inclusion Sports Story in the Boston Globe

by Samuel Sennott

Watch the video:

Read the Article: 



Globe Staff / February 15, 2008

HANOVER – With 1:02 left in the game, Norwell boys’ basketball coach John Willis made the call. His team had a 66-49 lead against Hanover last night, and it was time for a sub.

Norwell guard Andrew Lawson (left), who has Down syndrome, gets some coaching advice from coach John Willis before going into the game against Hanover Thursday.Norwell guard Andrew Lawson (left), who has Down syndrome, gets some coaching advice from coach John Willis before going into the game against Hanover Thursday. 

November 25, 2008 Posted by | Special Education | Leave a comment

From ASHA to Ashes

by Samuel Sennott

Coming home last night to see the destruction that occurred while I was away in Chicago was pretty heavy.  Definitely made me think about the preciousness of life and also the temporal nature of possession.  I wrote this poem.

From ASHA to ashes
From dark to night
There are times when things are reset, realigned.
Reminders of precious time is in the moment.
Thank you that my family is safe.  Thank you that only a section of the house is pared away.
We do not know what will happen.  We have the present.  Thank you for it.

November 24, 2008 Posted by | Special Education | | 4 Comments

PODD Vigil

by Samuel Sennott

Gayle Porter reported to me today that she has sent the US Letter of the PODD (Pragmatic Organisation Dynamic Display ) Templates to the publisher!  They are taking advanced orders at the Spectronics website. podd-sample-books

To learn more about PODD, see Linda Burkhart and Gayle Porter’s terrific handouts on

*NEW – Instructional Course – Presented at ISAAC in Germany – July 2006*

Partner-Assisted Communication Strategies for
Children Who Face Multiple Challenges

PODD Communication Books – Gayle Porter

Linda J. Burkhart and Gayle Porter

November 18, 2008 Posted by | Special Education | Leave a comment

Two Words: Switch-Adapted Flip….Oh, yea….Santa’s Job Just Got Easier

by Samuel Sennott

Switch-Adapted Flip….enough said….. other than thanks RJ Cooper….…and Santa’s job just got that much easier….

From RJ Cooper’s site:

Switch Adapted Flip Camcorder

image of switch-adapted flip camcorder
(click pic for larger image)

This is a switch-adapted, simple camcorder.  The Flip is quite popular on the current market.  It is completely self-contained, with its own 2 GB flash memory (1 hour of video).  Simple to operate, saves AVI files internally.  Shows up as just another drive on your system, so that *any* software (like my Point to Pictures) can import directly from the Flip.

November 17, 2008 Posted by | Special Education | | Leave a comment

Write Online Press Release From Cricksoft

by Samuel Sennott

I have offered to post press releases from companies of whom products I appreciate. Crick Software just sent this release regarding WriteOnline.  I tested WriteOnline and heard John and Anne Crick present on it @ Closing the Gap last month and this is by far the immediately available product I am most excited about in all of technology in education and communication!  If you have not tried it, get yourself right to their 30 day trial.  They just won an Java award from Sun for their work :

Press Release
For more information:

Crick Software, Inc.
203 221 2697

Crick Software adds more personalization to WriteOnline

WESTPORT, CT (October 10, 2008) WriteOnline, Crick Software’s new online word processor, can now be used by even more students thanks to the addition of more personalization and accessibility options.

Crick Software is well-known as the developer of Clicker, the writing tool for younger students that is now used extensively in elementary schools.. WriteOnline is rapidly becoming equally popular in middle and high schools.

“We designed WriteOnline for all students, from budding authors to those who really struggle with writing,” said CEO John Crick, “and we’re really excited that now even more students can reap the benefits.”

WriteOnline’s unique Wordbar® brings curriculum writing tasks within the reach of all learners by giving easy access to an unlimited number of words and phrases. It is here that Crick has added the on-screen keyboard, integrated into Wordbar so that it can easily be displayed with a single mouse click.

John Crick explains: “Students who struggle to use an ordinary keyboard often find an onscreen one a better alternative – it means they only have to look in one place while they are writing.”

For students unable to use a mouse or tracker ball, Crick has added switch accessibility, making WriteOnline a truly inclusive tool. Other new personalization options are included that will benefit all students.

All of WriteOnline’s support options, such as speech, word prediction, and the new accessibility features, are personalized for the individual, ensuring that just the right support can be provided The preferences are all saved online, so are they automatically applied whether the student logs in at school, home, or elsewhere.

November 17, 2008 Posted by | Special Education | | Leave a comment

Online Communication Tools

by Samuel Sennott

I had a cool experience today where I was chatting with a friend using GMAIL’s chat feature and then he pulled up a video chat.  I had set it up the other day.  I frequently use iChat and Skype, but the spontaneity of this struck me.  My satellite connection here up here in the mountains of Vermont did not allow for us to stay connected by video for long, but it struck me how things really have changed.  I sat an ate dinner tonight with a group and we spoke about how when some of them were growing up there were no cell phones, no personal computers in schools, and certainly no iPhones!  Yet, I question the concept of digital imigrant as I have been skyping with my grandmother!  🙂  Check out this partial list of popular online communication tools.

  1. Skype, the internet telephone
  2. AOL Instant Messenger
  3. and Google Mail and their new video chat!
  4. Apple’s iChat….(my personal favorite)
  5. One of the big social networking applications
  6. One of the big social networking applications
  7. You can create your own social network…see ours:
  8. The most popular microblogging client.

November 15, 2008 Posted by | Special Education | | 2 Comments

MSDSC Educator’s Forum Co-Created Handout

by Samuel Sennott

The Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress‘ Educators Forum held on November 7th, 2008 at The College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA, was a terrific experience.  I had the opportunity to lead a viewing and discussion of the film Including Samuel.  Ironically the first group had about ten people and the second group, nearly eighty, a good percentage of the whole group.  During the discussion, I took notes on the white board and this handout is generated from those conversations.  I would love to hear any comments about customized workshop handouts or addendum to workshop sessions.

1MB PDF File

Download: Resources from the Including Samuel Discussions Handout

November 7, 2008 Posted by | Special Education | | 2 Comments

Schuyler’s Monster @ ASHA Convention 2008 Chicago

by Samuel Sennott

I have been offering various companies I am interested in the opportunity to send press releases for posting.  Here is something I am looking forward to at ASHA.

PRC to Host Schuyler’s Monster Author Robert Rummel-Hudson

in Booth #1031 at 2008 ASHA Convention

100 Free Copies of Schuyler’s Monster, A Father’s Journey
With His Wordless Daughter Offered to ASHA Conference Attendees

Wooster, OH, November 17, 2008:  Prentke Romich Company (PRC), the worldwide leader in alternative and augmentative communication (AAC) language systems and technology, invites ASHA attendees to meet author Robert Rummel-Hudson in Booth #1031 on Friday, November 21, and to enter PRC’s drawing for a free copy of his 2008 book, Schuyler’s Monster, A Father’s Journey with His Wordless Daughter.

In the acclaimed memoir, Rummel-Hudson shares the story of his daughter Schuyler, now eight years old, who was born with a rare neurological brain disorder that prevents her from being able to speak. Using PRC’s Vantage™ Plus speech-output device, the high-spirited youngster is now able to communicate her thoughts and feelings at home and at school.

PRC will be giving away 100 copies of the best-selling book in a random drawing held Friday, November 21. ASHA attendees can enter the drawing by visiting PRC in Booth #1031 on Thursday, November 20, and completing an entry form. Rummel-Hudson will sign books on Friday between 10 am – noon and 3-5 pm.  ASHA conference attendees can enter to receive a copy at the conference or are welcome to bring their own copy for the author to sign.

Visitors to the PRC booth also will see the newest of PRC’s AAC devices, Vantage™ Lite, a dedicated device designed for AAC beginners and those ready to advance toward fully independent augmented communication.

The second in PRC’s popular new line of “Lite” devices, Vantage Lite offers the same powerful language and communication features of PRC’s classic Vantage™ Plus  but adds an array of hardware and software innovations, including:

•    Compact case with built-in handle for greater portability;
•    “High Brightness” display with LED backlight and wide viewing angle;
•    Magnesium frame that prevents damage from bumps and drops;
•    Bluetooth® connectivity for computer access and wireless access;
•    Integrated Bluetooth® phone interface, a PRC exclusive.

Vantage Lite is one of six AAC devices available from PRC, all of which feature a proven language system called Unity® that enables children and adults with speech disorders to reach their full potential in spontaneous, independent, and interactive communication, regardless of their disability, literacy level, or motor skills.

About PRC
A 100% employee-owned company founded in 1966 and headquartered in Wooster, OH, PRC is a global leader in the development and manufacture of augmentative communication devices, computer access products, and other assistive technology for people with severe disabilities.

In addition to its powerful communication devices – ECO™-14, Vanguard™, Vantage™, SpringBoard™, and the new SpringBoard™ Lite and Vantage ™ Lite – PRC also provides a wide array of high-quality teaching and implementation tools, therapy materials, curriculum sequences, funding assistance, and training to speech-language pathologists, special educators, and the families of AAC communicators.

You can learn more about the book, Schuyler’s Monster, by visiting Learn more about the author by visiting his blog at

For more information on PRC products and services, go to or call (800) 262-1984.

November 6, 2008 Posted by | Special Education | | Leave a comment


by Samuel Sennott

Much thanks to Dan Herlihy for posting an Intellitools Voting activity. Get it at

Screenshot of Vote

size: 853.96 Kilobytes
uploaded: 10/30/2008

Created By: Dan Herlihy [Send Message]
Skill Level: Middle School
Curriculum: Social Studies
Activity Details: This is a simple activity that you can use allowing your class to vote for president. It has an attached overlay and is switch accessible. It is programmed to run this way: A student clicks on the Click Here to Begin button. It takes them to the ballot page. Once they click on their choice, it is recorded, a 10 second delay begins telling the student to leave the booth allowing others to vote, returns to page 1 where another 10 second delay occurs – this keeps students from voting multiple times.

To find the final vote tally go to the Design menu, Advanced Scripting, Edit Document Variable and Table Values. The doc.McCain = variable will record how many votes for him, the doc.Obama = variable records how many votes he received and the doc.Votes = variable has recorded the total votes cast.

This activity should be run from start to finish (remain open) during all voting. The variable totals can be reset in the program by choosing one in the listing of the Variables, and at the bottom of the dialog window type 0 (zero) in the box replacing the current tally, then clicking Change Value.

If using the overlay send Overlay Vote Page 1. It is programmed to use levels, forcing the student to choose the Click Here to begin button first.

November 3, 2008 Posted by | Special Education | | 6 Comments

Yes We Can: Some Interesting Takes on the Concept of Remixing

by Samuel Sennott

A friend sent me a dj mix in which he spun this as the first record.

Saw this on another list and thought it was interesting.

Some back story on that video can be found here: It would be wild to be McCain’s AT specialist, eh?

November 3, 2008 Posted by | Special Education | 2 Comments

Halloween, Harvest, and Fall Books

by Samuel Sennott

Hi,  please do check out these Halloween, Harvest, and Fall Books on the Tar Heel Reader.

Here is the link to the bookshelf.  You have to delete some books to get to all 26 on the list. I am showing you the full link, so you can see how the system works.,5193,5050,4994,4992,4976,4868



Or go straight to the Tar Heel Reader at

from Flickr
All about autumn

October 31, 2008 Posted by | Special Education | Leave a comment

Give One Get One OLPC XO @Amazon

by Samuel Sennott

Starting on November 17th, the XO will again be available in the United States and beyond, this time through Amazon.  I remember last year setting the alarm for early in the morning on November 12, when they first became available.  Much has happened regarding the XO and the whole movement in general.  One of the best places to follow the story is, but the official site,, and the wiki,, are also good.  Below is right from the Amazon site:

Give a laptop. Get a laptop. Change the world.

October 31, 2008 Posted by | Special Education | 2 Comments

Bookshelves Please Handout

by Samuel Sennott

Saturday’s workshop was outright terrific.  The participants excitement about the curriculum project, Bookshelves Please was tangible.  I look forward to sharing about the prototyping and more about the project.  For now, a few participants did not recieve the handout.  Here it is:  bookshelves-please-handout

October 20, 2008 Posted by | Special Education | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Closing the Gap in the Star Tribune

by Samuel Sennott

Check out this video made by my uncle, Richard Sennott, for the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Closing the Gap 2008 Video Link

Closing the Gap 2008 Video Link

October 20, 2008 Posted by | AAC, Assistive Technology, AT, Special Education | , | Leave a comment

Open Learning Portfolio Template

by Samuel Sennott

screenshot of the portfolio template contents page

Screen shot of the Portfolio Template Contents Page


In the one room schoolhouse of yesteryear, there were children of differing ages, with varying learning profiles, and vastly different learning objectives.  State and district multiple choice, diagnostic systems (supposedly diagnostic) may be easily scored, disseminated, and interpreted by a microcomputer application.  Yet, for all learners a better assessment system, or possibly more correctly put, information system, is far superior.  Electronic portfolios can be that better assessment system.  What is the point of assessment?  I believe that it is so that the learner and their teachers know where they are at and where they are going.
Utilizing good design and presentation in an increasingly digital age, is important to the successful information transfer process in special education.  To many times, therapists and teachers look at the IEP document as a boring static “thing”.  Alternate assessment portfolios have amazing potential and it is an overwhelming success that we are “on the ticket”.  Yet, seemingly always, these things are done for “them” and not for the true benefit of the learner and the learning process.  This portfolio system seeks to be for the learner, their family, and for the individuals and collectives that serve that learner.  The goal is simple:  show the learner and their teachers where they are at, where they came from, and where they are going.  It is essentially similar to what the State Alternate Assessment systems should hope to be, but are unable to achieve because of the stigma created.  To be successful, we will stay student focused, utilize multi-modal media, and good principles of design.


The PowerPoint Template to Download:    open-learning-portfolio-template

The Description of the Contents and Hierarchy:   Open-learning-portfolio-system

Handout (PDF)  Closing the Gap 2008 Presentation, Portfolios That Work by Mary Ann Lowe SLP. D., CCC-SLP and Samuel Sennott.  portfolios-that-work-closing-the-gap-handout

Presentation at Closing the Gap

Portfolios that Work

Date: Thu, Oct 16, 2008 from 12:30 pm – 1:30 pm
Location: Plaza 4 Sheraton
Category: assessment
Format: demonstration

Subject Level: Intermediate
Computer Level: Intermediate

By using mixed media-based digital learning portfolios, a teacher can demonstrate learning in an unprecedented way. Using digital photos, video, text, and the versatile Microsoft PowerPoint, the individualized education plan comes alive to truly show learning taking place. This presentation will feature a free downloadable portfolio system in the PowerPoint format. The portfolio system is based on research conducted as part of Dr. Mary Ann Lowe’s dissertation in the Doctoral Studies Program in Speech Language Pathology at Nova Southeastern University, and includes additional research-based content and technical work by both Dr. Lowe and Samuel Charles Sennott.

Samuel Sennott, Mary Ann Lowe

October 13, 2008 Posted by | Special Education | , | Leave a comment

Imagine Symbols

by Samuel Sennott

imagine symbols icon

imagine symbols icon

Do you know about the 4000 Imagine Symbol set that is free for personal use.  You can go to and download the entire brightly colored set of picture symbols.  There are also low cost options to liscense the symbols. Don’t forget that you can load them into your iPhoto library for easy use with various applications.

October 13, 2008 Posted by | Special Education | , , , , | Leave a comment

Restaurant of AAC Dreams

by Samuel Sennott

Check out this London restaurant reported on by Engadget. How fun would it be to go here with people using AAC? And if they had some scanning/ alternate access options.  Fun dreams.

London restaurant claims fame with touch-sensitive tables, colorful menu projectors

Read this Article
Go to Restaurant website
Read another article

October 8, 2008 Posted by | Special Education | , , , | 1 Comment

Wireless Switch from Prentke Romich

by Samuel Sennott

Prentke Romich Company announces a wireless switch that should be nice to see in action next week at Closing the Gap.  How many times have you wished for this?  The Jelly Beamer is cool, but common, they definitely got it right going with the pervasive Bluetooth technology.  It will be interesting to get user feedback on this innovation.  Here is the press release.

Contact: Bob Nemens, Director of Marketing
Phone: (800) 262-1984 X243

October 6, 2008

Introducing The PRC Bluetooth® Wireless Switch,
Allows Wireless Access to PRC Products

Advanced Wireless Computer Access and More for AAC Communicators

Wooster, OH, October 6, 2008 – Prentke Romich Company (PRC), the leading manufacturer of alternative and augmented communication (AAC) devices for individuals with speech disabilities, today announced the release of the PRC Bluetooth Wireless Switch (BTWS), an innovative wireless switch that is comparable to PRC devices with built-in Bluetooth capabilities. The BTWS is compatible with PRC’s ECO™-14, Springboard™ Lite, and another newly released innovation, Vantage™ Lite.

With comparable size to other switches, The Bluetooth Wireless Switch has a rechargeable li-ion battery with over 100 hours of run time on a single charge. Additional features include:

External switch jack allows dual switch input;
·         Non-skid bottom case means the BTWS stays where you want it;
·         LED indicator lights show “pairing” and power status;
·         Bluetooth® connectivity for computer access and wireless access;
·         Battery level can be viewed in the paired PRC device.

“Wireless switching eliminates traditional problems with tangling or disconnection of cords that can happen with everyday use of a communication device,” says Bob Nemens, PRC Director of Marketing. “PRC designed and developed this innovation with both freedom of access and reliability in mind.”

Adding the PRC Bluetooth Adapter also delivers wireless computer access features in three versatile product modes:

·     Mouse Mode inputs mouse moves and “click” and “double click” into USB-equipped computers;

·      Keyboard 1,2,3 Mode allows the switch to be used to scan in PRC PASS software;

·      Keyboard F-Keys Mode allows the switch to be used to scan WiVik® software.

For more information on the new PRC Bluetooth Wireless Switch and other PRC innovations, visit PRC online at, contact PRC Sales at (800) 262-1933, or contact your PRC Regional Consultant.

About PRC

PRC is a global leader in the development and manufacture of augmentative communication devices, computer access products, and other assistive technology for people with severe disabilities.

An employee-owned company founded in 1966 and headquartered in Wooster, OH, PRC has enabled thousands of children and adults worldwide with severe speech disorders to achieve spontaneous, independent, and interactive communication regardless of their disability, literacy level, or motor skills. 

In addition to its powerful communication devices –ECO™-14, Vanguard™ Plus, Vantage™ Plus, Vantage™ Lite, and SpringBoard™ Lite – PRC also provides a wide array of high-quality teaching and implementation ideas, therapy materials, curriculum sequences, funding assistance, and training to speech-language pathologists, special educators, and the families of AAC communicators.

For more information, go to or call (800) 262-1984.


NOTE: For electronic images of PRC’s Bluetooth Wireless Switch, please contact Cherie Weaver at (800) 262-1984, ext. 240, or e-mail

If you require further information on this or other PRC products or services, please contact Bob Nemens, Director of Marketing, at (800) 262-1984, ext. 243, or email

October 7, 2008 Posted by | Special Education | , , , , , | Leave a comment

myWebspiration Public Beta

by Samuel Sennott

mywebspiration logo

mywebspiration logo

Are you participating in the public beta test of myWebspiration. (  From the makers of the graphic organizing softwares Inspiration, Kidspiration, and Inspiredata, comes the web 2.0 version of the software.  In my intial trials of using myWebspiration, my impression is that for the basics it works just like Inspiration, my graphic organizing software of choice.  Yet, gosh do I miss being able to do (contro/ command e).  That resizes your graphic.  There a few other usability features that will also be upgraded, such as undo, super small cell color fill buttons, and other problems related to overriding the browser function keys. Hey, that’s why its a beta right?  I just started a collaborative project using the sharing feature and will report on how it goes.  Overall, I think this software has great potential to give students access to the software at home, which assumes that the company continues its aggressively priced bulk liscensing options for schools.

October 6, 2008 Posted by | Assistive Technology, AT, Special Education | , , , | 6 Comments

Closing the Gap Article October/November 2008

by Samuel Sennott

Just wanted to share that my team from this summer and I had some work published in the Closing the Gap Newspaper turned magazine in the current issue, which is October/November 2008.  We are thrilled to be able to share some of the insight from our work focusing on users of AAC and writing.

A Writer, a Pencil, a Reason and a Teacher (Actually no pencil required)

By Samuel Sennott, Christina Cahill, Shelly Major, Nicole Nordal, Charity Smith-Engelin, Cassie Rubenstein and Joslyn Silverman

After six intense weeks of Nova Southeastern University’s TLC Summer Writing Camp for users of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC), one of our team members said about the students, “They love writing now! Look at them, they just can’t wait to do it.” The six-week camp was designed with the goal of helping users of AAC, ages 8 to 12, become better writers. The primary intent of the camp was to develop and implement systems, curriculum and materials that would help the students grow in the writing process, both now and into their next school year. A secondary goal was to look for potential research questions to be studied related to users of AAC and the writing process.

[View Full Article]

October 5, 2008 Posted by | Special Education | , , , , , | Leave a comment

One to One Thousand Proof of Concept

by Samuel Sennott

The Tar Heel Reader just reached the one thousand books mark this past week.  This is so exciting for students and teachers alike.  So much thanks for the work of the UNC Center for Literacy and Disability Studies and for the Computer Science work of Gary Bishop and now his class.  I think that the Tar Heel Reader offers some initial proof of concept that we can create solutions to questions and challenges that we have by working together.  In this case, everyone submitting a book or two truly makes a difference.  See how it becomes even more powerful when you get a teaming of literacy specialists with computer scientists.  The internet and low cost computing really does offer an unprecedented platform for collaboration.  I look forward to seeing this idea grow and blosom.  Also, it is exciting to consider the next steps and the refining of initial goals.

October 5, 2008 Posted by | Special Education | , , , | 1 Comment

Being Present

by Samuel Sennott

In the Vermont woods, I have had a chance to take a half step back and watch the leaves fall.  I have been able to let go and be present.  While I have only had a few days off, it feels like a month already.  It is enjoyable to be sitting outside with my family’s new puppy, reading Walden and the Dog Wisperer interchangeably. This creative absence feels so wrong to the constantly striving part of my personality.  Yet, looking at those thoughts and feelings unwaveringly is showing that there is time to rest and restore.  This getting back to basics really feels right.

I thouroughly enjoy teaching and in the past few days, I have had some pangs of missing my students.  Yet, this short break or sabatical of sorts is really proving to have been a good choice for me as a teacher.  I realize that I now have worked for over ten years in my field.  The experiences have been powerful.  From the amazing early times at the Respite Center to student teaching while at Gordon College to the  classrooms and camp programs, I have had the good fortune to lead, I am so thankful for the experiences.  It feels good to reflect and consider the next steps.  Yet, as I slow down and unclog my senses, it feels like those next steps flow naturally.  Anyway, I now know that planning in this break was a very good idea.

October 5, 2008 Posted by | Special Education | | Leave a comment