Tuesday, May 9th, 2006
If you are interested in using the TeachTown: Basics program for a child in the school setting, you may need to include this in his or her IEP (Individualized Education Program).
Specific products can not be suggested in the IEP, but you can use the TeachTown: Basics curriculum (now available to view in Version 1.1 or higher) (if you do not yet have this version, please contact us ASAP). To find the curriculum, go to the main page (with lessons, etc.) and you will see a button that says “curriculum.” Push that button and you will see the entire curriculum. You can then see your child’s current mastered skills and determine goals for what you expect your child to learn from the TeachTown: Basics program in the upcoming months. I think the best strategy for writing new IEP goals is to have every member of the team (e.g. parent, teacher, behavioral consultant, speech pathologist, OT, etc.) write down their suggestions for goals and then have 1 person compile all the goals into IEP language (typically the teacher).
Click on each skill and you will see a description of the lesson. You can use this description to write your IEP goals. We are currently working on writing suggested IEP goals for each lesson so watch out for that in the upcoming months - you will be able to copy & paste these goals into your IEP format!! For now though, you will have to write your own. Use your district’s guidelines for writing goals and the descriptions in the software should help facilitate writing new goals. As a parent, you can simply list the goals from the software program and take them to your teacher, who can assist you in putting the goals into appropriate IEP language.
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Sunday, May 7th, 2006
When you begin the TeachTown: Basics program, you are asked several questions about your child’s skills. This ranking questionnaire is used to help place your child at their initial starting point in the curriculum. Refer to my recent posting about Getting Started to get more information about how to use this initial ranking system.
The “ranks” refer to a developmental level with the curriculum for each domain. For instance, a rank of 1-20 shows that your child is at the early learning stages for that particular domain (developmental age around 2-3 years), a child whose rank is between 121-160 is at the higher end of the curriculum for that domain (developmental age around 6-7 years). There are 4 learning domains and your child may have very high rankings in one area and lower rankings in another. The program automatically adjusts not only to your child’s performance but to their developmental rankings. It “balances” the child’s skills by focusing first on the areas where the child needs the most help and then adding in the more advanced skills as the child catches up in other domains. Version 1.1 or higher will let you see the entire curriculum and the rankings - note that these rankings are within developmental ranges and do not represent exact developmental “ages.” At this very moment, our developers are working on new updates for the program that will allow for customizing your child’s program - this new feature will be available this summer.
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Friday, May 5th, 2006
TeachTown was designed to be used in the home, clinic, or school setting - preferably in all of these so that the entire team can stay up to date on the child’s program. To use the TeachTown: Basics program in a home setting, you should first sign-up for an account and evaluate the child’s starting skills. TeachTown: Basics includes a questionnaire which you need to fill out on each child before starting - if you are unsure of the answers to any of these questions, you should quit out of the software and test your child on these skills so that the software program will accurately place your child where he or she needs to be to get started. Once you have completed the ranking questionnaire and identified who on your team will be working with the program, you should add those people as facilitators and have everyone take a look at the program and practice sending notes to each other before having the child begin using the software. You should also print out some of the initial off-computer generalization activities so that you can begin using those when you start the program with the child. Next, you and your team should determine how many hours a week you will use the TeachTown program and how that will fit into the child’s other programs and services. Keep in mind that TeachTown was designed to be on and off computer - you should plan a 50:50 ratio - for every 10 minutes the child uses the computer, you should have a minimum of 10 minutes planned for off computer naturalistic activities.
To start the child on the program, you must first determine whether or not the child can use the mouse. If not, you will either need to purchase a touch screen monitor or teach the child to use the mouse (I recommend easy computer programs that are repetitive - they do not need to be instructional). You can also use the “virtual touchscreen” technique which I have done with my child at home.
Once your child is using the mouse or touchscreen, he or she is pretty much ready to get started. I recommend starting with 10-minute sessions on the computer with an adult present. Having the adult present is critical in the beginning to identify any problems, but I recommend sitting with the child whenever possible as our research suggests this might create language and social opportunities! When the child is done with their session, be sure to enter in session notes while it is still fresh in your mind.
For off-computer activities, do these throughout the day in 10-minute chunks at first. Be sure to enter in session notes into the computer about the off-computer activities so that you have a nice record of your child’s program.
As your child becomes more familiar with using the program, you can increase the session times on and off the computer to whatever level you feel is appropriate for your child. Stay tuned for more postings about the particular domains and using the off-computer generalization activities.
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