Have you Heard About the Frontier Texas Museum?

Frontier Texas in Abilene is a great educational experience. In fact, it has even made the New York Times and they describe it as “kind of like a little Disney World only with cowboys and Indians.” When our family visited there, I thought it would probably be the average historical type of museum but I was mistaken. It’s an impressive museum where one can experience state-of-the-art technology. I won’t tell you too much so you can discover it for yourself if you’re ever fortunate enough to visit there.

Abilene is located in west Texas and has a lot to offer. Not only is it home to Frontier Texas but Abilene is also the Children’s Storybook Capital of America. It was designated by the 84th Legislature of the State of Texas and was later designated in 2019 as the Children’s Storybook Capital of America. This charming west Texas town is off I-20 and is definitely worth visiting!

Techniques for Teaching English as a Second Language

These are some good techniques for teaching ESL children:

  • Face the children when you are speaking.
  • Speak clearly at an average to slow rate.  Do not exaggerate your words.  Speak normally.
  • Avoid using idioms or confusing phrases.
  • Explain things in more than one way.
  • Repeat key words, phrases, and ideas.
  • Use comparisons, similes, analogies, and opposites when appropriate.
  • Brainstorm using a white board or chalk board or if you’re at home then a piece of computer paper works great.
  • Build upon the children’s experiences.
  • Use visuals and props as often as possible.
  • Use culturally appropriate materials.
  • Demonstrate whenever you can (act it out).
  • Provide a print-rich environment.  Label objects with the name of the object written on an index card.
  • Ask children questions often to determine understanding.
  • Have the children role play.

Khan Academy Nonprofit – Free Online Educational Videos

Here is an awesome resource for teachers and students!  Khan Academy, a nonprofit global classroom for anyone in the world who has access to a computer, has a library of thousands of videos online that are free.   This provides quality instruction to people all over the world, no matter where they are located. They also offer Teacher Resources as well.  Here is an example of some of the topics they cover:

ALGEBRA (many lessons in each of these subtopics):

  • Algebra Intro
  • Linear Equations
  • Inequalities
  • Rations & Proportions
  • Absolute Value
  • Exponents and Radicals
  • Logarithms
  • Polynomials
  • Quadratics
  • Functions
  • Conic Sections
  • Complex Numbers
  • Matrices

It’s easy to see by this listing that there are many lessons from which to choose.  Here is a partial list of more topics without subtopics listed:

  • American Civics
  • Arithmetic & Pre-Algebra
  • Art History (for many different eras)
  • Astrology
  • Banking & Money
  • Biology
  • Brain Teasers
  • Cryptography
  • Calculus
  • Chemistry
  • Differential Equations
  • Economics
  • Finance
  • Geometry
  • Healthcare & Medicine
  • History
  • Physics
  • Statistics
  • Trigonometry
  • Computer Science

Khan Academy is a global classroom of students who learn at their own rate and choose what they want to study.  Here are reviews and stories of the academy so you can read first hand from teachers and students all over the world.

Teaching Patterns to Young Children

A very simple, inexpensive way to start out teaching young children patterns would be to have three different colors of caps from gallon containers of milk or water.  Have several of each color.  If you don’t have the caps, then cut squares out of colored cardboard or paper.  Start with a very simple pattern and then make it progressively harder.  Start out demonstrating the whole pattern at first, showing how to duplicate the pattern to make sure the child understands the concept of “pattern.”  Then see if the child can duplicate it.  For example:

  • Red, blue, red, blue, red, blue, ____, ____, ____, ____, ____, ____
  • Red, green, red, green, red, green, ____, ____, ____, ____, ____
  • Red, blue, blue, red, blue, blue, ____, ____, ____, ____, ____, ____
  • Red, red, blue, red, red, blue, ____, ____, ____, ____, ____, ____
  • Red, blue, green, red, blue, green, ____, ____, ____, ____, ____
  • Red, green, green, blue, red, green, green, blue, ____, ____, ____, ____, ____, ____, ____, ____

As the child masters each level, have more complicated patterns.

Then add in two dimensions of color and shape:

  • red circle, blue square, red circle, blue square
  • red circle, green square, blue triangle, red circle, green square, blue triangle

As the child progresses, make patterns out of stickers (excellent way to make patterns) and other things besides color and shapes. Or you can use game pieces if you have multiple pieces that are the same. You could even use cans of green beans, corn, and tomatoes. Be creative with things around your house.

Book Review: “Carly’s Voice” & Autism Tips

Carly’s Voice:  Breaking Though Autism

by Arthur Fleischmann with Carly Fleischmann

I highly recommend this book to anyone who works with children or adults with non-verbal autism and to anyone who would like to have a better understanding.  My friend, who has a granddaughter with this type of autism, recommended this book to me.  I’m so glad she did!  It gives insights into non-verbal autism in a way that a therapist or doctor cannot do, through the “voice” of Carly.  The book begins with Carly’s early years, her struggles with her severe autism, and the struggles of her family.  But with undying persistence for many years, Carly was finally able to communicate through typing her responses at age ten.

If you read the book, be sure to read “A Conversation with Carly:  The Truths and Myths About Autism” at the very end of the book.  But don’t read it until you’ve read the whole story so that you have insight into Carly’s personality and character.  Through reading the book, the reader gets a better understanding of just how hard it is to overcome the difficulties that accompany autism and also gets a glimpse into the day-to-day life, year-after-year.

Here are some tips that Carly gives, along with my opinions, that are useful to me in the classroom:

  • Medications can cause mood changes for no reason.  This could result in crying or feeling angry.
  • Carly was around nine years old when she was able to “audio filter” all the sounds around her.  She took in many sounds at once, some sounds that most people couldn’t hear, some sounds being louder than others.  (headphones are helpful for some to do audio filtering in the classroom )
  • Make sure kids with autism are around words all the time so they can develop their ability to spell. (label everything you can in the classroom)  Work on simple words at first.  They just need someone to give them a push and encourage them.
  • Even when it may appear they are not paying attention, they usually are.  They are looking at things all the time, and they are probably looking out of the corner of their eyes.
  • In the very early years, use pictures to help communication.
  • It takes a lot of concentration to be able to type words.
  • Carly said, “Flapping and humming and rocking does not calm me down(.) it helps me cope with stuff around me.”  All the sensory input can be overwhelming to those with autism – sensory overload.
  • Some, like Carly, have a photographic memory that allows them to memorize a page of a book in seconds.
  • Here’s insight to what it feels like for some like Carly:  “…you don’t know what it’s like to be me.  You don’t (know) what it feels like when you can’t sit still because your legs feel like they are on fire or it feels like a hundred ants are crawling up your arms.  How can you help me when you don’t know?”
  • Carly said once, “I act up because I feel so trapped inside myself.”
  • “When I look at someone I take over a thousand images of that person’s face in less than a minute.  The more I look…the more pictures I take…my brain…gets full.  I am no longer able to process…and I am forced to turn away.”  (Carly’s experience)
  • Many with non-verbal autism have an inner voice but don’t know how to express themselves.  Don’t give up on them!
  • You can visit Carly on Facebook @ Carly Fleischmann.