Choose Kindness- The Movie “Wonder”

Is it better to be kind, or right? #choosekind

Today, the fourth and fifth grade students had the opportunity to see the movie “Wonder”. It is a highly recommended film for teaching kindness and for starting a discussion about how to include others who are different than you. Based on the book, “Wonder”, Auggie, the main character, has extreme congenital facial anomalies and starts public school for the first time. He has had 27 surgeries and often wears an astronaut helmet to hide his face.

Auggie says:

“I know I’m not an ordinary ten-year-old kid….I know ordinary kids don’t make other ordinary kids run away screaming in playgrounds.  I know ordinary kids don’t get stared at wherever they go… It’s like people you see sometimes, and you can’t imagine what it would be like to be that person, whether it’s somebody in a wheelchair or somebody who can’t talk.  Only, I know that I’m that person to other people… To me, though, I’m just me.  An ordinary kid.”

The movie does a great job diving into the emotions of the boy Auggie, his friends, his family, and the people he comes in contact with at school.

Take Aways: 

  1. Don’t judge a book by its cover
  2. Be kind to people who are different
  3. One kind action can have a ripple effect

Strengths of the Movie:

  1. Emotions of the main character are shown clearly and makes him highly relatable
  2. Reinforces the idea that every child, no matter how they look or what they do, want to build genuine friendships with others
  3. One brave act can inspire other children to do the right thing

Possible Considerations Before Watching the Movie:

  1. It is rated PG
  2. Some kissing moments between the mom and dad, and the sister and her boyfriend (our students tended to react with EWWW and laughing at these parts)
  3. Some scenes of adults drinking wine and there is a mention of getting drunk once in the movie
  4. Also, there are fighting scenes between the boys/students (which is praised by the dad)

Classroom Follow-Up Activities:

  1. Wonderful Website: http://wonderwebbook.weebly.com/wonder-ful-activities.html
  2. Teacher Pay Teacher: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Browse/Search:wonder
  3. Choose Kind Challenge: https://lionsgate.promo.eprize.com/wonder/

Additional Videos for References:

Happy World Teachers’ Day

Today is World Teachers’ Day!  In 1994, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) marked October 5th to be the day to recognize teachers around the world. Each year, UNESCO holds an annual conference in Paris where awards are given out.

In celebration of World Teachers’ Day, I put together a list of different articles referencing/celebrating/or sharing information about this special day.

  1. http://www.cnn.com/2017/10/04/health/teacher-pay-and-status/index.html
  2. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/world-teachers-day-arts-educators_us_5612a406e4b076812702a656
  3. http://www.ibtimes.com/world-teachers-day-2017-11-inspiring-quotes-celebrate-educators-2597655
  4. https://www.ndtv.com/education/world-teachers-day-7-teachers-who-became-renowned-authors-1758937
  5. Inside A Changing First-Grade Classroom in the 1970s 
  6. http://www.unesco.org/new/en/unesco/themes/icts/teacher-education/
  7. https://antiguaobserver.com/editorial-today-is-world-teachers-day/
  8. http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/parenting/school-life/an-open-letter-to-teachers-everywhere/news-story/746487e12e59a7e492f5e3741911192e

 

A New Character With Autism On Sesame Street

Last month, a new character with autism was introduced on the show Sesame Street, which created a positive reaction from individuals around the world. Julia, the newest character of the show, has autism and acts in a stereotypical manner of many peers in the classroom.

sesame street, inclusion, tv and disabilities

For example, Julia is seen flapping her hands, repeating words, and not responding to a greeting by Big Bird. Alan, the narrator, explains that Julia is not trying to ignore Big Bird, but instead responds to people differently than Big Bird himself. He says, “She does things just a little differently, in a Julia sort of way.” It may take her a bit longer to respond, but it’s okay.

Sesame street does a great job explaining some of the behaviors Julia demonstrates and does an even better job at explaining an appropriate way others can respond to such behaviors. For example, Julia is sensitive to loud noises. She repeats things that were just said by her friends and avoids eye contact. Although she acts differently than her peers, Julia fits right in and is part of the show. An example showing Julia and Elmo playing or Julia and Abby playing can bring tears to an eye of an educator or parent who is constantly striving to create this type of peer interaction and play environment.

Julia’s arrival of the show comes at a unique time in history. As society is progressively becoming more understanding and tolerant of differences, Julia’s presence on the show showcases how an inclusion setting can operate within the boundaries of love, patience, and understanding. It also teaches children at an early age to accept individuals who behave differently within the classroom environment and community.

I applaud Sesame street for including Julia in their show and for accurately depicting some common social situations that can occur in a life of a child with autism.

 

The Accessible Icon Emoji

Recently, a new emoji was added to the Apple iSO10 update, and the Accessible Icon team was very pleased to learn that the accessible icon was included for the social media world to use on a daily basis. With the new icon emerging into the digital world, people who were unfamiliar with the project wanted to know more about the icon that represents people with disabilities as active and engaged. In more detail, I wrote an article about the story of the accessible icon that was published here: http://www.disabled-world.com/disability/accessibility/ios-10.php. Please take the time to read why a group of people identify with the more active looking symbol and be sure to look out for the accessible icon on your phones!

iPhone update, symbols, disabilities, technology

Just $10 Can Make All The Difference

$10 can make all the difference in places like Mozambique and Zimbabwe. In order to even attend school, students need to purchase a $10 uniform that they wear every day. Unfortunately, many students cannot afford the uniform, let alone school books and pencils.

According to World Vision, 57 million children are not enrolled in school. Every Christmas, I add to my family’s gifts by sponsoring a child to attend school. For only $10, one child can attend school for the year. It seems crazy, but $10 can make all the difference for children around the world.

Consider sponsoring a child or donating school supplies today. There are many sites to do this through, but one I use is World Vision. (By the way! $50 will supply $600 of school supplies since your gift is multiplied by 12x). Watch their video and see how you can impact those living in impoverished areas.

Please consider donating $10 (or more!!) today to change a child’s life.

Symbols and Signs

While touring Germany, Italy, and Spain, I was highly interested in the symbols each country used to signify basic street information. Here in the states, there has been much debate about if the Accessible Icon is legal since it has not been officially adopted as the symbol of access by the DOT or DOJ. While almost everyone will agree that the symbol represents movement, some argue that a new symbol is not needed or can cause confusion. Since I am now interested in exploring the different symbols that exist, I took pictures of the different symbols I came across while traveling.

 Accessible Icon Updates: 

  • DOJ (Department of Justice) verbal approval of the icon during the National ADA Symposium. Read here (May 2015)
  • New York State announcement of a slow phasing in of the symbol. Read here (August 2014)
  • New Jersey bill in progress. Read here ( September 2014)

 

 

Big News for the Accessible Icon Project: DOJ Approval

We are very excited to announce that members from the Department of Justice officially acknowledged the Accessible Icon as meeting ADA regulations (a long debated topic that prevented some people from moving forward with the symbol) at a recent conference. Kate Thurman,  Disability Project Coordinator for Cambridge Commissions for Persons with Disabilities who attended the National ADA Symposium provided us with the following information:

As you saw on Twitter, I attended the National ADA Symposium in Atlanta, which ended yesterday with a Town Hall Meeting. I have pasted below my notes on the conversation during this meeting about the use of the Accessible Icon. Needless to say, I was absolutely thrilled to hear from DOJ that the use of the icon is permissible under the ADA!

Accessibility Icon

Please read the article with statements from various DOJ members here: http://www.unitedspinal.org/new-access-symbol/. Although DOJ and ADA are slow to announce in writing, we believe these public statements reflect a decision that will eventually be announced formally through their social media sites.

At the conference, all 50 states, in addition to Canada, Gaum, and the Virgin Islands were represented and part of the discussion.

As of May 28, we know of over 35 states using the icon, and over 10 countries. New York State is the first state to legally adopt the icon, and New Jersey, Michigan, Kansas, and Pennsylvania are following suit. Needless to say,  our team was thrilled when we heard the news.

Light it Up Blue

Today is Light it Up Blue Autism Awareness Day. In honor of April 2, we ask everyone to wear blue to show their support of individuals with autism. 

**Official Light It Up Blue Logo 

Teachertalk4all has a whole page dedicated to Autism studies. Be sure to check out the many postings here:  http://teachertalk4all.edublogs.org/category/autism/

Support Accessibility in Italy

Accessibility has become an increasing problem in historic places such as Italy, Israel, and parts of Africa. Cobblestones, cracked side walks, and lack of ramps make it difficult for people with physical disabilities to travel. A group of operators in Venice decided to do something to help fix this problem.

Who: Gondolas4all

Where: Venice, Italy

Problem: Currently people in wheelchairs are not able to access gondola rides unless they are carried onto gondolas, which can be dangerous

Solution: To build the first ever automated wheelchair lift on a floating jetty

Picture taken from crowd sourcing site:  https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/gondolas4all-gondola-wheelchair-access

Picture taken from crowd sourcing site: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/gondolas4all-gondola-wheelchair-access

Experience Autism through Video

Ever wonder what it is like to feel over-stimulated? Carly Fleischmann shows through video what it is like to experience sensory overload in everyday settings.

Video 1: Coffee shop

Video 2: Walking down the street 

3. Video 3: Shopping at a store

Carly Fleischmann created these videos through her own experience. As we know, every individual sees the world through a different lens, which can lead to a different experience than those shown above. The reason I still appreciate these videos are that they highlight important characteristics that are common with those who experience sensory overload:

1. Increased brightness

2. Jumbled noise

3. Sensitivity to certain smells

4. Distracted by individual objects that become the complete focus of the individual