Saturday, August 27, 2016

App All Star: ChatterPix Kids

ChatterPix Kids is simple to use, fun and engaging app developed by Duck, Duck Moose.  The concept is fun, the app allows you to turn anything into a talking picture.  To begin, import or take a picture, draw a line on the picture, and record a message.  This process results in a video of the chosen image, delivering the recorded message. The completed video can be saved to the camera roll on the device for viewing.

Our team used this app much like I described in the Talking Tom post.  ChatterPix Kids is a great tool for simple social stories and reinforcing messages.  The power is in the image that is used, it can be tailored to the child's preferences.  For example, we had a student who was very interested in pirates.  This same student was struggling with walking in the halls, not always being first in line and keeping his hands to himself in the halls.  His teacher had tried some social stories and was having some success, but she decided to tap into the power of the pirate.  She imported a picture of a pirate and had her husband use his best pirate voice to record a scripted message.  The message included the student's name and some pirate vocabulary.  She played it for the student and he was delighted that the pirate was talking to him.  He took the pirate's advice very seriously and showed improvement in his ability to follow rules in the hallway.  He would often quote the pirate to remind others of the rules.  Another teacher delivered some social stories to a Disney obsessed student via Disney princesses and saw success.

Another possible application is using the app as a means for students to demonstrate what they have learned after a project is completed.  For example, after a study of animals that live in Minnesota, a student can choose a picture of an animal and record some simple facts about that animal, then play it for the class, and email to parents.  The app is free, download it and see what you can do with it!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Four Reasons to join the Division for Early Childhood

This week, the Minnesota Division for Early Childhood (MN DEC ) is hosting the Spring Practitioners Conference.  This conference is a wonderful networking and professional development opportunity.  Not all of the practitioners who will be attending are members of DEC, so I wanted to take this opportunity to share the benefits of being a member and encourage practitioners to join.  I joined because I wanted to increase my leadership skills and get involved.  I wanted to be a voice in the field and grow professionally.  There are many benefits to being a member, here are my top four reasons to join.

Content:  If you don't know it already from reading other posts, I like research.  Because I am a member,  research journals are delivered to my door and I can access the online archives.  When I get into those journals and archives, I get lost in all of that evidenced based goodness!  I can be confident that I am staying relevant in my practice and using interventions and practices that are grounded in research.     

Discounts and relevant professional development:  DEC frequently provides discounts to members on conferences and other resources supported by DEC.  DEC offers Learning Decks, professional development webinars, at a discounted price.  For $25.00 you can receive up to date, pertinent PD, in the comfort of your home or office!  So far, I have attended one of the Learning Decks and was impressed with the quality and relevancy. I plan to take advantage of this resource again.   

Membership provides opportunities to expand my professional network.  I have attended conferences, joined the board, and joined special interest groups.  This expanded network, which includes DEC members from across the nation, provides access to resources, knowledge and inspiration.  

Get involved, be a leader, be an advocate: I recently joined two special interest groups offered through DEC.  Involvement in these groups, involvement on the board and other networking opportunities will further my ability to advocate for the field and be a voice.  DEC communicates policy and advocacy information to members.  Staying up to date in these areas supports my efforts to raise awareness about the importance of the work we do in the field of Early Childhood Education.

Joining DEC was a good decision.  Membership has supported my goals in the area of professional development and opened the door to new opportunities.  I hope other practitioners will consider the benefits and join.  If you are attending the conference, stop by the membership table and they will answer any questions you might have.