Karla Teaches

As you may or may not know, I’m nearing the end of my journey toward my degree in Special Education! If I make it through student teaching I’ll graduate in December. Yay! If you’d like to follow my adventures, you can do so here at KarlaTeaches.com  If you have ever been a student teacher and have tips for me, I welcome them! I could also use your prayers for stamina. I sold my book on autism right before student teaching started and edits are due very soon. All I need is a clone, right? Anyone know where there’s a good deal on one? Tweet this: Superpower: teaching; passion: writing, sleeping:...

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Teaching kids to touch type

If there’s one thing I am grateful for from my public school education in the 70s, it’s that I was able to take classes to learn how to touch type. I can still type about 93-102 words per minute (WPM), and believe me, it’s come in handy when writing books, blogging, and writing research papers! (Thanks, Mr. Geesik!) (I can still hear and see him wiggling his fingers and sing-song saying, “Type, type, type!”) Since I have special needs children, and taught many special needs kids in my cottage school, I was always on the lookout for unique ways to teach life skills. One of the coolest tools I discovered  were these ingenious typing gloves from a company called Touchtypers. From the website: “Touchtypers is a system that uses specially developed lettered gloves and simple exercises to make it easy for students to learn to touch-type on computer keyboards, using any typing system or word processing software.” The gloves come with an instruction booklet, but I also used old-fashioned typing books to help my students practice. These gloves worked great! I like anything that helps children self-direct and teach themselves. The only thing you have to do is supervise a bit to make sure they’re actually using the correct fingers and not “cheating.” I hope you like these gloves as much as I do/did. I don’t get any kind of kickback or anything from this company. But when I experience a great product, I want to tell everyone about it. Oh, and when you order the gloves, err on the smaller side because they stretch. Let me know how you like them! Please tweet: Teach your special needs kids to...

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Dear autism families, how do you spell spontaneity?

Because I really want to know. Sometimes I fantasize about running errands and grocery shopping. Freely, that is. I mean, without all the logistical hoop jumping that has to take place before, during and after. Before: rustling up the courage to ask someone to either go with me on errands or come watch the family so I can go alone. Then once I’ve got a helper in tow, figuring out when, where, and how it’s going to happen. Get everyone dressed appropriately and toileted and pray that no one has a bathroom emergency before you get to the store.   During: finding the patience to deal with the meltdowns in the store and grabbing grabbing hands before they grab another grape or cherry and plop it in their mouth.  Or, fielding the 1.2 thousand text messages you’re getting from the auties and the babysitter while calculating the difference in cost if you buy 10 pounds of cheese versus 1 pound.   After: Dealing with the meltdowns because everyone’s tired and stressed from running errands with you. or the stress of being left at home without you. And praying you don’t meltdown yourself. Not that it would do any good or that anyone would notice.   On a particularly faith-filled day I might fantasize about going to a movie with my husband or getting away for the weekend. But most days I don’t have the energy for that. (Not the getaway. The thinking about and hoping for it. ) Now, before you think I’m complaining, I’m really not. This is just reality. And it’s so much a part of our lives, that we’ve grown used to it. We don’t stop to think about how we can’t do anything spontaneously until someone says, “want to go to a movie?” or “Want to get away with us for a few days to the Poconos?” Alright, I admit, we never get asked to go to the Poconos. We live in Indiana. But you get the idea, right? “Uhm. No. Sorry. Can’t. Can’t leave the boys alone even though they’re 20 years old. Can’t leave Mama alone, either, even though she’s 80 years old (she has Alzheimer’s).” I know, I know, our life would be so much simpler if we just put them in a home. But would it, really? I think it’s just exchanging one stress for another. And besides, what if we warehoused everyone who inconvenienced us? Seriously, though, the thought has crossed my mind more than once. But the twins are still in high school and it doesn’t seem right to find them “a home” before they graduate. And Mama? Well, she gets a lot more stimulation with us (trust me...

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All the shiny things

Blogging is like exercise. It’s too easy to get in the habit of not doing it. I love to blog. I’ve blogged since the 90s and have had at least a dozen blogs over the years. My problem is finding a focus.  I tend to lead life that way, too. There are so many shiny things that distract me: theology, writing, music, history, conspiracy theories, politics, entertaining, disabilities, advocating for children (my CASA work), my church ministry–and I haven’t even begun to brush the surface of my family, job and college responsibilities. Because I’m attracted to so many things, I’m easily distracted. Sadly, I remind myself of that verse in Daniel 12:4:” Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.” Sure, I run to and fro doing regular human stuff, but I also go here and there indulging my insatiable appetite for knowledge. How far I run! Via google I can browse the National Palace Museum in Taipei and then fly over to Venice and purse the Ca’Rezzonico. If I want I can squeeze another couple of hours at the British Museum before sauntering over to study the Mona Lisa at the Louvre.  So, dear reader, I’m learning I have a need to get focused. Right now I’m in the throes of college math exams — working on my degree for Special Education — another shiny thing that is important to me. Just as important as writing. And, to be honest, there’s also a family crisis in our lives right now that is emotionally draining. But as I sit here in the library waiting for my granddaughters to get out of one of their summer fun classes, I’m filled with gratitude for a patient, loving God. I know He’s waiting for me to quit running around like a toddler and settle in and pay attention. (I’ve always said you can’t teach a moving target. Is that what I am, Lord?) I may not have been here writing very much these past few weeks, but one thing I’ve managed to keep up with is prayer and bible reading. I’m thankful for that. I don’t think I could survive the buffeting without time in His Word. I’m so thankful for the hunger God has given me for Him . And I wonder — is that what He’s calling me to focus on more? My heart is so full. I have so much to share with you. But where do I start? How do I begin? And just what is it you want to know? Your Questioning Servant, Karla Tweet this: Help! Shiny things and barking...

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Pinterest Cooking Sleepover Recipes

This is a recipe blog hop! Go here to get the button and join us each week: The Most Delicious Recipe Blog Hop. Then add your recipe post to mine with the linky codes at the end of this post. Whether you’re a paleo, vegetarian, southern cook, or baker, you’re welcome to join me and post a weekly recipe! Pinterest Cooking Sleepover Recipes   It’s been a long cold winter in NE Indiana. The kind of winter that calls for lots of comfort food. (Thank goodness for baggy sweaters!) Last Friday I invited all the girls at our church, ages K-12 grade, to a Pinterest cooking sleepover. It was a total blast and I can’t wait to share the recipes we tried! I’ve been collecting Pinterest recipes for a long time on my Pinterest board. I will never find enough time to make all of them, but having a cooking sleepover allowed us to make and try six different fattening and  delicious recipes! Some were a hit and others were so-so. All were kid-friendly and fun. Before we started our cooking activities, I reminded the girls how God made us with His hands and how special we are to Him. I asked them to remember as we worked with our hands, how God loves what He made just as we love what we make. I reminded them that they are royalty–the daughters of the King of Kings. Recipe 1: Pepperoni Roll-ups This was so easy and the kids loved doing it. They were delicious, too. I spread parchment paper all along the table and after the girls washed their hands, gave them each two crescent roll doughs, five pepperonis and a handful of mozzarella cheese. Most recipes call for a stick of string cheese, but using grated cheese was less expensive. I had the help of three other adults and the older girls pitched in and helped the younger girls. This activity worked for all ages and all abilities. One of our teens has autism and an intellectual disability and she had no trouble participating like everyone else. We all had fun eating the pepperoni and cheese, too, as we worked! We used cupcake paper to put the spaghetti sauce in for dipping when we served them. The girls loved them. They were surprisingly filling, too! (Uh, the roll-ups, not the girls!) Since we have a western theme going on for our Children’s ministry, while the roll-ups were cooking, I read them a cute little book about a little cowboy and a very bossy cowgirl who’s a know-it-all: Conrad and the Cowgirl Next Door. We talked about how to be a good friend and the difference between being bossy...

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Sometimes Mama Bear needs to back off

I’m subbing at the high school this week in a special education classroom. That means that my twin sons who take life skills classes are in my department. This is great fun for them. But today my Mama Grizzly showed a bit when a staff member (not a teacher, a support staff) rudely snapped at one of them, first thing in the morning. No hello. Nothing. Just a bark. The reason she snapped at my son was valid. It was how she handled it that wasn’t. He’d left his backpack in front of a locked classroom door, and while waiting for someone to unlock it, he slipped into my room to visit with me. When the staff member arrived, she flew into my classroom and barked, “Whose stuff is that in the hall in front of Mrs. —‘s door?” Isaiah, who is almost always cheerful and sweet, and wouldn’t do anything wrong on purpose to inconvenience someone, jumped up from his chair and headed toward the hall door, “Oh, that’s mine.” To which she responded with a great scowl and angry voice, “Well then move it, it’s in the way.” (Or some such phrase of which I don’t remember the exact words.) All I know, is that I never talk to students that way, and especially not special needs students. It’s all in how you say it. And I realize that teachers and staff have bad mornings. But bad mornings should be left at the schoolhouse door. Being a grouch doesn’t model appropriate behavior to students who need it more than anyone. I dare say that teens with autism need it more than elementary-aged children (although they all do desperately need it). I did complain to their teacher about her, but as I was doing so, I felt petty. It’s impossible for me to protect them from all the rude people on earth. Especially now that they are adults. (They are 19 but still in school until they are 21.) Still, as an educator myself, I feel that all students should be treated with respect. Tone of voice speaks volumes. As I shared in my post on my philosophy of education, school may be one of the only places some kids have that’s a safe place to fall. If they are to feel valued, school personnel must treat them with respect. It doesn’t matter what a child’s label is, they are still deserving of politeness. Maybe the snarky  staff member works with hard behavior cases. I don’t know. But I do know that children will act the way you expect them to most of the time. I know this because I’ve worked with some very, very difficult students. No...

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