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Two things I hate more than anything are math and exercise. No, I am not 500 lbs. I just don’t like exercise that is boring. I prefer to backpack and rock climb. Yes, I am a teacher, and I teach math and do a very good job at it. I have always struggled with math because I am dyslexic and learning disabled. I taught myself how to do math, and now God uses me to help children who need it. I don’t have to like math or exercise to know it is good for me. Being honest with my students helps them to learn that, too. I am also honest when I say that I groaned when I found out that the product I received free to review for the TOS Crew was an exercise DVD that incorporated math. And no, the vendor doesn’t control what I say about their product. However, I am fair, as well as, honest. This isn’t about me, but about helping my parents find products suitable for their students. If you read my blog regularly, you will know that once again I was pleasantly surprised at what I found.

The DVD, Gymathtics, created by Carrie Scheiner and her family through Suncheine World, LLC. Is well-produced and developed. Ms. Scheiner uses the premise that learning is enhanced by making as many connections in the brain as possible. Information from even seemingly different topics can be joined together and taught through activities to increase the connections leading to even stronger learning connections. In this case, math concepts are connected with physical exercise movements. Many students will find this odd, but this odd difference lends to its interest and fun. The program provides a warm-up section that has your body making lines, circles, and polygons that stretch your muscles preparing them for the more strenuous exercises to come. Your student will practice various ways to count as they do aerobic exercises, and then the intensity increases with pattern power as your student will do various pattern movement activities that strengthen the muscles and heart. On the screen there are diagrams with math information about polygons, circles, different kinds of visual patterns, and skip counting methods. Most are self-explanatory. During her exercise instruction, Ms. Scheiner also gives more math information verbally. The DVD finishes with the “Well-being Wind Down” section where she leads in relaxing stretches cooling down the body from the aerobic activity while explaining healthy lifestyle choices. These choices are placed on the screen as text at the end of the exercise program. The multisensory concept of math and exercise together is unique, but many students will find it delightful.

Being multisensory, many special needs students will be able to access it and benefit from its information such as those with autism, learning disabilities, dyslexia, attention deficit and attention deficit with hyperactivity, especially. Deaf students will be able to get a lot of detail from the math concepts as well as being able to follow the exercise steps pretty well visually. Ms. Scheiner often demonstrates the moves before the exercise begins. She could do this every time to be more beneficial. A Deaf student might benefit more from the math concepts if more of what Ms. Scheiner relates verbally is added to the diagrams on the screen or more diagrams were used during the exercise segments. Blind students will be able to access the music and dialogue of the DVD. Ms. Scheiner, trying not to overdo the verbal content for probably time purposes and interest of the student, may at times not give enough instruction of the movement of the exercise for a totally blind or mostly blind student to easily do the exercise. A little more specific instruction could probably be done to allow for more accessibility by a blind student. Math concepts could really use more verbal information added to allow for more benefit of the blind student, as well. Ms. Scheiner does a good job without probably even trying to provide accessibility. I am pretty certain that she could do an excellent job when aware that her DVD’s could be used by an even wider audience with just a little more thought and planning of verbal script and diagramming. You may think that there is no hope for the DeafBlind student. Well, I participated right along with my student helpers for this review. I, of course, could not get any information directly being DeafBlind. My students tactually explained to me the moves and the math concepts. I didn’t always do them perfectly, but it allowed us to giggle a lot. My readers know that I like lots of giggling during my lessons. Giggling equals fun, and fun equals better learning and longer remembering.

Gymathtics is a unique, but great way to get your students moving and possibly learning some math. They may not even realize they are” doing math”. This is their first DVD, $24.99,  but more are available and others being developed. Their website at http://www.exploramania.com has these DVD’s and other products like exercise mats and balls using math.  Check them out, and you may soon be giggling over doing polygons and parallelograms.

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We recently talked about World History, so now let’s jump right into American History with the American Heritage: An Adventure in Liberty CD. As publishing companies and secular historians try to rewrite our country’s history to fit their own agenda, it is a breath of fresh air to see this curriculum hit the field.

The American Heritage Education Foundation, Inc. makes the social studies/civic K-12 lesson plan resource CD available to free to educators. The foundation’s mission is dedicated to the understanding and teaching of our nation’s factual and philosophical heritage to promote constructive citizenship and freedom, unity, progress, and responsibility among our students and citizens. This resource planner implements that mission in a wonderful and beneficial way. The lessons are well written and hold a child’s attention. The activities provided stimulate continued interest and encourage interesting discussions. The program has three levels on elementary, middle school, and high school level. The elementary level is also provided in Spanish. The file format is Adobe Reader .pdf, and they provide a version of Acrobat Reader for installation if you do not have it on your computer. The Acrobat Reader is free and current versions can be downloaded from the Adobe Acrobat Reader web site for future use as updates become available. The material, itself, is written clearly and simple enough that the same basic lesson information is the same across the levels with the activities being a little more involved and covering more in-depth analysis in the higher levels. This makes it ideal for a classroom setting with students having various ability levels and learning needs and for a homeschool setting where there may be several students, but in different grade levels. Instruction can be simultaneous in either setting with modifications made when necessary and activities tailored for ability and grade levels. More importantly, the information is historically accurate and places the emphasis on the key facts that this country was founded by Christian men who planned the government to allow for freedom of religion, but acknowledging that there is a sovereign God who must be our guide in government matters. All of these factors make this a great choice for your lesson plan resource.

As far as accessibility which is very important to most of my readers, the .pdf format is as discussed here before not very accessible for some of my readers who are DeafBlind as I am. Adobe has removed their features that allowed braille access and locked their program down to use only their built-in text-to-speech program which doesn’t allow for braille access. The authors do have all security measures allowed including copying for accessibility which allows you to copy the text to Word which allows for some braille text access. The majority of the document is text in this case, so that is a great help for DeafBlind users. You will be able to get use of the product with a little bit of manipulation of the text. I appreciate the authors allowing that copy ability. The lack of alternate text tags for the images will present a small problem for all blind and deafblind users. The authors didn’t set up the file for accessibility at all within the Adobe format, so this can present problems even for the built-in reader. It is a simple problem to correct by labeling alternate text tags for the images and specifying language for all the text along with a few other simple corrections. I certainly hope they will do so to make it easier for text-to-speech reading to be correct and ease the transition to Word for braille use. Overall, the authors are commended for making the effort toward some accessibility.

The American Heritage Education Foundation also provides additional resources to further enhance their An Adventure in Liberty program on their website at http://www.americanheritage.org . Check them out for information on how to order the CD resource, as well. Wynfield Christian Academy will definitely be adding it to their curriculum resources for American History and Civics instruction. I don’t think anyone can go wrong with trying this program for instilling a God-based and historically accurate foundation for our American Heritage into our children. Our next generation really needs this kind of background to help keep America on a straight path as a God-fearing nation.

Regardless of your style of teaching, you often need just the right worksheet or activity. Often, your brain just can be taxed anymore. That is when you need a really good place to go for fresh ideas, or ready-made worksheet to save you some time. The site, http://www.abcteach.com, may be just what you need.

 

For $40.00 a year or $70.00 for two years, you can have access to over 35,000 printable worksheets on various subjects and grade levels. You have access to clip art for any type of classroom project or decoration. You also can find activities and templates for projects like book report forms, research note card forms, etc. You won’t find any annoying advertising either. There is also customer service available to answer your questions and give tips. Whether you need a learning center, or research project, or just a practice worksheet, you can find it on this site, and it is growing every day with more and more resources being added.

 

As part of the TOS Crew, I received free access to the site for about a month. For myself, I was unable to access most of the site, since I am almost totally DeafBlind. I was disappointed because I was looking forward to browsing the site. I had to get sighted help to get any help at all from the site. Accessibility is great for sighted users, but those who need screen readers will be unable to make sense of the page for the most part. I know the main page has 104 links that are recognizable to the screen reader, but I can’t seem to get to them or know what they are. It reads “Your online resource for children’s Education and thousands of free printable worksheets and activities plus over 35,000 pages of worksheets… Then it skips to a series of links in the highlighted Directories under “Sandy’s Picks.” Many of the links are icon links made of graphics, and there is a table with a graphic that contains the links. A screen reader just can’t access that at all. I hope the owners will work on the accessibility of their site. I have many parents of hearing/sighted children who are blind and deafblind themselves. They like to work with their children just like other parents do. These parents need resources, too. If you can access the resources with sighted help, you will find the .pdf format files are open to the accessibility options allowed by Adobe. Of course, that is only suitable for hearing blind because Adobe forces you to use their text to speech program. This program doesn’t allow access to a screen reader that allows braille access. Therefore, I can’t recommend this site for my blind and deafblind parents. Sighted parents will find it quite user-friendly, though.

 

If you need worksheets or activity ideas, this site will certainly give you a lot of help. Check out the ABCTeach site at http://www.abcteach.com for more information.

Regardless of your style of teaching, you often need just the right worksheet or activity. Often, your brain just can be taxed anymore. That is when you need a really good place to go for fresh ideas, or ready-made worksheet to save you some time. The site, http://www.abcteach.com, may be just what you need.

 

For $40.00 a year or $70.00 for two years, you can have access to over 35,000 printable worksheets on various subjects and grade levels. You have access to clip art for any type of classroom project or decoration. You also can find activities and templates for projects like book report forms, research note card forms, etc. You won’t find any annoying advertising either. There is also customer service available to answer your questions and give tips. Whether you need a learning center, or research project, or just a practice worksheet, you can find it on this site, and it is growing every day with more and more resources being added.

 

As part of the TOS Crew, I received free access to the site for about a month. For myself, I was unable to access most of the site, since I am almost totally DeafBlind. I was disappointed because I was looking forward to browsing the site. I had to get sighted help to get any help at all from the site. Accessibility is great for sighted users, but those who need screen readers will be unable to make sense of the page for the most part. I know the main page has 104 links that are recognizable to the screen reader, but I can’t seem to get to them or know what they are. It reads “Your online resource for children’s Education and thousands of free printable worksheets and activities plus over 35,000 pages of worksheets… Then it skips to a series of links in the highlighted Directories under “Sandy’s Picks.” Many of the links are icon links made of graphics, and there is a table with a graphic that contains the links. A screen reader just can’t access that at all. I hope the owners will work on the accessibility of their site. I have many parents of hearing/sighted children who are blind and deafblind themselves. They like to work with their children just like other parents do. These parents need resources, too. If you can access the resources with sighted help, you will find the .pdf format files are open to the accessibility options allowed by Adobe. Of course, that is only suitable for hearing blind because Adobe forces you to use their text to speech program. This program doesn’t allow access to a screen reader that allows braille access. Therefore, I can’t recommend this site for my blind and deafblind parents. Sighted parents will find it quite user-friendly, though.

 

If you need worksheets or activity ideas, this site will certainly give you a lot of help. Check out the ABCTeach site at http://www.abcteach.com for more information.

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