Thursday, March 27, 2008

Simplified Yu-Gi-Oh Training Games

So, I work with an amazing kiddo for an hour and a half or so a day. He's probably 8 and allergic to his chair. Seriously. It's like it makes him claustrophobic or something. When I work with him, I tend to spend a fair amount of time saying "No" and "Come here." I don't like that.

I've been thinking alot about Dewey, about how to make education relate to what is real and loved and understood in a child's life. What is understood by most of my kids is cartoons, video games, etc. So I bought a deck of Yu-Gi-Oh cards, thinking that would tap into his curiosity.

What I didn't realize -- Yu-Gi-Oh is HARD. My husband and I, both grad students, struggled with the instructions. I was disappointed. But I've come up with ways to simplify Yu-Gi-Oh as the kiddo learns about the cards and how to play. Suddenly, a kid who only is adding single digit numbers now is comparing and subtracting four digit numbers to calculate points. We're to the stage where we play with just monsters, no tributing, and whoever looses them all first looses. Next we start subtracting from 8000.

I have to laugh because it's not a child innocently exploring nature in some sort of Montessorian idealized education. In my pursuit of educational goals, I end up using a lot of Sponge Bub and Pokemon and yes, Yu-Gi-Oh. But it's fun.

Here's a link to my google document of the games. I'm also excited because I managed to post this from school, which has a block on blogger, facebook, and livejournal. Don't get me started about how we should use social networking to our advantage instead of fearing it as educators. Anyway.... enjoy the training games.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Art of the Gaze

"What it also seems to reveal is that he is a man willing, for a moment at least, to be the object of your gaze, to let you look at what he's missing -- as long as you are willing to let him do the same to you."
A quote from Yahoo's People of the Web feature about Kevin Connolly, a photographer who has turned pictures of people staring at him (he has no legs) into a photo exhibit.

Beauty. Total beauty. I love the fact that he acknowledges that the starers too are not just rude or insensitive, but vulnerable in a really obvious way. I sometimes stare -- I don't mean to. As I become more and more involved in this community, I notice people all the time. In fact, when the mysterious foot bumps appeared in Ireland, a country where EVERYONE is expected to walk, and briskly so, I made it a point to really notice others with disabilities while in Galway. It helped me keep the self-pity at bay and make me realize that I was part of a well-concealed army of tourists and locals limping, wheeling, and dragging themselves on crutches all over Shop Street. I was having a conversation with a girl in my program about a story I workshopped. It was dealing with a girl named Alex and her seizure disorders and disabilities. The other girl was saying how she just doesn't really know anyone with disabilities. As she said that and pushed through the crowds, a family passed us and the younger boy had Down Syndrome. I didn't have time to see if that registered with her. It wouldn't have with me until I made my decision to notice people.

I am pronouncing publicly that I am trying to notice, to not look away, to not pretend that people with disabilities are invisible.

And sometimes, in that process, I will stare.

Kevin Connolly's artwork forces the starers into an engagement, to ask them "what are you looking at" and to have to answer. Interaction is the antidote to aimless gazing, and his artwork forces an interaction in a way that's just breathtaking.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

I'm sleepy and hungry...Researchers find high prevalence of eating disorders in narcoleptics

Researchers find high prevalence of eating disorders in narcoleptics

Washington, Mar 2 : A new study by researchers at the Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Center in The Netherlands has found that the majority of patients with narcolepsy/cataplexy experience a number of symptoms of eating disorders, with an irresistible craving for food and binge eating as the most prominent features.


"Hypocretin, the neurotransmitter that is lost in narcolepsy, has been implicated in the regulation of feeding through animal studies. Earlier studies in narcolepsy found a clear increase in body weight. However, we did not find a correlation between binge eating and increased weight.
"Binge eating is apparently not the direct cause of the obesity in narcolepsy, and this suggests that metabolic alterations may be involved.
"Nevertheless, our study shows that the loss of hypocretin function makes narcolepsy patients not only struggle with staying awake, but also destabilizes their eating pattern, which makes it harder to stay away from the candy jar," Dr. Fortuyn added.

Interesting. I've always noticed my absolute craving for bad things is worse when my narcolepsy is worse, but I'd always thought they were part of my body's failed attempt to self-medicate by wanting a short term energy fix, like a Dr. Pepper, to keep me awake. Bad food for me has always been a profit/loss gamble -- what it costs me in energy to make good food at the moments seems to be more important than what it will cost me health-wise to continue eating bad food.

I need to get better at this, but it's nice to know I'm not the only narcoleptic in the world polishing off a box of cookies in some misguided attempt to stay awake.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

I'm a trendsetter!

From my RSS Reader:

Immune Systems Increasingly On Attack

By Rob Stein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 4, 2008; Page A01
First, asthma cases shot up, along with hay fever and other common allergic reactions, such as eczema. Then, pediatricians started seeing more children with food allergies. Now, experts are increasingly convinced that a suspected jump in lupus, multiple sclerosis and other afflictions caused by misfiring immune systems is real.

The whole article is here:

Hrmmm... it's all about the hygiene hypothesis, that modern living is too clean and sterile and makes our immune systems malfunction. I realize I am not, on my own, a scientific study, but I think of all the barn cats with ringworm I picked up, all the hay I climbed and jumped into, all the horse crap I shoveled, all the mud pies I made and yes, ate, and I think that maybe this hypothesis, at least for me, barks up the wrong tree. I tested my immune system.

But then again, I don't really have allergies, except hay fever that developed after I left the area I grew up in. This article deals with allergies and links all immune dysfunction to them. That's also a big jump to say that what causes allergies in one person would cause MS or RA in someone else. The auto-immune mechanism might be the same, but I can't believe that my immune system eats my joints because I didn't get enough pathogens as a kid. The end of the article dealt with trials of people with auto-immune diseases eating parasitic worms.


I'll wait for the insurance to approve my Humira, thank you very much.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Success!! (can I take a nap?)

Blogging from my xo...
It's 1 pm on a school day and I'm in my p.j.s, watching The History Channel. I love snow days!!

I'm recovering from last week. I organized a R.J. Cooper road trip. With a few exceptions, I was disappointed at how little help I got, but I think I pulled it off. And I did get help, particularly on the first day (thanks Sue and Camilla!).

Still, it was good. Really good. 24 people got to work with R.J. -- some of those 24 really get a lot of attention and a lot of people trying new things for them, but many don't. For several learners, I watched holding my breath. It was amazing... J.C. was there. She was amazing. My mom drove her 350 miles for this. I now have videotape evidence to show to her group home and her school on how well she is capable of doing.

There were glitches all around, but all together, it was awesome. Even for people who disagreed with R.J., there was still a buzz. I've heard from a family who doesn't want to buy a computer because their son broke their last one, but they are inspired to start picture cards and signs again for their son based on his success at the workshop. I've also spent time talking to the mom of a boy who needs computer access...and she and R.J. disagree on how to do it. Still, there's now a huge amount of people thinking about this for this boy. I haven't talked to my friend yet whose 4 year old little girl worked with R.J. and he suggested a switch by her cheek instead of the direct select she's been using. Still, even if they don't go that route, it's in their mind as an option.

I am hoping this can help my colleagues see me not just as a low-ranking pest ("Can we try this with this kid? huh/ huh?") but as someone who can be a resource.