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Posts tagged ‘Health’

Special Needs in the Virtual Classroom

Ritalin (photograph)

Image via Wikipedia

My friend Ayala had Shabbos guests, a personable, intelligent couple named Yitz and Rivka and their young children. During the meal, the general prevalence of ADHD came up. Yitz started joking about it. My friend and her husband let it go. Then Rivka began joking that there really are a lot of people around with ADHD; the prisons are full of them!

Ayala placed a hand on Rivka’s arm. “Stop,” Ayala said, in a kind voice. Rivka brightened at Ayala’s apparent interest, smiled, and started elaborating on the humor.

Ayala looked into Rivka’s eyes, speaking calmly and firmly. “Stop. Stop.” Ayala’s hand remained on her guest’s arm.

After a moment Rivka turned a little pale and whispered confusedly, “Oh, I’m sorry.”

Ayala’s son has ADHD and related behavioral and learning issues. She and her husband have had a lot of challenges with their son. Currently he resides away from home and seems to be doing well in a yeshiva that tries to meet his needs.

It’s disconcerting to Ayala to hear a Shabbos guest suddenly bring up her deepest fears.

You never know on whose toes you may be stepping.

Speaking of meeting the needs of special learners, I think that Rabbi Resnick, who runs Room 613, put it so well:

Students are able to choose their method of participation in the virtual classroom. As I remarked recently, for a student to use a smartboard, perhaps the ultimate in traditional classroom technology, they still have to walk up to the board. And that seemingly simple act can be a painful experience for some students.

Our format allows for so many permutations and possibilities for learning. Students can tailor their experience to their own comfort level.

Some of our students just use the chat feature – exclusively – to participate in classes. That means neither I nor the other students have ever seen their faces or heard their voices! Yet they are an integral part of classes, fully engaged and participating, offering their opinions and ideas.

Others choose to use a microphone, with or without a webcam. 

For the shy student, for the autistic student, for those who like attention, and choose to use the webcam and mic, I can’t think of a better way to reach, empower, and satisfy all types of learners.

Openings and Spaces

Stomach diagram in Inkscape.

Image via Wikipedia

In Siddur class, we learned all about the bracha of Asher Yatzar. Hashem made our bodies with a lot of different openings and spaces – like our mouths, noses, ears, heart and stomach. We viewed amazing images of the stomach and heart, with their important openings.
 
If one opening would close, or if one part of the body that should be closed would open, we could die. We say thank you to Hashem for making our bodies work so that we can stay alive and do mitzvos.
 
Some students know people who had heart surgery. Morah Elana knows a little baby boy who was born with a stomach problem and had to go to the hospital so the doctors could fix it and he would be able to go to the bathroom like a healthy person. We viewed a photo of the cute baby.
 
We wash our hands and say Asher Yatzar every time after we go to the bathroom. We also say it when we daven every morning.
 
Some tech challenges – had to reinstall my camera (again), receive error messages about having reached my document upload limit (again).
 

But the show goes on – every time a miracle.
 
Hashem, who creates spaces for us to connect, controls the openings of our communication. May I recognize the importance of what I’m doing here, and utilize well the opportunity to share Hashem’s Torah. 

The Bubble Bursts

Real life burst my virtual bubble. I find out that one of my students, a cute little boy who shouts answers into his mic in a high pitched voice, has cancer. He asks that people donate to a walk team. Here is what this child writes:

“Please help us raise money for people with Cancer and stuff so they can feel better and not feel sick. And I hope they have a better life and I hope they won’t have to take medicine anymore like other people. Like me.”