Youtube, We Tube!

It is always funny to me how the smallest of interests can turn into unseen teachable moments. My boys have been bugging me forever to allow them to participate in YouTube. I have heard all the parental warnings about youtube, myspace and so on so I always brushed off the question with “maybe someday”. Well, for whatever reason, someday was today. The boys ended up publishing their first, of probably many, youtube videos. The whole process was exciting to watch. First, they wrote out their scripts and decided who would direct and who would act. Then they choose costumes and props. After learning how to work the tripod (I had to dig it out of the garage) they filmed their skit. Next, they had to learn to upload the video to the computer. I taught them how to use Windows Movie Maker. It is a such a simple program that the kids picked it up in a few minutes. They edited, added special effects, credits and even some funny comments. Then, it was time to upload it to our shiny new youtube account. We ran into some problems because the file that Movie Maker uses as a default is not compatible with youtube. After watching another users youtube on how to change the file the boys had a movie ready to go. They uploaded and a few minutes later, they were internet stars. Of course, I made sure that I followed all the parental safety tips. There is nothing that identifies them or their account. They watched the viewing statistics for about an hour, excited everytime someone watched it. Then they jumped up all excited to go start their next script! If you have been shying away from youtube for the same reasons I was, go ahead and jump in. Just before to follow basic internet safety. You will so love the look of pride and accomplishment as they take their ideas and publish them!

Here are two of the best parent tips for YouTube from CommonSenseMedia:

Remind your kids that posting videos can be really fun, but they never know who’s watching. YouTube has millions of viewers all over the world. If you let them post, tell your kids to mark their videos as “private” so that only their friends can watch them. (You can figure out how to do this by going to the “Safety Tips” link at the bottom of all YouTube pages.)

Tell your kids to protect their identities. No-nos for videos include license plate numbers and images of your house, their bedroom, or their school. Make sure that all “tags” (search identifiers) don’t reveal their real names, locations, schools, or anything else that could lead unsavory types to their doors.

Public School Services Available to Homeschoolers

This subject is important to all of us who homeschool kids who the public school would deem as “special needs”. Elissa Wahl of NV Homeschool shared this great bit of wisdom with several yahoo groups that we are both on. It is great information and I wanted to help spread the word!

As homeschoolers, we do give up our rights to a FAPE (free appropriate public education) however our children DO have the right to be evaluated through Child Find and then a subsequent IEP (or IFSP) is written.

EACH, please hear me, EACH homeschooled/private schooled child (federally, homeschoolers and private schoolers are lumped together) that is evaluated and found to need services, gets more $ sent to the coffers for special ed services for that group! Regardless of whether you USE the services, the money is sent.

So, yes, I do think it is beneficial for our children with special needs to be evaluated through the Child Find Services ESPECIALLY if you think now or ever you might use a service! If you don’t, at least more money will be spent for someone else’s kid!

That being said, here in Clark County, we are actually pretty lucky (compared to some of the other districts). Their stance is that services provided to our kids are IEP driven. This is NOT a requirement! They COULD choose to use all this money set aside for our kids on a small % of kids, instead they dole it out and then CONTINUE with services even after the money is spent.

Now, if your child needs like 4 hours of some specialized therapy/day they are likely to ask, wouldnt he be better served in our setting, than transported back and forth etc etc. However, for basics like speech, occupational, physical therapies they are widely available.

So..the process is…you call Child Find ( 799-7463.) they generally call over to your local public school and let them know about you, then the appropriate personnel call you to start setting up appointments for evals. Evaluation is done through the provider, not through CHild Find. From the time you sign assent to start the evaluation they have 45 school days to finish. It is sometimes a rather lengthy process. We started in Dec and finally got services in March.

During the IEP process the parent is involved, and when its all said and done, can take a portion of whats offered, or all of it. You are responsible for the transportation of your child, but otherwise, there is no fee.

Oh, and, this seems scary, but its ok…once you go to start your services, you do have to register your child in that school. This is a special registration, with an E4 code..meaning homeschooled, receiving services. It DOES NOT supercede your homeschool standing. But, your child is considered a student there also, part time for funding purposes. That means you also have to do what they do to enroll..bring in proofs of address, maybe birth certificate, and immunization records or religious exemption. Also, dont forget (like I did) to re-register at the beginning of every school year!

So, hope this helps….I want everyone to be informed..services are not our RIGHTS persay but funding is allowed for it and it can happen without much fuss!

If you go to start this procedure and run into any problems, let me know..I have contacts in various levels of CCSD in the student support services dept and we’ll get it straightened out!

The Story of Stuff

I was stumbling around the internet today and found this great video on the consumption of goods in the US. The video breaks down the process of creating, buying, selling and trashing goods. The video is only 20 minutes and it provides a great overview of these issues in a kid friendly manner. Here is a quote from their site

What is the Story of Stuff?

From its extraction through sale, use and disposal, all the stuff in our lives affects communities at home and abroad, yet most of this is hidden from view. The Story of Stuff is a 20-minute, fast-paced, fact-filled look at the underside of our production and consumption patterns. The Story of Stuff exposes the connections between a huge number of environmental and social issues, and calls us together to create a more sustainable and just world. It’ll teach you something, it’ll make you laugh, and it just may change the way you look at all the stuff in your life forever.

I hope that you and your kids get the chance to watch it. Great lesson with some thought provoking material for further discussions!