Laura Jiencke, Bluebee Pal creator is at it again – making meaningful connections with educators everywhere she goes! She recently attended the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) 2019 conference in Philadelphia and met Melissa Stark, a special education PreK teacher in New York City.
“As a special education teacher, you are always looking for ways to help increase your student’s love of learning. At ISTE in June 2019, I presented on Technologically Applying the Communication Bill of Rights toAll Learners. Giving all students a voice should be a goal for us all. While walking the conference floor, I had the chance to find Bluebee. As summer school was approaching I decided to give it a try and buy one for my classroom. “ – Melissa Stark
She hit the ground running and began using her Bluebee Pall in the classroom right away! “I love that my student’s AAC devices can be modeled through Bluebee. I also love that my students can read books or share items they completed for classwork on Bluebee. Bluebee gives my students that voice. They integrate with so many different apps and programs. I also love that Bluebee has its own individual app that focuses on life skills such as what you do in different places in your home (i.e., kitchen, bathroom). I am so happy to have found Bluebee and cannot wait to continue using it in my classroom!” https://www.schools.nyc.gov/special-education/school-settings/district-75
7th Annual New York City Schools Technology Summit.
Melissa’s desire to share Bluebee Pals with her entire district lead her to suggest they make an appearance at the 7th Annual New York City Schools Technology Summit. The Bluebee Pals were out in full force at the NYC Tech Summit where over 1,200 leaders, technology staff and teachers learn about the district’s latest technology plans and priorities. As the largest school system in the nation, the NYC Department of has a budget of nearly $500 million and serves over 1.1 million students and 1,800 schools. Solutions, such as the Bluebee Pals plush educational technology tool, were on full display allowing technology and education enthusiasts immerse themselves in the lasts technology for their students! https://www.bluebeepals.com/special-needs/
Many thanks to Melissa Stark – an exceptional teacher serving exceptional students in NYC! Keep on helping kids find their voices!
Announcing a new partnership with The Down Syndrome Association of Central Florida (DSACF)! DSACF is an accredited not-for-profit association founded in 1991 by parents of children with Down syndrome that serves over 1,200 individuals with Down syndrome and their families over 10 counties. DSACF offers a starting point for new or expectant parents as well as “programs for every age and stage” including adulthood. In addition, they provide support groups, host fundraising events and provide legal support.
Bluebee Pals have partnered with the Down Syndrome Association of Central Florida with support of their acting interim executive director, Amy Drow. Amy has “always loved kiddos with something a little extra since her older brother is blessed with Down syndrome!”. She was eager to include the DSACF in the Bluebee Pals Project and add the pals to their lending library. The lending library houses items and resources available to their members for FREE. We had a grand time demonstrating the many ways Bluebee Pals could benefit those with Down syndrome. https://www.dsacf.org
Individuals with Down syndrome have many special talents as well as a specific areas of needs. Bluebee Pals and it’s accompanying Bluebee Pals app are a perfect tool for increasing these skills. See the chart below for skill areas paired with Bluebee Pals activities! Simply download the app suggested app and use the Bluetooth connection on your device to pair your Bluebee Pal! https://www.bluebeepals.com
Communication and Cognitive Skills with Down Syndrome Children
Bluebee Pals App
Wh? By Autism iHelp
Splingo’s Therapy Bundle
WH Question Cards
Fun Deck Following Directions
Things That Go Together
Listen to Bluebee Pals name, read and ask questions to increase vocabulary, following directions and basic concept skills. Use text-to-speech app to help Bluebee talk, ask questions, make comments and more!
Minimal Pairs for Speech
Listen to Bluebee articulate target sounds and practice your sounds too!
iSequences Therapeutic Functional Skills
Let Bluebee Pal read you social stories and teach you social skills with these functional apps!
Gross and Fine Motor Skills
Bluebee Pals App
Physical Therapy for Kids
AIMS Improving Motor Skills
Increase fine motor skills by engaging with fine motor/handwriting and gross motor apps. Use text-to-speech apps to help Bluebee give directions for fine motor and gross motor activities!
Bluebee Pals App
Let Bluebee Pal teach you letters, numbers, spelling and more by connecting Bluebee to these learning apps!
Daily Living Skills
Bluebee Pals App – Bathroom
My Play Home
Help Bluebee with daily living skills such as showering and brushing teeth!
Once in a while stars collide and sparks fly! Such was the case when Bluebee Pals met Dr. Eleazar Trey Vasquez III, director of the Toni Jennings Exceptional Education Institute (TJEEI). In just over a year, Dr. Trey, as he is often called, has brought in over $8 million in funded research to the institute that is located at the University of Central Florida. At the Toni Jennings Exceptional Education Institute Dr. Trey and his ever growing team of special educators and behavior therapists are focused on providing research-based practices, professional development, and partner collaborations to individuals with disabilities and their families. https://tjeei.ucf.edu
Dr. Trey credits his college experience with Special Olympics for guiding him on a path to an exceptional education. He has worn many different hats throughout his career including teacher, school psychologist, Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA-D), associate professor, and Principal Investigator of research focused on the use of technology to increase academic and behavioral outcomes for students with autism. In addition, Dr. Trey is an expert at increasing interdisciplinary collaboration evidenced by his partnerships with UCF’s PedsAcademy at Nemours Children’s Hospital (hospital-based pediatric school program) and CAST (nonprofit education research and development organization focused on Universal Design for Learning).
Now to the fireworks! Bluebee Pals were introduced to the Toni Jennings Exceptional Education Institute in 2018 and quickly became part of their technology-focused research. Dr. Trey and his team recently completed a Single Case Research Design on the use of the Bluebee Pals to teach children with autism early social skills utilizing the VP-Map curriculum. Preliminary results of the study demonstrate early social skills can be increased with the use of robotics and good pedagogical curriculum. We are thrilled that Bluebee Pals were part of this important research focused on increasing crucial social skills in children with autism! We can’t wait to learn more about the use of robotics and technology for learning and thank Dr.Trey and the entire TJEEI team for their innovative research and dedication to persons with disabilities! !https://www.bluebeepals.com/autism/
Check back soon to stay informed about TJEEI’s publication and future research projects!
I have had the pleasure and privilege of sharing the power and fun of Bluebee Pals with many educators, therapists, caregivers and clients. Even then, it can be tricky to connect with the many people that could benefit from Bluebee Pals and empower them to use this educational tool with success. Thanks to the University of Central Florida Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (CARD), I was able to provide a free webinar to help others get their “degree” in Bluebee!
With a little help from IT support and the guidance of Dr. Daly, UCF CARD Director, we were able to provide a live Bluebee Pals Tutorial webinar for caregivers and educators! https://www.bluebeepals.com/tutorials/ This live webinar was recorded and shared on the UCF CARD and Bluebee Pals Facebook pages for anyone to view at their leisure. Webinars provide an invaluable resource to us all as we try to stay informed about topics that affect our home and work lives. We are so thankful for the opportunity to educate caregivers and service providers about the many possible ways they can use Bluebee Pals as an affordable assitive technlogy tool to enhance learning and communication.
We are proud to introduce our latest Bluebee Pals Project site Pathways Strategic Teaching Center, a program of the Arthur Trudeau Memorial Center located in Rhode Island. Pathways Strategic Teaching Center is an educational and treatment program that serves persons with autism and related disabilities. Founded in 1998, the program provides speech-language therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and behavior analysis in home, community and educational settings.
With an intensive staff-to-student ratio (often one-to-one), individuals ages 3 to 21 years are provided individually tailored curricula to increase communication, pre-academic/academic skills, daily living/self-care skills, play/social skills and behavior skills. Clients work towards tolerance of small and large group settings and are even provided assistance with transitioning via a transition apartment classroom where daily living and vocational skills are taught.
The staff at Pathways Strategic Teaching Center have been using Bluebee Pals weekly to encourage participation in otherwise non-preferred activities and tasks as well as a teaching/therapeutic tool for sustaining attention and targeting specific therapeutic and academic goals. Finding them “very simple to grab, connect, and start using so material making and therapy planning was not made more difficult” has allowed for Bluebee Pals to help increase success and participation in therapy groups, arts and crafts activities, reading and playtime. “We have thoroughly enjoyed our experience with Bluebee Pals and are encouraging parents of our students to investigate the possibilities for home.
We are expanding our opportunities and integration of the Bluebee Pals into our daily programming, and we are excited to find a larger variety of ways to use it!” stated Meghan K. Broz, M.S., CCC-SLP, ATP of Pathways Strategic Learning Center. We are thankful for Pathways Strategic Learning Center and their creative use of Bluebee Pals to enhance their state-of-the-art program! https://www.bluebeepals.com/autism/
2018 was an exciting year for Bluebee Pals with the Bluebee Pal App launching and the Bluebee Pals Project expanding. A major expansion took place in O-Town (what we Orlando natives like to call our town along with “The City Beautiful” and home of “The Mouse”) over the course of the year with numerous additions to the Bluebee Pals Project.
The new additions included The Academy for Autism, Advanced Learning Academy, Calvary City Christian Academy and Preschool as well as a live broadcast at the UCF AAC Lab & FAAST Atlantic Regional Demonstration Center.
With the help of therapists at the Academy for Autism and preschool teachers at Calvary City Christian Academy, we were able to create video tutorials to help speech therapists, occupational therapists and teachers use Bluebee Pals to increase success in their therapy and classroom settings. If you haven’t already, check out these tutorials by visiting the www.bluebeepals.com/tutorials (you can also click on the button at the top of the website home page). We encourage all therapists and educators to view and share this resource to ensure your Bluebee Pals are working well for you and your clients!
The University of Central Florida AAC Lab houses the Florida Alliance for Assistive Services and Technology (FAAST) Atlantic Regional Demonstration Center. The AAC Lab and FAAST Center provide valuable resources, training, and services to persons in need of assistive technology including Alternative Augmentative Communication Devices, low-tech and high-tech equipment to aid with access to technology and daily living tasks, adapted toys and more! Bluebee Pals are part of the FAAST Center’s AT Lending Library making them available to those in need across the region.
Bluebee Pals were invited to provide a “tutorial session” as part of the “FAAST Fridays” monthly training series in December of 2018. The tutorial was presented in-person and also broadcast on the UCF AAC Lab Facebook page for virtual viewing. We thank the UCF AAC Lab & FAAST Center for inviting us to be part of their series of informational sessions. Shannon Stuckey, a school-based SLP, participated in the tutorial and was the winner of a free Bluebee Pal! Congrats Shannon!
It’s clear that 2018 was a stellar year for Bluebee Pals with increased implementation in the educational and therapeutic settings in Orlando and across the Nation! Happy New Year to all and keep checking back to see what 2019 will bring!