Just a few pictures of some various individuals using our new dog beds. Some correctly, some incorrectly. Also, a few notes on some random news items.
First, Pookie took delivery of a 900+ piece Lego set today…the Lego Movie Space Ship. It actually came yesterday but he did not notice until after he got home from swim team practice. We told him not to start it last night. This morning, before school, I heard the tell tale sounds of a giant Lego kit being opened. I went into his room and he was just sitting on the floor looking at the instruction book and oogling the pieces through their cellophane bags. He apparently knew not to open the bags before school. But tonight he was able to get started. He came downstairs once with the instruction book in hand, pointing very intently at one picture and saying “Geetle Beetle (not what he actually calls her right now, but a take on the rhyming name he has decided to use on her lately), Geetle Beetle, we need 2 of these black pieces.” BAGD went upstairs and helped him find the missing pieces and he was off again.
We have company this week, EB and CB are staying here while their . It has been no trouble at all, except that we worry that the new dog is barking at night and might wake them up! Last night we had to put Coco’s kennel in our closet to keep her from being naughty. She is not a fan of her current kennel and her new one does not arrive until tomorrow. I hope she is quieter tonight. She is a fan of her new dog bed, so we are hoping that we can use it to lure her into her new kennel when it arrives. It won’t fit in her current kennel!
BAGD had his performance review at work today. He scored mostly “Es” which he tells me is very good. I believe that is true because he is really good at his job and they always count on him to swoop in and save the day when things get all crazy. I spent the day reviewing California Property and General Liability policies…not much fun in my opinion, but tomorrow I get to do New Mexico ones, so at least there is that.
BAGD and I had a meeting at the Middle School this morning to go over some options for Pookie’s 7th grade placement next year. Its hard to explain, even if you know all the terminology and definitions, but I will try to break it down to general terms. Basically, it goes like this….
- There are 3 basic kinds of “tracks” in Middle School…ILP, Special Ed and General Ed.
- The track you have in Middle School does not affect or limit your choices when you get to High School.
- Difference between ILP, Special Ed and Gen Ed? ILP is 8 students, lots of 1:1 assistance with the things you need it the most on (Comprehension, in Pookie’s case). A calmer environment with awareness of autism-specific needs (a good match for Pookie in Reading/Social Studies). Special Ed is 13-15 students, more of a classroom group environment, rather than each person working on individual levels (a good match for Pookie in Math). Gen Ed is 28-30 kids…just like you remember from your Middle School years, the class keeps moving even if one student fall off the back of the curriculum bus (a good match for Pookie in band, art/gym/music and lunch).
- ILP has changed since Pookie was a member of that 1st and 2nd grade ILP classroom several years ago. Plus, like so many things, the way the actual Middle School ILP classroom functions every day is 50% determined by the parameters of the program and 50% by the way the teacher runs the classroom. (Spoiler alert: We like this Middle School ILP teacher. We did not like Pookie’s 2nd grade ILP teacher)
- During the school day, kids move between the ILP classroom, the Special Ed classrooms and the Gen Ed environment. The ILP teacher has 8 kids this year, they stay in his room from between 15 minutes a day and 6 periods a day. No one stays all day. 2-3 periods in his room is average.
- You can be a member of one track and still go to classes in the other tracks, making the “tracks” just an administrative classification, really. ILP and Special Ed students have a case manager from their “track” that addresses their IEP goals/meetings.
- You can switch between tracks at any time (at least in this building) and its no big deal. If one kind of Math class is not right for you, they send an email to the teacher of the other type of Math class and you go there tomorrow instead.
- ILP is pass/fail. Special Ed is regular grading system. General Ed is regular grading systems. Although ILP is pass/fail, each student’s curriculum is tailored to their abilities.
- Things like the “rotational” block of classes (Art/music/home ec/etc) are not really part of a track. You go. If you can’t succeed under the existing standards, they make accommodations. If you are an ILP or Special Ed student and gym/locker room type stuff is hard for you, you can take a different type of gym class.
- If you are an ILP or Special Ed student, an aide can be (and usually is) assigned to walk you between classrooms during the passing period.
- Band class meets every day. If you are a band student, you go to band during 7th period. There is no special ed band.
- If you are an ILP student, you can be pushed out into Special Ed reading, or math, or science. If you can handle Gen Ed classes, you can be pushed out again into Gen Ed. If you are pushed out into Gen Ed, there is either a Special Ed aide that goes with you, or you are assigned to a Gen Ed class that’s “co-lab”, meaning there is a Special Ed teacher there who collaboratively teaches with the Gen Ed teacher.
- Its easier to have services and dial back later, than to go in without services and try to add them later. This means that taking an ILP placement for 7th grade and then later finding out Pookie can handle more push outs would be MUCH easier than starting out in Special Ed/Gen Ed and then trying to add services midyear.
A few other things from this visit that don’t fit in the list above:
- I like the ILP teacher. He used to teach Special Ed at the high school level and teaches with an eye towards where a kid is going, not just where they are at that moment. He seems very calm and easy going. He says that he teaches at each student’s level, where ever that may be, but that he doesn’t believe in slacking off. He proudly told us about his diverse group of students this year, which included a boy who will be entering High School Gen Ed 100% next year and 2 students who admittedly will probably never learn to read above an elementary school level, but that he is taking as far as they can go.
- There is actually 2 ILP teachers in this building. We took this ILP teacher’s advice and did not meet with the other one, as he said she worked with kids who performed below where Pookie is.
- I like the Special Ed lead teacher. We met her separately from the ILP teacher and it was reassuring to hear them both speak highly of each other and give basically the same account of Pookie’s options and the ease with which he could move between the tracks as his needs dictate.
- I had only been to the Middle School for band concerts before. I had never been during the school day. Its a nice place! The building is probably 75 years old, but its well-kept, clean, quiet. There are College banners and posters hanging everywhere. Lots of teachers waiting by their classroom doors as the kids walk in and out. It will be our first school with a uniform, but I think I will like it! There is something very impactful in seeing a group of kids all dressed in khaki pants and blue/white shirts. It really does make you believe (and the students too) that they are there to learn and do not take the opportunity lightly. It seems like a really good environment, for both Pookie and Geetle.
- Because Middle School has 8 periods in the day, its really easy to divide Pookie’s day up. Band, Lunch, Rotational would account for 3 periods. If Pookie could go to Special Ed Math and Science, that would be 2 more periods. That would be 5 periods out of the ILP room and 3 periods in. When he is in the ILP room, he would be doing Reading/English/Social Studies. (I know you might wonder…why do we care how long he is actually IN the ILP room? We care because of a carry-over fear from the last time he was in an ILP environment. We pulled him out of ILP after he was in it for 1st and 2nd grade because his class was LITERALLY in the deserted basement of that elementary school…his class ate lunch at a separate lunch table….his class did not go for recess when the rest of the school did…his class was not invited to participate in the Spring Sing…his class got on and off the bus at a separate door….I could go on and on… basically we DO NOT want Pookie locked away.)
We have his IEP on 4-21. We have more leg work to do between now and then, namely, talk to his current team at the elementary school. But, I think as of right now, we are leaning towards ILP. (boy…to even say that, knowing how we fought to get him out of ILP at the end of 2nd grade, is so weird to me…)
Besides our usual 2-basketball-games-per-Saturday schedule, we also found time this weekend to get a friend for Bunny! Poor Bunny needed a friend, trust me. With me working at home all week, Bunny had gotten the idea that she and I needed to be in the same room at all times and that she needed to wake up from her naps to follow me to the bathroom every time I took a break. And she kept dropping toys and my feet and pretending that I was chasing her. Great fun…but not the kind of thing I can do 8 hours a day while I am working.
So, BAGD did some research and found a potential friend for her last week. We went to visit the friend at an adoption event at a local pet store and decided to bring her home! Meet Coco! (her given name was Miley, but BAGD and I decided we could not stomach that name…and BAGD did not like me calling him “Billy Ray” either.)
Bunny and Coco get along very well, they have right from the start. Coco is a year old, Bunny is 8 months. Their coloring is different, but they have the same basic “dog look”, with Coco being about 4 inches shorter than Bunny. Coco came from a foster home locally, but was born in Kentucky. She and her siblings were brought up here from a high-kill shelter, same situation as Bunny and her origins in Oklahoma. Once she got to IL, Coco was put in a foster home (nice lady named Mary) who had 6 other foster pets. Mary doesn’t have a fenced yard, had to try and walk 7 dogs on leashes in this poor weather and had to put out 7 giant food bowls every day for her pack (Coco was the smallest). You might not be surprised to hear that Coco has a tiny weight problem. Mary also said that Coco “doesn’t really like the outdoors” and is afraid of stairs. We are happy to report that Bunny and Coco go outside in our yard about 12 times a day, each time racing up and down our long wooden patio staircase. So, I predict that Coco’s weight problem will work itself out soon enough.
Coco does cry a bit at night, but we are working on that too. We are not sure if she misses Bunny because they sleep in separate kennels, or if her kennel is too small. We have a larger one on order and should have that problem figured out soon too. Lucky Coco got to sleep with us in our bed last night because she was barking and we did not want her to wake up EB and CB who are spending the week here while their mother checks out Divinity schools for the next stage of her career. We don’t plan on making that a habit, so we’ll see how it goes.
Pookie is lukewarm about the new addition, but accepts her. The girls are ecstatic and dote on both dogs equally. They think Coco is trying to be the boss of Bunny, and I might agree. They especially like it when they play tug of war with each other and roll around “fighting” for toys. Both dogs love an opportunity to sit with us on the couch and don’t mind a little “smothering”.
Super big game this past Saturday! I am just now getting the chance to write it up. It was Geetle’s last game of the season. Coach BAGD had her playing in the 1st, 3rd and 4th quarters. It was a really tight game; the score was close the entire game and the final was 17-19. Geetle had 6 points, 4 (well-executed) fouls, a couple of blocked shots, several great rebounds and one really good steal! She scored her final basket with less than a minute left in the game and gave her team that 2 point lead that broke the tie and won the game! Even better, she had a huge smile on her face when she did it! It was really her best game yet, I think. BAGD or Geetle could probably add some basketball-y detail here and tell you what kind of plays they ran and who turned over or passed to who…but I am just the Scorekeeper/Mother. All I know is that she scored 6 points and she was happy!