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CuriousMomof3

Curriculum for a child who is both gifted and disabled

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Hello,

I'm new here, and looking for resources for my middle son, age 9.  He is exceptionally bright with significant medical and physical disabilities.  He joined our family through a kinship adoption this year, after things fell apart with the family he was living with.  I also have 2 biological sons, ages 9 and 12, who happily attend our local parochial school, and pretty active in sports and other extracurriculars.  

Before coming to us, DS skipped 2 grades.  He started last school year as a 5th grader in public school, but only attended a few days.  He spent more than half of the school year in the hospital.  For the portions of the year when he wasn't hospitalized and was in our home, he was supposed to receive "homebound" services from our school district, but they never really got off the ground.  He also read voraciously, and did a ton of math.   During the part of the year when he wasn't yet in our family, he worked through a lot of material on Khan academy.  Once he came home we found an exceptional math tutor and they worked through AOPS Introduction to Algebra, and Geometry.  Other than that, he didn't do any formal academics.  Looking at his skills, his math is clearly way ahead.  His reading, science and social studies are a little uneven because it's all been interest driven, but still ahead of his 12 year old brother who I'd describe as a bright but not gifted rising 7th grader.  Writing is uneven, in part due to severe arthritis in his hands and wrists.  He doesn't hand write at all, and when allowed to type runs out of stamina fast, so what he produces is high quality, but very short. 

This year, he'll be home with me again, and I'd like to have an actual curriculum and plan.  I think we're going to withdraw him from public school altogether.   The way I see it, we've got 2 challenges.  One is time.  He loses a lot of time to various therapies, sleeping, medical treatments at home, and medical appointments. On a typical week, we're at one of two local hospitals for the equivalent of 2.5 school days.  Plus, he spends a fair amount of time in the car, both to and from the hospital or shuttling his brothers around, and a lot of time watching his brothers play sports.  The second issue is fine motor.  He doesn't write by hand, and his stamina for typing, or even dictating is limited.  So, curriculum with a lot of busy work isn't an option. 

Given those issues, I'm thinking that we should formally attempt 3 subjects: Math, Science, and Writing.  I figure that he doesn't really need reading instruction, and he'll probably continue to pick up history and social studies through the amount he's reading and listening to audiobooks, which he can do in the car, in a waiting room, between doctors' appointments etc . . .  What we're doing for math is working well, so I guess I'm hoping for ideas for science and writing.  

Suggestions?  

Sorry this is so long!  

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I’ve recommended Uzinggo so many times that they should be paying me, but it might be a good fit. It’s middle and high school science, completely online. Most things are point and click, and you could do any longer responses verbally since they are “send to the teacher of record for grading”. My DD did all of the units in about 2 years at age 8-9. The digital labs worked well for her because her motor skills were not high school level, but she was ready for that level of content.  It would be portable on a tablet or laptop anywhere you have WiFi. 

If online classes are an option, Online G3 and Athena’s Academy both can be done on a cell phone when away from home, and are high input, Low output and a good way to give a gifted kid time to talk to other gifted kids and make social connections. My DD loves both (disclaimer-DD is now a junior instructor for Athena’s as well as a student there-she teaches a Herpetology class). Sessions can be watched on video later-my DD has one online class going now when she is at an early college program, so she’s doing the materials as she can when she can, with the understanding of the instructor. There are multiple science options and some writing ones. DD loved the Athena’s writing classes. 

 

Math really sounds like an “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” and stick with AoPS. I wouldn’t try the classes-they require pretty high input from the student in real time, but it sounds like he does well with the books with adult support. 

Edited by dmmetler
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9 hours ago, dmmetler said:

I’ve recommended Uzinggo so many times that they should be paying me, but it might be a good fit. It’s middle and high school science, completely online. Most things are point and click, and you could do any longer responses verbally since they are “send to the teacher of record for grading”. My DD did all of the units in about 2 years at age 8-9. The digital labs worked well for her because her motor skills were not high school level, but she was ready for that level of content.  It would be portable on a tablet or laptop anywhere you have WiFi. 

If online classes are an option, Online G3 and Athena’s Academy both can be done on a cell phone when away from home, and are high input, Low output and a good way to give a gifted kid time to talk to other gifted kids and make social connections. My DD loves both (disclaimer-DD is now a junior instructor for Athena’s as well as a student there-she teaches a Herpetology class). Sessions can be watched on video later-my DD has one online class going now when she is at an early college program, so she’s doing the materials as she can when she can, with the understanding of the instructor. There are multiple science options and some writing ones. DD loved the Athena’s writing classes. 

 

Math really sounds like an “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” and stick with AoPS. I wouldn’t try the classes-they require pretty high input from the student in real time, but it sounds like he does well with the books with adult support. 


I agree that math is in a good place.  I don't think we'll change that.  

I looked at Uzinggo.  I'm going to keep going through the unit, but I think it's going to be too motor dependent for him.  He can point and click a few times, but he runs out of stamina pretty fast.  Uzinggo may be mostly point and click but it's a lot of point and click.  I think he needs something with longer blocks of text, or longer videos or something that gives him a break from having to respond.  

We don't have a non-iPad touch screen, so maybe that would work better, or maybe as you move further into the content the videos get longer.

I'll definitely look into Athena and Online G3.  I'm not sure how a live class would work for him.   

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I'm wondering if anyone else is reading this and has other science suggestions.  Maybe ones with longer videos or with an audiobook? 

@dmmetler's Uzinggo suggestion is a good fit content wise, and I really appreciate the suggestion because it got me thinking, but it's going to be too hard to navigate, because it's got lots of tiny buttons, all over the screen, and dragging and dropping, scrolling, etc . . . 

To give an idea of what he can manage, he can manage most of Khan Academy pretty well.  Because there are long periods of watching when he can rest his hands/wrists, and when there are buttons they're often in the same place, so he just has to tap but doesn't have to move his hand a lot.  I'd love something that had blocks of time when he didn't need help, and then other blocks of time where he can talk through answers with an adult, or direct an adult to manipulate something would be fine.  

I'm actually wondering if we could find something that would supplement Khan Academy Physics.  Some kind of video series?  

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For science, I would stick with interest-driven. It is working and is an absolutely acceptable educational approach. It is how we approach things and my kids have been very successful in science fields (chemE and physics grad student).   Streaming Great Courses in addition to reading books on subjects that interest them provides the background they need. They don't need textbooks/worksheets/tests.

What are his current writing abilities? It is hard to suggest something without context of level even if gifted. Some 9 yr olds can barely write a coherent paragraph. Some are writing well-organized reports. 

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2 hours ago, 8FillTheHeart said:

For science, I would stick with interest-driven. It is working and is an absolutely acceptable educational approach. It is how we approach things and my kids have been very successful in science fields (chemE and physics grad student).   Streaming Great Courses in addition to reading books on subjects that interest them provides the background they need. They don't need textbooks/worksheets/tests.

What are his current writing abilities? It is hard to suggest something without context of level even if gifted. Some 9 yr olds can barely write a coherent paragraph. Some are writing well-organized reports. 


I'm not interested in pushing science for the sake of science, or for the sake of acceleration.  I don't care about tests, or grades, or credits.  But he's a kid for whom many many things are hard, including very basic things like breathing, and eating.  And being in a family, and doing things together with family members is still pretty new for him.  Pretty much anything that a kid his age would do for fun is hard.  Science and math, on the other hand are easy, and are a way for him to escape.  They're also a safe comfortable way for him to connect with family.  Even though he can pretty much read anything, we've done a lot of read aloud and audiobooks, because they're something he can connect with someone around that's got some structure.  

Math we're set, because we've found materials that he enjoys, and an approach that lets him explore and have fun.  But finding science materials has been challenging.  I'd love to find somethings that he can do alone, both at home where there's wifi and seating that lets him use his hands a little (e.g. Khan), and things he can do in the car or in a  doctor's waiting room like watching a dowloaded video or listening to an audiobook.  I'd also love things that he can engage with family around, like experiments that we could all engage in together, keeping in mind that his youngest sibling is also 9 and has 9 year old skills, or that he could do with one adult.  My guess is that physics would be a good because it would build on his love of math,.  

As for writing, his hand use is very very limited, and that's not likely to change.  He can't hold a pencil.  He can type a little on an iPad, if he hunts and pecks and stops for a break after each word.  When he types for himself the grammar is great, the spelling is great, the punctuation is great, the vocabulary is remarkable, but if he worked on something all day, there might be a couple sentences.  On the other hand, if he dictated to an adult, it's well organized   Long term, I assume he'll use voice to text for writing, and he's working on that with , but short term, I imagine that everything will be dictated. Having said that, I think we have an initial plan.  I posted on the learning challenges board, and @PeterPan suggested this book https://welltrainedmind.com/p/creative-writer-level-one/   I'm hoping it might turn into something for the two of us to do together, maybe curled up on the couch with me doing all the reading writing, and him dictating.  

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The Canon: A Whirligig Tour of the Beautiful Basics of Science https://www.amazon.com/dp/B003KGAUQ0/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_3dnpDbHTKNXGR

fun book - available as audio on NLS

Middle School Science Education: Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding, Vol. III, Grades 6-8 https://www.amazon.com/dp/1432770330/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_OfnpDbWCGZT2V

 

this series might be worth him listening to if they are available recorded on Learning Ally or Bookshare. (Bookshare is the program I had forgotten the name of before)  actually doing the experiments would be beyond his physical abilities, but maybe his brothers would be interested in participating.  If you use BFSU, starting from the first book is advisable imo even with an older accelerated student.

 

Edited by Pen
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I’d recommend listening to the whole 4 books of Story of the World audio while driving to from appointments and activities.

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38 minutes ago, Pen said:

The Canon: A Whirligig Tour of the Beautiful Basics of Science https://www.amazon.com/dp/B003KGAUQ0/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_3dnpDbHTKNXGR

fun book - available as audio on NLS

Middle School Science Education: Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding, Vol. III, Grades 6-8 https://www.amazon.com/dp/1432770330/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_OfnpDbWCGZT2V

 

this series might be worth him listening to if they are available recorded on Learning Ally or Bookshare. (Bookshare is the program I had forgotten the name of before)  actually doing the experiments would be beyond his physical abilities, but maybe his brothers would be interested in participating.  If you use BFSU, starting from the first book is advisable imo even with an older accelerated student.

 

 

Thank you!  Just to clarify, we do audiobooks a lot because there's lots of car time, and that way he and I can talk about the story or whatever,  but he reads beautifully and voraciously.  He does best with a tablet, so that turning the pages is easy, but he can also read a paper book if we set things up right.  

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14 minutes ago, CuriousMomof3 said:

 

Thank you!  Just to clarify, we do audiobooks a lot because there's lots of car time, and that way he and I can talk about the story or whatever,  but he reads beautifully and voraciously.  He does best with a tablet, so that turning the pages is easy, but he can also read a paper book if we set things up right.  

 

Both The Canon and BFSU science would be nice for you to be able to hear too so you can talk about them IMO. 

Same I think for SOTW.  

 

I’m not sure though if BFSU has been recorded.  And if actually doing the experiments it would be nice to have it as paper, or at least kindle, version.  Or,  My guess is 2 bright 1 gifted boy could do the experiments on their own, if you just got them the supplies.  And might find it fun. 

 

Critical Thinking Press has an “experiment” book that includes things like making 2 stage rocket models with balloons as the thrust engines— which can possibly be as fun as LEGO building for interested kids. 

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Are you planning on him teaching himself science? Otherwise sit with him and do the clicking.  Also investigated dictation AT systems for writing.  

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4 hours ago, kiwik said:

Are you planning on him teaching himself science? Otherwise sit with him and do the clicking.  Also investigated dictation AT systems for writing.  

 

I think I need a balance.  I am new at this, so maybe I am imagining how it will work differently, but my guess is that I want to end up with some activities that he can do alone so I can clear the dishes, or help a sibling, or make a phone call, and some activities that we do together.  This particular program doesn’t allow that for this particular kid.  It seems like there are other programs that would.  

He is also a kid who can’t do other things alone.  I actually have another 9 year old who goes to school and I could imagine that if I homeschooled him, that I could get a lot of the other stuff done by giving him a chore, or sending him outside to play, or letting him take a break with LEGO’s, but this son would need me for all those things.  But he loves science, so I would love to have some activities that he could do alone as a way to be independent.

We are working on the dictation, but there are factors that will make that a slower process so in the meantime we’ll have him dictate to me.

 

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I don't think I'd ditch reading . Communication is a huge part of the goal of education and being an area of strength its probably a joy to him.   I'd shift the focus to areas that he hasn't visited..maybe that's poetry, nonfic, bio, drama...or maybe that is lit elements or appropriate internet usage. I also would not neglect speech/oral presentations, once you have arrangements for a scribe or for speech-to-text. 

With music and instruments, you're limited to what gives him joy. I'd suggest panpipes as it doesn't depend on joint strength..but that may be hard to find a teacher and it isn't worth the time if he's not into it.  He can use a different medium to express himself artistically.

 

 

Edited by HeighHo

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1 hour ago, HeighHo said:

I don't think I'd ditch reading . Communication is a huge part of the goal of education and being an area of strength its probably a joy to him.   I'd shift the focus to areas that he hasn't visited..maybe that's poetry, nonfic, bio, drama...or maybe that is lit elements or appropriate internet usage. I also would not neglect speech/oral presentations, once you have arrangements for a scribe or for speech-to-text. 

With music and instruments, you're limited to what gives him joy. I'd suggest panpipes as it doesn't depend on joint strength..but that may be hard to find a teacher and it isn't worth the time if he's not into it.  He can use a different medium to express himself artistically.

 

 

 

I probably shouldn’t have phrased it like I don’t plan to do reading.  He is an avid reader and we have a lot of car time together when we do audiobooks and talk.  My thought is that I would continue to follow his lead as to what to read, rather than buying a curriculum or assigning books.  

He breathes through a trach, a tube in his throat, so any instrument that requires air coming out of his mouth probably won’t work.  

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2 hours ago, CuriousMomof3 said:

 

I probably shouldn’t have phrased it like I don’t plan to do reading.  He is an avid reader and we have a lot of car time together when we do audiobooks and talk.  My thought is that I would continue to follow his lead as to what to read, rather than buying a curriculum or assigning books.  

  Sounds like right now you are keeping interest and knowledge acquisition going, but at some point its helpful to have a guide to understand some of the not so obvious parts of the author's craft and the genres that is at min what an on grade level honors/gifted class would discuss. That may require branching out in genre and authors. The benefit is that when he does rejoin his peers, perhaps in the magnet school, he'll have the core basics needed to participate.   I"m just suggesting, as my dc were in school when the lit discussions were taken out of elementary ELA...they had enjoyed the discussion of flashback, symbolism etc and felt the English/Reading class years until honors English or U started were quite barren although the plots and often the world descriptions were enjoyable. 

Edited by HeighHo

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25 minutes ago, HeighHo said:

  Sounds like right now you are keeping interest and knowledge acquisition going, but at some point its helpful to have a guide to understand some of the not so obvious parts of the author's craft and the genres that is at min what an on grade level honors/gifted class would discuss. That may require branching out in genre and authors. The benefit is that when he does rejoin his peers, perhaps in the magnet school, he'll have the core basics needed to participate.   I"m just suggesting, as my dc were in school when the lit discussions were taken out of elementary ELA...they had enjoyed the discussion of flashback, symbolism etc and felt the English/Reading class years until honors English or U started were quite barren although the plots and often the world descriptions were enjoyable. 

I agree. I just don’t think this is the semester.  

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1 hour ago, CuriousMomof3 said:

I agree. I just don’t think this is the semester.  

 

I think the selections will have to be carefully selected also with an eye to emotional needs.  7th grade is soon enough.

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On 7/24/2019 at 12:04 AM, mumto2 said:

Have you looked at Great Courses as a video supplement for Khan physics? https://www.thegreatcoursesplus.com/  

 

 

On 7/29/2019 at 4:00 AM, CuriousMomof3 said:

 I want to end up with some activities that he can do alone so I can clear the dishes, or help a sibling, or make a phone call

There are a ton of resources that are available these days for science and The Great Courses are on the top of my list of easily accessible and high quality content. A lot of these courses come with activity guides, study guides etc if you want to do some of them together with him. Another source is the NOVA science documentaries from PBS (there are old episodes on the website https://www.pbs.org/show/nova/ and Netflix has them as well and you can get the DVDs from your library or purchase them on amazon). Then, there is the Georgia Public Broadcasting Physics series: http://www.gpb.org/physics-in-motion which is pretty much a comprehensive basic course in physics that your son can develop upon based on his interests.

BTW/ my son uses the Great Courses for his Roman History study, math enrichment (Joy of Mathematics series) etc. So, there is a lot out there for your exceptionally bright child that he can do on his own that can far exceed the quality of a Honors or Gifted program in subject areas which will also give you time to take care of other things and your other kids. You can set up your son's schedule so that he can learn on his own from video content for an hour every day (and also stream these content on a TV screen for better ergonomics) and you can get other things done meanwhile. Good luck. 

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57 minutes ago, HeighHo said:

 

I think the selections will have to be carefully selected also with an eye to emotional needs.  7th grade is soon enough.

Absolutely.  

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6 hours ago, mathnerd said:

 

There are a ton of resources that are available these days for science and The Great Courses are on the top of my list of easily accessible and high quality content. A lot of these courses come with activity guides, study guides etc if you want to do some of them together with him. Another source is the NOVA science documentaries from PBS (there are old episodes on the website https://www.pbs.org/show/nova/ and Netflix has them as well and you can get the DVDs from your library or purchase them on amazon). Then, there is the Georgia Public Broadcasting Physics series: http://www.gpb.org/physics-in-motion which is pretty much a comprehensive basic course in physics that your son can develop upon based on his interests.

 

That GPB resource looks great!  

6 hours ago, mathnerd said:

BTW/ my son uses the Great Courses for his Roman History study, math enrichment (Joy of Mathematics series) etc. So, there is a lot out there for your exceptionally bright child that he can do on his own that can far exceed the quality of a Honors or Gifted program in subject areas

 

At this point, I care much less about the quality of what he's learning, than the quality of his experience.  If he enjoys it, and it engages him, I'll be thrilled.  It sounds like there are some really good possibilities on Great Courses. 

6 hours ago, mathnerd said:

 

 

which will also give you time to take care of other things and your other kids. You can set up your son's schedule so that he can learn on his own from video content for an hour every day (and also stream these content on a TV screen for better ergonomics) and you can get other things done meanwhile. Good luck. 

 

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On 7/22/2019 at 10:55 AM, dmmetler said:

I’ve recommended Uzinggo so many times that they should be paying me, but it might be a good fit. It’s middle and high school science, completely online. Most things are point and click, and you could do any longer responses verbally since they are “send to the teacher of record for grading”. 


I'm just going to say THANK YOU for this! I haven't been on the boards much lately, so It was mostly luck that I clicked on this thread, but we started our free trial of uzinggo 9 days ago after hearing you recommend it, and ds10 is already 12% through the Physical science course and LOVES it. It's all the content he's been begging me for for the last year or two, without any of the work I didn't want, and doesn't tax his dysgraphic writing skills. It's GREAT!! 

Outside of the fine motor issues, how well would you say this mimics actual middle school science? Is it a level below? About on point? What about the high school level uzinggo?

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It’s pretty on point as far as topics,  but light on output and math requirements, so you can do high school physics and chem before or along with algebra-the math needed is taught in the lessons, and it’s minimal. The same company does credit recovery packages for PS, so they are basically the bare minimum of what would be considered high school for students who need a quick credit, just repackaged and with online labs and more self-scoring stuff  added. For an AL, I would consider them a great first run through for a kid who will be doing more down the road, and it’s a great, inexpensive way to keep a Science interested kid engaged. 

Edited by dmmetler
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It sounds like he is a good reader, but I would make sure he explicitly knows all his phonics and spelling rules, he can watch on his on my overview syllables video, the videos 6 -  9, they go into greek and latin roots and some short language exercises.  

Overview, 15 minutes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nc9CpQnQo18

One page worksheet to go with it, do most of it orally: http://www.thephonicspage.org/On Reading/Resources/SuperSpeedSyllables.pdf

Then, lesson 6 - 9 linked from my syllables page, with exercises to print there, about 20 minutes total.

http://www.thephonicspage.org/On Reading/syllablesspellsu.html

I would just do the language and writing exercises for videos 6 - 9, here they are, you could do most of it orally.

http://www.thephonicspage.org/On Reading/Resources/LatinGreekOE_Worksheets.pdf

If possible, I would get a cheap laptop that plays videos to bring to appointments and teach typing on it, to make typing faster and easier, if you can touch type there is less effort involved.  Many hospitals also have rooms and tutors set up to work with you, I would check with your hospital and see what they offer.  I would also go to a computer store and try out different track pads and devices and see if there is anything that is less tiring for him to point and click, playing with the settings on each to see. The hospital/an OT might also have ideas about what would be easiest for him.

My mom has arthritis in one knee and finds she can do a bit more when she ices it, you might ask your doctors about that and try it if it is something they say is OK to try, I'm not sure if it's recommend for hands or for a child or how long they would recommend.

If he likes greek and latin roots, I have a word root bingo game that he could play with his siblings on my syllables page, it is a good multi-age educational activity.

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The Writing Revolution focuses a lot on writing and perfecting different types of sentences, which may work well with his fatigue issues. 

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