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Dr. Caroline Ramsey Musselwhite

Friday, November 4, 2011

Caroline's Rule of 6

Caroline's Rule of 6

This post has nothing . . . well, very little, to do with AAC or AT. Caroline's Rule of 6 is something I came up with years ago, because I tend to overreact (okay, freak out) when things go wrong. So, I devised a scheme to remind me, kind of like 'little problem / big problem' that we use for students with AAC.

Since my nephew David was in a serious bicycle accident and has been in a coma, I have been reminded of this and have been trying much harder to live by it. A friend asked me to share it, so here it is:

When something upsetting happens, ask yourself:
1 = Will it affect me in 6 minutes?
2 = Will it affect me in 6 hours?
3 =
Will it affect me in 6 days?
4 =
Will it affect me in 6 weeks?
5 =
Will it affect me in 6 months?
6 =
Will it affect me in 6 years?

If the answer to 3 - 6 are no . . . little problem!

You can also refer to this as 'The Power of . . . ' Thus, a problem that will affect you for 6 weeks is a problem to the power of 4 - whining allowed!!!!

Hope this is helpful. I'm thinking I might need a tattoo to help ME remember . . .

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Bridge Assessment

What Is The Bridge?
The Center for Literacy and Disability Studies describes The Bridge as: '
The an early literacy and language assessment framework based on observation and portfolio development/analysis.' We have found The Bridge both easy to administer and highly supportive of both progress monitoring and intervention planning.

Where Can You Download The Bridge?
The link below will lead you to the following:


• Experimental version of The Bridge Protocol
• A guide to administering The Bridge
• PowerPoint presentations for training in use of The Bridge
• A list of action verbs to support observations
• PowerPoint presentations on book / writing adaptations

Developmental Spelling Test

Why Use Developmental Spelling Tests?
• Developmental spelling helps us understand what students are hearing in a word
• Research across languages, ability groups, and SES groups supports the concept that spelling is developmental
• This is relatively easy to test, using tests of 10 - 12 well-selected words
• Developmental Spelling Tests are especially useful for students who are nonspeaking, because we can get a window into their understanding

Where Can I Find A Developmental Spelling Test?
One test available online is the 'Monster Test' by Richard Gentry. This 10-word test includes words such as 'monster', 'united', and 'hiked.' A scoring guide is included, showing how to analyze spellings, to determine the developmental level (from precommunicative to conventional. The link to that test is below:

Musselwhite & Hanser (2011, Write to Talk CD) suggest additional strategies for analysis such as:
• % onsets phonetically correct
• % vowels represented

Using Developmental Spelling Test Results
Results of the developmental spelling tests are great for:
• progress monitoring
• pre-post to determine success of an intervention
In addition to administering a development spelling test, teachers and therapists can analyze student writing in context, using these strategies, and use results to guide instruction. For example, if the student has 83% vowels represented, but only 17% vowels correct, it is clear that s/he is beginning to 'get the vowel rule' (every word has a vowel), but needs instruction on how to determine the correct vowel.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Fun Videos For Language and Literacy

Fun Videos: Girl Washing . . .

This video is a delight!! Enjoy watching it. Then share it with your children / students in some of the following ways:
Language: Support students in:
- Sequencing: take screen shots and help students determine first, next, and last
- Narrative: re-tell this story
- Commenting: this video is fun for practicing making comments (sweet, uh-oh, oh no, yikes!)
- Core Words: this is ideal for summarizing using high frequency words (look at that. Is she bad?)

Literacy: Support students in:
- Watching Response: Writing a response to this story
- Descriptive Narrative: re-tell this story
- Word Choice: describe the video using strong verbs and / or sparkle words


ZAMZAR – 1 Easy Way to Manage Movies

Most of you already have several ways to deal with movies, but I always have this question at workshops, so wanted to share the information here!

Question: How Do I Show Videos in School if I Don’t Have Access to Sources Such as YouTube?

Answer: You can download movies (with permission!) using resources such as Zamzar.


As you can see from the graphic, Zamzar can also be used for many other purposes! I often use it to convert files from one format to another. For example, let’s say that your camera saves videos in ..avi format, but you are using a program (ex: Classroom Suite ) that performs better with movies in a .mov format. This can be done quickly, easily, and for FREE for files under 100MB. The online directions are extremely clear, even for TechnoWienies!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Poem to Refrigerator Magnet!

Turn your poem into a refrigerator magnet! This is another in my series of celebrating creativity, both light and high tech. Remember, when you simply print a piece of writing, it goes on the refrigerator for 3.7 months, then goes into:
a) The Circular File (yes, the trash can), or
b) The Box . . . in the back of the closet

But if you turn your writing into a work of art, it will be enjoyed for longer, perhaps forever! Here are the steps for turning a poem into a refrigerator magnet.
1) Print out the poem, in smaller format (no larger than 5" x 7"). This shows a poem I wrote for my wonderful friend Harvey, for his birthday.
(Note: I did a list poem, using wordle. That is, words I wanted to be larger were typed multiple times. See directions in the April tip at my website:
2) Laminate the poem
3) Add stickyback magnet (from Michaels or other craft store)

This is inexpensive, but guaranteed to be a 'keeper'!

Thanks to Sarah Blackstone for this idea!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Learning with Lennart - eye gaze video

Many of you will be familiar with the 'Learning with Lennart' series developed by Paul Andres, Prentke Romich (Germany), plus Lennart and his mom. This includes You Tube videos and presentations. The video shared below shares a simple and clear eye-gaze strategy. If you haven't discovered this series (in English and German), you should find them quite helpful. Enjoy!


Fully Interactive Books!

We know that fully interactive books are coming . . . oh, wait, they're here! The attached video shows an interactive book for iPad / iPhone. Several features are particularly exciting - such as creating action by blowing on the iPad! The book selection is also exciting - Our Choice by Al Gore. The best part about this is the fact that this group (Push Pop Press & Melcher Media) is developing a tool so that other people can develop materials that are more interactive. Clearly, these tools will be spectacular for education, and especially for students with disabilities.

Thanks to Jane Odom for this link!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Echo Smartpen

At the conference in NYC last week, several people were asking for supports for high school students struggling in higher math classes. I mentioned the Smartpen, and promised to provide a link, so here it is. It provides excellent support for many activities, including the process of completing math problems.


Sunday, June 12, 2011


A group of therapists at Southwest Human Development have joined to create a new wiki about apps of great use for students with disabilities. This is new, and all areas are NOT filled in. We are going beyond listing of apps, and reviewing apps that we've actually used, and giving tips for new applications of apps (hence the name SpedApps2, which stands for apps squared!) Please visit frequently, as this wiki will change!!

Here's the link:

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Here's my listing of my current blogs, livebinders, wikis, and a website!

Musselwhite’s Blogs, LiveBinders, Websites, & Wikis

AAC Girls Blog

Small bits and bytes of information about Assistive Technology, AAC, and literacy.


AAC Intervention Website

Musselwhite and Maro’s website, including Tips of the Month, on topics about AAC and literacy.


AAC-Literacy (with Deanna Wagner)

A wiki about adapting the Four Blocks model from Cunningham & Allington to students with significant disabilities.


AT Overview Live Binder

A collection of resources about Assistive Technology. Includes the categories of:


• Videos

• Favorite Websites

• Checklists

• Software Samples


Short url: www.tiny.ATOverview

Balanced Literacy Live Binder

A collection of resources from Musselwhite & Wagner – includes scores of links and downloads.


Short url: www.tiny.cc/AAClit

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Natural Reader - Free Software

What: Natural Reader is an electronic reader with several versions. The free version that can read from the internet and read .txt or .doc files. It comes with one voice, and highlights speech.

The upgraded version can do the following:
1) read .pdf files
2) read scanned documents
3) read text from digital photos (e.g., taken with your iPhone)
4) translate text into .mp3 files, for listening

Why? This software is not as robust as programs such as Read: OutLoud or Kurzweil 3000. However, it would be great for trying out text reading, and documenting the need. It would also be a good transition tool, while trying to get funding for the more specialized software.


LA Dept of ED: Literacy Access Guide

The Significant Disabilities team in the Literacy Division at the Louisiana Department of Education has been busy!

That website is a repository for literacy supports for students with disabilities including:
• Tipsheets
• Documents such as assessment tools
• Videos of literacy best practices
• Webinars on topics including:
- Alternate Pencils
- Literacy Assessment
- Including Literacy in the IEP

Go to the literacy section, and be sure to click on the link on the top right, if you're a Mac Foxfire user.

Here's the link:

Monday, March 7, 2011

Follow the CAR:Learn It / See It

The CAR strategy (NotariSyverson, Maddox, and Cole, 1999) encourages adults to support students during shared reading by ‘following the car’:

• Comment on what the student is doing (then wait 5 seconds)

• Ask questions (then wait 5 seconds)

• Respond by adding more

That strategy is equally successful for older students who are building their interactive language, to support communication and literacy.

For more information about the CAR strategy, follow this link:


A video set, Language is the Key is available from Washington Learning Systems, to support training for parents, parapros, teachers, and therapists. This set includes two videos, available in Mandarin, Vietnamese, English, and Spanish. The videos are

Talking & Play and Talking & Books (which includes demonstration of the CAR strategy).


Washington Learning Systems, LLC
2212 Queen Anne Ave. North #726
Seattle , WA 98109

Phone 206-310-7401 Fax 206-283-9243 Email info@walearning.com

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard

4.1 of 5 stars

Thanks to the team at Don Johnston for telling me about this book. I'm not such a great nonfiction reader, but this book has been really life-changing for me. I'm trying to use their principles in my workshops, consulting, and work with students. The authors review decades of research from a range of disciplines, to give strategies for making change . . . and making it stick!

Sounds pretty boring, right? Let me say that:
• I was embarrassed on an airplane for frequent LOLs - funny stuff!
• I was embarrassed on a subway in NYC when I realized that everyone else had left the train, and we were at the 'end of the line' - I'd missed it because I was so engrossed!

Find it on Amazon, or my fave used books site, www.abebooks.com

Hope others enjoy it as much as I did! Below is an image, and a quick 'heads up'!

IPEVO Point to View Document Camera

Many of you have asked about the mini document camera that I use at workshops. I'm using the IPEVO Point to View document camera, also called P2V. I love it because it's:
- portable
- lightweight
- durable
- small

It allows me to easily show items to a large group, and is truly plug and play (okay, after a 1-time software install or download!)

Here are a few ways I use P2V (just as teachers use Elmo):
a) for presentations, showing small materials (e.g., for my workshop of 800 + last month in Los Angeles)
b) reading books, with no one whining, 'I can't see!'
c) showing student work as we discuss it, such as engaging in T.A.G. conferences (tell what you like, ask questions, give advice)
d) showing a sample art project

Please share other uses you're finding, and other portable doc cameras that you like.

Now, for the where: I got mine at a local Big Box store (Staples?) but you can order online:

Musselwhite Bingo!

Musselwhite Bingo

Teachers often use bingo for activities such as developing quick recognition of sight words (knowing that students need to read those high frequency words in ¼ second to enhance comprehension). Here’s a new twist on bingo, to keep students engaged.

First, as many others recommend (e.g., Cheryl Sigmon, http://www.cherylsigmon.com/, Word Wall Activities, www.teachingfirst.net ), it’s better if students write their own words, instead of just handing them a bingo board. That connects the reading and writing, and gives an authentic purpose for writing Word Wall words. Also, that ensures that students have the words in different locations.

Now, for the fun, Musselwhite:

1st bingo = Bingo

2nd bingo = Tingo

3rd bingo = Thringo (are you getting the pattern here?)

4th bingo = Fingo

5th bingo = Pingo (why? Because a pentagon has 5 sides)

You’ll find that students stay on task far longer, and respond more quickly, trying to get to that next level!