Thursday, March 21, 2013

Japan Adoption Videos

One fun part of the adoption process was how many people came along and supported us and joined the adoption journey with us.  As part of that process, we created two different videos.  

The first video was after we received our first pictures of the little boy who would soon be our son and we were beginning to make arrangements for five of us to travel to Japan for a three week stay.  Jason wrote a book and dedicated all the proceeds toward the adoption (you can get the book here). We called the first video: The Journey Home.

Our adoption was such an adventurous experience! Our son is so loving and has fit so wonderfully into our family.  About a year after making the above video, we were finalizing our adoption and I had the privilege of making another video!  The song that I used as the background on this clip was our son's favorite song that he had happened on when listing to song on my iphone.  As I listened closely to the words, I couldn't imagine another song that fit so well with how we felt!

I hope you enjoyed getting to see how our journey unfolded!  I'm still absolutely amazed some days that we actually reached out and touched this dream of adopting from Japan.  Love our family!!

Japan adoption timeline

I've had a lot of requests for additional information through e-mail, our Facebook adoption page, and friends on the timeline of our adoption from Japan.  I thought that I would start off with a post about our general timeline of the adoption.  Keep in mind, the age of the child and special needs that you are open to can dramatically effect the timeline that I'm posting below.  This is just an idea of what we did and how quickly (or slowly) it went. Enjoy!

November 2010 - International Social Services of Japan (ISSJ) sent information on what was needed to adopt through their program ISSJ English Website

February 2011 - We chose Catholic Social Services based out of Anchorage, Alaska to conduct our home study and be our licensed "child placing" agency as required by ISSJ.

April 2011 - Homestudy was completed and mailed to ISSJ

July 2011- ISSJ contacted Catholic Social with a few additional questions

September 2011 - Approved as pre-adoptive parents for Japan.  Also received our I600A approval from US.  Ensured that all passports were still valid and ready for travel.

October 2011- A picture was sent to us as a potential match

November 2011 - Everything was approved for our match and we could move forward with travel plans. A picture book (that I made on Shutterfly) was mailed to the orphanage (Children's Home) in Japan so that they could introduce our son to our picture prior to our first meeting.

January 2012 - Travel and spend three weeks in Japan.

February 2012 - BRING OUR SON HOME!

April - August 2012 - We had three post placement visits from Catholic Social.

September 2012 - Finalized the adoption in Alaska!

So that is a quick snapshot!

Friday, January 6, 2012

On my way to Japan!

So you followed my MAT journey on how a mommy of three could survive an intensive 1 year master program.

Now this crazy Mommy is headed to Japan where an almost 5 year old boy is waiting to be part of our family! In 12 short days, Jason and I and our 3 kids are headed to Japan.

Can't say when I played house when I was little that this is exactly what I dreamed of, but sometimes life leads you on an adventure that is much grander than any dream. I feel blessed to stand where I am and have my life surrounded by those I love. But this isn't a new dream either. Let's go back a bit, lets say to the late 90's.

A young college girl falls in love with a young college guy. EARLY in their dating, he springs it on her that one day he wants to adopt from Japan. She says sure, no problem not fully understanding the implications to this promise. Little did she know that in the exact same moment a seed to a dream was buried deep in her heart that she would have to fight to ever see come to fruition.

Yep, that was me. And Jason. :) Married at the ripe old age of 20 with high hopes of life and talk of a BIG family. But then something hit me as if the sky was actually falling and the weight of the universe seemed to suffocate my soul. In all my years I never dreamed that I would face infertility. It was one of the most crushing, heart breaking, and devastating diseases I ever anticipated dealing with. Somewhere in the middle of it, I believe God had a plan. We were blessed with little Noah despite a lot of odds.

But one child wasn't all I wanted. You'd think I'd be happy with what I got. But I like to have EVERYTHING I want. (you probably already know that about me.) That dream of adding children through adoption came back alive when one day we realized we had the love to give and only needed a child to share it with. In the fall of 2002, we became licensed foster parents for the State of Alaska. Foster Care is a WHOLE other post (maybe 50!) But again, despite it all, we finalized our adoption with our next two children, Wesley & Alicia in December 2006.

In the years between 1998 and 2006, I had sent e-mails to dozens of adoption agency requesting information and asking about the possibility of adopting from Japan. Japan just isn't a country that a lot of adoptions happen and year after year, agency after agency, I was told no.

Can I just say I hate the word "no"? Especially when you are telling me I can't do what I want to do!!

It was October 2010 and I ran across a blog that told about how they went about adopting from Japan and my heart was sparked again. I sent an email to the International Social Services of Japan introducing myself and asking if they would consider us as adoptive parents. That was November 9. On November 10, I had a long e-mail listing why adopting would be nearly impossible and very few children are available and so on and so on. But all I read that night was that I didn't get a "no!" In the words of some movie (Maybe Soul Surfer?), "I just need possible."

And now I stand here, at the brink of this impossible dream. What an adventure life has turned out to be!!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

New Beginnings

I've completed my MAT program and am staring a new adventure. In a few short days I start my teaching assignment at JDHS, Juneau Douglas High School. I'm excited about the oppurtunity to teach and I'll try to update more later!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

My Personal Technology IEP

I chose to write my Individualized Education Plan (IEP) based upon my lack of knowledge on operating a Mac and any software that Mac’s use.

My Goals:
Andrea will be able to adequately navigate a Mac and will demonstrate this proficiency by

  • being able to open applications by using Finder
  • using iworks suite including pages, numbers, and keynote
    (A keynote presentation, import a graph from numbers, and pages for the script of my project)
  • able to export slides from Keynote into imovie
  • complete a digital story using imovie

To demonstrate that these goals were met, I created a final project using imovie.

Using this newly acquired knowledge, I have designed a series of lessons that will integrate this technology into my content area, mathematics. I will use my imovie as a sample for my students to see a final project idea and I would then have the knowledge to confidently lead them through the process. Click here for the full lesson plans.

Lesson 1: Rough Draft Idea
Lesson 2: Rough Draft equations, chart, and solving the system of equations two ways
Lesson 3: The script
Lesson 4: Begin Keynote
Lesson 5: Using numbers to make a graph, finish Keynote
Lesson 6: Export Keynote as jpeg images into imovie and begin voice over
Lesson 7: Bring it all home- complete project

I would consider myself to have sound technological skills on a computer. I can usually fix things, change things, and generally get around close to an advanced user. Come to think of it, I am actually quite proud of my computer and technological skills and those skills have served as an advantage getting the jobs that I’ve had. But all this information was on one platform: a PC. To enter the world of Mac’s and not even be quite sure how to open a program was a difficult transition for this apt user. I’ve spent this last semester learning basic navigation skills and using some basic software that is MAC specific. This task was met with intense frustration at moments, me actually trying to read help bubbles for assistance, and a more persistent attitude that I can and will be proficient with all computers. At the beginning of this project, I simply struggled with knowing PC shortcuts and knowing that I could do something special with a line of text, but not being able to find that function on the Mac. Luckily I have now conquered my frustration and feel ready to face the world.

I began by working on my own digital storytelling project to accustom myself to various software I was hoping my students would soon be able to use. This experience helped immensely because I had an unmatched empathy to the students who were frustrated and felt the task might be impossible. Upon completion of my digital project, I then moved forward with the project in the classroom.

Students worked in teams and on the first day were given project overview, rubric, and rough draft.

The Drawbacks:

This project ended up taking a little more time than I had originally thought. It was originally only going to be 5 lesson days but became 7 lessons. I believe I was most shocked to see gaping holes in students understanding of technology and basics on how software is used. This is not to say that they are not wildly proficient in technology, but their expertise is related to different software. The other obstacle of the project was the constant monitoring that was required to ensure students were on task. I used Remote Desktop that enabled me to view what students were working on, close programs that were not applicable, or send messages for them to get back on task. At one point I put a rotating monitoring screen of the students laptops on the overhead projector for other students to monitor as I moved about the classroom. This project was completed with 3 sections of Algebra 1 students and both my host teacher and I played vital roles in assisting students at every turn.

The Positive Outcomes:

The 1 to 1 laptops were part of a grant effort where each freshman this year was assigned a laptop for educational use. This project integrated the laptops effectively into the classroom giving student opportunities to use technology to advance their own learning. Also the project allowed for a wide range of student creativity to surface which is sometimes rarely explored within a mathematics classroom. The situations and problems that the teams of students choose were of a wide variety representing a plethora of student interests. The math was solid and was reinforced several times throughout the project ensuring that they could solve a system of equations in several different ways. This was also a good project in working with a team member farthing my personal philosophy of being able to talk about math to help students be able to grasp it in a deeper and stronger reality.

A wide range of final digital stories were turned in. I have chosen a variety of projects to show the full spectrum of what a final product could look like (or should look like).

Sample Student Videos

(You will need to sign into TeacherTube or create a free account to view my student's work).
Two pretty good ones:
Megleen Issues - Storage Rental Space Options and Justin's Musical Dilemma - Downloading Music

Two "other" ones: I need a tan! - Tanning Salon packages and
Pet Washers - Dog grooming

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Article Review: Technologies for Reading

Technologies for Reading: Assistive Technologies for Literacy
Taken from the Association for supervision and Curriculum Development

by Ted Hasselbring and Margaret Bausch

In reading this article, I was surprised to learn that as many as 8 of 10 students are faced with reading problems so intense that they cannot read grade level material. The writer suggests that an ideal situation is not only using assistive technology to help with the day to day reading but rather the student could continue to improve their reading skills. The Kentucky Department of Education used a software program in 95% of their schools called Read & Write Gold which assists students with both reading and writing. Since students can use the software independently in most cases, this allows the students to listen to a specific passage several times without having to ask questions or for it to be read to them again by a teacher.

Schools are also addressing increasing a students reading skills with technologies because some of the assistive technology won't be available to them outside of the schools walls. One study conducted in the Des Moines Independent Community School District found that 18% of students who had one year of intervention no longer required special education for reading the following year. While technology continues to advance and student success is apparent, this achievement is still educator focused; for it is the role of the professional to know when and how to best integrate such technology. The author concludes that "technology is not magic" but rather a tool that can be skillfully and wisely applied by excellent educators.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Online Social Web

I have participated in "Teach-nology" online community through their content specific math forum. This forum is used by teachers to share successes in teaching, to ask for help on specific mathematical problems, or to pass along what they felt was a great lesson plan. I find it to sometimes be a little cumbersome to review as it is not grade specific so the math ranges from elementary to advanced high school class topics. The most beneficial part of being a member of this online community is simply reading and learning what others teacher have found to work to see how I can incorporate other ideas in my classroom so that each student is met on their level paying attention to all the various learning styles and learning differences.

TeAchnology also has a seperate forum for new teachers that has some interesting posts. With thier large membership and various threads on all the avaible forums, one is bound to find somehing interesting or useful to their own specifc teaching career or content area. Visit the TeAchnology website to see what you can find to assist you in your teacher career!