By Lu Anne Behrle, Computer Educator
Introducing, strengthening and maintaining the technological skills of our Ranchers is a joy and a rewarding experience!
Through the Worden-Taber Center’s Computer Lab, many Ranchers have reaped the benefits. As a computer educator, I have witnessed and supported a very wide spectrum of skills and interests through small group and individual approaches. I am proud to include in the Computer Lab’s successes Rancher Connor Kaufman who is now a peer teacher in the area of importing graphics and Hayden Harrison who is our hardware and lab manager. Both of these developmentally disabled adult Ranchers play an important role in helping our lab to run smoothly and to help expand others’ skills.
Staying connected with family and friends remains a primary goal
Increasing communication between the Ranchers and their friends and loved ones is an important goal at Rainbow Acres. Our Computer Lab is supporting Ranchers in this endeavor through personal email accounts. Rancher Jeanne Mailloux recently set up her first email account and has accomplished many technical firsts in recent months. She is now able to log on, open her email, compose a new email and write to her sisters. She is most excited to return to the lab and open an email waiting for her to read and enjoy! Other Ranchers also look forward with great excitement to reading and responding to new emails.
A big thank you to those of you who correspond with our Ranchers. Even a sentence or two is truly a highlight for them. We are now set up to begin using Skype as well! If you are an established friend or family member of one of our Ranchers, would like to speak with them in real time, and have access to Skype, please contact me via email, at email@example.com. We will work together to make this a possibility.
Personal interests drive the Ranchers searches on the Internet in our computer lab
Exploring and investigating personal topics of interest is a focus for us as well. Some Ranchers come to the lab knowing exactly what they want to learn more about, while other Ranchers start with general interests and soon find themselves on the information/interest highway. Rancher David Freelander is an expert Internet user and is currently focusing on driverless cars and artificial intelligence. Staying current with the World Tennis Association is Rancher Sean Lavery’s area of interest; he closely follows the major events, brackets and leaders.
Many times, current events draw Ranchers into the lab including the history of Notre Dame Cathedral (and the recent fire that devastated the central section of this historic structure) and the path and terrible devastation caused by Hurricane Dorian. Listening to music is another popular activity. Rancher Robert Muller loved his daily music selections and moving around to the beat of everything from Lawrence Welk to K. C. and the Sunshine Band!
Playing Legos and card games on the lab’s computers brings relaxation and enjoyment to the Ranchers as well. Rancher Peter Sundstedt looks forward to his daily dose of Klondike solitaire. He has had a lot of fun and continually increases his fine motor skills and problem-solving skills. Legos on the computer? Absolutely! Rancher Debbie Tedford is our resident Lego expert in. She now enjoys electronic Lego building while she develops her computer independence by developing basic skills such as logging on and opening programs and her mouse skills such as clicking and dragging! On a side note, Debbie is our top Rancher when it comes to caring for our bird feeders outside of the computer lab in Camp Verde, AZ!
Microsoft Office programs offer news/creative writing opportunities for our adults with developmental disabilities
Learning the various programs in Microsoft Office Suite helps build employment skills as well as provides personal enrichment. One group of Ranchers is working hard on learning Microsoft Publisher and are dedicated to creating a Rancher-produced newsletter for Rainbow Acres. They are applying their new graphic design skills to develop a newsletter that includes surveys, interviews, and creative and factual writings through their combined work as a staff.
Rancher Kelly O’Neill has submitted an article to the Verde Independent newspaper in Cottonwood, AZ, with hopes that it will be published. Many Ranchers are using the PowerPoint program to highlight their learning of various topics. Ranchers Michelle Beehner and Greg Dawson have written their autobiographies. Fellow Rainbow Acres educators are supporting and encouraging the use of PowerPoint by Ranchers to aid in their presentations about specific topics they have learned about in the Soils and Animal Science classes.
I look forward to introducing more Ranchers to new computer skills and helping those with current skills take them to the next level! Thank you to all of the Ranchers who have made the Worden-Taber Computer Lab a special and enriching part of Rainbow Acres. It has become a place that grows in excitement and new skills development each and every day!