“Communication for All” Innovative Assistive Technology in Action

Bluebee Pals Assistive Technology

“When you walk into the classrooms at Jesse Baker School, what you see are engaged students,” said Sharon Stanley, a Speech and Language Pathologist (SLP) for the Elk Grove Unified School District (Sacramento County).  Sharon works with the team of educators at The Jesse Baker School, an extraordinary elementary school for students with special needs. Their mission? To provide “a full-spectrum education for their exceptional students.”

Sharon Stanley Jesse Baker School

Sharon Stanley

As an SLP, Sharon’s motto for all children is “Communication for All,” and she is dedicated to making sure children in her district receive access to high-tech communication devices. And she’s always looking for innovative ways to engage students and help them learn.

“What many people don’t know realize is that all of our students can learn but sometimes it may take them longer or they may need more repetition, so our teachers need to think outside-the-box for ways to engage the students.”

When Sharon was introduced to the Bluebee Pals, she knew that these talking plush animals could assist the special needs students in her classes and make a huge impact in the classroom.  She contacted Laura Jiencke, the CEO of Kayle Concepts and founder of The Bluebee Pals and she donated Bluebee Pals through her non-profit foundation—The Bluebee Pals Project—to the students at Jesse Baker School.

The teachers began incorporating the Bluebee Pals into their daily lessons. From Leo, the Lion, helping to take attendance in the morning and Riley, the Zebra reading a story, to Lily, the lamb, working on speech therapy apps with the kids…something amazing is happening in their classrooms. The kids are responding to their lessons like never before.

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“Bluebee Pals help us to engage the students. The teachers take a traditional iPad application and pair it with a Bluebee Pal plush stuffed animal…and the kids are amazed! We’ve seen an increase in communication skills and we’ve seen a decrease in negative behaviors in the classroom.”

Jesse Baker School teachers

Nikki, Cathleen and Jessica

Nikki Castaneda couldn’t agree more to Sharon’s statement. She’s taught at Jessie Baker for 11 years and her favorite activity with the Bluebee Pals is to hold conversations with the students paired with the Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) app, Speak for Yourself. “The Bluebee Pal will ask the students yes/no questions, “What’s your name?” “How are you today?” and other fun questions. The children absolutely love our conversation times with their Bluebee Pals.”

“My favorite activity with our Bluebee Pals is to play, “Zack the Zebra says…” or “Leo the Lion says…” My students love this game!” said Cathleen Bailey.

Jessica McFarland, another Jesse Baker School special educator, has notice tremendous growth in her students too. “The Bluebee Pals have allowed me the opportunity to engage my students in many academic activities. My favorite is when we work on reading comprehension with the app called “You Tell Me Stories.”. The students absolutely love watching the Bluebee Pals mouth move as they listen. I’ve seen a significant improvement in the student’s attention to the story and that has improved their accuracy in answering comprehension questions. ”

Bluebee Pals in Special Needs Classrooms

It’s so inspiring how educators with out-of-the-box thinking and innovative Bluebee Pals “learning buddies” can make Sharon Stanley’s motto, “Communication for All” a reality.

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Images courtesy of Bluebee Pals and Jesse Baker School

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About Jodi Murphy

I am the founder of Geek Club Books, autism storytelling through mobile apps for awareness, acceptance and understanding. My mission is to use the art of storytelling and technology to entertain and educate for the social good. I am a 'positive' autism advocate, mother of an awesome adult on the autism spectrum, lifestyle journalist, and marketing specialist.

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