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Special Educator Carrie Baughcum's Ignite Speech Uses Sketchnotes to Inspire Teacher Innovation

Special educator Carrie Baughcum wasted little time before she shared her popular "ignite speech" online. She presented with passion briefly at an "International Edcamp Leader" event that was held in Illinois in July. Her inspirational message was crafted by sketching notes—or sketchnoting—and it is catching fire as school doors open nationwide. 

Edcamps are "unconferences" that bring educators and specialists together for professional development. This one focused on education reform and innovation to improve outcomes in grades K-12  and the years after high school.  

Say It With Sketchnotes

The "ignite speech" was scheduled after lunch. Carrie is a 17-year teaching veteran who decided to draw out her message. The rules: speeches were limited to five minutes and 20 slides that are timed to display for 15 seconds. Game on. 

Carrie and her students are technology users. She knows these tools often require tweaks, twists and adjustments so they are meaningful for individual learners. For the International Edcamp Leader day, she shared her passions using visual notes and the audience loved it. 

"Weeks later I was overwhelmed by the love it received (and still is) as it was shared out more times than I can even (or could ever) imagine on Twitter and Facebook," she writes on her website.

View her presentation that is embedded above. Check out more from Carrie on her website: Heck Awesome: Life Learning Doodles. Our takeaway for school year 2016-2017 gives Carrie's message a twist. Read on. 

Say Why Not AEM/AIM?

In Virginia and nationwide the free AEM/AIM accessible learning materials program stands to benefit many students, including those with learning disabilities including dyslexia. This year say "Why Not AEM? (or AIM, the original acronym) to enrich access to curriculum content using accessible educational materials.

The national Accessible Educational Materials program under the Individuals with Disabilities Education law exists for special education students who struggle to read print. AEM/AIM doesn't take the place of intensive explicit reading instruction, but it does support it. The service for eligible students gives them choices about how they read. Those who participate have a reliable accessible resource for textbooks and trade books in alternative formats. The data from the program is used to inform instruction, monitor progress, offer reflection, report to parents, and more. AEM/AIM is part of individualizing, differentiating, universally designing and personalizing learning.

Take inspiration from Carrie about innovating, and from advocates who want access to the curriculum for the widest possible audience of learners. In 2016-2017, ask "Why Not" AEM/AIM? Find a way. For more on sketchnoting see the websites of Kathy Schrock, Sylvia Duckworth, and Silvia Tolisano.


Accessible educational materials (AEM) help to create access to the curriculum for students with dyslexia, learning disabilities, vision or physical challenges, and others. A federally funded AEM program in every state assures that books in alternative formats are provided free of charge to eligible students with disabilities whose education teams take action. The AEM program operates under a legal exception to federal copyright law. Check out the AIM-VA home page to learn more about eligibility in Virginia. In other states, contact a special education teacher, a school administrator or download a list of AEM state contacts.External Link to AEM state contacts (New Window).

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