Sunday, 7 April 2013

Last Class Reflection

Today’s class was very eventful and interesting to watch others present their case studies. It was great to learn about all of the different Assistive Technologies available and to see how and whom they are useful for. As well, it was neat to see how people in our course implemented the programs we learned about into their case studies. It seems as though most case studies were successful, which is a great advantage of this course. Not only did we learn about programs through theory, we were able to practice hands on and bring it back to the students who need it most in the classroom.

I really hope that more teachers take courses such as this one so we can all be on board with using technology in the classroom. Assistive Technology is not only useful for our “at risk” students, but all students in the classroom. There seems to be such a disconnect between how much students are using technology at home vs. how much they are using it at school. However, I realize that this is dependent on the school and the student. There needs to be more funding for technology in schools as well as funding for professional development for teachers on the technology. 

Overall, the biggest success of this course for me was learning about all of the many features available for students out there that can be implemented into the classroom and what many of my students are missing out on. Not to mention, I am now saving for an iPad and plan to have one by the end of this month!!! J  

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Assistive Technology for the Visually Impaired and Blind

Today in class our group created a new blog for our Assignment #2 on Assistive Technology for those with visual impairments and blind.

Check out our blog at the link below:

Low-Tech Solutions

The first thing I thought of after watching Barb's video on low-tech solutions in the kitchen was my dad's X-large TV remote I bought him last year, mainly as a joke since he is always complaining the buttons are too small...he loves it! :)

For my example, I found a video on YouTube of kids creating/inventing low-tech solutions for kids with disabilities. Simple ideas, but very smart! I don't think I would have thought of these things at that age. Check it out!

"Inspiring Inventions by Kids":

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Feb. 23rd's Class

Today’s class was informative because we were able to compare many different assistive technology products and examine their pros and cons.

In looking at the product Kurzwell versus the iPad (and it’s assistive technology settings), I think the ipad wins this round. Although Kurzwell may be useful in it’s specific function, it is a stand alone product that costs between $1200 to $1500 for a license and it sounds to be quite time consuming to use. The iPad can only be purchased for one user at a time, but it can be used for multiple functions/purposes and is very user friendly!

PECS vs. Pic Collage

In comparing programs such as PECS versus Pic Collage (apple), PECS seems to be the more time consuming product as you have to find your own picture, access a color printer, and then print off the pictures and cut them out. I learned it takes roughly 15mins for a teacher to make one image from PECS. It is also costly for schools to purchase the program and give allotted for time to teachers to get a substitute booked to plan for one student individual plan. On top of all that, it is less efficient (hard to organize and access, takes up lots of physical space) and time consuming for a student to find/pick out pictures the need to communicate their messages. Although PECS uses technology to create images that students need to communicate, it is not realistic for a child to carry around books upon books of images in order for them to communicate a basic message. Non-verbal children need to be able to access technologies (such as Pic Collage) at their finger tips so they are able to communicate their wants and needs as any other child in the classroom. Although products such as PECS and Boardmaker were a good start in helping nonverbal students communicate more efficiently, technology is growing and I feel it is important that our school systems keep up to date with it in the classrooms as well. I understand there is always a cost associated with the latest technology, but if the accessibility exists for these students then I feel they deserve to have it.  

In class we were able to experience how easy and multi-functional Pic Collage is hands on. As Barb best said, “this app is only limited to your imagination”. Just like PECS, it can be use for nonverbal students as a form of assistive technology, but it can also be used or so much more. In class we had to develop ideas on how it could be applicable in the class and some ideas that were mentioned where it can be used included as a graphic organizer, visual scheduling, seating charts (using student’s pictures), math manipulatives and much more! Another neat feature is that all of your pictures stay in your library until deleted. Here are some of the examples that Stephanie and I can up with:

In developing the activities, we first thought of what we could use it for in specific subject areas. Stephanie, being an English teacher, developed the graphic organizers for a character sketch (i.e. Pony Boy). Where as I being a Science teacher, developed the Thermometer that displays all the different examples of temperature which I would use in the grade 7 Heat unit in Science. In this unit students are asked to compare and provide examples of various temperatures using instruments that are used to measure temperature. Using Pic Collage, this outcome can be achieved by differentiating how the students display the outcome. Some students could simply put the different examples of hot and cold items in order on a thermometer, as I did in my example. Others could do the same thing, but also provide the examples temperature in degrees Celsius. Or students could also do the same thing but provide the temperatures in degrees Celsius and Fahrenheit, where they have to show their calculations of how they converted from one to the other. The more I think about the program, the more I think about what other ways it could be used in the classroom. Another example that just came to my mind would be using it for displaying examples of safe and unsafe practice in the science lab. This example came to mind, as I was thinking about doing the same thing last year with my students where they had to draw the examples and I remember how many students complained about how they cannot draw and how frustrated the get with having to color. This program could be an easy way to avoid many of those complaints in the classroom.

As you can see, we also developed some other ideas for creating visual steps and schedules for non-verbal students (i.e. making a sandwich, steps on how to calm down, procedures in the morning and healthy and unhealthy food options). As you can see, I feel this iPad app is a much multifunctional program than simply using programs such as Boardmaker and PECS. The only downfall, is our school board is only slowly implementing iPads into the schools and it will be a long time coming before every student will have access to such amazing tools.
Ruben R. Puentedura’s Website

After visiting Ruben R. Puentedura’s website and watching his video, one question he asked that stuck with me was:

 “How can we go from traditional learning places, to a continuum of learning spaces, so that the entire world becomes a place of learning for the student?”- Ruben R. Puentedura (taken from video on technology in education created for the Kalmarsunds Gymnasieförbund)

In today’s world, learning does not have to stop or be separated from the classroom. 21st century learning should be a continuum of learning with all of the technology available at our fingertips.

I found the SAMR (Substitution, Augmentation, Modification and Redefinition) model to be very interesting. My principal actually asked me to do a presentation on some of the assistive technologies I have been learning about through this course and at the FETC conference and I think I am going to share Ruben R. Puentedura’s video with my staff. In watching the video and reading his materials, I have learned that I am guilty of only really implementing the substitution and augmentation levels in my classroom, which I would really like to change in the near future. However, I feel as though my hands are tied sometimes with being a new teacher and constantly having to develop new lessons each year, where never have the opportunity or time to take my lessons to the next level. Not to mention the restrictions we have with the lack of technology in the classroom. Only having one laptop cart and computer lab between 9 classes of students is not optimal. Needless to say, in order for teachers to reach the “redefinition” level mentioned in Puentedura’s SAMR model, our educational system is going to need more funding to support the technology resources needed in the classroom.   

Social Stories
Prior to this course I did not know what social stories were, nor did I ever have the opportunity to use them with students. In the articles that were shared with us in class on the topic of Social Stories, I took away some key important factors I would like to share.

In the document How to Write a Social Story Carol Gray recommends the following formula to write a social story: “…two to five Descriptive sentences for each Directive sentence, which may include Perspective sentences."
What are these sentences you ask? Here is a description for each:
“Descriptive sentences provide information about specific social settings or situations, i.e. give cues to what the person sees, who is involved, and what happens.”
“Perspective sentences describe the internal states of other people. These type sentences provide information about thoughts, feelings, and/or mood of other people. Describing the internal stuff, many children with autism do not know about.”
“Directive sentences provide information about what the student should do to be successful in the target situation.”
More information on the research developed by Carol Gray on Social Stories can be found on her website
You can also find this introductory video she has made on what a Social Story is and what it is used for:

Here is a video clip on how to create your own social story. They have used the topic of
Halloween for their story here:

Here is a short video clip that is an example of a Social Story which is used for children with Aspergers and Autism to help them learn how to cross the street.

The above example also relates to the story Stephanie and I made in class on Saturday using the Book Creator app. Our story was also about crossing the street, which we were then able to save onto iBooks available on the iPads. Therefore, when considering making a Social Story, the Book Creator, Pic Collage or iMovie app would all be appropriate tools in creating Social Stories. This once again brings us back to the point of how multi-functional iPads can be in the classroom, as all of these apps are available on iPads for a small cost or free.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Where to Start When Looking for Apps?

App Search Starting Points

Apps are detailed by subject area and special areas in education.

TCAE apps for learning -

A little intimidating with all the apps and the expansive grid, however, it does give you a way to rule apps in or out in your selection process based on your content and grade level.

Other Great Tools!

Emerging EdTech

Sign up for notifications and updates from this site.  This is a great place for all things related to education technology, many of the articles and postings has to do with apps and how to use them in the education setting.

Zite Magazine - Make a section called iPads and one called Apps. 
You will receive the latest news in these areas, keeping you up to date on

"Kathy Schrock's Guide to Everything" website

Check this website out:

It really is a guide to everything!

Here's a video from her webpage also on: "Teaching and Learning with the iPad"

Friday, 22 February 2013

10 iPad Apps To Record How Students Learn

Here is a good website "Teacher Thought" that discusses 10 iPad apps used to record how students learn:

It provides you with 10 different apps that are free or low in cost.

The website also provides many other resources for integrating technology in the classroom (ex. "21 Literacy Resources For The Digital Teacher"). If you get an extra minute (which I know is rare for teachers) you should check it out!