Adobe offers several great creation apps that can provide students interesting ways to show what they know. One is Adobe Slate that allows you to quickly create interesting presentations and an easy to use interface - with a focus on pictures. Adobe Voice allows you to easily record to create a story based on what you say. They are both free!
There are many tools available that teachers might not know are available to help students. For example, students benefit from receiving copies of notes, but it can be difficult for teachers to provide copies of what they do while using their document camera. Below are instructions on how to get pictures of your work from your Elmo. Once you have them captured, you can upload them to a website, Google Classroom, to ABI/Homelink to share with all of your students. You can also attach a laptop and use free software to record your lesson.
I am always trying to keep up to date with the latest app, software program or web tool. Being on listserves, professional communities, Nings, Linked-I, Hangouts, I can get on app overload and need to be reminded to focus on students needs. I was recently reminded about two useful applications. The first has been available for several years, but when I first looked at it, it was glitchy and I didn't feel it met student's needs, the other is a newer app, one I had meant to test out. I had downloaded it and had forgotten about it.
I reminds me how useful it is to share and receive information. With over 1 million available on iTunes and Google Play as well as the millions of web apps available on-line, as well as software programs, it is only through sharing that we can keep up with what is important.
The first app I was reminded about is Blio, which is a cross-platform e-reader that includes a number of rich features including targeted zoom, text to speech and full-color images. Because it is cross-platform it is available Andriod, iPads, Macs and PCs. It is a free app with the expectation you will purchase your books through their site.
The second app is ModMath a free iPad app to help students who struggle to complete math with pencil and paper. It makes it easier for students show their work. Once completed, work can be printed or emailed.
Much is being written about Flipping the Classroom, which is basically the idea of providing your lecture and instructions for students to see outside of the class, and having more work done collaboratively in the classroom. One teacher, Ramsey Musallam, a leader in flipping the classroom, described it best by saying he looked at his instruction and found that he could move the lower order thinking skills (LOTS) in Bloom's Taxonomy out of the class and focus more on higher order thinking skills (HOTS) in the classroom.
One thing that can really help any student is to provide information that students can refer back with multi-media supports. Following are some easy tools to help you provide information to students.
Organization and Instructions
Consider posting all of your required assignments and handouts to Homelink. For longer assignments provide audio, text and video support. Audio can be added to .pdf files through Adobe Reader XI as well as into PowerPoint presentations, word documents and Prezi presentations.
Consider having an interactive place for students to contact each other for help such as creating an Edmodo site. Each school has an Edmodo account.
You can pretty easily create interactive web-based lessons using TedEd, Blendspace (formally educanvas) or Educanon. There are also a number of good apps including Explain Everything, Show Me and Educreations.
Of course there are video recording programs - Jing, which provides 5 minutes of free screencasting, Quick Time for Apple, recording in PowerPoint, Screen-casto-matic and Screenr - free web-based screencasting programs, and Community Clips a free screencasting program from Microsoft.
The ATAAC Team can provide training during our Open Labs as requested.
Together, Adobe Acrobat Professional and Adobe Reader have a number of tools to increase the accessibility for all students. Besides the form-fill capabilities, you can directly type on documents, embed videos, add audio, include hyper-links, utilize the "read outloud" functions and access an online dictionary. For $65 for a license, schools should consider having at least one license. All the features created in Adobe Acrobat Pro can be accessed using the free Adobe Reader, which is available across platforms - i.e. PC/Mac, in a browser, Android and iOS. Check out this video that shows some of the features available in Adobe Reader. Contact the ATAAC Team if you would like to schedule training or learn more at email@example.com!
Chrome by Google, in addition to being a fast internet browser, is it also a powerful operating system with many apps, extensions and programs that can support all students.
These features include text to speech, speech to text, word prediction, graphic organizing, collaboration, calendaring, to-do lists, classroom behavior management, interactive flashcards, the Google Docs sheet, screen-casting, typing programs, charts, links to learning programs like Khan Academy, access to Bookshare and other programs and services. Settings can be saved so that students can have them available on any computer that runs Windows, Mac or Linux as well as Chromebooks that run Chrome.
7 kids playing in a sandbox.
Thank you to those that attended the 11/28 iPad for Beginners Training. I want to make sure and answer the questions that were posted at app.gosoapbox.com. If you want to leave additional comments or respond to others, the event code again is ipad1128. You can view and comment for the next 30 days.
The questions are:
1. How do students use voice recognition with an iPad?
2 What are some good Deaf and Hard of Hearing Apps?
3. What apps are good for reading fluency?
Q. How do students use voice recognition with an iPad?
A. That depends on the iPad model and iOS version that you are running. Thinking of my very confusing sandbox metaphor, for the first two versions of the iPad, so the iPad1 and iPad2, voice recognition or speech to text is provided by downloading an app. The best one is the free Dragon Dictation app. It requires a WiFi connection to work. You can only create text within that app (in it's own sandbox). To use the text in a word processing program, you need to copy and paste the text into another program. To do this, after you have created some text in the Dragon Dictation app, you touch the screen until a box pops up and gives you choices to select, copy, etc. You select all and then "copy" like in the screen shot below and then when you go to another app, you touch the screen and select "paste". Some word processing programs include Pages $9.99, Cloud-On and QuickOffice HD for $19.99. The issue with Pages is that it doesn't integrate will with cloud storage options, so you have to email or have an AirPlay enabled printer to print. Cloud-On requires an account and WiFi. Both QuickOffice and Cloud-On integrate well with cloud storage programs.
If you have an iPad 3 or newer and iOS 6 - the updated software version, then speech to text is built into the operating system and appears where ever the onscreen keyboard pops up. You'll see a little mic like the one pictured in red below. By tapping the mic, you can use voice recognition. Using a speaker with mic can increase the accuracy. It's always a good idea to have students listen back to their writing, have them use the speech to text. Tap the screen with the text select it and then click "speak". This is where it is important in your accessibility settings to have speech and highlighting on.
Q. What apps are available for the the Deaf and Hard of Hearing? Because the DHH population is so diverse, the apps that support this group really depend on what the student needs. Here is one app list. Here is a top 10 list from the AT Coalition.
Here is an app list specifically geared for students from several DHH teachers in Virginia.
The iPad or iPod can be useful for recording lectures that can be amplified. Also, having a teacher use a Bluetooth headset and voice recognition software - especially with Dragon Dictate during lectures, a student can have live captioning.
Q. What are some good reading fluency apps? While there are numerous reading apps available, most are typically geared for younger readers and few are specifically targeted for reading fluency. One app is the free k12 Timed Reader. This app has 250 different short stories that students practice reading but is appropriate up to 4th grade.
Fluency $2.99 is another app that takes a different approach by having the teacher provide the reading scripts saving them in Dropbox and the student open the script in Fluency. The audio is sent to the teacher. The teacher can set up playlists in iTunes to keep an ongoing record of student's fluency readings. Because the teacher sets up the scripts, it is age appropriate for everyone.
On Your Own is a free app from Learning A-Z that comes free if you have a subscription to Reading A-Z and Raz-Kids. The reading material is leveled and age appropriate through middle school. It has an audio recording option that allows teachers to track fluency.
Clarification to creating an iTunes account without a credit card. I apologize for the confusion about how to create an iTunes account without using a credit card through the iPad. Yes, it can be done, here are the directions from Apple. You need to open up and download a free app first and then create an account, not to go through the "create account".
iPad on a holder made of Tinker Toys
iPads and tablets have really been wonderful devices for many people with disabilities. From providing an affordable "voice" for people that couldn't speak to giving people with vision issues a way to independently "see", it is difficult to overstate the possible benefits of these devices.
However, having said this, there are several drawbacks associated with tablets that may not make them an ideal choice for schools and students. For example, to work effectively, you need a robust wireless network, which are expensive to install, manage and maintain. Also, the storage and computing power of tablets is limited as compared to a laptop or desktop computer. Here is an example based upon my own experience. The school district provides me with a 6-year old laptop. Because of software and storage needs, I have added additional RAM and installed a larger hard drive. I was able to do both of these things pretty easily and for around $100. Our Technology Department (TIS) was able to easily copy my existing hard drive and install all of my existing programs and data onto the new drive. This ability has greatly expanded the functional life of this computer by several years.
I have purchased an 32 GB iPad2 to share with teachers and students for AT trials. I have a very limited amount of pictures, music or data. However, I have already had to remove applications because the 32 GB storage was not nearly enough space. I can't install a new hard drive to expand the space - the iPad you purchase is the one you get. When the battery needs to be replaced, I will either need to purchase a specialized kit which will void any warranty or take it to an Apple service provider to get a new battery. Another example, is a first generation iPod. These iPods that are only a few years old can no longer run the current iOS, so they are functionally becoming obsolete as apps are upgraded to run on the newest iOS.
The number of apps available is growing. However, the apps tend to be for "consumption" of materials such as reading email, playing simple games and not necessarily for the "production" of materials. There are exceptional communication and digital story telling applications and the portability and video, audio and editing capacities of tablets and smartphones remarkable. However, there are an amazing number of Web2.0 tools that are largely free that can't be accessed by tablets. This may change as tablets are being created with more powerful Intel chips that support full use of the internet including Flash and Java.
So when making decisions about what best works, we need to focus on what a students needs as a tool and not what is the current fad.
Hand taking out a book from a stack of books.
Many are saying that the printed text-book is obsolete and will be replaced by digital text within the next decade. For students with print disabilities this could not happen soon enough. Digital text provides student the ability to have it read to them, to change the contrast, to take notes, high light passages, get instant definitions, have audio recordings. However, one issue is the lack of availability at schools of digital text and the equipment needed to use them. Many publishers intentionally "lock" their materials into an inaccessible format that cannot be used by text to speech readers.
Below are examples and resources for getting and using digital text.
For students with a print disability and qualify under the Chafee Amendment, free materials are available through the following resources . Additional information is on the Reading section of this website
bookshare.org Contact ATAAC for getting students signed up and for training to use Bookshare. Bookshare is currently free to schools and qualifying individuals.
Accessible Book Collection is especially useful for elementary students with thousands of books available. $50 annual subscription for schools and individuals. Versions of the books are available for Clicker, Boardmaker and Classroom Suite.
California Department of Education has text books available in large print, braille and e-text. Contact ATAAC for how to download electronic materials.
Learning Ally (formally Reading for the Blind and Dyslexic) this service provides audio versions of books with human voices.
A list of other websites is available in the Reading section.
Here is an example of a teacher providing digital text as an option in her classroom.
This blog will contain helpful AT updates as well as to answer questions submitted to the ATAAC Team.