When I sat down to look at what I had bookmarked this past week- Assistive Technology was clearly on my mind. I had read this article about video games having to be compliant with AT regulations. Essentially, the law enacted in 2010 said all the communication technology - eg. instant messaging, etc, used in video games had to be accessible. In 2012, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted rules that required these communication devices services and equipment to be accessible to persons with disabilities. Until earlier this year, the FCC had waived the ACS accessibility requirements for video game software. However, and here's the good news- now it is required! Let's see if it is actually enforced.
New AT tools from Google
This is an excellent synopsis of 11 different Assistive Tech Tools that you can use with Chrome or with Android devices.
Action Blocks is a feature that is designed for people with a cognitive disability (or their caregivers) is basically a way to pull all the various steps of a command into one easy to identify icon. Very cool idea to make things more accessible for all and to provide necessary independence.
ReadWorks has Audiobooks!
ReadWorks offers excellent free resources and has now added audio books. Check out the video here. Remember, although ReadWorks is a great source of leveled reading books, and passages, it's not just for students who are struggling with decoding and comprehension. All students can benefit from ReadWorks. They make it easy for teachers to find appropriate materials and help to pair texts as well.
Use Makey Makey to Create AT devices
I caught a few of Richard Byrne's Creativity Conference presentations live, including this one. If you have never tried MakeyMakey, it's easy to use and lots of fun. I like the way Art Spencer, the presenter, emphasizes empathy in the design process and uses MakeyMakey to create devices that are more accessible to students.
Listenwise will have Lexile Levels soon
We all know that listening to reading passages almost always increases comprehension levels. The last time I did a uPAR test with students at my school more than 88% of students showed an increase in comprehension scores. ListenWise may be something for you to investigate. The basic teacher account is free- no student accounts, and the premium version is a bit pricey. Check it out, try a pilot, free trial and see if this is a tool for you.
Learning 4 All
Just something to put on your calendar. Learning 4 All (formerly known as 4T: Teachers Teaching Teachers about Technology), is a free virtual conference coming up in February.
Check it out and register here.
Veterans Day Reading Passages
Getting Started with Google Sheets
Brain Pop Standards Alignment
New Tool from EdCite
Articles I've Been Reading
Social Media Has Not Destroyed A Generation
Leveled Reading Groups Don't Work. Why Aren't We Talking About it?
AR/VR in K-12 Virtual Summit
The Global Education Conference
Coming up November 18-20. Register here.
Upcoming Assistive Technology Webinars
Click on image for live links
2019 STEM for All Video Showcase
Every year NSF sponsored video projects are displayed in a giant video showcase. Enjoy, learn, get new ideas...
From the website:stemforall2019.videohall.com/ "More than 240 federally funded projects, highlighting innovations in STEM education, share short videos of their work. Researchers, practitioners, policy makers and the general public are invited to post to the discussions. Share your perspectives, ideas and feedback. Vote for your favorites. Voting and discussion ends on May 20 at 8PM EDT."
Build a Better Book
Related to the STEM for All showcase, I watched a webinar today which featured presenters who have a video in the showcase. The webinar was with Colleen Graves and Stacey Forsyth
and part of the focus was using the Makey Makey. What I really liked about this project- it involves students in improving accessibility for others.
This is a blurb from the project website to give you a brief overview:
"The Build a Better Book project works with school and library Makerspaces to engage youth in the design and fabrication of inclusive media, including picture books, games and graphics. Using both low- and high-tech Makerspace tools, such as 3D printers, laser cutters, Makey Makeys, conductive boards and craft materials, youth design, fabricate, test and refine multi-modal books, games and STEM graphics that incorporate tactile and audio features. These products are designed by and for learners with visual impairments as well as other physical and learning disabilities. Through the project, middle and high school youth develop technology skills and learn about STEM careers as they design and create multi-modal picture books, graphics and games that can be seen, touched and heard!"
The link to the showcase presentation is https://stemforall2019.videohall.com/presentations/1438.
The project website link is: https://www.colorado.edu/project/bbb/
Don't miss the project gallery https://www.colorado.edu/project/bbb/design-gallery
This film has been around for a couple of years. I have yet to see it in an IMAX theater. Next time someone takes a class to the Boston Science Museum... Anyway, the film is inspiring and they have created an excellent pool of resources for educators. They have free teacher's guide with step by step lesson plans. " It includes multidisciplinary activities for students in grades K–12 and has been written to meet Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), as well as common state science objectives. Each lesson presents students with an engineering challenge inspired by the work of real engineers and can be used to help introduce the engineering mindset to the classroom or your home. " Access the guide from the website. They also have a series of short videos to introduce topics as well as 10 hands-on activities. You can go even further with an additional 30 activities from film partner DiscoverE’s website:
http://www.discovere.org/dreambig/activities. Well worth your time!
Global Problem Solvers
Science Buddies has teamed up with Cisco to create a free STEM Superheros video series. Here's the blurb: "A free animated series from Cisco emphasizes teamwork, social, and creative skills in solving world challenges. With a team of teens each with a real-world superpower, the GPS series educates kids about STEM-based problem solving and social entrepreneurship and inspires them to find and use their own superpowers."
Check out what they have to offer here.
Ideas to Share
Global Accessibility Awareness Day
National Day of Action
Teach With Tech Conference
Using Google Tools to Support Writing
Wait! I Can Run Linux on a Chromebook??
Monica Burns shared a free resource this past week that she has created. "This book is for educators working with students of all ages, especially those in a Chromebook classroom. This free ebook is called Using Book Creator for Formative Assessment: 15 Tips for Checking for Understanding." Read more about it and download this free resource on her blog, then head right over to Book Creator and read more about using Book Creator and Adobe Spark
We are reminded that this week is Assistive Technology Awareness Month by Leslie DiChiara. She shared a great intro to AT video by Chris Bugaj on herblog. Just a reminder, CTD has an excellent library of Assistive Tech resources, including Quick Takes.
It would be hard for me to decide which one of the new-to-me tools I learned about this week is the coolest.
I really loved Jen Giffen's quick post about PDF Candy. I have the full version of Adobe Acrobat at home, but not at school. It drives me crazy when I need/want to make changes to a pdf and cannot do it right away. This tool may solve that problem. It's called PDF Candy. Just head over to the site, choose what you need/want to do with the pdf and click on it. You upload your PDF, make changes and download it. If you don't want to wait, there is also a free downloadable program for Windows. Check it out here.
Another cool tool I learned about is actually software called Pepakura Designer. It is used to take a 3D file, for example a file from Tinkercad, and"unfold" it to make a 2D paper design which can then be printed and folded. I see this as a great way to do some rapid prototyping vs the much slower and more costly 3D printing. I haven't tried it out yet, but check out Stu Lowe's Tweet.
Merge Cube-Co-Spaces Add-on
This new add-on has been released and so far, it is getting great reviews. I tried Co-Spaces back when it first came out, but it took forever to load for me. Partially because I have pokey internet, but it seemed cool, but clunky. It has come a long way. I am not a huge Merge Cube fan, but I know some teachers- and some students love them and have found great value in using them to demonstrate learning. This new combo sounds great- and easy to do. However, the caveat is that you need a Pro license. This is for a minimum of 30 students and will cost $105/year. Check out the video below and see what you think.
A few years ago, I backed the Neuron on Kickstarter. It's still in the box. But, after watching this little guy programming with Neuron and Swift playground, it's got to come out of the box, even if I just bring it to school and let some brilliant students give it a go. If you're wondering- Neuron is a lot like Little Bits- but it seems sturdier to me.
Articles to Ponder
Last week I noticed an article by George Couros about balance. I first met George back when Beth Still brought him to ISTE (it may have still been NECC), as the "newbie". Little did I know that Alec's little brother was going to go on to become a rock star educator. But, Balance: This is a goal of mine, so I was interested to see what George said. I was struck by his first paragraph: “Balance is stupid.”
Of course, he goes on to talk more about this and about how he now views balance today. Then I saw another article by John Spencer who delved into this same topic. Take the time to read his whole article. Or... just watch the video below- then go read the whole article, it's worth your time.
Before I get to the notebook topic... check out my friend Mike's podcast on Assistive Tech.
Assistive Technology- what is it? Is it just for SPED? Check out this podcast from my friend Mike Marotta with Jennifer Cronk. He is an AT specialist from New Jersey and is well known both nationally and internationally for his AT expertise. I love hearing him talk about Google Keep, one of my favorites. This is part 2 of a series. You can check out Part 1 and all the other podcast episodes here.
Notebooks- Paper or ?
You can read all sides of the paperless classroom debate online, (here, here, here) Should we all be paperless? Do students retain information best when they interact with it by writing it down or ? I would love to get rid of so much of the paper that clogs up my life as an educator. Do we really need to fill out paper forms, keep the pink copy, send the blue one here, the white one there and oh yeah, the yellow one goes to so and so? Do students need to print out all of their assignments that they created digitally and turn them in? Everyone has their own answers. Today, as I play catch up- writing my Tech Tuesday post on a snowy Wednesday, I was looking again at the Rocketbook and other "new notebooks".
I am a believer in writing things down to remember them. I like to have notes from meetings. It kind of gives me something to do while I sit there. I don't mean looking at the board or slide deck and writing all the stuff down that I will also have a digital copy of later, but writing down the highlights, writing down my questions, drawing myself a picture. I also need to write down reminders to myself. I like to make lists. I am a big fan of Google Keep. However, sometimes, having your computer open on the table makes people think you're not listening and honestly- it can be a distraction. This may be just the culture at my current school, but I think not. I have tried out Livescribe Pens and love them- but, I don't usually need to go back and listen to that recording again. Maybe if I was using them in a class I would find them more useful. I did find the little recording dots useful to make books more accessible. There are also some privacy issues around recording in a meeting or a classroom setting.
So- Rocketbooks. I first saw these on Kickstarter a while back. They were the kind you put in the microwave to erase. I thought it was clever, but a bit silly. However, the new version seems to have potential. These are notebooks that feel like real paper, and supposedly can be infinitely reused by simply wiping the pages with a damp cloth after uploading the scanned pages. You can upload the notes to Google Drive and many other cloud platforms- not Google Keep- yet. It does not OCR the notes. This is something I would love to see. If only you could upload to Google Keep... OCR and flip to Google Drive. But- check them out here.
Blackboard™ by Boogie Board™ is an alternative electronic writing tool which can be used to plan, sketch, and design featuring Liquid Crystal Paper™. I first saw this at Hopkins when the rep from Barnes and Noble came to demonstrate tech tools. It did not overwhelm me, but since then I have heard good reviews from other educators. Check it out here.
Google Edu in 90
It is pretty much impossible to keep up with all the changes in edtech. I depend on my PLN. I get daily emails from the bloggers that I choose to follow, check in on Twitter, Google +, various FB groups, and on and on... Google Edu in 90 can help. It can give you a quick overview in 90 seconds. You can read more about it here. Here's one of the most recent examples. You can sign up to get the Google Edu newsletters and see the past issues here.
Excellent PD Opportunity
I attended this digital conference last year and this year it looks even better! I didn't have a chance to attend this weekend, so I have some catching up to do. "The Ditch That Textbook Digital Summit is a nine-day, FREE virtual event. It brings together some of the brightest minds in education to discuss technology, pedagogy and more." Sign up here. There are new speakers featured each day. The videos will only be available online til December 31st. Try it- great PD, on your schedule, and it's free.
New Assistive Tech Book
Chris Bugaj has a new assistive technology book coming out in April, but you can pre-order now. I have had the opportunity to read a bunch of different books on various aspects of assistive technology and to be honest- most are just "textbooks"- read 'em once and done. Chris's first book was the standout in a series of typically informative, but boring, textbooks. It was funny; it was informative; it was inspirational. I kept it. I even still look inside it. Now how many textbooks have you used for college or post college courses that you can say that about?
Here's the blurb: " School districts often struggle to develop consistent practices for meeting the assistive needs of special education students. This playful yet professional book will help public school educators select, acquire and implement technology to help all students, but especially those with special needs."
What's blog post without #FlipGrid?
I got to introduce Karly Moura and Sean Fahey on Classroom 2.0 live this weekend. These two educators have been at the forefront of #Flipgrid Fever and have come up with so many ideas that you can take and use tomorrow. This is thelivebinder link from the show. There are resources for all age groups and disciplines. Here's a whole padlet full of ideas embedded below.
But- what I wanted to tell you- something new this month is the ability to get
transcriptions of the videos- automatically- in 26 different languages!! You can set up captioning in the admin panel. It worked well for me in English- although I don't know how to tell it to put in punctuation, etc. I tried speaking English and having it transcribe in French. It didn't look to me like it translates and transcribes, only transcribes, but I could be wrong. Play with it and see. My thought was that this could be a way to make the videos more accessible- with the captions. Have to check this one with my AT experts and let you know.
A Welcome Addition to Osmo
I just got myCoding Duo game pieces and downloaded the new app. This is the latest game from Osmo and I think it's one of their better games. It is a "collaborative coding experience that features Awbie and Mo, and is designed for all kids who love Osmo Coding. " The coding game introduced last year is fun, but it's meant for an individual to use. This game is collaborative by design. You do need to have both the Awbie coding game and the Coding Jam game in order to play (you use those game pieces). While I am not a fan of the Coding Jam game, not having a musical bone in my body, using the pieces for this collaborative game was fun! With the exception of the Hot Wheels Mind Racer game (what were they thinking??), the entire line of Osmo games can be a welcome addition in the classroom.