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My subscription to Edublogs was on the blink so I am republishing last weeks post just in case.  

Happy 2nd Semester! 

Last year I noticed that many of my blogs had a Top 10 list.  I felt left out, so I did one too!  Here is the 2nd annual list of 10 things that I learned over the winter break.  

  • I renewed my CPR certificate and found out that if you are assisting someone, they are no longer having a “heart attack” or “cardiac arrest”, we are to just call it a “heart episode”.
  1. The American Heart Association has a 100 beats per minute Spotify Play List on their website to use when doing Hands-Only CPR.  Download it to your playlists and you can have some crazy beats to help you keep time!  “Stayin’ Alive” is not on the list. :-(
  2. The “Achieving a Better Life Experience Act of 2014 (ABLE Act of 2014)” was signed into effect by President Obama on December 19th.  This law removes a “penalty” that caused people with disabilities who saved more than $2,000 to fail to qualify or risk the loss of their Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Medicaid and other benefits.  For more information on how this law may effect your students and their families start HERE.
  3. quietube = The BEST YouTube viewing app EVER!  http://quietube.com/  clean, simple and it will give you a tinyurl too!  Quit reading and go try it.  Be sure to watch the Marmoset video in the example!
  4. For my science teaching friends – Matt Miller and his “Ditch That Textbook” blog brings you 11 class activities with sensors you didn’t know your phone had I didn’t know it had all of those!
  5. A fun and informative top 10 list from 21st Century Educational Technology and Learning both informed me and made me laugh.  Dihydrogen monoxide still makes me laugh too! Facts About Dihydrogen Monoxide, dihydrogen monoxide hoax
  6. I also learned how to create a Jeopardy style game in Google spreadsheets!  Thank you Free Technology for Teachers!
  7. HIMS has HUGE price cuts on their demo models (Braille Sense OnHand – $2000.00 off!)
  8. I can go a full day without a computer or a phone, but people check up on me when I do!
  9. There is a new student centered education-based search engine out there called InstaGrok.  Read about it here.
  10. Best Tech device – Firefly Electric Attachable Handcycle for Wheelchair!  – It is currently unavailable, but I bet it wouldn’t be hard to make!

Woman sitting in a non motorized wheelchair with a single wheel and handlebars in front.

under: apps, funding, General Info, Online Resources, Parents and Families, Samples & Examples, Uncategorized

Transition Event

Posted by: | October 31, 2014 | No Comment |

Hello from the 2014 Transition Event!

Today I am using this post as a demonstration some of the tools that I use when writing formally.  My guests are Southern Indiana High School students.  I am talking about “Assistive Technology in Friendly and Formal Communication”.  I will be speaking about many different ways to make creating this communication easier.  One of the ones that I am showing is the website http://www.hemingwayapp.com/  this site is not browser specific (is not a Chrome app).  Text is copied and pasted over the text on the page and is then analyzed for sentence difficulty, number of adverbs, words or phrases that can be simpler and uses of passive voice.  This is something that I send this blog through prior to publishing.

Did you know that Martha Hammond also writes a blog for PATINS?  I would like to send you there – via link to see what she has written about the big things going on at PATINS.  Her blog is the ICAM Dispatch and is a great companion read to the Rapid Fire Blog!  Enjoy!

ICAM Dispatch Link

Just in case you don’t follow the link, remember…

Picture of NAO Robot

under: apps, General Info, Online Resources, PC, Software, TTA Grant, Uncategorized, Web 3.0 Tools

For the last year I have been teaching educators how to use the Guided Access feature + Timer on the iPad.  Guided access is a wonderful tool for keeping students in the app you would like them to use.  As an added help, the timer feature, located in the clock app on all iPads/phones, will allow the user to place a time limit on the usage of the device.  Together you have an iPad that is locked into an appropriate app for the student and will turn off and be locked when their time is up!  With iOS 8 these functions have been combined into Guided Access.  Now when you triple click the home button to begin Guided Access on the bottom right-hand side of the screen you will see “Time Limit” and “Options”.  Pressing the Options button under Time Limit allows you to set the amount of time you wish the user to be working in that app.  So far, this is my favorite update!

under: apps, General Info, iPads, Uncategorized

Happy New Year!

Posted by: | July 29, 2014 | No Comment |

Happy New Year - with confetti

Here they come!

It’s that time of year again.  You’re excited, admit it.  All those new faces, familiar faces, sounds and challenges.  Part of you thinks, “I could stay on vacation.” Another part (traitor) is excited to get in there.  Whether you’ve been at one of the many summer trainings going on around the state, or you’ve just been reading and thinking.   The teacher in you knows it’s time, and is ready to try those ideas out!

I don’t want to overwhelm you, but… here’s a couple more.  :-)

Let someone else be the bad guy!

The beginning of the year means going over the rules and other necessary, but BORING tasks.  It needs to be done, but maybe you can share the load.  I am a big fan of using avatars to do tasks like this.  My favorite is Voki www.voki.com   I would set up a Voki avatar to tell my students what their bell-ringer activity was.  That way I was free to greet them and be friendly.  As a secondary teacher at the beginning of the year, I would have to repeat my classroom procedures for six different classes.  I made it more interesting by having a diferent Voki avatar read each rule and then I would explain it.

There are several different sites that will allow you to set up a speaking avatar like Voki.  When you have a website, program or application that you like, but would like it to do something just a bit differently, the website “moreofit.com” www.moreofit.com  is the place to search.  Here, from moreofit.com is a link to 500 other popular sites like Voki. http://www.moreofit.com/similar-to/www.voki.com/Top_10_Sites_Like_Voki/

It’s what we do!

Even though it’s a new school year, some things don’t change.  If you are stuck and need a new idea, the PATINS Coordinators are ready to help!  We are all excited and geared up to have a great 2014-15 with you!  

 App of the Week!

Forest Fighter! App graphic with a cartoon plane flying over a forest fire


From the Zyrobotics News Feed:  Forest Fighter!  Has been nominated for a 2014 Summer Award for Best App for Children and Toddlers.  For more information, http://www.bestmobileappawards.com/app-submission/forest-fighter


under: apps, Samples & Examples, Services

Participation Opportunity

Posted by: | February 3, 2014 | No Comment |

Recently, it was pointed out to me that this post would benefit from a few clarifications, these are now included in blue.  Some lines originally posted have been deleted, not because they are inaccurate, but because their positioning within the post contributed to topical confusion. 

The following information comes from postings on The Learning Connection:

Indiana teachers and students will have an opportunity to participate in the NCSC alternate assessment item tryout this spring through pilot testing.

The registration window for the NCSC Phase 1 Pilot has been extended until February 7, 2014. 

The items will be presented to students online through the NCSC comprehensive assessment system, and test examiners will work one-on-one with students to administer the assessment based on individual student needs. It is important to note that the NCSC AA-AAS is a student-response assessment.

The NCSC pilot tests, as well as the operational assessment, are designed to be administered in approximately 11⁄2 to 2 hours. The Mathematics and English Language Arts pilot tests will occur this spring—Mathematics in March, and English Language Arts in April. Participation in the pilot testing provides a unique opportunity for both teachers and students to become familiar with alternate assessment based on college- and career-ready standards. More importantly, teachers can observe the level of student engagement and the nature of student responses during the pilot test. (Note: The number of teacher and student participants is locally determined.)

As NCSC will utilize matrix sampling during the pilot administration, each student will participate in only a portion of the pilot items, and individual student score reports will not be available. High-level, skill-based data will be shared following the pilot.

Indicating Interest:  Administrators, if any of your teachers are interested in participating in the NCSC alternate assessment pilot test this spring, please complete the survey at:


Your input is very important!

You and your students can help make this a better assessment by being a part of the pilot testing.  Only students currently taking the ISTAR test will be qualify to participate in the NCSC Phase 1 Pilot.  Students currently tested through the IMAST test would not qualify.


App of the Week!

Weather Underground App Weather Undergound app (for ipad/phone & android) FREE

With the weather the way it has been this year, we all need an accurate meteorologist in our pocket!  This is the app!  The current condition map can be modified to show fronts and weather stations.  Really beneficial for teaching weather and visualizing conditions!






under: apps, General Info, NCSC

AT for LD

Posted by: | January 27, 2014 | 2 Comments |

I think they forgot to mention us!

I read a lot of articles and blogs on the web.  The National Center for Learning Disabilities is a wonderful resource for all things LD.  This is a handy tip list of ways to help your child (or student).  I really appreciate #1, “If you’re just starting to investigate assistive technology, make sure you understand the basics—what AT can and cannot do.”  I think they should have put something about talking to your PATINS Coordinator after that!As educators we all know that we spend time teaching students how to use a textbook.  We do not expect them to know what bolded words mean, what can be found in the appendix, or even how to read the chapter.  We seem to forget that we need to teach students the ins and outs of using technology.  Not just how to use it, but when it is replacing or modifying something they have been using up to this point.  The student may just need validation that they are indeed using the device at the right time and correctly.  It is as awkward for them as it is for you.  PATINS is always ready to help you become the expert.  Here is the link to the rest of the article.


Another resource comes from Don Johnston, it is a literacy curriculum selector chart.  It is a part of the extras and support for their reading programs, but it highlights different skills and shows what materials target those skills.  Not just their products, but others as well.  Very handy!



Follow us on Twitter!  #patinsicam

Sandy = @patinsproject

Sandi = @smahlstuff

Julie = @nepatins

Jeff = @cepatins

App of the WEEK!

Screenshot 2014-01-27 09.35.26CLAPMERA  – FREE!

Clapmera allows you to take video, photo bursts, and single pictures by clapping your hands.



under: 21st Century Skills, apps, AT Conferences, General Info, Online Resources, Parents, Parents and Families, Uncategorized

Here are some of the many things I learned over Winter Break!

  1. Google as a timer:  Type the word “Timer:” and the amount of time you want counted.  Be sure to type the minutes and seconds: “timer: 3 minutes 30 seconds” works but  “timer: 3:30″ makes it think you want to know how long until the time 3:20.  This could also useful if you are counting down to the end of the school day!  If you have gone back yet!
  2. From Freedom Scientific:  A free update for JAWS® 15 was released.  You can download the latest version of JAWS at the JAWS download page.  http://www.freedomscientific.com/downloads/jaws/jaws-downloads.asp  Free webinars are available at http://www.freedomscientific.com/Training/JAWS-training.asp
  3. From the QIAT Listserv:  First ever White House Student Film Festival.  They are looking for “videos that highlight the power of technology in schools”.  http://www.whitehouse.gov/filmfestival  Assistive technology counts!
  4. From Diane Ravitch’s Blog/Forbes:  Bill Gates is investing in a “Urine Powered Mobile Phone“.  http://www.forbes.com/sites/timworstall/2013/12/23/bill-gates-invests-in-the-urine-powered-mobile-phone/
  5. From Free Tech for Teachers:  Turn ‘O Phrase  is an online game that helps students understand colloquial phraseshttp://www.freetech4teachers.com/2013/12/turn-o-phrase-helps-students-learn.html#.Us1zP2RDuvM
  6. From OT’s with Apps:  A great way to help students continue to learn how to read. Lyrics App by Tunewiki  http://otswithapps.com/2013/12/22/lyrics-app-by-tunewiki/
  7. From Ed Tech and Mobile Learning:  Easy tools to create your own apps!  http://www.educatorstechnology.com/2014/01/teachers-easy-tools-to-create-their-own.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+educatorstechnology%2FpDkK+%28Educational+Technology+and+Mobile+Learning%29
  8. From OT’s with Apps:  OT Administration Apps list – many of these are great for more than just OTs http://otswithapps.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/ot-mtool-kit-app-list-ot-admin-apps-1-5-2014.pdf
  9. From Friendship Circle:  Top Ten Most Ridiculous Comments Heard at an IEP Meeting  Factual answers to erroneous statements at IEP meetings.  http://www.friendshipcircle.org/blog/2012/01/19/top-ten-most-ridiculous-comments-heard-at-an-iep-meeting/
  10. From Facebook:  Indiana County Travel Status Site  http://www.in.gov/dhs/traveladvisory/

Some of these will be more useful than others, but I hope you find something you can use!  Here’s to a great 2014!

Picture of Sandi Mahl in a casual pose with a brightly colored scarf.

under: apps, General Info, iPads, Online Resources, Parents, PC, Software, Uncategorized

Have some fun!

In these times of school improvement, accountability, and common core standards, the business of educating has become serious business.  However, it is important to remember we are working with children.  Not little learning machines.  Each day when they wake up, children do not think, “I am so looking forward to learning whether I use prepositions correctly!”  They also don’t wake up thinking, “I know this is boring, but I will soldier on because I know that I will be more successful in life if I attend to the content that I will be more than fortunate to have presented to me today.”  Face it, if that was the case the more than 3 million public school teachers in the United States could take a permanent personal day.  Those sweet things could stay at home and teach themselves!  In general, students don’t mind coming to school.  Many come on days they are expelled.  Others hang out there after the day is over.  The environment is great!  This is where their friends are.  They are open to the opportunity to learn.  The teacher’s job is to guide the students toward acquiring the knowledge that our society feels is necessary.  So, if we would like them to choose some of what we are serving, we may want to make it more palatable to them.  Play is the earliest language of learning.   Whenever possible, play or what looks like play is a great way to engage our students in taking a chance on a new activity.

While enticing our students to “play” with an iPad is not a hard task, some of the things that we are asking our students with special needs to do with the iPad are far from playing.  Speech to text is opening up the world of writing to many students, but the actual act of speaking to the iPad or computer is kind of uncomfortable.  Having to practice speaking “correctly” and having it “learn” your voice is something that bores and irritates many students.  So, let’s play!  I just found out that Siri can be used to:  “Flip a coin”, “Roll the Dice” (always a pair of dice and she tells you what each is) and “Pick a number between 1 and 20”.  For the random number you can tell her between 1 and whatever.  Or you can just ask her to pick a number.  You will get other number and random number related information as well.

Here are some more:

  • Boxers or Briefs?
  • Knock Knock
  • What is the best phone?
  • Tell me about yourself Siri.
  • What is the meaning of Life?

My favorite thing to ask her is “Who let the dogs out?”.

For a list of more fun things to ask try this post from “The Cult of Mac”.  Many of these questions have more than one funny answer.  With the promise of receiving a funny response, the student may be more willing to practice their speaking.

Information and Opportunities!

Speaking of Kids… Dec. 3: 11:45-12noon: “iMovie Trailers as a Flexible Response Method.”
Tune in as 10 year old Ella demonstrates LIVE on the internet, the process of using the iMovie app on an iPad as a means of flexible response to instruction, aka. UDL Principle #2! Ella will show a sample movie trailer that she’s created by herself and will then walk viewers through the how-to of creating their own or having their students create their own. Ella says, “these movie trailers can be used for kids to show what they learned or to replace a normal type of project or assignment in school.”
Follow this link at 11:45am EST on Dec. 3 to watch it live for 15 minutes!
or type http://bit.ly/patinstv into your browser.  It is best to be on line at least 5 minutes prior to the start of the program.

If you are not yet registered for the second day of the “PATINS State Conference 2013 Overflow” event, you
CAN still register here until November 30! 

Dec. 5 will feature Dr. Loui Lord Nelson & Jason Carroll.

Dr. Loui Lord Nelson and Jason Carroll are both experienced and sought-after presenters & trainers in the world of UDL and accessible curricula. Dr. Nelson is an Educational Consultant specializing in Universal Design for Learning and just recently completed a post-doctoral fellowship with Boston College and CAST as well as published a book on UDL, “Design and Deliver.” Jason Carroll is an educational consultant with extensive international and national presentation experience and expertise ranging from UDL to specific software tools and more!

In the morning, Dr. Nelson will present “Taking your first steps with UDL: Acknowledging variability”

In the afternoon, Jason will take the UDL concept from the morning and expand on the student engagement piece with specific tools and concepts. The ability to capture learners’ attention in the classroom is one of the most powerful tools in a teacher’s toolkit. With the rapid growth of low/no cost technological tools, the potential to quickly engage students is more reachable than ever. When combined with strategic instruction, desired student outcomes are achieved. In this practical session, Jason will share a variety of tools, apps, and strategies that can be immediately implemented in inclusive and resource settings!

App of the WEEK

Screenshot 2013-11-26 14.44.39

Duck Dynasty Beard Booth App

Have fun today and every day!   beard-booth



under: apps, Online Resources, Samples & Examples, Services, Uncategorized

You can quote me!

Posted by: | November 11, 2013 | No Comment |

Sometimes I say things without passing them through “the filter”.  My friends like to call me on this and then quote me back at good and bad times.  Now they can put it in writing  http://www.recitethis.com/#  I’m sure you can come up with a better use!

We value your input.  Please complete the short evaluation linked below so we can use it to improve our next State Conference.  You will be emailed a Certificate of Participation stating Contact Hours and Profession Growth Points earned by 11/30/13.    Deadline to submit your evaluation is 11/27/13.  http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/StateConf2013Eval

November Featured Vendor

Jim Fortman Vision Aid Systems, Inc.


We continue to spotlight some of the vendors and the assistive technology they offer on PATINS TV.   He will be spotlighting the Braille Edge 40 refreshable braille display, HD Pebble 4.3 and DaVinci OCR/CCTV.  Jim is offering a 5% discount on each product.  Here is the link to the Featured Vendor Page on the PATINS Project website for pictures and more information.

Watch Jim demonstrate his products LIVE on November 19th at 11:45 EST on PATINS TV!


Veterans Day

The Veterans Administration (VA) is a great resource for information on accessibility.  Here is a link to their newsletter 508Xpress.  While you’re there, think about your school’s website.  Is it accessible?  Has your district thought about the information they are sharing with the public and who may need to access it?  The November newsletter is all about this topic and shares free ways to evaluate the accessibility of your website and other documents for the blind and low-vision community.


App of the Week!

Flow App Icon with colored lines connecting dots of the same color.  Flow Free!  There are many varieties of this game across many different platforms and a great many are free.  The object is to connect the colored dots to each other with a large colored line on a grid, without crossing any of the other lines.  The grid and number of colored lines increases as you successfully complete each layout.  Nancy Kimmel out of the Southeast Region mentioned it to me and I am now hooked!  (Thank you Nancy).  It is appropriate for many ages.  I have not included a specific link for any device because there are so many choices and most are free.  Enjoy!

under: apps, General Info, Online Resources, Parents and Families

Extra Extra Read All About It!

Posted by: | November 1, 2013 | 1 Comment |

“Getting information off the Internet is like taking a drink from a fire hydrant.” Mitchell Kapor


Sometimes all it takes is the right search to get the information you need. Other times, it is all about being subscribed to the right blogs or feeds. If you are searching for great information regarding Accessible Instructional Materials (AIM) and Assistive Technology (AT) as well as best practices for all students, here are some great places to start.

PATINS 2013 State Conference – November 4th & 5th It’s Sold Out! – Be sure to sign up early next year!

For those attending this year, don’t miss the DRM Corner Chat!

Digital Rights Manager Corner Chat Area  ICAM with logo IERC with logo PATINS with logo Q and A with the experts!  No appointment needed, just come by and chat about your successes, problems, or to offer suggestions on how to make your role as DRM more effective.


Take a look at the sessions this year on our IOS and Android ready “app” http://www.patinsproject.com/images/stories/2013%20Conference/2013conf.html

Did you know that the Rapid Fire Blog and the ICAM Dispatch can be delivered to your email via subscription?  Follow the link and find the sign up in the upper right hand corner of the blog.

Looking for a more in-depth study – Try this! AT Overview Online Course Module – This is a free self-guided and self-paced training module intended to provide a brief overview of the options for and benefits of assistive technology (AT) in the classroom. You can earn one (1) Indiana Professional Growth Point (PGP) upon completion of the training module and the follow-up survey.

Best way to find it   –     iTunes U link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/course/assistive-technology-overview/id568038787

CIESC  – This summer the PATINS State Program Director’s Office and Central Regional Site, along with CIESC moved to a new location: 6036 Lakeside Blvd., Bldg. A, Indianapolis, IN 46278.

Keep this in mind as you travel to some of the great training opportunities listed in the CIESC Newsletter https://www.dropbox.com/s/6mciukf0ozpc8u3/Newsletter_Oct._2013_sm.pdf

App of the Week!

cartoon drawing of an animal cell with cell membrane nucleus, ribosomes vacuoles and mitochondriaiCell

Free iPad and Android app

Take an look inside animal, plant and bacteria cells.

under: apps, AT Conferences, General Info, iPads, Online Resources, Services

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