AEM Grant Deadline 9/28 and Notes in iOS9

Are you ready to take the next step towards accurately identifying students who need reading accommodations and determining, which accommodations they receive most benefit from.  Then you need the PATINS 2015 AEMing for Achievement Grant.  PATINS – ICAM provide this guidance, technical assistance and access to uPAR and Snap & Read at no cost to your district beginning October 5th and continuing until you feel successful and comfortable or until June 30th, 2016.  You’ll have access to uPAR and Snap & Read for a full calendar year from Oct. 5th. 

To receive this grant you have to APPLY NOW!

Every Wednesday from 8-9pm I participate in #ATchat on Twitter.  This week we spoke about iOS 9 and the updates it is bringing.  Here is one of my favorites:

What’s New in iOS 9 for Accessibility, Luis Perez:

For more information:  25 new iOS 9 features that are rocking our world.

Notes on the iPad and iPhone has been upgraded.  It has some fun and functional new features like formatting and sketches!  Read all about it here:  Meet the new notes.


Does AT make a difference?

This is the question asked by Karen Janowski in her recent “Teaching Every Student Blog”.  As you can guess, the answer is a resounding YES!  As we start this new year it is something that we who see it every day should take the time to pass on to our peers.  The importance of Assistive Technology to our students is immediate and essential to their ability to learn.  If you are looking for examples to inspire those who have doubts, please share the following:  Karen Janowski

There are many ways to go about choosing the best assistive technology.  The following guidelines and resources are my favorite and they are all cost free!

  • PATINS  If you are a public educator in the state of Indiana, please contact your Regional Coordinator for any assistance you may need.  From suggestions to borrowing a specific piece of technology, we are there to help!
  • SETT Framework – Student, Environments, Tasks, and Tools: A guideline that puts choosing AT in perspective.
  • Reading – Does the student qualify for Accessible Educational Materials?  Would they benefit from them?
    • AIM Explorer – “a free simulation that combines grade-leveled digital text with access features common to most text readers and other supported reading software. Magnification, custom text and background colors, text-to-speech (synthetic and human), text highlighting, and layout options are presented in a logical sequence to help struggling readers decide which of these supports might help them to access and understand text.”
    • PAR (Protocol for Accommodations in Reading) – Don Johnston Inc.  “The PAR manual helps you determine the most suitable reading accommodations for specific students by assessing their individual needs. Anyone on the IEP team can administer PAR to systematize how reading accommodations are recommended on a student level or across the school district.”

There are a lot of new teachers out there this year.  Don’t assume that they are familiar with these resources and PATINS.  Continue to be a good role model for them and pass this information along as needed.

Happy New Year - with confetti Have an outstanding 2015/16!






Summertime = Training time!

The Indiana Department of Education, Summer of eLearning 2015 is on and the PATINS Project Coordinators are presenting all over.  Here’s a quick look at where to find us!  Here is a link for more details on the conferences and their content.

Where to find us!

6/8              Greencastle Tech Con. – Greencastle High School

6/9              iPossibilities and Beyond – Center Grove High School

6/9 & 10      Connecting the 4C’s Conference –  Mt. Vernon Sr. High School

6/10 & 11    WISE15 – Northfield Jr/Sr High School

6/10 & 11    Making a Splash with Digital Learning – Batesville High School

6/11 & 12    WeLearn – Yorktown High School

6/14 & 15    We R Richmond Tech Expo - Richmond High School

6/15 & 16    Empowering Students With Technology – Lawrence North High School

6/16 & 17    eLEAD Madison County – Anderson University

6/16 & 17    iPadpaloozaIN –  Noblesville High School

6/23 & 24    Digipalooza – Scottsburg Middle School

6/25 & 26    PV trAnSfoRM eLearning Conference – South Vermillion Middle School

7/8 & 9        EVSC eRevolution Teaching & Learning Conference- Evansville North H.S.

7/9              Google EdCamp – Chapel Hill 7-8th Center

7/14             Indianapolis Public Schools – Elementary Grades Special Education,

7/14 & 15    We R Richmond eLearning Expo – Richmond High School

7/14 & 15   AlicElearning Blended Learning in the eWonderland – Clark Middle School, Vincennes

7/16            Indianapolis Public Schools – Upper Grades Special Education

7/21            IntegratED – East Noble High School

7/27 & 28    e3 Tech Conference – Warsaw Community High School

7/24           Clark County Connected Conference – Jefferson High School

What are we talking about?

Good AEM Makes A Difference

Sifting Through eReader Apps

iPads and UDL


Top Ten Ways to Access the iPad

iPad Accessibility for All

Avatars in the Classroom

UDL – Unpacked and Simplified, Chromebook

Chrome Web Store and Accessibility

Would you like to see one of these trainings at your school?  Please contact any of us and we’ll make it happen!


“Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t.” – Bill Nye

When I sit down to write this blog I go back through a folder of ideas, surf popular sites and look through my email.  Yesterday, NE Coordinator Julie Kuhn sent us all an article from EdSurge called, “Eyes Don’t Lie: A New Way to Use Gaze Tracking in the Classroom”  The article details the premise of two studies by Lucia Mason of the University of Padova.  In this research, eye tracking technology is used to track the reading of accomplished readers and then played back to train struggling readers.  Grad Students were used as accomplished readers and the amount of time they spent on specific phrases and concepts while reading was the information being sought.  This article brought to mind a couple of topics I would like to address as well as one of my favorite quotes, from one of my favorite guys, Bill Nye, Science Guy and CEO of the Planetary Society.

New Look +

As you may have noticed, the Rapid Fire Blog has a new look.  As of July, it will begin having some new authors.  All of the PATINS Coordinators will be taking turns writing.  It will still be published weekly, but with several different minds taking on the task of publishing information relevant to it’s readers.  Stay tuned, this is the start of something BIG!

Wait times for popular items

We never know what equipment teachers are going to want to try with students.  One of the more popular items for the PATINS Library has been eye tracking technology, or eye gaze technology.  At times these devices are waitlisted for 6 to 12 weeks.  When you find yourself at the long end of the waiting list, please take this time to connect with your Regional Coordinator.  We may be able to come up with a different solution or find a different device that will satisfy your needs.

App of the Week!

Cartoon picture of Bill Nye with red bow tie Bill Nye the Science Guy App!  – Free

This is a fun science discovery app.  As we look to summer and finding good apps that help children explore the world around them.  This one would be on my list.  Also, the original TV series videos can be found on NetFlix and in less accessible forms on YouTube.

Transition Time

screenshot from Transition video.  Shows a hand drawing the characters from the clip


New Transition Video

Today in my email I received a link to the video, “Working with Indiana Vocational Rehabilitation Services” from, The Center on Living and Careers.  They have released this video to help teachers, students, families and any other potential VR consumers be aware of and better understand its services.  The post describes the video as, “Developed by the Center on Community Living and Careers (CCLC) and Draw4, an animation/illustration company, this 4 ½ minutes video demonstrates the VR process, discusses eligibility criteria, and explains how VR can help people with disabilities who want to gain skills, find a job after high school or college, start a new career, or even help get a new job if they’ve lost one because of their disability.”  This is a great tool for all of those students and their parents, getting ready for the big transition.  Follow this link to view the video.  Unlike other great videos, (Simply Said: Introducing Vocational Rehabilitation Services) This video is all about Indiana’s services and contains the appropriate links to services Indiana families can use.   


Have you ever tried LiveBinders? Here is a Google search that will give you several great resources to investigate.  LiveBinders are described as, “your 3-ring binder for the web”.  It is an app dedicated to organizing the internet for you.  Similar to Pinterest, it gives you even greater ability to curate your links.  Here is one that was created to curate “Apps for Career Education”.

App of the Week!

You know you love it!  You want to use it.  But it is soooo snarky!  Let Me Google That For You is not just for sarcasm.  It is a good way to easily send a search that retrieved more than one great site.  Sometimes you just have to show off your impressive Google search skills!  Just be sure the person that is receiving the link can handle the little sarcastic jab at the end.

Screenshot 2015-04-28 09.41.45

Think Spring & Summer!

It’s coming, I promise!  

Single Crocus growing in snow

A sure indicator of Spring!

It’s time to register for the 2015 PATINS Tech Expo!

SAVE THE DATE : April 23, 2015


Wyndham Indianapolis West

2544 Executive Drive

Indianapolis, IN 46241

As in the past…

  • No Registration Fee!
  • Complimentary Lunch
  • Free Parking
  • Vendor Presentations
  • Vendor Exhibit Hall
  • Door Prizes
  • Networking with Colleagues from around the State

FREE Attendee Registration is now open.

Summer Camps

I opened up my email this morning and read the Indiana Resource Center for Autism’s, IRCA Reporter E-Newsletter.  In it they share a list of “Summer 2015 Camps and Programs”.  Who doesn’t need to think about summer right about now?  You remember summer, right?  So here is a link to help get you into a happier state of mind!

I have high hopes!

I am a big fan of taking mainstream media (Movies) and using them to help engage students.  Pixar Studios has one coming out June 19th that I have high hopes for.  It is called Inside Out.  I have linked a couple of trailers!  Enjoy!

Inside Out: US Teaser Trailer                         Inside Out Official Puppy Bowl TV Spot


Inside Out - Emotion Poster

Chromebooks and Accessible Educational Materials

Don’t think of a Chromebook as a computer. It is a device whose purpose when you turn it on is to find an Internet connection and run on Google’s Chrome operating system (OS). Most of Chromebook’s documents and apps exist in the cloud. The only native app is the Google Chrome Internet browser. Everything else is composed of Web apps (email, photos, documents), or apps and extensions that run while you’re connected to a network. You can still compose and read emails with Gmail and word process with Google Docs. The offline apps will automatically sync and save when your computer has an Internet connection.

The Chromebook does not have the programming or the ability to link to a program that will unlock a NIMAS file. The file will need to be unlocked preferably using a windows machine and then saved to Google Drive as an epub or a pdf.

Once the file is unlocked, and in Google Drive. Right click on the “doc icon”
You should see “open with” and an arrow pointing right. One of your choices should be Read&Write for Google by Texthelp. It is the best app that I have found for reading epub’s and pdf’s or anything else on a Chromebook.

To download the free version from the Chrome Web Store follow this link: this free version will allow students to have text highlighted as it is read.

Teachers can have a full year free of the premium version. After downloading the free version, go here:

For more information on the features of Read&Write for Google follow this link:

Troubleshooting If you right click and do not see Read&Write for Google as an option:

• Check to see that the green and yellow flag is in the address bar. Many times after an app or extension is downloaded it is necessary to shut Chrome down and reboot in order for the extension to load for the first time.

• If the flag is there then follow the instructions in this video to choose Read&Write for Google as one of your default options. (This video also has many good tips and is worth watching.)

Important Information from the Department of Education

On August 28, 2014 the Indiana Department of Education received word from the United States Department of Education that Indiana had received an ESEA Flexibility Waiver from certain aspects of the federal No Child Left Behind law. This gives local schools continued flexibility in how they utilize federal funding and allows more funding decisions to be made at the local level. The waiver is organized into three principles: 1) College-and –Career Ready Standards and Assessments; 2) State-Developed Differentiated Recognition, Accountability, and Support; and 3) Supporting Effective Instruction and Leadership.  The Indiana Department of Education’s Office of Special Education has collaborated to create a webpage to provide more information for families and educators of special populations of students with respect to the waiver: The actual waiver may be accessed at:

10 Things I Learned Over Winter Break!

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!  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.

Preparation is Key

Last night while on Facebook I saw this posting…

Prepare yourself mentally for sewing.  Think about what you are going to do...  Never approach sewing with a sigh or lackadaisically.  Good results are difficult when indifference predominates.          Never try to sew with t a sink full of dirty dishes or beds unmade.  When there are urgent housekeeping chores, do these first so your mind is free to enjoy your sewing.  When you sew, make yourself as attractive as possible.  Put on a clean dress.  Keep a little bag full of french chalk near your sewing machine to dust your fingers at intervals.  Have your hair in order, powder and lipstick put on.  If you are constantly fearful that a visitor will drop in or your husband will come home, and you will not look neatly put together, you will not enjoy your sewing.

At first, I laughed and figured the lack of lipstick and powder were the reason I had never been able to sew.  Then I thought about the message behind the words.  Sometimes you have to be in the right state of mind in order to accomplish your goal.  Put an activity you have been trying to accomplish into the first paragraph and it becomes profound.

What is AEM?

If you are following us on Facebook you have heard about our 8 “AEMing for Achievement Grant” school districts.  But what is this AEM?  AIM, Accessible Instructional Materials, has become AEM, Accessible Educational Materials.  Same pronunciation, just a bit of clarification.  Our 8 grant awardees and their coordinators are:  Carmel Clay Schools (Sandi, Julie), Frankfort Community Schools (Jim, Sandy), Goodwill Excel Center (Jeff, Sandi), Goshen Community Schools (Julie, Jim), Lawrence Township Schools (Jeff, Sandy), Logansport Community Schools, (Julie, Jim), Perry Township Schools (Sandy, Jeff), and Switzerland County School Corporation (Sandi, Sandy).  For more information on AEM and the National Center on Accessible Educational Materials follow this link,

Free interactive accessible book!

Reach for the Stars - Interactive Accessible Book, Hubble telescope view of the Tarantula Nebula displayed on an iPad

Reach for the Stars: Touch, Look, Listen, Learn is a FREE interactive, fully accessible iBook available on the iPad.  This astronomy book is geared for all 4 – 7th grade students and was specifically created for students with visual impairments.  This book showcases accessible multi-touch images with imbedded sonification (sounds).  Example:  The Hertzsprung-Russell Diagram, a scatter plot, uses pitch to help indicate the brightness relative to the sun – the pitch increases from the bottom to the top of the Y axis; the X axis uses left to right stereo sound to help demonstrate the temperature.  Sounds heard in the left speaker are hotter than sounds heard in the right speaker.

To view the Reach for the Stars promotional video, go to:

To download Reach for the Stars: Touch, Look, Listen, Learn, (remember, this is an iBook available in the iBook store – it is not an app) go to:

Students explore the fundamentals of astronomy, the latest scientific advances, the tools that make those advances possible, and careers in science. They’ll discover how the universe began, how different kinds of stars are born, and how those stars change over the course of their lives. And they’ll take a closer look at the Tarantula Nebula, the largest and most intense region of star formation in the Local Group of galaxies. Reach for the Stars is the perfect resource to expose all students—including those with visual impairments and other print disabilities—to critical STEM content.

Special Features
• Voice-over screen reader on iPad compatibility • Refreshable Braille display compatibility • Sonification of data visualizations • Read-aloud functionality • Captioning • Tactile overlays for interactive images available from National Braille Press