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It’s hard to wrap my head around the fact that I’ve been posting to this blog for nearly 4.5 years! For anyone who might be fairly new to the blog, it started as a replacement for sending out emailed newsletters to my contacts in the NE part of the state. At the time, it just made a lot more sense to post that information in a blog format rather than emailed. One of the greatest advantages is that all past information in the blog is archived and searchable by month/year, by keyword, or by category! So, I thought it’d be fun and interesting for this 200th Blog Posting to look back at this day in each of the previous years and see what the buzz was all about at that time! Here we go!
February 3, 2012! For today, as a little bonus, you’re going to get a 2nd, separate, blog posting with lots of great tips including, “2/3/2012: 6 Free Ways to get Books on Your iPad, Mac OS LION Experiences & iBooks Author, Congrats Kristin from Wabash, Digital Learning Day, AIM For Young Children Reminder! “Watch for it to post later today! Also, remember that I post during all months of the year, not just February! So feel free to browse the monthly and yearly archives on the right side of this blog anytime you wish! There just might be some good OLD stuff back there!
Thanks for being a part of the blog over the last several years. Many of you have left comments (though I wish more would) and many have emailed me, met me in person at conferences, etc., and many great discussions around Assistive Technology and Accessible Instructional Materials have resulted!
Even though it’s often a lot of work, it’s been a real pleasure to do the blog each week and it’s something I almost always look forward to! I certainly hope to continue this blog for many years to come! Remember you can always leave comments, questions, suggestions, requests, here on the blog or just click the image below to give us feedback. We’re here to serve you!
Tell PATINS What You Need: If you haven’t done so already, please consider taking 2-3 minutes to fill out this survey for PATINS. We’re trying to prepare trainings that will benefit you most during this school year. Thanks!
iTunes: Create an iTunes account WITHOUT a credit card (Thanks Jeff). iTunes tends to be the easiest, by far, way of working with content and managing your iPads, iPods, iTouches, iPhones, but a lot of people aren’t comfortable putting a personal credit card into iTunes when they create their account. Further, the way I know some school districts are handling the purchasing of APPS is via iTunes Gift cards, which I think is a great idea! Using this method that Jeff found, you don’t need to enter a credit card at all and yet you can still utilize iTunes Gift Cards. I’m doing it myself for PATINS apps that I send out on my loaned iPads and iTouches and it works great! YouTube Demonstration Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mHCTjvzPfKk
Assistive Tech, Accessibility and IEP’s: Do you know what the law says and what best practices are about Assistive Tech and Accessibility being addressed in your Case Conferences and IEPs? I’ve had a few questions in the past couple weeks and I need to make it perfectly clear that I’m no lawyer, that you should contact your district’s legal team and your special education director for specific advice. Additionally, the info here is in no way comprehensive or specific to YOUR district’s requirements. I do, however, have a limited few resources that I thought might be helpful to share:
Most of you probably know this, but I feel like it’s my job to say it leaving the AT section of an IEP blank isn’t just bad practice, it’s likely against the law! AT has to be considered in a case conference, even if no AT is chosen for implementation with that student.
(l) Unless the student’s CCC determines otherwise, the public agency is not responsible to provide basic equipment that may be required at home as well as in the educational setting, such as the following:
(4) Hearing aids.
Here are the definitions in Indiana’s Article 7 for AT Devices and Services:
511 IAC 7-32-7 “Assistive technology device” defined Sec. 7. “Assistive technology device” means any:
(2) piece of equipment; or
(3) product system;
whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of a student with a disability. The term does not include a medical device that is surgically implanted or the replacement of such device.
511 IAC 7-32-8 “Assistive technology service” defined Sec. 8. “Assistive technology service” means any service that directly assists a student with a disability in the selection, acquisition, or use of an assistive technology device. The term includes, but is not limited to, the following:
(1) The evaluation of the needs of a student with a disability, including a functional evaluation of the student in the student’s customary environment.
(2) Purchasing, leasing, or otherwise providing for the acquisition of assistive technology devices for students with disabilities.
(4) Coordinating and using other therapies, interventions, or services with assistive technology devices, such as those associated with existing education and rehabilitation plans and programs.
(5) Training or technical assistance for the following:
(A) A student with a disability or, if appropriate, the student’s family.
(B) Professionals (including individuals providing education or rehabilitation services), employers, or other individuals who provide services to, employ, or are otherwise substantially involved in the major life functions of students with disabilities.
And Further! Here’s SOME of what Indiana’s Article 7 says about UDL and AT:
511 IAC 7-32-102 “Universal design” defined Sec. 102. “Universal design” means a concept or philosophy for designing and delivering products and services that are usable by people with the widest possible range of functional capabilities, which include products and services that are:
(1) directly accessible, without requiring assistive technologies; and
(2) interoperable with assistive technologies.
AND… what Article 7 says about the Case Conference:
(b) When developing a student’s IEP, a CCC must consider the following general factors:
(1) The strengths of the student.
(2) The concerns of the parent for enhancing the education of the student.
(3) The results and instructional implications of the initial or most recent educational evaluation and other assessments of the student.
(C) communication; and
needs of the student.
(c) The CCC must also consider the following special factors when applicable:
(1) Positive behavioral interventions and supports, and other strategies, to address any of the student’s behaviors that impede the student’s learning or the learning of others.
(2) Any supports, under 511 IAC 7-35-2, necessary to provide public agency personnel with the knowledge and skills necessary to implement the student’s IEP.
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(3) The language needs of a student with limited English proficiency as those needs relate to the student’s IEP.
(4) In the case of a student who is deaf or hard of hearing or a student who is deaf-blind, the student’s:
(A) language and communication needs;
(B) opportunities for direct communications with peers and professional personnel in the student’s language and communication mode;
(C) academic level; and
(D) full range of needs;
including opportunities for direct instruction in the student’s language and communication mode.
(5) Instruction in braille and the use of braille for a student who is blind or has low vision or a student who is deaf-blind, unless the CCC determines, after a functional literacy assessment (sometimes referred to as a learning media assessment) of the student’s reading and writing skills, needs, and appropriate reading and writing media (including an evaluation of the student’s future needs for instruction in braille or the use of braille), that instruction in braille or the use of braille is not appropriate for the student.
(6) The student’s need for assistive technology devices and services.
(7) The IFSP for students who are transitioning from early intervention programs under Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 20 U.S.C. 1400 et seq.
REMEMBER PATINS has FIVE Lending Libraries of Hardware and Software that you’re welcome to borrow from us to trial with your students for 6 Weeks at a time, FREE OF CHARGE! Search our online Lending Library Catalog here: www.patinsproject.com/lending.html. If you want something that we don’t have (unlikely) let us know! There’s always a chance we can get it for you to trial BEFORE your district spends valuable funds on it. Contact us if you have questions. We can help with ideas for you to try with a students as well!
Just want to share that the AirSet for iPhone feature is now available to all AirSet users! AirSet for iPhone automatically pushes new contacts and calendar events over the air to your iPhone, so the Calendar and Contacts on your iPhone is always up-to-date. Moreover, you can make updates to your AirSet Calendar and Contacts directly from your iPhone. Learn more about this feature here: http://getsatisfaction.com/airset/top…
Free OCR/Scanning Online: You’re limited to a certain number of pages per month, so this is not your answer if you’re needing to scan lots of pages. However, it is a free and very easy way to handle a few pages here and there as classroom teachers need to make pages, worksheets, tests, quizzes, etc., more accessible. www.abbyyonline.com
Google Notebook may not be one of the more common Google tools, but it is free and could be very useful to some of our students as well as for our own professional needs. This from the Google Notebook description:
Google Notebook helps you collect notes and information from the web for anything you might be doing—researching a trip, planning a purchase, or putting together a dinner party.
You can access your notebooks from any computer or from your mobile phone. You can even share your notebooks with your friends!
So, this tool could easily be used by students when they are researching online, gathering information for a podcast, blog or paper. Students can collaborate with one another using the Google Notebook and also with you, with parents, etc. Additionally, you can share and collaborate with colleagues as professional development funds disappear and opportunities to network with other professionals decrease. www.google.com/googlenotebook/faq.html
2008 CASE Conference:Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of this week I’ve been attending the Council of Administrators of Special Education Conference in S. Carolina and I just need to say that special educators are the neatest people! I got to meet one very knowledgable gentleman from New York, who is a regular reader of this blog and another great Director of Special Education from our very own Anderson, Indiana!
The focus here is largely on data driven practices and RTI. My session here focused on how RTI, UDL and AT should co-exist and how the professionals working in each of those areas should be well aware of whats happening in the other groups to help reduce the duplication of services and efforts and to improve efficiency. What I’ve found with many of the school systems I’ve talked to is that the UDL folks don’t know the RTI folks and then there are AT folks sprinkled in who may not be familiar with either the RTI or the UDL groups in their buildings or districts.
A highlight from the conference: As a teacher, I’ve always felt that if my students weren’t learning, it was almost always because I had not been creative, skillful or determined enough with their instruction. It’s encouraging to me now to see that RTI/UDL issues are forcing us all to really consider blaming our curriculum, our instructional methods, assessment methods and our materials rather than blaming our students for a lack of performance/achievment. The notion that the curriculum or that the instruction is disabled, rather than the student is a very interesting one worthy of serious consideration. This was reinforced by one of the keynote speakers who gave a special education law update. One of the letters quoted (OSEP 2008) specifically addressed this issue of underachievement vs. lack of appropriate instruction! Of course, part of appropriate instruction, to me, would also include the intenstive and systematic implementation of various assistive technologies, methods/materials that are 21st Century compatible and obviously a Universally Designed environment and curriculum to begin with.
Immersive Environments/Virtual Worlds Continued: Only 3 more days till the PATINS State Conference! I’m getting really excited to introduce those of you coming to my first session there to Second Life! This morning I came across a website called Virtual Worlds Review that I think could be a great resource for many of you as you begin considering the potential this awesome technology offers to education. This site has been around since April of 2003. The creator of the site is no longer updating it, but it does offer some nice definitions and a good review of many virtual worlds between the years of 2003-2006.
Many of those I’ve suggested the past couple of weeks have been intended for younger childrean. Here are a couple more good ones I’d like to share for our older students:
There!Unfortunately, “There” is only available for PC. I couldn’t find any info on if/when a Mac version of the software might be available. “There” is an online virtual environment for teens 13-18 years of age primarily. Basic membership and participation is free. “There” basic membership doesn’t quite offer everything that the free membership in Second Life offers. However, “There” has some other nice features that include a profanity filter and strict “PG-13″ content enforcement. www.there.com
Have a great weekend everybody and hopefully I’ll be seeing many of you at the PATINS STATE CONFERENCE in just a few more days! Remember if you couldn’t make it this year, start thinking now about coming next year!
Voice Output/AAC for your Mac:
Proloquo for Mac is not free unfortunately, unless you are an existing user, then the update to version 2.0 is free. Otherwise, it is about $299. However, it is a nice little AAC program for your Mac. It will also provide speech feedback while typing works well with Keystrokes and SwitchXS.
More Text to Speech for Mac:
You definitely need to check out GhostReader for your Mac if you are looking for a great text to speech program. This will read text anywhere on your Mac and highlight as it reads…AND will allow you to create iTunes tracks and Podcasts!!! It is not free, but it’s only about$40 for a single lic/single language. Bilingual/Trilingual licenses are also available and slightly more expensive, but still relatively affordable. You can download a time-limited full working version as a trial.
WATCH for UDL Pilot Project Applications to be available in the Fall! Contact your PATINS Site Coordinator with questions and keep an eye on this site for applications: http://www.patinsproject.com/udl.html
As most of the PATINS Site offices start to close up shop for the summer, I do want to let everyone know that I will continue blogging every Friday. Keep any eye on the blog for info and quick tips and tricks over the summer that you might want to implement when you return again in August!
Call For Papers
CLOSES in 7 Days!
Did you know that General Session Presenters get into the PATINS State Conference free of charge? We are seeking school staff or administration doing exciting things with your students to make the curriculum more accessible and improving student achievement. Submit your CFP online in just a few quick steps
PATINS State Conference 2008!!! I know, I know it’s not even May, but this past December’s PATINS State Conference was a such a positive event and we’ve already been in the planning stages for several weeks now to make the next one even better. There will be 45 minute General Sessions as part of this year’s conference and we need the outstanding educators, therapists, administrators, tech. directors, media specialists, etc., who read this blog, to consider submitting a proposal to present one or more of the great things you are doing with and for your students!
This year’s conference will be held at the Crowne Plaza (same as last year) on November 10th, 11th. So, get those dates on the calendar and into the budget now.
PATINS ’08 Tech Expo: The 2008 PATINS Tech Expo was a big success! Attendees that I talked with seemed to be very excited about new ideas they had for all the new technology they were seeing and hearing about. I got very excited about several new things I saw as well! Something I’ll likely be doing a workshop on in the Fall will be placing tests or other pieces of digital reading material onto portable devices like iPods w/out a teacher ever having to read the test and the student being able to hear and see the text highlighted as it’s read by the iPod or other device. Click Here for Photos from the Tech Expo!
iPod Lessons and General iPod How-To:Learning In Hand, iPods in Education from Tony Vincent… A true EXPERT when it comes to iPods and PDAs in classrooms! Everyone, whether or not you love portable content, should visit and become familiar with Tony’s work. Here’s a quick screenshot of the site, which should be enticing enough! Particularly interesting to me at the moment is using iQuiz quizzes on iPods coupled with my Self-Operated iPod Prompting system:
Gabcast again: What a cool tool! I posted briefly about Gabcast as a free way to podcast from your phone (land or cell) back on 3/7/08 (HERE) and have since started really using it myself. I’ve created a free account for myself and the first couple episodes are just Sandy and I testing it out. The third episode is a very short (24 seconds) interview of yesterday’s Skype, Wikis & Blog workshop here in Columbia City. Basically, once your Gabcast account is set up, podcasting really couldn’t be any easier! I simply call a 1-800 number and then punch in my podcast code and then I start talking! As soon as I’m done, I simply push the #2 on my phone which immediately publishes the podcast to the public RSS feed! In other words, within 10 seconds of me publishing by pushing the #2 on my phone, anyone in the world could be listening to that podcast episode! That’s powerful! HOW COOL, for a teacher to podcast a 2 minute note to parents at the end of the day in this way, or for students to do this while on a field trip, or while interviewing other people (which hits a lot of state standards), etc! Obviously there really isn’t any editing or fancy intro/outro music when podcasting this way, but it’s so easy and with most phones, the quality is really quite acceptable, even for an audiophile like myself! If you are interested in subscribing to my Gabcast, here is the RSS feed: www.gabcast.com/casts/19096/rss/rss.xml In iTunes, subscribe by clicking Advanced and the Subscribe to Podcast and then paste the above URL into the text box, like this:
Ok, this is pretty simple. I raved for a couple weeks there (3/21 and 3/28) about the Firefox Add-On called Hyperwords, to “make every word on the internet interactive.” I am still absolutely loving this FF Add-On and I think it’s quite possibly the easiest, quickest and most effective way to instantly give students at both ends of the achievement spectrum a very beneficial tool for almost every aspect of the general education curriculum! The challenge this week is to:
So, Boston is cool, windy and mostly sunny. The 2008 CEC Conference has been a great experience and it was nice to do some networking and learning from so many great special education teachers and directors and to hear about some great research that is going on. My presentation this morning on creating self-operated prompting systems with the video iPod or Zune Devices went really well. I’m sorry for being a day late with this week’s blog. I wanted to wait till after the presentation.
RTI and UDL: By now, you are probably aware that RTI (Response to Intervention) is now referred to as IFS (Integrated Focused System) in Indiana. However, a major theme/focus of this year’s CEC Conference was RTI and UDL. So, I will likely refer to the term, “RTI” during this blog posting and in upcoming weeks for the purpose of staying consistent with the content presented to me at CEC. So, just keep in mind that Indiana’s state version of the RTI concept is IFS. I am really starting to see how RTI (IFS) will intersect with UDL and on May 5th, I’ll be offering a 1/2-day workshop at the NE Site on UDL and RTI. Visit the PATINS website or call the NE office to register. Registration is free, but space is limited.
100 iPod Tools: You may remember the,”100 Educational Uses for Your iPod” link I posted last week that Jim found. This last week, I thought it was appropriate that I check into #15 on the list of 100: Pod City Guides. This is a cool tool! Only major cities are included at this point, but It allows you to download city information, like directions, events, restaurants, local attractions, hours of local business operation and more! It just puts the information for the city you select under the notes section on your iPod as text. And it’s free! It’s great if you are visiting a city, but could also be a wonderful tool to incorporate into a lesson or unit on a particular place in the world! Check into this one for sure. Let me know if you need help with it! It has become a new favorite of mine, for sure http://www.podcityguides.com/
I’ve posted in the past about a program called Anapod as a method of transfering content to/from your ipod w/out using iTunes. Well, I also had the opportunity to really spend some time with Anapod as I needed to do some transferring of content to/from my iPod while in Boston. Anapod is #39 on the list of 100. Anapod offers a free trial, but the full version is around $20-$25. It works well, BUT a word of caution! I’ve had this happen twice now; when using Anapod to transfer videos from my PC to an iPod, once ejected, the iPod no longer recognizes anything that is on the iPod! If this happens, the iPod has to be restored to factory condition and then all content put back on which is a pain. I have yet to figure out why this happens sometimes with Anapod and not other times. Check out Anapod, but be aware of this potential issue.
Pix-Yu: I posted back on January 8, 2008 about pix-yu as a cool and engaging way to motivate some students to write! Today I got an email from them notifying me that they have now included a way for users to include a long description (text) with their images and in this way the text can easily be read aloud with speech synthesizers or braille displays. Check out this new feature and let me know how/if it is working for you and your students! http://www.pix-yu.com/