“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.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fS9Hvf7Fglo  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. http://lmgtfy.com/?q=Livebinders  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”. http://www.livebinders.com/play/play?id=481808

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

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!  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.

Happy New Year!

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


Lots of Interesting News from February Sandi

I apologize for the lack of information lately.  This person who I will refer to as “February Sandi” has been in charge for approximately 24 days.  Nobody likes February Sandi.  She is totally preoccupied with griping about weather and a general lack of color in her outside world.  Apparently, she isn’t a very good blogger during that month either.  Fortunately, regular PATINS Sandi has managed to ditch her for a few minutes so that a new Rapid Fire Blog can be published!

Here are some of the interesting things that have come through my space recently!

From Marcee Wilburn  via many sources

“Register today for these upcoming training opportunities!

March 20-21, 2014 – EARLY BIRD RATE ONLY $25

Karen Blankenship, Assistant Professor at Vanderbilt University, Program for Visual Disabilities, will present Effective Instructional Continuum for the Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC). This two-day session is intended for teachers of students who are blind/low vision, teachers of students who are deaf/hard of hearing, special education teachers, general education teachers, and parents. This presentation will provide background knowledge and theory of the effective instructional continuum for the ECC. In addition, participants will have hands-on application with various resources and materials.

July 17-18, 2014 – EARLY BIRD RATE ONLY $40

Ed Summers, a software engineer and accessibility specialist, and Diane Brauner, a TVI and certified O&M specialist, will present iPad Accessibility Bootcamp for Teachers of the Visually Impaired.  This two-day hands-on workshop introduces educators of the visually impaired to iPad accessibility features that help totally blind and low vision students succeed in the classroom and the 21st century knowledge economy. 

Attached are the conference brochures with registration information.  Information regarding each of these professional development opportunities can be accessed online at http://www.indstate.edu/blumberg/pass/blv-conferences.htm. 

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.  We look forward to seeing you at these upcoming trainings!

Marcee Wilburn
Promoting Achievement for Students with Sensory Loss (PASS)
Project Coordinator, Blumberg Center
Bayh College of Education, University Hall 009
Indiana State University
401 North 7th Street
Terre Haute, IN 47809
Office:  812.237.8115  |  Toll Free:  800.622.3035  |  Fax:  812.237.8089
Email: Marcee.Wilburn@indstate.edu   |  Web:  http://www.indstate.edu/blumberg

From Jim Lambert, NE PATINS Regional Coordinator: a link to the proposed new standards for elementary level http://www.doe.in.gov/achievement/standards/public-comment-identified-k-12-content-standards-college-and-career-readiness



App of the Week:  Via QIAT Listserve and Diane Brauner

 Math Melodies App Logo

Math Melodies is a free ACCESSIBLE math app created for all children but specifically designed for students with visual impairments. The game has fun stories, math activities and lots of motivating sounds. This is a great example of how math concepts can be reinforced on the iPad. The developers, who are Italian, are open to suggestions and are already incorporating ideas on how to modify the app to better meet the needs of students with visual impairments in the US.

This app is currently geared for 1st – 3rd grade students. The app has been funded through crowd sourcing; currently the team is crowd sourcing in order to raise the necessary funds to add 4th and 5th grade level math activities. If you have suggestions about the current app or suggestions about math activities for 4th and 5th graders, especially math activities that are challenging for students with visual impairments, please contact me or Math Melodies directly.

Do you like Math Melodies? If so, please go to the App store and give a review. Again, this will support these developers and might even encourage other developers to include accessibility features in their apps!

Please share this post and support the efforts of app developers who strive to create accessible apps!

A big thanks to EveryWare Technologies for developing Math Melodies!



Don’t tease Siri…Oh, go ahead!

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



New Feature on PATINS TV

WOW!   New Feature on PATINS TV!

This year, once a month PATINS will be featuring a vendor on PATINS TV!

August’s vendor is EYE can see, Inc.  This Tuesday on PATINS TV Greg Blackman of EYE can see, Inc will be visiting with PATINS’ own Central Regional Coordinator, Jeff Bond.  “The mission of EYE Can See is to provide services, products & support for individuals with low-vision or blindness that assist them in their daily lives.” They have recently moved to 6311 Westfield Blvd (Suite 103-A) in the Broad Ripple area of Indianapolis and have a great Demo Center there where customers can try out their products and see how they work!  They also have a Web Shop at http://eyecansee.lowvision.com/ .  Rumor has it that Greg will be demonstrating a couple of great pieces of assistive technology:

Picture of Optelec Clear View +

Retail: $895.00 + Shipping

August Promo: $795.00; Waive Shipping Charges

Optelec ClearView+ Speech 24″ CCTV

Retail: $3,695.00 + Shipping

August Promo: $3,295.00; Waive Shipping Charges


Tune in Tuesday, August 20th at 11:45 am ET to see it live! 

This episode will also be close-captioned and archived on the PATINS website for later viewing.



…Speaking of Closed-Captioning, did you see this headline from NPR’s All Tech Considered?


New Closed-Captioning Glasses Help Deaf Go Out To The Movies


The article states, “By the end of this month (May, 2013), Regal Cinemas plans to have distributed closed-captioning glasses to 6,000 screens across the country.

Sony Entertainment Access Glasses are sort of like 3-D glasses, but for captioning. The captions are projected onto the glasses and appear to float about 10 feet in front of the user. They also come with audio tracks that describe the action on the screen for blind people, or they can boost the audio levels of the movie for those who are hard of hearing.”

Follow this link http://www.npr.org/blogs/alltechconsidered/2013/05/12/183218751/new-closed-captioning-glasses-help-deaf-go-out-to-the-movies to read the entire article.


App of the week! 


Cambridge the Phrasal Verbs Machine

It’s Free!  The verbs are demonstrated by their actions.  Great for many ages and as an ESL tool.  What more can I say?

Some quick Summer News

R.J. Cooper, that tech guy for special needs (his words) passed on the following link to some switch friendly cause/effect apps for the iPad.  http://www.sensoryapphouse.com  They look very interesting and if you have tried to find good apps that are switch friendly, you know that it can sometimes be difficult.  If you are not familiar with R.J. Cooper or his materials his web page is http://www.rjcooper.com/


Also, from Ike Presley this link to the May, 2013 issue of the Braille Monitor.

If you are involved with an educational institution that is considering using the Amazon Kindle I strongly recommend that you read the article below and share it with as many people as possible. The article is in the May, 2013 issue of the Braille Monitor, https://nfb.org/images/nfb/publications/bm/bm13/bm1305/bm130508.htm.  Ike”


Finally, what do you think of this?  Disability Scope reported in it’s June 18th Email News Letter, “HBO Documentary Follows Beauty Queens With Special Needs”  This link will take you to the article, http://www.disabilityscoop.com/2013/06/17/hbo-beauty-queens/18173/  The “Miss You Can Do It” pageant is in it’s 10th year and is for girls to women from age 4-25.  For more information, their web site is, http://www.missyoucandoit.com The HBO wil be airing the documentary on Monday, June 24th at 9:00 pm EST.     The HBO site for more information is http://www.hbo.com/documentaries/miss-you-can-do-it  What do you think about this pageant?  I am going to watch and form an opinion.  Please let me know yours!


Switching it up!

There is a new switch access device for the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch from RSL Steeper in the PATINS library.  The Pererro is very small, but has some great features (per RSL Steeper)

  • Works with almost any VoiceOver enabled app
  • Plug & Play
  • Two scan modes; Auto Increment & Press to Increment, enabling you to continue using your preferred scanning method
  • Direct input so no Bluetooth battery drain
  • Powers directly from your device
  • 3.5mm mono jack socket for universal switch input
  • ‘Charge through’ ability to charge your device without disconnecting
  • Just 36 × 29 × 9 mm

By downloading the free Pererro app (iTunes Store) you can customize the features and settings so that when the Pererro is moved from device to device it will interact with the app to apply individualized settings.

A couple of teachers and I tried it on an iPad and had success in navigating both on the home screens and within some apps.  If it sounds like something you would like to try, contact your PATINS coordinator.  We have them to lend out!

Did your district receive a special ed improvement grant?  Contact your Coordinator regarding your specific training needs.

See you at the EXPO!



Productivity and UDL-Tips and Tricks

Productivity is one of those words thrown around in society that act like a non-specific band-aid for fixing whatever is wrong.  If we increase student productivity…  Teachers need to use their time more productively…  and so on.  Sometimes increasing productivity requires increasing stimulation.  While researching this week’s tip I came across the focus@will site.  www.focus@will.com    The site streams music that is picked to increase productivity.  It has tips running along the bottom, and 8 different genres of music to run in the background.  Listening to music without lyrics works really well for me.  The trick in a classroom is to find a music style that suits the students that need it while not disturbing the ones that don’t.  In this way it becomes yet another tool in your UDL tool box!

Focus at Will Screen Shot

This is what I was listening to while writing.

I started out researching “SpeakIt”, a free app on the Chrome Web Store.  For those using the web browser Chrome, once installed, this app will translate all highlighted text to speech while on the internet.  SpeakIt adds a speaker button to the right of the bookmark star just outside of the URL address box on the Chrome browser.  The user just needs to highlight the selection to be spoken and press the speaker symbol.  The pictured box will appear and read.  To get this app, go to https://chrome.google.com/webstore/category/home  search SpeakIt in the search window and follow the instructions.  While I would not recommend this app for all text to speech needs, it is free, easy to download and can be used in some non-essential ways.  One of my favorites is for proofreading.  I will let the computer read what I have written while I listen for content.

So how did one thing lead to the other?  I pulled up this article http://edudemic.com/2013/04/cycle-of-productivity/ “This Is The Modern Cycle of Productivity” by Katie Lepi on Edudemic.  I was testing SpeakIt for this post.  It is a quick fun article and lead me to focus@will.  Try the app on the article and you will notice that the graphic will not read.  That is because it is just a picture of the original graphic.  This is an issue that has been discussed and will continue to be discussed when looking at truly accessible reading material.

Don’t forget that it is Autism Awareness Month.  The Appy Mall as well as Appolicious have been listing several free and reduced autism apps!

See you at the PATINS Tech Expo!

PATINS 2013 Tech Expo

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Fountains
502 East Carmel Drive
Carmel, IN  46032

Attendees – Register Here!