I know I’ve been really bad about updating this blog the last few Fridays in a row! Things have been quite busy and I apologize. I hope everyone returned to their classrooms and offices well fed and rested after the Thanksgiving Holiday and are now ready to rest for a few more days before tackling the second semester! Among MANY other things, I am thankful for all of the educators I work with, talk with, email with and collaborate with who continue to demonstrate daily, their belief that all children can learn and if they are not, it’s because we haven’t provided them access or been creative enough, determined enough or skillful enough with their instruction.
On that note, I think it’s especially important during the upcoming second semester that we all do our best to remain positive, creative and enthusiastic about our instruction and the access we provide our students to it. Here are a few tools I’ve learned about recently that might be worth checking into while you have a little downtime over the Holiday Break!
NVDA: “a free and open source screen reader for the Microsoft Windows operating system. Providing feedback via synthetic speech and Braille, it enables blind or vision impaired people to access computers running Windows for no more cost than a sighted person. Major features include support for over 20 languages and the ability to run entirely from a USB drive with no installation.”
I met an assistive technology expert on the PATINS Second Life Island one evening from out east somewhere and he shared this tool with me. He was just searching Second Life for assistive tech related islands and PATINS is where he ended up. So, we talked for a while and he complimented us on the island build and our efforts in Indiana to think outside the box in order to provide quality technical training and PD online via Second Life. He continued, telling me how his significant other was blind and felt very strongly that this open source screen reader was just as good as the one she’d paid $1200 for. Not being a true user of this technology myself, I’m not sure I’m qualified to provided a detailed comparison, but many of you ARE! Please give it a try and post your comments and feedback here when you can so that others can benefit as well. http://www.nvda-project.org/
THANK YOU sincerely to all of you who sent letters to Vicki’s office in support of the PATINS Project. We are doing everything we can to continue providing free services to Indiana K-12 public schools to improve access, participation and progress in the general curriculum by ALL students. WE APPRECIATE YOUR SUPPORT.
YOUR DISTRICT ALREADY HAS Read:OutLoud SOFTWARE FOR ALL OF YOUR DISTRICT AND STUDENT HOME COMPUTERS!
(AT NO COST)
Even though I’ve been blogging about this for 15 months now and it has been sent directly to all my contacts and straight to administration, etc., I am still running into school staff almost daily who are unaware of the opportunity Indiana has provided them with regard to the Don Johnston Read:Outloud Text To Speech Software. In addition to simple and easy to use Text To Speech, Read:Outloud opens NIMAS textbooks like a dream and offers many more learning and teaching tools like a talking dictionary, talking bibliographer, notes, digital bookmarking, and more. AND, PATINS staff is available to provide training for your staff on this software as well as free trainings from Don Johnston and also self-paced training online. …even an option for you to get 3 CRUs just for learning to use the software.
- Tell someone else! So, if you already know about this opportunity that costs your district nothing, please tell your colleagues who might not.
- Download It! Your District’s DRM will need to go here to download the software initially and then they can install it anywhere and everywhere in your buildings AND send it home with students for their home computers:
- Learn it: Here are all the training materials you could possibly ask for:
- Training Online for 3 CRUs! www.donjohnston.com/state/indiana/indiana_readoutloud/index.html
- Train in 30 min: www.donjohnston.com/state/indiana/indiana_readoutloud/index.html
- Quick Reference Card: www.icam.k12.in.us/DJ/Materials/_Support_Materials/ReadOutLoud%20QuickCard.pdf
- If you have questions or need training, contact us: www.patinsproject.com/contact.html
Interesting Thoughts: Here on NOT requiring our students to “power down” when they come to school:
ICT: Once again, my good friend Chris from Mississinewa has shared with me a cool resource. Especially check out some of these tools/resource materials for use with students in their early years: http://ictearlyyears.e2bn.org/resources.html
ISTE Connects: A really nice resource to check out when you have time. ISTE is the International Society for Technology in Education and does a lot of really great things for teachers and learners. ISTE has had an island in Second Life dedicated to helping teachers grow for quite some time now. www.isteconnects.org
Second Life PATINS Island: A little time over break might be perfect for becoming a little more familiar with our PATINS Island for the purpose of technical training, professional development and online meetings. If you would like me to meet you on our island on break I will be happy to do so. I will be in SL quite a bit over break anyway, building the University of Indianapolis’s Island, which they plan to start teaching in by January! Here’s a bunch of resources to get you started in SL:
Have a great Holiday Break everyone and I look forward to working with you again soon!