Thursday, June 28, 2007
They all were identified as having learning disabilities despite brilliant intellect. They are not alone. There are students in our schools, today, who meet the criteria of very superior intellectual capabilities combined with learning differences.
This month's newsletter from the Family Center on Technology and Disability addresses the issue of assistive technology as a key compensatory tool for the twice exceptional child . Excellent resource for understanding how to meet the unique educational needs of GT/LD students. Check it out here.
Here's another helpful article in the same newsletter on AT and the IEP.
Jeff Utrecht posted the Skype notes from conversations that happened simultaneously while Will Richardson presented and during a panel discussion. How many times have you sat in a session with thoughts swimming through your head and no way to discuss them? The use of Skype brought a whole new dimension to the participant experience!
Those who engaged in the conversations talk about the impact it had on their learning. What are the implications for our classrooms? Do we just ignore this new use of a Web 2.0 tool or do we grab it's power for the classroom experience? I can hear the objections but this is another opportunity to engage in discussions about acceptable use with our students and involve them in the learning process. We know that we learn when we are engaged, and when we build upon prior experience. This would certainly take it up a notch! Engage the kids during lectures!
Other gems from participants: Check out the Nuggets from NECC (Wes Fryer), Remember the Bloggers! (Will Richardson) The VoiceThread from the Edubloggercon's group pic (Joyce Valenza's great idea! and think about the classroom applications again!), My Thoughts Tuesday at NECC (Jeff Utrecht again with an explanation about how Twitter was used during the conference), Dave Warlick put together HitchhikrNECC, Vicki Davis liveblogging Tuesday morning's Keynote Panel, and discover Joyce Valenza's Web 2.0 Meets Information Fluency wiki which will take you the entire summer to get through! (This is an incredible resource!!)
I know I missed a great deal...this is just a start...so check out the posts tagged NECC07, NECC2007 for information that appeals to you.
One thing that is conspicuously absent to me is any discussion about the implications for our students with special needs. Why is this? Is this because Web 2.0 is UDL and we are engaging all learners by definition? Not necessarily, because some of these tools will be difficult to navigate for those with visual impairments or physical disabilities. It will be interesting to see how this plays out as we strive to remove the barriers for ALL students. The need to keep the tools inclusive is an important, but neglected, part of this discussion.
Another take-away for me (and I didn't attend the conference) is the noticeable lack of student participation. (can't remember who blogged about that....anyone?) What would happen if we showed the tools to our students and watched as they used them as their own learning instruments, and more? We can't keep these tools to ourselves anymore - put them in the hands of kids over this summer. Is there a way to do this? And is there a way to include them in NECC 2008? There's plenty of time to plan that possibility!
Monday, June 25, 2007
NECC 2007 is going on as we speak and I would love to be there participating in the discussions, meeting those whose blogs I value as part of my personal learning network. Instead, I'm here in Boston, enjoying the conference from a distance, trying to control my NECC envy.
It has never been easier to be involved remotely, learning from all the bloggers who are documenting their sessions and live blogging. Go to technorati and search for NECC2007, and NECC07 for daily updates and review edubloggercon07 for what happened during the free pre-conference attended by all the movers and shakers in the educational blogging community.
It's so cool that our colleagues are keeping us informed! Thank you to all the bloggers at NECC for sharing your experience with the rest of us. Your efforts are appreciated more than you can realize!!
Sunday, June 17, 2007
Click through this SlideShare presentation to see what you may be missing!
Summer is the perfect time for personal professional development, a time to explore these tools. Have a blast!
Thanks to Vicki Davis for this link.
What a wonderful treasure trove of free online resources with explanations and screen shots. I added a few more sites to my delicious account and thank Paul for the excellent work he has done at his blog. His blogroll includes this site for free assistive technology.
Paul's site is updated frequently so add it to your subscriptions. We are a community of connected collaborators compiling technology resources that benefit our students. And you thought AT was expensive!
Paul, thank you for your awesome work.
Monday, June 11, 2007
(Note: Last updated 7/21/08. All updates are posted at the Free UDL Tech Toolkit Wiki. I no longer update this post).
My passion is to remove the obstacles to learning for all students and these free tools offer opportunities for struggling learners that promote academic success. When material is digital or electronic, it is flexible and accessible. It is our responsibility as educators to provide materials that promote success. Please encourage all educators to consider using these free tools.
When Congress reauthorized IDEA in 1997, they added the provision that ALL students on IEPs must now be considered for assistive technology. (As Dave Edyburn pointed out, 4 million more students were now eligible to be considered for AT. According to the U.S. Department of Education, 96% of students with disabilities attend schools within their districts which is the high-incidence population.)
Unfortunately, this was another unfunded mandate.
Unfortunately, this is a provision that is frequently ignored (in my experience).
Many teachers believe that assistive technology has to cost money, typically a lot of money. They tell me they are afraid to bring up AT at team meetings for that reason. Other teachers tell me that particular software or hardware is available but no one knows how to use it so it just sits in a closet, unused. Sometimes, teachers who were trained to use particular tools or devices have left the district and no one else is interested in learning how to integrate the AT. A common complaint is that the software is too complicated or there are technical issues that prevent implementation.
I hear many more issues but none of this helps our struggling learners. It's time for a change and there is no better time than now with the ubiquitous open source and Web 2.0 tools that are readily available. Change is centered upon Universal Design for Learning (UDL) which proproses that multiple methods of :
Change is also centered on FREE tools that are already readily available in the classroom or that are easily accessed by Internet download.
I have assembled a number of free resources that I believe should be on every classroom computer to promote learning for all students based upon principles of UDL. These tools provide improved access and accommodate for learner differences. Additionally, they are fun and engaging!
Free Text-to-Speech (Why? Two reasons - 1. It is essential for struggling readers; when text is digital it is now accessible and 2. it supports the writing process, especially when editing and revising work)
- WordTalk - a free text-to-speech program for the PC that works within WORD and Outlook and highlights each word that is read. Includes a talking spell checker and a talking thesaurus. Watch this teachertube.com video that I created to learn how to use it. It's best to watch it full screen.
- Natural Reader - another free text-to-speech software program which converts any written text to speech (Word, pdf, websites, emails)
- Click,Speak - a free Firefox extension that reads the Internet and highlights phrases and sentences as it reads
- PowerTalk - free text-to-speech for PowerPoint presentations
- Talklets - make any website talk, embed in your website, blog or wiki
- Read The Words - Register first, upload file or choose text or website to read, a recording is generated which you can listen to online or download to an mp3 player, upload to a blog, etc. Very Cool tool worth letting your students explore.
- Spoken Text - online text-to-speech MP3 converter
- YakIToMe! - Listen to important documents, PowerPoint presentations, emails, RSS feeds, blogs and novels. YAKiToMe! is multi-lingual (English, Spanish, French ...) and brings you the world's best text-to-speech (TTS) synthesis technologies. Easily converts to podcasts.
- It is built into Office 2003 for Windows and VISTA. Explore it.
- StarFall - Pre-K - 2nd grade online activities that promote literacy
- GenieBooks - Decodable books in Powerpoint
- Story Line Online - Listen to stories read by Screen Actors Guild members - follow along with the text
- Planet eBooks - Free classic literature to download (middle school and up)
- Cast UDL Book Builder - Check out a previous post to learn about this free online tool for creating digital books with embedded prompts.
- UDL Editions - Leveled support for seven texts geared for ages 10 and up
- Poetry Foundation - free resource to find poetry by category, by name, by title, by author, or by first line. It's digital, attach a voice and it's now accessible!
- Bubbl.us - free brainstorming and organizing tool
- Mindomo - online mind-mapping tool, easily share with others
- Belvedere - designed for k-12 population
- CMAP - concept maps
- Free Mind - mind-mapping tool
- Mindomo - mind-mapping tool
- MindMeister - online collaborative graphic organizing tool
- Exploratree - thinking guides and more (definitely worth exploring)
- Dabbleboard - freehand graphic organizer and visual whiteboard, fun and easy to use
- Ginger Spelling - "Ginger provides an automatic spell checker, through an intelligent automatic context-based correction of spelling mistakes and misused words." Excellent correction, currently in beta, available for download for use within Microsoft Word. Add this to your classroom computers and tell your students about it so they can download it to their home computers.(PC only)
- Ghotit - an online contextual spell checker service, a great spell checker for students with LDs! Tell them to add it to their home computers.
- Wacky Web Tales - an online "madlib" tool
- Writing Fix - Interactive Writing Prompts
- Read/write/think - Interactive digital activities (click the student materials link and then click the interactive links - there are many to choose from)
- Our Story, Mnemograph - collaborative, online Time Line tools
- ToonDoo - Online comic strip creator
- Math Playground - excellent site for Math activities for K - 8, make sure to explore the Mathcasts. Mathcasts allow students to review math when THEY need to.
- Thinking Blocks - a creative, interactive math resource to help students understand how to solve word problems. Watch the video here to learn how to use it.
- GraphCalc - Online Graphing Calculator
- National Library of Virtual Manipulatives - a library of uniquely interactive, web-based virtual manipulatives or concept tutorials, mostly in the form of Java applets, for mathematics instruction (K-12 emphasis)
Study Skills Tools
- CueCard - an electronic flashcard program download with multiple features including ability to import audio and graphics. Keeps track of correct responses and can be printed out.
- Study Stack - create interactive web-based flashcards or use ones that are already created; if you use stacks that are already created, check them first as there are errors in several of the created stacks.
- Flash Card Machine - allows the user to create interactive web-based study flash cards.
- Flash Card Friends - online, interactive flash cards
- Quizlet - described as an online tool for learning vocabulary
- Awesome Highlighter - tool that highlights text on a web page; save the URL or email it
- Create note taking templates in Word
- Use "Power of Color" within Word (background color, highlighting color and font color tools) to reinforce concepts, to determine salient points and for review
- Use the "Organizational Chart" in the Diagram Gallery that is part of the Drawing Toolbar in Word to reinforce concepts and relationships which promotes learning.
- In Word, press the Alt tab + mouse click within a word to access the Research pane. When you are online, you will instantly get a definition of the word.
Free Collaboration Tools (these are accessible anywhere!)
- Google Docs and Spreadsheets - allows students to collaborate on work from any computer including while at home
- Zoho - full suite of online, collaboration tools - word processor, presentation, notetaking (can insert audio), spreadsheets, planner. Worth exploring!
- Go 2 Web 2.0 - here you will find every Web 2.0 application imaginable. There are tools for everything. Constantly updated!
- Web 2.0 Tools - (These tools especially benefit the learner with reading, organizational or attentional issues as the material can be easily retrieved, read or listened to online)
- Wikis - provide group collaboration opportunities and study guides
- Blogs - provide opportunities for written expression without time constraints and can use text-to-speech, spell check, grammar check etc. before posting. Blogs are great for students who are less vocal IN class, for a variety of reasons, but still want a chance to participate in discussions
- Web-based social bookmarking tools such as Delicious or Portaportal - create class favorites that your students can retrieve anywhere to help them study
- Multimedia and Digital Storytelling Tools
- Voice Thread - capture audio for online digital storytelling. THIS IS A MUST HAVE! The pro version is free to K-12 educators.
- Photo Story 3 for Windows - you will be amazed at how quickly you can create slide shows or movies from your class photos. Upload your photos in seconds, easily add music and you have a year end presentation of your class activities. MANY other uses.
- ScrapBlog - Create online multimedia scrapbooks from your text, video, audio and photos
- Flip Books - Create online multimedia scrapbooks from your text and photos
- Animoto - create fully customized videos of user-selected images and music almost instantaneously. The web appliciaiotn does all the work once you select your images and audio. This one is so cool!
- Building Wings: How I Made it Through School - A free "Readers Theater Implementation Toolkit" accompanies this autobiography by Don Johnston "which helps learners take charge of their learning potential!" Learned about this from Valerie who left a comment.
- Project Spectrum - Google Sketchup Tutorial for use with students on the Autism Spectrum
- ZacBrowser - Web Browser designed by a grandfather for his grandson who is on the Autism Spectrum. Appropriate for young children or those with developmental disabilities
- Do to Learn - Free Feelings and Emotions Games, excellent for social skills instruction, also check out the Fire Safety and Street Safety songs for students with cognitive disabilities
- Yackpack - audio email or free live conferencing
- Eyejot - "Video messaging in a blink," video email tool
- Better Fonts - Dafonts - free fonts
- PDF Creator or Cute pdf - free PDF conversion tools
- Diigo - a powerful social annotation research tool, with highlighting features
- Cast UDL Lesson Builder - provides educators with models and tools to create and adapt lessons that increase access and participation in the general education curriculum for all students.
- Checklists - linear alternative to rubrics, easily create guides for students' projects.
- Visual Schedules - best for younger students.
- Note Star - helps organize notes and bibliographies for essays and research papers.
- Imagine Symbols - 4000 free realistic symbols. Import these into your clip art folder for easy access.
- Audacity - Free, cross-platform software for recording and editing sounds
- Jott - Use a cell phone to send emails or voice messages, great for students to send themselves reminders, homework assignments, to-do lists, summaries of class instruction ,etc. This can be an effective strategy for students with executive function, organization or written output issues. Check out additional ideas here in this blog post.
- Click N Type Virtual On Screen Keyboard
- Pics4Learning - copyright friendly image library for teachers and students
- Create customized lined paper using the Line tool within the Drawing Toolbar within Word. Give students the choice of lined paper within your classrooms including mid-lined paper.
- Customize the toolbar in Word; remove extraneous icons on the Standard and Formatting Toolbars and add the "Insert Sound Object" icon so that it is readily available for student or teacher use. (There are numerous options for this "Power of Voice" feature - this is a very powerful tool!)
- Enlarge the icons on your customized toolbar in Word
- Embed verbal prompts in your documents for student support.
Bernard Frischer, director of the "Rome Reborn" project and director of the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities at the University of Virginia, stated, "'Rome Reborn 1.0' is the continuation of five centuries of research by scholars, architects and artists since the Renaissance who have attempted to restore the ruins of the ancient city with words, maps and images. Now, through hard work by our interdisciplinary team, we have realized their seemingly impossible dream. This is just the first step in the creation of a virtual time machine, which our children and grandchildren will use to study the history of Rome and many other great cities around the world.Every student learns about ancient civilizations as part of the K-12 curriculum. This virtual world will transform learning in our classrooms and allow students to envision life in ancient times in ways never dreamed possible.
This is a paradigm shift of enormous magnitude. Are there any teachers who would not utilize such a rich and sophisticated resource? The power of interactive, digital simulation vs. the power of static, inflexible print in textbooks. Which resource would you prefer in your classroom?
Saturday, June 09, 2007
Just checked my Geovisitors for today and noticed that someone from a mountainous area in Pakistan and someone from Bahrain stopped by today. It makes me wonder why? What is the state of assistive technology in those countries?
The possibilities of connections through web 2.0 never cease to amaze me. How else would I ever have any type of connection to people from Pakistan or Bahrain? And how else would I ever find out they stopped by?
I am so easily amused!
Here are some blogs to distract you this weekend:
Scott McLeod has devoted this week to Change. Here's a tease:
Check out all his posts this week. Outstanding posts!
Many have commented that schools look much like they did 100 years ago. Countless edubloggers have expressed frustration about those ‘educators that won’t change’ or, worse, ‘get in the way of those who do want change.’ But most folks don’t ground their concerns in any kind of actionable framework or mental model about how change occurs (or doesn’t).
So this week I’m going to write about change. I’m a school leadership professor. We talk a lot about change. How to facilitate good change. How to avoid bad change. How to think about change.Those of you who are longtime readers know that I like to try and keep it fairly practical.
Vicki Davis, at CoolCat Teacher Blog, writes about the new PowerPoint presentations. If you are still showing bulleted slides, time to enter a new world away from PowerPointless.
Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach shared some teacher humor videos which led me to watch at least an hour of youtube videos about education. (check out anything uploaded by funny teacher). Sheryl also blogged about a recent conference she participated in "Teacher 2.0 - Developing the 21st Century Workforce." Lots to be distracted by.
Jeff Utrecht, blogger and thinker extrordinaire from Shanghai China, writes The Thinking Stick - check out his NETS Refreshed - Do we Need Tech Standards? and Creating Moments of Learning posts (about a Skype conversation between a classroom of students at his school and a classroom in LA). Then go back and look at all he has written.
I respect anything from Carolyn Foote and Kelly Christopherson and added them to my bloglines subscriptions. That added more posts to read.
And for assorted stuff, here's a great blog! And anything by David Warlick, Will Richardson, Miguel Guhlin, Wes Fryer, Chris Craft....the list is extensive.
Reading blog posts keeps me current, challenges me to think about education in new ways, to attempt to facilitate change.
I admit it; I'm addicted to the rush of energy, passion, thinking outside the box and the challenge to "that's the way we always do it" attitude that is pervasive in education blogs. There is a collective excitement about the possibilities and an idealism and belief that we can make education relevant for our students.
We can make a difference through the collaboration that occurs through Web 2.0. It's empowering to me when I read the thoughts of others throughout the nation who have similar beliefs or who challenge my thinking.
Do you subscribe to any blogs that challenge your thinking and encourage excellence in education? Please share them here. Feed my addiction.