Make Worksheets Accessible and FUN!

1 11 2016

Do you have a student that struggles with worksheets? Do they struggle with writing? Vision?  Do you have access to an iPad? You can easily transform your worksheets into an accessible format that will transform the learning experience for your students. Here’s what you need:

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Notability App  Notability_for_iPhone__iPod_touch__and_iPad_on_the_iTunes_App_Store.png

iScanner App       Screen Shot 2016-11-01 at 11.48.01 AM.png

Targus Stylus     2e352d32-ee23-475f-91ca-e7582fadf2bf_1.7fc20ab9015756e78e505a2ceb43b599.jpeg

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Here’s what you do:

  1. Take a picture using iScanner of the worksheet(s) you need. Make sure that your image is not blurry by tapping on the iPad screen prior to taking a picture.
  2. Edit the picture and rename the picture in iScanner.
  3. Using the export option, send the worksheet to Notability.
  4. Notability will automatically open the worksheet. You will have options to rename and organize the file.

Now you have an alternate way for students to access worksheets using touch technology. A student has reported that they now “enjoy math” since having their workbook on their iPad.

Creating opportunities for students to learn in a modality that makes sense for them doesn’t have to be too tricky or cumbersome. Transform and create accessible content easily using an iPad with Notability and iScanner apps. Adding a stylus gives an opportunity for students to interact with content that is similar to paper and pencil, but is more engaging and fun, yet still allows for that critical activation of the brain/motor that is essential for learning




Top 10 Apps for Children with Autism

14 06 2016

Part of the work that I do as an AT Specialist is to help teachers and therapists select, acquire, and use apps for children in their programs. I was honored to present to the SimpleK12 learning community a webinar on the Top 10 Apps for Children with Autism. \

Here are my Top 10 Apps for Children with Autism (in no particular order)

  1. Proloquo2Go
  2. TouchChatHD
  3. Pictello
  4. Choiceworks
  5. Visual Schedule Planner
  6. Autism DTT Pro
  7. The Social Express II
  8. Cause and Effect Sensory Light Box
  9. The Zones of Regulation
  10. Autism Tracker Pro

Here is the link to the presentation.

To view the webinar on, Click here 

Have an app that makes your top 10? Leave a comment! I hope this list is helpful as you work with children with Autism in building independence!



App of the Week- Motion Math Play Pack

27 03 2014


***It’s been quite some time since I’ve written about an App of the Week, but I found an app that is really cool and felt it was time to dust this part of the blog off. ***

Screen Shot 2014-03-27 at 2.45.54 PMMotion Math Play Pack is a powerhouse mathematics app for children of all ages. Motion Math Play Pack consists of six apps rolled into one. The six apps are Match, Wings, Fractions! Questimate! Hungry Fish, and Zoom. For the $19.99 price tag, it is an investment that will pay off in the fun kids will have when using this app!

Upon opening the app, the user is greeted with a simple interface that highlights each app. From there, users can select a game,  add a user. change settings, or check a user’s score.

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One of the great beauties of motion math is the ability to track progress and add multiple users. For teachers with only one iPad, this makes it easier to use with multiple students. Teachers could also create a “class” user and use Motion Math for guided practice or a whole class lesson.

Each app within Motion Math:Play Pack covers a specific foundational skill or mathematical concept.

• Motion Math: Fractions! Covers fractions, decimals, percents, and pie charts.
• Motion Math: Zoom.  Is a number line like no other- completely interactive and fun. Covers integers, negatives, and decimals. Place value is addressed eloquently in this app, and the pace is pretty quick- but fun!
• Motion Math: Hungry Fish. Feed the fish in this interactive addition and subtraction game that becomes increasingly complex with each play! Helps to build mental math concepts in addition and subtraction and becomes complex to where a user can add and subtract positive and negative integers.
• Motion Math: Wings. Covers multiplication concepts in different visual forms. Users must “fly” their bird to the correct answer, construct the multiplicaton tables, multiply quantities, and more. The longer one plays, the more challenging it is!
• Questimate! Is a truly unique way to cover the concept of estimation. Users create a question, estimate the answer, find out who is closer, uncover the answer via web source or interactive example. The game continues in different modalities- for example, a question may be represented in a visual example where a user will have to pinch the image to estimate the answer.
• Motion Math: Match. Match the equations and make them disappear in this hugely engaging game of building foundational skills and automaticity in addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.

Testing this app was a blast. There is great potential in this app to use with a variety of students for a multitude of purposes. I can’t wait to try it out with kids!

Common Core Aligned, Motion Math Play Pack offers a lot of bang for the price. Volume Purchasing Program is available for Educational Institutions. Overall, it’s quite a stellar app.


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Simplify Internet Clutter With Safari Reader

22 01 2014

Have you ever tried to read an article on the internet, only to be distracted by the ads, the imbedded videos, and extraneous links  that will take you off of the article to another site? Well, you’re not the only one. For many users, reading anything off the internet can be overwhelming. Some may require a more streamlined approach.

Enter Safari Reader.

If you are running the latest and greatest version of Safari, Reader allows for web pages to be “decluttered”. By clicking on the

Screen Shot 2014-01-21 at 2.46.34 PM icon, this allows for a page that looks like this:

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To look like this:

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If you highlight the text, the built-in text-to-speech feature will work within Reader as well.  There is also an option to enlarge the text, which can help students with visual impairments. (Or older folks like me that are refusing to get reading glasses).

The other great tool is that this page can be saved as a PDF Document by selecting “File- Print”. This is great because students can then use the PDF file that’s been created to annotate, highlight, take notes, and have the text read to them all within Preview.

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There is also a Reader feature in IOS Devices as well and works in the same manner. Check it out here on Cult of Mac!

App Wheels

21 11 2013

I stumbled across some really cool blogs and wikis. One is by Alan Stewart, who shared this app wheel for apps for students with Dyslexia and Learning Disabilities.
iPad appsDyslexia


The other wiki I’ve known about for a while is apps4Stages. Started by Madalaine Pugliese, who is the Program Director for Assistive Special Education Technology; Associate Professor of Practice in Special Education at Simmons college, she and her students have come up with some amazing app wheels that contain a wealth of information regarding the relationship between apps and bloom’s Taxonomy, as well as seven developmental stages of app use for children with significant disabilities.

ASD Wheel Full Pickering_Padagogy_2012 padwheelV2.001

For those that are visual, these would be great to post in classrooms, or to use on a bulletin board, or to just add to your list of bookmarks/pins/diigo lists!

Apps to Boost Early Literacy Skills

23 10 2013

It has been quite a while since I’ve posted. The start to the school year has been extremely busy, as I had to suddenly shift roles and go back in the classroom part time to co-teach in our Developmental Learning Center. It’s allowed me to spend some extra quality teaching time with some of my favorite kiddos!

Earlier this month, we had the honor of welcoming Dr. Kathleen Whitbread to our district to train staff in literacy instruction for students with significant disabilities. What came out of this training, for us, was validating and supports building the foundational skills in the  5 areas of literacy instruction.

The National Reading Panel has identified 5 components that are central to reading achievement. They are:

1. Phonemic Awareness

2. Phonics

3. Fluency

4. Vocabulary

5. Text Comprehension

Mutli-sensory instruction for many of our students with significant disabilities has been shown to improve student learning outcomes in these aforementioned areas.  In our line of work, the primary focus is around the area of Phonemic Awareness. From what we learned from Dr. Whitbread, Phonemic Awareness is one  of the areas that children with significant disabilities struggle with There are a plethora of apps that support and reinforce these skills for students. So, with the information that was gleaned from Dr. Whitbread’s talk earlier this month, I have a list of my favorite Apps to Boost Phonemic Awareness.

Apps to Boost Phonemic Awareness:

Word WizardWord Wizard  is a talking movable alphabet that allows children to see and hear the letters and sounds as they spell words.  By dragging each letter onto the board, children are receiving constant feedback about either the letter name or sound, which can be customized within the app settings.  Children can build words or sentences and have the app read them back. It’s a great multi-sensory tool to boost phonemic awareness.



Screen Shot 2013-10-23 at 10.24.07 AMReading Raven for iPad is one of the most comprehensive apps that not only work on phonemic awareness skills, it takes the child through the stages of early literacy in a fun and engaging manner. While the  app is equally engaging and reinforcing,  it will be important for teachers and parents to observe their child while interacting with the app to measure knowledge and advancement. The characters in the app itself are engaging, and having Reading Raven alongside the journey of learning is equally comforting and reinforcing. Overall, it’s a sound app that’s packed with a wealth of learning for young children.



Screen Shot 2013-10-23 at 10.16.19 AMLexia Reading is the app counterpart to the popular computer-based literacy intervention that’s been proven to work with children with a variety of learning challenges. Lexia is based on the 5 components that are central to reading instruction, and provides teachers with detailed progress reporting via their online module. Support materials for teachers and parents are also contained within the teacher module, which help to reinforce identified areas of  strengths and weaknesses based on student performance within the app.



Screen Shot 2013-10-23 at 9.41.57 AMMontessori Crosswords is similar to Word Wizard in that it is a talking movable alphabet. However, Montessori Crosswords is more foundational in that it provides structured phonemic awareness instruction by starting with helping children to understand that words are made up of sounds or phonemes.  For each word, children can touch the empty rectangles where letters must be dragged to complete the word, and hear the sound the corresponding letter produces.  Furthermore, the app helps children memorize the phonics associated with letters by providing a phonics-enabled alphabet where kids can touch each letter and hear the associated sound(s).



Screen Shot 2013-10-23 at 10.21.32 AMStarfall ABC’s helps boost phonemic awareness in allowing children to explore the letters of the alphabet while learning about the corresponding sound of the alphabet. While this is not as comprehensive as the website, it offers a great way for children to become exposed to the alphabet and sounds.




Providing children with multi-sensory opportunities to learn and explore that they can also access is integral to their learning. The advent of tablet technology affords children to explore and learn in an independent manner, while teachers are able to assess and monitor progress. Dr. Whitbread tells us to persevere. When it appears that children are not learning or making progress in terms of phonemic awareness, don’t give up.  They may just need more time and practice.

More about Dr. Whitbread:

Dr. Whitbread’s Website

Open Books Open Doors

Kathleen Whitbread on Twitter

Cracked iPad Screen? DIY to the Rescue!

25 03 2013

If you’ve ever had the misfortune of having an iPad screen crack and have your Apple Care or warranty run out, there is an alternative.  For around $50 or so, there are screen repair kits available. Seems simple enough, right?

I must preface- this type of repair  is not for the faint at heart.  This is a task that requires a lot of patience, a little bit of OCD,  the proper tools, and the finesse to repair such a delicate item.

Luckily, our K-5 Building Coordinator was willing to take on the challenge, and was able to replace the screen good as new!

Below is a visual representation of the steps to repair the cracked screen. This works well with smaller, more confined cracks. Shattered screens are probably best left for the experts.

Photo Jan 09, 9 20 28 AM

The iPad repair kit comes with the screen, adhesive, and an activator to take off the existing glue from the screen. Use the enclosed microfiber towel to remove the glue. It must be microwaved- but be careful to not overheat it, or it will burn and smell pretty gnarly.
Photo Jan 09, 9 19 25 AM

Patience is a must during this step. Once the adhesive loosens from the heat-activated agent, take an exacto knife, (or in our case, cut up credit cards) to lift the existing screen. This step is not fun, and took our tech quite a while- well over an hour.

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Ince the screen is removed, the rest of the steps are relatively easy.
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Then it’s time to place the new screen onto the ipad. There is a degree of finesse that is required here – as well as good visual spatial skills to line up the screen properly, and apply the adhesive carefully to not damage components.

iPadRepair-finishedViola! A new iPad screen for $50.

However, this doesn’t take into account the labor that other companies would charge to fix such a screen. If you have a robust IT Services department, as is the case in our district, then it’s well worth the investment to learn how do tackle this delicate repair on an iPad – especially when Apple Care runs out. It’s a good alternative.