Making Curriculum Materials Accessible for All Students: An Overview of AIM

4 08 2016

Educators are challenged to provide curricum materials that are accessible to all learners. It can be quite a challenge in providing this without any prior knowledge, resources, or processes. Ensuring that all curriculum materials are accessible to all students requires careful planning, consideration, timely delivery, and a team-based decision making process. Curriculum Materials should be accessible to all students as a forethought, not an afterthought. There are those instances where a student will require a specialized format (ie large print, braille, digital or audio text) to access the curriculum. This is known as providing Accessible Instructional Materials (AIM) or Accessible Educational Materials (AEM).

I’ve created a simplified flowchart of AIM and the decision-making process for IEP teams (for those visual learners out there):

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There are a wealth of resources regarding AIM/AEM. Recently, I have had the honor to present on the topic for MaineAIM and SimpleK12.com. I offer these resources to you, the reader, to help you better understand the AIM process and provide resources in te selection, acquisition, and use of AIM for your students.

Check out the webinar from MaineAIM regarding AIM/AEM, Assistive Technology, and the IEP here

Check out the webinar on AIM from simplek12.com here! 

Providing AIM for your students in a timely manner will help keep the content accessible, ensure FAPE, and provide your students the opportunity to learn grade-level material regardless of disability.  I hope these resources are helpful to you as you navigate the AIM/AEM process for your students!

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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 Simplek12.com, 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!

 

 





Google Expeditions 

16 05 2016


Recently, the folks at Google paid a visit to our schools to show us their newest innovation- Google Expeditions. 

We weren’t sure what to expect when they came to visit. The seemingly innocent piece of cardboard is akin to a View Master, but harnesses the power of Google to create a truly immersive learning experience for children.  

Basically, Google Expeditions takes students and teachers on a virtual journey that doesn’t feel virtual at all. Students are truly immersed in the experience. This allows for a level of access for ALL learners that a book or traditional curricular materials cannot provide. You literally feel like you’re right there. 

In terms of reaching students with special needs, depending on age, if they have a seizure disorder, or other medical condition that would prevent the use of this amazing technology, the potential for students is limitless. Students are able to participate in a way they may not be able to- and understand the concepts being taught within the expedition more readily, as they are immersed in the environment that is being covered. 

Google Expeditions is better than a virtual field trip.  Our awesome Google friends Natasha and Fitz explained that there are over 300 expeditions- with more being added every day.  We were all blown away by this beta version, and are looking forward to the release.

When you’re in a classroom and students are EXCITED to learn? That’s priceless. This is the potential of Google Expeditions. 





Read and Write for Google PDF Editor

11 04 2016

Read and Write for Google has recently released an update which allows the user to edit PDF documents using word prediction or speech-to-text technology. As long as the PDF file is a non-scanned PDF file, this will work. If you have a scanned PDF file, you’ll have to convert the file using Snapverter as scanned files are images, not text (this is another lesson for another day). No longer are teachers limited to using Google Docs to access these accessibility tools for Read and Write. Overall, it’s a pretty nice update. The one feature I noticed when I tested this update was that a user has to allow the microphone each time they want to use the speech-to-text option regardless of device. I’m sure that issue will be resolved in a future update.

Check the video to see how this new update of Read and Write can work with your students that require writing support!





Google Cardboard…Plastic — Technology Integration

6 04 2016

Check out this great blog post by my former colleague and friend Nick Shuman on his tech2integrate blog!

If you haven’t checked out Google Cardboard yet, then you should. Then, browse over to Google Expeditions Pioneer Program to learn how their Cardboard technology can be leveraged in Education. Now, Google has gone to the next level with Google Cardboard…Plastic. NOTE: Plastic was released on April 1st, which in the USA is April Fool’s […]

via Google Cardboard…Plastic — Technology Integration





Chromebooks? Really? Oh yes.

9 05 2014

When I heard that our High School would be going 1:1 with Chromebooks, I experienced a couple of initial emotions. 1) Disappointment because I love Apple 2) Fear of change 3) Excitement over trying something new.

When I realized that I am a heavy Chrome browser user, I rationalized “how hard could it be?” I love Chrome- with one caveat. I love Safari Reader. Overall, Chrome extensions and apps are cool. Many are what you would find on an iOS device or OSX Mac App.  Plus, Google Drive has been my main go-to for a couple of years now (Unless I’m making something pretty slick and professional looking, and I haven’t found anything as wonderful as iMovie– but I’ll get there).

Then I thought about my users that are heavy AT users. How would a Chromebook work with these users? Would peripherals such as adaptive joysticks and mice work? What accessibility features are there that I could leverage?

So, being me- I started to do some research. I found these resources to be very helpful in my start in looking at how to leverage Chromebooks for our users with Special Needs:

Chrome Toolbox

Supporting Struggling Learners in Chrome

Google Tools for Special Needs

My two users in the High School that are currently using Macs and iPads use Chrome as their default web browser and one heavily uses  Google Drive for student work.  I am curious to see how they will perform with the Chromebook, and leave the choice up to them as to what their preferences are. There will, of course, need to be some data collection around this.

I am looking forward to the challenge of integrating Chromebooks at our High School, while looking at each student individually and leveraging the right tool to meet their needs. Part of this work will begin by presenting at GAFE Peak in York, Maine on June 25. It will be nice to share with other users of Chromebooks in our neighboring district, but it will be especially nice to reconnect with former colleagues and learn from persons that have been integrating Chromebooks into their respective school cultures.

 





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.

Screen Shot 2014-03-27 at 2.49.17 PM

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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