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:

iPad   og.jpg

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

ipad access .JPG

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 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.

Photo Jan 09, 10 37 55 AM

Ince the screen is removed, the rest of the steps are relatively easy.
Photo Jan 09, 11 18 44 AM

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.

Comparing iPads- the iPad vs. the iPad Mini

8 01 2013

Once upon a time there was an AT Specialist (me) who lived in a school.  She needed a device that would allow her to read, work, watch video, and more. She also needed a device that could be easily carried in a purse, beach bag, or laptop bag.

While the birthday fairy bestowed upon her an iPad, which she loves, it felt too big. Reading was heavy. Apps worked well for educational purposes, and note-taking was a breeze. However, taking photos and video seemed a little clumsy. Having an iPhone was nice, but reading was just too small. She wondered if there was something out there that was just right.

It didn’t take long, because the Holiday fairy surprised her with an iPad Mini. 2013-01-02 11.53.34

The iPad Mini is smaller than the iPad- obviously. It is amazingly light. The combined weight of my iPhone 5 and iPad Mini is less than the weight of my New iPad.

2013-01-02 11.54.31The display is similar in terms of retina display and HD capability. While it appears in the above picture that the Mini is not as bright as the iPad, I have the brightness turned down on it-something I don’t do on other devices, but for some odd reason, it works well on the Mini for me. Of course, navigation is the same, and the accessibility features are the same, and you can get apps galore, which are all super cool. There is one reason I prefer the iPad Mini over the iPad, and that is for reading.

2013-01-02 11.59.31While these enhanced books are the same, and while it does display larger on the iPad, the weight of the iPad makes it tricky for a voracious reader like myself to use it for that purpose. I feel like the iPad Mini is just right for reading. I have read 4 books since I received it, compared to maybe one on my iPad, and a few on my iPhone.

But I like the Mini for other reasons besides reading. I like the mini for photography, for checking e-mail, social networking, and even for note-taking.  The camera is fantastic, just like the iPad and the iPhone 5, but I found that there was an ease of use that I had not quite found with other iOS devices- and I love my iOS devices.

Apps that I have tested work well also. While I have not tested every single app I own on the Mini- and there are a ton of those- the ones I have used that are updated for the iPad Mini work just as well as they do on any other iOS Device.

I am a firm proponent of finding the right tool for the task. Do I feel that the Mini is the be all end all of devices? No. But for me, it is a device that is quickly becoming my go-to for reading, watching video, and other tasks that I would do on my phone or iPad- short of making calls. I feel that each device has it’s benefit. For little ones, the Mini may be a great alternative-something in between an iPod Touch and an iPad, lightweight, easy to carry, portable, and great for reading.

For those of us that wanted a choice that was not as big as the iPad, but not as small as an iPhone or iPod, the iPad Mini is an excellent option. While having several choices may confuse some users, or be overwhelming to some users, having the ability to choose a device that suits my needs is pretty cool. Too bad we can’t do that for practical reasons in a school setting. But it’s something to think about.

Lastly, I am hoping that the company that made my new iPad skin will have one for the Mini soon.

2012-12-29 12.51.02

iOS 6 Features and Updates

1 10 2012

Apple has recently released iOS6. Depending on the device, certain features of iOS 6 will be available to users. For example, on my new iPad, Siri is now available. Of course, now I want to upgrade my iPhone 4 because of Siri (among other reasons, but that’s another post for another day).

Aside from a better mail interface, enhancements to Safari, better integration with social networks, and a few other things (I won’t go there with maps), one of the coolest features is Guided Access, which basically prevents a student from navigating out of an app by pressing the home button. While I’m a fan of Bubcaps, I’m an even bigger fan of Guided Access for a multitude of reasons:

1. Password protected so users cannot re-enable the home button

2. For AAC users, this is a perfect way to ensure that the iPad is being used as an AAC device

3. For reluctant learners that do not want to use a particular app, this reinforces concepts such as first then, and prevents any unnecessary struggles for users that may inadvertently navigate out of an app.

Here’s how to enable Guided Access on an iPad:

Guided Access promises to be a powerful tool for our most significantly disabled students who tend to press the home button by accident, or to quit an app they do not prefer to use. It also creates increased opportunities for AAC users to access their device more effectively, therefore targeting its purpose.

Overall, I’m impressed with iOS 6 and have noticed new features every day. However, Guided Access is one of the coolest features!