“If a child can't learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn.”
-- Ignacio Estrada

Friday, March 18, 2011

Apps site - Moms With Apps


I just was introduced to a great blog/website (Thanks, Susan!). Self described on the website, 

Moms with Apps is a group of individual, independent, family-friendly developers who share best practices on making and marketing mobile apps. We are not a traditional app review site.

They have an app catalog on iTunes offering a variety of apps from fun apps to learning apps to parent apps. The website is organized by topic, such as APPS for reading, APPS for Special Needs, APPS for family fun. The best part is APP FRIDAY. This is where they offer free apps for one day only. If you are looking for some interesting apps and a site that gives some nice app descriptions (great to have before spending time downloading), check out moms with apps.

Today I downloaded MOM MAPS. It is an app that uses GPS to figure your current location, then plots "kids-friendly" locations (parks, indoor play areas, etc.) close to where you are located. This would be nice to have on vacation. Downside, internet access would be needed to fully access app.

~ MB

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Happy (early) St. Patrick's Day!

This is one of my favorite activities to do each March. In honor of Dr. Seuss' birthday and St. Patrick's Day.....it was the annual making of "GREEN EGGS AND HAM".

The students get so excited on cooking days. Today was no exception. They sat patiently as each student received a turn "helping" in some way.
Here is an example of a communication device that was available for students to use to help read the recipe, answer questions, or identify ingredients. Other students were presented with a set of pictures where they had the opportunity to hand the picture to the teacher as a way of "answering" (a modified version of picture exchange. The two students with personal Vanguard AAC devices had the devices set to the cooking page with the choices of stir, pour, cook, eat presented. Lastly, the two students who are readers had the actual recipe with words and pictures for them to follow.

Of the students who could partake in eating of the green eggs and ham (7 out of 9), we had 5 who LOVED it. I think they each ate 2 helpings and wanted more. The other 2 students were brave enough to try (even if that meant just touching the ham to tongue), before deciding that it was "YUCKY".

Here are a few more pictures from today's activities:

We are adding green food coloring (and I mean GREEN food coloring!) to the eggs and ham and getting ready to stir it all together.
The finished product....
and lots of full bellies!

We also sent home copies of the recipe (Boardmaker picture copies) today. Let me know if you make it with your family and how things turned you!


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

DynaVox Mayer-Johnson

I thought that I would include a very well known site for this posting. A recent merger between DynaVox Inc. (primarily known for their voice output devices) and Mayer-Johnson (primarily known for creating the Boardmaker software) has created DynaVox Mayer-Johnson. According to their website, it is the”leading provider of speech generating devices and symbol-adapted special education software used to assist individuals in overcoming their speech, language and learning challenges.”

A day does not go by without a Boardmaker symbol being used within the classroom --- whether it be to cue a student to sit down, used to differentiate a lesson to a non-reader or used for a student to “ask” for snack by exchanging a picture. The Boardmaker line software is used to create interactive, symbol-based educational activities and materials for special education students. I have been doing just that for over 10 years. I try to incorporate a variety of these symbol sets into every theme unit we do. It is especially important and evident in the MeVille to WeVille reading program that I am currently implementing. The great thing about that reading program is that many of the basic materials are already created with the symbols which leaves me time to incorporate the symbols into worksheets or SmartBoard lessons. Using the symbols allows we to differentiate the reading/language lesson creating adapt text-based materials to symbol-based materials for students with limited reading skills. It not only helps that students with the limited reading skills, it also assists the students who are readers in developing their language skills, increasing comprehension and making the words more concrete and meaningful.

The website offers a variety of assistive technology products from software to low or high tech communication devices, computer accessories, and much more. One section that I thought would be helpful to families is the sections at the top marked “conditions”. In the drop down, it lists a variety of conditions (oral motor disorder, Autism, Down Syndrome, etc.) and it gives suggested products tailored to that condition. Although I do think this is a very narrow list of items available out there, I think it gives a good overview of the types of technology equipment that is available.

Lastly, if you are interested in Boardmaker and are not familiar with the product, they do offer a FREE 30 day trial  to “try before you buy”.

Until next time....