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

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Word Wizard ~Review~

I discovered this app while I was on twitter a couple of months ago. Due to 'summer fun' and starting back to work, this review was put on the back burner. But now I am very excited to tell you about Word Wizard by L'Escapadou. 

I was initially interested for a couple of reasons. First, my daughter is a beginning reader and she is now a big kindergartener. I wanted an app that was versatile for both her and my almost 4 year old son. Next, I knew that I would have a couple beginning readers within my classroom this school year. I was looking for something customizable to accommodate the varying academic levels as well as fine motor abilities. The students are so motivated by the use of the iPad that I am constantly looking for apps that will be easily incorporated into the curriculum and IEP goals.

Word Wizard is not just a moveable alphabet. It can be transformed into a great reading, writing, and spelling tool. Word Wizard offers 2 different activities. Moveable Alphabet is similar to magnet letter tiles. The letters are displayed at the bottom (in ABC order). The user can drag the tiles into the open space at the top of the screen. As the letters move, the letter name is said. Once the letter is placed on the board, the letter sound is said. As letters are put together, the letter combinations are pronounced. Once words are formed, they can be moved around board to various spots by using two fingers. This offers great flexibility whether working on letters, spelling simple words, or working on a writing simple sentences. The verbal model (although not the best sounding voice) is a nice feature and takes the prompting off the teacher. The other section is called Spelling Quiz. A variety of word list are already available within the app, such as leveled Dolch words, family members, animals, etc. Word Wizard also allows you to add your own customized lists. The user is given a verbal prompt of a word. Using the same tile set up as with the movable alphabet, the user is expected to move tiles  into top section. When word is spelled correctly, a visual reinforcement is give (stars, sparkles, etc.) and displayed until screen is touched. If word is not spelled correct, no reinforcement is given. This section is great to work on spelling words or creating sentences without picking up a pencil.

IEP applications
The Moveable Alphabet allows the user to explore the letters and the sounds the letters and groups of letter make. This app would be great to use with students who are developing the skills of letter recognition and phonetic awareness. This section would also be useful when having student choose a letter for an activity and it could also be easily adapted into a matching or sorting activity. The Spelling Quiz would a tool for assessing students or doing a modified spelling test without the barrier of paper/pencil or forming letters.

So far this school year, I have used Word Wizard to have students practice spelling own names, practiced spelling reading words which we were reviewing from last year, and I have used it for letter assessments ("can you find the b?"). Word Wizard will also be used as an alternative for handwritten spelling test for a couple of first grade students who have some fine motor challenges. The ability to use the "screen capture" feature on the iPad will allow staff to have documentation of the words spelled correctly and can even quickly email the picture home for parents to see.

A few suggestions...
The content of Word Wizard is great. As mentioned above, I see many uses within the classroom as well a way to enhance development of IEP skills; however, there are a few suggestions:
  • Way to create upper case letters in alphabet section so that sentence would be graphically correct. This would be similar to a SHIFT key on a computer keyboard. This would get help when using Word Wizard to practice typing names 
  • Limit the time when/how long the reinforcement is given. Some students might fixate on stars or sparkles and not tap to go on  to the next word.
In conclusion, Word Wizard exceeded my initial expectations. It is not just another letter tiles app. The verbal feedback of letter names and letters sounds really helps students focus in on the letter or word when trying to spell. As fine motor and speech challenges are common among the students I work with, I am always in search of apps that can assess the students without the use of traditional methods (paper/pencil, verbal answer, etc.). Word Wizard is great app to do just that. I also really like the option of spelling a word and moving word somewhere else on the board. This would be a great way to do sentence completion activities as well.  For the number of uses I have found for this app within my classroom, I think that price is right! At the price of review, Word Wizard was $2.99.

developer: L'Escapadou
website: L'Escapadou
itunes: Word Wizard
category: Education
recently updated: August 18, 2011

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Thank you, iTech conference!

Thank you for attending my session on academic and classroom apps!

It was great to share my experiences with parents, therapists, and other teachers because this new technology is so exciting! Hopefully my APPvice will help you begin your iPad journey. If you were already a user, I hope that you found something new to help develop that journey. I do have a favor to ask. In order for me to know if the session met your needs, I need to hear from you! Please complete this quick survey. If you leave your email and complete the survey by August 30, you will have a chance to win a app promo code. If you received one at the conference include the name of the app in the survey as well as your email, I will do my best to give you a different one.

Click here for LIVEBINDER Resource.

Remember to visit the developer's sites (facebook or send email) and say thank you! You could also leave a comment on this site if I have done an app review for the app. They were very generous in supporting my presentation!

If you didn't get to attend my presentation, check out the APP INFO page of this blog for general information or go to the ABOUT ME page, scroll down to see the presentation info for Redwood.

Thanks again!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

My blog won an award!! Well, sorta...

WOW! I received quite an exciting "tweet" the other day!

Deanne Shoyer
You've won a versatile blogger award :)

I have to say, my initial reaction that that it was 'spam'. (Sorry, Deanne, I think that is the second time I mistook you for spam! *hugs*) As I read further, I realized it was kind of a bloggy 'chair' letter. Now, I am not a fan of chain letters or recipe swaps or email forwards. I rarely, if ever, do them. But this was something different. I felt this was a great opportunity to introduce my readers to the blogs I enjoy reading!

There are a few rules:
  1. Thank the person who gave you the award and link back to them in your post. 
Thank you Deanne for letting me into your blogger circle! When I started this blog, it initially was going to be a way to communicate dates and theme activities to parents. It kind of took on a mind of it's own. For that I am very thankful because I have 'met' some great people around the world, like Deanne, a Mum from Canada. Please check Deanne's blog Small But Kinda Mighty where she talks about Autism, being a mum, iPads, and some things in between! My hope for this blog is for it to be a well-rounded resource for the parent's of my students as well as parents and educators from all over.
  • Share 7 things about yourself. OK, try not to fall asleep.
    • I am a mom, or mum (hehe) of 2 wonderful children and a wife to an amazing husband.
    • I have always wanted to be a teacher for as long as I can remember. I would play "school" with anyone or thing that would let me. My stuffed animals and Cabbage Patch dolls were pretty smart, you know!
    • My favorite vacation so far in my life was going to Colorado for a friend's wedding and traveling around Denver and Colorado Springs with the wedding party and families.
    • I'm really not that old, but I totally remember the cassette tape Texas Instrument computer thingy that hooked up the TV so that I could play a game...now my 6 y/o DD uses terms like "Mom, are you going to blog today?" or "Maybe she will post pictures on Facebook." WOW, times have changed.
    • I love to spend time outside. I LOVE to swim IN A POOL. I can get my feet into a lake or ocean, but the feeling of the lake/ocean floor creeps me out. And the thought of fish swimming past my legs...auugghh, I can't even type anymore!
    • I have become a big University of Cincinnati football fan. We have season tickets.
    • I will be starting classes for my Master's degree in Educational Technology this fall, so please bear with me as my posts maybe few and far between! (I am SO excited!)
  • Pass this award on to 15 other blogs
My first worry was that I didn't even know of 15 other blogs! I recently started using google reader so I don't always know how many I follow. Well, to my surprise, there were several, actually well over the 15. So now the difficult task was to choose. It was hard to decided, but I think I picked the 15 that I look forward to having the post show up in my google reader! I've added a brief description of the blog as well (info is either from the blog author or my impression, or a combination of both!). I tried to choose a variety of blog topics from special education to technology to just education, in general. I hope you take a look and enjoy the posts as much as I do!

Exceptional Abilitiles The blog was started to help educate parents, teachers, and the community about the amazing abilities our exceptional children have. The posting are about technology, advocacy, life skills, curriculum, and other educational topics.
Love That Max is "A Blog About Kids With Special Needs That Kick Butt".

Noah's Dad is a video and picture blog telling (and showing) about their son with Down Syndrome. The blog includes a daily one minute video of Noah detailing his growth. One look into Noah's eyes, you'll keep going back!

CGregoryRun is a blog about "finding the funny in daily life". The posts are honest and always make me smile (usually laugh out loud) because no matter where you live, who you are, we all have our "issues".

Healthy, Unweathly, and Becoming Wise is a blog created with the "intention to give you a light-hearted (sometimes inevitably heavy-hearted) insight into the life of a college student who has a little bit of an extra challenge".

Tools of the Trade  offers an ongoing discussion about assistive technology, recent posts include information on Big Keys Keyboard, Cyberbullying, and app information

Teaching All Students was started by a special education teacher. He recently teamed up with another special ed teacher to make the great website even better. They are a wealth of resources relating to iDevices and special education.

Teaching Learners with Multiple Needs provides a great resource for teachers, actually anyone, working with students with multiple challenges. Posts include information on AAC, back to school tips, iDevice information, and a section with info for paraprofessionals.

The Innovative Educator provides a fresh look at education by promoting 21st century learning...use of mobile technology and social networking as a way to connect with students.

The Nerdy Teacher provides insight into education today. I find his posts inspiring and encouraging...making me take a look at myself as an educator and ask what can I do better!

leardership247 a team blog about school leadership written by administrators, teachers, parents, etc. representing leadership all day, everyday.

Eat. Pray. Teach  a great teacher blog by an intervention specialist who shares my passions for teaching and technology.

 The Pursuit of Technology Intergration Happiness  blog is a great resource about the web 2.0 resources and how to make them part of the school environment.

Your Therapy Source  is an amazing resource for fine motor activities that are developmentally and ability appropriate. I love the way the suggestions require items that I already have either at home or in my school storage.

The Life of Dad blog is a humorous, truthful account of being a dad...and a dad to 3 girls at that. Weekly posts make me go from laughing to crying in one post.

*** Thanks to all the wonderful bloggers I follow. Your posts have helped me group as an educator this summer and I look forward to much more. ***