Friday, November 17, 2017

“Language” Immersion

Hey Tek-Ninjas! I was at a terrific in-service for Augmentative Communication (AAC) today. The presenters were discussing how important it is for AAC to be continuously modeled by educators, therapists, and parents. 

The conversation got me thinking about how we teach students foreign languages. Like many others, our school district has dual language schools, both Spanish and Chinese, Everyone in those buildings are always speaking in those respective languages. This model of language immersion has proven to work.

Now consider how we teach AAC users. Are we modeling a Dual-language classroom in how we communicate? Doing so can feel intimidating, especially as we are sometimes also learning as we go. But showing this process, our own stumbling and successes can be hugely valuable for your students and colleagues, ultimately helping them feel better about their own feelings of AAC inadequacy.
I’d love to hear from any of you as to how immersive you are in your educational settings. Any tips? Pitfalls?
Happy Therapy!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Managing your Apps

Hey Tek-Ninjas! Back in September I wrote a blog article about Apple's removal of the App store from iTunes. For some of us, we really want to be able to see the icon of the App.

Well, at the time, I did not think about Apple Configurator, primarily because I use that tool to manage my Volume Purchases. Apple Configurator will work for individual installations similar to the older iTunes. 

Apple Configurator is a free download from the App store. Once downloaded, click on "Account" on the top bar, and log in to your iTunes account. 

Once logged in, you can click on the green plus, than click  on the "Apps" icon.

You will be provided the choice of choosing from the window box that appears, or choose from your mac in the bottom left corner. 

The only disappointment I'm still faced with, is that (to my knowledge) the user is not able to customize the iPad appearance using Apple Configurator. It appears that to create folders and rearrange apps, the user will need to do so directly on the iPad. 

Still, its a nice tool to have, given that iTunes no longer supports Apps. 


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Infinite Possibilities...

Hey Tek-Ninjas! Recently I had a student introduce me to a really terrific Google Extension. It's called Infinity, and it allows users to create an elegant, customizable, and intuitive home page for desktop or laptop. 

Google Infinity is designed to create a minimalist environment,  providing easy pathways to often used sites. I am using it personally with Google sites such as my mail, docs, and drive.

Chrome Browser
Infinity will require the installation of the Chrome Browser, which really is a topnotch browser anyways. Both the browser and the extension are free. They work on Macs and PCs, as well as Chromebooks. 

Once installed, anytime the user opens Chrome, they will be
Infinity Home Page
presented with the Infinity page. If they use Chrome and log into their Google account on another computer, regardless of the operating system, (Mac, PC, Chromebook) they will encounter the same Infinity page. 

With Google Infinity, walking into any public library, the user can replicate their computer experience. For many of our users, this type of continuity is crucial. 

For fun, anytime the user clicks on the pinwheel in the bottom right, a new background photo comes up. My student indicated some of the photos might be a little "inappropriate, but not too sexy" for younger students. I've yet to encounter any such issue, but I'll keep looking just in case. 

Happy Tuesday!


Wednesday, September 13, 2017


Hey Tek-Ninjas! If you are a user of iTunes for managing your iDevice apps, be warned, the new iTunes no longer manages apps. 

As in, there is no app tool anymore. At all. Instead, I guess you download everything wirelessly. You can still "file share" moving data to and from your apps, but no longer manage them that way.

So. Do not update your iTunes if that is a potential issue for you.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017


Hey Tek-ninjas! A lot going on in the world, and some of it is down right scary. 

If you work with DACA Dreamers, United We Dream is a tremendous resource for you and your students.  

United We Dream is the largest immigrant youth-led organization in the nation. Their powerful nonpartisan network is made up of over 100,000 immigrant youth and allies and 55
affiliate organizations in 26 states. They organize and advocate for the dignity and fair treatment of immigrant youth and families, regardless of immigration status.

If you are like me, and are committed to keeping families together, and our students in school, follow this link

That's all for now...

Friday, September 1, 2017

Change Agents

Hey Tek-Ninjas! We are at the end of our first week of school for our district. From my perspective it's been a whirl-wind of activity. Today a colleague shared this nice story with me, and I thought I'd pass it along. 

Last spring during an Exceptional Children (EC) adapted curriculum and EC Resource Professional Learning meeting, one of our school-based teams were discussing the game Hangman which was being used within a learning program called News2You (N2Y) that is offered internationally.

The team was discussing the historical messages that are associated with hanging and agreed that
"Build A Word"
they didn't want to reinforce those messages or portray them as a fun activity with their students.

So, rather than just abandon the activity, which they all deemed to have education value, they decided to advocate for their students and contact the company to request changes to the game.

They called and emailed with representatives from N2Y over several months.  After several productive conversations they were thrilled that the programmers heard their concerns and made terrific changes!

N2Y changed the name to Build a Word and the activity now focuses on building a character! Way to go N2Y!

For me, the take away from this story is that we all have the ability to be "change agents". Here is to hoping you all have great school years full of learning and rewarding relationships.


Monday, May 22, 2017

Word Processor

Hey Tek-Ninjas! Last week I posted asking for help regarding the recent demise of the last sub $500 Stand-Alone-Word-Processor.

I am pleased to say, that with the help of the IT folks in our district I have a solution!

Our district is planning on re-purposing old laptops, and we will load a "Cloudready Chrome OS. This essentially turns any Mac or PC into a Chromebook. The OS can run on an older device, and does so remarkably fast, thus turning an outdated computer into a functional Chrome Book.

Next, we install the Chrome app "Note", or any other preferred/and free word processor app you like. We want a simple word processor, with minimum bells and whistles.

Finally, we turn on "Kiosk mode" so the laptop will boot only and always into the Note app. No internet, no youtube, no settings, no distractions.

The only downside is that right now, the only way to get the document off the laptop is with a fob, but that is proving to be navigable.
Hope this helps. Please let me know if you do this, especially if you make improvements/changes!