Thursday, June 8, 2017

Wanted: SLP with a passion for AT and AAC.

Hey Tek-Ninjas! My school district and I are looking for the right candidate to fill a position on our Assistive Technology Team here in the Chapel Hill Carrboro City Schools. Specifically, we are looking for  a Speech Therapist. If you are interested and qualified take a closer look here!

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 The OS can run on an older device, and does so remarkably fast, thus turning an outdated computer into a functional Chrome Book.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!


Monday, May 15, 2017


Hey Tek-Ninjas! I'm looking for ideas. If you are an Occupational Therapist, or educator, you may have noticed recently that the makers of the Fusion Writer, WriterLearning, has gone out of business. The good folks at Alpha-Smart of course have been long gone.

So, if you are looking for a dedicated word-processor for your student who requires key-boarding, but is too distractible by a full blown computer, you are going to be in a jam. The only one I can find, the Freewrite, retails for $499, which is easily the cost of two Chromebook.

So, I'm wondering if anyone has suggestions for ready made products? Or perhaps experience locking down a word processing function on a Chromebook, Linux, or Pi unit?

Thanks, and Hajimé

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

What's the time?

Hey Tek-Ninjas! This is a quick share. Many of you classroom folks or therapists have needed timers to help students with focus, transitions, etc. I've shared this inexpensive and easy to use app a while back. 

Today I thought I'd share this free resource in the form of a website: As long as you can access the internet, it doesn't matter if you are using Mac, Windows, Linux, Chrome, or any smartphone. 

The online stop watch is very easy to use. And, the makers offer many varied types of timers. Choose a timer that is simplistic, or find one that is whimsical, or sports themed. 

An online timer can easily be displayed on a Smartboard or other projected screen for a class. Or, for a smaller setting, the online timer can easily run on a smartphone. 


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The "Choice Act" isn't really about "Choice".

Another day, another call to make:

Please call your representative and ask him/her to vote NO on U.S. House Bill 610 (HR 610) introduced by three Republican reps.

This bill will effectively start the school voucher system to be used by children ages 5-17, and starts the defunding process of public schools. In addition the bill will eliminate the Elementary and Education Act of 1965 (ESSA), which is the nation's educational law and provides equal opportunity in education. ESSA is a big comprehensive program that covers programs for struggling learners, AP classes, ESL classes, classes for minorities such as Native Americans, Rural Education, Education for the Homeless, School Safety (Gun-Free schools), Monitoring and Compliance and Federal Accountability Programs.

Let me be clear, I am not categorically against Charter schools, I have worked in some truely remarkable charters. But I am categorically against charter, private, and home schools replacing public education.

The Bill also abolishes the Nutritional Act of 2012 (No Hungry Kids Act) which provides nutritional standards in school breakfast and lunch.

The bill has no wording whatsoever protecting Special Needs kids, no mention of IDEA and FAPE.

Some things ESSA does for Children with Disabilities
-Ensures access to the general education curriculum.
-Ensures access to accommodations on assessments.
-Ensures concepts of Universal Design for Learning
-Includes provisions that require local education agencies to provide evidence-based
interventions in schools with consistently underperforming subgroups.
-Requires states in Title I plans to address how they will improve conditions for learning including reducing incidents of bullying and harassment in schools, overuse of discipline practices and reduce the use of aversive behavioral interventions (such as restraints and seclusion).

So as a stated above, time to make some calls! If you are uncertain who to call, you can find your Congress-person here.


Thursday, February 16, 2017

Ditch the Desktop and Laptop and make Custom Boards!

Hey Tek-Ninjas! So I'm on a roll reviewing the Smarty-Ears Apps. Let me say that I get no moolah for sharing these apps with you, I've simply been very impressed by them.

Today I am blogging about  Custom Boards, an iPhone and/or iPad app which serves as a board and activity creator. Custom Boards retails for $49.99. This may seem like a lot for "an app", but take a look at the competition and you will see their prices are at least double if not more.

Some of our students require symbol support in order to experience success with transitions, jobs, ADL's, etc. Software can be very expensive, and tied to a computer. Custom Boards provides a great option to get around those issues. 

Rather than retell the features, I've simply pulled this from the creator's website. It is impressive:

• includes over 125 templates from within 6 categories
• includes over 10,000 built-in Smarty Symbols
• Choose from a total of 100 floating shapes and 7 different styles of shapes
• Ability to add images from Google search engine
• Ability to add Floating Images—place an image anywhere on the template!
• Ability to add Floating Shapes—place any of the 100 built in shapes anywhere!
• Ability to add Floating Texts— place text anywhere on the template!
• Layers — select individual floating images, text, and shapes and move them forward/back
• Add multiple pages to a template
• Lock the screen to use a static image on the iPad itself in an activity without accidentally editing it.
• Ability to lock the screen so that the iPad surface itself can be used for an activity.
• Share editable files with other Custom Boards users
• Email PDFs of your custom boards creations to anyone
• Quickly print your creations with an air ready printer
• Cloud Compatible — backup your files via the cloud
• Organize your archive of creations with folders

Also, here is a video introduction with REALLY REALLY peppy music.

The built in introduction tutorial is really well done, and helps a first-time user get up to speed.

If you are in the market for "board-making" software, Custom Boards is definitely worth a look!


Monday, February 13, 2017

Syntax like a ninja!

Good morning Tek-Ninjas! As a lover of all things "Ninja" I am easily engaged by things with "ninja-osity". Yes. I made that word up. But you know what I mean. 

Multiple Adjustments
One of the Smarty Ears apps that I've been so impressed with is called "Sentence Ninja". It is a very powerful education tool, which teaches sentence and grammar skills, all the while recording data.  It retails for only $19.99. 

 Per the app designer: "Sentence Ninja is a multi-player multi-level app designed to improve sentence structure skills in children and adults. Designed by a certified speech-language pathologist." The app teaches syntax, aka, word order. 

Sentence Ninja is easily and very customizable to fit most learner's needs. Used in conjunction with a therapist's clinical reasoning, it can be a powerful teaching tool. With 39 levels ranging from simple to complex phrases, syntax teaching can be fun and effective. 

Using the Smarty Ears Therapy Report Center app, which I blogged about awhile back, the clinician or teacher can easily and quickly "dump" students into Sentence Ninja quickly. Data can be collected and shared as needed. 

So, if you are working on Syntax, be sure to take a closer look at Sentence Ninja!