Thursday, March 26, 2015

Let's Look a Little Closer at Ginger...

Hey Tek-Ninjas, recently I wrote about a grammar and spelling correction software called Ginger. I have removed the blog post, as a friend has directed me towards several online complaints about it.

Several users complain that the software works as malware. They also indicate that it is very difficult to remove. Other folks explain that Ginger coming up as malware as a secondary function of it being an online tool. I don't necessarily understand the explanation, suffice to say these users suggest it's not an issue.

Nonetheless, there are enough complaints that I am a little leery of recommending the software. I intend to write the company and see what their take is on these complaints.

I will report any response I get from the software engineers.

Friday, March 13, 2015

A Little Help FOR Our Friends...

Hey Tek-Ninjas, don't we love it when we find a great app? How about when we like an app a lot, and make a suggestion or two, and those suggestions get incorporated in the next update? How cool is that?!?!

Well the good folks at ModMath built an amazing app. I wrote about it awhile back (read my blog here).  They built it originally with their own son in mind, but to date around 27,000 people have downloaded it, so clearly, we like it. And, folks are making a lot of great suggestions for various updates.

I really like this app. It is a stand out because it allows math students to complete their assignments without writing out answers longhand. And it's purposefully built sans calculator so the teacher can see if a student doesn’t understand the concept, or has simply made a computation error.  The app builders, Dawn and Josh Denberg could feasibly leave the app as it is, and walk away feeling successful. However, they would like to make it better, and they want to incorporate many of the ideas users have suggested. In order to do so, they will need some money. They indicate that "An upgraded ModMath 2.0 supporting advanced algebraic equations is about $25,000. An Android version with the exact same features will cost $30,000".

Dawn and Josh have started a ModMath Kickstarter campaign.  For this first iteration, they are asking for $20,000 and in about a day, they are already half way there!

If you like ModMath, if you would like to see a more powerful/robust version of ModMath, or simply need a worthy place to donate, consider supporting their fundraiser! Also, be sure to "Like" their Facebook page.

Happy Therapy!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Favorite Apps of a Dozen School Based OTs: Communication, Math, Timers, and Organization

Tel-Ninjas, this is part four, and the final segment of Favorite Apps of a Dozen School Based OTs. You can read part one here, part two here, and part three here.

Communication: (certainly considered a SLP domain, OT's can be involved in this process)
Proloquo2Go: $219.99, Proloquo2Go® is an award-winning symbol-supported communication app providing a voice to over 100,000 individuals around the world who are unable to speak.

ModMath: Free, ModMath is an adaptive program that improves math skills. The app lets you type math problems right onto the touch screen of an iPad rather than write them out long-hand. You can then solve the problems using the touch pad and print or e-mail the assignments all without ever picking up a pencil.

VisualTimer: $1.99, Refer to my blog. VisualTimer is a 60 minute timer with a graphical display that's also incredibly easy to use. To get started, just touch and drag the meter to the desired time and hit the Start button. It's that easy!

Metronome!!: $0.99, An easy to use and accurate audio/visual metronome for your iPhone and iPad. Keeping tempo has never been so simple.

Blogger: Free, Refer to my blog.  Compose a post that you can save to draft or immediately publish

First Then Visual Schedule HD: $14.99, FTVS HD lets you easily and quickly create and use Visual schedules, Task analyses, Social stories, Choice boards, and Video models.

Folks, I hope some of these prove useful to you. If you have some favorite apps, I'd love to hear what they are, and maybe a blurb about how you use the app in your sessions.

Happy Therapy!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Favorite Apps of a Dozen School Based OTs: Visual Motor/Visual Perceptual, pt. 3

This is part three of Favorite Apps of a Dozen School Based OTs. You can read part one here, and part two here.

Visual Motor:
Dexteria: $3.99, Refer to my blog article. Dexteria is a set of therapeutic hand exercises (not games) to improve fine motor skills and handwriting readiness in children and adults. Dexteria’s unique hand and finger activities take full advantage of the multi-touch interface to help build strength, control, and dexterity.
Just Find It: $0.99. You are presented two images almost identical but at most 4 different spots. If you find all the differences in each stage before the countdown timer runs out, the remained time will be added to your score. Be careful! Wrong spot means time penalty! But you will be relieved to know that some unused item is left!
Bugs & Buttons
Bugs & Buttons: $2.99. Bugs and Buttons 2 seamlessly incorporates numbers, letters, patterns, shapes and so much more into 18 exciting games and activities. Use a rubber band to bounce falling buttons and acorns away from a parade of marching metallic green beetles. Fine-tune your motor skills in a high-speed race on a remote-controlled car gaining speed boosts, avoiding obstacles, and running competitors off the road. Practice your listening skills in a fun game of “Simon Says” with a funky, button covered puppet! Learn to play popular tunes or record songs of your own with a working keyboard. Guess the shape as a water bug creates geometric ripples on a gorgeous, three dimensional, babbling brook.

Visual Perceptual:
Shape Builder: $2.99. Shape Builder educates & entertains your little one with easy to move shapes that snap into place on top of silhouette puzzles. Each puzzle has 5 to 10 pieces & after positioning all of the pieces, the real image is revealed along with a professional voice recording of the word spoken by a licensed speech therapist that specializes in early child development. Shape Builder encourages cognitive thinking & fine motor skills plus exposes young minds to new music instruments, animals, produce, objects & the alphabet in a fun & engaging format with LOTS of sound effects!
ShapePuzzle: Free, Shape Puzzle is a jigsaw puzzle especially designed for little children. After you complete a picture, a cute turtle will pops out and tell you the name of the object you just assembled. What's more, each object belongs to a certain scene and after you finish all the items, a vivid scene appears!
Injini: $29.99, 10 feature games with 90 puzzles, over 100 beautiful illustrations, 8 farm-themed mini-games and more. Injini is ideally suited for early intervention - it brings fun to learning and at the same time practices children’s fine motor and language skills, understanding of cause and effect, spatial awareness, memory and visual processing.

Kids Can Match - Animals...: Free, An interactive, adaptive and fun memory game for children of all ages. This app contains an amazing, one of a kind, collection of over 70 authentic animal images and sounds.

Happy Therapy!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Favorite Apps of a Dozen School Based OTs: Story Telling and Typing (pt. 2)

Hey Tek-Ninjas, this is part two of Favorite Apps of a Dozen School Based OTs. You can read part one here.

Story Telling:
Pictello: $19.99, Everyone loves to tell fun, engaging, and imaginative stories. Go ahead and make a social story or visual schedule for a child with autism or a slide show of holiday pictures for your friends - Pictello makes it a breeze to create and share! Whether you use the included natural-sounding Text to Speech voices, or record your own voice, Pictello is the perfect tool for visual storytelling.

Toontastic: Free, Refer to my blog article. Toontastic is a creative storytelling app that enables kids to draw, animate, and share their own cartoons with friends and family around the world.

Comic Life
Comic Life: $4.99, Refer to my blog article. Comic Life isn't just for creating comics.

You can retell a family vacation or capture a special day using your photos. It's simple to do: just drag photos onto the page and add your text in speech balloons and captions.

Voice Dictation with Siri: Standard on iPhone 4s or later, iPad 3rd gen or later, iPad mini, and iPod Touch (5th gen). Siri seems to work better with my students then some of the most expensive voice dictation software. Good blog article here

Pictello: $19.99, Everyone loves to tell fun, engaging, and imaginative stories. Go ahead and make a social story or visual schedule for a child with autism or a slide show of holiday pictures for your friends - Pictello makes it a breeze to create and share! Whether you use the included natural-sounding Text to Speech voices, or record your own voice, Pictello is the perfect tool for visual storytelling.

Abilipad: $19.99. Refer to my blog article. Abilipad is a customizable keyboard and adaptive notepad, with word prediction and text-to-speech.

Snaptype: Free, Refer to my blog article. SnapType helps students keep up with their peers in class even when their penmanship holds them back. Students can easily complete school worksheets with the help of an iPad or iPhone.

Turbo Type
Typing JR: $ 0.99. The fish are swimming towards a shark. You'll have to save the fish by typing in the word, before they get eaten by the shark. Fun and hectic game for the kids, where they learn how to typ.
Turbo Type: $1.99. Race to the finish and turbocharge your iPhone typing skills!  Battle the ruthless CPU opponent in a no-holds-barred typing race across expansive retro-styled scenery and environments, attempting to keep up with the randomly generated sentences and stay ahead of the enemy racer by avoiding deadly mistakes.

Be on the look out for part three of this blog soon.

Happy Therapy!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Favorite Apps of a Dozen School Based OTs: Letters/Writing/Drawing Practice (pt. 1)

Hey Tek-Ninjas, back in June of 2012 I wrote a blog titled “Favorite Occupational Therapy Apps”. Several years later, it remains one of my most consistently visited blog pages.

Many of the apps are still some of my favorite, however I am not working directly as an OT anymore. Instead, I am serving my district solely as an Assistive Technology Professional.

Recently a colleague sent an email out to the Occupational Therapists in our district, asking what were their 3 most often utilized iPad apps.

I plan to share the responses in a four part blog.

This is not necessarily my endorsement, but rather the endorsements of several very skilled and experienced Occupational Therapists working directly in a public school setting. 

Letter/Writing/Drawing Practice: 
Letter School: $4.99, Play to learn how to write all letters of the alphabet: abc - xyz and the numbers 1-10 with LetterSchool. Kids practice essential skills as they play four exciting games per letter or number.

Handwriting Without Tears: $6.99, Make handwriting practice fun! With our Wet-Dry-Try Suite App, children learn and practice correct formation habits for writing capitals, numbers, and lowercase letters. The app simulates our Slate Chalkboard and Blackboard with Double Lines and helps children learn handwriting skills in the easiest, most efficient way. The result truly is handwriting without tears!

Doodle Buddy: Free, Doodle Buddy Gold is the most fun you can have with your finger! Finger paint with your favorite colors and drop in playful stamps. Connect with a friend to draw together over the Internet.

Write My Name: $3.99, Write My Name is a fun way for children to practice writing letters, words, names and phrases. Write My Name supports children ages 4 through 6 to learn how to write their name, trace uppercase and lowercase letters, and write over 100 familiar sight/Dolch words. Write My Name meets some of the basic reading and writing Common Core State Standards for kindergarten such as the introduction and mastery of print and word recognition concepts.

Snaptype: Free, Refer to my blog articleSnapType helps students keep up with their peers in class even when their penmanship holds them back. Students can easily complete school worksheets with the help of an iPad or iPhone.

Ready to print: $9.99, Ready to Print progresses through the pre-writing skills in a specific order, so that children can master the visual-motor, visual-perceptual, and fine motor skills necessary for correct printing patterns. It is designed to teach children the correct patterns for printing, and to avoid bad habits that are difficult to change as the child gets older.  

iWriteWords: $2.99, Refer to my blog articleiWriteWords teaches your child handwriting while playing a fun and entertaining game.

Look for the second installment soon.

Happy Therapy!

SnapType Upgrade!

Hey Tek-Ninjas, a few weeks ago I blogged about SnapType.  I was and still am very impressed with
the product.  If you've not checked it out yet, do so. But if your a school system, wait until tomorrow. I will elaborate.

My only complaint about SnapType, and one I shared with the company, was that the product is free, with the option to "upgrade" with an in app purchase.
I'm not complaining about the "freeness", just the upgrade option.

Any app with in app purchasing is not able to be purchased with Apple's Volume Purchase Program. This is not a problem for an individual, but if you want to buy the app for a school (for example), it's hard to be legally compliant, providing the company with payment every time you load the product.

The developer Brendan Kirchner responded promptly to my email, apologizing for any inconvenience, and indicating he'd heard the issue raised before, and he was working on it.

Well, today I received a follow up email which I've shared below. 
I'm writing to tell you some good news... SnapType Pro for schools goes live tomorrow! We had many people reach out to us and ask for a standalone option of SnapType Pro and I'm happy to say that Apple has just approved it. You'll see it in the App Store tomorrow morning and will be able to deploy it effortlessly to multiple iPads with the help of Apple's volume purchase program. It will be $2.99 for a limited time as a launch special. Let us know if you have any questions, we're always happy to help!
 I share this because I think it's terrific when a company hears the requests of it's users, and works to address those needs. It suggests they are paying attention, and that's good for all of us! So, kudos to the Brendan Kirchner!

Happy Therapy!

Here is the link gone active today:

'bout sums it up folks...

Monday, March 2, 2015

Mac Chargers Cost a Lot...

Make a loop up top
Hey Tek-Ninjas, have any of you had to replace your Mac laptop charger? If you have, you know they cost about $80. There are no knockoffs. No cheapy versions. It is a cost that is simply unpleasant, but when necessary, there is no getting around it. 

Wrap the cord with loop
Most Mac chargers break where the thin cord comes out of the block. The breakage often occurs because of the way in which we wrap our cords. Apple thoughtfully provided wings to wrap the cord around. But it turns out that how you wrap the cord can greatly impact the life-span of your cord. See the images for the preferred way.

Happy Therapy!