Thursday, February 25, 2016

Go Big for Cheap!

Hey Tek-Ninjas! This is really a quickie about a website that I like. 

Sometimes, I want to make a large poster... maybe a communication board, but really big...My school doesn't have a poster printer. So, Block Posters lets me make a larger print from my office printer for free. 

The interface is simple and intuitive. The free version lets you print up to 5 pages wide. When you are done printing, tape it together, and if you have a large laminator, go the extra distance for a really nice product.

Check it out. 


Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Choose It! Maker 3: A good choice for individualized learning materials

Hey Tek-Ninjas! Those of you who have been in the field for awhile will remember Choose It! Maker
(CIM). Originally CIM was software you installed onto your computer. CIM allowed users to create customized learning materials relatively quickly using personal photos, symbols, text, and sounds to create any cause & effect or choice making activities you could imagine.  The end product would then be used on the computer it was made on.

Well, the folks at HelpKidzLearn have made the product more powerful, while also easier than ever to use. Now, Choose It! Maker 3 is an online, subscription based product. You make customized learning materials in minutes which can be accessed by any computer (PC, Mac, Linux) with internet capability, as well as on the free apps available for your iPad or android tablet.

Subscriptions are available for individuals or larger organizations. 
Individual: $99 annually
5 users:  $159 annually
Site location:  $219 annually
District: available based on size of district. 


Friday, February 12, 2016

iDevice Assistive Features

Hey Tek-Ninjas! Many of you are already familiar with the built in features of the iDevices (iPhones, iPads, and iTouches). But just in case you haven't seen the latest bells and whistles, I want to direct you to Apple's very helpful page. 

This "stuff" is amazing, and all part of your iDevice! These devices offer great supports for folks with issues around vision, hearing, motor skills, and learning and literacy. Make sure you are maximizing your technology's potential.


Monday, February 8, 2016

Free Materials from Handwriting Without Tears

Hey Tek-Ninjas! Most Occupational Therapist's I talk with are big fans of Jan Olson's Handwriting Without Tears, and not just because she is an Occupational Therapist herself, but the program is excellent, affordable, and spans pre-writing skills, print, cursive, and even key boarding.

Recently a colleague shared with me HWT's free online resource. This is really terrific, and I wanted to make sure you all are aware of the site, regardless of whether or not you use HWT, there is some great stuff here.


Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Typing Support

Hey Tek-Ninjas! Let's talk about keyboarding a bit.

I typically don't jump into keyboarding instruction until sometime in the 3rd or 4th grades. Occasionally, given compelling reasons, I may start earlier. The biggest predictor to keyboarding success is consistent exposure.  I will generally recommend 10-15 minute skill drill 3-5 days per week, with the idea that learning to keyboard is a process.

To support this process, I want to tell you about a free online typing site. KidzType is an amazing site filled with great instruction and games for reinforcement. 

KidzType touts the benefits of touch typing, and that is the focus of the instruction.  However, even for folks who are entrenched in a hunt & peck method, or single handed typing (secondary to a physical issue) the site can help users increase both speed and accuracy. 

Remember, if you are keyboarding on an iPad, most folks benefit from an external keyboard. Also, because the site is Flash based, iPad users will need a Flash enabled browser such as Photon


Monday, February 1, 2016

Making Connections for your Team

Hey Tek-Ninjas! Today I'd like to tell you about a new service called Connections For Autism (CFA). CFA is a subscription-based, online platform for any and all educators. CFA provides educators with a wide array of tools to meet the needs of students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The service was created by a skilled multi-disciplinary team here in Chapel Hill. The team consists veterans from TEACCH, an Autism Specialist, Speech therapist, Occupational Therapist, Special Educator, Elementary Math Curriculum Specialist, Regular Ed Teacher, and a parent of a child with Autism.  The tools include IEP goals aligned to Common Core Standards, assessment and progress monitoring forms, and a tremendous selection of differentiated materials to support evidence-based practices. 

I have been invited to
 have involvement in further growing CFA. So, yes, this time I do have some personal investment in the product being successful. I came on board because I was so impressed with the thoroughness and sophistication of this service. In addition, I have worked with several of the contributors over the years and count them as some of the best in their respective fields. 

The depth and breadth of support CFA offers for IEP teams is remarkable. 

The service includes approximately 400 IEP goals, and all goals have progress monitoring forms. In addition, all non academic goals (behavior, social and communication, daily living and time management) have initial informal assessments. CFA provides several hundred downloadable materials which are all tied to multiple goals. 

This service could stand alone as a complete product. However, the design is that the service will continue to grow and revise as necessary. 

If you work with children on the spectrum this tool could really help shape your evaluations, interventions, and service delivery, insuring best practice, whether you work in a public, charter, private, or home school setting.