Sunday, April 28, 2013

Tactilize: Sharing Your Brilliance!

Lately I've been really enjoying the app Tactilize.  According to its creators "Tactilize is the world's first iPad Self-Publishing App and Content Network. Tactilize aims to give the publishing house keys to anyone with a creative interest. We simply want to transform every iPad user into their own publisher."

And indeed, they have accomplished all of the aforementioned! And, it's FREE.  Using the app, one can quickly create a "card" with a background image, text boxes, multiple imbedded pictures, links to other web pages, and thumbnail pictures. Tactilize cards can be viewed on your iPad, or on any browser. And, much to my delight, I found after emailing the help desk (they responded the same day) that it is easy to edit a published card online, and then re-publish the card. 

From an educational point of view, it is a remarkable tool for students to create an online modern "book report", or any other report/paper for that matter. The end result looks great, and can be shared via email, or sent to a variety of social media sites.

I have been using it to share my various digital art pieces, many of which I don't share on my website of "Fine Art".  This is not a due to a discounting of digital art on my part, but rather, the difficulty inherent in updating my website is preventative, while publishing a Tactilize card is virtually effortless.  I think I'm actually generating more traffic on Tactilize than on my personal website! Makes one consider...

From within the app, browsing is a breeze. You can peruse the "featured cards", or look at categories. You can also choose to follow specific people, and see whenever they publish a new card. 

Another aspect that is interesting, is that a number of the cards are written in different languages, suggesting that Tactilize is utilized around the world.
Potentially this could be a good way to help students brush up on their Spanish, French, etc. 
Periodically the creators publish a card designed as a tutorial such as this one, to enhance your use of the app. These tutorials are often quite helpful.

Here are a couple,of my favorite cards... 

The Solar System:
Designed on Tactilize (view online)

The Bully Project:
Designed on Tactilize (view online)

Because my son is a dj and rapper, I love this one:
Designed on Tactilize (view online)

And of course, I'd be remiss not to include one of my cards...
Designed on Tactilize (view online)

Share Your Creations!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Injini makes another great app: Write My Name

Developed by experts and endorsed by parents and teachers, Write My Name by Injini 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.

In addition, while Injini doesn't make this claim, letter formation appears to follow the Handwriting Without Tears motor patterns.

At only $3.99 this is a terrific purchase, and should be on every Occupational Therapist's iDevice!

Write My Name allows children to choose from three activities.  Below is the opening splash page.
Splash Page
The page below is the "My Name Tags" page. From here, writers learn to write their name or others, perhaps teachers, parents, siblings, etc.
Customize many Names and Photos to write
 Clicking "Edit" in the top right of the page above brings up the page below. From here it is easy to add a photo, record a name, and enter the text.  Hit confirm, and you have a new name tag.
Creating Names is Easy

The student can then trace with their finger or a stylus, each letter of the name. When complete, the voice recording plays, reinforcing the name.
Animated arrow and stars facilitate writing!
The Alphabet offer upper and lower case letters

 Once the student chooses a letter from the page above, they are provided a template to trace as pictured below.  When completed, a word with the letter appears and is read aloud. For example: Swan.
Animated arrow and stars facilitate writing! 
Similar to tracing names and letters, Word Cards provide over 100 familiar sight/Dolch words.
Word cards offer whole words to trace
One of over 100 word cards for students to practice with.
Word Card

Happy Therapy!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

April is Occupational Therapy Month

Written, Directed, & Produced
Rosie Higgins & Sylvie Rousseau

Shot & Edited
Chad Foster

The University of British Columbia
Department of Occupational Science
Occupational Therapy

Happy Therapy!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Blabberize yourself or your friends!

Another tool, which is simliar to Voki and Xtranormal is called Blabberize.

Blabberize allows you to take a snapshot, outline a mouth, and then record text. The mouth moves in conjunction with the text.

It sets up very quickly, and is a great way to get students into the writing or speaking process.

In order to make a video you will need to make a free account. Then you will be able to start a video.  

I could not leave well enough alone, with just a moving mouth, for some reason I felt compelled to make my eye twitch...

Happy Therapy!

Xtranormal: calling all animators, poets, pundits, educators, and comics!

According to the folks at Xtranormal: "they make your stories come to life...(helping) you create amazing interactive stories with a few clicks and a little imagination."

Xtranormal makes your stories come to life. It's that simple. Create a story. Share a story. Watch a story.  Xtranormal is an online program where you create stories, picking from a rooster of characters in differrent locations. You are able to choose "camera angles", and type your dialogue which will then be converted to digital voices. You can even choose different voices.  Xtranormal on the surface is similiar to Voki, but rather than record you own voice, you type to for digital voice output, and there are a wider variety of scenes and angles.

I use Xtranormal in a similiar way to Toontastic, but with older students.  I have my students develop their own scripts. If we are working on handwriting we fold that into the creative process. Xtranormal also provides students an opportunity to practice their keyboarding, as the software turns text to voice.

Xtranormal is ideal to address temporal concepts, "first, second, third, etc... as well as spatial, "above, behind, in front, etc".  When the student is finished, you can email the end product to their family, or any interested party.

This is an Xtranormal video I made to support an inservice I provided to School-based OTs.

There are a variety of pricing options for folks, and something is likely to meet your budget. Free worked well for me!
Price Structure

Below is a display of just some of the scenes you can choose from. Some are recognizable, others, original.
Possible Characters

Happy Therapy!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Resources and reflections on integrating technology in education

A colleague of mine has started a new tech blog, JB-IT: Resources and reflections on integrating technology in education.

Jason Bales is a Technology Specialist with the Chapel Hill ~ Carrboro City Schools, and has a wealth of knowledge. His blog will likely be geared to the gen-ed population, however, certainly there will be cross-over interest for our special needs students. Be sure to follow!

Heres a brief excerpt from an article:

Multimedia projects can be a giant pain, which may be why some teachers avoid them altogether. Even the most tech-savvy teachers find these projects a bit daunting. Take audio recording as an example. You can use a simple site like Soundcloud, but it requires an account, and that account takes a while to set up, which can be a real issue if you are thinking of having students create their own accounts. You could use a desktop program like Audacity or Garageband, but then you have to set up some way to share or collect those recordings, which can be a time-consuming process. So, it seems like there's no happy medium, no way to do a simple one-take recording that doesn't require either an account or lots of work on the teacher's end in collecting the assignments.

Or is there? Recently, I learned about a way to do a simple recording online with no account, and you can collect all of the projects using a simple Google Form.

Happy Therapy!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

North Carolinians, are you paying attention to what is happening?!?!

Senate committee calls for ending class-size caps

A bill approved by the Senate Education Committee here in NC would end the policy of capping K - 3rd grade classes to 24 students.  Matthew Burns, WRAL reporter writes a great article on the subject that can be read at the link above. 

Burns quotes Sen. Jerry Tillman, R-Randolph as having stated "I don't know if 10 kids in a classroom is better than 15 or not".  Tillman is a retired school administrator. He goes on to say that he doesn't know what the ideal number is. IMO he is either being disingenuous, or he must have not been terribly competent as a school administrator.  

Tillman also states that he doesn't care if a teacher has 30 or 13 students in a class but that teachers will be graded on progress only. 

Let's pay attention folks, public education is under attack, and McCrory and company are in the process of deconstructing public school funding, while raising expectation for teachers to more and more rigorous but misguided standards.