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The iPad 2: An Innovative Educator & Student Resource

Yesterday’s much awaited announcement of the iPad 2 did not disappoint.  Steve Jobs, the CEO of Apple was on hand to unveil the new iPad at a live press conference demonstrating the new features of the new iPad 2.  The iPad 2 will be available in store and online March 11th.

ipad

In the past year, Apple’s iPad has made a significant impact on the education world.  Administrators, teachers, and students have all embraced the tablet style computing device in the classroom.  Many features, including the long battery life, portability, innovative 3rd party applications, lower pricing point when compared to laptops and accessibilities options have made it a viable laptop alternative in the classroom.

From an educators stand-point, the updated options that are available on the iPad 2 will make it an even more popular device to use in the classroom.  Here are the new options and how I think it will impact the education world:

Faster Processor

The iPad 2 has a new duo-core processor.  This will allow students to process data at a faster speed without much lag time.  Students can create projects and multi-task smoothly with this faster processor rather than using it to surf or passively learn.  This will also allow app developers to create more robust apps that will be an advantage when teaching complex material in the classroom.

Camera

The iPad 2 has two cameras, one at the front of the device and one on the back.  This will allow students to take pictures and videos on the iPad 2 for class assignments.  The new apps, iMovie, Photo Booth, and even Face Time can be used by the students to produce polished, innovative projects.

Lighter weight & Longer Battery Life

The iPad 2 is lighter than the original iPad.  This increases the ease of portability even more.  The battery life has also been increased by 1 hour.  The iPad 2 has a 10 hour battery life.  This is one of the best selling points for its use in school.  Students can use the iPad for a full day of school without ever having to charge the device.

Video Mirroring

There is now no need for any teacher to have to “jailbreak” their iPad.  The original iPad had no way of connecting to a projector.  This was a disadvantage to teachers who wanted to use the device to show students movies, apps, or lessons on the iPad.  Now, the iPad 2 can connect to a projector using extra accessories, the Digital AV adaptor or the VGA adaport.  This will allow teachers to connect their iPad 2 to either a projector or television (even HDTVs).  These accessories also allow the iPad 2 to be charged during the presentation.   What is displayed on the iPad 2 will be mirrored onto the larger screen.

iPad Smart Cover

Reading various sites online, there was not much buzz about the new cover that Apple has created for the iPad 2.  However, as a teacher, I thought it was a great invention.  The new Smart Cover, when placed over top of the iPad 2, automatically turns the device into sleep mode.  When removed from the top of the iPad 2, it can be used as a stand.  It fits great and aligns perfectly making for an easy transition between use and non-use.  For the classroom, it will save battery life when students are not using the device along with providing a protective cover when not in use.  This will be useful between transitions of students needing to focus on the teachers’ directions and not using the iPad 2 to when the students can then use the iPad 2 for the classroom lesson.

There are also many successful features that Apple has incorporated from the iPad to the iPad 2.  The new device has the same pricing point as the original, along with the one-touch off and on options, and accessibility features for individuals with disabilities.

The iPad 2 will be a big hit both in and out of the classroom.  I’m very excited to see the impact that it will have on education over the next year.

Article By Laura Ketcham

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Interactive Websites for Teaching Health & Hygiene

February is Dental Health Month for Kids.  This is a great tie in to educate students about both dental and physical hygiene along with other health related lessons.  An engaging way to teach these subjects is with interactive technology.  All types of students, including students with special needs, can benefit from lessons on health and hygiene.

hygiene

The ADA Classroom Resources & Ideas Website

The American Dental Association has a section of their website devoted to kids and teachers.  Teachers can find many resources about educating kids about dental health care.  This includes presentations, games, lesson plans, and hands-on activities.  The presentations include in-depth questions that you can ask the students in a discussion about dental health along with the appropriate answers for targeted grade levels.  The games section for kids includes online interactive games and videos about visiting the dentist and tooth care.  The “To Tell the Tooth” game was quite fun and I can see students really getting involved in this activity.

Interactive Lesson on Nutrition via BrainPOP

BrainPOP is a popular website that many teachers like to use for interactive and fun lessons.  Some of the resources on this website are available for free.  One of the interactive activities available for free on BrainPOP right now is about Nutrition and the Food Pyramid.

First, the students watch the video on Nutrition hosted by Moby, the funny BrainPOP robot character that is the star of all of their movies. Each movie has several components that go along with it including an interactive quiz, Q & A section, FYI section, and various activities.

After watching the video, the students can take the online quiz.  The interactive activity for this lesson is to have students classify foods into the food pyramid.  This would be a great activity to use on an interactive white board where students can come up to the front of the class to fill in the answers.  There is also a graphic organizer for students to write and analyze the food they ate from the day before along with a vocabulary worksheet.  The Q & A section provides a list of common questions that students may have based on the topic of nutrition.  The FYI section provides a more in depth explanation about how the Food Pyramid was established and updated.  Students, especially visually learners, will find the activities and lessons based on BrainPOP engaging and fun.

SuperScrub & Bubbles:  Grime Fighters

SuperScrub and Bubbles are cartoon characters that help to teach students about the importance of hand washing.  Teachers can download the cartoon booklet to read with students.  There are lesson plans, activities, and experiments to help students to learn how and when to wash their hands.

More Websites to Check Out

1.       Tips for Teaching Handwashing to Young Children

2.       Hand washing Activities for Kindergarteners

3.       Games for teaching Kids about Personal Hygiene

Article By Laura Ketcham

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Pets for Your Classroom (Real & Virtual)

Students definitely benefit from having pets in the classroom.  It provides the students with a sense of pride and the ability to be a care taker.  Caring for a pet encourages shared responsibility.  Studies have shown that it doesn’t matter if the pet is live or virtual, the same teaching outcomes can be achieved.

For special needs students, pets can provide an outlet for students to reduce tension, take responsibility, and learn how to care for the animal.  These skills can then be transferred through teacher-based lessons that make the connections between caring for the animal to caring for oneself including health and hygiene.

pet

Live Pets in the Classroom

When I did my student teaching in a fourth grade classroom, I donated a fish tank full of colorful inexpensive, fish with the approval (and excitement) of my preceptor and supervisor.  I had a tank in my home for many years and was comfortable with the care and could coach the teacher.   This was a great teaching tool that was easy to take care of in a classroom setting.  Students would offer to come in early to help with the tasks associated with the care including feeding, water changes, water testing, and even tank cleanings. Parents also volunteered supplies for the care of the fish and one parent even helped to buy additional fish.  The local aquarium store owner and staff are always willing to help teachers with their tanks and are a valuable community resource.

The learning connections included teaching the students about the various types of fish in the tank, their diet, where the fish could be found in the wild, and their water needs (appropriate pH, ammonia, and nitrate levels).  When we first got the tank, each student was assigned one of the fish in the tank to research.  They then made PowerPoint presentations to share with the class about what they learned about their new pet.

One of the most exciting moments for the class was when the guppy had babies.  The babies must be separated immediately from the mother for them to survive.  Make sure you are prepared with a separation device that can be purchased from the fish store so the mother will not eat the babies.  This can be a teachable moment, but will need to be handled with sensitivity if you want to share this fact with your students.

One other tool that is definitely handy to have for break times or long weekends is an automated feeder.  This doses out a daily serving of fish food automatically.

Other pets that are classroom friendly, but require a bit more care, include rabbits, gerbils, hamsters, guinea pigs, and turtles.  When choosing a pet, you should definitely research the temperament, care, and allergy concerns of that animal.  Then, you can determine if it will meet the needs of your classroom.  A plan should definitely be in place for the care of the animal including daily care and preparations for care over long weekends and breaks.

Here are some great online resources to help you plan to have a live animal in your classroom:

1.        KinderArt:  Pets in the Classroom

2.       Teacher Classroom Web:  Classroom Animals and Pets

3.       Suite 101:  Selecting the Right Classroom Pet

Virtual Pets

A great alternative to live pets in the classroom is a virtual classroom pet.  I know many think of the Tamagotchi or Neopets when they think of a virtual pet. The Tamagotchi is a keychain virtual pet that has to be fed, cleaned, played with, and overall cared for like a live pet.  The keychain makes noises to indicate needed care.  Neopets is an online virtual pet store where students create an account, care for their pet, and play games to “pay” for the care and fun items for their pet.  This site is run by Nickelodeon and has a very large child following.

Another similar virtual pet website is called Adopt Me.  The classroom (or individual students) can create an account and adopt a virtual pet like a virtual cat, horse, dog, or fish.  Students get to name their pet.  They can then travel around town, provide care, and play with their pet.   Students can see their friends pets online through their login information.  The pets can also have jobs to earn money to help pay for the care and fun times with the pet.  Another great classroom connection is that the students can blog about their pet through this website.

There is also an alternative to the traditional virtual pet where students can “adopt” wild animals and follow them via GPS tracking devices.  Last year, my 7th grade class “adopted” a loggerhead sea turtle named FeeBee.  She is a GPS tagged turtle that was released by an environmental complex and nature center called Gumbo Limbo in Boca Raton, Florida.  The students were able track Fee Bee daily to see her movements in the ocean via a website called SeaTurtle.org.  Many animals can be adopted online via this website for the students to follow via GPS tracking devices including sea turtles, sharks, birds, and sea lions.  This website also provides teacher materials to help you to plan how to implement this type of activity in the classroom.  I planned the adoption of Fee Bee in the summer and developed many academic lessons and classroom activities around this “pet” for the entire semester.  The project was evaluated as highly successful by administrators, parents, and students. Unfortunately, GPS systems may cease transmission and this must be considered carefully when choosing this type of adoption for a classroom project.  Feelings of loss occur just as with the death of classroom pet.

Whether real or virtual, pets can definitely add a fun and interactive way for students to be excited about learning.

Article By Laura Ketcham

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Voki – Creative Web Program for Students!

Voki is a free Web 2.0 website where students can create their own online avatar character that they can customize, add voice, and then publish to the Internet.  Using this website in the classroom will engage students in the learning activities offer by the website.  There are so many educational applications for this technology tool in the classroom!

voki

Using Voki in the Classroom

Voki has two pages of their site that are dedicated to using Voki in the classroom:  Voki for Education and Lesson Plans.  In the Voki for Education page, teachers can learn about what Voki is, why they should use it in the classroom, and get connected with other teachers who are using Voki.  In the Lesson Plans section, teachers can search an extensive list of lesson plans that range from kinder through high school and cover many subject areas including geography, spelling, drama, and technology.

Teachers could create Voki avatar to share with their students or even the parents.  Introducing a project, lesson, or unit with a Voki avatar really catches the interest of the students.  Teachers could also create an avatar to welcome parents to a back to school event or open house night.

Students can also create their own avatars.  The main idea of using this program would be to have the student research a specific topic and then record what they have learned to then share with the rest of the class.  For example, students can create a Voki about learning about facts of a state, explaining the steps on how to solve a math problem, or a science experiment.  In a special education classroom, students could use the avatars as a fun way of communicating in the classroom via the text to speech option.

When I used this program in my classroom, each student researched a different tab on the new Microsoft Word 2010 Ribbon.  They then wrote a script, recorded their script, and then they shared their Voki with the other students in the class via the SMART board.  This way, all of the students learned about the all of the tabs in Word 2010.  It was such an engaging assignment and the high quiz scores proved that this assignment really actively engaged them in the learning process.

How to Use Voki

Voki is very easy to use.  To begin, you select the create button, and then you can customize your avatar.  When you customize your character, you can change the style of head, hair, mouth, and facial features.  You can also change the clothing and ‘bling.’  The features of the avatar can then be made larger or smaller and the color can even be changed.  After that, I suggest that the students select the background for the avatar.  Students can choose one of the many pre-made backgrounds, or they can upload their own.

I suggest that before students start to record either their voice or using the text to speech feature, that they draft a script of what needs to be said.  This way, when recording the ideas are well thought out to meet the needs of the assignment and the avatar. They also need to keep the 1-minute time limit into consideration when writing their script.  Then the students can either use the phone to speech, microphone to speech, or text to speech tools.  The text to speech tool would be great to use for students who may have a disability that makes it difficult to speak or even students who are shy.  Always remind your students to “Save” their speaking after they are finished recording it.

When the students are done creating their avatar, they can then publish the avatar.  One great feature of this site is that to publish the avatar there is no need for students to create an account.  However, if they want to save the character and be able to go back and make changes, they will need to make an account.  Students need to be at least 13 to create an account.  When they publish their avatar, there are literally hundreds of ways to share them.  The most simple way is to save  are to email it, publish it to an already created website via the embed code, or to post it to a social networking or blogging site that has already been established and is approved and secure

Have you tried Voki?  Feel free to share the links of your Voki avatars!

Article By Laura Ketcham

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Lead the Way! President’s Day Activities for Students

President’s Day Activities

President’s Day is on Monday, February 21st.  This holiday was originally celebrated to honor President Washington’s birthday.   It is now held on the third Monday of February every year.  On this day, Americans honor all presidents.  This date was chosen because of the proximity to both President Washington and Lincoln’s birthday.  Many states will hold parades and other ceremonies honoring the presidents.  The name of the holiday varies from state to state including President’s Day, Presidents’ Day and Washington’s Birthday.  Typically, schools are not in session on this day.  However, there are many creative language arts and social studies activities to tie into your classroom curriculum.

presidents

Middle School Activities

One activity that students could complete to learn about President’s day is by completing a Web Quest.  A Web Quest is a guided online scavenger hunt to answer questions and completing worksheets while learning about topics through researching provided links online.  Scholastic also provides an interactive web hunt, similar to a Web Quest, for students to learn about presidents.

Fact Monster has a President’s Day page written for children that explains the history of the day.  It explains how different states will celebrate this day in different ways depending on the presidents that may have impacted their community.  There are also many more links to facts pages about presidents, inaugurations, impeachments, biographies, elections, and history.

Elementary School Activities

Elementary students could visit a virtual museum about Lincoln and Washington.  The museum contains images and facts written in a language easy for kids to understand.  There are several activities that go along with the museum visit including creating a KWL chart, a Venn diagram, treasure hunts, quizzes, and additional presentations.  The activity I liked the best was being able to show the students an animated map of when the states were added to the United States.

Kaboose provides links to craft connections for teaching about President’s Day.  Some of the ideas were very creative and fun  and would tie in with the virtual museum trip.  These include making a pretzel log cabin, cherry tree, finger puppets of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln hats, and old glory flags.  Other links on this site include activities, games, printables, and facts about the presidents.

School Family has printables for President’s Day.  There are coloring sheets, word scrambles, writing prompts, and poems.  This site has printable pages of all of the presidents.  An idea for a class activity would be to have the students color pages for each president and then have the students write a few facts about the presidents on each of the pages.  They could then be hung in the classroom or on the bulletin board.

Links for Other President’s Day Lessons & Activities

1.        The Teacher’s Corner President’s Day Activities

2.       Suite 101 President’s Day Lesson Plans

3.       Classroom Activities for all February Holidays

Article by Laura Ketcham

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What in the Word? Wordle in the Classroom

Worlde is a free Web 2.0 website to create visual word clouds.  Students and teachers can paste text such as papers, notes, or even text from a webpage and the words are then arranged into a picture with the words that are used the most appearing more prominently on the page.  Students can then change the font type, font size, color, and choose various word layouts and variations.  Students can then either print their results or save their results to the gallery.  When the student saves their results, a link is created that can then be shared online via email or they can use the embed code to integrate it on another website like a class website or blog.

wordle

Students will be engaged using this technology.  Teachers can share Worldes with their students or students can create their own Wordles based on a class activity to then share with the class.  One great part about Worlde is that there is no need for students to create an account and it is very easy to use even for elementary school students.

Classroom Activities for Wordle

Transforming words into a visual display can help students with many language arts and communication skills.  For example, students can visually see the main idea of a story, the most frequently used words used in a student paper for vocabulary extension, to show the important concepts to be covered for an assignment by turning the directions into a Wordle, or for a comparison and contrast on two pieces of literature.  This can definitely help with differentiated instruction for special needs students.

There are many resources available online that have inventive ideas for incorporating Wordle in the classroom.  One presentation called 50 Ways and Tips to Use Wordle in the Classroom provides ideas of how students and teachers can use Wordle in the classroom.  Here is another resource link of 20 more ways to use Wordle in the classroom.

One example is to input a chapter or section from a book or poem and create a Wordle.  Students can then view the Wordle and have a class discussion on the literary choices, vocabulary, main idea, or word choices of the author.  Another activity idea would be for the teacher to input student papers (without name) to share with the other students in the class.  Topics could be covered about word choice, frequency of words, students could try to determine the topic of the paper or provide feedback via constructive criticism.

An idea for the beginning of the school year would be for a teacher to create a Wordle based on classroom expectations or a syllabus.  The more prominent words would then display the importance of the words used in the documents.  A creative hands-on way to use Wordle is to use it while developing a classroom poll.  For example, ask students what their favorite colors are and enter the text as they respond.  After all of the students respond you then show the results to the students and then they can visually see which answer was selected the most and the least.  It could also be used as an activity to have students guess what they will be learning about or to guess who has written the piece.

There are so many creative ways to use Wordle in the classroom.  Have you used Wordle in your classroom?  Feel free to comment and share your Wordle activities.

Article By Laura Ketcham

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The Florida Educational Technology Recap

The FETC was an energizing 3-day experience with immersion into education technology.  Everyone was buzzing about iPod’s and iPads, educational apps, cell phones, and what the future may hold for these devices in the classroom.  Sessions with “i” in the name filled up quickly with many attendees creating their own seats on the floor.

conference

Edmodo

One of the great additions to the conference was the integrated use of Edmodo.  Edmodo is a free social networking site for teachers and students.  Presenters used this website by creating groups to post their materials, including their presentations, websites, and other useful links.  Their presentation pages were also used as a conduit for the users in the session to ask questions or add more information in real-time as the presenter was speaking. Attendees can join their sessions (called groups) through a group code.  Also, attendees who were unable to attend the session could then still receive the materials and the feedback from the session over the web (including those who didn’t even attend the conference).

Check out group codes FC0321, FC0492, and FC0269 to review and receive great resources and information.  Over the next few weeks I plan to see what other ways that this website can be integrated in both building my PLN and if it could be useful for my classroom and students.

Resources for Younger & Special Needs Students

This year, there also seemed to be more sessions geared to educating younger students pre-k-2 and special needs students.

One of the websites that I learned about that would be great to use with both sets of students is Kerpoof Studio.  Kerpoof is a free website created by Disney where students can create movies, drawings, and online story books.  They have a lesson plans page with ways that you can incorporate their online programs into the classroom through standards-based activities and extensions.  For younger students they can play the spell a picture game.  As they spell words correctly, it is added to their digital drawing.  The objects can then be moved around the page to build a scene and can then be printed to share in the classroom.  There are so many possibilities of ways to use this website in the classroom. (Edmodo join code:  FC0491)

A great session I attended for special needs students included apps that address social skills, schedules, and mathematics.  The presenter, Shannon Sullivan, works with special education students in the greater DC area and maintains her website about apps via www.ipads4kids.com.  On this site you can find a wide list of apps sorted by subjects and needs for the students.  There is also an area for other educators to share their favorite apps that they are using with their students.  Check this site often as it is frequently updated.

There was another session on the use of iPod’s and iPad’s in the special education classroom that has many resources posted on Edmodo (Edmodo join code:  FC0501).  One key point that they make about the iPad as a tool for the special education classroom is that it is portable, adaptable, and even socially acceptable.  It also has built in accessibility along with the power of the apps.  You should definitely check out their presentation on Edmodo and the associated website Mobile Learning 4 Special Needs.

Please check back for more resources that I’ve learned from FETC over the coming weeks.

Article By Laura Ketcham

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Apps for Teachers in School

If you are a lucky teacher who owns (or is provided by your school) an iPod Touch, iPad, or even iPhone, then this is the blog post for you.  I have written several posts about apps that would be great for students to use in the classroom, but now I’m going to turn the tables and provide you with a list of apps that would be great for teachers to use in the classroom.

ipad

Percentally

Percentally is a low-cost app to keep track of tally marks.  This app would be very helpful in many different classroom scenarios.  It could be used to keep track of student participation, the number of times a student is redirected in class, or even to mark down the number of questions the student received correct on a verbal or written assignment.  The tally marks can are automatically converted into percentage points through the use of the dual mode.  This would be great to keep track of the number of answers correct, for example 5 out of 8 answers correct.  In the single mode you only track one tally, for example 3 warnings.  The tally mark information can then be quickly transferred to a Google Spreadsheet or manually entered into a gradebook or anecdotal notes on a student.  Here is a video demo of this app in action.

iReward

iReward is a low-cost app that is an electronic behavior modification chart.  With this app you can setup a student in the program and then create the behavior you would like the child to achieve along with the reward they will earn.  You then choose how many times the behavior must be displayed for the student to earn the reward.  You can add a picture to the reward chart to encourage the student to earn the reward, for example a picture of the correct behavior.  You can take a picture and load it, or use a picture that you already have.

After the chart is set up, all you have to do is tap the star to indicate that the behavior has been displayed and it changes color from white to gold.  When all of the stars are filled in, they will all turn red.  A video of congratulations (or other reward videos) can be applied for when the student has achieved the award.

There are many modifications you can make to this reward system.  You can also select the stars to revert them back to white if a student has displayed the incorrect behavior.  To reset the stars, you just double tap to remove the colored filling.  If a student has achieved the goal of the behavior modification, you can delete the option by swiping across the row of a reward and then select delete.  To prevent unwanted changes you can also password protect the rewards under the settings mode.  After editing the reward, you relock it by shaking your electronic device.  Here is a video demo of iReward.

Remember the Milk

Remember the Milk is a free organizational checklist app.  I know as a teacher that there are so many different tasks to do in each day of the school week.  This app can help to manage the different tasks that you need to get done.  Items could include parent meetings, staff meetings, student conferences, when to make copies, what lessons you need to plan for, items you may need to pick up at the store for your classes, or even activities or lessons for the day.  These lists can be shared with other programs like a Google Calendar, Outlook, or Twitter.  Alerts can be set to remind you though your smart phone, email, text messages, or instant messages.  Tasks can be tagged by applying keywords or even locations on a Google Map.  There are many options you can apply including choosing a title for your task, a date, time, and if it repeats.  Tasks can be marked as incomplete or complete.  Tasks can be scheduled in advance or for the current day.

I also found a great resource that has a variety of apps that are subject area related.  There are apps for science, math, language arts, and social studies teachers.  Do you have any favorite apps that you use for teaching?

Article By Laura Ketcham

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AbleData – Resource for Assistive Technology for Students

AbleData is a website that provides data for users to find information about a very wide variety of assistive technology.  AbleData is sponsored by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR), which is part of the US Department of Education.

abledata

The Products Page

The Products page is the heart of this site.  Users can search for assistive technology resources that can help students based on a particular need.  This site provides 20 broad categories like daily living, walking, communication, or mobility.  After selecting a major category, sub categories appear with various assistive technology options.  The options are links to learn more information about the assistive technology.  For example, let’s say you have a student who is having difficulty moving around the room.  You can select mobility as the main category and then see a variety of options like carts, manual wheel chairs, scooters, powered wheel chairs, sport wheel chairs, and accessories.  When you select a link, there will be a brief synopsis of the assistive technology device, the approximate cost, and vendors for the specific product.  This information can then be used to make suggestions to the IEP team, administrators, or even the parents.

The Products page also has a classified section where users can post either re-sales of assistive technology or want ads for needed assistive technology.  All of the process is screened through AbleData.

The Resources Page

The Resources page includes information such as information centers, conferences and companies that can help users to learn more about assistive technology.   This information can provide teachers with a wealth of resources for various disabilities, services, technology, professional development, and other resources.  You could use this page to find out information about the largest Assistive Technology Conference (ATIA) that is being held this week in Orlando.

The Library Page

The library contains three sections:  publications, literature and news.  The Publications page includes fact sheets and consumer guides about the various products that they provide information for on their products page.  This page also contains links with recent articles written from the National Institute for Rehabilitation Engineering.  The Literature page includes a search box and list to find recent articles, books, and publications about assistive technology.  I found this information very useful to learn more about the current trends of assistive technology.  The News You Can Use page is very similar to a blog about assistive technology.  Posts are made every few weeks including links to various resources, surveys, conferences, or other hot topics about disabilities and assistive technology.

My AbleData Account

If you create a free AbleData account, you are able to save the assistive technology devices that you would need to access again either to share with school staff members or parents, or for your future review.

AbleData is a great resource for all individuals who are involved in working with individuals with disabilities.  It can help to provide you with the most current assistive technology trends and application information.

Article By Laura Ketcham

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January Mashup – Fun Online Learning Games for Kids

This month’s mashup is a discussion of fun online learning games for students in grades K-8.  All of these websites below can be used by students independently during computer center time or even at home.  Some of them would be great resources to use as a class presentation and have students interact on a digital whiteboard.  Each site is also appropriate to be used with students with special needs and a variety of activities can be chosen based on the students learning levels and not necessarily grade level.

kids

ABCya

ABCya is a website for elementary level students to play online educational games.  These are fun, high-interest games that can be used during computer center time or for reinforcement of key concepts.  This site would also be a great resource for the students to use at home.  There are many different activities broken down in to the various standard strands for math, science, language arts, and social studies activities.

Kids will have so much fun they won’t even realize they are learning!  I played Balloon Pop Subtraction.  In this game the students pop the correct number of balloons to solve the problems.  There are three levels of difficulty for students to choose from depending on age and ability.

I also tried the Map It! game in the classroom where students have to match the puzzle pieces with the shapes of the states to where they would fit on the map.  I enjoyed having my students challenge each other to see who could solve the puzzle the fastest.  On the easy level, it provides the students the names of the states and on the hard level it does not.

Teaching technology, the unit on future technologies and robots, is one of my favorites, so I also played the Build a Robot game.  In this game, students get to pick the shapes to build the body for their robot, increase or decrease their size, rotate, and layer the parts in order to build their own unique robot.  The robots can be saved to a file or even printed to display in the classroom.  I encourage my students to not just make robots that are shaped like people, since the majority of robots do not take this form.  As an extension for this website, you could have students write a description of their robot, what it does and how it helps society.

Jig Saw Doku

Jig Saw Doku  is a kid’s version of Sudoku.  This website provides various levels of difficulty ranging from easy to hard.  All of the pieces are tiled like primary color numbered blocks.  These blocks need to be placed in the pattern where no numbers overlap a row or column.  The hint option is great tool for kids to see their mistakes.  The misplaced tiles are removed to give the student another try.  The game is timed at the bottom, so it would be a good challenge to race against their best times or against other students.

The Sensory House

The Sensory House is a great interactive website for special needs students.  Students enter the sensory house through the door and then enter the hallway and are able to choose from a selection of rooms and decorations.  When you select an object, more options will appear which will then lead the student to an activity.  In the garden, students build a virtual garden filled with animals, plants and other garden art.  In the music room, students can play a variety of classical and rock instruments.  In the money manager, students calculate costs and change for a wide variety of household expenses.  This would be a good website to project on an interactive board to work with students as a class.

Shape Poems

Read Write Think has an interactive website where students can learn and write their own Shape Poems.  Students are able to select an appropriate shape for their poem, type their poem, and print their poem in color to share with their classmates.  This would be a great activity to introduce poetry.

All of these sites offer fun learning experiences for children of all ages.  Are there others that you have found?  Please comment and add them our shared resources.

Article By Laura Ketcham

Picture By bestlibrarian

Free Teacher Resources | Special Education by MangoMon by MangoMon

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