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iPod Touch & iPad 2 Accessories for the Classroom (Part 2)

This blog post is continued from the post last week on iPod Touch and iPad accessories for the classroom.  The first post provides examples of screen protectors, covers, cases, and stands that are useful accessories to purchase to increase the longevity and usability of the mobile devices.  This post will focus on styluses, keyboards, headphones, adaptors, and connection cables should all be considered when purchasing these portable devices.  All these accessories increase the ease of use of the devices in the classroom setting for both teachers and students.

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Styluses & Keyboards

If the iPad’s are going to be used as a laptop replacement device in the classroom, it is worth the investment of Bluetooth wireless keyboards.  Students can type up documents for class more efficiently.  The onboard keyboard is useful, but it gets tedious if you have to type or edit longer documents.  Apple has a very versatile keyboard that can hold up to daily use by students.  It is slim and compact, would travel easily for a mobile classroom.  Users have rated  this is an easy to use a keyboard and is similar in layout and spacing when compared to a traditional keyboard.

The use of a stylus with the iPod Touch or the iPad is a great addition for younger students or students who may have difficulty using the touch screen method.  Many styluses are small and not made for young students. One stylus that has gotten great ratings for students is the AluPen.  Viewer ratings state that it is easy to grip, more responsive, glides smoothly, and allows for more accurate writing and drawing.

Headphones

Headphones are definitely a necessity in any computer lab, even a mobile lab.  This allows students to listen to academic-based websites like Learning Today, educational videos from TeacherTube, or sound embedded into Apps.  I required students to bring in headphones as part of their school materials at the beginning of the year.  I ask for the ear bud style headphones so they are easy to store in their backpacks.  This may not work for all students or all situations.  Some labs provide headphones to students.  They should be durable and easily sanitized after each use.  If they have headphone pads, they should be able to be cleaned or replaced.

Adaptors & Connection Cables

The iPod Touch & iPad 2 only come with a wall charger and a UBS sync cable to connect it to the computer.  These cables will not be enough to use the devices in a classroom setting.   At minimum, a digital adaptor or an AVG cable will be needed for the teacher in order to model the use of the iPad on a screen or interactive board.

For a mobile lab, there also must be a way to sync all of the devices easily at one time.  You must also have a storage device that will allow for easy transportation throughout a school.  This syncing storage device should also provide security and lock when the devices when not in use.

What are your favorite iPod Touch and iPad accessories?

Article By Laura Ketcham

Picture By smemon87

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iPod Touch & iPad 2 Accessories for the Classroom (Part 1)

When purchasing iPod’s or iPad’s for the classroom, one must consider the accessories that will need to be purchased in order to exploit the power of the devices.  Screen protectors, covers, cases, stands, styluses, keyboards, headphones, adaptors, and connection cables should all be considered as necessary additions when purchasing these devices for the classroom.  Be sure to budget in these items when determining your needs for the classroom when planning to purchase.

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Screen Protectors & Covers/Cases

Screen Protectors are a clear film that is stuck to the front and/or back screen of the device.  This helps to protect the screen from scratches and can even help to protect the screen if the device is dropped.  I have used InvisibleSHIELD from Zaag on both my iPhone and my iPad.  This protective cover has proven very useful in small drops, prevented my screen from shattering on a large drop, and also prevents smudges and scratches.  Another great quality of this protector is that it has a lifetime warranty.  This is great for school use because of the amount of time the devices will be used and it is replaced for free.

In addition to a screen protector, you should also buy a cover or a case.  This provides more protection for the device.  Covers can include rubber or plastic that only protects the backing of the device or one for the front of the case as well.

For example, the Griffin Reveal is a slim-line protector case that slides over the back of the device (iPod Touch, iPhone, and iPad 2).  The advantage to this cover is that it doesn’t add bulk to the device, has rubber sides that make it easy to hold, and that it is made out of one piece of polycarbonate which is a strong material that can hold up to frequent use.

The iPad Smart Cover is nice, but doesn’t seem like it will hold up to use by students.  It turns off the iPad automatically when shut and is magnetically attached to the side.  It flips over to become a stand, but it isn’t very sturdy and I can see this breaking easily.   I think it is too early to tell which case will be the best for students that will provide protection along with providing the option to turn it into a stand.   Buying a case for protection and a separate stand is the better option for the classroom.

Stands

Stands are a definite extra that should considered when buying these types of devices.  This is especially useful in the special education classroom.  While buying a separate stand for home use may seem unnecessary, it is very useful in the classroom.  Stands hold the device in a leaning position so that students could use a stylus, read from it, or use in a more ergonomic fashion.  Xtand has some of the top-rated stands for both the iPod Touch and the iPad 2.  These stands are durable and more stable than the stands that fold up or are built into a case.  The one down side is that it is not easily transported as it doesn’t fold up.

The remaining accessories will be included in another post next week.  Accessories are an important component that should definitely be thought out and planned for when building a mobile lab.

Article By Laura Ketcham

Picture By Yutaka Tsutano

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There’s an App for that! | Special Education Apps

The iPod Touch®, iPhone®, and iPad®, are a great innovative technology tools for educators and students to use in the classroom.  These devices all have access to the App Store, which now contains a wide array of easy to use, fun and functional applications for education.  Access to the App Store is readily available through iTunes or over wireless and 3G connections on the various ‘i-devices’.  Since the release of the iPad, there has been an increase in creation of educational apps.  While not all students may have access to Apple’s portable devices, it may be time to put in wish-list requests to administration for tools like these to be included in the budget for your classroom next year.

Where to find Apps for Special Education

Scribd is a social publishing and reading site.  On this site I found a Scribd page devoted to special education apps.  The interactive list contains 24 mini-pages of useful apps for special education students including descriptions and links for download.  The apps are organized by topics and include communication, organization, reading, writing, math, music, art, accessibility, and games.  Most of the Apps that are in the list are free or low cost, typically not costing more than $5.00 per App.  When you select on an App, the link will take you into iTunes where there is a full description and screen shots of the App along with user feedback is available.  The App can then be purchased and downloaded the portable Apple device you own.

Beth Kintle is a K-12 Technology Integration Specialist who maintains a blog about various educational happenings.  One of her posts from March included a new open-access Google Docs document for individuals to add information about iPod apps that they have used in their classrooms.  The list contains the title of the App, a link, description, subject, level, comments, and user feedback.  Users with a Google account can add their favorite Apps to the lists.  This is a great way for the special education community to join together in building the best apps that will help special needs students.

One app that I really liked was the My Homework App.  Using this app on an ‘i-device’ allows the student to create a list of their classes and add specific details about projects and assignments.  They can be viewed by all classes for individual days, for a week, or a month-at-a-glance.  Text can easily be added, deleted, and modified into the program.  There is also a feature to then send their updates to their email account.

One last location to find Apps for special education is to directly search using iTunes either on a laptop or your ‘i-device’.  If you go to the iTunes store and search ‘special education’ and then select App store from the left-hand menu, you will get a comprehensive list of Apps currently denoted as being specifically developed for special education.  When you select on the App you can learn more about the App through a description, screen shots, and user feedback.

Upon my searching I found many flash card systems that teach functional skills that can be integrated with the iPhone.  Since the device is portable, it can lead to students living more independent lives.  Another cool set of Apps I found was the Jammit games where students can learn to play drums and guitar and then make a mix based on actual artists’ recordings.  Fun and learning all wrapped into one!

I can really see this type of technology being the future of education for special needs students!

Article by Laura Ketcham

Photo from myHomework

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iPods & iPads are Innovative Tech Tools for Special Education

The iPod Touch and iPad, are great innovative technology tools for educators and students to use in the classroom.  There are many applications and features of these tools that may potentially increase learning outcomes and motivation for learning in the classroom.  While not all schools or students may have access to these tech tools, it is time to add these innovative devices as a wish-list request for next school year!

Functional Skills System for the iPod Touch

The Conover Company has a great package for special education classrooms that includes a classroom set of iPod Touches pre-loaded with age-appropriate videos setup into a functional skills system.  This system allows the students to learn functional skills to gain more independence in society.  The videos include an instructional phase, review phase, and generalization phase for life, literacy, math, social, and work skills. Some of the topics for the videos are learning about money, safety signs, tools for work, manners, social skills, describing words, clothing, entertainment, transportation, restaurants, shopping, labels, hygiene, grooming, and groceries.

The advantage of the iPod system is that the students can travel with the functional skills system to assist them in their day-to-day lives.  The touch screen capability of the iPod allows access to this system for students who may have limited hand movement or motion.  There is also a feature to modify the iPod into a single switch compatibility mode.  The videos include high-quality audio which used in conjunction with the vision impaired features of the iPod, allows access for students with low vision to utilize the functional skills program.  Closed-captioning is also available for the videos for students with hearing impairments.  This system can also be used on the computer instead of using iPod, but it would limit the use of the program outside of the classroom.  Another addition to the program is that there are print exercises that accompany this software for students to learn the functional skills in the classroom without the technology.

Videos of Special Education Students using iPods in the Classroom

Click Here to view a great video about how iPods can be used by teachers, students, and parents in the special education classroom.    In this video the teacher and sign language interpreter use the iPod as a communication device between the teacher, student, and parents.  The teachers also created videos of vocabulary in sign language and student accomplishments.  The parents can then see what the students are learning in class and become more involved at home.  The voice memo feature of the iPod is used to send information back and forth from families to teachers.  They have expanded the roll of the iPod in the classroom by video taping the stories that are being covered in class including audio, sign language, and photos from the books.  The stories can then be read at home to increase reading comprehension.

This video shows hearing impaired students utilizing the iPad for science education.  The teacher has the students completely engaged in their lesson combing the use of the iPad with sign language.  The video shows that the iPad is an innovative tool where the students can interact with each other in conjunction with their online textbook.  The features of the iPad that the students felt were helpful include the flip the screen, easy ability to scroll, enlarge images, search the net, and load their textbook.

Article by Laura Ketcham

Photo by FHKE

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Free iPhone/ iPod / iPad Special Education Apps

Because April is Autism Awareness Month, Kindergarten.com has released a set of 24 apps for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad for free for the Month of April!  Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) Flashcards are available to download for free from the iTunes store!  These apps are great for students with special needs because they include audio reinforcement, musical rewards, and will shuffle the decks for you. The apps also include games with themes like which object does not belong, which words rhyme, as well as traditional flashcards.

An example of one of the apps is the “Which Go Together” app. This app focuses on problem solving, which is an important skill to learn early in a child’s life. Here, students can be introduced to associations that will help them develop visual discrimination skills and understanding of various objects.

There are 120 colorful images that are of high interest for visual and auditory learners. The student will be asked which one of the four objects shown does not belong in a specific combination. With clear audio and verbal praise to reinforce correct answers, students will have fun and learn at the same time. There is even pleasant classical music that plays throughout the app to keep children focused on the task at hand. The sounds can even be turned on or off to cater to a specific child’s needs.

To download all these wonderful free apps, open iTunes, click on the iTunes store, search for Kindergarten.com and you will be able to see all the available apps!

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iCan. Using iPods for Special Needs Students

iPods. We see students using them everywhere. On the bus. In the home. At the park. Are we ready to see them in the classroom?

The Special School District of Saint Louis County has taken that well-known device and integrated it into the classroom. Since students are already using iPods so much throughout the day, they wanted to offer a more positive and educational use for the device in the classroom.

Vicki Nelson, a special education teacher, is a strong advocate of using technology with students with special needs. Starting with iPods, she sent home training information for the communication devices. She explained how parents can access the iPod and use it for building vocabulary skills and reading comprehension.

By adding video and audio lessons onto the iPods for the students and parents to be able to access at home, she noticed her students were starting to recognize material she hadn’t yet taught in the classroom. She then started using the iPods with children who had to use sign language. She had another teacher interpret stories using the iPod as a video portfolio. They were able to shoot video of themselves and the students performing a specific skill and then send it home to the parents.

The iPods were also serving as a replacement for written communication logs between staff and parents. By recording a simple voice memo, teachers can quickly record messages about each student. These messages can then be downloaded from iPod and saved for future references.

Vicki Nelson noticed that her own students had improved skills and vocabulary knowledge. They had a better ability to comprehend stories, too. Because the students were able to take these videos or audio clips home, they were becoming more familiar with the terms they were using everyday. The students were engaged and involved while using this technology. Parents loved the iPods because they were using compatible signs and could use extra reinforcement at home.

This is just another example of integrating technology into the classroom to help students with special needs. With technology constantly updating, it is important that students of all needs are being involved.

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