Friday, April 30, 2010

MyScript for Livescribe Pen

Are you familiar with the Livescribe Pulse SmartPen?

The pen allows you to record audio that is sync'd to your handwritten notes as you write in the specialized notebook. Pretty cool technology! it just got a little cooler.

MyScript is an app for the Pulse SmartPen that will enable users to translate their written text into digital text. Think of the possibilities - any handwritten notes can be converted into digital text. Then this digital text can be read aloud by any text to speech software program. Now struggling readers can hear both the audio recordings of the note taking session AND the audio of the notes themselves.

MyScript costs $29.95 but is now available as a 30-day free trial.

If you have a Pulse SmartPen, check it out. I know I am. I will report back on the features of this tool as I move through my trial.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Web 2.0 Wednesday! Son of Citation Machine

Are you asking your students to cite their work? Are they struggling to complete this task?

Try Son of Citation Machine

Students can select MLA or APA, then choose the type of source they have. A web form will open that has spaces for students to enter the source information.

Once the fields are complete, simply click SUBMIT and the citation will be generated.

The student can then copy and paste the citation into their work.

Have another source for generating citations? Share it below.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Accessible Instructional Materials - FREE Webinars

Are you responsible for ensuring access to curriculum materials for students?

Are you searching for ways to present materials to students with a variety of needs?

Do you want to know more about Accessible Instructional Materials?

If the answer is yes, check out these upcoming FREE webinars hosted by the National Center on Accessible Instructional Materials (AIM)

DATE: May 4, 2010
TIME: 3:00 p.m.–4:00 p.m. EST
EVENT: Webinar: AIM Basics: A General Introduction to Accessible Instructional Materials
TOPIC: The AIM Basics webinar provides general information about the provision of accessible instructional materials, legal mandates, an overview of the responsibilities of various stakeholders, and information about additional resources. Participation in this webinar is a strongly suggested as a prerequisite for other webinars.
PRESENTER(S): Joy Zabala

DATE: May 11, 2010
TIME: 1:00 p.m.–2:00 p.m. EST
EVENT: Webinar: Collaboration is Key: Developing a System that Ensures Timely Delivery of Accessible Instructional Materials
TOPIC: This webinar provides an overview of collaborative perspectives and actions needed to develop and sustain an effective, efficient system for the provision of accessible instructional materials in timely manner.
PRESENTER(S): Joy Zabala, in collaboration with AIM Consortium state leaders

DATE: May 11, 2010
TIME: 3:00 p.m.–4:00 p.m. EST
EVENT: Webinar: AIM Center Supports for Decision-making Teams
TOPIC: This webinar highlights information and tools available on the AIM Center web site that support effective decision-making in all phases of selecting, providing, and using accessible instructional materials for the participation and achievement of students.
SUGGESTED AUDIENCE: SEAs, LEAs, educators and families who are members of IEP teams and other decision-making teams
PRESENTER(S): Joy Zabala, Diana Carl, Ge Vue

DATE: May 18, 2010
TIME: 1:00 p.m.–2:00 p.m. EST
EVENT: Webinar: What the National Center for Accessible Instructional Materials Can Do for Your State
TOPIC: This webinar, especially designed for leaders in state and local education agencies, is an introduction to the National Center on Accessible Instructional Materials. The session includes an overview of technical assistance and services available to SEAs and LEAs, a guided tour of the Center’s web site, and information about the process for obtaining services from the Center.
PRESENTER(S): Chuck Hitchcock, Joy Zabala, Valerie Hendricks

DATE: May 18, 2010
TIME: 3:00 p.m.–4:00 p.m. EST
EVENT: Webinar: Accessible Instructional Materials: A Process for Collaborative Decision-Making
TOPIC: This webinar provides IEP team members—educators and families—with a process for decision-making about accessible instructional materials, including identification of need, selection of formats, and sources for obtaining materials. Free decision-guiding tools available on the AIM Center web site will also be highlighted.
SUGGESTED AUDIENCE: SEAs, LEAs, educators and families who are members of IEP teams and other decision-making teams
PRESENTER(S): Joy Zabala, Diana Carl

Friday, April 23, 2010

Get Ready for the AT Pavilion!

One month and counting .......
the Assistive Technology Center is coming to

The Abilities Expo is coming to the New York Metro area - May 21st - May 23rd and we will be there to show you the latest technology in the Assistive Technology Pavilion.

Have you wanted to try something to see if it is right for you? Then come check out our Hands-on Demos. The knowledgeable staff of the AT center will be on hand to guide you through the features of an array of Assistive Technology devices.

What if you don't know what you want? Don't worry - come by and speak to a staff member. In addition to the devices on display, we can help you search the Internet for possible technology solutions.

Do you want to know what we will be showing? Visit the AT Pavilion page for the Abilities Expo here.

Do you want to sign up for a demo? Click here.

We hope to see you there.

What should I Pack for College?

No matter what a students' abilities, packing for college can be difficult. What to pack? What not to pack? Am I bringing too much stuff? Where will I put it all once I get there?! These are questions that burn in every first year student's mind. Listed below is a checklist that will hopefully make packing a little bit easier:

1) Contact your roommate before you pack - Getting in touch with your roommate, if you have one, will help you with preparing your packing list. You most likely will need two refrigerators or two DVD players in your room. This will also help you begin a relationship with the person you will be living with for the next year.

2) Know what the school allows you to bring, and what they don't - Make sure you don't pack something that is just going to end up going back home in the car with your family. Here is a list of some things that are commonly banned at colleges across the country: candles, hotplates, toaster ovens and toasters. You can find a detailed list on your school's website.

3) Bring Hangers - You will not want to have your clothes on the floor while you are trying to unpack and navigate your room. Hangers are not included in your dorm room, unlike hotel rooms.

4) Don't forget your flash drive - If you are bringing a computer and printer with you, that's great. But what if your printer runs out of ink and your paper is due tomorrow? Having a flash drive on hand will let you print your paper on a friend's computer or in the library. You can also use a flash drive to bring a presentation to class, rather than bringing your whole computer.

5) Don't pack things that you can commonly find at a local store - Most likely, you will be going to school somewhere close to a store. Unless you are renting a 32 foot U-Haul truck, you will have limited space in the car. Pack the most essential and personal things to bring with you, and go shopping for other incidentals (like a case of bottled water or snacks) when you arrive at your destination.

6) Have Fun - College can be a wonderful experience of personal and academic growth. This is just the beginning. Congratulate your self on achieving this tremendous goal, and enjoy your first year!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Virginia's new iPad

Check out the video below of 99 year old Virginia Campbell using her new iPad.

According to The Lake Oswego News, Virginia hasn't been able to participate in one of her favorite pastimes: reading. Due to glaucoma - she was finding it difficult to read. Using the e-book feature, along with the ability to enlarge text, Virginia is not only reading again - but is also writing poetry!

She has even written an ode to her new iPad:

To this technology-ninny it’s clear
In my compromised 100th year,
That to read and to write
Are again within sight
Of this Apple iPad pioneer.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Web 2.0 Wednesday! Penzu

Are you asking your students to keep a writer's journal? Why not try Penzu?

This website will allow your students to create private journals on line that can be accessed from any computer with web access. Students can work on journals in school and finish them at home.

Students can choose to share entries so the teacher can track their writing.

Here are some articles about journal use in schools: - Journals in the Classroom
Effective Use of Student Journal Writing
Developing self assessment through journal writing (pdf)

Do you have any other ideas for journal writing? Share them below.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Workstation Accommodations - Desk and Chair

The main barrier to employment for some individuals is their desk and chair. Look at your desk and chair - is it meeting your needs?? For employees with disabilities, the lack of support and comfort from their workstation could be too much of a barrier to overcome.

We recently obtained a revolutionary powered height adjustable desk and zero gravity chair to use for evaluations with employees with disabilities.

Check out this video of the chair and desk in action.

Here are the details:

Perfect Chair - For employees who are unable to sit comfortably in an office chair, the Perfect Chair provides zero gravity support which reduces stress on their back and extremities. The tilt function is controlled by a button located on the armrest.

Ergo Quest 200 Desk - This powered height adjustable desk is the "perfect" compliment to the Perfect Chair (sorry-couldn't resist!). Once the employee is positioned comfortably in the chair, they can use the height adjustment of the table to find the best location for the monitor.

As the person goes through the workday, they may need to change position. No problem. Since each tool is totally adjustable, the person can find the position that meets their needs and have the workstation accommodate them!

This accommodation could enable a person to remain employed and work to their potential.

Web 2.0 Wednesday! YackPack

Do you want to collaborate online using voice recordings? Try YackPack

Once you create a conversation, people can login whenever they want and add their own recordings.

Want to use this in the classroom? Here are some ideas from the website:

  • Grade student work, giving quality feedback and saving yourself time. See how you can do this!
  • Give assignments for oral practice in foreign language learning as well as speaking and presentation skills.
  • Offer encouragement on assignments.
  • Discuss topics as a class, as staff, as a district, and with other educators.
  • Answer questions from students. Watch a short movie showing teacher-student interactions in YackPack.
  • Collaborate with other classrooms.
  • Invite guests to join in from around the world.
  • You can talk in real time - just push and talk. Everyone logged in can hear you.

Want to see it in action? Click Here.

Try it out next time you want to collaborate on an assignment. Share your experiences by leaving a comment below.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Going West - It is the lessons you learn on the journey

There are times that I accidentally come across something that touches me. Today is one of those days that I sat and watches a two youtube videos on a young man named Darius Weems. He is a young man that has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. He is a young man that lost his older brother to the same disorder. What was most amazing to me was the determination this young man demonstrated. He set out to live a dream and he accomplished each goal he set for himself because of the friends he had and developed along the way. He did not allow his disabilities get in his way. His mother although she wanted to hold and protect her son allowed him to take the journey that he needed to take for himself and his brother who did not have the opportunity. He has lessons to teach all around him. Watch the video. If you are teacher there is information about lesson plans and a DVD for educators.

What I learned: Is possibility is the belief that something can be done. Determination of a team is how it gets done.

This is one of many videos that you can find on youtube about Darius Weems.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Web 2.0 Wednesday! Free File Converter

In a previous post, we discussed using Zamzar to download files from the Internet. While that site works well, it requires you to give them an email address. Once your file is complete, you receive and email with a link to download your file. Depending on the size of the file and the traffic to the website, you could be waiting for some time.

An alternative to Zamzar is Free File Converter.

This website performs the same types of file conversion as Zamzar - but with one main difference. Free File Converter performs your file conversion task right in front of you and provides a link to download the file as soon as it is done. No need to check your email - no need to wait.

I have found this website helpful when I am in a school setting and the firewall has prevented me from accessing my personal email. Now, I can simply go to this website and create my files instantly.

Have you used this service? Let us know by leaving a comment.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Talk to your iPAD

I know...everywhere you look recently there is another article about the iPAD and how it is the next greatest must-have device. With the iPAD coming out tomorrow, the amount of press is sure to increase (if that is possible!).

This post won't be about that - if you want those kinds of articles check out:
Crave - The Gadget Blog from C/NET
Gizmodo - Search for iPAD
or visit the official Apple iPAD Store

Instead, we will focus on the ability to use the FREE (yes..I said it!) Dragon Dictation app on the iPAD! According to Nuance, the application runs the Dragon Naturally Speaking speech engine and will allow users to dictate directly into the iPAD.

As the iPAD starts to get in the hands of users, we will update this post with user reviews of this software. Using Dragon on the iPAD may be a viable alternative to a laptop computer and would provide an additional level of flexibility to speech recognition users.

Do you have an iPAD? Want to be a guest reviewer? Leave a comment below and share your experiences.