Thursday, February 17, 2011

Using Learning Styles to Increase Effectiveness of AT

How do your students learn? Have you taken the time to analyze whether a student you are evaluating for AT is kinesthetic, auditory, tactile, visual, etc?
I was observing a student this week that has a cleft palette. He is a primary student learning phonics and sounding out words. As I watched the class drill sight words flashing on a screen, all reading out loud, this student had delayed response, listening to the class then trying to say the word. It didn't take long before he gave up and was looking around the room completely off task. Now I had sat with him all afternoon and saw that he was a hard worker and was able to focus and do good work - so he didn't have attention deficits. What I did see was a style of expressing mastery of a skill that was actually not his forte. In fact it was his main disability - pronunciation and expressive language. No wonder he gave up!
This prompted me to think about how I watched him learn skills and look at his learning style. After class I asked the teacher how he learns best, what his style of learning is. We discussed it and I challenged her to think of multiple modalities to express mastery and drill and practice. How will this student be able to be successful? If he can't say the word, is he missing a step in finalizing the process neurologically to build those neural pathways and connections? How can he " finalize the learning" in another modality so it seals the deal?
I would challenge you to look at learning styles, differentiated instruction, strategies for multiple intelligences, multi-sensory learning and apply AT that supports finalizing the learning so the concept becomes second nature.
Some resources can be explored at the CAST website where you can explore several self-paced modules that will help you think in this way.

All the best to you!

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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

There's An App for That Series: Apps for Students with Learning Disabilities

I have been digging into apps for TBI and for our assistive technology equipment center. We have 3 iTouches and 1 iPad to check out for trials. I came across a terrific series:
There's an App for That - has 5 parts, here is a link to Part One on Organizational Skills for Students with Learning Disabilities. Check out this and the other 4 articles in the series. Excellent work.
All the best,

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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Tools, Apps and Resources for TBI

There are so many tools and places to go online for help with traumatic brain injury. Below is a collection of websites, tools and apps to help support the TBI student.

Check out Papershow, which puts what you write on the screen AS you write. Very cool and according to Brian Friedlander's blog post about it was a BIG hit at MACWorld 2011 in SanFransisco.

Here is a website that has some great tools for families. There are some great videos on how to work through issues in IEP's and school meetings.
Brain Injury Partners: Navigating the School System

Print Disability Tools:

I have found a lot of great helps at CAST and through the AIM/NIMAS links below:
CAST has a new video UDL at a Glance, that explains Universal Design for Learning.

AIM Navigator will help you determine need, what electronic formats are needed, identify textbooks that are needed. There are great summary topics about accessible insttructional tools, what quesations to ask, etc. This is a good tool to use with a staff to line out what is needed, develop a materials list and a to do list for what comes next.

CAST UDL Book Builder is a free book designer program that utilizes Text Help and UDL elements. You can read books that have been built by others or create your own. It allows students to go in and read, take notes online and then save notes to the computer at the end.

CAST Strategy Tutor is a free download that goes on your internet browser toolbar. It gives tips and strategies on how to study at your fingertips when you are studying, doing research, etc.

The CAST Learning Tools area has other teacher support tools.

iPad/iTouch Apps:

I found a YouTube video from Michigan Engineering on a texting tool for the iPad that does auto scanning for texting and email using the on-screen keyboard. It is not available anywhere at this time but keep your eye out for it!

Shapewriter is a touch keyboard that allows you to slide your finger dot-to-dot style without having to lift your finger. I tried to download it and it said it was not available in the U.S. It didn't show up on the app store search either. Two friends have it so if you know how to get it let us know.

App list: You can google these or type them into the app search on iPad/Pod and find them most are free (F)=free - a few I paid for.

Talking Tom (F)
Speak it!
Tap to Talk (F)

Dictate, by Dragon Naturally Speaking (F)
Search, by Dragon Naturally Speaking (F)
Dictionary! Auto fills words in list as you type to help spell. (F)
WordWeb Dictionary and Thesaurus, speaks words to help with spelling
iPlanin - visual scheduler (F)
Time Timer -
Class Organizer - has recording tool that syncs with notes and drawing pad, etextbook access and class scheduler homework to-do, etc. (under $10)
Text Expander - create abbreviations to auto fill with keyboard.
Mind Mapping - iThoughtsHD (9.99 and 7.99 versions)

Talkulator (talking calculator) (F)
Arithmetick (F)
Hot Potato: Algebra (F)
Balance - money tracker accounting app (F)
Dot to Dot Number Whiz lite (F)
Flash to Pass Math

AIM/ Talking Books:
Storykit (F)
Treasure Island by Flying Word
Speak it! - copy in text to read - great voices
iReader - copy in notes to read (F)

Brain/speed drills:
BrainReactor (F)
Buzzwire (F)
3D Brain (F) lights up, describes and shows sections of brain and turns 3D style

Dropbox, free account for file space and storage (F)
Elements, for word processing documents - linked to Dropbox
Zen Tap, word predict tool (F)
Plain Text, free word processing tool (F)

Hope these give you some ideas!

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