• Disconnect from Technology: How to Teach Balance

    Posted by Jessica Conrad on 5/6/2016
    Disconnect from Technology: How to teach balance
    With finals looming, end-of-the-year paperwork mounting, and beautiful weather beckoning, parents and professionals alike struggle with teaching students how to put down the technology and enjoy everything else.
    1. Some parents promote mindful usage above flat out restriction.  Consider talking with your students about appropriate screen time and involve them in making thoughtful choices about how they spend their free time.  You can use this discussion and apply it to Guided Access, StayFocusd, or just a standard kitchen timer to help students recognize the passage of time-- a difficult skill for many students with disabilities.
    2. Restrict iPad/iPhone app time with Guided Access.  Set the timer for a set amount of minutes, and the app will lock down when time has expired.
    3. Establish "screen free zones" in your home, with activities and times  The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests no more than 2 hours of "entertainment media" screen time per day (differentiating between other reasons why we use screens) and encourages parents to be involved and start dialogues with their children about appropriate content and advertisements.  Additionally, they recommend no screen time for children under the age of two.
    4. StayFocusd is highly customizable, allowing users to determine what sites need to be blocked or semi-blocked, how long they get to be on those sites, and how long the enforcement period should be.  Great for students (of any age!) who struggle with sticking with a term paper that won't write itself.
    5. Model good balance.  Point out the good habits you've developed or identify an area of mindful technology use you would like to work on.


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  • 5 Excellent Note Taking Technologies

    Posted by Jessica Conrad on 4/15/2016
    1. Google Docs (FREE) drive.google.com
    First on our list for a reason: sharing, collaborating, embedding extra information, and syncing across all devices.  The research tool alone is worth encouraging students to switch from the notebook to Docs.
    For example Docs is perfect for Guided Notes.  Guided Notes is a strategy for students to learn note taking skills and support weaknesses in language, attention, organization, learning, and motor skills.  This strategy is also effective for participants in Student Teams or other meetings where minutes or plans are set into a template and need to be easily shared and skimmed.
    To learn more about turning notes into a Guided Notes with Google Docs: https://www.teachforgoogle.com/course/info.php?id=8
    2. Live Scribe ($129 and up) https://www.livescribe.com/en-us/
    Much more than a simple pen, this tool doubles as a recording device, capturing audio and written words as notes are taken.  What is recorded can sync the written text, diagrams, and audio with tablets or smart phones and reviewed with the lecture/meeting played back as parts of the text are highlighted.  This is an excellent tool for students who struggle with memory, attention, or keeping up with the notes in a lecture and a favorite of many administrators.
    3. Evernote (Freemium) https://evernote.com/
    One of the most popular note taking technologies of all time, Evernote syncs your information across any platform available.  Free accounts come with a fair amount of storage and features, but paid accounts come with the ability to add pass codes to notes, save emails to Evernote, annotate PDFs, and turn notes into presentations.
    This app is the official iOS note taker for the American Foundation for the Blind.  It is designed for users of VoiceOver with a wide variety of features like keystroke efficiency and quick navigation through notes.
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  • 5 Free Apps for Middle and High School Students

    Posted by Jessica Conrad on 2/26/2016

    5 FREE Apps for Middle/High School

    For students with language/vocabulary and ELL students, this app goes through 3000 grade-appropriate words in short, fun games with intermediate reading material.screenshot of quest app
    For students that need visual supports to build confidence and independence to complete tasks.  Made with adults and students in transition in mind, any activity can be broken down into visual steps with photos and optional text and audio.  Tasks can be scheduled such as laundry day, with visual steps, every Thursday, how to make coffee every morning.  Note: unlimited tasks are a freemium purchase of $14.99
    A special education teacher favorite, students or teachers can make and share flashcards on the app or on a computer.  Students on the go can review with activities with optional images and audio.
    This app allows students to track their own emotional, mental, and physical health.  The app creates a summary of trends, helping students, families, and medical staff understand and recognize triggers and problems.
    For students beginning algebra skills, order of operations and other foundation skills, students earn points problem solving how to make the equation equal to the solution.
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  • Awesome (and Free) Apps for Preschool

    Posted by Jessica Conrad on 12/9/2015


    1. Toca Kitchen Monsters, Toca Boca
    Toca Boca apps are designed for students to explore and use language and learning in fun ways.  Toca Kitchen monsters has unlimited opportunities for requesting, commenting, and describing.  Preschoolers will love creating recipes and trying different foods and guessing what the monsters would like to eat.toca boca app, monster waiting by fridge
    2. Bitsboard Preschool, Innovated Investments Limited
    Bitsboard Preschool is for creating stacks of flashcards that automatically turn them into activities, like tracing, memory, matching, spelling, stories, puzzles and more.  You can use the educator library or create your own deck in a snap.  Data collection and rewards are embedded within the app.
    Little Lego enthusiasts will love this animal adventure, finding animals and solving small puzzles, plenty of opportunity for vocabulary development, description, and fine motor skills.
    A game made for teaching preschoolers the language and skills needed for problem solving, self control, planning, and task persistepicture from Sesame street app, monster thinking of what plan to choose nce.  This app can be personalized and includes parent instructions and ideas for teaching preschoolers alternatives to becoming frustrated.
    5. Sesame Street and Autism, Sesame Street
    Designed for parents and caregivers of preschoolers with autism, this app features videos and strategies including a story book, and 8 interactive family routine cards.
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  • AAC Awareness Month Part 2: Myths and Facts

    Posted by Jessica Conrad on 11/4/2015

    Do you know the facts that can debunk these commonly held myths and misconceptions about AAC and its users?

    Myth: AAC is a computer that speaks words

    Fact: Just as we communicate in various ways (texting, waving our hands, pointing, talking, etc.) AAC users need to communi-
    cate in a variety of ways. Signing, a post it note, a paper board with choices, a button that flashes different colors can all be

    types of successful AAC. Not every AAC user needs a high-tech device. See our website www.ssjcs.k12.in.us/at for more

    resources about devices and AAC systems

    Myth: Students should start out with a low tech AAC solution, and if that doesn't work, consider more expensive, high-
    er tech solutions.

    Fact: students should be matched up with the solution that best fits their needs. Price and the amount of technology should

    never be a "wait until you fail" barrier to what users need to communicate.

    Myth: AAC prevents a student from learning to speak aloud

    Fact: all research indicates that AAC supports a student's understanding and use of language, and AAC helps support the skills

    needs to learn to speak aloud.

    Myth: AAC is the speech-language pathologist's job.

    Fact: AAC is usually evaluated and planned for by the SLP, but it takes the student, teacher, parents, and other communication

    partners to help implement the best intervention for a student.

    The average 18 month old child has been exposed to over 4,000 hours of oral language input from birth, but a child who only

    receives input and practice during speech/language therapy will reach that same amount of language exposure when they are

    84 years (source: Jane Korsten).

    More great resources: www.ssjcs.k12.in.us/at AND http://www.myaac.org/aac-101/47

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