Saturday, October 26, 2013

Assistive Technology on iOS devices and Macbooks

On Monday I went to an assistive technology conference at the Apple Office in downtown Chicago. It was great to be back there. We started the conference by learning about good apps for iPad. The first speaker was Bill Ziegler ( & He shared quite a few iOS apps with us. These are the few that stood out for me.

Clicker Sentence $26.99
Clicker Docs $30.99
Abilipad $19.99
These 3 were suggested as alternatives to Proloquo2go which is $219.99. I have not tried any of them but I think they each have their strengths. They are not just for those with disabilities but for any beginning or struggling writer.
PaperPort Notes  Free
This one has speech to text and annotation features and it is FREE.
If you are into Pinterest a great person to follow for assistive tech is Lauren Enders. She pins new items almost daily.
Dexteria $3.99 and Dexteria Jr. $2.99
Develop fine motor and handwriting readiness skills
MeMoves $9.99
An app for calm and focus
Here is a great app that everyone can use. I had actually installed it months ago but never had the time to test it or use it. It must have been free when I downloaded it because I rarely pay for apps. It connects your iPhone or iPad with your desktop screen. It is a remote desktop app.
Splashtop for computer Free
iOS app  $4.99

We heard from 2 other speakers. The only other nugget that I gleaned from them was this
App Wheel for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Mark Coppin the creator was one of our speakers. This wheel is very well done. He said he created it because he saw an app list for kids with ASD and it had Angry Birds on it.

This document contains all the accessibility features that can be found on the Macbook and iOS device. It is quite extensive at 6 pages long. It is a great reference guide to keep around. There are so many options you could never remember them all. I'm sure there are some great You Tube videos out there too to support you if you need a visual.
Universal Access Features of Mac OS X & iOS

I hope you are able to find at least one thing to use with your students from this list.  

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Augmented Reality

It was another great week in the same 4th grade classroom. I have to admit that 4th grade is my favorite grade. I was a 4th grade teacher for 7 years before becoming the computer teacher. This week we used augmented reality to create videos that went along with biographical 5 paragraph essays that the children had already created. We covered quite a few CCSS ELA standards with this project.

Before I came the children read biographies about famous Americans. The classroom teacher had them write 5 paragraph essays, and find a picture of the person they read about. The pictures and essays were hung up in the classroom and out in the hallway.
Next we had to create the video or the overlay. The picture above shows me recording a student who is speaking in 1st person as the person he read about. A few of the students chose to dress up like the person they read about, but it was not required. Some of the students got into it by being really expressive, some even changed their voice. It was great to see them act.
Once everyone was recorded we used the Aurasma app for iPad (there is also an app available for Android devices) to create our auras.  I have an iPad 4, but the classroom iPads are iPad 2s. Originally, I was thinking that I could Airdrop (a new feature in iOS 7) the videos to the student iPads from my iPad. I quickly realized that Airdrop is only available for iPad 4s that have iOS 7. Earlier versions of the iPad do not support Airdrop even if they have iOS 7. Each student used my iPad to create their project. Work flow continues to be an issue on iPads. I think that iOS 7 and Airdrop are a huge improvement, but not all schools are always going to have the latest and greatest.
Next as a whole group we created accounts using student email address. I read the privacy policy and the terms of use policy. This site has no age restrictions. Our student email address reveal no private information about students.
The app is very intuitive. The first thing to do is to find an overlay. An overlay can be a 3-D object or video. In our case it was the videos that the students created. We uploaded the video from the camera roll. Then you take a picture of your trigger. Our trigger is the picture that students printed out and hung up with their essay. There are some size restrictions on the trigger. Next you join them together. Finally, you create a channel, so that other people can search for and like your channel. There is an option to make the auras public or private. I had the children create a channel and make their auras public. We are going to share these with parents on the night of open house, so I want the content to be available to everyone. You can search for someones channel and like it. Once you like it then the trigger image will bring up the aura or overlay video on your device. If you mark the video private then only the creator will be able to view it on the device used to create the project. Below is a screen shot of the essay, the trigger, and the overlay video or aura. Aurasma has a You Tube channel and one video in particular that tells about the app upgrades made recently.
The students liked creating the auras and watching themselves star in the video. The students don't seem as impressed as the adults by this new technology.
The classroom has 3 iPad 2s. Next time I would rotate the iPads that I used for recording, so I that I could have the students make their auras in groups of 3 instead of one at at time.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

QR codes and Book Trailers - Working in an Above the Line Classroom

Welcome to my blog: Tales of a 1:1 Instructional Coach
I will be sharing the trials and tribulations of being an instructional coach in a K-8 1:1 school district. I hope to showcase how teachers are using technology to meet standards and keep kids moving forward. I will also be sharing my experiences of building relationships with teachers in order improve their teaching practices and move them Above the Line.

This past week was an exciting one. I worked in a 4th grade classroom all week. We created book trailers and published them using QR codes. When the QR code is scanned, a student book trailer can be viewed on any mobile device. Although the explanation is long the process is simple. The students did a phenomenal job producing and publishing their own videos. 

First, each student read a book on their reading level. The classroom teacher provided a script that included: title, author, setting, problem, and recommendation. The recording also included a hook like, "To find out more read this story." Next each student recorded themselves in iMovie. This could be done in Quicktime or Windows Movie Maker too if you don't have iMovie. They took a picture of the book's cover using Photo Booth. I taught them how to do cut aways using their book's cover. A cut away is just that - the movie continues while the viewer sees the book cover (or whatever still picture is inserted) while still hearing the students voice telling about the book. There are many videos about how to do a cut away, but I have found this one most useful Book Reviews in iMovie by CrunchEd Productions. This video can be posted on your class website for students to watch over and over again till they understand the process. You could always make your own screen cast, but there are so many videos available why would you reinvent the wheel? 
Once students were happy with their movie we had to save them to somewhere where they could be shared. We use Google Apps for Education in our district. Each student has their own Google Drive account. We logged in and uploaded our movies to Google Drive. Next, we used Unitag QR Code generator so that we could put the book cover into the middle of the QR code. We copied and pasted the Google Drive URL and uploaded the book cover photo to the generator website. Make sure you change your share settings in Google Drive to Anyone with the Link. Otherwise the QR code can not be viewed. 
Almost done - students dropboxed the file to their teacher, she sized them and printed them out! The picture above shows one of the QR codes and the bulletin board where all the QR codes are posted. The students enjoy clicking on each others codes and listening to their classmates book review. The key now is to get students to read the books that were reviewed. 
Stay tuned ~ this week, this same class is going to use augmented reality to do biography book reports.