Sunday, June 24, 2012

What I Learned On My Summer Vacation...

Here are just a few tips and tricks and resources I gleaned from the MITS technology conference I attended last week:

(sorry these are not at all in any sort of order. but hopefully they will be of some use to someone!)

 -Shapedad on Etsy makes some really cool iPad stylii for people with various motor impairments, and "socks" to make chopsticks, etc. into stylii. Very cool!

-Q10 (only for Windows) and FocusWriter (for both Windows and Mac) are both great options for free downloadable software that creates a distraction-free screen for kids who need to minimize visual distraction while typing.

-Slater Software, a picture-based literacy software company (you may know their PictureIt or PixWriter programs) is going out of business because the owners are retiring - and all their stuff is on big-time sale until they close completely on June 30. So hurry and check them out!

-This document is a great read on that little box we all check on the IEP that asks if assistive technology has been considered. How often do we actually consider it?

-The Communication Matrix is a free, online communication assessment. I haven't looked at it extensively yet, but from what I saw at the conference, it looks like it would be really useful! I'm definitely going to try it out with at least some of my students next year.

-And some iPad apps I jotted down the names of - not sure if these are all free and/or inexpensive, but certainly they're all worth checking out if you've got students who would apply to the skills addressed:
>>educreations (this one I know is free - it's a screen/voice recorder)
>>Alphabet Tracing (just what it says - finger or stylus tracing of letters; handwriting practice)
>>Everyday Math (various apps under this one - some I liked for my students were called Name That Number and Top-It Addition - if you can't find them under Everyday Math, look under McGraw-Hill)
>>Doodle Buddy ( fun drawing app to work on finger control/fine motor)
>>Art of Glow (visually stimulating touch/finger control/cause and effect app)
>>Dexteria (app that works on fine motor, finger/hand skills, tracing)
>>Time Timer (the standard visual timer in app form)

This just touches the very small tip of the iceberg of things I learned about at the conference...Who wants to go with me next year??

I also won a raffle at the conference! Now I have my very own Hawk III communication device!
It's basic, but it's great! I'm especially excited because I have only ever had communication devices in my classroom that are on loan from our ISD lending library (you get them to try out with students for 6 weeks and then have to return them) or are students' personal devices. This one is my own, so I get to use it with my kiddos forever! I'm already making up some boards to use with our summer Olympics unit.

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