One of my favorite tools for a long time is Classkick. This is a tool that will work with any device! It works in a web browser or has an app. And it is one of the wonderful Ed-tech tools that is providing their premium features for free right now in this time of school […]One of my favorite tools, perfect for distance learning. — The road to learning
I recently attended a fantastic webinar on remote learning, presented by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (this link goes to their COVID-19 page). It was the first in a series to support teachers in providing the BEST online learning we can. One of the terrific presenters was Joanna Schimizzi (@Mrs._Schimizzi), a teacher in North Carolina’s public virtual schools!
I’ve found helpful reviews of online teaching resources at Common Sense.org, including Kaizena, an add-on to Google docs which allows teachers to include videos, recorded comments, and other cool features. Of course, Google Hangouts is a free, easy-to-use app for connecting, especially in small groups. Zoom is a terrific video and online classroom resource, with abundant support available for those new to remote learning.
In the midst of current fears and uncertainty about the coronavirus, we did have a fun time a couple of weeks ago with our movie small group. One friend had a mask purchased during the H1N1 scare. We can’t meet right now but look forward to more fun times ahead!
Wow. If you are a parent or teacher of a child with special needs, this website is for you! Patti + Ricky is an online shop for folks with ‘disAbilities,’ stocked with over 2000 items and created in partnership with 65 designers! From items in braille to footwear for prosthetics, you can find an incredible array of adapted clothing and accessories for men, women, and children.
Remember how we had to create a chewie necklace for Christopher? Patti + Ricky have the coolest “chewelry” ever! I have never seen a site like this with so many compression, weighted, and modified products. It’s simply fabulous.
Pattie + Ricky grew out of Alexandra Connell’s love for her mom (Patti) and Ricky (cousin) who inspired her to provide options for folks with special challenges. Her story was captured by the Today Show on NBC. It’s well worth the watch. You can follow her on Facebook, too!
I could have used the wheelchair and crutch accessories for years….
SoundingBoard byAbleNet is a free IOs app designed to augment communication when paired with a switch. AbleNet provides a wide range of assistive technology devices to support communication, including speech generating devices, switches, and accessible toys. The image below shows the main menu of SoundingBoard, significantly enlarged.
It took me a while to figure out how to create a usable board, but I’m not a rocket scientist. I did not use their symbols library, although it is quite extensive. You may also select from your own photos, which is a nice option. If you want to make this switch-friendly, all text must be recorded. The font size is miniature on an iPad and non-readers would have to memorize tiny icons.
I ended up deleting all the preloaded boards, which are definitely suitable for a wide age range. My students would not create shopping lists, but the workplace board (shown below) could be used for students in a work training program if they used switches to communicate quite minimally.
The tech support is great but the boards available for purchase are similar in quality to the free boards. SIgn language symbols are included for some topics. Boards can also be linked to one another, but using a switch means that the related boards are all scanned as ‘primary sources.’
If you have students who rely on switches for communication, this app has a lot of potential, but I would suggest individualizing it with meaningful icons and photos. I am recruiting a young man to record a ‘natural’ voice for a 13-year-old user.
OK, I was going to write a series on excellent Christmas gifts but hey, everyone will have a birthday this year, right? If you are looking for a terrific science-themed gift, an Earthbox Junior is THE perfect tool for indoor/classroom gardening and plant study. Earthbox does come in larger sizes, but the Junior fits nicely on a window ledge and for a class, offers a perfect small group container. It is featured below at Rosa Parks Elementary school in San Francisco.
With Earthbox Junior, you can grow herbs and other plants year-round. Watering is simple and the planter is easily lifted for more careful investigation. Given my poor track record with plants, I’d say this is a winner!
I used this one to experiment with plant reproduction. In the photo above, a student is exploring moss with a digital microscope. More on the dangers of reproduction in the next post!
Scholastic’s ScienceWorld is a terrific, teacher-friendly resource for hands-on and digital resources. Sure, there’s a paper magazine version with your subscription, but the online goodies make the magazine even better! And ScienceWorld is already amazing. The magazine covers a wide range of middle school science topics from around the world, saving teachers much-needed time for collecting lesson plans, materials, and inspiration.
Scholastic makes a strong appeal to kids who are traditionally low in STEM careers: blacks and girls. For instance, this month’s edition for middle schoolers features D-J Comeaux and his Black Panther app called AfroBot Boyz. The main article in the magazine focuses on a student who participated in the Hidden Genius Project in Oakland, California, which supports black high school dropouts.
I also love this magazine because it keeps on giving, especially to special needs kiddos. The online teacher resources provide multiple cool projects and experiments, available by intelligent searches, including archived versions of the past three years of your subscription. A subscription to ScienceWorld supports struggling students by linking some of them to their narrow range of interests, providing multiple means of access, supporting hands-on activities, and opportunities for partner or small group learning.
Here’s a photo of extracted strands of strawberry DNA from a recent experiment in ScienceWorld. Very cool! Couldn’t do it without you, Scholastic!
If you are looking for a perfect summary of how to teach all year, but also want to fire up your jets for the start of things, TeacherVision’s Ultimate Back-to-School Guide is for you. It lists nine areas to consider, including self-awareness, persistence, and real world effectiveness. But this guide is much more than a list. It’s inspirational and has multiple links to apps, books, and online resources for each area that will support your teaching experience- and make you more effective.
The first area reviewed is one of the most important to me: self-awareness. Did you know there’s an app for that? Well, actually, much more than that. One inspirational quote in this section comes from Daniel Goleman, who has been at the center of the emotional intelligence field for years. “If your emotional abilities aren’t in hand, if you don’t have self-awareness, if you are not able to manage your distressing emotions, if you can’t have empathy and have effective relationships, then no matter how smart you are, you are not going to get very far.”
As a teacher, our job is to not only improve our self-awareness but also that of our students. As I noted in an earlier blog, Marianne Hardiman says that “setting the emotional climate for learning may be the most important task a teacher embarks on each day.”
It’s no surprise that Drs. Sally and Bennett Shaywitz have founded one of the best sites around for info on dyslexia. The Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity (YCDC) provides terrific resources for educators, families, and kids. As the author of “Overcoming Dyslexia” and a leading figure in ongoing research on dyslexia, Sally Shaywitz focuses on both the strengths and challenges experienced by folks with dyslexia.
This wonderful site features:
- Research on dyslexia, including the rationale for calling dyslexia an “unexpected difficulty” in reading by individuals who have the intelligence and motivation to read.
- A powerful section of resources for kids, parents, educators, and policy makers. You’ll find terrific student tips and poignant stories featuring young people from a wide range of backgrounds- and all of it is printable!
- Success stories of folks who have used used their unique learning style for good (and no, they are not all actors!).
- Advocacy tools for parents and educators, including helpful strategies for raising awareness of dyslexia, social media suggestions, and more.
- A news and press section with summaries of current news articles on dyslexia and newsletters from YDCD.
I highly recommend this site as a starting point for learning more about dyslexia. YDCD is also a place where educators and families can find support in their dyslexia journey, which can be tough but oh, so rewarding!
Siri and I have a complicated relationship. Sometimes she helps me call my dearest teaching widower and other times she has no idea who that is. It drives me nuts when she calmly tells me, “You’ll need to unlock your iPhone first.” What?? My dearest widower has not changed his name or number!
Recently I was stuck in a snarled traffic mess for what seemed like forever, so I forgave her (that’s good) and chatted with her (that’s bad in a car, I know). But I was not moving! Not an inch! For a long time! OK, I was impatient (also bad).
I started with some important questions but the conversation went downhill from there.
Reid Wilson’s approach to cognitive behavior therapy changed my life. No longer trapped by a driving phobia, I drive anywhere and everywhere, sometimes still telling my amygdala to give it a rest. Reid now has a new online course which I can guarantee will change your thinking about anxiety! The course is called “Stop Worrying: Powerful New Tools for Anxiety Relief.”
Why am I so convinced that this course will be life changing? Two reasons: Because it is founded on the latest brain research and Reid Wilson is an expert in this field. The video below explains what happens in your brain when you come across something scary, like a snake. Watch it and be amazed at how fabulous your brain is- and how that amazing brain can make a mess of fear.
More info on this course to follow!