Tag Archives: public schools

A.T.TIPSCAST Episode #134: Able To

ATTips-Summer-2014-concept

This episode of the A.T.TIPSCAST is sponsored by Texthelp, provider of the award-winning Read&Write software solutions. Click on the banner above to learn about the amazing Read&Write products.

Episode Overview –

Episode #134 questions the usage of the phrase “able to” when reporting on the abilities of students. This is the Season 8 premiere.

A.T.TIPS in this Episode –

A.T.TIP #436: Banning the R Word and http://r-word.org
A.T.TIP #437: Elevateapp.com

Upcoming ATIA Webinars

Low Cost Ways to Provide More Options To Help Students with Reading and Writing – 3:30pm – 4:30pm ET on November 12th, 2014. Webinar for the Assistive Technology Industry Association
Getting Your AT Party Started: Answers to Commonly Asked Questions About Program Building with Sally Norton-Darr – 3:30pm – 5:00pm ET on December 11th, 2014. Webinar for the Assistive Technology Industry Association

 

Upcoming Live Presentations

Be A Digital Detective with Beth Poss – 12:45pm – 3:00pm on November 18, 2014. PATINS 2014 Conference.
Twitter 101 with Beth Poss – 10:15am – 11:15am on November 18, 2014. PATINS 2014 Conference.
Technology Driven Data Collection: Using Digital Tools to Document Progress –  One-Day Pre-conference – January 28th,  2015. Assistive Technology Industry Association One-Day Pre-conference. Register Now!
Multiple Presentations – January 29th – 31st,  2015. Assistive Technology Industry Association Conference.
TBD – Keynote Speaker –  February 4th, 2015. Utah Center for Assistive Technology

 

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Assistive Technology Movie Review – The Hunger Games

My wife doesn’t read books. She devours them. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins was no exception. I, however, find it difficult to read a book during the school year. My literature consumption primarily takes place in the form of audiobooks or podcasts during my commute.  That said, when my wife circled last Friday on the calendar and said, “We’re going to see The Hunger Games” I felt the urge to read the book before seeing the movie.

As luck would have it, my in-laws came to visit the weekend prior to the movie coming out. In an effort to give them some alone time with their grandkids, I barricaded myself in our bedroom and went to town on the novel.

I knocked it out in two days; a record for me.

I was eager to experience the phenomenon in the same way as my wife so I could have something intelligent to say when the inevitable discussions comparing the film adaptation to the literary work occurred.

Once again I couldn’t help but see correlations  throughout the story to the implementation of technology following a Universal Design for Learning framework.

SPOILERS FOLLOW

YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED

The story, which is mostly the same between the book and the film, is, at its core, one of rebellion, defiance, and self discovery. It involves 24 children between the ages of 12 and 18 placed within a large, outdoor arena to fight to the death for the purposes of entertaining the masses.  This annual death match, known as The Hunger Games, was established to keep the working class in line as a reminder of the power of the ruling class.  The contestants in this gladiatorial bloodbath are known as “tributes.”

The tributes in the story have a diverse set of backgrounds, skills, and traits, making each one unique and special in some way. My brain immediately equated the tributes to students within a classroom, struggling to survive through the arena of school, trying to win at education, competing with one another for acceptance into college or for scholarships. Just like in the story, despite the cut-throat competition, alliances and friendships are formed. In both the story and within schools, individuals realize that collaboration and teamwork prove more successful than standing alone.

If the tributes in the arena represent students, then the supplies and weapons used to kill opponents would represent the technology necessary to complete a task. The tributes make decisive choices about what tools they need to accomplish their objectives of staying alive and killing others. Likewise, students within an environment following the principles of Universal Design for Learning utilize an array of tools to accomplish their mission of learning the content and achieving educational goals. In the arena, the wrong set of tools could equal pain, suffering, or even death while the correct set of tools matched to an individual’s skills could prove most effective. In school, choosing the wrong set of tools could equal the loss of precious time but the right set of tools, matched to an individual’s abilities, could make a significant impact in student performance.

Blazing hot days, freezing cold nights, swarms of deadly insects, wild mutated animals, and poisonous vegetation are just a few of the hazards prevalent throughout the arena. These conditions are controlled by the gamekeepers in order to provide the maximum entertainment value for the audience.  Like in the arena, the school environment itself can be manipulated to shape the challenge facing a student.  Educators should engineer environments with the educational goals of students in mind. For instance, if a student has a language goal of making requests then placing desired objects out of reach provides the student with an opportunity to communicate. Likewise, if a student is physically having difficulty accessing something within his environment, like a computer or interactive whiteboard, the educator must manipulate the environment to provide access.  Either way, the educator molds the environment in a manner conducive to the needs of every learner.

The protagonist of the story is a character named Katniss, a 16 year old girl thrust into the midst of the carnage. She is provided a mentor named Haymitch who has the primary task of preparing her for the battle royale. During the actual event, Haymitch is also responsible for garnering “sponsors” for Katniss who will fork up cash to provide additional necessary tools not already in the environment.

In this way, Haymitch works like an assistive technology trainer guiding students in ways to successfully utilize the technology already present within the environment. Likewise, when that technology proves too restrictive or limiting, it is up to the assistive technology trainer to provide additional possibilities for the student. Haymitch goes to sponsors asking for additional supplies while an assistive technology trainer goes to vendors looking for tools that might meet the needs of students.

When Haymitch obtains a sponsor who provides supplies, he sends it to Katniss via parachute with a note attached with advice on how to best use it.  In similar fashion, when assistive technology trainers acquire a new device to help students they provide training and tutorials.

In the end, Katniss teaches the establishment of the ruling class a lesson that despite attempting to control the chaos, something unpredictable can occur to upset the rhythm of the status quo.  Educators attempting to provide and implement a variety of technology options to students should recognize this very same fact. A universally designed classroom strives to provide an atmosphere of controlled chaos and insulated entropy.  Students provided with a multitude of choices about tools and activities they wish to use to best demonstrate their knowledge or which best engages them in the learning process might get messy. Almost always, something can go wrong. The unexpected will occur.  Unlike the Gamekeepers in The Hunger Games, educators should expect this. Even more so, they should embrace it.

Providing a universally designed environment, at times, might feel like a difficult task, but remember no one is alone.  Anyone can call out to others, like the song of a Mockingjay, to ask for help. Perhaps a model of a peer is all that is needed for the spark to begin Catching Fire within a colleague. Educators across districts (way more than the 12 outlined in the story) are working toward accomplishing similar goals. Sharing accomplishments and demonstrating successes is the best way to spread the culture of universal design for learning.

As you move forward, continuing on your own mission to provide options for students, I only have these words of encouragement: May the odds be ever in your favor.

Profiles of characters from The Hunger Games with an embedded picture of Chris as one of the characters

 

A.T.TIPSCAST Episode #93: The Traitr Feature of Toondoo.com

Cartoon character wearing grey T-shirt, blue jeans, and white sneakers with a voice bubble that reads welcome to Episode 93 of the A.T.TIPSCAST. This episode is all about using the Traitr tool of Toondoo.com to help support students with social-emotional goals.

Episode Overview-

This episode of the A.T.TIPSCAST is sponsored by the book The Practical (and Fun) Guide to Assistive Technology in Public Schools. Learn more at http://iste.org/chewat.

Episode #93 features a discussion of how the Traitr feature of Toondoo.com can be used to help students working on social – emotional goals.

This episode also features a bumper from Marsye Kaplan, the Assistive Technology Team Leader for Baltimore County Public Schools.

A.T.TIPS in this Episode:

A.T.TIP 273 – Toondoo.com

four panel comic with each character saying something about universal design for learning. The first panel features a young caucasian woman with blonde hair saying I can use comics to present content to students. Panel 2 contains a woman from India saying I make comics to express what I know. Panel 3 features a caucasian boy wearing an A.T.TIPSCAST shirt that says I like comics because they are engaging. Panel 4 features an little green alien saying Comics are fun!

A.T.TIP 274 – Traitr feature of Toondoo.com

Example 1 – Students create their own avatars based on the traits in the picture.

Screenshot of the Traitr tool with a digital picture of a 4 yo girl uploaded next to a comic avatar of the same girl.Example 2 – Students use uploaded picture to learn about an emotion. By practicing how to create the emotion, students learn how to identify the emotion represented in the picture.

Screenshot of Traitr tool with picture of chris making a sad face next to an avatar of a man who looks like chris making a sad face.

A.T.TIP 275 – ThinkPort.org – Educator tools including downloadable graphic organizing templates, how-to tutorials, a lesson plan builder, and more.

Contact Information-

About.me/chrisbugaj

Twitter.com/attipscast

attipscast@gmail.com

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A.T.TIPSCAST Episode #91: Musical Listener Feedback 4

Episode Overview-

This episode of the A.T.TIPSCAST is sponsored by the book The Practical (and Fun) Guide to Assistive Technology in Public Schools. Learn more at http://iste.org/chewat.

Episode #91 features e-mails, tweets, Facebook comments and other correspondence from listeners.

This episode also features a bumper from Mona Pruett, from the Virginia Department of Education’s Training and Technical Assistance Center, telling everyone about the assistive technology blog at http://assistivetechnology.vcu.edu.

A.T.TIPS in this Episode:

A.T.TIP 268 – Summarizing feature of Mac OS X as shared by @GGGwGadgets

A.T.TIP 269 – Making your own switch from a CD

Also Mentioned in This Episode-

Patrick Black from the Edceptional podcast and from the blog http://teachingall.blogspot.com.

Write Microsoft to let them know you’d like the Voice Comment feature added back into newer versions of Word.

100 Web Tools for Learning with a Disability from @jennymacant

Universal Design for Learning & Assistive Technology Online Course from ISTE

“Name That Tune” Answers –

Note: All song clips are MIDI files and less than 30 seconds in length

1. California Sun (The Rivieras)

2. Sweet Home Chicago (from the Blues Brothers)

3. Here We Have Idaho (Idaho’s State Song)

4. Buffalo Soldier (Bob Marley)

5. Kentucky Woman (Neil Diamond)

6. Down Under (Men At Work)

7. Theme to Northern Exposure

8. We Are The World (USA for Africa)

9. Hello, Goodbye (The Beatles)

Contact Information-

About.me/chrisbugaj

Twitter.com/attipscast

attipscast@gmail.com

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A.T.TIPSCAST Episode #89: Free Fraction Tools from ConceptuaMath

Episode Overview-

This episode of the A.T.TIPSCAST is sponsored by the book The Practical (and Fun) Guide to Assistive Technology in Public Schools. Learn more at http://iste.org/chewat.

Episode #89 features a look at the free fraction tools provided by ConceptuaMath as well as a few other tools useful for visualizing, representing, and understanding fractions.

This episode also features a bumper from Linda Oggel, from the Virginia Department of Education’s Training and Technical Assistance Center, telling everyone about their A.T.TIP Line (1-804-828-4927) which you can call to get assistance on anything related to assistive technology.

A.T.TIPS In This Episode-

A.T.TIP #256 Free Fraction Tools from ConceptuaMath.com

A.T.TIP #257 – Creating graphs in Excel

A.T.TIP#258 – Creating graphs in Google Docs Spreadsheets

A.T.TIP#259Create-A-Graph web site from National Center for Educational Statistics

Contact Information-

About.me/chrisbugaj

Twitter.com/attipscast

attipscast@gmail.com

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Assistive Technology Movie Review – Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

Despite having seen all the previous Mission Impossible movies, when I saw the preview for Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol I thought, “Ick.” Then, when I heard from a few Twitter friends how much they enjoyed it, saw some additional television spots playing that catchy theme music, and noticed that it was directed by Brad Bird (The Incredibles, Ratatouille, The Iron Giant, etc.) I changed my mind. Still, I was thinking I’d add it to the Netflix queue and get around to seeing it a year or two from now.

Over the winter break my in-laws came into town giving my wife and I an opportunity to have a day out together. We did some shopping, grabbed a bite to eat, and went to see Mission Impossible for the heck of it. As it turns out, we both really enjoyed it.

What I found most interesting about the movie were the parallels in the story to building and maintaining an assistive technology team. Without providing any spoilers, the movie centers around a small team of professionals who use technology to overcome problem after problem in order to achieve their objectives.  The team utilizes their different talents to assess each situation by analyzing their environment and then implementing technology to address the issues.

To me, this is exactly how a team of educators considers assistive technology for a student. The team analyzes the situation, determines what goals need to be met, and then decide what tools are necessary to address those goals.

Approximately half way through the movie the team of good guys realize that they will not be able to acquire any more resources. They are forced to find solutions using only what they have available to them. When implementing technology for a student, educators should first look to what they already have in their environment. Technology that is present and available to every student is always the best place to start and typically these tools are considered the least restrictive solutions. Furthermore, in the current fiscal environment of shrinking budgets, using what’s freely available first, before looking for external solutions that cost money, helps to keep funds available for when a student absolutely needs something to be purchased.

As the events of the plot unfold, the team finds that technology fails them…over and over again. As the technology fails, the team is forced to improvise to continue on their mission.  Unfortunately, this holds true in the world of education as well. Technology breaks down and back-up plans needs to be implemented so students aren’t left floundering without the supports they need to help them achieve their goals.  When the technology goes down, it’s up to the educational team to review, revise, and react, often in innovative ways, to make sure students succeed.

At the end, it’s no surprise, that Tom Cruise’s team is victorious. As team leader he gives a short speech explaining how proud he is of the team for their resiliency, collaboration, and never-give-up attitude. Even if you think the mission in front of you is impossible, whether it be stopping a terrorist from enacting his nefarious plot or assisting a student in achieving his or her educational goals, the edict is the same- failure is not an option.

Providing necessary technology to help students achieve their educational goals is your mission, and if you’re a good educational team, your only choice is to accept it.

Tom Cruise in hoody from MI4Chris as Tom Cruise in MI4

A.T.TIPSCAST Episode #88: Online, Gesture-based Learning, Part 2

Episode Overview-

This episode of the A.T.TIPSCAST is sponsored by Texthelp Systems, provider of award-winning literacy solutions including Read&Write GOLD and Fluency Tutor. To learn about these products and their new suite of web apps go to www.texthelp.com.

Read & Write Gold, TextHelp, and Fluency Tutor logos

Episode #88 features the second of two episodes describing the use of websites featuring activities which utilize webcams to engage students through interactive, gesture-based activities.

This episode also features a bumper from Kelly Ligon, from the Virginia Department of Education’s Training and Technical Assistance Center, telling everyone about the new online version of the Techknowledgy Conference which you can access over at http://ttaconline.org/atsdp

A.T.TIPS In This Episode-

A.T.TIP #252 – Bubble Burst

Student matches nose to outline of a nose onscreen

A picture of a student popping bubbles with her noseA.T.TIP #253 – Catch The Hoops

Picture of Chris wearing a hat to catch hoops on head

A.T.TIP #254 – Furry Mind

Picture of Chris point to furry creatures from the game Furry Mind

A.T.TIP #255 – WebCam Mania

Picture of boy playing the soccer game in Web Cam Mania

Additional Information –

As a reminder of what was mentioned in Part 1, this is an example of a message where the user needs to allow the website access to the webcam.

Screenshot of message asking for user to allow access to webcam

Contact Information-

About.me/chrisbugaj

Twitter.com/attipscast

attipscast@gmail.com

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