Thursday, December 27, 2012

An Expert or Not

 I've never thought of myself as an expert (someone who carries a briefcase and travels 50 or more miles away from home) on anything. By nature, I'm a rather quiet person that would rather blend into a crowd than to step up and lead. Writing for an audience and public speaking terrify me but over the past six to eight weeks my thoughts have started to change.

In April of 2010, my school district was given some grant money that was used to purchase iPads. When I was given the device I had heard of iPads but had never try one. What the device did amazed me and the kids loved it but I needed to find a way to use it to deliver the curriculum my students needed to learn not as an extra that I added to the learning. 

Over the past year and half I've spent thousands of hours reading, attending trainings and visiting with people about how they are using iPads in the education setting and finding appropriate apps to meet my students needs. What started out of necessity has now become a labor of love. I can't imagine not having an iPad to use with my students. In fact, this year I moved my record keeping over to the iPad and a colleague/friend saw my need for an additional device so I was given an iPad Mini for a combination Christmas and birthday gift. 

In early December, I was given the opportunity to attend one of the largest educational technology conferences in the state of Minnesota. There were hundreds of breakout sessions and what I discovered was that I was already aware of the majority of the resources that were presented. I also regularly visit with the itinerant special education professionals that consult in our buildings and they always are eager to see what I might have discovered or what I might recommend for an specific app that someone might be looking for. 

About six to eight weeks ago, I was approached by the administrators of an Facebook group called AppAble(They promote apps -and their Developers- that benefit students with special needs). They were interested in me joining them to help write app reviews. Initially I thought this was funny because writing is one of my weaknesses. I decided that I needed to stretch myself professional so I agreed to join them. I still get a smirk on my face every time I think about someone seeking me out to write something. Remember I'm terrified of writing. If your interested in learning more about the work of AppAble you can check us out on Facebook or take a look at our blog to read some reviews. We have a website rolling out sometime in the new year too.

I'm stepping out of my comfort zone against at the end of the semester also. The Elementary Principal has convinced me to help her with a smorgasbord of technology trainings that will be offered to the teachers in the district. My sessions are all going to be focused on use of the iPad in the school setting. 

Maybe just maybe I am starting to become a bit of an expert. I don't know the answer to that question for sure but I do know that I am starting to feel very comfortable in the iOS world and feel like I have knowledge that can  help kids benefit from learning with iOS devices. Do  I need to buy briefcase and start commuting? The decision is yours.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

All I Want For Christmas

December 15, 2012

Dear Santa,

I hope you are enjoying the holiday season and are preparing for your trip around the world. It has been a long time since I wrote you a letter but I decided that I needed to update you on what is happening in my life.

Over the past few years I have had the opportunity to be introduced the Apple iPad and have fallen in love with the endless possibilities that it offers. It has been an unbelievable addition to my classroom and I am seeing some of my students do amazing things thanks to this technology.

My Christmas list this year focuses on a few iPad related items that would be a wonderful addition to my classroom or my living room.

  • The Social Express App - This is an iPad app that works on helping kids learning how to navigate through social situations and develop social relationships. 
  • iPieces Games - In my speech program, I use a lot of games to assist in the leaning process. These games from Pressman Toys look wonderful. They are a combination of board game and electronic game. Currently there are four versions; 1) Fishing 2) Game of Goose 3) Air Hockey 4) Snakes and Ladders. They are also reasonable priced at only $12.99 each. I'm not particular anyone would do.
  • Giving Tree - At my house or in my classroom there are always multiple devices that need charging and cords  laying every where. This device would really help to organize this process.
  • Toontastic All Access - I have Toontastic and use it regularly to work on a wide variety of language development skills but have been limited by the small number of options available in the free version. Upgrading to the all access version would open up so many worlds for my students.
  • T-Shirts with the logos of my favorite App Information sites. I would wear them proudly as they all have helped me tremendously to learned how to navigate in the iOS world. Smart Apps For Kids, The iMums, and AppAble thanks for all you have taught me. 
  • iPad Mini - I am requesting this device so I no longer have to use my iPhone to take data on while my students are using the iPad in learning activities. I love my record keeping system. If your interested in learning how I do this refer back to the appropriate blog post.
Thanks Santa for taking the time to read my Christmas Wish List. I understand that your busy and I can not expect to get everything on my list. Anything will do because each of them will help my students in one way or another. Keep and eye out for the milk and cookies. They will be in their traditional spot.

Only 9 sleeps until you arrive..............



Monday, November 26, 2012

Holiday Resources

Thanksgiving, Gray Thursday, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday have all come and gone. Next stop Christmas. I've spent a few years accumulating a list of on-line holiday season resources that I only use for these four weeks each year. I've decided to put what I consider the nine best into a list and share them with you. So here's the scoop in no particular order.

Reindeer Orchestra - User can play three different Christmas carols by clicking on the appropriate Reindeer's nose or press the appropriate number keys on the keyboard. You can also access a free play mode where you can attempt to play any song.

Reindeer Cam - Watch Santa's reindeer twenty four hours a day all year long. During the holiday season Santa stops by at 10 am, 5 pm and 8 pm central time to feed the reindeer too. Santa's nice list is located on the barn wall. To add  your child's name to the list check out the FAQ section of the website.

Christmas Tree Light Up - The object of this brain teaser is to plug in your Christmas lights and rotate the circuits until all of the bulbs on the tree are lit. Make sure to plan ahead as you are lighting up the tree or you just might end up with one or two unlit bulbs. Warning this game can be very addictive!

The Gingerbread Man with Everything - Allows you to decorate gingerbread cookies anyway you like. There is a huge variety of candy and icing to use. Make sure you check out the gallery before you begin to help spark an idea. Once your cookie is complete, feel free to save it and email to a friend. This site is filled with hours of fun for anyone.

Design Your Own Gingerbread House - A great way to build a gingerbread house without having a sticky mess to clean up afterwards. Every house can be unique as there is a wide variety of things that can be added to every house. Items can be rotated, flipped and resized to ensure the user can express their creativity any way they would like. 

Portable North Pole - It is a customizable website where you provide a few basic pieces of information about your child and what they want for Christmas. Then Santa sends your child a personalized video message through email. The videos are wonderful and well worth the time it takes to create them.

NORAD Tracks Santa North American Aerospace Defense Command (NOARD), has actually been responsible for tracking Santa’s Christmas Eve flight for more than 50 years. Keep track of Santa's yearly trip around in the world in a high tech manner.

Email Santa - A website that is stock full of a wide variety of Christmas activities. The activities appeal to wide variety of user but the most popular component is the link where you can send Santa an email. No email account is necessary. Just fill in the blanks on the email to get a customized email from Santa. Warning - make sure you have the sound turned up because there is some really cute audio.

Snow Line - Help Santa deliver the presents by drawing lines of snow. Watch out as there are a number of twists and turn that Santa must pass through on his route. Also, plan ahead as you only have so much snow to draw lines with. Warning this game is highly addictive to all age levels.

This holiday season take the time to enjoy the merriment through a child's eyes. Everything is filled with excitement, wonder, and awe. It reminds us of the magic of this holiday season.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Pirate Treasure Hunt (Eight Challenges)

Pirate Treasure Hunt Eight Challenges is a free app by Education Services Australia.  You are asked to help Pirate Jack navigate his way around his treasure map until he uncovers the treasure. Like the title states, Pirate Jack runs into eight different challenges that he needs to solve in order to complete his quest.

Pirate Jack walked into a snare that has him hanging upside down in a coconut tree. Your first challenge requires you to make four words using the various coconuts in order for him to get down. The words are based on the "at" word family.  Users are then asked to find the correct place on the treasure map to begin the challenge.

Once the user finds the correct place on the map they will be given the second challenge. It is a sequencing activity. In order to receive the lantern the user is required to put the temperature words in order from coldest to hottest.

The next challenge Pirate Jack faces is a visual motor task. He need to retrieve the scroll but a sleeping bear is guarding it. You are required to move the rocks into the correct places to block the bears path. Choose carefully because each time you place a rock in the incorrect place the bear will slowly start to wake up. If you wake up the sleeping bear you will be required to start again.

Once the scroll has been captured you will be on to your next destination. Your clue is located in the lake and your fourth challenge requires you to use the plan on the scroll captured in the third challenge to build a raft correctly and sail out to capture the keys.

Your next clue is located in the ocean and you need to set the alarm on Pirate Jack's watch to the correct time so he can take a nap until low tide. If Pirate Jack wakes up at the correct time he will retrieve the next clue which is a box of matches.

The matches are necessary to light the cannon in the sixth challenge but before you can light the fuse on the cannon you must have loaded the correct amount of gunpowder into it. You will discover the correct amount by looking through the telescope in the scene. Then you load bags of gunpowder on the scale in five and ten pound increments until the correct amount is reached.

Your cannon will knock the rock off the path so you can reach the next destination which is located on the beach. A number of statue pieces are located in the sand and you are required to assembly them in the correct order. The appropriate order is determined by matching patterns of statue pieces.

After the statue has been assembled correctly it will turn into a golden Tikki god that points the way to the eighth and final challenge. It is the treasure chest. You will need to find the correct key on your ring to open the chest and complete the challenge.

I use this app to work on following directions and listening comprehension skills with my students in primary elementary. The kids love it! Their one complaint is that it is done to quickly and they hope the developer will consider adding additional challenges or create a sequel soon. This is a must have for anyone that work with kids between the ages of 4 and 9 years of age.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Sentence Builder by AbiTalk

Late this summer AbiTalk apps were bought to my attention. At that time, I went back into my educator mode and kind of forgot about AbiTalk until I was cleaning up my iPad over fall break. My students have missed out on some wonderful learning opportunities because I got busy.

AbiTalk has over 50 apps on the market that focus on skill building in the areas of; reading, math, phonics and languages. I have a number of their apps but the one I am "nuts" about is Sentence Builder. According to AbiTalk's website it was designed for primary classrooms to work on words, sentences, pronunciation, grammar, and punctuation. It is so much more...

This is the opening screen for the Sentence Builder app. The "Configuration" area allows you to customize settings for the app. The features you are able to customize are; Sentence Sound, Word Sound, Award, and Using System Sound. "Manage Account" allows you to add users and set a password to protect student data. The final area is Create Your Own Lessons in which you can enter your own pictures, sentences, and voice into the lessons.

Once a student has been entered into the app, you will be able to choose what level and type of sentences the student will use. There is an excellent variety of sentences. 
Your choices are;
  • Subject + Verb + Adverb
  • Subject + Verb + Noun
  • Subject + Be + Adverb
  • Subject + Verb + Adjective
  • Colors and Numbers
  • Subject + Verb + Object
  • Subject + Can + Verb
  • Subject + Verb + Object
  • Who, What, Where, When, Which, and Why
  • Time of Day
  • Seasons
  • Days of the Week
After a type of sentence and level has been chosen by the adult, the student is presented with a picture and sentence that is orally stated. The student is expected to reassemble the words into the sentence they heard. If a repetition is needed the student is able to press the on screen speaker and hear it again. After the sentence is assembled in the manner that the student feels is correct, they press the check mark and are provided with immediate feedback. Adults are able to monitor the students progress on Sentence Builder by using the Progress Report function.

The feature I am most excited about is the "Create Your Own Lessons". Your are able to enter your own sentences and pictures that are applicable to the students daily life and record the adults voice saying the sentence. This makes the learn more personal and meaningful to the students so they can stay more engaged in the learning process. You are able to Sync self created lessons between different iPads by using your Dropbox account. AbiTalk did an excellent job making these features user friendly. The ease of use has allowed me to provide my students with a number of personalized learning experiences that are helping them make steady growth toward the goals and objectives on their IEPs. 

AbiTalk has created a great app for all students but it is an awesome app for students with special needs. It is well worth the $2.99 it costs. Take a look at this app and think about what you might be able to create to help someone learn a new skill.  The options are unlimited.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Record Keeping With Google Forms and my iPad

As an educational SLP I am constantly in search of a more efficient method of recording the necessary data to meet state due process requirements and plan appropriate educational programming for my students. Last year when the district I work for moved from Microsoft Office to Google Apps for Education, I learned about Google Forms. It looked promising but I was so busy learning how to implement the iPad I didn't give it much thought.

This fall we are in Year #1 of the due process review cycle (self review) and were required to attend a training. They talked a lot about accountability which made me think about my data collection systems again. While doing research on-line, I ran across a great tutorial on Chapel Hill Snippets that made sense to me. I adapted the idea to meet my needs and voila! I have a new record keeping system. 

I created a Google Form on my computer that included the date, attendance information, IEP objectives, and an area for additional information. On everyone of my students.

Percentally App
If I am not using an app that takes data for me, I take the data using the Percentally App and my iPhone. I think an iPad Mini would be the perfect device. Perhaps in the near future I can find a way to get my hands on one.  The data is recorded and automatically populates into a Google Spreadsheet.

Now at the end of every nine weeks when we are required to provide parents with Progress Reports all I need to do is average the data and enter it onto the appropriate due process form.  Also, at IEP meetings I can quickly show parents and other team members graphs of progress.

Record keeping has always been a tedious process. Since I started to use this system, I actually don't mind taking or recording data. The end of the first nine weeks is here and I am quickly averaging up data and moving right along with my progress reports. Perhaps after many years of being a professional educator, I have finally found a way to work smarter not harder. Why not give it a try and see what you think?

Sunday, October 28, 2012

NearPod WOW Whee!!

I'm going to take off my SLP hat and put my educational technology degree to work on this post. Last spring I ran across an app that looked great but I didn't have enough time to take a serious look at it until earlier this month. That app is NearPod.

You ask what is NearPod. It is an unbelievable educational tool. It allows you as the educator to engage your learners in classroom content in a interactive manner. My words cannot do this tool justice so I am going to use some of NearPod's videos as they can explain their tool a lot better than I can.


 As a part of your presentation you are easily able to insert polls, Q&As, quizzes, videos, or a "draw it" so your students can become active learners and have the material content brought to life. The following video clips explain how to add each of these things.

Adding Polls

Creating a Q&A

Creating a Quiz

Adding A Video

Adding A Draw-It

Once you have added all the content to your presentation then you publish it so your students are able to join your presentation when given the unique PIN #.

NearPod does a great job of providing webinars on how to use their app. They appear to be committed as the app has recently gone through an update. I think it has tremendous potential in the educational setting and sing its praises to classroom teachers every opportunity I get. Take a few minutes to take a look. You will not regret it.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Guided Access

Educators and parents have been asking Apple to find a way to lock their mobile device into a single app and Apple came through for us. With the update to iOS 6 a few weeks ago you are now able to do this with an accessibility feature called "Guided Access". What it does is disables the home button, volume and other areas you set so students do not have access to them without triple clicking the home button and entering the password that you set.

How To Turn Guided Access On:

  1. Launch the Settings app.
  2. Find General and then choose Accessibility.
  3. Turn Guided Access on.
  4. Set a passcode.
  5. Launch the app you want the student to use.
  6. Triple click the home button.
  7. Tap the start button.

I have been using "Guided Access" regularly with two students since iOS 6 came out. This is a great added tool to help educators be more proactive and remove the temptation of leaving the app for the student or clicking on things that distract from the learning. It has worked wonderfully with the exception of one day early on when it locked itself into the app and would not release. I was mirroring my iPad onto my interactive white board using reflections at the time. After momentary panic on my part because I had all of my technology locked up, I hard rebooted me iPad and was able to enter my pass code and exit the app. Since then it has run just fine. It must have been one of the flukes of technology. Personally, I think Guided Access has a lot of potential for students with significant disabilities and the early childhood population.

Check out the video below created by Mandi Schaumburg of Panda Speech regarding "Guided Access." It does a great job showing how this process works.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Magical Concepts

Understanding the meaning of concept words is critical to a students academic success in their classroom. As an educational speech language clinician, I spend lots of time teaching these skills to my younger students. This year I have a number of students that are working on increasing their understanding of concept words. After seeing the same apps on a regular basis, I decided it was time to find something different to provide some variety. Last weekend I purchased "Magical Concepts" by the Virtual Speech Center. Magical Concepts provides children with work on five different types of concepts. These concepts are spatial, temporal, quantity, quality, and social emotional.

The Virtual Speech Center has made Magical Concepts very customizable. The customization can be set by clicking on the settings button. App structures that are customizable are; automatic scoring, revealing the answer, randomization, automatic paging, showing stars, and the magic show. I have used automatic scoring, revealing the answer and randomization. Currently my students are required to receive five stars before seeing the magic show.

Your first step is to enter your students. Next you decide which of the sixty concepts that each student will work on. Once the concepts have been decided,  you click on "next session" and then step back, listen carefully and follow the directions you are presented with. The app presents the first student with three colorful "real life" pictures related to the concept.  The student is expected to touch the one related to the concept that was stated. Data is automatically kept and once the next page button is clicked and the student's next concept appears and the process repeats itself.

After the required amount of stars (set by you) are earned, Mago asks you if you would like to watch a magic show. The student has the option of answering yes or no. If they choose no they immediately go back to continue working on the concepts. When yes is chosen the magic begins. A drum roll begin and Mago appears on the screen. He will put something into his magicians hat and pulls something different out.

When the session is over the finish session button is clicked and the app brings up a picture of Mago on the magic show runway. There are three buttons present on this page. The buttons are main menu (that returns you to the main menu), View magic show (where the magic show returns and you see one trick), and view report (a comprehensive report appears that can be emailed out appears).

If the first week is any indication, this will quickly become my favorite concept app. There are many things that I liked about this app. When the concepts were being stated the pictures are faded out and will not react to touch. Great touch! Love the large variety of concepts presented and the huge data base of pictures that represent the sixty concepts. I also appreciate the realistic pictures. That also is a nice touch.

The only additional feature that I would like to see in future updates is the individual concepts categorized into the five categories. This would speed up set up and allow parents to use the app as homework.

I wasn't sure how my students would react to the app. The magic show can be a little corny but my students loved it. They give it two thumbs and I am fielding requests for the Magic Show on a regular basis.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Game Changer

It doesn't matter if you have one iPad in your classroom or your lucky enough to have a one to one  initiative in place in your school, you need to purchase the Reflection app! Reflection is not an app for your iPad it is a web app that you install on your computer. It runs on either Mac or PC. I personally run it on a PC that is connected to my Smart Board in my speech classroom. The cost is only $15.00 and can be purchased directly from the website using PayPals or a credit card. You download the app to your computer,install it, cut and paste the license code (that is emailed to you) into the appropriate spot and your ready to go.

So what's all the hype about the Reflection app is? The web app allows you to use Apple's Air Play feature to mirror your iPad. You can mirror it to your computer monitor or through a LCD projector onto an Interactive Whiteboard. If you are mirroring to an Interactive Whiteboard like I am, the board is not touch sensitive. Interaction must take place on the iPad.  Even though as an educator I would like to have interactive with the iPad on the Interactive Whiteboard Reflection, this has opened up unimaginable options for me as a 21st century educator.

Here are some ways that I have used the Reflection app in my classroom. My speech case load is large this year and I have a large number of groups. With articulation groups, I have used apps like Articulation Scenes by Smarty Ears and Speech With Milo Board Game: Articulation by Doonan Speech Therapy with the Reflection app and displayed it on the Interactive Whiteboard. The students were all able to stay engaged in the game because they could see. We passed the iPad among the students as turns developed. It was a huge hit "On the Big Screen" as my students would say. I also have used Articulation Station Pro and Articulate It displayed "on the big screen" while we worked on technology activities. Thus is a great way to make things quick and easy to see. One of my students favorite things to do through the Reflection app is to play "Capture the Word" activities created by Jenna Rayburn over at Speech Room News. It works fantastic with the Cam Draw app.

I also have seen nice success using the Reflection app with the students with autism. Apps like First Phrases by Hamaguchi Apps and Toby Playpad by Autism West have worked wonderful. This allows my students with autism a little physical space as I do not have to crowd them in an attempt to see what they are doing on the iPad.

Reflection is also a great tool for technology classes. While NWEA testing was taking place in the computer lab, I had my tech classes meet in my speech classroom so I could use Reflection. It was great to be able to quickly turn on and off Air Play on individual devices to display examples of student work for everyone to see. I also had my 6th grade class all turn on their Air Play at the same time. We had 23 iPad displayed at the same time doing 23 different things. What a great classroom management tool for educators! I can hardly wait to get this educational tool installed in the computer lab.

I recommend that everyone try the 10 minute trial version that is available. After that if you think it is a tool that your students would benefit from having in your classroom, visit with your building administrator. Reflection has a lot of "bang for your buck" so I cannot image an administrator not willing to fund it when there is money available. If your impatient and want in immediately, $15.00 is something that most educators can afford out of their own pocket.

Enjoy this wonderful tool!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Speech with Milo Board Game: Articulation

Speech with Milo Articulation Board Game: Common Sounds Pack

That cuddly loveable blue mouse Milo is back. This time he is featured in his very own board game. Speech with Milo Board Game: Articulation is a highly engaging and motivating way for children to practice their production of the targeted speech phonemes. Like the previous apps that feature Milo, this app is made by Doonan Speech Therapy and sells for the very reasonable price of $3.99

The object of the game is simple. Be the first person to maneuver their game piece (Milo, Melvin. Maggie, or three other friends) down the path from home to school by spinning the spinner and navigating the pathway filled with numerous special squares that can impact the outcome of the game. Up to five people can play at a time.

This app uses colorful pictures that feature the target phonemes in the initial, medial and final positions of words. Phonemes present are : (F), (V), (K), (G), (S), (Z), and (SH). One downfall of the cards is that the audio on the cards is very quiet. Even with the sound turned all the way up on my iPad it was rather quiet.

Doonana Speech did an awesome job with the data keeping portion of the app. You are able to keep data on all of the players; what position of words the phoneme was produced in, the percentage correct, percentage incorrect, and percentage attempted. The data is easily emailed out. 

My students loved the app. They were motivated to participate in the activity even when I made them say their picture cards the same number of times as they moved their game piece. I believe this app fills a definite need for educational speech language clinicians. As it provides a fun and engaging way to practice articulation skills, keeps data and is very reasonably priced.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Visual Attention TherAppy

Tactus Therapy Solutions has a new member of the family. They recently released Visual Attention TherAppy. Users are asked to scan left to right across a page of letters and symbols to find the matching icons from the key at the top of the page. The catch is that each round is timed.
Practice Mode
As you can see in the picture on the left, you can either Practice or Test. The Practice mode was developed to use as a training area. It allows you to train your student/child's ability to scan from top to bottom and left to right for both speed and accuracy. When you are having students use the Practice mode, you are training them to scan either left to right across the page or from top to bottom. Tactus TherAppy also thought to include a yellow or red line that can be placed on the left or right side of the page to assist in drawing attention to that side. In the Practice mode you also have the option of choosing what level of exercise you would like the student to practice and if they should be scanning for one or two different types of targets. A sound is played if the student touches the targets out of order. In order to clear the level and move on, the student must find all of the targets on the page. Even in the Practice mode the students are working for time. The time begins to run when the first symbol is touched and continues until the final symbol has been found. At any time you are able to pause the clock by touching it and it will resume when touched a second time. Detailed results can be emailed at any time. An example of the results is located to the right of the next paragraph.

Data Available 
The Test mode was designed to evaluate the student's ability to scan left to right or top to bottom across a page for speed and accuracy. It's layout is very similar to the Practice mode. With the only real exception being the inability to place a colored line on the left or right side of the page to assist in maintaining visual attention. The evaluator determines what level the test will run and the number of targets the student will need to find. It is all timed and the detailed results can be emailed also.


Ten levels are present in the app and are arranged from easiest to hardest. Each of the levels contain either symbols or letters. It is recommended that symbols be used with nonreaders and letters with readers. Refer to the picture to

Visual Attention TherAppy allows you to customize the app for each individual user through the "Settings" feature. The things that you are able to customize are;

Most Lines and Smallest Spacing

  • Number of trials at each level
  • Number of lines of symbols and/or letters
  • Spacing
  • A turning on or off a child friendly feature (enables or disables links on the home page)

Fewest Lines and Largest Spacing
As an educational SLP, I decided to try the app out with some of my students. I need to begin with THEY LOVED IT. Each of the students were motivated to attempt to reduce the amount of time it took them to correctly locate all of the necessary letters and symbols. As the professional, it was necessary for me to make adjustments to Number of Lines and the Spacing in the "Settings" to ensure each child was working at their level.

Overall I think Visual Attention by Tactus Therapy Solutions is a good app that fills a hole in the app market. I see it as a great tool for iPads that are accessible by students with disabilities. Specifically students with learning disabilities and other health impairments such as attention deficit disorder.

It's a great addition to the Tactus TherAppy family and maintains or exceeds the high standards they have produced in the other apps. They have a lite version so no one has an excuse for not check it out for themselves.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Rock'n the Educational World

Last week it finally all came together! With the help of the district technology coordinator I was finally able to get a number of my educational technology tools working together for the betterment of my speech students. There was a lot of excitement from both my students and myself.

The technology tools that I had working together were my interactive whiteboard running the Reflections app, iPad3 running the Cam Draw app, and my Justand was used to hold my iPad. Running the reflections app on the computer allowed me to use AirPlay to mirror my iPad onto my IWB. This is an unbelievable tool in the educational setting. It was a little tricky to get set up because the computer attached to my IWB is on the wired network and my iPad on the wireless. I had to seek a higher power to get this to work. The technology coordinator was able to figure out how to make it run for me. I have been able to have up to 14 iPads running through Reflections and displayed on my IWB with different things running.

The CamDraw App allowed me to turn the iPad into a telestrator and write on top on the image I was displaying. Awesome way to complete old fashioned paper pencil tasks with students.

I can't say enough good things about the Justand. In my opinion it is the best iPad accessory on the market  and should be in every classroom. Highly quality construction yet sleek and functional.

Cost for this experience

  • Reflections App - $15.00
  • CamDraw App -$0.99
  • Justand - $89.00
Educational experience - Priceless

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Oh Man What A Gem!

Do you know what this is? I consider it one of the greatest iPad accessories on the market. It is a Justand. The Justand was developed by Justin Franks at Procomputing in Carrollton, Texas for only $89.

This stand allows you to use your iPad as a document camera. The stand it well constructed  out of thick sheets of aluminium. The arm is constructed with a heavy weight hinge.  An adjustable tab allows you to insert your iPad into the stand with case on. There is no fear of this tab breaking off as you can see in the picture.
In addition to using you iPad as a document camera with Justand you can also use it as an awesome stand for your iPad while you are working at your desk or with a group of students at a table.

I can hardly wait to try out the Reflections apps and mirror my iPad to my Smart Board. In my opinion the Reflections app combined with the Justand and iPad can be an affordable game changer for the classroom.

Over the past year I have become active on Facebook pages such as Smart Apps for Kids, AppAble, and The iMums. These are all Facebook pages that are dedicated to helping parents and educators find quality iPad apps and accessories that will benefit their children. Each of these pages frequently run giveaways on a regular basis and because of Smart Apps for Kids, I became aware of the Justand. I did not win the giveaway but was fortunate enough to have an anonymous donor contact Justand and pay for a stand on my behalf.

Without this anonymous donor, I would not have this unbelievable accessory. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you for providing the students I teach this gift. It will open up learning opportunities that otherwise would not have been available to us. I hope one day to be able to "pay it forward" to another educator with a gift this valuable to their classroom. Whoever you are, you will always be a rock star to me.

I think the Justand is going to take off in classrooms across the world. It is just what educators needed as we are rolling out mobile device learning opportunities.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

What Does Back to School Mean to You?

"Back to School" what does it mean to you? My guess is that it depends upon if your a parent, teacher, or student. As parents I am sure a lot of your thoughts revolve around routines, consistency, and all of the cash that you have had to spend to get your children ready. As a student, I would guess you have mixed emotions. "Back to School" brings the end to carefree days of summer and having limited expectations placed upon you.  No matter what your age that is hard to give up. On the other hand it also means the excitement of new clothes, school supplies and seeing your friends again. As an educator it is a time for "new beginnings". Every student and teacher gets the opportunity to adjust what didn't go quite right the previous year and take their students to great places.  This can generate so much excitement that it is impossible to not love being an educator.

I am looking forward to Tuesday morning when the students walk through the door for the 2012-2013 school year. They bring the building to life, keep me young and are the reason I go to work every day. School is just a big empty quiet building without them.

Every school year takes on it's own unique personality and no two are exactly the same. One thing remains constant across every year;educators are there for the kids! We love what we do and thankful for the trust placed in us to educate your most precious possession.

Take a few minutes out of your busy schedules to volunteer at your local school this year. It will be appreciated and you just might catch a little of the excitement that fills our schools each and every day.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Work Smarter Not Harder

Work smarter not harder is the theme song of many educators.  This summer I have tried to put this motto into action.  I have read numerous blogs/websites and found some awesome ideas and numerous free downloads of great therapy activities. It is going to be a lot of fun to bring these activities to life in my classroom.

Two blogs that I would like to give a shout out to are Speech Room News written by Jenna and Sublime Speech by Danielle.  These ladies have put together wonderful resources for other slps and parents.  Take a few minutes and look through their blogs; you will be amazed and will have some great resources. These professionals also have some of the material for sale on Teacher's Pay Teacher's.

I downloaded the "Capture the Words - Articulation Edition" game from Speech Room News thinking it was a great activity that I would use on a regular basis.  Then I ran across Danielle's post on using the "Glow Draw" app.  Why not combine the two activities?  In other words, I am going to have my students play "Capture the Words" on the iPad using the "Glow Draw" app to interact with the game board.  The kids are going to love it.

Thank you to Jenna and Danielle for sharing their knowledge and resources with us.  Students with speech language needs around the world can only benefit from your generosity. 

Saturday, August 25, 2012


Kabaam, what an intriguing name for an app.  You might want to considering taking a look.  Kabaam is an iPhone app that was produced by Gamua and sells for only ninety nine cents.  With a great name like this I'm sure your wondering what you can do with this app.

Kabaam allows you to create and publish comics using your own pictures.  You are able to take your own pictures with the device or access pictures you have saved in your photo roll or on Facebook.  As you are telling your story you can add what Kabaam calls juice to each photo.  Juice really is the ability to add speech, thought and shout bubbles as well as notes (short bits of text that reveal the setting or tone) and Baams (expression of speechless acts).  Once you have completed your comic strip you name it.  Then it is time to publish it.  Some of the options you have are; publishing it to, post to your Facebook or Flickr pages, upload to Picasa, send it by email or save it to your photo roll.

When you are building your first Kabaam there is an awesome tutorial that walks you through each step.    I also like the tutorial located at

How have I used Kabaam? On the speech side of my job, I used it to script conversations to help some of my student work through social issues. The comic strip format really helped them to understand their peers point of view.  It worked amazingly well because I was able to personalize the comic strip by using classmates in the pictures.  I have also used Kabaam with my technology classes. After we completed our unit on internet safety, students wrote comic strips.  An activity like this allowed me to move the students up Blooms Taxonomy to higher levels of learning.  

If you haven't tried Kabaam I highly recommend you take a look. The only  drawback I can find is the limit of nine pictures. It is well worth the dollar to get it.  Kids love it and adults will have fun too.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Apps, Apps, and More Apps

It is an exciting time to be in education.  Things are changing rapidly and one of the most powerful changes I have witnessed is the introduction of the iPad into the educational setting. Hard to believe I quickly adopted this isn't it.  I feel fortunate to work in a district that believes in technology and was able to find a way to get these educational tools into the hands of their professionals. 

Getting an iPad is the easy part.  Weeding your way through over 500,000 apps in Apple's App Store is an insurmountable task.  Have no fear I have found some fabulous resources that can help you through that process.

Smart Apps for Kids - Every day this group put out their pick for the "Good Free App of the Day".  I have grabbed some great apps through this program.  Smart Apps for Kids also provides real and authentic app reviews.  They provide daily news on free and discounted apps too. The Rafflecopter is fired up daily offering their friends some of the greatest giveaways on the web.  Some of things I have seen them giveaway are; iPads, apps, cases, and some of the neatest accessories on the market. They can be found on the web and on Facebook.

AppAble - If you have a student with special needs AppAble is the place for you.  They frequently have chats with app developers on their Facebook page.  These chats are highly beneficial as they will help you maximize the features of the app.  They also help you have a greater appreciation for the app developers and  will provide you with a few moments of comic relief too.  The administrative team at AppAble is friendly and seem to be online 24/7 providing resources to the special needs community. Some of the resources they provide are app reviews and a Daily Free App List to find the deals of the day. Code and accessory giveaways  are regular features on their Facebook and blog pages.  Stop by and check them out.

The iMums - Four moms from around the world have joined forces to offer advice on everything related to mobile devices.  On their Facebook and web pages they offer unbelievable reviews that feature educational apps and recreational apps for kids.  They also do in-depth product reviews too.  On their website you will find interviews with app developers and reviews of some of the newest accessories on the market. The iMums send out a daily email summarizing their posts for the day. Which is very handy to quickly pursue the news of the day.  Giveaways are abundant and multifaceted on The iMums pages.  Stop by one of their locations and check out this wonderful resource.

AppyMall - The new kid on the block is quickly become a popular destination. The AppyMall is designed like your local shopping mall with five main anchor stores.  These stores are; Preschool App Store, Elementary App Store, Middle School App Store, Special Needs App Store, and Speech Language App Store. Additional stores are opening on almost a daily basis. Inside each store you can search by age, grade levels and more.  Since opening, the AppyMall has been busy offering lots of contests, giveaways, and flash sales.  I am still feeling my way around the AppyMall but like what I see so far.  It just might become a game changer in the app review market.  Perhaps another "Mall of America" but this time in cyberspace. Check out the AppyMall and their blog and Facebook page to see for yourself. 

Please realize that these are just a few of the wonderful resources out their there.  I know there are a lot more but this group is where I hang out when I am looking for information of apps and accessories. If you have not stopped by all the resources that I mentioned make time in the next few days and see what I am excited about.