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?