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.