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.