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At for thematic unit

  1. 1. 5744210-223520COMMUNITIES <br />Susan Ferdon<br />Assistive Technologies for Thematic Unit<br />Technology-enhanced accommodations, unless specified otherwise, are tailored to the Communities Thematic Unit as a whole. The terms accommodation, strategy, and modification are sometimes used almost interchangeably in education so brief definitions are included:<br />Accommodation: Teaching supports and services that student may require to successfully demonstrate learning. Accommodations should not change grade level curriculum expectations. Examples: Specialized software, Braille writer, amplification system, oral tests.<br />Modifications: Changes made to curriculum expectations to meet student needs. Examples: Same unit/theme but different tasks, withdrawl for specific skills.<br />Strategies: Skills or techniques used to assist in learning. Examples: Highlighting, number line, rehearsal, color coding.<br />Source: Special Education Terminology<br />Students with Cognitive Difficulties<br />Students will cognitive difficulties, like learning disabilities and Attention Deficit Disorder, benefit from a wide variety of no-tech, low-tech, and high-tech accommodations. No-tech solutions, like additional time and preferential seating are relatively easy and effective, our discussion here will be limited to accommodations that make use of technology. <br />Accommodation #1: Different Reading Tools<br />Students with learning disabilities, as well as emerging readers, benefit from having text read to them. Kindergarten students, as well as their 3rd grade buddies, can have word processed text read as well as text found in Web pages, thus enabling them to more completely understand information that is presented and, as a result, participate more fully in subsequent discussions and learning tasks.<br /><ul><li>Free speech utilities (included for Macintosh 10.3 and above – Spoken Interface) read highlighted text. HYPERLINK "" "_new" NaturalReader is free for Windows, and also available for Mac. Adobe Reader has a read out loud command.
  2. 2. Electronic texts allow for the modification of appearance (font, color, size, line spacing, page layout), content (reorganize and edit), and format (read aloud, place in word document).
  3. 3. For online text, the Firefox add-on, ClickSpeak, will read text aloud for sighted viewers.
  4. 4. Audiobooks are a useful tool for learners with cognitive disabilities as well as those with visual impairments.
  5. 5. Mp3 to iPod Audio Book Converter,, converts audio text file to an iPod compatible format with chapters.
  6. 6. Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic (RFB&D),, has over 10,000 titles available on a subscription basis. Though none of the titles in the thematic unit are currently available, there are three similar books appropriate for kindergarten students:
  7. 7. Helpers in my Community:
  8. 8. Social Studies Alive! My Community:
  9. 9. The Urban Community:</li></ul>Accommodation #2: Different Writing Tools<br />For the learner with cognitive disabilities technology enables them to overcome the barriers created by printed text. Multisensory materials allow learners to better understand content and produce work that more representative of their capabilities.<br /><ul><li>Use of word processing software allows students to take advantage of electronic spelling and grammar checkers and word prediction software typically eases the writing process. Though learners are young, by the end of kindergarten, most Kipling students are writing short paragraphs with a main idea and details and the use of writing and word processing software allows the learning disabled student to accomplish with technology, what others are able to accomplish by hand.
  10. 10. PixWriter,, is a picture-assisted writing tool for students with autism spectrum disorders, PDD, learning and cognitive disabilities, and emerging writers. Teachers can quickly and easily create word banks – just type the word and the corresponding picture is retrieved from the data base. Buttons can be organized, boarders color-coded, images uploaded, and word banks locked. Students may use word banks for story dictation. Use of PixWriter would be an appropriate accommodation for the writing activities that are part of the thematic unit about communities.
  11. 11. Field Trip Diary,, contains 90 pre-made PixWriter word banks specifically designed to reinforce social skills, fact learning and makes writing about field trips, the community, and socials studies easy. Requirements – PixWriter software.</li></ul>Students with Physical Difficulties<br /> Where physical difficulties would otherwise limit learner interaction with educational content, accommodations provide students alternate routes to accessing information and communicating understanding. Learning activities in the thematic unit call for students to operate computers and use an Interactive Whiteboard.<br />Accommodation #1: Alternate Input Devices<br />For students who are unable to use a traditional keyboard and mouse there are a number of alternate devices available including modified forms of more common input devices as well as switches and joysticks that can be used by users with greater impairments<br />For students with limited upper extremity mobility, an alternate keyboard can be used. MyBoard LC features 1-inch keys, lower case lettering, color-coded vowels, consonants and numbers, accommodates gentle finger pressure and is compatible with both Windows and Macintosh computers.<br />Students who are unable to operate a traditional mouse can use the Wave switch-adapted trackball. This plug-and-play mouse features a large track ball that requires only a slight touch, has left, right and drag buttons and is designed for users with limited mobility, motor skills difficulty, problems with hand-eye coordination.<br />For students accessing audiobooks on an iPod, the Big Button iPod Remote allows the physically disabled user to independently access iPod content.<br />Another option for students with disabilities is the use of a touch screen monitor. “Touch screen monitors and related software that enable a traditional monitor to emulate a touch screen are powerful tools for students with disabilities. Touch screens may display graphics that the user can touch to enter commands and make software selections. Special software can display the image of a computer keyboard on the screen so that keys or commands can be pointed to and clicked on. Whether hardware- or software-based, touch screen technologies can improve the life of a student with disabilities” (source).<br />Use of the Promethean Activpanel (15” touch screen) and 21” Activwand will allow students who are otherwise unable to reach the board, to participate in interactive activities. Activities in the unit, like MapSkip and eBooks, can be operated by any student when using alternative input devices such as these.<br />Accommodation #2: Augmentative Alternate Communication <br />For students who are unable to communicate verbally, augmentative alternate communication devices and software allows them to interact more fully with classmates and teachers. Making that personal connection is something particularly important in a thematic unit on Communities!<br />SuperTalker progressive communicator allows as many as 64 messages to be recorded, with 16 minutes of recording time in all. Boardmaker overlays allow 2, 4, or 8 messages to be accessed at each of eight levels. New overlays can be created using PogoBoards Ablenet symbols library (free version or subscription $69/year) which make it possible to tailor messages to individual learning tasks and activities. Though there are other, more complex communication devices available, this particular product is a robust tool that can easily be used by kindergarten students (see video).<br />Students with Sensory Difficulties<br />For students who are visually or hearing impaired, or both, access to educational content must be achieved through alternate means. For students who are hearing impaired, visual supports can fill the gaps. For students who are visually impaired, hearing and touch provide a means for more fully participating in learning activities.<br />Accommodation #1: Provide Alternatives to Visual Content<br />Much of the educational content students typically come across is text-based. Whether the text is in the form of a textbook, or is digital, students with visual impairments need that content to be converted to an accessible format.<br />For students with low vision, magnifiers can be used to read print materials. The EZ Read Electronic Reading Aid ($99) is a mouse-like device connects to a television/monitor via a video cable. Magnification is determined by the size of the TV and ranges from 5x to 12.5x.<br /><ul><li>For students with blindness, the Reading Scanner can be used to convert print to audio. The Reading Scanner operates independently of a computer, holds up to 500,000 pages of text, and can quickly scan any print text and read it back in seconds. In addition to audio output, text can be converted to Braille, and files can be saved for future reference.
  12. 12. Mobile devices that read print aloud are also available. The Intel Reader can play DAISY (RFB&D above) and mp3 audio books, portable, easily transfer files to USB or computer drive. During playback, text is highlighted as it is read aloud. Point-shoot-listen capabilities allow user to point device at text (signs, labels, concert programs, etc.) on the go with earphones allowing private listening. Combined with Capture Station, large amounts of text can be quickly captured.
  13. 13. For visually impaired students navigating the community, GPS devices provide independence that is not otherwise possible. TrekkerBreeze is a handheld talking GPS device allows users to navigate the community, announcing street names, intersections, and landmarks. Know where you are and where you are going while on foot or in a vehicle. Record landmarks like favorite restaurants and a friend’s house. Built-in and external speaker, single-handed operation, large buttons, shoulder strap and carrying case, rechargeable with 8 hours of battery life.</li></ul>Accommodation #2: Assistive Listening Devices<br />For students with deafness or other hearing impairments, assistive listening devices allow better functioning in day-to-day situations. In a mainstreamed classroom, learners with hearing impairments can better overcome the effects of distance, poor acoustics, and background noise. <br />Personal frequency modulation systems used in the classroom consist of a transmitter microphone, worn by the teacher/speaker, which transmits sound to the hearing aid. Use of a personal FM system allows students to more fully participate in classroom activities.<br />Visual systems, like captioning, are beneficial to readers but are less effective for emerging readers, like our kindergarteners.<br />Just a few months ago (March, 2010) the auto-captioning feature on YouTube, previous available only on selected partner channels, was extended to all videos on the site that are in English. While audio must be quite clear to generate accurate captions, it is quite a step forward for users who are deaf and hard of hearing.<br />Students Who are At-Risk<br />For students who are at-risk, technology provides the means for making content more meaningful and memorable as well as building all-important literacy skills. A variety of software tools are available to help emerging readers build literacy skills that is important for learning in general, and particularly for the preponderance of literacy-based activities in the Communities Thematic Unit. <br />Accommodation #1: Literacy Building Tools<br />In Sight Words With Samson, students choose between four levels, the first of which is comprised of typical kindergarten-level sight words (and, the, to, if, big, etc.). Students may choose among four types of activities: Learn Words, Build Words, Identify Words and Quiz. Though adult assistance would be needed for students to learn how to use this free online tool, they will easily move on to more independent use.<br />Raz-Kids online leveled reading library, a subscription service, has hundreds of animated books for reading practice. A variety of book topics are available, including books specifically related to the Communities Thematic Unit:<br />The City<br />Going Places<br />Community Helpers<br />Accommodation #2: Digital Content<br />At-Risk students benefit from positive learning environments in which there is increased interaction and authentic learning (source). The Communities Thematic Unit is one that lends itself well to this type of environment. Using a digital camera is a great way to personalize information and augment the text-based activities in the unit.<br />Digital text allows teachers to draw attention to main ideas for students. Using highlighting features in word processing software is one option and another is to use a mark-up tool, like Diigo when accessing online content.<br />Students Who are Gifted and Talented<br />In the typical classroom, gifted and talented students tend to have extra time on their hands and having appropriate accommodations in place will mean that students are working at a challenge level similar to differently-abled peers.<br />Accommodation #1: Vertical Enrichment<br />Vertical enrichment activities, rather than simply “more of the same,” are easily adapted to the regular classroom setting.<br />For those activities in which kindergarten students are working with 3rd grade buddies, Gifted and Talented kindergarteners can be paired with Gifted and Talented 3rd graders. Allowing these students to move beyond the guidelines for various activities would be appropriate. For example, instead of contributing one page to the class eBook, students may create a complete book of their own, perhaps including digital photos or artwork created within the eBook platform (StoryJumper has this option).<br />Leveled assignments, for both low- and high-ability students, enables them to work at a challenge level that is appropriate. Just as tasks can be made less complex and lengthy for students with cognitive impairments, tasks can be make more complex and lengthy for gifted learners. Exploring content in greater depth is easily achieved through the use of online resources.<br />Accommodation #2: Incorporate Multiple Intelligences<br />Use of technology tools allows even the youngest of students to demonstrate knowledge in a variety of ways.<br />Create and edit digital images using free Aviary tools.<br />Use Audacity to create a podcast about the community.<br />Use TuxPaint to express yourself visually<br />A number of Web2.0 tools can be found on the Web2.0: Cool Tools for Schools wiki.<br />Part 2: iPod Touch for Meeting the Needs of Special Learners<br />“For each of the special needs listed above, specify two iPod apps or assistive technologies. Accessibility features of the iPod Touch make it a cost-effective means for meeting the educational needs of special learners. Features include:<br /><ul><li>Accessibility features are standard on 32GB and 64GB models.
  14. 14. Voiceover screen reader: Touch the screen to hear a description of the item under your finger. Interact directly with the screen to gain a sense of how things appear and descriptions of what they are. Speaking rate is adjustable. Works on all built-in apps.
  15. 15. Built-in voices speak over 21 languages.
  16. 16. Use the rotor (two-finger rotational control) to move through text by character, word, heading or page.
  17. 17. Use voice control to speak names of songs and playlists you want to hear (effective for audio books stored on the iPod Touch).
  18. 18. Zoom feature is available on many apps, allowing you to magnify screen content.
  19. 19. Black on white for those needing higher contrast.
  20. 20. Captioned movies available on iTunes
  21. 21. Touch, no pressure needed. Can be controlled with a stylus and audio clicks provide feedback.
  22. 22. Mono audio plays both left and right audio channels in both earbuds.</li></ul>Source: <br /> <br />Students with Cognitive Difficulties<br /><ul><li>My Lists ($1.99)App keeps track of tasks and includes feature that attaches an icon to list items. Also include features which allows you to attach a note to each list item. My Lists will allow students with cognitive difficulties to see the structure of their day and order of activities, enabling them to make effective transitions and allowing them to be mentally prepared for tasks.
  23. 23. Evernote (free)Take notes anytime, anywhere. Text, images, camera, voice – all can be accessed on any platform or computer. Students with cognitive difficulties have instant access to information and can share it, digitally, thus taking advantage of areas in which they are more typically able. When working on creating a page for the class eBook, students can use Evernote to capture thoughts and images they would like to use.
  24. 24. Dragon Dictation (free)Voice recognition app – speak and instantly see your text. The app is suitable for any writing-related task in the thematic unit.</li></ul>Students with Physical Difficulties<br /><ul><li>iCommunicate ($4.99)Great for visual schedules and cues. Easily transportable, and cheaper than other AAC devices, iCommunicate allows the non-verbal child to interact with others. Greater ease of communication allows the child to express ideas, answer questions, and be a more active part of the classroom community.
  25. 25. Tap to Talk (free)Turns iPod touch into an AAC device allowing the non-verbal child to talk. Record messages then tap to talk. Like iCommunicate, this allows the non-verbal child to interact with classmates and teachers. With Tap to Talk, content-specific communication is possible.</li></ul>Students with Sensory Difficulties<br /><ul><li>EyeGlasses ($2.99) Using the iPod touch camera to magnify text and images. Students with visual disabilities can use the iPod touch to magnify and text or object the come into contact with, improving the learning process.
  26. 26. Google Mobile App (free)Search Google quickly using your voice and location. Apps opens Safari and Google Maps. Students can use voice-only technology to access the same maps that are part of whole-class instruction. Once open, students can zoom in on maps making them more clearly seen than on the Promethean board during whole class activities in the thematic unit.
  27. 27. Speak it! Text to Speech ($1.99)Most advanced text to speech App – version 2 works with iOS 4.0. Allows multi-takings – Speak it! Will continue reading while you exit the app to use other apps. Students with visual disabilities will have mobile access to online content that other students are able to see.</li></ul>Students Who are At Risk<br /><ul><li>Web Voice ($.99)With VoiceOver activated on the iPod touch, listen to Web pages and text. A number of activities in the unit are Web-based. Hearing, rather than reading information is beneficial as many kindergarten students as they are emerging readers. The more independently students are able to complete work, the more confidence grows.
  28. 28. textPlus (free)Free and unlimited messaging allows instant access to teacher and classmates, thus avoiding potential frustrations. Though kindergarten students have limited writing skills, a message can be sent (actual text content is immaterial) as a silent signal that the student would like help. This avoids the stigma of more public cues.
  29. 29. Tonepad (free)Create music with the touch of a finger; several instruments to choose from. Engaging content goes a long way toward helping students who are at risk make steady progress. Students with limited reading and writing skills can use music to express ideas and feelings. For the eBook project, for example, students can create a song, instead of a drawing, to represent their favorite location in the community.</li></ul>Students Who are Gifted and Talented<br /><ul><li>Google Earth (free)Explore the same global satellite and aerial imagery available in the desktop version of Google Earth. Students are able to work at faster pace for the Google Earth activity, which is planned to be whole-class instruction.
  30. 30. StoryKit (free)Create an electronic storybook. Take photos, record sound effects, add text then share. Also includes a painting tool. Easy to share electronically. Mobile app allows the eBook activities to be more complex and involve greater variety of media.</li></ul>References:<br />A List of Typical Special Ed Accommodations:<br />Apple – Accessibility: <br />Assistive Devices Help Challenged Kids Get the Most from Learning: <br />Making the Most of Standard Technology to Enhance Learning: <br />Special Education Terminology:<br />Typical Technology Solutions for the Disabled: <br />Links/Resources:<br />Assistive Technologies: <br />Assistive Technology for Students with Disabilities. Collection of articles and Web sites: <br />Early Connections: Technology in Early Childhood Education (kindergarten page): <br />The Family Center on Technology and Disability: <br />Guide to Low-Cost / No-Cost Online Tools for People with Disabilities (PDF) <br />List of Assistive Technology (PDF) <br />LD Online – Technology page: <br />Teachology>Teacher Resource>Special Education>Assistive Technolgy: <br />Tools for Life: <br />Trace Research and Development Center – Research to Make Everyday Technologies Accessible & Usable: <br />