Assistive Technology

I count myself lucky to be a special education teacher because I get to work with some of the most amazing students and teachers EVER! That may seem a little biased, but I’m pretty sure it’s true haha! The teachers at my school are amazing cheerleaders for our students, they give a voice to the voiceless. As special education teachers we are always looking for ways to even the playing for our kiddos in comparison to the “typical” student.

One of the ways we are able to accomplish this goal is through assistive technologies (AT). These are low-tech and high tech devices that allow our students to; read, write, speak, creatively think, and so much more. These devices make it easier for our students to gain their independence. I recently used the program VoiceThread to create a presentation on assistive technologies. In this presentation I have highlighted: uses for AT, different types of AT, what the future of AT looks like and more.

Here is a link to view the presentation: Assistive Technologies Presentation 

I have also created a script for the video if you would like to follow along with that as well.

While researching more about assistive technology, I came across some pretty amazing websites and resource that you should check out when you can:

  • If you don’t have time to look at any other resource this article from Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATiA) is your go to, it pretty much answers any and all questions you could ever have about AT.
  • The website Autism Helper is a great website with plethora of free resources.
  • This webpage from American Council of the Blind, is an extensive list on different resources and organizations that will help with AT funding.
  • If you’ve never even heard of AT and are thinking what is this crazy women rambling about, well here is a very simplified informational video.





Adobe SparkVideo Web Tool 2.0

During a project for my SLM class, I recently discovered Adobe SparkVideo and I am in love! This tool is so useful and will be an amazing resource in my classroom. There are three different types of media you can make with this program: a page, post, and a video. I think the video feature is what I will use most in the classroom, but I can definitely see a use for all three.

So, to become more familiar with this program I decided to make a video project for my students. I wanted to make something I could use right away. We are currently learning about musical opposites so I decided to make a video on loud and soft sounds. The project is geared towards students at a Kindergarten/First grade level. I wanted to first introduce the subject to them and then add some musical concepts in as well. I’ll be using this video as an introduction to the concept and then I am hoping to have the students make a similar (scaled down) version of the video presentation. I think my kiddos will really love using this tool!

I’m going to embed the video tho this post so you can have an idea of what my project looks like and some of the things you can do with SparkVideo. If you’re interested in learning more about SparkVideo or want to try the program for yourself, here is a link to Adobe SparkVideo website.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do and can use it as a resource in your classroom.

Library Blogs I Love

Things I am currently excited for:

  1. The Holidays (what teacher/child isn’t…am I right?)
  2. Becoming a librarian
  3. Waiting for the next Marvel Comics movie to come out

So, since I can’t wait until I one day hold the magical title of Media Specialist in Frederick County, I will settle for reading my current list of favorite librarian blogs.

Blog #1  The Daring Librarian

The author of this blog, Gwenyth Jones, is awesome and I want to meet her! The first post I saw was about having a Pokemon Go Scavenger Hunt in the library. Come on, how cool is that? In her blog she provides lesson ideas, fun things to do in the library, tech tips, organization tips, and a bunch of other useful resources. Her blog is fun to look at and every article you read, you are sure to find something practical to use. In her post “6 Geeky Tech Tips for the New School Year” , she provides great ideas to up your tech game. She gives you outside resources to look at and great ideas/ways you can use the new technology in your classroom. Her blog is great for librarians who want to incorporate more technology into everyday use, as well as add an element of unexpected fun to your every day.

Blog #2  Mr. Library Dude 

This blog by academic librarian Joe Hardenbrook provides a wide array of information for librarians. Joe talks about some personal ideology as a librarian, but he also provides a lot of useful resources on his blogs. Some of his articles contain information such as: how to find a job as a librarian, interview questions, special education in the library, marketing your library, working with online students, and more. This particular blog is geared towards librarians who teach older grades, and it also provides great resources for the librarian themselves. In one of his articles “Voting: Information is Power!,” Joe provided ideas on how you should approach the sensitive topic of voting. In the article he reminds librarians that we aren’t here to provide students with our personal opinions (no matter how hard it is to keep quiet). We are here to provide information for our students so they can make their own informed decisions.

Blog #3 Not So Distant Future

Not So Distant Future is written by Carolyn Foote. In her blog, she writes about library databases, technology, ebooks, leadership in the library, and tips on how to organize your library. This blog provides great idea for librarians to use in their library. Carolyn talks about her own experiences using certain programs and testing out different ideas. She also writes about popular authors and books. It’s very easy to find your way around her blog, and she also provides easy access to popular topics, buy including tags on the side of her blog. Her article “Consumer Intelligence,” she talks about her struggles with using databases on students devices and trying to keep library databases relevant in a world where everyone is more likely to just search on Google. This blog is great for librarians to see different technologies, databases, and resources used in the library before they attempt to use them in their own classroom.

My favorite teacher blogs!

Anytime I am graced with new ideas for my classroom I am one happy camper. These three blogs I reviewed provide me with just that! I found these blogs to be a great resource AND a fun read!

Blog #1 Pernille Ripp

Review: Pernille Ripp is a teacher, author, creator, and speaker. This blog is great, especially if you are interested in classroom writing and/or classroom libraries. In her blog she provides many teaching tips and a plethora of resources you can use to engage students within the classroom. She also isn’t afraid to get personal in her blog and share some great and not so great teaching experiences. She has a lot of blog posts about picture books and the many ways to use them in the classroom. She has a post about books to use when teaching theme in your classroom, the top picture books for middle school, the top picture books that teach empathy, etc. Just along her header she has categories like; Reading, Writing, Students Engagement, and Global Collaboration. I highly recommend checking out this blog.

Specific Post: As an elementary teacher I have MILLIONS of picture books to choose from. There is an abundance of picture books out there in the world, but how do you choose the right ones? Especially when you’re looking for a very specific topic? Pernille Ripps’ blog post “10 Picture Books that Spark Empathy” is a great resource. Not only does she provide an amazing selection, she gives her reasoning behind each book she chose, and you can tell by her thoughtful excerpts she was meticulous when choosing the books for this list. Within the post she also provides a picture of the book, linked to a place where you can also purchase the book.

Use in the Classroom: This blog is a great resources for teachers in the elementary level who are also looking for resources geared towards reading and writing. She has so many posts about different quality books and how you should use them in your classroom. This blog cuts down your time searching for the perfect book to teach a specific literary concept. She also provides outside resources you can look into that would also be useful to your classroom.

Blog #2 Edutech for Teachers

Review: This blog is an awesome resource for teachers who are looking to up their technology game in the classroom. I wish some of the posts were tagged so I could find them easier, but all in all the blog itself is easy to use and navigate. The articles are short, sweet, and to the point. The author of the blog, Jamie Forshey, also provides outside resources you can use in your classroom. Jamie is also a frequent poster, which I love. It’s such a bummer when you find a blog you like only to find out the author rarely posts anything. You don’t have to worry about that with Jamie, she is consistent in her posts.

Specific Post: One of my favorite posts that she has is called Diigo Weekly Bookmarks. In these weekly posts she provides links to “the latest and greatest web tools and resources that can be utilized to incorporate technology into the classroom”. The resources she posts in these particular blog articles are extremely useful. She finds different apps and tools to use in the classroom, then she provides a small synopsis on the resources and what you could use it for in your classroom.

Use in the Classroom: Like I said earlier, this blog is great for anyone looking to build upon their tech use in the classroom. Her articles explain how she used the new technology in her classroom then give you ideas on how to use them in your classroom. If you’re looking for a variety of different technologies with a variety of functions and uses, then this is a blog for you.

Blog #3 Mrs. Miracle’s Music Room

Review: This blog may be third on my list, but it might just be my absolute favorite I have reviewed (though I may have a personal bias seeing as it’s a music teachers blog). This blog is every music teachers dream come true. The author Aileen Miracle, not only provides lesson plans and ideas for a wide range of musical concepts but, she provides lessons that use different music pedagogy, which in case you didn’t know is a rare find. The blog itself is so easy to navigate, she provides a categorization for each post that can be easily found along the side of the blog so you don’t have to go searching for hours for the one post you need. Within her blog she provides great resources to use in the music room, complete with picture examples, musical excerpts, and she usually has a video she records of herself teaching the lesson to her students.

Specific Post:  Assessment in the music classroom is HARD! You know you have to grade your students, but you also don’t want to stomp on any child’s creativity. I’m also struggling with how to find an efficient way to assess all of my students, considering I see the entire school. Most data collection ideas just don’t work when your working with that many students. In blog post “Apps for Gradekeeping” Aileen provides five different app reviews for collecting data. In each review she talks about the app features and how to use the app within the classroom. She personally has not been able to use each app, but she provides the use of each app within her review.

Use in the Classroom: This blog should be a must read for all music educators. She provides so many lesson plans and resources within this blog. I can see myself using this blog on a day to day basis. You have a variety of sample lesson plans to use, technology ideas, manipulatives to use in the classroom, classroom managements techniques, and so much more!