Printing from iOS Devices

Here are some helpful resources I just discovered to help facilitate printing from iOS devices. Many schools are rolling out iPads without having printers that support AirPrint. If you happen to have a computer connected to the same wifi network as the iPad you are in luck. Here are two programs you can install on your computer that will “broadcast” the drivers on your computer:

PC

OPrint ($20)– is software you can quickly download and install. The printer connected to your computer will now show up in your iOS device using the share button > print > choose printer.

MAC

HandiPrint ($5-10 donation)– Functions just like OPrint but for OSX systems.
Happy printing!!!!

Fluency Tutor: Google App Integrated Running Records

TextHelp just released a new tools for teachers. TextHelp has been providing robust assistive technology tools for students and is branching out to supporting students on the cloud. They are one of the first companies to introduce a text prediction tool compatible with Google Apps and now is venturing into the instructional technology world.

Fluency Tutor is a tool that allows teacher to assign lexile or age appropriate reading passages for students to read and record via their Google Apps account. While reading, students are able to have the following tools available for their support:

  • Text read aloud with word by word highlighting
  • Simple dictionary definitions for unfamiliar words
  • Picture dictionary
  • English to Spanish translation
For the free account, teachers are then able to capture the recordings for each of the students on the main dashboard for progress tracking. The premium account features the ability to score the reading passage for the following errors:
  • Mispronunciations
  • Hesitations
  • Insertions
  • Omissions
  • Substitutions
  • Transpositions
A teacher is able to listen to the recording which is paused when marking an error. The app is also able to provide a words per minute count (after marking the 1 minute point) and a reading quality rubric is completed for each reading sample to generate a “Fluency Score”.  A progress chart is then available for each student to track changes in the Fluency Score and reading rate.
There are a variety of reading passages to chose from however at this point custom reading passages are not available. An annual subscription is $99 per teacher/ per year. 

Summer Project: My Metryx

My Metryx

This is a great tool for teachers to keep track of their students data and help “see” what their classroom looks like. There are many customizable features and you can make your data as precise as you need it. 
To start, you will create an account and start with a class. You can then add grades and add students to those grades or add individual students. This is great middle and high school teachers or cluster subject teachers who have multiple classes.
Next, you add your assessments. The hierarchy starts with the Subject > Skillsets > Skills. As an example you can open a Subject for ELA > Skillset for Reading (Running Records) > Skills of fluency, decoding and so on.
Now you can put all this information together and set up parameters for which students will be assessed for what skills. Outcomes can be rated on a yes/ no mode, rubric mode, or data entry mode. 
After assessing your students, you have the options of looking at individual student reports or view how your class is doing on particular skills. The reports are visually friendly turning your data into user friendly pie charts and line graphs for progress over time. Metryx will even help split up your class, either creating either equal groups or RTI groups based on the scoring data. 
Here is a link to a short video tutorial for the visual learners in the bunch: http://vimeo.com/57808886

Why Doesn’t Starfall work on my iPad?

So you have your iPad and ready to use it in the classroom. Finally, your students will have the chance to practice their reading at their desks only to find that your favorite sites don’t work on the iPad!

Why? Many sites use Flash animations to work their games and interactive books. Popular iOS browsers such as Safari do support this type of program and there for the content will be viewable on your iPad. Some sites have started making apps that match the content on their web browsers but there is another way…

Try downloading Puffin. This is a free iOS web browser that will play Flash content.

Know any other browsers to recommend? Share in the comments section below!

Review: Adobe Voice

Adobe has recently release its own story telling app. Although there are many in the app store this one offers a few unique benefits for teachers and students. Following the Universal Design for Learning model, using Voice can help provide students with a means of expression.

Voice follows a familiar “slide” format however it has pre- made templates for the following: Promote an Idea, Tell What Happened, Explain Something, Follow a Hero’s Journey, Show and Tell, Share a Growth Moment, Teach a Lesson, Share an Invitation, or Make Up My Own. Each template comes with a range of slides (5-8) that asks the user to answer a particular question on that slide. This is great for students who just don’t know where to start and what to say.

Within each template, students may add icons (provided by The Noun Project), photos, and text (No video). They are then able to record audio narration that follows the visual support. Once all the slides are built, the presentation can be customized by themes and background music can be added to run throughout. The great benefit of this app is that it provides rich variety of content within it. When adding photos, a student may search and Voice will only provide images tagged as having a Creative Commons License.

Once you are ready to publish, the project can either be public or private and all attributions are inserted automatically. This is a great pro for this app in getting users to give credit where credit is due.

Understood.org- A Site for Teachers, Parents and Students Affected by Learning Disabilities

One of the reasons I am so invested in the use of technology in the schools in exactly for the benefit it offers students with learning disabilities. There are many students sitting in classrooms all over the world right now struggling to fit themselves into the box. Technology opens the doors for students to better access what they need to know and also show their teachers and the world what they have learned.

This is one reason why I am so excited to hear about the launch of Understood.org in August 2014. This site is a partnership among multiple organizations helping students with learning disabilities and will be clearinghouse for resources, support groups, and events. The feature I am most looking forward to will be examples of just what the world looks like for students with learning disabilities when they read, write, and compute.

Stay tuned for updates…

Vox- Understand the News

From the makers of The Verge and Curbed a new venture in news: Vox. The mission of this site is to provide background knowledge and explain current new and events. Could this become a great classroom tool to help students understand current events? Stay tuned for updates when the site launches.

Update: Vox is up and running with a variety of articles, timelines, and card stacks that explain the history and background information for some of the current events. Check out this stack on the Israeli- Palestinian conflict.

Two more explanatory journalism sites were also recently released:

The New York Times launched The Upshot with emphasis on data analysis and infographics.

FiveThirtyEight brought to you by the all knowing Nate Silver is also heavy on answering your burning questions like: “Do April Showers Bring May Flowers?”- using data, data, data.

Free Weekly PD for Teachers via Lynda

In my quest to learn how to make wonderful infographics I finally joined the online learning community of Lynda.com. This site offers a large variety of professionally made training videos in a variety of mostly business and design related software and techniques.

In my browsing, I stumbled upon a wonderful resource: Teacher Tips with Aaron Quigley. He covers a variety of topics ranging from the flipped classroom, to web based programs, and how to best use Microsoft Office and Google Drive as a teacher. Although Lynda is a paid subscription, Aaron’s tips are available for free the week they are posted. Lessons are short and highly relevant. Well worth the time investment.

Finally! An App Smashing Solution for PDF Annotation with Text OCR

=  SUCCESS!

One of the most challenging classroom tasks to modify for students with learning disabilities is the dreaded worksheet. Although there are multiple apps that will take a picture of a document and OCR (object character recognition) the text the formatting of the document is lost. Translation- you can take a picture of page and have it read back to you but it won’t look like the page you scanned.

Solution!
PDFpen Scan+ ($4.99) now allows you to take a picture of a document (single or multi-page), crop it to the desired dimensions, modify the contrast and then OCR the text on the page. Once this file is complete you can open the document in any PDF annotation app (many free options available). This will allow the student to press hold the text on the document and use the iOS built in speech to text accessibility feature to read back the text on the page. They can then annotate the document using a pen, type in text to fill in the blanks, or use audio recording (depends on the PDF annotation app) to complete this worksheet.

A bit of warning though: this solution does require an app savvy student and the OCR is not full proof.

Lingua.ly Chrome Extension for Building Vocabulary

Lingua.ly is a great extension built for developing vocabulary in a new foreign language but also works great to develop vocabulary for struggling students.

The concept is simple and works great. An account is created with an initial set up process. The student chooses their native language and language to learn (for this case both are set to English) and once set up is complete the student is ready to read any web content.

When a student lands on an unfamiliar word, they may double click the word. A simple definition comes up and the word is pronounced for the reader. The word then remains highlighted on the webpage.

For further review and practice, students can log into their Lingua.ly account and either read new content based on the words previously selected or practice flash card type games with these collected words.

Here is a video highlighting the basic functions: