Monday, December 30, 2013

Parent University

     Before we left for winter break, my co-teacher and I hosted a Parent Professional Development event on technology in our Special Education classroom. The students we teach have moderate to severe disabilities. One of our challenges is that our students struggle with communicating the various lessons and activities, including technology programs and social media sites that we use and implement in the classroom. With the help from one of our District Technology iCoaches +Shannon Soger , we were able to plan for the event and provide many resources for our parents to help participate in their child’s learning.
  A month before hosting the event we sent out a flyer, in both English and Spanish, to invite the families to join us. Find flyer here: Parent Tech Flyer.
Our principal donated a Target gift card to our event as an incentive to families to participate, which we raffled off at the end of our event. We created handouts, some in both English and Spanish, that would provide them support at home for what we taught at the event. The handouts included instructions for setting up Gmail, Twitter and Facebook account. Find instructions here:Gmail and FB InstructionsTwitter Instructions. Our classroom is on social media to keep parents and families up to date with what is happening in both our classroom, school and district (you can “like” us on Facebook: Komensky DLP or follow us on Twitter: @KomenskyDLP-SM). We created charts for each parent to take home that included their child's username and passwords for the technology programs we use in the classroom including IXL Math, Lexia and myOn. During the event we traveled through each program showing parents how to login and how we hoped our students could practice various content at home. Our Speech and Language Pathologist, +Elizabeth Arenas joined us to help translate our event in Spanish to families who attended. We also introduced an accessibility setting, Guided Access that our parents could also use to lock their child into a program or application on the iPad at home. Guided Access will be my next blog! 

Teaching parents how to use Guided Access with our SLP!

Our Parent Tech Event was a huge success! The parents feedback we received was extremely positive and motivating. We plan on hosting these events throughout the rest of the school year as well as years to come. This is one more way to continue to involve parents in the classroom!  

The parents eager to take home what they learned at our event! 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Speak it!

     Earlier today I received an email from a colleague that was searching for a way to display text on the computer screen by simply speaking to the computer. Enter the Dictation&Speech feature under system preferences! Before trying out the feature, make sure your computer is updated to 10.8-Mountain Lion, a newer version of Mac OSX in order to access the Dictation&Speech features.
Speech to Text can be used in the classroom for a variety of ways! Students can retell a story without having to struggle with finding the letters and spelling words on a keyboard. They can simply focus on the goal of the lesson and details they remembered from the story. They can respond to questions on a particular text, produce answers for a quiz or test and simply produce more legible assignments. In math, students can also practice math facts by reciting a math sentence and watching it appear on the screen!  
Check out my "What's Up Dude?" video to see Dictation in action! Note that in order to include punctuation when dictating a sentence, you specifically need to say the name of the punctuation mark you want to use-to produce a question mark, simply say “question mark” at the end of the sentence for it to appear! 

Follow these steps to launch the Speech to Text feature:
Open System Preferences > Double Click Dictation&Speech (under System) > Set Dictation to the On button > Select the shortcut to enable Dictation > Set Language > Open up Pages or Microsoft word > Press shortcut key > Say your word/sentence/paragraph > Watch as the computer types the words. If you want your computer to read back the sentence, simply press Opt+ESC and voila, the computer is speaking to you! 


Visit this youtube clip for a detailed explanation on how to turn on Dictation on your MacBook computer.

Thursday, November 7, 2013


     I attended my very first Apple Education seminar last week The seminar was geared towards using iPads and Mac computers with students in Special Education. THANK YOU to all of the presenters who shared their stories and information on apps and various features that the iPads and Mac’s have to offer!  


One feature that I have tapped into and utilized since seeing the benefits at the training is the Photo Booth application on the Mac Computer.  I use it as both a reward and learning tool in my classroom.  Photo booth produces photos and videos using image effects that make silly faces such as “Space Alien” and “Bug Out” as well as back drops that virtually place you riding on a roller-coaster or swimming in an aquarium. A great way to utilize Photo Booth in the classroom is by having the students complete a task, respond to questions or simply interact with the teacher or another peer while being recorded using one of the backdrops or image photo effects. Once recorded you can play it back for the student and teacher to watch together and enjoy! An increase in interest, motivation and overall performance can be shown just by using this simple tool. 
And finally, one presenter, Bill Ziegler, an Apple Distinguished Educator from Bucks County, PA, shared a story of a young man named Bern. Bern is a Guidance Counselor for the Bristol Township Schools, hockey coach, college football announcer and motivational speaker. I would like to end this blog by sharing with you a message from Bern on the “Priceless” impact technology can have and has had on all people with disabilities. Trust me when I say this is worthing watching: 

Monday, October 28, 2013

"Best Time in History to be Blind"

Excited. Overwhelmed. Anxious. Motivated. Stumped. These are just a few of the emotions I am feeling as I embark on this journey called “Accessibility Features”. 
These “features”, when placed in the hands of a very special population, can and will provide a future of limitless opportunities for all people with disabilities.
            Within the past few weeks, I have been thrown words referring to iOS and MacBook devises, such as Guided Access, Voice over, Switch control, Universal Access, and assistive touch, to name a few. Through the help of a new friend-who just happens to specialize in technology in the classroom, YouTube, twitter, Facebook, the Apple website and many more resources that I will share with you along the way, I will slowly, but surely discover AND master the ins and outs of Accessibility Features! Challenge Accepted.
My Go to Accessibility Feature Guru right now is Luis Perez. Watch this video to understand why he believes this is the “Best Time in History to be Blind:

Monday, October 21, 2013

About iCan2

iCan2. Say it out loud. “I. Can. Too.”  This blog is not only to encourage and promote the idea of Accessibility features and all technology in the classroom for that matter, but also to explain and highlight the “why” of Accessibility Features, from a Special Educator’s perspective.
 I have recently been introduced to this gold mine of a technology tool in “present day” Special Education. Simply stating, Accessibility features make it easier for people with disabilities to navigate the world in their own way, at their own ability, through the use of iPads, iPods and MacBook computers. The meaning behind “iCan2” gives way to the idea that people with disabilities can participate to the fullest and have access to the same opportunities and experiences as someone without a disability.
Follow my blog as I share with you resources and emotions about discovering everything technology has to offer Special Education!