Friday, November 27, 2009

Module 3- use of assistive technology

In a school or library setting, accommodations of many different learning needs should be met, including all types of disabilities.  Assistive technology that could be implemented in a school setting should include alternative input and output devices such as screen reading and enlargement software, Braille translation tools, and access to TDD.  Those with learning disabilities could gain much use from word prediction software, reading and writing comprehension programs, and grammar and spell checkers.  Reading machines and software, as well as note taking devices, and mouse and keyboard options could also be useful additions to the school setting and would also accommodate different needs of the learner.

Module 3- Software evaluation

Four types of assistive technology software packages were evaluated.  The evaluation follows as well as a brief review of each.

Software name: Inspiration®,
Company: Inspiration
Price: $39.95-$895.00
Purpose of program: To promote visual learning and thinking and encourage multiple modes of learning.
Special needs addressed in the program: All learning needs especially those of visual learners
Features: Inspiration is used to plan class projects, activities, lessons and units- offers visual tools, graphic organizers to aid teachers in planning and teaching.  Gives students many ways to investigate, analyze, and represent data and information, applies visual learning methodologies
Positive aspects: Easy to use and navigate
Negative aspects: Pictures are a little difficult to search through and small
Ease of use, directions clear: Help screen is clearly organized
Overall review: I think that this could be a useful tool, though cost should be weighed with need in the school environment and other tools available
Software name: Kurzweil 3000TM
Company: Kurzweil Educational Systems
Price: $395.00-$2695.00
Purpose of program: To improve students' ability to read.  Comprehensive reading, writing and learning software.
Special needs addressed in the program: Any struggling reader, including individuals with learning difficulties, such as dyslexia, attention deficit disorder or those who are English Language Learners.
Features: Curriculum access, highlighting, text circle tools, annotations, Bookmarks, Voice Notes and Extract in order to create outlines, study guides, or word lists.  Reads the words aloud to the student in clear, humanlike, synthetic speech.
Positive aspects: Research seems to be on their side, increases reading fluency, decoding support, and has writing and self editing tools
Negative aspects: Download did not work, so I am not sure
Ease of use, directions clear: Not sure- download was not successful
Overall review: This software seems like a great tool for many types of struggling readers and the research seems to support the fact that it works. 

Software name: infoeyes
Company: ivocalize
Price: $30 to $3,000 a month
Purpose of program: The goal of this project is to create a model for a collaborative, multi-state, accessible information community to the visually impaired.
Special needs addressed in the program: Visual impairment
Features: Question and answer service for people with a visual impairment or other print limitation.
Positive aspects: Seems like a great tool for the visually impaired and it gives them access to information that they may not have normally been able to access.
Negative aspects: Have to schedule an appointment, not too many libraries involved
Ease of use, directions clear: With some searching, they are clear and it seems easy to use
Overall review: This company has fabulous tools, though they may not be as useful as the other tools in a school environment

Software name: Windows Vista
Company: Microsoft
Price: Free
Purpose of program: Operating system that offers accessibility options
Special needs addressed in the program: All needs seem to be addressed in one way o another
Features: Narrator, Audio description, Keyboard shortcuts and tools, Text Magnifier, Mouse options, Speech to text
Positive aspects: Free- already built into the system
Negative aspects: Narrator wasn’t always right on, features may not address specific learning needs
Ease of use, directions clear: Windows offers a huge amount of support and help
Overall review: These tools are fabulous and free and can be used to accommodate a variety of learners.  I honestly never knew some of the tools were available.  A great resource.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Module 2- helpful sites and hardware thoughts

Transaccess is a great site that matches assistive technology according to individual need.  It is also an excellent resource for businesses and those involved in education because it lists many of the services available to those with disabilities as well as the best ways to accomodate them. 

EnableMart offers many solutions for the disabled and sorts them by category so that it is easy to locate the best assistive technology for the need.

The availability and amount of hardware available for any kind of disability you can imagine astounds me.  if you need a type of accomadation, you can find it!

Module 2- Accomodations

In the workplace or in school there are many ways to accommodate the needs of coworkers and students. If a student has a hearing disability, captioning all that is said is important. Also their placement in the room should be considered and the teacher can offer typed notes for any lecture material. if a student has visual impairment, braille notes or large print would be an obvious choice as well as using pod casting or recordings to offer them instead of notes. Cognitive impairments can cover many disabilities, but one easy choice would be to offer pencil grips so they can handle their pencils more easily. Also word prediction software would be another way to accommodate their needs.

Module 2- Assistive Technology

I am amazed at the number of items available to those in need of assistive technology. We live in a technologically driven world and any type of technology that can assist others in need of it is surely welcomed. As Jurkowski says, in "Technology and the School Library," "Assistive technology for students with disabilities is becoming more and more prevalent in school libraries and classrooms"(106). As noted in the text there is an increasing awareness of the need to accommodate these students through various technology adaptations and accommodations. For the visually impaired there are screen magnifiers and video magnifiers that can magnify just about anything. There are also readers and scanners that can scan something and then read it. For the hearing impaired there are amplification devices as well as telephone accessories to aid in hearing. Alternate pointing devices and word prediction software enables those with cognitive deficits as well. Even pictures and switches are an amazing resource to use if communication is a problem. We are truly lucky to live in an age where these modifications are available to us in order to promote learning and offer those with special needs the accommodations that they deserve.

Jurkowski, O. (2006). Technology and the school library. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Module 1 #2

Working with LD students can be challenging and I am open to any ideas that aid in the process. In my look around The National Center for Learning Disabilities I found a few new ideas. One had to do with writing instruction and what research has shown works with LD students. It is important to explicitly teach the steps of the writing process first: planning, writing, and revision. Next there should be explicit instruction of the different types of writing (expository,persuasive...). And lastly, the teacher should give explicit feedback so corrections can be made. Reading requires the same amount of explicit instruction, however the most important reminder I got from the site is that all students are individual learners and should be treated as such.

Module 1

The National Federation of the Blind truly does have a fantastic site and I really like both the Braille is Beautiful and Braille Reading pals programs. Braille is beautiful is for sighted students to learn braille and I think that anything that increases student sensitivity to others is great. The Braille Reading pals program encourages Braille literacy which is an important aspect of visually impaired literacy. I did a research project on the visually impaired for another class and learned that phonological awareness is the same in sighted and visually impaired children, those who are impaired just may need to take more time to understand the individual letters because they have not had as much pre-training with Braille as sighted children have had with print. But once fluent decoding happens, blind children are no different than sighted children when it comes to reading. This means that Braille literacy is very important and both of these programs tackle the issue of literacy as well as understanding.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Week 9 (#23)

The end... wow, I learned quite a bit of new information along the way. I appreciated the step by step nature of the program and the explicit directions. I especially enjoyed learning more about tagging and how it works, some innovative ways to use wikis in the classroom, and I really liked exploring Rollyo. Along with blogs and wikis, that is a great tool to use in a classroom because you control the content searched. I can't wait to implement these tools in a library setting as well. If I had to describe in one word or one sentence what I took away from this program: Technology rocks!

Week 9 (#22)

I am absolutely in love with LibriVox...I already subscribed to a few of its podcasts and can so see using them in the classroom. I am also amazed at all of the free resources out there, though it seems I can't seem to find too many free resources on Project Gutenberg, though it may be worth the $8.95 yearly membership after perusing their titles. I think Ebooks are a great tool, however I do prefer the tangible aspect of a good book. But the idea of having so many books available whenever you want them is pretty amazing and a nod to the digital age we live in.

Week 9 (#21)

I think that podcasts are a great tool for life in general, but also for the classroom. They are also easy to make (I made one for some book talks I had to do for another class). Courtney, in "Library 2.0 and Beyond," offers some great ideas for their use. She mentions booktalks, using them to enhance displays and exhibits, making individual librarian podcasts as an audio-blog, using them in library education and instruction, as well as conveying local history, story time, and tours (37-43). Here are a few I found and their implications for the classroom...
SHAKESPodosphEARE - podcasts designed to go along with the study of Shakespeare, or if you just want to hear him on a long car ride :)

Just Vocabulary - a 4 minute podcast offering new vocabulary words each day

Poem of the week - offers a new poem each week

Courtney, N. (2007). Library 2.0 and beyond.. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.

Week 9 (#20)

You it! It has recently been allowed in the school system where I work and I have found it to be an amazing tool- though not without its pitfalls. I have used it to show portions of short stories we have read, a realistic portrayal of a cobra and mongoose fight (in association with Rikki Tikki Tavi), and to show parts of plots from movies to see if students could determine where on the plot diagram these excerpts belong. I also use it as a tool for teaching figurative a song complete with lyrics and see if they can pick out the fig. language. One of the pit falls though is that you really do have to vet the videos well before showing them because anyone can post and sometimes it takes a while to find good ones to use. But...this is my web innovation so I won't give all the goodies about YouTube away! Here is a video about copyright and fair use...very funny and uses Disney characters but informative.