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Posts Tagged ‘assistive technology’

MLTI Professional Development Fall 2012

September 26th, 2012 1 comment

We’re coming to a school near you very soon! This year, the MLTI Professional Development team is going to be in every region of the state, delivering high quality workshops aimed at specific content areas for educators. We will be delivering a series of one-day, hands-on sessions, both in the fall and the spring. We would like to see as many teachers, librarians and administrators as we can attend these sessions, so please spread the word and we’ll see you on the road!

The Fall PD Session descriptors are listed below. For further details on the sessions, their dates and locations, and registration information, click on the session title. For further MLTI Professional Development information, please go to this page on maine.gov.

The Art of Technology in Mathematics

Unlock mathematical conceptual understanding through discovery using technology. Come explore technology options at your fingertips as we seamlessly integrate the MLTI with the new Common Core State Standards. This hands-on workshop will utilize resources to add to your toolkit for teaching and learning. Templates and applets will be provided as we look at ways to increase student conceptual understanding using Geogebra, Grapher, Numbers, and other tools on the MLTI image.

Supporting Students with Special Needs Using MLTI and Universal Design for Learning

This hands-on workshop will begin by exploring accessibility options and adjusting preference settings on the MLTI device to meet the needs of the learner. Participants will also learn to create lessons that target Response to Intervention and incorporate different learning styles to increase universal access for classroom activities. We’ll also examine exciting ways to “provide multiple means of engagement” for students through creating social stories and learning how to socially navigate the world around them. Participants will explore ways to apply these skills to creating Digital Portfolios. Students will ultimately be able to showcase projects that target their Individualized Education Plan benchmarks and goals as well as self-assess their work.

Shift Happens! Common Core, ELA and Digital Literacy
The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) identifies 6 shifts in ELA/Literacy, including text complexity, writing from sources and academic vocabulary. This session will explore instructional practices and approaches using digital tools that address the shifts, and provide strategies for implementing the Common Core in the English classroom and across disciplines.

Leveraging Technology with Science Practices

In anticipation of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), many educators in Maine are already integrating some of the  8 Science and Engineering Practices into current instruction. Here’s a chance to look more deeply at those Practices from the Framework for K-12 Science Education that inform the NGSS. We will explore MLTI science applications for a hands-on investigation of their alignment to the Maine Learning Results and Practices of the Framework, and discover more ways that technology can enhance learning.

The Art Studio in your MLTI MacBook

Join MLTI to discover the art studio in your MLTI MacBook. Learn new ways to create art, explore tools to design digital portfolios, gain understanding in managing your digital art classroom and grow your research process knowledge. This day will be filled with valuable information for the art teacher.

Digital Citizenship in a Changing World

Students are living in a world of 24/7 access to technology that enables learning and communication in a way that was not possible even a few years ago. This workshop will help you to learn about the digital landscape our students are now living in, and how educators can help students think critically and make responsible choices to improve achievement. We will be exploring some of the free K-12 resources available through Common Sense Media and how to implement them in your classrooms and schools.
Integrating Technology into the World Language Classroom
Technology has produced new communication opportunities, created new ways to participate in culture, and redefined what we call community. This session will focus on integrating MLTI tools into the World Language learners’ experience. We will explore ways to use technology to immerse learners in authentic language and cultural experiences while keeping an eye on assessment and other realities like the Common Core and the Maine Learning Results.
Where’s the Evidence? Digital Tools, Source Material and the Social Studies Classroom

As emerging social scientists, students must have the skills to locate, interpret and use primary and secondary sources in their work. The wealth of source material online, and the digital tools to utilize these resources, present humanities teachers with enormous opportunities to develop these skills in their classes. This workshop will provide educators with strategies for using source material with students: how to find the resources, incorporate source material in student writing, and having students present their interpretations to the world.

 

Accessibility of Instructional Media for Students with Disabilities and English Learners (December 15)

December 12th, 2011 No comments
Students with laptops, one confusing AIM with AOL Instant Messenger

Illustration by Andrew Greenstone

Many materials used for classroom and online instruction present barriers to learning for students with disabilities and English learners. This is typically inadvertent and can be corrected with basic awareness and skills. This webinar will introduce participants to strategies and resources for selecting and creating media that are accessible, resulting in improved learning opportunities for all students. Topics include accessible instructional materials (AIM), closed captioning and audio description of video, and accessible web sites.

Please join us this Thursday at 3:15 pm or 7:15 pm. For more information about accessing our MLTI webinars and to register, please click on the Webcasts tab at the top of this page.


 

AIMing for Accessible Curriculum: Notes from the June 8th webinar

June 9th, 2011 2 comments
Student wearing headphones

CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

This webinar offered an introduction to Accessible Instructional Materials (AIM), a complex but necessary component of any curriculum. It is the first in a series of Maine AIM webinars that will continue in the fall. The objectives were that participants will understand the:

  • Barriers presented by standard print materials to some students
  • Definition of AIM
  • Relevant legislation
  • Steps to successful AIM implementation
  • Sources for more information

For the sake of simplicity, the focus of this first webinar was the common inaccessibility of standard print materials to some students. It’s important to recognize, however, that materials in electronic format can also present barriers (e.g., PDFs, podcasts, video, web sites, even word processed documents). Steps to making such media accessible for all learners will be the topic of future webinars in this series.

At the beginning of the webinar, we brainstormed and discussed the abilities needed to learn from standard print materials (this same conversation applies to electronic media). We then transitioned into the reality of copyright restrictions that interfere with our ability to convert many standard print books to other formats, such as digital text or audio. So we delved into the history of copyright exemption to come to the current-day Chafee Amendment, which is the foundation of the right to convert copyrighted material to specialized formats for students with print disabilities, such as specific learning disabilities, blindness or low vision, or physical disabilities. That’s AIM: “Specialized formats of curricular content that can be used by and with learners who are unable to read or use standard print materials.” Specialized formats are defined as:

  • Braille
  • Audio
  • Large print
  • Digital text

AIM is a legal mandate. A provision of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA 2004), it requires schools to provide textbooks and related print materials in specialized formats to students with print disabilities — in a timely manner. In Maine, “timely manner” is defined as “at the same time as their peers.” Read more…

An Introduction to Accessible Instructional Materials (AIM) for All Maine Learners (June 8, 2011 at 3:15pm)

June 1st, 2011 No comments

Image of the Maine AIM project logoThis MLTI – Maine CITE joint webinar will introduce participants to accessible instructional materials (AIM), which enable students with print disabilities to access curricular materials in specialized formats, including digital text, audio, large print, and braille. This is important information for all educators who teach students with learning disabilities, physical disabilities, and blindness. Topics include barriers presented by standard print materials, relevant legislation, and steps to successful AIM implementation in schools.

Please join us on June 8th at 3:15. To register for this webinar, select the Webcasts tab at the top of the http://maine121.org page and select the time to be directed to online registration.

April 27th – Myths, Legends, and Facts About Speech Recognition Software: A Demonstration and Discussion of Dragon Dictate

April 15th, 2011 8 comments

Speech recognition software converts spoken words to text and has been increasingly used in educational settings by students with varied needs and preferences. But what makes speech recognition a good match for a student? What are the situations and conditions under which students experience the most success? Join us as Ryan DeLone of Nuance Communications (http://www.nuance.com/) demonstrates, discusses, and answers questions about Dragon Speech Recognition.

Please join us on Wednesday, April 27th, at 3:15 PM. To register, click on the Webcasts tab at the top of this page and navigate to the calendar. This webinar will be recorded and archived.

 

Notes about the Maine Starter Program

March 31st, 2011 No comments

Thanks to our presenters from Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic (RFB&D) for giving us a tour of their service, as well as outlining the details of the Maine Starter Program. This service will improve access to human-narrated audio books, including textbooks, for Maine students with print disabilities. The program includes:

  • A full access landing page for Maine
  • One level 3 membership for the state, which includes 100 books
  • 25 licenses for RFB&D ReadHear for Mac by gh
  • 5 training webinars
  • 1 professional development webinar

Please be sure to watch the recording to learn the details of the program (should be available sometime on 3/31). Contacts for more information include Jenn Dougherty (jdougherty@rfbd.org) and Jayme Cagliuso (jcagliuso@rfbd.org). Jenn and Jayme welcome feedback on the program and how to support the unique needs of your school.

Notes from the Dec 2 Webinar: Strategies & Tools for Tier I Instruction

December 6th, 2010 No comments
Image of Juto

Academic vocabulary through images

We had two informative sessions last Thursday and I’d like to publicly thank my guests, Hillary Brumer and Jamie Jensen of RSU 21, and Robyn Bailey of Lincoln Middle School in Portland.

I’ve been promoting and teaching universal design for learning (UDL) for ten years, and as a former science teacher, I look at UDL through the lens of content area teaching. So when Response to Intervention (RTI) came along, I immediately made a connection with Tier 1, which is general education classroom instruction for all students. Now that schools are planning and implementing RTI, the demand has grown for strategies that work with the widest possible number of students. How to leverage technology with those strategies was what we aimed to deliver in both the afternoon and evening shows.

A Primer on RTI

Although most of us are either aware of or woking within RTI in schools, we introduced the webinar with a brief overview by defining it as a system of tiered interventions. One part of the history of it’s origins is that it was a response to the shortcomings of the existing referral process for special education, which is the discrepancy between a student’s IQ and how far they’ve fallen behind in general education.

The first tier of this system (Tier 1) is general classroom instruction. Tier 1 is made up of universal interventions or strategies that are known to work for most learners. According to RTI’s mandate, 80% of students are expected to respond successfully to Tier I interventions by the general education teacher.

Tier 2 interventions are more targeted than Tier 1 and are provided in the general education classroom, and Tier 3 interventions are the most intense with one-on-one instruction, typically by a specialist.

The most important message that I wanted to send about RTI is that the tiers are fluid. Students who don’t respond to Tier 1 instruction at any given time should be expected to move between or among the tiers, rather than remain in either Tier 2 or Tier 3 for extended periods of time.

For more information about RTI, please visit the Maine Department of Education and the National Center on RTI

Adopt a Capacity Mindset

“Capacity thinking” means that we believe that all students have the capacity to learn. Tapping into that capacity is the first step of Tier 1 instruction. To collect information about students’ capacities, such as their preferred ways of learning, interests, prior knowledge, culture, and content readiness, we introduced a variety of systematic learner profile tools and methods:

Learning style inventories

Conversations

Observations

Interviews

Surveys

Home visits

Family conferences

The Tools & Strategies

Because the specific topics of the morning and afternoon sessions differed, we’ll branch off here and review the 3:15 to 4:15 PM show, followed by that for 7:15 to 8:15 PM.

Afternoon show: Strategies & tools for students with diverse learning needs and preferences

This was really a “don’t they all?” hour because the most important message that emerged was that there’s no strategy or tool for all students. As we talked about the featured MLTI applications, we continuously returned to the need to remind ourselves that technology opens up options, and not one of the tools that we demonstrated should be used without considering or combining with the others. All of the applications can be used for both teacher instruction and student learning, leading us to discuss the power of having students understand their own learning preferences and, therefore, to independently apply the strategies that work best for them. To accomplish that, explicitly teaching learning strategies to students needs to be as much a part of Tier 1 as selecting the most appropriate instructional strategies for our content areas.

Here are the tools and associated strategies:

Readability

Readability converts a “distraction-full” web page into a “distraction-free” and customizable display that clearly presents the content of the page, allowing kids (and grownups) to free themselves of the temptation to pursue an advertisement or conduct any other other off-task task.  It’s easy to set up in 2 steps at the web site of Readability

Text to Speech

Your MacBook has built-in speech, meaning that any digital text that appears on your screen can be read aloud by your computer. The history of speech synthesis might lead you to assume that all system voices are mechanical and without inflection, but recent research has contributed to great strides. Apple introduced “Alex” in Leopard and this voice continues to be a favorite among speech synthesis users. With inexpensive earphones or earbuds that many kids carry with them, the possibilities are endless:

Support for students with specific learning disabilities who benefit from both seeing the text and hearing it read aloud (with the independence to stop/start/rewind as needed)

Focus for students with ADHD

Scaffold for English learners

Proofreader for writers

For instructions, see my QuickTip at iTunes U

Additional voices, including world languages, are available for download from commercial vendors, such as

Cepstral

AssistiveWare Infovox iVox

Add (text selection) to iTunes as a Spoken Track

Another option is for students to convert digital text to a separate audio file spoken by Alex, which can be transferred to an MP3 player or iPod. This can be an appealing option for students who are strong auditory processors and for whom seeing the text is actually a distraction. Being “digital natives,” many students might simply prefer to listen to the audio file because it’s an opportunity to use the technology they more typically use outside of school. (But don’t forget to do checks for understanding to make sure this method is actually working for them.) Here’s how to create a spoken track of digital text, which will work in any application that is native or built for Mac OS X, including but not limited to Safari, TextEdit, Pages, Keynote, Numbers, Mail, and NoteShare:

  1. Highlight the text that you want to convert to an audio file
  2. Go to the application’s menu (e.g., if you’re in Safari, go to the Safari menu in the upper left corner of the window)
  3. Choose “Services”
  4. Choose “Add to iTunes as a Spoken Track” (If you don’t see this, choose “Services Preferences…” at the bottom of the same menu. This will open System Preferences. In the scrolling area on the right side, find the Text section, and then choose the box for “Add to iTunes as a Spoken Track”)
  5. The file will open in iTunes.

If you’re unfamiliar with iTunes or otherwise need help beyond this step, don’t hesitate to contact me or any MLTI Integration Mentor.

Speech Recognition

We discussed both the successes and the pitfalls of speech recognition, which is a technology that allows users to control their computers by speaking. It is commonly suggested as a potential solution for students who have difficulty with writing because the spoken words appear on screen. It’s true that speech recognition has been shown to work for this purpose, but only when the software has been purposefully matched with the needs, preferences, and strengths of the student for whom it is being suggested. You can learn more about speech recognition for the Mac at the web site of Nuance.

GeoGebra

Jamie, who is now the K-12 Technology Integrator for RSU 21, is a former high school math teacher. He gave a demonstration of how he used GeoGebra to help students interactively visualize and graph algebraic equations. GeoGebra is pre-loaded on all MLTI MacBooks.

Voice Recording

For some students, speaking what they know is the most effective way for us to measure the extent to which they are making progress toward meeting unit objectives. And, as teachers, conveying information in both text and voice can mean the difference between some and most students’ understanding of our message. This can be accomplished using QuickTime Player on your MLTI MacBook. Here are the steps:

  1. Open QuickTime Player
  2. Go to File > New Audio Recording (note that this version of QuickTime also supports movie and screen recordings)
  3. Press the red record button on the Audio Recording floating window
  4. Make your recording
  5. Press stop button
  6. Play your recording back to confirm your satisfaction
  7. Save the file to your computer and share it via email, web site, blog, wiki, pen drive, etc

iCal

Hillary shared with us a screenshot of a student’s iCal calendar. It’s color-coded by subject area. Beyond due dates, it includes projects that the student is working on to make sure they are completed by the due date, as well as activities outside of school. iCal can also be shared across computers, enabling parents and others to support students’ organization and schedules. iCal is pre-loaded on all MLTI MacBooks.

Concept Mapping

We concluded with the process of concept mapping, which is a meaning-making strategy. Sometimes called mind mapping, visual mapping, or webbing, among other terms, this has shown to be effective at helping learners make connections among ideas, facts, and concepts. When used as formative assessment, it’s a way to identify learning misconceptions. MLTI MacBooks have two concept mapping applications that we discussed and demonstrated: OmniGraffle and Freemind.

Resources that were shared during the afternoon show:

CITEd TechMatrix

UDL Toolkit

EdTech Solutions

LD OnLine

WestEd’s Using Technology to Support Diverse Learners

Evening show: Strategies & tools for English learners

We began the evening show by discussing the unique needs and preferences of English learners. Robyn provided us with a description of teaching science to English learners. We chose to focus on strategies associated with academic vocabulary because, although a unique process for English learners, it is a need for all students across the content areas. Robyn introduced us to Juto, whose picture appears on this blog post, a student whose first language is Japanese and was the mini case study of our webinar.

Robyn walked us through the steps of a strategy that she commonly uses when introducing a new unit. We broke the steps down into individual strategies and accompanying tools.

The first strategy we call “multiple means of accessing text” by using Open Education Resources (OERs) in digital text format that can be accessed via text to speech, conversion to audio file, text enlargement, or Braille.

The second is “differentiation of text types and complexity” by providing tiered instructional materials at her Portaportal page (Lexile level, use of images, amount of text vs white space, etc).

The third strategy we identified is “supporting legibility and readability of text” by utilizing Readability.

The fourth is “student identification and recording of unknown words,” for which Stickies, pre-loaded on all MLTI MacBooks, was chosen.

And, finally, “analysis of words and building of vocabulary” was demonstrated through the use of a digital Frayer Model.

Resources shared during the evening webinar included

MARVEL (Maine’s Virtual Library is host to numerous databases and can be searched by Lexile levels)

IRIS Center’s Cultural and Linguistic Differences:  What Teachers Should Know

IRIS Center’s Anchoring Math Instruction to Cultural Relevance

IRIS Center’s RTI and Cultural Considerations

English Language Learner Instruction in Middle and High School

Pre-reading Activities for ELLs

NCCRESt Practitioner Briefs

Across both the afternoon and evening webinars, we concluded that

  • Tier 1 universal interventions are based on what we know about how most students learn;
  • We need knowledge of our students in order to select the most appropriate strategies, and therefore the right tools;
  • Technology opens up means and modalities by which students can meet the same high expectations.

December 2nd Webinar: Strategies & Tools for Tier I Instruction

November 29th, 2010 2 comments
Image of construction scaffolding

Scaffolding by Brett Weinstein used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license

Tier I instruction refers to Response to Intervention (RTI), which is a method of supporting student achievement and preventing failure. Through a school’s RTI plan, instruction and interventions are matched to student need, and are adjusted in relation to student response as measured by assessment of learning. Tier I instructional strategies and interventions are those selected and used by general education teachers, and applications on the MLTI laptops can support teachers in implementing effective practices for content area learning.

During the 3:15 to 4:15 PM delivery of this webinar, Hillary Brumer, Assistive Technology Specialist, and Jamie Jensen, K-12 Technology Integrator, both of RSU 21, are our guests. We will discuss and demonstrate targeted strategies for supporting students with diverse learning needs.

Between 7:15 and 8:15 PM, Robyn Bailey, science teacher at Lincoln Middle School in Portland, will be our guest. We’ll discuss and demonstrate targeted strategies for supporting students of diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds.

Both sessions will be delivered on Thursday, December 2nd. For information and to register, please choose the WebCasts tab at the top of this page.

Accessible Media for Everyone: A Matter of Digital Citizenship

July 21st, 2010 1 comment
Closed caption example

Image by Henrique used under a GNU Free Documentation license, version 1.2

I’m preparing for a session at next week’s MLTI Summer Institute in Castine. So I’m doing some thought processing and figured I’d take advantage of our blogging platform to make that public, and hopefully fine tune my message in the process.

Access to information is a civil right. It has it’s roots in legislative mandates, such as Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act, amended in 2008 (ADA). Section 508, a 1998 amendment to the Rehabilitation Act, requires Federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology, including websites and software, accessible to people with disabilities, which has broader and direct implications for organizations that receive Federal funds. Most recently and relevant to education was the reauthorization of IDEA in 2004, which has provisions for universal design for learning (UDL). The Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 has a provision for UDL, as well. (As an aside, you might be interested in reading the recent “Dear Colleague” letter that the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Department of Education jointly wrote to the presidents of all U.S. colleges and universities, advising them to not use ereaders that are inaccessible to students with blindness.)

With today’s tools, including those readily available to 1:1 MLTI schools, consistently meeting the legal mandates and – more importantly – doing the right thing has never been closer to conceivable. With awareness, knowledge, and skills (typically in that order), both teachers and students can become self-organizers of practices that model, promote, and foster accessibility for all individuals. I argue that this is an integral component of digital citizenship.

Here’s a classic example: Teachers and students are increasingly creating video to convey information in engaging and innovative ways. Indeed, video is a multimodal technology that can be effective for both teaching and learning. To be a model of UDL, however, even video needs to be scrutinized for accessibility for a wide range of learner needs and preferences. What are the abilities necessary to acquire information from a video? Consider students who are deaf or hard of hearing and learners for whom English is not their first language. Add closed captioning to the video and its content becomes inherently accessible to more students, and even embeds a literacy strategy for all learners.

With some training, coordination, and support from an administrator, teachers and students can accomplish closed captioning of their videos with a product like QuickTime, and begin modeling accessibility and digital citizenship for a wide audience.

A similar “barrier to learning” analysis can be conducted for all of the electronic information and digital instructional materials that we and our students create. And if we collaborate with students in this process, we’ll model and ultimately instill a disposition for doing the right thing.

A Discussion with Mount Desert Island High School: Notes from the June 3rd Webinar

June 7th, 2010 2 comments

Thanks to the folks who logged in Thursday afternoon or evening to participate in the webinar, Mount Desert Island High School: A Case Study for Integrating Accessible Instructional Materials (AIM) in the Content Areas. My guest facilitator was Paige Collins, MDI HS special education teacher and fellow member of Maine’s AIM Community of Practice. Additional guests included Mark Arnold (MDIHS technology integrator), Roberta Raymond (MDI HS special education teacher in the Life Skills program), and Casey Rush (MDI HS Drama/English teacher).

The topic of AIM in the content areas is important to the education of all students, but particularly for students with disabilities that interfere with their access to printed text. Print disabilities include blindness and low vision, certain physical conditions (e,g., a disability that interferes with physically turning the pages of a book), and specific learning disabilities, such as dyslexia. So, to put the need for – and implementation of – AIM into context, we explored the actions of these educators because MDI High School has begun to provide instructional materials in electronic formats for all students, so that it’s not necessarily an accommodation for students with unique needs. That is, it’s a model of universal design for learning (UDL) because all students have access to flexible formats of materials that inherently allow the use of assistive technologies, such as text to speech, screen magnification, and portable media players.

We set out with the essential question:
How does a school develop a system of differentiated instructional materials for all learners, including students with print disabilities? Read more…