Saturday, November 28, 2009

AT MODULE 5 Curriculum Connections

Digital Citizenship/Guidelines for Communicating in a Digitized World
There are so many aspects of the cyber world that people tend to forget rules of etiquette still apply, as well as being personally careful when online. Being careful online can be from the information that is retrieved (anybody can put anything on the web, does not mean it is factual—must evaluate websites) to one’s own personal information that is shared and how it is shared. Take for example, an employee who bashes a superior in an email (& sends to all by mistake—uh oh). Do you remember when the reigning Miss New Jersey found herself in an awkward and embarrassing situation as Facebook photos that she thought were on a private setting were leaked to the media. Certainly, it is something important to relate and teach our students.

--What one thing did you learn, and what will you do differently as a result?
In particular, through these modules, I was shown the advantages of even the smallest changes to computer hardware as well as various learning software when utilizing technology. As a result, I am more aware of simple accommodations that can be made within the learning environment. I will also be able to implement assistive strategies into the learning environment (especially the addition of more tactile methods) as well as recommend methods of support for my students.

--Do you plan to recommend this tutorial? If so, please elaborate.

I think this would make a wonderful in-service within my school. Groups could work together to achieve understanding together.

--Do you plan to read or recommend some of the Recommended Reading books or add them to your collection?

After viewing the recommended reading list, I plan to read The Alphabet War: A Story about Dyslexia and Becoming Naomi Leon. One book already apart of the district curriculum is the novel A Child Called "It." I read Deenie and found it to be a valuable story incorporating the frustration of a young adult. I would recommend Peeling the Onion by Wendy Orr. In this book, the main character is involved in a horrific car accident leaving her with a long recovery and the realization that she is unable to do many of the normal things in her life. The story captures the changes she endures, not only physically but also personally as challenges have a way of changing friendships and outlooks. As she heals, she must accept what has happened, find a new path for her life, and realize some people have difficulty dealing with her injuries. She despises the only conversation anyone will have with her pertains to her condition, the feeling people are always staring, and her “friends” just not understanding. It makes the reader wonder how they would handle this challenge and provide insight into a life altering experience.
(Orr, W. (1996). Peeling the onion. New York: Bantam Doubleday Dell Books for Young Readers. YALSA 2010 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults )

Thursday, November 26, 2009


Part 1—Making a slight variation in order to incorporate a timely event that occurred in my school district. The mayor, along with police chief, moved around the municipal building in wheelchairs as part of the “accessibility tour,” organized by a disability advocate and the New Jersey metro chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. The men found difficulties with the task, even though the building was compliant with all proper accommodations. As a result of the “tour,” the mayor would like to form a township advisory committee to improve mobility within the town. Full story:

Part 2-- Disabilities awareness quiz
In taking the disabilities awareness quiz, I did very well on the sections pertaining to correct language and recognizing the employment myths. In the personal interactions portion, what I deemed to be correct in order to not offend was actually inaccurate---for example, offering your left hand to a person who puts out their left hand or at what point to offer assistance. I liked the discussion elements provided by the activity that explains the reasoning behind the answers.

Part 3-- Positive and negative aspects observed on the sites.

There is an independent living center in the same town as my school district. Their mission and message is clear although their website could use some more readily available information in terms of education, information and support. As stated within the website, “The Alliance for Disabled in Action (ADA), Inc. is a private not-for-profit Center for Independent Living, located in Edison, New Jersey USA and serves the counties of Union, Middlesex and Somerset. A Center for Independent Living (CIL) is not a place where people with disabilities live; it is a dynamic membership organization run by people with disabilities for people with disabilities. The Alliance provides information & referral, peer support, advocacy and Independent Living Skill training to people with all disabilities of all ages to increase their independence in all aspects of integrated community life. We respond to their families, businesses, and governments to enable them to better meet the needs of people with disabilities. We educate and influence our community in pursuit of full inclusion”.

The local ATA community site was extremely informative. It fulfilled its goal while creating a manageable site. It was FULL of readily available information. For example, according to its site, specifically “TECHConnection, seeks to redefine human potential by making assistive technology devices a regular part of the lives of people with disabilities. It strives to accomplish this goal by providing easy access to the assistive technologies, related services, and information resources that enable people to achieve success, independence, productivity, and social interdependence according to their individual needs and interests”.

Part 4—5 websites relating to assistive technology that proved to be useful are:

Connecting the disability community to information and opportunities

Family guide to assistive technology prepared by PLUK, Parents, Let's Unite for Kids and in cooperation with The Federation for Children with Special Needs

The Alliance for Technology Access (ATA) is a growing national and international network of technology resource centers, community-based organizations, agencies, individuals, and companies.

Kids Together, Inc—Information and resources for children and adults with disabilities.

The Assistive Technology Training Online Project (ATTO) provides information on AT applications that help students with disabilities learn in elementary classrooms.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


• Write a review on the software packages
—all 3 had excellent informative websites with Kurzweil 3000 being the most informative and user friendly.


Company: Founded in 1982, Inspiration Software’s focus has been developing innovative technology to support visual thinking and learning.

Software: Minimum Windows 98/2000, all other versions compatible, 50 MB fully installed, Recommended Internet & Quicktime. Price ranges with options including single user to license.

Program: According to Inspiration systems website (2009), the program is an essential visual thinking and learning tool where students can plan, research and complete projects successfully. With the integrated Diagram and Outline Views, learners create graphic organizers and expand topics into writing. With multiple learning modes, students gain and retain a better understanding of concepts and demonstrate knowledge, improving their performance across the curriculum. Winner of the “Technology & Learning” Award, 2006.

Features: Concepts maps, webs, idea maps in order to visually plan, organize, research, comprehend and communicate more effectively,


Company/System: Interactive Solutions, Inc. (ISI), a subsidiary of Teltronics, Inc. since 1999. Must have working knowledge of Windows 2000 to properly use software. Expensive.

Program: iCommunicator is a software program that converts speech to text in real-time to provide persons who are deaf, hard of hearing or have hearing loss to have effective communication in authentic environments.

Features: iCommunicator promotes independent communication for persons who are deaf or hard-of-hearing and encourages increased literacy by “translating” English in real time in a number of ways: Speech to Text, Speech/Text to Video Sign-Language, Speech/Text to Computer Generated Voice.

Also adjusts to meet the needs of each user by speed changes, adjustable voice & pitch, changeable background colors, easy navigation, autosave, adjust typeface, formulate questions and statements for immediate response in class, during meetings, or personal conversations, hot keys allow 21 prepared sentences to be spoken with computer-generated voice, and microphone control.

3. KURZWEIL 3000

Company/System: Kurzweil Educational Systems, Inc., a Cambium Learning Technology Company, was founded in 1996, but the roots of the company extend back to 1976 and the introduction of the world's first reading system, the Kurzweil Reading Machine.
Software: Various editions to fulfill a range of needs—Options include portable USB (no software installation—highly mobile), lab pack (1 main/5 learner stations), network (any network computer can access), license (no software stored on school network but rather through a web approach, more access for students including at home). Moderate price.

Program: According to the website (2006), Kurzweil 3000 is the comprehensive reading, writing and learning software solution for any struggling reader, including individuals with learning difficulties, such as dyslexia, attention deficit disorder or those who are English Language Learners.
Features: The system can be used in a variety of ways for various students. It provides visual & auditory feedback, highlighting text, annotations, editing, and voice notes.

• How can you implement assistive technology at your school or library?

There are many ways to implement assistive technology within a classroom or library. With just a little research and awareness, it can be done with relative ease.

First, by examining the accessibility features and utilities built right into Microsoft® Windows XP (Professional and Home versions), the computer can be made easier and more comfortable to use., For example, accessibility features and utilities such as captions, magnifiers, text to speech, alternative keyboard layout, narrator, and even an on screen keyboard to name a few can all be made available by simply just changing the default settings. Each classroom computer can be made more assistive by changing the settings (or at least being aware of them in order to be prepared—I personally was unaware of these accessibility features).

Second, through available software, teaching techniques can be modified to offer alternative means of learning. For example, by using more visuals and graphic organizer material can be presented in an alternative form. Furthermore, software that allows for practice as well as organization of the reading material will benefit ALL students.

Finally, the library should have adaptive equipment that an individual classroom would be unable to manage. Adaptive equipment that should be available would include larger keyboards, magnified screen, icommunicator, a Braille converter/ Braille embosser, stylus and participation in InfoEyes. Along with making adaptive equipment available within the library, there should be an effort to make various assistive technologies available for loan such as Braille and cassette books, playback equipment, and access to ebooks/audiobooks.

Friday, November 20, 2009


• Write a needs assessment and justification for hardware that would be suitable for use in your Library or Classroom. Include it in your school or district technology plan.

1) Identify a possible population with special needs (state why that's a good group to choose).

Students with learning disabilities (dyslexia and Central Auditory Processing Disorder) struggle with schoolwork regardless of their intellectual abilities. They require specialized learning modes in order to meet their potential, avoid self-esteem problems and behavioral difficulties. Furthermore, the school recently failed to meet the AYP (adequate yearly progress) for 2 consecutive years for special education students under the terms of No Child Left Behind. Moreover, many of these additions would help the student population as a whole.

2) Answer the questions on their behalf found on, keeping in mind use as it applies to your chosen library.
Why do you want to use technology?
Promote multisensory learning, allow visual transfer, utilization of type written exercises, provide organization, editing applications (including spell check), taped texts that provide for simultaneous reading and listening, organization
For what activities will you be using technology?
Complete assignments, increase understanding, self tutoring, drill & practice, alternate assessment, added mobility, organization, self editing for improved writing
How are you completing these activities now?
Without the use of technology—laborious and frustrating handwritten exercises, written planner, handheld dictionaries, classroom text as only option to content
Consider your daily routine. When and how often would you use technology throughout a typical day?
During class activities, homework, study hall time….at least 6-9 hours
What goals do you plan on achieving by using technology?
Increase understanding, successful completion of assessment, on time task completion, maintain independence, and increase overall achievement
Are these environments accessible for technology?
Lab can be created in library, classroom can house single computers, individual students with hand led devices will blend with the routine
Time saving, more focused

3) Go to the MS right tech site for appropriate tech tools.
According to
Technology Tools assist students by "leveling the playing field". Students with dyslexia are better able to compensate using technology tools while learning to spell, read, write, and communicate according to H. Lee Swanson, Ph.D. University of California - Riverside.
Helpful Technology tools:
Talking organizer, Spellchecker and dictionaries, screen readers, scanners, MP3 player, audio ebooks, typing tutorials, digital handheld organizers, word processing (laptops/Alpha smarts)

4) Decide which tools would be feasible and why (e.g., cost, availability, training needs, etc.).

Feasible tools available for loan and/or lab-classroom set up:
Neo/Dana (similar to laptop)
MP3 Player
Spell Checker
Large Screen
Large Keyboards
Update/more Computers

Justification: All items would not require training, would enhance the learning environment and increase student achievement. They are efficient, affordabile, portable, multi functional, meet the needs of a variety of students, and will created a varied learning environment.


• Browse through online sites like EnableMart and discover other types of assistive technology solutions. Write an entry in your journal or post to your blog about solutions that would be useful additions at your school or workplace.
EnableMart is filled to the brim with assistive technology. The most practical solution would be to create an accessible work station within the library. Useful additions at my school would be:
1. Supernova Reader/Magnifier which offers magnification, speech and Braille support, giving people with visual impairment the freedom to access Windows in the way that suits them best. This takes the place of the various software offered to enlarge the screen and/or provide screen reading.

2. Touch screen “replace” the standard computer mouse by allowing direct interaction with the screen with a finger, pen or other pointing device. These products can be used by individuals who have difficulty manipulating a mouse.
3. Large print keyboard/desktop magnifier

4. Learning software such as the visual software, Inspiration and writing help with ClaroRead Plus.

Discover how to implement simple accommodations in various situations. Write about three (3) such situations and how you might change the environment to assist your student or co-worker.
1. Allow students to type homework and outlines/students can record lectures to listen and transcribe later.

2. When student takes exams provided extended time, offer option to have questions verbally given, and exams can be delivered in student’s preferred modality (spoken, typed) rather than traditional pen/paper.

3. Provide textbooks on tape and enlarge print of all handout materials.

• Identify and comment, in your own words, about any of the websites referenced above that you found particularly helpful in developing your knowledge about assistive technology.
This site provides links to many adaptive computer products, broken down by category, as well as literature, programs, and funding sources.
The AT Basic Modules provide general assistive technology information on a variety of related uses for elementary students with disabilities. They include links to tutorials on the setup and use of several products as well as links to related resources. This was a GREAT SITE and very easy to navigate.
Provides information about many available assistive technologies.

• What are your thoughts about the different types of hardware. Comment on each on your blog or in your journal.
The various types of hardware have made a great impact on the lives of people afflicted with muscular or neurological disorders. The changes in hardware have provided many advantages in some cases a sense of independence. As the videos have shown, a computer can be manipulated with one’s head or feet, rather than the traditional (and sometimes uncooperative) mouse. With this, independence can be attained for individuals as they can operate the computer on their own. In addition, assistive technology allows students to interact in mainstream settings.

Saturday, November 7, 2009


The National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD) link for teachers in order to provide assistance for learning disabled (LD) students was helpful as well as reassuring. Some of the strategies offered I already incorporate into my classroom activities for ALL my students; everyone can benefit from the various teaching methods I utilize. For example, I have my students read small passages, answer pointed questions, model outlines on a project screen to maintain on task behavior and HIGHLIGHT key information. In addition, the NCLD suggested incorporating various MULTISENSORY approaches as well as technology. I probably can incorporate more multisensory. I do outline maps but perhaps creating more physical elements would be beneficial. In addition, a LD student would require more structure to the lesson, step by step instructions, and more time to complete tasks.

If a student is blind, a Braille converter is needed for all text materials but many simple modifications can also be made within the classroom. Being that eyesight is only 1/5 of the way to obtain information, there is a multitude of other ways to demonstrate concepts. This would include incorporating tactile teaching methods such as texture, movement, and sound. Furthermore, to also incorporate mainstream students into the world of the blind student, labeling items of the classroom surroundings in Braille will allow other students an opportunity to experience their classmate’s reading style. Finally, student partnerships would also be very effective not only for a blind student but for all students in order to engage in peer problem solving—a more active learning approach.