ChromeVis: Free Tool for Chrome Users With Low Vision

ChromeVis is a simple Chrome extension for users with low vision. ChromeVis is simple to use and has many customization options. To use ChromeVis highlight the text you want magnified and then click on the ChromeVis icon in the top right of your Chrome window. To customize the appearance of ChromeVis right click on its icon and select options. To download ChromeVis for free click here.
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TextGrabber: Fast, Cheap, Accurate OCR app for iPhone

TextGrabber is a low cost OCR app for iPhone that quickly and accurately converts printed text into digital text that can be edited or read aloud using text-to-speech. Click here to download TextGrabber. The app is easy to use. Snap a photo of the text you want to read then crop the photo and finally read the text. TextGrabber only takes a few seconds to convert the printed text into a digital format. Once the text has been recognized you can have it read aloud to you using VoiceOver. TextGrabber can also translate captured text into many languages. One negative of TextGrabber is it does not have built in text-to-speech,  or Speak Selection, a new iOS 5 feature, does not work. In day-to-day use I found that TextGrabber and ZoomReader offer similar OCR speed and accuracy. To improve the accuracy turn on the flash while taking the picture. TextGrabber does not feature built in text-to-speech with highlighting while ZoomReader does not offer a cropping tool for removing unwanted text. To read more about ZoomReader click here. Click read more below to see screen shots and examples of TextGrabber in action,including a step- by -step depiction of TextGrabber converting a newspaper article.

Picture of Newspaper Article Taken with iPhone 4S camera.
Crop the Section You Want to Read
Press Read and Let it do its Work
Finish Product Ready to be Read by VoiceOver or Emailed.
Below is the text that was extracted. It is not perfect but is a par or better than most other OCR apps for iPhone.
^ Economic Slide Took A Detour at Capital Hill From Page Al group. Congress has never been place for paupers. From planta" tion owners in the pre-Civil War era to industrialists in the 1900s to ex-Wall Street financiers and Internet executives today, it has long been populated with"the rich, including scions of families like the Guggenheims, Hearsts. Kennedys and Rockefellers. But rarely has the divide ap- peared so wide, or the public con- trast so stark, between lawmak- ers and those they represent. The wealth gap may go largely unnoticed in good times. "But with the American public feeling all this economic pain, people just resent it more," said Alan J. Zio- browski, a professor at Georgia State who studied lawmakers' stock investments. There is broad debate about just why the wealth gap appears to be growing. For starters, the prohibitive costs of political cam- paigning may discourage the less affluent from even considering a candidacy. Beyond that, loose ethics controls, shrewd stock picks, profitable land deals, fa- vorable tax laws, inheritances and even marriages to wealthy spouses are all cited as possible explanations for the rising for- tunes on Capitol Hill. What is clear is that members of Congress are getting richer compared not only with the aver- age American worker, but also with other very rich Americans. While the median net worth of members of Congress jumped 15 percent from 2004 to 2010, the net worth of the richest 10 percent of Americans remained essentially Hat. For all Americans, median net worth dropped 8 percent, based on jnflation-adjusted data from Moody's Analytics. Going back further, the median wealth of House members grew some two and a half times be. tween 1984 and 2009 in inflation- adjusted dollars, while the wealth of'the average American family has actuaily declined slightly in that same time period, according Emmarie Huetteman and Derek Willts contributed rfmrtiw SJata cited by The Washington _'"an article published Mon- with millionaire status now the norm, the rarefied air in'the Capi- days is $100 million. lofty level appears to have surpassed by at least 10 members, led by Representative Issa, a California Repub- and former auto alarm mag- nate who is worth somewhere be- tween $195 million and $700 mil- lion. (Because federal law re- quires lawmakers to disclose their assets only in broad dollar ranges, more precise estimates are impossible.) Their wealth has created occa- sional political problems for Con- gress's richest. Mr. Issa, for instance, has faced outside scrutiny because of the overlap of his Congressional work and outside interests, in- eluding extensive investments with Wall Street firms like Merrill Lynch and Goldman Sachs, as well as land holdings in his San Diego district. In one case, he ob- tained some $800,000 in federal earmarks for a road-widening project running along his com- mercial property. Senator John Kerry, a Mas- sachusetts Democrat who is mar- ried to Teresa Heinz Kerry, set off an uproar last year when it was disclosed that he had docked his S7 million, 76-foot yacht not in his home state but in neighboring Rhode Island, which has no sales or use tax on pleasure boats. (Mr. Kerry, worth at least $181 million, voluntarily paid $400,000 in Mas- sachusetts taxes after criticism.) Representative Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic leader, was challenged about her wealth, as much as $196 million, by a member of her own party a few weeks ago. Representative Laura Richardson, a California Demo- crat who is among the poorest members of Congress with as much as $464,000 in debt, at- tacked Ms. Pelosi at a closed- door Democratic caucus meeting for endorsing a Congressional pay freeze, according to a report in PoHtico that was confirmed by other members. Ms. Richardson angrily told M, n^i^n: ..i--
Article from New York Times

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Add Quick Text-to-Speech Button to Microsoft Word

Microsoft Word has a hidden text-to-speech button built in. To access add the text-to-speech button to the quick access tool bar click on the down arrow in the top left corner of the screen. Next click on more commands and then click on all commands from the drop down menu. Finally click on speak from the list and then press add. To use the text-to-speech feature select the text you wish to have read and click on the text-to-speech button you just added to the top left corner of the screen. The text will be read allowed instantly. Click the button again to stop the text-to-speech. Watch the video above to learn more. Click read more below for step by step instructions.

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iOS 5 Tips: Use Assistive Touch to Replace and Broken Home Button, Lock Button or Volume Button

Assistive Touch is a new feature in iOS 5 that allows people with physical disabilities to better use their iOS device. To learn more about AssistiveTouch click here. To enable Assistive Touch go to Settings>General> Accessibility>Assistive Touch and then turn on Assistive Touch. A small round white button will then appear on your screen. When you touch the white button a list of commands will appear including a software home button, lock button and volume up and down button. You can now use these software buttons to replace your broken home button or any other broken buttons. You can drag the white button to different places on the screen for your convenience. Watch the video below to learn more.

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iOS 5 Tip: Look Up Any Word

A new feature in iOS 5 allows you to get a definition of any word from any app. To get a definition of a word simply select the word by holding down on it for a couple of seconds and then tap define. A dictionary will appear with that word defined. When you are done tap done to return to your app.
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iOS 5 Tips: Reader Eliminates Distractions

A new feature in iOS 5 called Reader makes reading articles on the web much easier. Many articles on the web are hard to read on the iPhone and iPod Touch's small screen. Reader also works on the iPad. To read the articles you must zoom in and deal with distractions such as advertisements. Reader solves this problem by taking out the advertisements and formatting the text perfectly. To activate Reader simply tap the Reader button in the address field. The address field is where you type the website address. After pressing the Reader button the article will appear perfectly formatted for your screen. To change the size of the text simply press the text size button in the top left of the screen then tap on the little A to make the text smaller and the big A to make the text bigger. When you are done reading the article simply tap done to continue to browse the web. Reader can enlarge the font substantially to assist people that have trouble reading small print. Click read more below to see more screen shots.

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Toon-ing in to Math

Now that we are on winter intersession, I wanted to take a moment to share some of our recent math work!

In an earlier post, I wrote about the amazing app, Toontastic, and how I hoped to use it in my math class. So far it's been going well! Students are creating math stories and problems to share with one another as well as short math instructional videos. The students have loved "toon-ing" in to math in this way. They have begun to link math to real world situations and also have begun to teach each other through video. Here is an example of a student-created review lesson about equivalent fractions.

Additionally, we have continued to use the screencasting whiteboard app, ShowMe, to share our math metacognition and practice problem solving skills. Here are a few newer examples of student work on this app as well. Note that the sound quality is still hit or miss. The students have been recording this without external microphones (i.e., only using the iPad 2's built-in mic). They are in a room of 33 4th/5th graders simultaneously recording ShowMe videos, Toontastic movies, discussing work in math problem solving centers and working in support groups with the teacher. Lots of ambient noise. I'd hoped to win a grant to purchase earbud/mic sets for each student, but unfortunately was not accepted. So for the time being, it looks like we'll have to make do. However, I think that though the quality of sound is not perfect, the student work and thinking comes across - and that's what really counts.

Jordyne's ShowMe: This student is sharing her knowledge of finding fractions of a set. Note her understanding of the relationship between multiplication and division and her use of math vocabulary. This was helpful for me to know as I worked with her.

Mavric's ShowMe: This student is sharing his synthesis of what we did in class last week. After watching his ShowMe, I worked with him on making clear the roles of numerator and denominator and discussed the WHY behind converting fractions-decimals-percents. We also worked on precise math language.

Nathaniel's ShowMe: This student was working on equivalent fractions. During our math meeting, we discussed the importance of math symbols (at one point he uses an addition symbol where he is multiplying).

Update: To see these 4th & 5th grade rockstars screencast and toon their way into science and social studies, check out my grade level partner's great blog!

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Google Dictionary Defines Any Word on the Web

Google Dictionary is a free extension available for Google Chrome. To download the extension click here. Once downloaded simply double click on any word on a web page to view its definition or hear the word read aloud. Google Dictionary is perfect for quickly looking up unfamiliar words. To learn about other Chrome extensions click here.
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Great List of Apps to Support Literacy

Greg O'Connor has put together a great list of apps for literacy support on To view the list click here. The list is broken into categories reading support, OCR, writing and notetaking support, mind mapping, organizational and study support and reference. Check out the list here.
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iBooks Update Adds Useful New Features

Apple recently updated its iBooks app to add more add more features and make reading easier. One of features adds a night time reading theme to make reading in the dark easier on you eyes. The new update also add several new fonts and makes highlighting and taking notes easier. Yet another new feature allows you to read your book in full screen mode. iBooks is available here for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch. 

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Whetting your APPetite Vol. 10: Virtual Manipulatives

I'm trying out a new app called Virtual Manipulatives (thanks to fellow CPS teacher Kim Darche for the recommendation). It's free and it hits not only equivalent fractions, but comparing/ordering fractions and converting between fractions/decimals/percents. Not bad for $0.00!

As I previously promised myself, before running with it whole-class, I had a "focus group" of kids try it out first. We did this today and they were all thumbs up; here are their reviews.

Based on their favorable responses, I'm going to load this app up to all devices and begin weaving it into my plans!

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iOS 5 Camera Accessibility

iOS 5 introduced many new accessibility features including Assistive Touch, Siri and Speak Selection. One hidden feature gives blind and visually impaired the ability to take pictures with VoiceOver and the built in camera on the iPad, iPod Touch or iPhone. Your iOS device will tell you how many people are in your picture and if the people are in the center of the screen so you can get the best shot. This is just on feature in a growing list of iOS accessibility features.
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iOS5 & Me

After reading this incredibly helpful guide by fellow Chicago iPadder Erik Unterschuetz, I decided to update my classroom's 32 iPads to iOS5. I already had installed Lion OSX onto my MacBook, so I figured that by using Erik's tips I'd be home free. So I smiled, took a deep breath and began the update. Over three hours later, I wasn't smiling anymore.

What took so long?
It wasn't a lack of support in Erik's guide. In fact, I'm positive that his step-by-step instructions shaved at least an hour off of the update time. So what was it?
- The restore to each iPad: I had over 10 movies to sync back to each device (thanks, flipped classroom). If you don't have that much media, it won't take as long for you.
- I had to manually re-enter credentials to the wireless network on each iPad. I don't know if this is a fun quirk of our wireless network of if this will be the case for everyone.
- I had to manually set up the new iPad's iOS (walking through a menu of prompts to enter the Apple ID, enable location services, etc.). That did take some time....
- I had to name each iPad with a unique 15-character CPS-centric naming convention. Perhaps your district won't expect this from you.
- As I was waiting on back ups, restores, downloads, etc - I tried to multi-task and do other things... and inevitably missed prompts to move on. I think if I had the patience to sit and do nothing else but update, it may have taken a little less time... perhaps a little over 2.5 hours instead of a little over 3.5.

After the update... was it worth it? Decide for yourself.

Features of iOS 5 that have been helpful in the classroom:
- 4 finger swipe multi tasking
Students can swipe with four fingers to change apps instead of double clicking to use more than one app at a time. They love this.

- Tabbed browsing in Safari
No more black box with a number in it to signify the number of windows open. Now there are tabs just like your laptop or desktop internet browser. Also very helpful when they are navigating between instructions on Edmodo and a Study Island assignment, etc.

- Increased Accessibility Features for Special Education & ESL students
There is an entire site on dedicated to this. Check it out if you haven't already!

iOS Features I've heard of but have yet to experience:
- Wireless syncing
Hypothetically I am supposed to now be able to sync the iPads wirelessly - no sync cart needed. I've yet to see this... It may be that my iPads aren't all logged in to my Apple ID yet... it took so long to sync them I gave up trying to enter it into each one manually. I'll try to do this over break and see if it works.

- Airplay wireless Mirroring
iOS5 + $99 Apple TV = wireless projection of everything you do on an iPad to a projector or TV screen. Everything. Whereas with the iPad to VGA adapter, not everything happening on your iPad screen appears in the projection (for example in PaperPort Notes, it doesn't show the annotation buttons so when I try to teach my kids what to tap to change font size, I have to use my iPevo or another doc cam), an Apple TV projects everything. I have seen this in action at the Apple office, but our school's wireless network won't play nice with the Apple TV. We're working on getting this fixed, but hopefully I can test this out soon! Imagine: A student is working on a ShowMe and I call on him to share it - with a tap of his finger his iPad is magically appearing on the projector screen. I told the students about this capability and they literally clapped.

For more info, or to see these features in action, check out this video on the Apple site.

So was the update worth it? I think so... eventually it had to happen. Some apps no longer run well on iOS4 and demand the iOS5 update. The Airplay wireless mirroring offers a myriad of opportunities... i.e., you could replace an interactive whiteboard for less than $600 (1 iPad + Apple TV).

The students also seem to notice the difference. I teach the students what I'm doing as I'm doing it. So they know that I spent all that time doing the update. They know what an iOS means and what it stands for. They know the difference between iOS4 and iOS5. I joke that my 4th and 5th graders could probably get summer jobs at the Apple Store's Genius Bar. As my kids continue to use this new operating system, I'm sure more features will come to light and I'll be happy to share them here.

Have you noticed anything amazing about this new iOS in your classroom?
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Android Becomes More Accessible With 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich

Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich has improved the accessibility of Android. Ice Cream Sandwich is not available on all Android devices but will become more widespread through out the coming months. Google has added a feature to Android called Explore-By-Touch. The new built in screen reader allows users to navigate on screen items without seeing the screen. The new addition will enable disabled users to use the many thousands of Android devices. While Google is attempting to compete with Apple's iOS software in accessibility the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch still offer more accessibility options for disabled users. To learn more about VoiceOver click here.
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Dragon NaturallySpeaking

Dragon NaturallySpeaking is a speak recognition program that allows you to control your computer and dictate with your voice. Dragon NaturallySpeaking includes a headset with a microphone for uses with the program. Dragon NaturallySpeaking has excellent speak recognition accuracy at fast speeds. Dragon allows users to browse the web, write emails and compose and edit Microsoft Office documents with your voice. In addition Dragon can transcribe audio files into text after it was recorded. For example, if you are on the go you can record your voice with an audio recorder and then uses Dragon to make a text document from the audio file. Dragon has numerous commands that you can use to control your computer. You can say, "search the web for..." or "correct that" or "strike that" or 'scroll down" along with many other commands. Because their are so many commands there is a learning curve for new Dragon users. Luckily once you learn the commands that you will use most Dragon can improve the time it take you to perform common tasks. Dragon's speech recognition accuracy is very good out-of-the-box but you can train Dragon by reading text aloud to help improve the accuracy. Creating text documents with Dragon is also quicker and easier with voice. Using Dragon it is easier to get your ideas down on paper and using voice is much quicker than typing. If you have an iOS device you can use it as a remote microphone using the Dragon Remote Microphone available here. To learn more about other Dragon products from Nuance click here, here and here. This product was provided complementary to the reviewer.

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Notability Promo Code Giveaway

Below is a promo code for Notability. To learn more about Notability click here. To win the app enter the code into iTunes. The first person to enter the code will win the Notability app for iPad. Once one person enters the code it will no longer work. If you do not win check back later for another code. Good Luck!

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My Brave and Amazing Colleagues

As mentioned in an earlier post, our school has the great fortune to have expanded our iPad program from one classroom last year to 9 classrooms this year. With this expansion, my role has changed from a classroom teacher and new teacher mentor to classroom teacher/new teacher mentor/STEM coach/tech coordinator/iPad program lead. While this was also an intimidating prospect, I was excited to begin the year and learn with my new iPad colleagues.

As with any expansion, I expected there to be some growing pains. I also expected there to be amazing learning and progress on both the part of the teachers and students.  Well, I expected amazing, but what I got was awe-inspiring. These new iPad teachers have taken simple suggestions, quick overviews of SAMR and innovation philosophy, and a handful of quality apps - and each have created their own innovative learning spaces. What I'm most impressed by are two teachers who originally were self-proclaimed technophobes. They both saw the potential in bringing iPads into their classrooms and were both excited at the opportunity; yet neither had experience with these devices nor the Mac operating system in general. They expressed great fear and discomfort with the new technology but applied for the iPads nonetheless.

What has set this cohort of new iPad teachers apart from others are 3 main things:
- willingness to learn a new skill set and go "back to basics" / coachability
- perseverance despite frequent frustration
- creativity & collaboration

Willingness to learn a new skill set and go "back to basics" / coachability
I recently wrote this post about the necessity to break down your notions of teaching and learning and rebuild it with an effective use of available technology (rather than trying to insert technology into your existing framework). This means that veteran, successful teachers will experience a period (sometimes a long period) of feeling like a first-year teacher. This isn't comfortable and oftentimes takes a blow to your self-esteem as a practitioner. Furthermore, teachers who are used to being the expert in their field - the person to whom others go to for support - are suddenly having to be coached. While in theory one may argue that we are never done learning our craft and teachers should be used to ongoing coaching no matter their level, this isn't always the case. There are teachers who are seen as "master mentor teachers" and have rarely been on the other side of the table.

A good many of my colleagues who embarked on this iPad expansion were considered "master mentor teachers". Their classrooms ran themselves and their students ended the year self-motivated, thoughtful scholars. We all look to them for examples of best practice. And yet once we added iPads to the equation, they were suddenly facing areas of complete ignorance - how do you close a window in Safari? How do you right-click on a Mac? What is screencasting? How do you sync an app, let alone multiple apps? What is iOS?! Each of these teachers jumped in with two feet - not only willing to learn and start anew, but positively hungering for the new information. This was the first key step to their success.

Perseverance despite frequent frustration
As I've chronicled in this blog, bringing in the iPads to my room last year resulted in lots of "hiccups." And perhaps a few more dramatic issues. I lost entire unit of writing that my 50 students had been working on by overwriting the files in the iDisk. I thought I had synced an ePub to all the iPads during an observation and realized I had not... and had nothing else planned for that period. I didn't realize a website ran on flash and had created my lesson around it. You know, that sort of thing. There were many times last year where I wanted to throw my hands up in the air and declare - "I GIVE UP!"

This is where my colleagues now find themselves. The kindergarten teacher recently had to sync a new app to all of her iPads. After completing a few, she checked an iPad and the data from one of her key apps - SmartyPantsSchool - was seemingly wiped clean. Three months of individualized assessment data for her 28 kindergarteners, gone. Possibly worse - each of her students would now have to start over despite all the progress they had already made. Instead of panicking, or throwing in the towel, she took a deep breath, turned to her co-teachers and starting working out a Plan B. I was amazed by how she took it in stride and persevered despite this blow. In the end, we were able to recover the data and move on!

Creativity & Collaboration
iPads in the classroom is still a very young field; there is not a lot of published data to point the way to best practices or models for integration or redefinition. Therefore a lot of this is about making it up as you go - and when you run into a road block, getting creative. These teachers have each taken it upon themselves to read blogs, email me or their Apple coach, Tweet, Facebook, etc - to find new ways to solve old problems. What's more is that they are even beginning to share their journeys with others. The kindergarten teacher - one of my two self-dubbed technophobes - has taken her coaching sessions with me and her own dogged persistence in learning the operation of the Mac and iPad OS and begun to chronicle her learning in her own blog. After a quick Google Hangout and a few in-person tips, she is now not only creating her own screenshot documents for her Kindergarteners to track their own data, she has transformed into a newborn EduBlogger! (Check out her amazing journey at iPads in Kindergarten!)


I've seen other models - both this year and last - which have had less success. I've found that this has had little to do with the quality of the teachers (although this does play an important factor - inserting iPads into an already dysfunctional classroom may only exacerbate the issues). Great practitioners have been lucky enough to gain access to a 1-to-1 set of iPads only to use them as a reading games center for 15 minutes a day. What has pushed this expansion forward has been a testament to the amazing disposition of the 8 teachers I am so lucky to work with on this amazing project. I hope to loop in more of our talented staff soon and that these 8 can go on to mentor them in their iPad adventure.

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Notability Promo Code Giveaway

Below is a promo code for Notability. To learn more about Notability click here. To win the app enter the code into iTunes. The first person to enter the code will win the Notability app for iPad. Once one person enters the code it will no longer work. If you do not win check back later for another code. Good Luck!

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Notability Promo Code Giveaway

Below is a promo code for Notability. To learn more about Notability click here. To win the app enter the code into iTunes. The first person to enter the code will win the Notability app for iPad. Once one person enters the code it will no longer work. If you do not win check back later for another code. Good Luck!

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Great Blog Post about Google + Apple

I've long said that Google and Apple should get together and have a baby. A Gapple. Or perhaps an Appgle. Or a Goople? Whatever you'd call it, both companies offer some amazing products for the classroom that would be better off working together instead of against each other.

My friend and fellow Apple Distinguished Educator, Chad Kafka (who is also a Google Certified Teacher), has written this informative yet persuasive blog post that eloquently calls for a union between these two tech giants. He brings up many good points and shares some interesting facts about their relationship. After reading it, all I could say was, "Yeah! What he said!"

Take a look and join the cause!
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PaperPort Notes is Out! (Noterize 2.0)

For those of you who have been waiting for the Noterize (PDF annotation app I recently blogged about) update... it's here! And free!

So exciting. Get 'em while they're hot! 
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Dragon Express: Control Your Mac by Voice

Today, Nuance released Dragon Express for the Mac. Dragon Express allows users to preform key functions solely with the sound of their voice. The app is available here on the Mac app store for $49. Dragon Express can send emails, search with spotlight, post Twitter and Facebook updates, search the web and more. Dragon Express is an introductory product designed for people who are new to voice recognition. Dragon Express lacks many key features of the more expensive Dragon Dictate. See the comparison chart below to see the difference between Dragon Express and Dragon Dictate.

Dragon Express uses Nuance's great speech recognition technology to accurately turn your voice into text. Nuance claims that using Dragon is three times faster than typing. To learn about Dragon apps for iOS click here. Stay tuned for more about Dragon Naturally Speaking. Click read more below to view screen shots of Dragon Express and read the press release.

Nuance Press Release

BURLINGTON, Mass., Nov 10, 2011 (BUSINESS WIRE) — Nuance Communications, Inc., today announced the immediate availability of Dragon Express, an introductory voice recognition app for Mac OS X Lion. Dragon Express is an easy and fun way to put words to work without the hassle of typing, allowing users to do more in less time. Dragon Express is available exclusively for download from Apple’s Mac App Store.
Dragon Express is the latest member of the Dragon family of speech recognition software that lets people control a computer with their voice. It’s the fast, hands-free way to turn speech into text, whether sending email, surfing the Web or posting an update to Facebook and Twitter. Dragon provides an easy, natural way to get more done in less time. Dragon Express is priced to provide the broadest range of people with an opportunity to experience the power and performance of speech recognition.
“Dragon Express is a great app for those who are new to speech recognition or who are looking for an easy-to-use dictation tool that allows them to use their voice instead of typing,” said Peter Mahoney, senior vice president and general manager, Dragon, Nuance. “For those looking for a more full-featured speech recognition program, we recommend Dragon Dictate, which provides the full capabilities of advanced speech recognition technology.”
Dragon Express can be conveniently accessed from the menu bar at any time and doesn’t require a network connection. Users dictate directly into the Dragon Express window, using the internal Mac microphone or a USB headset microphone (which can be purchased via ), and the text instantly appears in the Dragon Express window. When finished, Dragon Express places the transcribed text into the application of choice. The download comes with a short enrollment so that the app can better recognize a user’s unique voice.
Dragon Dictate, the most full-featured and advanced speech recognition software for Mac OS, was recently updated to version 2.5. Dragon Dictate 2.5 includes many features beyond those in Dragon Express. These features include the ability to dictate directly into applications, edit, format and correct recognition errors by voice, open and close applications by voice, control the mouse by voice, create custom voice commands and support for the recently released Dragon Remote Mic app for iPhone.
Dragon Express Details
Media: Application download from the Mac App Store available here. Pricing: Introductory price of $49.99 Platform: OS X Lion only Languages: English (US and UK) System Requirements: OS X Lion
About Nuance Communications, Inc
Nuance Communications, Inc. is a leading provider of voice and language solutions for businesses and consumers around the world. Its technologies, applications and services make the user experience more compelling by transforming the way people interact with devices and systems. Every day, millions of users and thousands of businesses experience Nuance’s proven applications. For more information, please visit .
Trademark reference: Nuance, Dragon and the Nuance logo are registered trademarks or trademarks of Nuance Communications, Inc. or its affiliates in the United States and/or other countries. All other company names or product names referenced herein may be the property of their respective owners.

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Hidden Keyboard Enhancement Built Into iOS 5

A newly discovered feature in iOS 5 adds an auto correction bar above the keyboard. The feature has not been enabled in iOS 5, but may be coming in the near future.This feature is currently available on other mobile operating systems such as Android and Blackberry. Currently it is possible to enable this feature but it is not recommended and could effect your device. When or if this feature is released it will improve typing speed and assist poor spellers. If the feature ever becomes available it will add to the accessibility of iOS. To learn more about assistive technology to help poor spellers click here. To learn about iOS 5 and iPhone 4s accessibility click here.
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Oregon Using the iPad to Assist Disabled Voters

Oregon is testing the iPad to assist disabled voters and allow them to vote privately. Some Oregon voters that are unable to vote using paper ballets will be able to vote using the iPad in tomorrow's election as part of a pilot program. Voters with visual impairments, physical disabilities, dyslexia and other disabilities that make voting with paper ballets difficult will be able to vote using a custom iPad app. The app will have the ability to enlarge font size, improve contrast and read text aloud to assist disabled voters. The app also works with VoiceOver for improved accessibility. Blind voters will be able to connect their Braille displays to the iPad via Bluetooth in order to read the ballets. Users that use Bluetooth accessories will be able to connect them to the iPad in order to vote.  The app will allow disabled voters to make their selections privately without election officials knowing which candidates the voter selected. Election officials made the following comments about voter privacy. 
"Some people want to vote independently, and they're the ones that we're talking to." 
Laws require people with disabilities to have equal access and privacy while voting.

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Kids Kinect in the Classroom

On Friday a colleague and I went to the Microsoft Training Center to learn more about how we could use the XBox Kinect in the classroom. I'm not going to lie; I was extremely skeptical. In considering this tech against my recent obsession with the SAMR innovation continuum, I felt that the Kinect was barely on the second level (augmentation). It seemed little more than an elaborate gimmick to engage kids, further limited by the fact that it could truly only engage 1-2 students at a time.

As we participated in this day-long training, I began to feel that my doubts were justified. The titles offered - Kinect Sports, Body and Brain Connection, Once Upon a Monster and the upcoming National Geographic game - were all interesting but seemed to lack true educational substance. The Body and Brain Connection, for example, has some good algebraic concepts involved, but certain levels could allow a child to guess consistently and attain a high score.

It wasn't until the afternoon that I began to change my thinking. The presenter explained how counselors were using the XBox Live's Avatar Kinect to allow students to discuss their issues anonymously. Think of a confessional in which you speak through a curtain - however this curtain is the XBox Live environment and you get the added benefit of an avatar that translates your facial emotive moves, body movement, etc. The wheels began to turn and I started chatting with a colleague from another school about integrating this concept into our Social Emotional Learning periods such as Morning Meeting.

What if my class submitted issues from within our classroom community, and the students from my friend's school discussed them - and vice versa. Then on a designated day each week, we could meet up in our Avatar Kinect environment - protected by anonymity - to offer possible responses to these classroom community issues. We could further the concept of "walking in someone else's shoes" by having students appear as avatars contrary to their body type, race or gender.

I see my students also utilizing their iPad technology to blog about their reactions, participate in back channel discussion about what they are observing or participating in and sharing audio/visual artifacts with their peers in the XBox Live Avatar Kinect.

Another interesting thought is the taking advantage of Kinect SDK (software development kit) to build apps better suited for the educational environment. Johnny Kissko, an ADE friend and tech whiz, has created the website Kinect Education to promote the creation and sharing of Kinect for education apps. I hope to learn more about this but know I have a ton to learn about programming before I could dream to do this myself. I can, however, dream of apps that could be made: A dynamic geometry app in which my students can unfold polyhedrons into their nets, then refold then and explore volume, surface area and geometric features (edges, vertices, etc.). A celestial exploration in which students are walking across the surface of Mars, floating through the asteroid belt, digging through the chemistry of the sun. A number sense activity where students create arrays and divide quantities into groups - using their bodies.

All in all, do I think that the Kinect games themselves will provide much more than engagement and incentive for my students? Not really. However do I think that the Kinect sensor technology offers some interesting Redefinition opportunities for the classroom? Why yes, I do. Let the experimentation begin.
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