Techmatrix Makes Finding and Comparing Assistive Technology Easy provides a free service to help people with disabilities find appropriate technology to fit their needs. Techmatix allows you to search for assistive technology devices by many categories including disability, grade level and content area. When you select the categories that you are interested in Techmatrix produces a list of technologies that could help you. Then you can select products you are interested in to have them compared. Techmatrix can compare multiple technologies with a comprehensive check-list of features. Techmatrix is funded by the US Department of Education. If you are looking for technologies to help someone with a disability Techmatrix is an excellent resource.  
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Reflecting on my iPad Grant Thus Far... A Story of Celebrating Failure

If you have been a regular reader of this blog, it is clear that this year's 1-to-1 iPad grant has revolutionized teaching and learning for myself and my students. From standardized test scores to portfolio student work and testimonials, I have buckets and buckets of "data" to demonstrate that - when integrated effectively and with the right mindset - iPads can transform a classroom into a magical, collaborative, yet still individualized learning environment.

So, the most popular question I am repeatedly asked is, "What made your iPad integration successful?" For the sake of efficiency, I thought I'd share my answer here.

The simple answer to this question is:
It wasn't successful. 
Well, not at first.


This is the story I always tell folks: It is the week before the 2010-2011 school year is to begin. I'm about to go to sleep when I hear my phone's email alert go off. After checking my messages, I immediately begin to cry uncontrollably. Looking over my shoulder, Husband sees that my school has won an iPad grant. He wraps his arms around me and says, "Oh Jennie, that's so sweet... you're so happy that you're crying." I shake my head and blow my nose loudly. "No," I sob, "I'm not crying because I'm happy. I'm crying because now I actually have to do all that stuff we wrote about in the grant."

And so the year began. The iPads arrived two days before the students, marking the first time I'd ever touched one of these devices. I told myself, "Well, how hard can this be? I'm getting free technology. These little doohickeys will probably engage the kids simply by being 'cool.' I can't mess this up. No problem."

Mmm hmm... Famous last thoughts. The next two months were a hot mess. Not much progress being seen from my class. A lot more crying (me, not the kids). Poor Husband suffering the terrible wrath of Teacher-Wife gone mad. Around the end of September I knew that I needed to regroup and reevaluate. So I took a step back and did some serious reflecting.

What had I been doing so far with this technology?
- iPad Games Apps instead of Everyday Math Games
- Typing notes on iPads instead of on paper
- Worksheet Apps instead of Everyday Math journal pages / math boxes
- Using the iPad as a slate instead of the dry erase boards
- Using the iPad to surf the Internet
- In short... things were going... okay. Nothing to write home about. Not what I would consider "worthy" of a $20,000 grant.

Clearly it was time for a revolution.

I began to realize that the problem was my attitude and understanding of how the iPads should be utilized in the classroom. I saw the iPads as a supplement to my pre-existing curriculum; something I could just tack on to what I thought I was already doing well. I was spending most of my time hunting for content apps that fit what I had always done. This was simply the wrong way to look at technology. If I hoped to truly revolutionize and rebuild my classroom, I had to be willing to do some demolition work first.

I started by mentally "trashing" my understandings of how a classroom operates and what I had "always done" or "always taught." I then started over with a few Utopian goals in mind. If I could magically conjure an ideal classroom, what would I ask for? Though I could name countless desires, I settled on three main goals:

- Increased differentiation
- Robust, efficient assessment
- Increased student access to teachers

Next, I considered: can the iPads address any of these ideas? I was surprised to find that iPads not only address all three, they address them all quite well.

I then redesigned my classroom, instruction and pedagogy around my three goals with iPads as the infrastructure. I began to create interactive video mini lessons to increase both differentiation and student access to teachers. I utilized Google Forms, e-Clicker and Edmodo to not only create a faster feedback loop for assessment (allowing for same-day differentiated groupings based on exit tickets), but also allowing me to tailor assessment questions to individual students. Through technology based reflections, mood check-ins and student-teacher blogging, I was able to make each student feel more connected to the adults in my classroom, thereby increasing student trust and making each child feel more "heard" throughout the day.

Throughout this re-tooling of my iPad implementation, I also focused on the question: 'What can I do with these devices that would be impossible to do without them?' In other words, I was hoping to create new teaching methods and classroom strategies rather than replace old ones. This led to an increase in student creation. Instead of simply replacing paper math games with flashy video math games, I began to have students create their own math videos, write math blogs and conduct Challenge Based Learning math projects.

Instead of being an afterthought tacked on to my curriculum, my iPads had become the epicenter. They were out all day, every day and were being pushed to their limit so that my students could be pushed to theirs. As a result I saw ten times the growth in standardized test scores this year as compared to last year. I saw students who hated coming to school show up daily with vigor and excitement for learning. I had one young lady tell me, "[iPads] make me want to come to school everyday because I know that Ms. Magiera got a lesson just for me that day. I don't want to miss my lesson. I like it cause she's - like - talking just to me."


At the ADE institute this summer, there was much talk of celebrating failure. For me, for obvious reasons, this resonated strongly. This year has been a lesson in celebrating failure. Through my initial failure to implement the iPad integration effectively, I was granted the rich experience of reflecting, re-organizing, re-norming and re-starting.

I know my experience would not have been as fulfilling had I been successful from the start. Just as I teach my students to evaluate incorrect math strategies to better appreciate the beauty of one that works, I had to fail to truly understand why what I'm doing now works.

To be honest, I know that I still a lot of room for improvement; I'm sure I have more failure in my near future. I can't wait. :)

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More Schools Giving Every Student iPads

More and more schools are giving iPads to every student. Just 15 months after its debut the iPad is becoming a popular tool in K-12 education. Lake Minneola High School in central Florida is one of the most recent schools to announce an iPad for every student program. Some schools that offer the iPad to their students load the tablet with textbooks, novels, PowerPoints and more. Students can also write papers and surf the web on their iPads.

The iPad has great accessibility features that make it great for any student. When students have the iPad in class they can use the accessibility features to have the textbooks and other material read aloud. Also, blind students can use the iPad with an external Bluetooth Braille Display. One of benefits of every student having an iPad is that all students are using the same devices and students with disabilities do not stand out. Click here to read about Minneola High School's program. Click here to read about Monroe School District. Many schools with iPad programs are trying to replace textbooks with iPads. When textbooks are in a digital format on the iPad students can use the built-in VoiceOver feature to have the textbooks read allowed. To learn more about VoiceOver click here. Because iPads have great built-in accessibly students that struggle to read or blind students can benefit from iPads as can non-disabled classmates.   

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CK-12 Provides Free Electronic Textbooks

CK-12 is a way to access text books in an accessible format. CK-12 are available to download in ePub, PDF and Kindle optimized format. CK-12 has a library of 88 downloadable textbooks. With ck-12 you can also make a Flexbook. A Flexbook is parts of many different books put together into one new book. To access CK-12 you must be a member but membership is free. CK-12 also allows you to embed Youtube videos and other multimedia content to enhance your Flexbook. CK-12 currently has a limited selection of textsbook and only has textbooks about science, technology, engineering and mathematics. To see a video and pictures of CK-12 textbooks click read more below.

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AccessText Helps Students Get Accessible Textbooks

AccessText is a way that higher education students with print disabilities can get accessible books. AccessText provides textbooks to higher education students free of charge to the student. But the institution must pay $500 membership fee. AccessText is similar to Bookshare but Bookshare also has novels and periodicals. Also Bookshare has a free text-to-speech software but with AccessText you must use your own text-to-speech software. Eight major publishers have teamed up to provide books through AccessText. AccessText is another great tool for getting accessible material for higher education students with a print disability. 

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Imagine Cup Idea Can Help Students With Low Vision

For students who  have low vision taking notes can be challenging if not impossible. A group of students from Arizona State University have come up with a solution. The solution gave them first place in the 2011 Imagine Cup sponsored by Microsoft. Their solution, called Note-Taker, can magnify the board and display a live view of the board on a tablet computer. Note-Taker is not available for sale at the time of this post. For people with low vision Note-Taker offers hope and should be on the market some time in the near future.   
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Using a Digital Camera As a Scanner in Kurzweil

Kurzweil 3000 is a great tool for reading text from the web or printed material. With Kurzweil you can scan a document and it will recognize the text (OCR) and read it back to you. If you do not have a scanner near by and need to read a printed document you can use a digital camera to import the picture to Kurzweil. Watch the video above for step by step instructions. When you open the JPEG file in Kurzweil it will recognize the text within the document and read it back to you. Also you can use Kurzweil's great annotation options to alter your document. When using this method the picture of the document must be clear with the document in the center of the picture. When using this method the OCR quality is below average but is still better than nothing.
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Whetting your APPetite Vol. 7: Toontastic is Fantastic!

This. is. amazing. Many thanks to my new ADE friend, John Shoemaker - a technology coordinator from Palm Beach, FL - who shared this amazing app with me. Toontastic is Puppet Pals on steroids. I still care deeply about Puppet Pals, but Toontastic is my new app boyfriend.

So what caused this switch? Toontastic seems to have been developed with the writing student in mind. The app embeds writing lessons into its beautifully animated screens - but doesn't hit your kids over the head with the fact that they are learning.

For example, this app asks kids to story board before beginning to create their movie. It breaks the "film" into scenes labeled 'setup', 'conflict', 'challenge', 'climax', and 'resolution' -- all in that same graphic story arc we teachers use to teach writing. Once your student selects the scene he or she would like to animate, they have the option to either use a stock setting or illustrate their own. They have this same option for their characters - choose a pre-created character or create one with the paint palette. (An additional plus to these characters over the Puppet Pals figures is that these characters can move their appendages. Groovy.)

Next up, mood music. And I do mean mood music. After developing the visual aspect of their scenes, narrating the plot, and determining their plot sequence, students select the mood  of each scene and its intensity. They use a sliding scale to modulate exactly how happy, sad or frightening a particular plot element may be.

So far, so great - right? Well, it gets better. Your students can upload their toons to ToonTube -- and watch other children's masterpieces as well! I'm not sure if it is up yet, but I am told that this "channel" will eventually (if it doesn't already) allow students to view a globe and select various geographic areas -- then see all the toons uploaded from that locale. So now students from Chicago, IL can watch toons created by students in Seoul, Korea. Wow.

What's more is I hope to also use this in math. MATH?! Yes, math. I am going to have my students animate short real-world mathematical problems to pose to one another, then post them for a classmate in our room or across the globe to solve. Paired with Edmodo or Schoology I think this will be a powerful and engaging tool.

Moreover, who says a character can't be a pie slice? Let's animate a fractions lesson shall we? We can put on some extremely happy music, and narrate the visual addition or subtraction of mixed numbers using pie slices as the "characters" and the "whole" as the background.

Considering the endless opportunities that this well-designed and visually appealing app offers, can you blame me for wanting to go steady with it?

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How To Get News Easily If You Have Trouble Reading

Getting the news can be a challenge if you have a print disability. But luckily there are many was to get accessible news if you know where to look. In the video above I detail many ways to access the news. One way to access the newspaper is to download a spoken summary of the paper such as the New York Times' Front Page Podcast. Another way to access the news is with Bookshare. Bookshare offers many newspapers and periodicals for free for members. If you are unfamiliar with Bookshare or the Read2Go app click on their respective links. Another way to access the news is with text-to-speech. Text-to-speech software can read the news to you if you have a print disability. Watch the video to learn more about accessing the news if you have a print disability.
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The Blio App is Here!

After months of anticipation the Blio app is out for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch. The app is free from the iTunes App Store. Blio is an eReader that can read PDF, ePub and XML books. To add a book either select a file and press open with Blio or transfer the file to Blio via iTunes. Once the books is in the Blio bookshelf there are many reading options including text-to-speech. Unfortunately the text-to-speech voice is not included and costs $10 as an app purchase. Blio can also sync audio books with the text and highlight as each word is being read.

Blio also includes an elegant note taking system that is similar to iBooks. To add a note select a section of text and then press note then a note will appear allowing you to type your note. Blio also allows you to search the text of a book.

One of Blio strongest features is visual customization options. From within the visual settings menu you can change the view, text size and more. On the iPhone and iPod Touch there is another view called “fast.” Blio claims this view can increase reading speed and eliminate eye strain. “Fast” view shows one word at a time in large print in the center of the screen and then changes the word automatically as you read. In “fast” view you hold your finger on the right edge of the screen then side your finger down to decrease word speed and up to increase word speed.

Another handy feature is Blio’s one touch look up feature which allow you to get a definition of a word or look up a word or phrase using Wikipedia or Encyclopedia Britannica. Blio is a worth a try because of its text-to-speech capabilities and visual customization options. Keep in mind that Blio is free but the text-to-speech voices cost $10 each.
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Sites Worth Seeing!

I just returned from an invigorating week at the Apple Distinguished Educator Institute in Phoenix. There were many interesting conversations, enlightening ideas and refreshingly varied points of view. I learned a lot from the diverse group of educators present, and truly hope I can keep in touch with them.

Coming home with pages and pages of websites, apps, and ideas, I have only had time to read through a few thus far, but promise to share as I go through everything. Here are the three I've already been able to check out -- so far, so amazing. These three educators have a lot of helpful hints, new ideas and great energy to share. Please take a look!

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List of Assistive Technology Apps for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad

The folks at Easter Seals Crossroads have put together a compressive list of apps to help people with various disabilities. To view the list click here. The list is divided into five sections; low vision, hearing, cognitive, mobility and communication. Each section has various app that can help people with those challenges. Many of the apps are free from the iTunes app store. So, if you have an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch check out the list of assistive technology apps. 
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Read2Go Review

Read2Go is a Daisy reader app from Bookshare for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. The app is $20 from the iTunes app store. If you are unfamiliar with Bookshare click here. Read2Go allows you to download books, newspapers and magazines directly to your device through your Bookshare account. Downloading books to your device with Read2Go is extremely simple. Most books download in less than five seconds on a Wi-Fi connection. Once you have your book downloaded it is added to your bookshelf for easy access. The app includes options that allow you to customize your reading experience. From the settings menu you can chose font size, the book’s color scheme, text-to-speech voice and text-to-speech speech rate. Read2Go is completely compatible with VoiceOver. When in reading mode you can add bookmarks, search for text and navigate by section or page. When reading a book the app is responsive and almost never freezes. The app would be even better if it included a built-in dictionary for one touch look up for unfamiliar words. In conclusion Read2Go is the best way to read Bookshare away from a computer. Read2Go has most of the features of Read Out Loud but the big advantage of Read2Go is simplicity and portability. With Read2Go you can read anywhere without having to be at your computer.
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Mac OS X Lion Includes New Accessibility Features

Apple released Mac OS X Lion to customers yesterday. Lion brings some features of the iPad and iPhone to Mac computers. Lion is available on the Mac App Store for $30. The new operation system includes 250 new features including a number of new accessibility features. Some of Lion’s new accessibility features include VoiceOver improvements, improved support for refreshable Braille displays and a new zoom features for people with low vision. Some of the VoiceOver improvements include better built-in voices and the ability to add your own high-quality voices. Lion also improves better drag and drop support for VoiceOver users. Yet another feature called “VoiceOver Activities” allows you to set custom voices and voice speeds for different tasks. “For example, you can create an activity to use a certain voice and faster speaking rate when you’re shopping online catalogs. Create a second activity to use a different voice and slower speaking rate when you’re reading online newspapers.” Quote taken from Lion also include a new setting that allows users to control the verbosity setting for their Braille display. Lion with its new accessibility features and other new features is a worthy upgrade for any Mac user. Mac OS X 10.7 Lion is $30 from the Mac App Store.
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Spell Checker Add-On for Internet Explorer

Most web browsers have a built in spell checker. Chrome, Firefox and Safari all include built-in spell checkers. But one of the most popular browsers, Internet Explorer, does not include a built-in spell checker. Luckily for Internet Explorer users there is a free spell check add-on called Speckie. To install Speckie click this link. Speckie is compatible with all versions of Internet Explorer.  When Speckie is installed it checks your spelling as you type; then if it detects a word not in the dictionary it underlines the word in red. To correct the misspelled word right click and select the correct word from the drop down menu. Speckie is a good replacement for a built-in spell checker in Internet Explorer. For more information about spelling and grammar correction software refer to an earlier post about Ginger.  
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Read2Go App Now Available!

After months of waiting, Bookshare's Read2Go app is available on the iTunes app store. For people who are unfamiliar with Bookshare click here. The app is compatible with iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch and costs $19.99. With the app you can download Bookshare books directly onto your iOS device and have the book read aloud. Read2Go includes a built in text-to-speech software with multiple voices. Read2Go is also compatible with non-Bookshare Daisy books. The app also highlights the word that are being read aloud to help you follow along. Read2Go includes many other features such as bookmarking, navigation menus, font size can be increased to 70pt and much more. Read2Go is one of the most full featured Daisy reader for iOS devices. If your a Bookshare member and use an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch Read2Go is perfect for taking you are books with you on the go. For screen shots click here and for more information click read more.

Read2Go is the most accessible DAISY book ereader for iOS. From within the app, you can browse, search, download, and read books directly from Bookshare using your Bookshare membership, as well as read DAISY books from other sources. The app gives you full control over visual choices for font size and color, background and highlighting color, and text-to-speech preferences. Read2Go features word-by-word highlighting for multi-modal reading.

“The Read2Go app will offer many advantages for people who are blind as well as those who have physical or learning disabilities, including many features not available on other DAISY readers for Apple devices.” - Deborah Armstrong, Alternate Media Specialist for DeAnza College in Cupertino, California


• Direct access to Bookshare

• Fast and seamless browse/search and download of Bookshare books

• Opens encrypted Bookshare books

• Bookshelf organizes your downloaded books

• Bookmarks

• Auto-resume reading position

• Displays Table of Contents

• Full support for all 6 levels of DAISY navigation built in to structure of book

• High-quality Acapela voices, one male and female, for highly natural narration

• Fully compatible with native Apple accessibility features such as VoiceOver

• Synchronized word-by-word highlighting and reading words out loud

• Control of font size up to 70 pts

• Control of text-to-speech audio, either on or off for text-only or text-to-speech mode

• Control of rate of audio

• Reads DAISY 3.0 and 2.02

• iTunes transfer of non-Bookshare DAISY books to your device

• Support books up to 4MB

• Educational institutions wishing to purchase 20 licenses or more can get a discount through the Apple Volume Licensing Program for Education"
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SayText App Review

SayText is a free OCR app for iPhone that recognizes text within a document and reads it back to you with VoiceOver. The app does not work as quickly as the Intel Reader but is fairly quick. The app is very simple to use and does not include a lot of features. Focusing the text in iPhone camera is hard and requires a steady hand. The app includes an automatic image capture feature when the text is in focus. Make sure the camera flash is on to increase the image and scan accuracy. SayText is free in the iTunes app store so there is no harm in trying it out.    
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Intel Reader Demo

Check out this video about the Intel Reader. This video shows some features of the Intel Reader as well the text recognitiond speed (OCR) and accuracy.  The Intel Reader is great for quickly getting text into an electronic document that can be read aloud. For more information about the Intel Reader check out one of these links. Intel Reader: First Impressions, Intel Reader Unboxing, Intel Reader Give Away, and Intel Reader.
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Intel Reader Vs. SayText iOS App

This video is a comparison of the Intel Reader and SayText iPhone app. The Intel Reader recognized the text much quicker then the SayText iPhone app. The SayText app is free from the iTunes app store while the Intel Reader is $900. Both were very accurate at recognizing the text within the article (OCR). Once SayText recognized the text you could use VoiceOver to read the text aloud. With the Intel Reader it was quicker and easier to take a photo of the text in focus. Both methods are good for getting print material into a accessible format quickly.   
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Dragon Go! iPhone app

Nuance the makers of Dragon Dictation just came out with a new app called Dragon Go! The app uses Nuance's top notch voice recognition engine to search hundreds of websites and apps. The app is free on the iTunes app store. With Dragon Go! you can search hundreds of websites with the sound of your voice from within the app. If you say "weather in San Francisco" the app will search instead of Google. Dragon also has another app called Dragon Dictation that allows you to input text with the sound of your voice. Dragon Go! is a close as you can get to full voice search on the iPhone. With Dragon Go! you will never have to peck at the iPhone keyboard to search. To see a video about Dragon Go! click read more.

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I'm So Excited... and I Just Can't Hide It!

Recently I was honored to be named an Apple Distinguished Educator. In joining this amazing group of educators, I am able to attend the week-long ADE Institute this summer in Phoenix, AZ. As one of over 150 past and present K-12 and collegiate-level ADEs attending from all over the country, I will spend this week analyzing and creating digital content, considering how to evolve classroom practice through technology and examining the effect of digital devices on a district level.

I leave on Sunday and my head is already swimming with questions, excitement and ideas to explore while with these innovative educators. I don't really have a purpose for this blog post except to say that I am really, really excited... and that I can't wait to post again once I return with all of the amazing things I learn.

Wish me luck!
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What is Assistive Touch?

Apple's mobile operating system iOS is gold standard for accessibility on mobile devices. In the fall Apple with release iOS 5 with a host of new accessibility features. Some of the new features are assistive touch, LED flash indicator light and custom vibrations. This post will outline the assistive touch feature built into iOS 5. Assistive touch is meant to help people with physical disabilities use their iOS devices more effectively. For example if a user is unable to press the home button because of a physical disability they could use assistive touch to activate the home button with out actually pressing the physical home button. Assistive touch can replace all hardware buttons with software equivalents to make the device easier to use. Another great use of assistive touch is programing custom gestures to use later. For example you could program a two finger swipe down and add the button to assistive touch. Then whenever you need to do a two finger swipe down you can press the button to activate the gesture. (see video for farther explanation) Assistive touch makes navigating and using an iOS device much easier for someone with a physical disability. The assistive touch feature will debut with iOS 5 this fall. For more on accessibility features in iOS 5 click here
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YourTube is Accessible Youtube

YourTube is a site made by PoVidi that makes YouTube more accessible to people who use screen readers. Navigating YouTube with a screen reader is difficult because the control buttons are within the video player. This makes them impossible to use with a screen reader. YourTube is the solution for people who want to watch or listen to to YouTube and use a screen reader. YourTube takes the control buttons (play, pause, forward, backward and mute) out of the video player and into the webpage. Because the control buttons are in the webpage people who use screen readers can access the controls. YourTube allows you to search by video or channel. YourTube allows people that use screen readers to access YouTube.sers' feedback and comments on videos.
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A Homework Machine for Teachers: More on Assessment with Google Docs

Video updated at higher resolution.
I've had a request to post more about how I use Google Docs to assess my students, so here we go!

Remember as a kid, we were always wishing that someone would invent a homework machine? Well if taking stacks of papers home to grade is the teacher's equivalent of homework, then our childhood prayers have finally been answered. Through Google Forms there are now multiple methods to have your computer grade assessments for you - while still maintaining the rich data to inform your instruction!

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video could be worth exponentially more. Therefore, I've created a short video on creating these forms and using conditional formatting to "grade" them. Scroll down below the video to read more about using conditional formatting for grading these e-assessments, as well an alternative method.

A second method to grade a Google forms is also available: Flubaroo. This is a script that can be installed into your Google Docs for free and will auto-grade your form. The main difference between this method and conditional formatting is that this script will provide the following: percent correct, auto-highlighted fields that activate when under 60% of your class got an item correct and an item summary. A great video regarding the use of this script can be found here.

I've found that Flubaroo and conditional formatting each have their own virtues and vices. Flubaroo is a great tool to use when you give a formal test and want a final grade to enter in your gradebook - i.e., summative assessments. I use this method with end-of-unit assessments, pre-tests/post-tests, etc. Flubaroo offers great tools such as a summary graph, emailing results to your class or yourself and other neat features. However there are a few keystrokes required to generate the data in Flubaroo, whereas conditional formatting is automatic.

Conditional formatting, therefore, works great when you want a quick, auto-generated, on-the-go visual as to your kids' progress on short assessments - i.e., formative assessments. I use this method with daily exit tickets, quick dip-sticking questions, mood check-in, surveys, etc. While this method lacks some of the data read-out of the Flubaroo script, it is useful when you don't have time to analyze the data in a spreadsheet, or aren't concerned with percent correct as much as single item analysis.

Please let me know if you have any other questions about this, or other, technology-based assessment methods!
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Trimit Summarizes Any Text into a Couple Sentences

Trimit is an iOS app that summarizes any sized article into a few sentences. The app is free for a limited time so download now. Trimit can take large articles and condense the information into smaller amounts of text. Trimit tries to convey the maximum amount of information it a short amount of text. In order to have an article summarized you type in the URL or copy and paste the text into the app. 
"trimit uses a wide variety of heuristics and variables in editing the content to convey the maximum amount of information in the specified length. When summarisng, specified filters can be applied, which include as the addition of acronyms, abbreviations, URL shortening and even removal of vowels that are not integral in the word’s comprehension." 
Trimit allows you to choose the length of the summarized text. Your summarized documents can be 140 characters to 1000 characters in length. Once your document is summarized you can share it via social media sites. For more information about automatic summarizing tools click here and here.

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How to Filter Google Results by Reading Level

Google is an extremely popular search engine. Google displays links to pages that are related to your search. There is a little known feature in Google that allows you to filter your results by reading level. If you want an article that is within your reading ability this feature is great. To filter your results by reading level go to advanced search in the top right. Next, click on the drop down menu labeled reading level. Then click on your desired reading level. Searching by reading level is a great way to target your search results and only get relevant results.      

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SayText is a Free OCR app for iPhone

SayText is a free OCR (Optical Character Recognition) app for iPhone. SayText is very simple and only has a few features. The app is made by the makers of DocScanner and uses the same OCR engine. To use the app place your iPhone in the middle of the page you wish to scan then slowly raise the iPhone until you hear a beep. The app will then recognize the text in the document and make a electronic text document. Then you can read the electronic text document with VoiceOver.  SayText is an excellent way to test DocScanner's OCR capabilities and speed.  The app is similar to the Intel Reader because it takes a picture of text and creates an electronic text document. The app is free in the iTunes store.
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Readability Makes Reading the Web Easier

Readability is a free browser add-on that strips out distractions and only leaves your article behind. Websites are cluttered and have lots of advertising that can distract you from your article. Readability takes out the advertisements and distractions and only leaves the text of the article behind. In addition, Readability has options to increase text size and color for easier reading. Click here to download the extension which works with most browsers.

In iOS 5 there is a similar feature called Reader. Reader also takes out the advertising and clutter out of articles on the web. Unlike Readability, Reader only works with Safari for iOS devices. With these tools you will never have to be distracted by an advertisement again.

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How to Use Parental Controls

The Internet is an interesting place were you can read, watch or listen to almost anything. The Internet can also be a big distraction.When writing a paper or reading a book surfing the Internet can be a distraction. Learn how to make your computer distraction free for your self or your children by using parental controls. With parental controls you can set restrictions for the internet, games, what times you can use the computer and much more. Parental controls are built into most operating systems and are easy to use. Click  the read more button bellow to find out if your operation system has parental controls and how to use them.



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Edit Underlying Text in Kurzweil 3000

This video shows how to edit the underlying text of a scanned document in Kurzweil 3000. If a word is being read incorrectly you can correct the mistake using the edit underlying text feature. Additionally this video explains how to use zone editor to improve your scanned document. With zone editor you can change the order that the document is read and what text is read.
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VizWiz App Helps Visually Impaired People Distinguish Similarly Shaped Objects

VizWiz is a free app for iOS devices that can help visually impaired people. The app can help visually impaired people distinguish two objects that feel similar. For example if you had two soup cans and did not know which was the chicken soup and which is the vegetable soup. To use the app take a picture of both objects and then record and question with your voice. Your picture will be sent to a real person and they will answer your question. You could ask "is the chicken on the right or on the left." In about a minute you will get a response. The response is no instant because the answers are coming from real people. VizWiz requires an iOS device with a camera. describes the app as:
"VizWiz is an iPhone app that allows blind users to receive quick answers to questions about their surroundings. VizWiz combines automatic image processing, anonymous web workers, and members of the user's social network in order to collect fast and accurate answers to their questions."
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Using Image Selector in Kurzweil 3000

Kurzweil 3000 is a software application that can interpret scanned documents and read them back to you. Scanners are not perfect and sometimes a scan comes out poorly, luckily, Kurzweil 3000 has tools to improve your scans. One of the best tools to improve your scan is image selector. With image selector you can delete a part of your document that came out poorly. For example, if scanned document has a black mark down the side you can use image selector to delete the blemish. To activate image selector go to the edit menu and then click on image selector. Next you will have to click draw a box around the blemish you wish to remove. Then under the scan menu go to image fill and then select white. Now your black mark is removed from the page.

There is another useful way to you image selector. If you are using the fill in the blacks feature and it mistakenly finds to many blanks. Now your document has text boxes all over. To delete all of the unwanted text boxes use image selector. With image selector draw a box around all the unwanted text boxes then go to tools then notes and then delete this process will delete all text boxes in the selected area.

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iPad Apps for People With Low Vision

The iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch are great tools for many people. It can help people with dyslexia, low vision and blindness. The iPad 2, iPhone and 4th generation iPod Touch all have cameras that can help people with low vision. With the iPad 2, iPhones and 4th generation iPod Touch their built in cameras can enlarge text or pictures. The iPad 2 and iPod Touch's cameras are not very high quality but they are still able to enlarge text with digital zoom. The Magnifier app can enlarge images up to nine times. (Keep in mind that the zoom is digital so image quality is lost as you zoom) Check out a list of apps blow the break.
Apps mentioned:

Magnifier - $0.99
HAL - Free
MapQuest - Free
LookTel - $1.99
QuickVoice - Free
Voice Reminders! - Free
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Caption Fish Finds Captioned Movies

For people that are deaf or hard of hearing captions are necessary in order to enjoy videos. Captionfish is a search engine that finds the closest captioned movie cinema. With Captionfish you can search by movie name, location and theater. You can filter your search by type the type of caption that fits your needs such as Open Caption, Rear Window Caption and much more. There is an option to find the closest theater to your home with captioned movies. Captionfish also has an iOS app with is available through iTunes. Captionfish makes finding and enjoying captioned movies quickly and easily.

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iOS VoiceOver Overview

VoiceOver is a screen reader made by Apple and used on their iOS devices. The feature allows for people with low vision, dyslexia and who are blind to more easily use their iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. The feature comes with all iOS devices. When VoiceOver is on you must use gestures to navigate around your device. To enable VoiceOver go to settings then general then accessibility and then VoiceOver. Under the accessibility menu you can enable VoiceOver when you click the home button three times. VoiceOver can help people that can not see the screen as well as people who want to listen to a news article. For a complete overview of VoiceOver go to If you have suggestions about how Apple could make VoiceOver or any of their accessibility features better email them at
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Speakit! Chrome Extension Reads any Text Aloud

SpeakIt! is an extension for Google chrome that can read the web to you. The extension is a free download from the Chrome Web store. SpeakIt! reads selected text aloud. To activate the speech highlight text that you wish to read, press the SpeakIt! logo in the top right and click the play button. To pause the play back press the pause button in the top right. SpeakIt! is a very simple text to speech converter. SpeakIt! is only available for Google Chrome Users.
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