Typ-O App Review

Typo-O is a word prediction, spelling and text-to-speech app for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. The app costs $14.99 and requires iOS 6. Click here to view the app in the App Store. Typ-O is simple and easy to use. To get started just start typing, Typ-O then predicts the which word you are trying to type. You can touch the word to accept the predicted word or you can press on a speaker button to have the word spoken  using a text-to-speech voice. The word prediction is very good and can help improve spelling. Hearing the sentence read back to you using text-to-speech can also help improve grammar. Once you have finished writing you can send your text via email or text message. Typ-O includes a number of customizable setting to help improve word prediction accuracy. One negative of the app is that it uses text-to-speech voices from the internet which means if you are not connected to the internet you must use low quality text-to-speech voices.

Watch the video above to see Typ-O in action. Click here to download a lite version of Typ-O to try before you buy. Click read more below to view screenshots of Typ-O.

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For Good and Not Evil: Social Media in the Classroom

This Thursday 9/27/12, my colleague Autumn Laidler and I will be presenting an event as part of global Social Media Week. We, along with 10 of our students, will be demonstrating how to leverage social media in the classroom to amplify student voices and learning. We'll discuss how to use this powerful tool "for good and not evil" and teach kids that social networking and collaboration can open a window to global learning.

If you're in the Chicago area that day, we hope you can make it! It is free and open to all.
Click here for event details!
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What is Guided Access?

Apple's new iPhone 5 and iOS 6 are out and include many new accessibility features. One of the biggest accessibility features of iOS 6 is called Guided Access. iOS 6 is the operating system that runs on the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. To enable Guided Access go to Setting > General > Accessibility > Guided Access. Guided Access allows an parent or teacher to restrict access to a single app. This restricts kids from switch apps to watch videos or play games. Guided Access also allows parents and teachers to block off individual buttons within an app. For example if an app have setting a teacher could block it off so the students could not change app settings. Guided Access is great for teachers, users with autism or users with ADD. Guided Access allows teachers to administer tests on the iPad without worrying about students looking up the answers on the internet.

Watch the above video to learn how to use Guided Access. Click read more below to view more videos of Guided Access.

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Best Apps For Your New iPhone 5

Did you get the iPhone 5 today? Below is a list of apps to make the most out of your new iPhone 5.

Read2Go is the best way to access Bookshare.org books on your iOS device.Bookshare provides free accessible eBooks for people with print disabilities. Click here to learn more about Bookshare. Once you download the app you can download over 150,000 books directly to your device. The best part of Read2Go is that students can easily read books anywhere because of the portability of iOS devices. To learn how to become a member click here.

Learning Ally (formally RFB&D) provides audio books to people with print disabilities. Members must pay a yearly fee in order to download books. To learn about how to become a member of Learning Ally click here.

Prizmo converts a picture of a document into text which can be read using text-to-speech. In short from document to text to speech in just seconds. Prizmo is also the fastest and most accurate optical character recognition (OCR) app I have every tested.

iBooks is Apple's eReader app. It is simple to use and accessible using VoiceOver. With iBook Textbooks students and teachers can download select textbooks onto theiriPad.

iTunes U allows you to follow along with select classes from your iOS device. You can download classes from top universities and watch videos of the classes and read documents provided by the professor.

Great videos that walk you through many concepts from almost all subject. This app is great for homework help and learning new concepts. To learn more about Khan Academy click here.
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iOS 6 Released, Download Now

Apple has released iOS 6 with over 200 new features as a free upgrade. iOS is the operating system that runs on the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. Included in the 200 features are new accessibility features. Among the new features are Guided Access, Speak Selection with highlighting and VoiceOver enhancements. To upgrade go to settings > general > software update. Watch the above video to learn how to update to iOS 6. iOS 6 is available for the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPad 2, the new iPad, iPod Touch 4th generation and iPod Touch 5th generation.

To learn more about the accessibility features of iOS 6 click here. To view images of iOS 6 in action click read more below.


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"...But I don't have a 1:1"

Often I speak to teachers who are so ready to redefine their classrooms but simply don't have the resources to go 1:1 at this time. While I point them to this page to start thinking about grants, there aren't always open funds ready to dole out $15,000+ to teachers. If you are in this situation, and have a projector, laptop, and perhaps one teacher iPad, here is a "recipe" for how you can leverage these devices on a daily basis... and still work some magic. If you are working in this situation and have ideas you don't see below, please share them in the comments section!

School Resource Recipes...
A guide for how to leverage technology in your classroom when you don’t have 1:1 devices.

1 Projector
1 iPad or Laptop
2-5 Classroom Computers

A Few Possible “Recipes” for success:

  • Leverage YouTube videos to share authentic videos with students to:
    • Extend learning
    • Ignite curiousity as an activator
    • Enrich content
    • Provide scaffolding
    • Provide extra practice
  • Create your own video lessons and “clone the teacher”:
    • Projecting the mini lesson on your screen while meeting with a small group to challenge or scaffold learning.
    • If you have a few classroom computer, you can also download or stream the videos onto these devices so that multiple students can either watch the same video or differentiated versions of the video simultaneously. (Headphones would help in this case).
    • Visit this page for more information on how to create your videos:
  • If you have an iPad, mirror your computer to your iPad using the program Doceri Desktop ($30):
    • This will allow you to control your computer from your iPad, turning it into an interactive whiteboard for only $30!
    • It will also allow you to record your lessons in real-time, as you teach them, and annotate over the desktop of your computer - or any open program or web browser - using the free companion app's annotation tools. Here is a video that demonstrates more of the program and app's features.
    • If you can afford an extra $99, purchase an AppleTV to mirror your iPad back to the projector. This will open a whole new world of interactive opportunities as you can stream audio and video from all your apps on your iPad. If you have a MacBook running the newest operating system - Mountain Lion - you'll also be able to wirelessly mirror video and sound from that device as well (if not you can download the program AirParrot which will allow you to do the same thing on a Mac or PC). For more information, here is a post about AppleTV.
  • Create PowerPoint or Keynote slideshows for each lesson:
    • Use the slideshows to guide your lesson.
    • Start off each slideshow with your objectives / I can statements, then your agenda and the steps for your lesson.
    • Have a hard time keeping pace in your lesson? Use the slides to help time yourself - i.e., as you plan, determine how many minutes to spend on each slide.
    • If you are using presentation mode, write in notes and reminders to yourself in the slide’s comments/notes section to help you remember certain teacher moves (i.e., “Collect twist ties and straws before moving on.” or “Check on S.F and D.G. for understanding per their IEP.”)
    • The best part? The slideshows are saved and ready for you to use next year!
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How to Display an iPad on a TV or Projector

The iPad can be a great classroom tool for teachers and students alike. It can be great for showing websites, presentations and more. To share your iPad on your classroom TV or projector you may need to buy new software or cables. Read on to learn how to display you iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch on your TV or Projector.

Adapters- One way to easily get your iPad screen onto the computer is to use adapters. Apple sells two adapters, one for connecting to a VGA projector and one for connecting to a HDTV. To buy the VGA adapter from Apple click here. To buy the HDMI adapter from Apple click here. Use of the adapters are as easy as plugin them in.

Software- A software program for PC and Mac called Reflection allows you to display your iPad or iPhone screen on the computer. This only works with iPhone 4S and higher and iPad 2 and higher. If you have one of these devices Reflections may be your best option. Reflection is wireless and easy to use. Click here to buy Reflection for $14.99.

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Brand New iPod Touch Announced

Apple released a new version of the iPod Touch. The fifth generation device includes the same large screen as the iPhone 5. In addition to large screen the new iPod Touch has a faster A5 processor, much improved 5 mega-pixel camera, iOS 6, Siri and Loop. Read on to learn what these features mean for people with special needs.

Camera- The new improved camera is good enough to use optical character recognition (OCR) apps. OCR apps allow you to take a picture of text and have it read back to you using text-to-speech. One great OCR app is Prizmo.

iOS 6- iOS 6 will improve the already great accessibility features of the previous versions. The new operating system will include features such as Guided Access and Speak Selection with synchronized highlighting. To learn more about iOS 6 click here.

Siri- Apple's voice activated personal assistant will make its way to the iPod Touch. Siri can answer questions, spell words, read messages, set reminders, check the weather and more.

Loop- Loop is a very interesting new feature exclusive to the iPod Touch. Loop is a detachable wrist strap that hooks onto the back of the iPod Touch. Loop could be a great feature for you children and people with physical disabilities. Loop is seen in the above picture.

The iPod Touch will be available in the coming weeks starting at $299. Click read more below to view more photos of the new iPod Touch.


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Student Voices Amidst the Noise

Update 9/18/12: This same student wrote a follow up post to the one mentioned below about the strike being prolonged and the mayor's injunction. Click here to read it.

For those of you who don't know, the network of schools in which I work are part of Chicago Public Schools... which means we are part of the current CTU strike. A student asked me at our last Student Innovation Team meeting before the strike, "Ms. Magiera, can we still blog during the strike?" I said, "Of course. You have a voice too."

I forgot all about this exchange until today when I got an alert that there was a pending post on Kidblog...
This student is 11 years old and a new 6th grader. Click here to read her thoughts on the strike.
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iPhone 5 Announced

Apple announced the iPhone 5 at an event today in California. The iPhone 5 includes and bigger screen, better camera, faster processor, thinner design and more. The iPhone 5 will run on iOS 6 Apple's mobile operating system which includes accessibility features such as VoiceOver, Guided Access and Speak Selection. Click here to learn more about iOS 6.

The iPhone 5 will be available for pre-order on September 14th and for sale on September 21th starting at $199. Click read more below to view more images of the iPhone 5.

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iOS 6 To Be Released on September 19th With New Accessibility Features

Today, Apple announced that iOS 6, the software that runs iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, will be released on September 19th. The free software update will include new accessibility features such as Guided Access, Speak Selection with highlighting and improved Siri. Click here to learn more about Guided Access. iOS 6 will also include Made For iPhone Hearing Aids which allow hearing aid users to better use the iPhone. Along with accessibility improvements iOS 6 includes an updated maps app and more.

Click read more below to view more images of iOS 6 from Apple.

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HumanWare Communicator a Great Tool For Deaf-Blind Communication

HumanWare recently released the HumanWare Communicator app for iOS devices. The app is designed to make communication between a deaf-blind person and a sighted person possible.When the conversation is started an introduction is displayed for the sighted user to read. The deaf-blind person uses a Bluetooth braille display to type a message to a sighted person, this message appears on the screen of the iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch.  Then the sighted user can respond using the virtual keyboard and the message will appear on the refreshable braille display. The conversation can then go back and forth with the deaf-blind person typing on the braille display and the sighted user typing on the device's virtual keyboard.

HumanWare describes the app as follows,
"The HumanWare Communicator application is intended to establish a text conversation, through a chat window, between a deaf-blind person and a sighted person. All interaction appears both on the deaf-blind person's refreshable Braille display, as well as visually on the screen of the iOS device."
The HumanWare communicator is available in the App Store for $99.99 for devices running iOS 5.1 or higher. To view screen shots of the HumanWare Communicator app in action click read more below.

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Screencast Smackdown: Videos in the classroom... which Screencasting app is best for you?

Want to know how to select the best screencasting app for your needs and situation? Can't figure out whether to go with ShowMe, Educreations, Doceri, KnowmiaTeach or Explain Everything? Or, do you already have one or more of these apps but don't know how to find a use for them?

I recently wrote an article for Appolicious, hoping to answer a few of these questions. In this article, I list the pros and cons of each app and provide some sample use cases. Please check it out!

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App Reviews by the Kids!

Thanks SO MUCH to all who have been commenting on my students' blogs! Today at our weekly meeting, they were beyond thrilled to read your messages. It was exciting as we got out maps and learned that we had readers from Australia, California and Europe!

Today they began to write their app reviews. If you have a moment, please take a look, comment and check back often as the rest will be published soon! Thanks again!

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First Time Syncing with the Bretford PowerSync Cart

Syncing one iPad may seem like a piece of cake, but setting up folders, restrictions, web links, and iTunes settings on 30 iPads? Not so cake-like.

After stumbling through this process myself two years ago, and helping dozens of teachers do it this fall, I realized I needed to create some sort of a resource so that teachers can learn this on their own. Teach a man to fish, if you will.

So without further ado, here is a PDF guide for how to set up, sync and deploy your iPads using the Bretford PowerSync cart. There are easier ways to do this using specialized software, but this is the best "novice" workflow I've found - something that is accesible to anyone with any level of iOS / iPad / syncing experience.

I plan to make this into an iBook as well, so stay tuned for that :). Hope this helps!
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Googlized: Words Their Way Word Sorts

In working with some teachers who are going 1:1 with Chromebooks, I've begun to consider how Google tools can make certain curriculum routines more effective/efficient. One routine all of our literacy teachers do is word sorts from the Words Their Way series. Cutting out all of those word cards can become cumbersome and so the question arose: how can technology support this?

Here is a video I created for one of my colleagues on how to use Google Docs - specifically the drawing feature - to do these word sorts. No scissors required.

NOTE: I forgot to add into the video... when your kids open the doc, they need to go to "File" then "Make a Copy" before editing it. That way they won't overwrite each others' work. They need to then share it back with you!
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Apple To Hold Special Event on September 12

Number 12 casting a shadow of the number 5

Apple announced today that it will be holding a special event on September 12. Apple is rumored to announce a new iPhone, iOS 6 release data and possibly more. iOS 6 will include many accessibility enhancements including Guided Access. The new iPhone may include a better camera, faster processor and larger screen.

Come back on September 12 to hear all the new from Apple and how it effects the world of assistive technology.

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IBM Sees Watson As Supper Powered Siri Down the Road

IBM's supper computer Watson who beat human competitors at Jeopardy! may answer your voice questions in a few years. IBM sees Watson powering a smartphone app that would act like a supper smart Siri. The app would answer your complex spoken questions in seconds. Not only would Watson be able to pull up facts quickly but it would be able to offer data driven advice for complex problems. The prospect of a Watson app is very existing but is still many years off. A Watson app would be like having a voice activated supper computer in your pocket. Watch the above video to see Watson playing Jeopardy!

Unfortunately, the technology for such a large scale role out of this system is years away but it is still fun to know whats coming.
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