Monday, 30 September 2013

Adapted Materials

This posting isn't really about technology, although it is something you will have to access using a computer. It's really more about inclusion.  I've been searching for materials to assist teachers in finding materials that are at a modified or adapted level for students working here at the high school. We want all students to be included in classrooms, even if the materials they are working on suit their individual needs.  I'm not sure when I came across, but it is a fabulous resource for finding free materials to use with students in class.  I've come across some really good math materials for students who need more experience with applying practical math in everyday situations.  My search could have taken hours, but searching this website is so efficient because of the search parameters that you can set up. Check out this website for some great free digital resources!

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Accessible Books

I'm always on the hunt for accessible books that can be used in the classroom with a variety of learners.  In one of my other posts, I spoke of the books contained at  This is one of the most extensive collections of accessible books on the internet. It is continually growing, with additions by individuals all over the world.  If you are using books on found on the tar heel reader website, please take note that if you are using the iPad to access these books, the new iOS7 update has not been very compatible with viewing and reading these books.  Holding off on the iOS7 download until some bugs are worked out with the Safari browser may just save you some headaches.
If you haven't already visited the Special Education Technology British Columbia website for a variety of resources, see You can download books for the IntelliTools Classroom Suite, Clicker, and BoardMaker software.  There are also a large number of PowerPoint books available to for listening and viewing purposes.
Another great resource for students and teachers to check out is This website contains videos of kids reading popular books.  It could be used to demonstrate how readers use expression and intonation in their voice to engage their audience.
The Winnipeg Public Library has a licence for Tumble Books, which are animated, narrated story books from popular authors such as Robert Munsch. Peruse the Tumble Books library here. The Tumble Books are meant for younger students, but there is a whole library of interactive content on the Tumble Books Jr., including videos, graphic novels, and chapter books. You can access the books for free through the library website.  Because I know that many of you are already wondering, "Is there an app for that?", I'll address that question. Yes, you can get the Tumble Books app in the App Store, but books much be purchased in sets through an in-app purchase.

Check out these accessible options for students in your classroom!

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Digital Pictures Resources

I've had a couple of requests come in for iPad apps that can be used in high school Digital Pictures courses. I've done some searching, through my devices and other online sources, and have come up with a list of some good apps to try:

1- Photo Grid Pro (photo display)
Allows you to easily select photos from your photo library and insert them into a photo collage.  You have editing capabilities such as enhancing the picture, adding effects and stickers, as well as cropping the photo. Very user friendly and allows you to email or share through social media forums such as Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

2- SnapSeed (photo editing)
A highly rated photo editing app that includes some very intuitive, touch-based editing all for the great price of free.

3- ComicStrip (photo display)
This app allows you to create comic strips using digital pictures.  More fun than a serious photography app.

4- Lego SuperHeroes Movie Maker (stop motion animation)
This app is meant for kids- it's so easy to use- as it allows the user to take photos, moving the feature character slightly in each shot. In minutes, you can plug them into a stop motion animated film with effects, music, and slides.

5- Halftone
Similar to ComicStrip, this app allows the user to take images and add comic strip effects to the photo.

Allows some pretty fun frames to photos that can then be shared on all kinds of social media websites.

7- Cycloramic Studio 360 Panorama
This app came up on Apps Gone Free a couple of weeks ago and actually allows you to use your iPhone or iPad to capture panoramic shots.  Should have remembered to use this on Vancouver Island this summer!

Every Stock Photo- I thought I would make mention a search domain that has Creative Commons licensed pictures.  What that means is that you can find copyright free images on this website. If you click on an image in your search results, you will be taken to a larger version of the image, a link to the source, and the attribution requirements for using that picture.  Alternatively, you are welcome to visit for images free of copyright.  Teaching students to use these alternatives to Google Images will help promote a more responsible user of digital content.

Monday, 23 September 2013

What can I do with iPads?

On my journey last year as TILT, my focus was on getting devices into the hands of teachers and students and helping users become comfortable navigating the software that Apple technology puts forth.  This year, I feel my role will have much more to do with answering the question, "We have iPads, now what can we do with them?" We all know the value that this technology can bring to teacher instruction and student experience in the classroom, but figuring out how and when iPads should be infused into teaching and learning is definitely a learning journey.  Infusion of technology is not about relying on the novelty of the device to keep kids engaged, it is about extending the learning experience of students so that they can feel empowered, do things they couldn't otherwise without the use of tech, and deepen their understanding of concepts.  That being said, here are a few starting points to meld the use of iPads with all the wonderful things that you are already doing in your classroom:

1- Reporting-  Using the iPad to take photos and blog about experiences in the classroom allows students to have a voice and feel like they are a published author.  I know what it feels like when people have read posts that I have written and put out there, I can only imagine that it would be as powerful and motivating for students to be a reporter live on the scene of their own classroom.  Kids will be motivated to write if they report on something they've done in class and read it with their parents on the web when they get home that same evening. Alternatively, have students take photos using the iPad while on a class trip and create a narrated slideshow of their experience using the PixnTell app.

2- Centre-based learning- iPads can easily be set up as a centre.  With features such as guided access and restrictions, you can safely set up an iPad centre, allowing students to work on concepts that you have already taught while using carefully selected apps.  This will provide you with the time to work with a small group, strengthening areas with which these students may be struggling.

3- Virtual experience-  When you are learning about cultural dances in Africa and can't travel the 13,000 kilometers to witness it firsthand, pop onto the YouTube app, connect your iPad to your projector (using a VGA adapter cable or the Reflector or AirPlay apps) and kids can experience it through digital means.  Use Google Earth to explore places that you are learning about in Geography.  Peruse street level and aerial views of places that students wish to experience visually using the Sphere app.

4- Connectivity- The iPad offers a myriad of opportunities to connect your students to other classrooms. Students can compare cultural similarities and differences through the creation of a digital postcard using the LifeCard app. With this app, they can add photos and text to share their own cultural experiences with a pal many miles away. Get your class signed up on Mystery-Skype to connect with a classroom in the United States.  Students can learn about some of the distinctions and similarities between Canada and the United States through the lens of a student their own age.

5- Creation- This is probably the most fun of all reasons to become buddies with your iPad.  Kids are creative and want to tell stories.  Give them the Toontastic app to create an animated show with their own narration.  Get the Pictello app for students to create a TWAS (This Week At School for those in the senior years) book to send home as a PDF for mom and dad on Friday afternoon.  Use iMovie to create a movie trailer for a book that they've recently finished.  Have students demonstrate their own understanding of a concept by creating a 'how-to' tutorial on Educreations.  There is a wide array of apps for creation. Choose a handful, get to know them really well, and introduce them to your students. Learning the ins and outs of one app a day will broaden your horizons and increase your comfort with infusing them into a lesson plan.

6- Student support- I've already posted about the many ways that the iOS 6 software and apps can be used to support students. Search 'accessibility'and 'student support' on this blog and you will learn about the ways that Apple technology can help students with specific needs.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

iOS 7

The Internet is abuzz with news of Apple's release of the iOS 7 software update for iPhone 4 or later, the iPad 2, and the iPad mini.  The update, released in the middle of last week, brings the intuitive nature of iDevices to a new level, making it possible for you to send and manage information effortlessly, particularly to your contacts who have iPhones or iPads, and access instant updates from your reminders and calendars. As the screens and app thumbnails will change, it may take time to adjust to the new vista on your device. The last iOS 6 update meant great additions in accessibility options, but I am hesitant to recommend jumping into this new update.  First, it is a major overhaul of the screens and settings accessibility.  It may be harder to find the tools and settings that were once second nature.  Because this is a major update, it requires a great deal of storage, which may cause you to have to sacrifice some of the apps on your device. Also, the battery life of iPhones have a shorter life span, according to some of my colleagues on Twitter.  For students that are used to navigating the iOS 6 software, it may be best to stick with the old software. I'm holding off for now, until the apps I treasure, such as Evernote, demand that I upgrade.