Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Google Apps I love to organize my life (and maybe yours too :D

So first of all, I love Google Apps for so many reasons. For those of you that are not familiar with Google Apps, I have explained below a bit what they are:

Google Chrome store:

Overview, What are Apps and Extensions for Google Chrome?
So for those of you who are first time users to Apps and Extensions here is a bit about them. Apps and Extensions for Google Chrome are online software that work off of your chrome browser. They are fun and easy to use. There are many Apps and Extensions that could be used in your classroom. One huge benefit is a majority of Apps and Extensions in Google are free!
The Apps are extremely interactive and virtual so they can be accessed anywhere with a device, internet and your cloud or google account.

How to use Apps and Extensions:
To use these, you must be signed into your cloud system or Gmail account. The Extensions and Apps work and save with whatever Google account you are signed into. You must also have a Google Chrome browser for these to work.

Video on Google Apps and Extension overview:

Legend (This will refer to if it is an App or Extension):
EXT: Extensions (run off to the side and with your browser)

APPS: Apps (work within Chromebrowser but are a separate application)
All Apps and Extensions are free unless ** are added.

Here are some Google Apps and Extensions that Rock my work, keep me organize and just help me with everyday tasks:

Kaizena APPS
Kaizena allows you to import PDF and Google Docs into this Apps. Then you have all these amazing tools like highlighters, recorder, comments and collaborate.  One use of Kaizena  is you could use the recording feature for a person who struggles with writing but is great orally for oral test.

Speech Logger APPS
Speech Logger is a powerful speech to text app. There are a few different speech to text app in the Google Chrome store, this one is by far my favourite and most accurate to recognizing your voice. You can start using this app with  no voice training. It is  quick and easy to start up. Ideal for people who are oral learner or verbally express their thoughts more fluently compared to typing. I am doing courses online part time and Speech Logger is great for essay writing and quick jot notes.

Symphonical APPS
Symphonical gives you the ability to have a virtual whiteboard online and you can easily collaborate with others.  

MindMup APPS
This is a graphic organizer app. This is the only Google graphic organizer app I found that  has the outline feature and allows you to export your map to text.

Cite This For Me APPS/ EXT
Great for older students in high school to learn how to do  APA referencing if you plan to go off to post secondary. Create APA bios  in a snap.

TLDR (Too long didn't read) EXT
The TLDR app will allow you to summarize long websites easily. Great tool for showing examples if you are teaching how to summarize.  

Tab scissors EXT
Split screen your tabs. Great for research activities, comprehension stories, etc.

CleanSave EXT
Allows you to save websites straight to your google drive, and to open within Read and Write. Or Allows you to save websites as PDFs to your computer, to open in Kurzweil. Can save a load of printing pages of information.

Evernote APPS
With Evernote, you can organize everything from any device (computer, tablet, mobile device, etc.) Create notes, checklist, picture notes, etc. Great tool. I was the kid when you pulled out my binder or backpack I had papers and handouts everywhere. Evernote truly organizes my life. I love this app so much.  

If you don’t have the capability to scan a document into one PDF or separate PDFs you want to merge, this is the app for you. I ran into this issue because my scanner was acting up and this app saved me so much space and effort.

App Jump APPS

You can easily and quickly open apps in a snap.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Being a Teacher of the 21st Century

With technology constantly changing and being integrated into many aspects of our lives, are teacher's meeting the needs of a child of the 21st century? The educational and life needs of children are changing. The old ways of schooling need to be combined with modern technology.

The next generation of child, google, social media and the overall world of the Internet are becoming second nature.What is Social Media? What is credible information to use for research from the internet? How do we know what the truth is on the internet? What are safe videos to watch on youtube? Seems kind of like odd questions but becoming more and more relevant for this generation of children.

Do our children know how to be Internet wizards and get the full and proper benefits that the World Wide Web have to offer? Do they know all the good things that internet have to offer? Can they do searches and find the credible info that they really need? I find when I am doing computer training and we do a research portion, a lot of the children can't tell the difference between a credible and not credible website. Researching is not a skill that can be always naturally mastered. Our children need guidance and shown how to do this. It is done a bit but needs more class time. Internet skills are becoming a life skill in some ways to find and look favourable in today's job market. We want our children to feel prepared for the real world.

Do our children know how to be safe and smart on the Internet? Do they know what information and media is safe to share on the internet? Do they think about what personal information is not appropriate to share? What are our kids sharing on the internet? Do they uphold proper etiquette and manners when using social media? In the day and age where a majority of our students have facebook, twitter, instagram or various other social media outlets do we really understand what our children are doing ?

Should there be Internet 101 classes? Children can't learn the ways of the internet just by going on it, they need guidance and rules just like anything else. Social Media class, teaching our kids how to be safe and smart with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and all the world of Social Media Smart searching and the ways of the internet, showing our children what credible and non-credible websites are.

Our children need to become digital native/citizens.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Universal Design

What is Universal Design? If we look at Universal Design from the Education perspective it is learning for all. Shouldn't every child be able to learn and access information? This is not always happening in our classrooms and they is still a lot to learn about Universal Design for learning.

We want to be able to be meeting all the learning styles, not just one.Our education system tends to teach with one learning style. There are Four learning styles, visual, auditory/oral, sequential and Kintestic. So in simple terms, the learning styles can be like this:

-Visual: a visual learner likes to learn through seeing and images. That person learns best with pictures, diagrams, charts, videos, etc.  

-Auditory/oral: A person who likes to hear and talk to learn. Audio instruction is very important for this person to understand what they are doing. Also, having group discussions could help them to use their oral skills.

-Sequential: for a sequential learner, they learn in a very structured and logically manner. Having books, and broken down instructions make sense to them. Our school systems tends to teach in a very sequential manner.  

-Kintestic: this is hands on learning. You like to “do” or learn with your hands. For example: if this person was in gym class, they would not want to watch the teacher show how to do that slap shot in hockey, they would rather pick up the hockey stick and actually do that shot to learn it.

For more details on the different learning styles, check on the link below:

Multiple instruction is one way to use Universal Design Learning in our classrooms. We could meet these different learning styles by providing Multiple instructions.Here is an example of how multiple instruction would work in the classroom:
Teaching a science lesson on light. To teach this lesson and meet the four learning styles, these aspects could be involved. You would have lots of video and pictures to meet the needs of the visual learner. When you are explaining the aspects or instructions for this lesson on light, make sure they are very clear for your auditory learners. Handouts or resources are very helpful for students to review and look over. Especially with handouts you can meet the needs of a visual learner and also students that struggle with focusing or hearing what your saying.

Pulling from multiple resources and media will help to meet those multiple learning styles also. For example:

•  Youtube has videos galore and tons to pull from. Also kids usually love youtube.
•  Prezi is an awesome presentation tool. It is like PowerPoint on steroids. I find kids love watching it and creating it themselves.
•  Smart Boards are absolutely wonderful. Smart Boards Engage the visual and kinesthetic learner by showing them and letting them play with it with their hands.

Trying to incorporate technology will intrigue and engage the kids. Most of them use technology at home so why can't we use it at school? These are just a few of my favorites. The list goes on and on.Try as much as you can.

All children can learn, most  just haven't figured out there learning style. We can do this by making them aware and immersing them in the different learning techniques.

The video below is from the Hamilton Wentworth  Special Education Advisory Committee (SEAC). They explain Universal design very well.

A how to for using UDL as a teacher:

Making Universal Design easy with the Learnstyle Inventory:

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Why Can't I Access my Information?

What stops a person with a Learning Disability from fully accessing their information? There are many different reasons why a person with a LD (Learning Disability) cannot access the information that they need. The definition of information from the access Ontario laws are defined as the following: "information" includes data, facts and knowledge that exists in any format, including text, audio, digital or images, and that conveys meaning, ("information") Information  needs can be and need to be available just about anywhere like at School, University, Libraries, etc. The information needs for each person are always unique especially when it comes the Learning Disabilities.

Looking at the text and focusing one's eyes can be very overwhelming for certain types of Learning Disabilities. For example if someone had Dyslexia the text can look very overwhelming because letters like “b” and “d” and “m” and “w” can be flipped. Also the text can be all over the place making it hard for them to focus their eye. Another type of disability that has a hard time focusing their eyes is people with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). Tex can look very overwhelming and be all over the place. To focus the eyes and follow the text can be quite the task.Text to speech software like TextHELP or Kurzweil can sometimes be a solution to this problem or essential for some.

For information of any type to be accessible to people that use text-to-speech software it needs to be in an Electronic format. Text to speech software can be an essential tool for some but beneficial for everyone. There are many studies that have been done that  prove that when anyone uses text-to-speech software they can better understand and memorize information. Here are a few articles stating the benefits of text-to-speech software:

Australian Journal of Learning Disabilities

Daisy Universal Design

Quick video of the 5 benefits of Text-to-speech software

Another reason that accessing information can be hard for people with LDs is because we want to be able to Comprehend and understand the text. For certain types of LDs comprehending information needs to be presented depending on the information need and type of learning style. I want to be able to Understand the meaning of the text and have it presented in the format I need. I will give an example of myself and my type of learning disability (or learning style). I am extremely visual and auditory learner. So when something is presented with a visual and the audio I can understand and comprehend information that much more. For example if I’m going to go pick up a hardcover book on reptiles a may need to read the information over  three or five times until I fully understand it. Also as I mentioned before my eyes can have a very hard time focusing and following the text because of my ADHD. Now, if I had this book loaded onto a text-to-speech software I could read it once and understand/comprehend the information instantly.

This can only happen when we start Making information Accessible in all aspects. PDF or Rich Text format needs to be available everywhere so that it can be loaded onto text-to-speech software or any other assistive technology software or devices. Publishers and information creators have to work with the public to create and make these formats accessible to everyone.

Unfortunately on many occasions the formats available are not accessible to every type of learning style. As mentioned before the information needs  are Unique to each person. We all have such different information needs and we need to start making it accessible to everyone. Everyone deserves to have access to the information and education they want and to deserve to have lifelong learning.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Why should libraries be accessible for someone with a Learning Disability?
• The right to information and lifelong learning
• To create the joy of reading in your Learning Disability population
• Remove the barriers of accessing and comprehending information. Create the access in
the ways that work for us.
• Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act ultimately wants libraries to be a more
accessible and inviting place for people with Learning Disabilities

There are many different ways that libraries can become more accessible for people with
Learning Disabilities. Many Universities and Colleges have libraries that are accessible to people
with Learning Disabilities. The University of Ottawa is a very good example of an accessible
library. They have an Adaptive Technology lab. This Adaptive Technology lab has a lot of the
software that people with you Learning Disabilities and other varying types of disabilities use.

The software that they offer is Kurzweil, Dragon Naturally Speaking, and Zoom Text to name a
To look more into this library check out:

The AERO (Alternative Education Resources for Ontario) library is another example of an
accessible library for people with Learning Disabilities. This library is ran through the Ministry
of Education so that schools all throughout Ontario can access accessible format for their
students that use Assistive Technology and Accessible Format. Only teachers can access thislibrary and request Accessible Format.

Accessible resources need to be available to all individuals who have a disability not just for
when student attend academic institutions where this information is made available.