Making Math and Science Accessible for All – Differentiating Instruction with Low Cost Tools

Today, Dr. Cynthia Feist and Dr. Tara Jeffs, AT specialists for Loudoun County Public Schools presented an incredible webinar for the TechKnowledgy Conference.  This was a fast-paced webinar with lots of great ideas and resources about making math and science accessible.  They demonstrated low to high tech AT for math and science instruction for students with multiple learning preferences and differing abilities, for little or no cost. Watch this webinar and learn how to create: accessible math and science resources for differentiated instruction, including: scientific process and math sequence ropes; customized graph paper; graphic organizers; item banks; electronic timers; mini-offices; virtual and physical manipulatives; file folder activities; shoebox work tasks; foldables, interactive lessons and quizzes with voice; adapted books and worksheets; and, templates and tutorials. Adapt and modify curriculum using instructional materials created with Microsoft Office, free interactive online resources including Web 2.0 tools and Internet downloads, and other inexpensive and widely available materials.

The Webcast will be posted within the week on the TechKnowledgy website.  In the meantime, explore the wonderful resources they are sharing on their Google Drive (link posted on the TechKnowledgy website).

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Highlighting low tech AT

highlighter                 highlighter tape

Assistive technology doesn’t always need a battery, charging cord, download or buttons to push. Low tech assistive technology to help students can be found in your local dollar office supply store. With teaching and modeling students can  use simple solutions such as highlighters and highlighter tape to assist in targeting information on a page. Using different colored highlighters provides visual assistance with organization of homework written in agenda books as well as locating information. By assigning different colors for homework, projects, tests and quizzes students can easily find assignments written in their agenda.The same use of assigning colors can  be used to locate vocabulary words, main ideas and supporting details a passage or text. Highlighting can be use to target a line before writing or where to enter the numbers in a math problem. Using highlighter tape allows students to use the same strategies to highlight in books without damaging the pages or leaving permanent marks.  Looking for a bigger version of highlighter tape try Avery See Through Sticky Notes to help visually block off math problems or sections of a reading selection. Use the See Through Sticky Notes to make notes or summarize on the page of a book without damaging the page.


Using Tar Heel Reader on the iPad

We love Tar Heel Reader for its collection of free, easy-to-read accessible books.  You can even write your own book using the Flickr pictures in Tar Heel Reader. If you haven’t browsed the collection of hundreds and hundreds of books or written your own books, you are missing out on a valuable resource of high interest books for your students.

We are linking you to two blog posts that describe how to use Tarheel Reader in app mode on the iPad and how to put Tar Heel Reader books into iBooks with speech support.  Now, Tar Heel Reader is even more accessible!

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For those of you who watched the Super Bowl it may have been for the thrill of the game, the commercials or a little of both.  Did the drive and perseverance of the Patriots and Seahawks battling to win the game or something in the commercials touch your soul?  Microsoft shared the story of a little boy who touched some souls as demonstrated his drive and perseverance. Braylon O’Neil was born missing the tibia and fibula bones in both of his legs; he is however a thriving six year old playing sports with the help of Microsoft technology. Check out his story of how technology has helped empower him.

Google Drive Checklist for Teachers

Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 9.37.46 PMFiona Bessey-Bushnell, Occupational Therapist, Chesterfield County Public Schools suggested that we share a link to a recent post in Educational Technology and Mobile Learning.  This post highlights a Google Drive Checklist for Teachers.  This checklist includes sections to help students better understand Google Drive,  Google Docs, Google Presentation, Google Forms, Spreadsheets and Drawing.  Check it out!


I can do that too!

Being a part of a group and participating in an activity similar to your peers is possible for our students with special needs.  The Provincial Outreach Program in Victoria, British Columbia has created participation kits filled with materials lists, step by step procedures and short snip-it videos of how to include all students.  Their academic parallel participation kits provide ideas that allow students to participate in typical academic classroom subjects while working on their own skills within modified activities. Their skills may include working on choice making, using a switch for voice output or access, mobility, vision, and hand function.  Check out their website for ideas to give your students the “I can do that too!” experience.

Participation kits

Guided Access on the iPad

Do your creative and curious students navigate to forbidden areas on the iPad, change the settings, or move in and out of apps without completing an assigned activity?

Guided Access may be the answer for you.  Guided Access helps students with autism or other attention and sensory challenges stay on task. A teacher or therapist can limit an iOS device to stay on one app by disabling the Home button, and even restrict touch input on certain areas of the screen. So wandering taps and gestures won’t distract from learning.  

To learn more about some newer accessibility features on ios devices, visit Apple’s Special Education area. 

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Toy box tools from Hasbro

It’s that time of year when the commercials for toys are at a premium and many parents contemplate what toys are best for their children.  For parents of children with disabilities this question can be difficult to answer.  It is not just the buying of the toys but how to teach their child to play with them once they bring them home. Working in collaboration with The Autism Project, Hasbro has created resources to help families, teachers and professionals make the most of playtime.  Toy Box Tools are videos and downloadable playbooks modeling how to play with selected toys.  The Toy Box Tools are broken down into three levels basic play, expanding play and social play.  Each level has its own video and playbook demonstrating how to play with the same toy based on where the child is developmentally. Follow the link to view the available resources and watch the videos.


Visuals to help with holiday schedule changes

Thanksgiving is the official start of the holiday season which brings many changes to our schedules.  Even the most organized adult needs their lists, calendars and visual reminders to help navigate all the special happenings between Thanksgiving and New Years.  What do you have in your toolbox to help your students or children navigate the changes in their schedules?  Indiana University Bloomington’s Resource Center for Autism has social stories, calendars, schedule icons and choice boards featuring Boardmaker symbols that are ready to click and print, a great resource to any educator or parent’s toolbox.