Minecraft breaks down classroom barriers


Who would of thought that a video game that gives kids the tools to build with 3D blocks and dig holes in a virtual reality would lead to improving skills in the classroom. Minecraft is a game of discovery, construction, and learning, and it’s being used in a variety of school settings for mathematics, physics, history, and reading comprehension. Scott McKenzie, a teacher, uses Minecraft in his classroom to help remove barriers and provide students who struggle a means to show what they know.

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. http://toyboxtools.hasbro.com/toys


Talking classroom posters

Last week’s TechKnowledgy webinars were a wonderful opportunity to hear how technology can be used in the classroom to enhance, develop and share concepts. Many of the ideas from Google apps to websites and strategies could be implemented with all students. One such strategy was giving the posters hanging on classroom walls a voice. Kelly Fonner suggested adding a programmable voice output button to anchor charts and posters. By allowing students to record the messages and access the information easily there is now a purpose for the posters, beyond making the classroom look inviting. What a great way to give all students access to the information found on posters or anchor charts.



To Siri, With Love

Have you ever used Siri to ask directions, silly questions, facts on a specific topic or the meaning of life? One 13 year old boy with autism has found a friend in the Apple Personal Assistant known lovingly as Siri. He has found answers to questions pertaining to his special interests, love, marriage and friendship while conversing with Siri. This New York Times piece is a heartwarming story of technology and humanity coming together to create a relationship that fosters communication in our 21st century world.


Flipping for Adpated Books

Adapted books are a wonderful resource allowing all students opportunities to build literacy skills through accessible books.  Keeping all of the components of an adapted book together however can be a bit of a challenge.  This video shows how one teacher organized the pieces of a book by creating a flip out page allowing for a choice board and sentence strip to remain attached to the body of the book. When finished the choice board and sentence strip flip back inside, creating a book that is easily stored with all of the pictures neatly tucked inside.


Retractable Clothesline

Capture               clothesline

Using a retractable clothesline allows for a variety of activities to reinforce math and language arts skills.  Students can stand, walk  or wheel along the clothesline to order numbers, skip count or create number patterns in math.  Given a set of words they can create sentences, put  words in abc order or practice spelling.  What other ways can you think of to use a clothesline in your classroom?


Lighting up the Classroom with Tap Lights

Tap lights are an inexpensive way to enhance student engagement across the school day. They can be used during small groups, partner work and games.  Check out some blogs with great ideas on how to use this dollar store find.

tap lights




Directions on how to turn a tap light into a switch  http://www.theoatc.org/resources/lightswitch.asp


Free Visual Supports for Early Childhood

We all love free stuff, especially downloadable pictures for making visual supports.  The Head Start Center for Inclusion, University of Washington, offers a nice collection of visual supports for transitioning, performing daily activities, assisting with behaviors, social skills, and other routines in early childhood.  Check it out!


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Accessible Instructional Materials (AIM-VA)

Accessible Instructional Materials -VA (AIM-VA) has a brand new website. Check out the beautiful graphics and new sections that address information needed by students, parents, and teachers.  www.aimva.org.  Please share the link to this website with others, so ALL students who need accessible instructional materials will get them.

Some wonder….. are accessible instructional materials considered AT? Here’s  a quote from  the National Center on Accessible Instructional Materials.

What does AT have to do with AIM?

Assistive technology (AT) and accessible instructional materials (AIM) are closely linked. IDEA references access to printed instructional materials that can be converted into the specialized formats of braille, large print, audio, or digital text.Other than embossed braille and hard copy large print, specialized formats require technology to deliver the content to the student. When a student served under IDEA needs technology for access to the content and the curriculum, the technology meets the definition of AT.


Microsoft Partners in Learning Blog

Last week we highlighted our guest bloggers from Loudoun County Schools.  They shared their strategies for adapting books for all learners.  This week our hats go off to two other members of the Loudoun County Assistive Technology team, Tara Jeffs and Cynthia Feist. Tara and Cindy host an accessibility blog on the Microsoft Partners in Learning Blog.  This is an excellent source for finding information about meeting the needs of diverse learners in your classroom.  Check out  recent posts on developing MathLit kits and Strategies for Improving Organization and Time Management Skills.  All of the posts contain photos, videos and web links.  This blog is worth bookmarking and sharing far and wide!!