Wednesday, November 20, 2013


A Blogger's Insight:


Before entering to Cabrini College for my Master's of Education, I took a similar course of Assistive Technology at Kutztown University.  So when I was told I had to take this course, I was hesitate that I would already know most of the information.  Due to this, I would be extremely bored and felt that I had nothing else to learn.  Man was I wrong!!  I do stand by the fact that I knew a lot of the information coming into the course already, however what I took out of blogging is more than just a grade, IT'S A GIFT!
I have learned so much about assistive technology that I did not know before.  I am able to inform anyone of the process behind selecting and implementing assistive technology, as well as, the ability to select APPROPRIATE types of AT for each individual student.  What I use to believe is not something appropriate is now something I advocate against to others who I discuss the matter with.  I can not express the amount of knowledge I have integrated into my tool kit and all of the strategies, tips, procedures, and feedback that have expanded my experience and LOVE for teaching.  The other students' blogs have also given me so many AWESOME ideas on how to integrate AT into the curriculum using both low- and high-tech tools and strategies!!
Again I can not express my gratitude enough.  Blogging was more than just a project is was an experience worth more than a grade!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

AT and College

A Blogger's Insight:

AT Implementation in College

How to get access to assistive technologies in college:
Once you’re in college, the Americans with Disabilities Act take over the responsibilities of provided students with accommodations to ensure that they receive an equal opportunity. 
 1. By law students must self-identify as having a disability in order to receive accommodations.
2. Students must present documentation of their disability.
3. Every college has different requirements, so ask them lots of questions and start gathering this information as soon as you can (Some require additional paperwork from a doctor).
4. Requested accommodations must be “reasonable.”
5. A university is not required to provide academic adjustments or additional aids and services under specific circumstates.
Rabinovitz, R. (n.d.). Retrieved from



Assistive Technology Implementation: Working Together to Make a Measurable Difference
Complete instructional module of AT implementation that includes strategies and forms.
Assistive Technology Model Operating Guidelines
 Complete guidelines of implementation plans available
University of Kentucky Assistive Technology Project
Tools for implementation
Making It Work: Effective Implementation of AT Guide
Video presentations of specific steps of AT implementation process

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Learned Helplessness is for the Dogs!!

A Blogger's Insight:

Learned Helplessness?!

Learned Helplessness is the condition of a human or animal that has learned to behave helplessly, failing to respond even though there are opportunities for it to help itself by avoiding unpleasant circumstances or by gaining positive rewards.  

Students who tend to be unsuccessful several times in a row, start to believe that they will always be unsuccessful.  They also feel that is that is the case, why are they putting in so much effort just to receive unwanted results?! 
Personally, I feel that learned helplessness should be for the dogs.  No student should feel that they are going to be unsu-cessful all of the time.  It is the teachers job to help the student(s) which areas they thrive in and which areas they just may need more practice in.  If students are consistently failing or not reaching the desired progress, something must be not working as effectively as it should be.  Sometimes, it may be the student - whether it is their behaviors, attitudes, or tendencies - or it could just be the circumstances students face on a daily basis.  Whatever the reason may be, students need to see some sign of process.  Think about yourself!! If you have ever tried to lose weight in the past and day after day you see no sign of change and yet you know you have been really making strides, you eventually give up and start to feel hopeless. This is how students feel. 

To decrease feelings of learned helplessness there are 3 strategies that
will help teachers incorporate to divert learned helplessness
 with their students within the classroom?  
*Define success as improvementAvoid defining academic success as performing at a pre-established level or in comparison with other students.
* Model how to manage failure and setbacks in a constructive way
“This is not working. What is another way that I can do this?” 
 “What is another strategy that I can try?”
*Praise your students and be specific, not global (e.g., “Good job”), explicitly telling the child the particular skill or behavior that you are praising.
Reyes, C. (n.d.). Retrieved from

A Blogger's Insight:

Integration of AT in the home and classroom!

Below are two different types of scenarios where assistive technology is integrated into both the home and in the classroom.  First, WATCH BOTH! Then, identify the type of assistive technology and whether or not it can be integrated further and/or in different ways.
Both videos are WONDERFUL, resourceful and informative!
Okay, it is your turn!! Comment NOW


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Integrating AT into an IEP

A Blogger's Insight:

How to Integrate AT into an IEP

As required by IDEA, assistive technology may be integrated into the student's IEP in one or more of three areas (if needed):
1. In the annual goals and short term objectives)
2. In related services section
3. In the supplemental aids and services section
 (ALL to support the student in the least restrictive educational environment)
FIRST investigate the role AT may have in helping the student performance during instruction and assessment
THEN Curriculum, state standards, and skills should be taken into consideration
NEXT consider the academic, as well as, non-academic tasks/activities the student will need to completing to achieve the goals and objectives
THEN consider, any and all, forms of effective supports and materials that may aid in the success of the student
FINALLY Brainstorm No/Low- to High-Tech TOOLS and STRATEGIES to complete tasks across environments

Monday, November 11, 2013

Low-Tech & High-Tech Adaptations

A Blogger's Insight:

Low-Tech & High-Tech Adaptations that Assist Students with Math Computations

Let's view some of the low- and high-tech adaptations that can be utilized to effectively assist students with math skills/problems that we have been discussing throughout this entire module:
                        Pencil Grips

Math Manipulative Aids : Pattern Blocks

              Fraction Pieces

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Visual-Spatial, and Motor Control Issues

A Blogger's Insight: 

Technologies that Address Visual-Spatial 

and Motor Control Issues

We have looked at different kinds of apps that can be implemented into a children daily life to enhance their mathematic skills.  Now let's take a look at different types of technologies that can address students with visual-spatial and motor control issues.  

The following are characteristics of visual-spatial disabilities: 
has difficulty telling the difference between similar printed letters or figures; i.e., p & q, b & d, + and x, or square and rectangle 
often loses place when copying from a book or the chalkboard 
has difficulty telling the difference between different colors, shapes, and sizes 
confuses left and right 
 fatigues easily with schoolwork 

The following are characteristics of motor disabilities:
difficulty with fine motor tasks such as buttoning, zipping, tying, knitting, sewing, playing games with small parts, closing ziploc bags
difficulty with handwriting; hard to read, takes a long time to write 
frequently drops items
difficulty lining up numbers correctly for math problems and/or balancing a checkbook
 hums or vocalizes while concentrating on a task

To support these students, here is an additional resources that is 
available and recommended to use: 

Math talk is a speech recognition software that helps students with their homework, create/write math problems using their voice, and a scientific math notebook used to record their problems and work. 

To view a video on the tool CLICK HERE!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Educational Applications

A Blogger's Insight: 

Educational Applications that can be Used to Address Automaticity/Math Fact Fluency

In today's society, there are SO many available and FREE resources that can be used to enhance mathematics automaticity and fact fluency.  Below are my personal favorite examples that I have located along with the website for easy access. 

Provides an abundant amount of iPad, iPod, and iPhone apps designed to help kids learn on the GO!

Includes students with flashcards, worksheets/activities, exciting games, and homework help.

Similar to the previous webpage but is designed for all grade level math operations.

National Library of Virtual Manipulatives
Designed for all grade levels and provides manipulative aides for all types of mathematics operations.

Key Questions

A Blogger's Insight: 

Key Questions to Consider when Selecting

Educational Applications

When selecting educational applications, the following are things to consider:

What is the goal(s) or purpose(s) of computer use?
√ Providing an alternative means of completing schoolwork, participating in classroom activities, or demonstrating knowledge.
√ Using as a tool for writing, prewriting, and composition√ Finding information on the Internet or other reference tools
√ Self-expressing or making choices
√ Encouraging emergent literacy

Content of the educational application
√ Does it match the goal or purpose of computer use?
√ Does it match the student's interests? 

Matching student needs 
√ Young children and nonreaders or struggling readers benefit from speech output 
√ Children with preceptual problems need uncluttered screens and clear, easily readable fonts
√ Children with physical and/or cognitive disabilities need programs in which speed of response or input is not essential.  

Flexibility of educational application 
√ Can the visual display be customized for the student's individual needs?
√ Can sound or music be turned off?
√ Can speed and reaction time be modified?
√ Is it easy to use and customize?


Adapted from "Content Software Makes the Grade," by D.A. Newton, A.G. Dell, and A.M.     
                Disdier, 1998, Exceptional Parent, 20(12).

Thursday, November 7, 2013


A Blogger's Insight:

Mathematics & The Use of Assistive Technology

Many students struggle in mathematics and end up disliking the subject all together, later in life, because of all the formulas and rules involved.  Math is my favorite subject and many are unsure as to why.  However, I always let my students know, mathematics is the ONLY subject that is constant and does not change.  For the rest of our lives, numbers will always be same numbers, the formulas will always be the same forumlas and the rules will... You guessed it!! They will always be the same rules. 
Unlike mathematics, history is EVER-CHANGING! Our past is the today of tomorrow's generation.  
The English language is another subject that is always changing.  Slang is becoming a widely used language.  For example, when I was in elementary school, "Ain't is NOT a word!" However, not only is it acceptable to use, ain't is NOW in the dictionary! (Mind-boggling)
Unfortunately what makes math so difficult is if you don't use it, your loss it.  We don't go around speaking in formulas, like we do with the English language.  We don't experience math like we do with history and due to this, many find it hard to grasp the concept of math. 
How can we fix this?
When I was in elementary school, I felt the same way many students do about mathematics.  It just didn't make any sense.  The numbers just were not adding up :) (Get it because we are discussing math!) Anyways, the simple worksheet and examples were not enough for me.  Experiencing this, I can see the difficulties other students deal with.  So the essential question is... What can we do to fix this?
Throughout this module, we are going to be discussing mathematics and the use of assistive technologies.   When many think of integrating AT into the mathematics curriculum, they go directly for the aid of a computer or software programs that may help the students.  Teachers forget that AT is not just high-tech.  The use of manipulatives such as counting bears can be just as helpful as a calculator.  The integration of this simple AT provides students with a concrete idea behind the concepts of math.   Keep checking back as we explore how to make math interesting with the use of simple accommodations through AT.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Dealing with communication difficulties!

A Blogger's Insight:

Dealing with Communication Issues

There are ways to work with children who experience communication issues.  One way is to provide the student with choices.  I loved this video and feel it is extremely informative!
To elaborate on the video a bit, I want to explain my personal experience with Choice cards (which provide desired choices of play or treat when the student achieves the desired task).
I worked with a moderate to severe fifth-grade student with autism for several weeks last year.  He was a mostly non-verbal but working with the speech therapist to enchance his communication abilities.  He would act like the child in the video from our last blog when he got upset.  He would scream, hit, bit on his shirt and much more.  To promote desired behaviors in academics and daily living tasks, he was provided with a choice board.  For his choice board he had to earn ten pennies, which were velcroed to the back of the choice board for each task he successfully accomplished.  Before he would earn any of the pennies, he would have to choose a reward.  A visual representation of each reward would also be velcroed to the back of the board.   
The pennies would be given to him in small timed intervals to ensure that we kept his attention.  Once he filled up his entire care with the ten pennies, he would earn his chosen reward.  If it were computer time, he would get five - eight minutes on the computer.  If it were a snack, he would get five minutes to finish his snack before returning to another assignment.  The assignments would take anywhere between 5-15 minutes.  This method worked WONDERS! Maybe not all the time, but for the majority of the time, we were able to get him involved with academics successfully - which is the GOAL!
Let's look at a couple versions of choice cards:
As you can see they have to work towards their desired reward in each example, but are provided with a choice of what they would like to earn/work for. 

Teaching Strategies

A Blogger's Insight: 

Teaching Strategies  

Earlier in this module, we spoke about Break cards for children with Autism or the general population of students.  Children with Autism or children who have Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), have an extremely difficult time with expressive communication.  First off, what is Autism? 
Watch the following video on Autism.  This video is a comprehensive look at childhood autism that takes a personal approach by focusing on two families faced with the challenge of raising an autistic child.

Now let's discuss one of the major difficulties children with Autism face: Expressive communication.  What is this? Expressive communication involves sending a message to another person(s) to make something happen or stop something that is already happening.  In other words, they are trying to convey a message to you.  Each child with autism is different.  Some children my just have difficulty expressing themselves, whereas others, may be completely nonverbal. 
I located this a video on you tube video about a twins who have overcome difficulties with expressive communication. (P.S. This is one of my favorite songs! Gets me everytime.)
The next video however, is showing you the good and bad behaviors of a nonverbal child with autism.
 Some other challenges in communication:
  • delayed or absent speech development
  • difficulty understanding the spoken communication of others (even students with relatively good communication skills can have subtle difficulties with this)
  • difficulty understanding the non-verbal communication of others (e.g. following a point, understanding facial expressions or tome of voice)
  • literal and concrete understanding of language (e.g. the student may be very confused by figurative language such as ‘pull up your socks’, ‘it’s raining cats and dogs; may not get sarcasm, irony and some humour)
  • delayed processing of language (e.g. taking a long time to understand and act on an instruction)
  • echolalia (repetition of another’s speech, including what is heard on games, TV and movies)
  • different motivation to communicate, with many children commonly communicating about their needs and wants, rather than for sharing information or other social reasons

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


CASE #5 - Eric 

Present Level of Educational Performance (PLEP):
Eric participates in regular education programs for his academic subjects. His hand strength is limited and he fatigues quickly when doing any handwriting task. Civics and English homework area particular problem because of lengthy assignments and reports that need to be completed.
Annual Goal: 
Eric will use a computer or portable word processor to complete assignments in 10th grade English and Civics classes.
Assistive Technology Recommendation: 
Tablet & Adapted Keyboard

Monday, November 4, 2013

What are Break Cards?

A Blogger's Insight: 

What are Break Cards?

In Brandon's case, I recommended that BREAK CARDS be implemented into his normal routine.  Many of you may be asking what are break cards? Break cards are literally a card with the word break on it in some way.  They are used for students who may need to take a quick break before continuing with the task at hand or beginning another task.  These types are cards are mostly used for students with Autism.  The following webpage identifies reasons why, how and when break cards should be implemented, alternative methods, as well as, resources/supports.

What are the reasons behind the integration of break cards including:

Gives fidgety kids and those who have trouble sitting still for periods an opportunity to get up and move

To allow students time away from a stressful or potentially stressful situation

How do I include this strategy?

Explain the process to the student and have them practice it before implementation  

Either the student or teacher may initiate a break, though it is best when the students can identify the need for and take breaks appropriately 

When should I implement this tool? 

 When a student gets off task and is beginning to be disruptive but not problematic

When a student seems sleepy, bored, tired, etc

 What are some samples of break cards that I could use?

Sunday, November 3, 2013


CASE #4 - Brandon

Present Level of Educational Performance (PLEP):
Brandon communicates by using unintelligible vocalizations. He will physically obtain desired items independently and indicates refusal by pushing objects/people away. Brandon currently understands cause/effect relationships and will activate a switch with voice output to obtain a desired activity. It is questionable whether he understands the specific meaning of the utterance he has produced or if he simply knows that pressing the switch earns him an activity.
Annual Goal: 
Brandon will select activities and interact with peers/adults within those activities four out of five times when provided with voice output devices.
Assistive Technology Recommendation: 
Voice Output Device & Break Cards


Saturday, November 2, 2013


CASE #3 - Sarah

Present Level of Educational Performance (PLEP):

Sarah can use eye gaze fairly successfully to indicate her wants and needs when items are appropriately displayed so that her communication partner can tell what she is gazing at. She currently makes a grunting sound to greet others, to get attention, and to represent both yes and no.  She has recently been using a four message output device and is having some success at making choices. Sarah travels independently a bout the school in her power chair.
Annual Goal: 
Sarah will interact with others in the school environment in four out of five opportunities to indicate her preferences and needs using voice output devices and eye gaze strategies. 
 Assistive Technology Recommendation: 


A Blogger's Insight:


Below are two extra resouces for this module and a brief explanation of each. 
ReadWriteThink- This AMAZING website provides so many useful interactive graphic organizers for students to use when demonstrating knowledge on a particular subject.  This took is great for all students K-12 and also includes many other tooks within the site.

Inspiration - Great interactive manipulative for students to work on concepts using graphic organizers, concept maps, mind maps, webs, outlines, plots and graphs. This tool is great for all students K-12.

Friday, November 1, 2013

A Webinar to Read About

A Blogger's Insight:

Reading Webinar

Recently, I watched a webinar on Reading and Assistive technology.  I recommend if you are interested in Webinars, go to the link provided and view the possible webinars available for free.  They are insightful, informative and very personal.  The webinars take place with a speaker, as well as, an accompanying PowerPoint presentation. 
Throughout this presentation they discussed:
1. Text Readers:
01_natural_reader_freeAlso known as text-to-speech software (TTS) , which allows you to have text read aloud to you. This is useful for struggling readers and for writers, when editing and revising their work.  I wanted to research more about on this topic.  Throughout my search, I found a free software called NaturalReader.  The free version of the software converts Microsoft Word files, webpages, PDF files, and emails into spoken words.

2. Screen reader:
A screen reader is a software application that enables people with severe visual impairments to use a computer.  You could implement screen readers into any type of curriculum for all students to benefit. 
3. Electronic texts:
This refers to any type of text that may be found on the computer including, PowerPoint, Word, PDF files, the internet and so much more!
The webinar also provided resources and available tools that we could integrate into our reading curriculum to enhance participation and success.  The site is not only on reading, so GO CHECK IT OUT YOURSELF!!