Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Don't Miss the 12 Days of Christmas Giveaway!

One of my favorite resources for finding apps, Smart Apps For Kids, is celebrating the season by hosting their 12 Days of Christmas Giveaways!  Check out their Giveaways tab and sign up for a chance to win apps, gift cards and other accessories for your iDevices.  But while you are there make sure to subscribe for their Free App Alert emails, read about their featured Free App of the Day, and check out their suggestions for apps based on age/subject.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Apps for Creating Social Narratives

Social narratives, video modeling, social stories...which app do I choose?  I get this question from time to time and my answer is always the same..."It depends on what you want to create."

Do you need to add video?  Do you want to add audio?  Do you just need something simple with a few pictures and some text? Do you want your student to develop the social narrative with stickers, picture symbols and drawings?  Once I have created a social narrative, how am I going to share this with the student?  There are several apps available that can be used to create a social narrative.  Deciding on which app to go with can be tricky.  Last week a colleague of mine used an app to create a social narrative with some video modeling embedded into the story.  She loved the app she was using but was frustrated that she was forced to record audio onto each page; she just wanted the audio from the video clip to act as her audio within the book.  The app she was using was great for creating stories where you needed to add audio to each "page" of the book, but wasn't really fitting her need for this particular social narrative.  Wouldn't it be nice if we had a comparison chart of social narrative apps to see which app would fit the need of the task at hand?

This wasn't an easy process.  There are so many story creator apps available through iTunes that it would be impossible to include each and every single one that could be used to create social narratives.  I made my comparison chart with one qualification in mind- it HAD to have the ability to add text to the pages.  The comparison chart below does not include every app that can be used to create social stories; it does include apps that I have used and think are worth taking a look at. Their features vary, their sharing options vary, their costs vary.  Hopefully this will help guide others as it has helped guide me in choosing the perfect app to create that specific social narrative you have in mind for a student.

Social Narrative Apps Comparison Chart- Download Here



**Information within the Comparison Chart is subject to change at any time.  This document was developed in December of 2014; prices and features of apps may change over time so please follow the link within the chart to view the apps in iTunes to view the current features and prices.




Saturday, July 12, 2014

iPhone Apps vs iPad Apps

Searching for apps on the app store can be...difficult.  If you don't know the exact name of the app you are looking for, it's sometimes like going on a wild goose chase to find it.  Other times you know exactly what you are looking for but the app isn't showing up in the store.  Here is a tip that might alleviate your troubles.

Some apps are developed to work on iPhones.  Some are developed to work on iPads.  Apps that are submitted to the app store as "iPhone apps" can be loaded and used on iPads.  Apps that are submitted as iPad only apps cannot be loaded and used on iPhones. (You can move up, but you can't move down.) When searching for an app in the App Store, you can specify which type of device you are using.  If you are working on an iPad, the app store will automatically search for iPad apps.  The 5 Point Autism Scale app is an example of an app that you might want on your iPad but you will have to search for it under "iPhone apps".

When I search for "5 point scale" in the app store on my iPad, I see the app Social Scale appear.  But I am trying to find a free 5 point scale app in the app store.  At the top of the screen (see red arrow in picture above) I am set to search for iPad only apps.  

By touching the down arrow, I can decide which type of apps I want to search for.  See picture below.

By switching to iPhone apps I will see other apps appear in the store, depending on what's available as an "iPhone" app.


Now that I've switched to the iPhone store, the free Autism 5-Point Scale EP will appear.


Once you have downloaded and open an app made for an iPhone onto your iPad, it will appear small on your iPad screen.  See the photo below for an example.  Tap on top of the 2x icon in order to blow up the image to fit your iPad screen.

So the next time you are searching for that great app that you've heard about and can't find it, remember to adjust your settings and check out the iPhone apps, as well as iPad apps, in the app store!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Differentiate Reading Material with Rewordify.com

Whenever I am presenting to a group of educators, I like to end our time together by showing a web tool that is easy to use, free, and can immediately impact a classroom.  Typically, I show them Rewordify.com.

What does it do?
Rewordify.com basically makes material that is difficult for students to read (due to vocabulary content) easier to read by changing some of the wording within the text.  For example, if your class is reading an online article that uses the word "celestial", once "rewordified" with the free online software, the software will replace the word "celestial" with "heavenly."  The word "humbling" is changed to the phrase "making a person realize that he or she is not the greatest thing in the world."
Webpage viewed through Rewordify

How does this work?
Rewordify.com is a free on-line software program.  Just visit a website of your choice, copy the URL, then visit rewordify.com.  Paste your copied URL link into the yellow text box located at the top of rewordify.com's webpage, and then select "rewordify text."  Your article will now appear on screen.  You will notice highlighted words or phrases- these are the words and phrases that have been modified.  Not using an online article?  No worries!  Rewordify.com also lets you copy and paste text or type in your own body of text to be rewordified...you can then print or save and share your product with others.

Customize
One of my favorite things about rewordify.com is that you do not have to lose access to original content of a piece of text.  Customization settings allows the user to decide how they would like their re-worded words to appear within the text through display settings.  If you choose a reverse highlighted display setting, you will see words highlighted that the software believes might be hard for you to read or know the meaning to; just hover your mouse over those highlighted words to see a modified vocabulary term or brief explanation of the word.  Two-column viewing will display your article/text into two columns; the left hand side of the screen will display your original content, and the right hand side of the screen will show the "rewordified" version of your text.  Choose from nine different display settings to customize your view of the reworded text.

Customization can also be set to different levels, depending on how much of the vocabulary you would like reworded.  Level 1 will reword almost all "hard words"; Level 4 will reword the top 40% "hardest words" detected within the text.  Want to get really fancy?  Within the customization settings you can even specify which words you would like reworded, and provide the word or phrase you would like to take it's place.

View of customization settings


In the Classroom Setting
An educator can either teach their students how to independently use rewordify.com to customize their own reading material, or the educator can create a piece of text ahead of time and save the rewordified URL and their customization settings to use with students for later.  I love this option because it allows a teacher to quickly customize a piece of text for students depending on their needs in the classroom.  For example, you might have a piece of text that contains many metaphors or idioms.  This might be difficult for a student with autism to read and interpret without support.  But with rewordify, a teacher can type in explanations of the metaphors and idioms through the customization settings.  When the student later goes to read through the piece of text, they will have access to the hidden meanings behind the metaphors and idioms on the page.

Did I mention that they have a Classics section, which provides access to public domain books?  Many of these titles are literature works assigned to classrooms.  Students just need to click on the Classics icon, then click on the link to their book in order to access a reworded version of their assigned text.

Under Classics, choose a book to be reworded

View of a novel that has been reworded



Rewordify.com is easy to use and includes demonstration videos to help you get to know the product.  But just in case you need an extra helping hand, here is access to cheat sheets I have created for classroom use:
Using Rewordify to Customize Internet Text
Using Rewordify With Your Own Text




Saturday, February 8, 2014

Word Prediction iOS Apps

Students who struggle with spelling, language or physical disabilities sometimes find success in written tasks with the assistance of a word prediction program.  Several iOS apps tailor to this need.  Many offer a great word prediction feature, but they all differ in their additional features.  And sometimes these additional features make all the difference in finding an app that is right for you or your student.  I often refer to a word prediction software comparison chart made available through the Spectronics website (a wonderful resource!) when I am looking to purchase computer software.  But I had yet to find a comparison chart for iOS word prediction apps.

Recently, I humbly tried to put one together.  I chose a few apps that I think have nice word prediction capabilities.  Each app offers a little something different in features, exporting options, and appearance.  These are important differences to note because in the school setting, there is more to evaluate when choosing an app than just "does it offer word prediction?"  For example, in my school district we are very conscientious of digital citizenship- we do not allow underage children to use email accounts on our devices.  Therefore, if I am purchasing a word prediction app for an elementary aged student, I am looking for an app that exports products to the student's Google Drive app (this way they can share their work with teachers securely through our school provided Google Doc accounts.)

You can find my word prediction comparison chart of iOS apps here: 
Word Prediction iOS Apps: Features Comparison Chart

*This is not an all-inclusive list of word predictions apps; the features listed for each app are subject to change as updates are made available through the app store.

If you are interested in purchasing word prediction software for a computer, check out Spectronics comparison chart here: Literacy Support Software Comparison Chart


Apps featured in the comparison chart:
iWordQ


iReadWrite



Clicker Docs


App Writer


Abilipad