Artzy Librarian

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Planning for an author visit

For my Children's Literature  class we are planning an author visit.  I have chosen Debbie Leland.  I loved her visit to our school in Glendale, AZ when I was the library aide. When I'm a librarian it would be my honor to have her visit my library.  I have used one of her stories, The Jalapeno Man for many years now with my reading groups.  What a wonderful way to compare traditional tales to new ones! Plus, the scenery reminds me of home!  I will post the video that I've created for this project.

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Saturday, December 19, 2009

Avatars by SitePal

I have really enjoyed getting acquainted with the concept of avatars and especially SitePal.  I did my presentation on SitePal Avatars last night for my final presentation in my  New Technology for Educators class last night. I used SitePal and its sister company Voki (Both are part of OddCast) in my own blog.  Here is my presentation, using Smilebox to show the slides.  I noted when I viewed my Smilebox creation that their frames took up part of my slide's borders. I didn't realize it would do that.  I may have to do some playing with my saved .gif files, (I saved each slide as a .gif file to upload it to Smilebox.), to see if that can be adjusted.  I hope you enjoy the presentation!

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: Avatar Presentation
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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Module #5 Curriculum Connections

I began checking out websites suggested by Discovering Assistive Technology.  The first three did not work as the site was either no longer there or had changed it address. This was a sign, confirmation that it is so important to keep information updated so it's current. And, nobody, no matter how conscientious, can escape being outdated sometime! So, I continued to explore.

Shelly, Cashman, Gunter, and Gunters in our textbook, Integrating Technology and Digital Media in the Classroom, give a good website for integrating and creating video, into lessons. The program is Camtasia Studeo 4.  It looks like an affordable way to create video with and for students. This text discusses screencasts which are digital recordings of a computer's screen output, often containing audio. (p. 197) Students enjoy seeing and working with video which makes this a positive addition to a lesson plan. Teachers are encouraged to make learning active, exploratory, and inquiry-based, says our text.  (p. 451) This is true for all students and they need to have the hardware and software to support this learning.

What we have been exploring and practicing in this blog, is so applicable to the classroom. Having students participate in a blog is a great idea for interaction. So many skills are met! Making sure that all students are able to participate is crucial.  The assistive technology needs to be there.

I enjoyed reading the two lesson plans displayed under Module 5. The first lesson involved students in discovering what their perceptions of disabilities are and what they think, know, and learn.  The 2nd lesson what a great visual.  I've seen a class project using a pizza model before.  Students identify with this!

These are my responses to Dicovering Assistive Technology.

#1  One thing I learned that will stay with me is my awareness of Assistive Technology for students and others with disabilities.  I am amazed that there are so many ways to assist with learning, playing, enjoying, and just living.  I think the example that sticks out most for me was the video of  Beth Ann Luciana  a woman with Cerebral Palsy who gets a voice with her DynaVox. That really made me think about what a person can accomplish, that anything is possible.  I've always believed that everybody can learn.  This proved it for me.  If assistive technology helped Beth Ann (With a lot of personal grit and determination) I can't wait to see what it can do for the students I work with!  I want a library that is available and usable for all.

#2  I really did enjoy the Discovering Assistive Technology tutorial.  I work best when I have direction, when I'm shown the possibilities.  Then, I'm more comfortable striking out on my own. This tutorial did that for me and, yes, I'd do it again and will recommend it to others!

#3  I was able to connect to the list of books with stories about children with disabilities.  I'll add this list to my LibraryThing site! What a bonus for a school library to have! By the way...I've tried several ways to add a link to the Discovering Assistive Technology Library Thing Link.  So, I'm asking, can anyone help?  Please!  I was able to add it as an interesting library but as far as I can tell that just gives me the latest changes to their LibraryThing site.  So, for now, here is the link.  Assistive Technology Library Thing site.

I have really enjoyed learning more about Assistive Technology!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Module 4-Etiquette and Awareness

Looking at the wiki from CSLA there are lots of lessons students and others need to learn about the Cyberworld.  Just like in the "regular" world there are etiquette standards that need to be taught and learned. I think a lot of students don't see the harm in "having a little fun" with someone on the computer.  However, the results can be disastrous. Reputations can be damage, images and feelings hurt.  I think cyberspace is a place where people may feel a bit a anonymity and strike out more viciously than they might in person. There definitely needs to be repercussions for those who do not exercise proper digital citizenship. From Boy's Life magazine, here are two websites that give information about bullying. Stop Bullying Now! and CyberBullying Research Center give a lot of information and have a lot of appeal to younger and middle age students.  Its a good place to start teaching how to act online!
#1 All Students, with and without disabilities participated in an all school morning meeting.  It was wonderful to observe all of them participating, acknowledging, and enjoying being with each other.  Disabilities need not be an obstacle for friendship, learning, and working together.  Discovering Assistive Technology had us explore basic etiquette when meeting persons with disabilities.I know I tend to first think of disabilities as those I detect.  But, disabilities are not always apparent.
#2. I took the Disability Awareness quiz given on this weeks module.  I did pretty well but it's always good to have a refresher on etiquette.  It's also easy to become embarrassed or ill at ease when in a new situation.  This quiz showed me I know what to do; hopefully, I can apply it!  I do think the preferred language does change from time to time for persons with a disability, just as it does for racial groups, gender preferences and other "labels" that we give others.  Staying current on what manners, actions, and language is preferred is a common courtesy.
#3. I went to the Liberty Resources website as suggested by Discovering Assistive Technology. I was looking for information about the Philadelphia Center for Independent Living. The goal of the center is to allow persons with a disability to live as independently as possible.  They have four core services:  Advocacy, information and referral, peer support, and skills training. Their mission statement is:  "Liberty Resources, Philadelphia’s Center for Independent Living, advocates with disabled people, individually and collectively, to ensure our civil rights and equal access to all aspects of life in the community." I would like to do some exploring and check out the center!
#4. I explored websites that proved useful in learning about Assistive Technology.
Our textbook, Integrating Technology and Digital Media in the Classroom, by Shelly, Cashman, Gunter, and Gunter had a lot of suggestions in chapter 8 which we read for this week.  This chapter discussed security issues, ethics, and emerging technologies in education. One of the sites on Assistive Technology was a site to make web content more accessible. They had suggested WebXACT but it is no longer a viable website.  Instead, I found W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. Webstyle Guide, 3rd edition is also a good website.  It has information for building websites and a goal of Universal Usability.  I enjoyed the section on Information Architecture which I'm interested in. Lighthouse International has a website that offers suggestions for making websites more viable for persons with partial site and color deficiencies. I know my brother does not see differences between red and green among other colors. I hadn't even thought about exaggerating light and dark contrast to help him discern things better.  So much to learn and be aware of!.WAVE from Web Accessibility Online has a website you can put your URL in and they will assess your website for accessibility.  The Americans with Disabilities Act homepage gives all sorts of information about legislation, links to useful agencies, design standards for accessibility,  business connections, and other FAQ's. This is a "jampacked" website! 

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Module 3-Software

I love exploring what Discovering Assistive Technology tasks are set before us each week.  This week it is software.  The icomunications video I viewed is amazing.  Those who are deaf or hard of hearing now have a way to communicate that is quicker and more "real time" than translations.  The software takes the voice of the person speaking and then sends it to the listener's computer where it is translated with sign language and print.  In reverse, the deaf or hard of hearing person can learn to speak by "listening" and getting feedback on their sounds.  The computer is "teaching" them to speak.  Very cool! Dragon Speaking Naturally is a video about voice recognition software that will allow a person to type on the computer with just their voice. The National Federation for the Blind website gives many possibilities for hardware and software for the blind or visually disabled.
#1 Create a rubric for software evaluation.  I did!  I will use it in my software assignment. I used Word to create mine.
#2 Inspiration is a great tool to use with students. I use Inspiration with my students to help them organize data, brain storm individually or with a class. The graphics are pleasing and the software is quick loading so you're not left waiting during class time.  Wonderful software, every classroom  should use it!
#3 I was most fascinated with the Kurzweil 3000 software which is used with hardware such as Pathfinder which a school district adopted for a student because not only would it help one particular student, but it was going to be adopted by the state to be used for students with physical and learning disabilities to help them take standardized tests.  What a awesome tool!
#4 I discovered that my current operating system, with Microsoft Vista already has some AT  features. I could choose to use another pointing devise besides a mouse, or just use the keyboard, or use the keyboard instead of the mouse or, there is speech recognition. (who knew!) There are tutorials for making the screen easier to view, the keyboard easier to see, and the mouse easier to use. Vista has instructions for using text visual clues for sounds. Narrator is a text to speech program that reads what is displayed on the screen. You can be notified of time limits with sounds or flashing visuals. Background visuals can be moved or hidden if they are distracting. To make the web easier to view the fonts, colors, accessibility settings, and zoom can be adjusted to make the computer more compatible with the user.
#5 Info Eyes uses iVocalize software to enable visually disabled persons contact librarians with questions.
#6 After doing these exercises I've learned that a lot of adaptations and modifications can be made to help those with disabilities with minimum expenses.  (For instance, all of the possibilities within the current operating system.) These would require either dedicated computers or adjustments quickly made by staff members. The California State Library lists all of its services for those disabled, including in and outside of the library. I think AT for the library would depend on the needs of the patrons, the budget of the library, and the staff's participation in achieving hardware and software needed to make the library accessible to all patrons.
#7 Review Software using a Rubric
I have reviewed Kurzweil 3000 and WordTalk (Downloadable Software compatible with Microsoft Word , and Read and Write Standard (TexthelpLTD).  I was looking to see how well they would assist students in a learning support classroom whose IEPs require Text to Speech, keyboard adjustments, and enlarged font. They also need to assist with spelling and definitions.  I rated the Kurzweil 300 10/12 points.  It filled the requirements the best.  The WordTalk is an excellent choice when there are budget restraints.  It's free!  I rated it 9/12 points.  The font can only be made so large and the software is only compatible with Microsoft Word.  The Read and Write Standard was almost equal to the Kurzweil 3000.  It was quite a bit more expensive and I rated it 9/12 points.  All of these programs require hardware that is not currently available in this particular classroom.  I am revising my Hardware Assessment to match this software.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Module 2-Hardware

    This week I have been reading like a crazy person.  While the 6 chapters in our Oden text were not long, it still took awhile.  The 4th Chapter of Integrating Technology and Digital Media in the Classroom, by Shelly, Cashman, Gunter, and Gunter, was informative, meaningful, but long! Whining aside, I learned a lot about Hardware, Equipment, Networks, Classroom Support, Maintenance, Security, and the System Unit (And other parts of the computer).  I will try to work that information in as I go along.  We'll see! I have always been adventuresome, taking my computer apart when I didn't really know what the parts were.  I've replaced sound cards, added drives, and luckily not totally messed up my computer.  I find them such fascinating machines.
    But, back to this blog...I visited Enable Mart and was amazed at all of the hardware and software available for those with disabilities. The keyboards with large keys, with altered shapes, and with voice recognition are amazing.  I enjoyed the YouTube video called We can because we think we can. Absolutely amazing! I also think that the adaptive tools including adaptive mice, Roller Joy, Magic Touch, and others, for moving around the screen, are very cool. Beth Ann Luciana's - a DynaVox Success Story about a woman with Cerebral Palsy who gets a voice with her DynaVox.  I got a bit teary eyed, such a great story.

    I thought about students at my school that might benefit from AT.  Having voice recognition would be helpful to those who have motor skill disabilities.  We had a student with vision disabilities.  How nice it would have been to have had Portable Magnifiers for her.  Her aid was constantly enlarging with the copier but it wasn't always easy to read. I know we have a student with a hearing disability.  The teacher and student use an amplification system.  I know when I substituted I was in several classes where those were used. Such an easy solution and so useful! I know that many classes have microphones.  Such a wonderful thing for students and their teacher's voices. I'm thinking that there are quite a few students who could use the Voice Cue devices to remind them when to move on to a new task, or when time is up. Just setting a timer would be a less techie way to achieve that, but it might be more noticeable to other students.

    For my AT Hardware plan I choice to find technology that would help my Kindergarten students who are struggling with letter recognition and sounds.  I will be teaching 3 beginning after Thanksgiving, who so far this year only recognize 1 or 2 letters and their sounds, unaided.  Granted that one day those students may have IEP's but they do not at this point.  So, in funding AT equipment I would need to look to our Parent Teacher Organization, and/or the district, or federal funds from Title 1. Currently I use many items with them that I'd call low or "nontechie".  We use play dough, magnetic letters, puppets, picture cards, puzzles, poems, and many other tools to help them with their sounds.  I believe that if they were motivated or stimulated my even more means it might "click". If monies were available I would ask for :
    Leap Desk Workstation.  This multisensory tool is for Pre K-1st grade for phonemic awareness and phonics instruction. I'd love to have 3 or 4 of them over a period of time but could make do with one that they could be taught to use independently while I worked with the other students.  (One workstation is $345, 4 stations would be $1, 380.00) This workstation is also a tool for assessment as what they have done is recorded. If the funds were not available we do have access to computers that just need head phones, software and I'd add wireless mice.  This software is Leap Into Phonics for  5 stations, I found 5 Caliphone headphones with boom microphones, and 5 Microsoft wireless Mice on sale. (for 5 stations hardware and software would be $266.95) I believe either of these would be a positive addition to my current teaching tools. Practice and motivation are powerful tools.
    I have really enjoyed this week's tasks.  There are so many wonderful tools to assist those with disabilities. I hope that as I continue to grow as a teacher, and someday a librarian, that I will be able to offer technological tools and work with students with disabilities to help them achieve their dreams. What a wonderful educational experience!

      Friday, November 13, 2009

      Module #1-Types of Disabilities and Accomodations

      I registered for Discovering Assistive Technology 2.0. I went to explore TransAccess which is a great site. I found myself thinking, "I’d love to do this!" Making people’s lives better is a great goal. To quote their purpose, "TransAccess provides persons with disabilities access to adaptive technology and career transition services so that they can achieve their desired education and employment, and improve their quality of life." (TransAccess) I looked up disabilities on Wikipedia and was amazed at the definition. The definition is not just physical disabilities; it includes, mental, social, and economic disabilities and other, too. Wikipedia estimates 53% of the United States population have disabilities under this type of definition. That’s a percentage to wrap your head around!

      Then I explored the sites listed on Discovering Assistive Technology 2.0 and discovered a lot of famous people with different types of disabilities. What was interesting to me was to see how many people live with disabilities and still have wonderful lives and achieve great things.

      I learned what JAN is,  Job Accommodation Network. JAN provides person-to-person worksite accommondation technical assistance services, electronic technical assistance services, a quarterly electronic newsletter, and an electronic topical newsflash called Consultants' Corner. (from JAN official websiste.)

      I know that I’m going to learn a lot of new terms. When I went to one of the linked sites I ran across blogs with JAWS being discussed. Well? What is that? So, I looked it up. JAWS is a screen reading software. How cool! I have lots to learn. I'm especially interested in technology that might help students who have learning disabilities.  Since I'm currently teaching readers who need help with strategies and/or have learning disabilities, I'm interested in finding out what technologies might be able to help, how available it is, and the costs. We are given the site for National Center for Learning Disabilities which may help in this pursuit.

      I also "toured" The site for National Federation of the Blind.  How cool to have a Newspaper available to listen to!  The menu allows the user to choose what they'd like read, the voice, the speed, and if they need words spelled out.  There are lots of options. This site gave all sorts of leads to assistive technology for the blind. It was interesting to read about the National Center for Blind Youth in Science Web Portal. The goal of some of the programs, such as the  NCBYS Science Academy, is to encourage youth who are blind to pursue science related activities and careers. Teams are successfully launching rockets and successful parachute deployments, and even dissecting sharks. There are many scholarships available to assist with the cost of these pursuits.

      I know that when I substituted I was frequently in a 2nd grade classroom that was taught by a teacher permanently in a wheelchair.  Her room was set up to accommodate the chair and allow easy access to all of the children and materials she needed to teach.  I'll admit that when I came in I had to look for a place to sit...she had her own chair, I was the one looking for an accommodation. She had everything low, and the only thing up high was stored by a friend that she had come in once a week to help her set up.  Her students saw her as their instructor and had no difficulties looking past her disabilities. We have come so far and I look forward to working on learning more about Assistive Technology!